The big race at Fairyhouse is a Grade 3 for mares and I’m on Morning Run for Willie Mullins, who will be attempting to keep her unbeaten record intact.
She is five from five, three of her successes coming in bumpers and two over flights. I was aboard for the hurdle races and she was especially impressive last time when scoring at Down Royal.
Morning Run beat Carrigmoorna Rock by seven and a half lengths that day and, on the same terms now, you’d think there is no reason why the placings should be reversed.
But life is never quite as simple as that. Carrigmoorna Rock has clearly made significant improvement in the meantime, winning at Newbury and then at Leopardstown at Christmas.
Morning Run has been off for 92 days, but that’s no great concern. She had a bit of a bad scope in early December and Willie just gave her time.
Niall Kelly rides her every day and he’s happy. Willie is also happy, so that makes Ruby happy. My one worry is that she is untried on the ground, but if handling it will be hard to beat.
I’m on Gold Bullet for Tom Taaffe in the first, a contest in which a number of the runners are surely on a downward spiral.
I won a beginners chase on this horse at Down Royal in November of 2013, when he jumped like a buck.
I then intended to ride him in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse the following month, but he missed the engagement and wasn’t seen until reappearing at Limerick this Christmas.
Gold Bullet only performed moderately then, but was entitled to get tired and I hope has come on plenty for the outing.
Willie runs Honeys Joy in the bumper, the horse having been the recipient of brilliant drive by Patrick Mullins when winning at Thurles.
Patrick took her miles wide throughout and it will be interesting to see what he will do this time, on a surface that looks set to be testing.
Punchestown tomorrow promises a somewhat livelier afternoon, starting with Open Eagle in a maiden hurdle.
He has come to Willie’s from David O’Meara in England, having won the November Handicap at Doncaster by 12 lengths.
I’ve since watched that race and think Danny Tudhope did a Honeys Joy and went on a tour of the world. It certainly reaped a rich dividend.
Anyway, I have both schooled and worked Open Eagle of late and think he is going well enough to at least win a race such as this.
Willie runs two in a Listed hurdle race and I’m on Avant Tour, with Bryan Cooper throwing his leg over Gigginstown’s Aminabad.
I won on Avant Tour at Tramore, but he needs to improve and would be with Aminabad, given the choice.
I won on Aminabad at Wexford, when he jumped beautifully, in a race that has been working out nicely.
Tony Martin has called on me for Mydor, in a handicap hurdle, after scoring on the horse at Leopardstown. He won at Fairyhouse prior to that and has gone up by no less than 17lbs for his overall audacity!
I only asked him to do the bare minimum at Leopardstown and am hopeful, although this does shape as a better race.
My last piece of action comes on Twinlight in a Grade 2 over fences. He is running back relatively quickly, having finished third to Dodging Bullets and Sprinter Sacre at Ascot just 15 days ago.
You can argue he was well beaten on that occasion, fair enough, but I do think Twinlight ran to a rather high standard all of the same.
At the weights, he obviously has Hidden Cyclone to beat, but I’m reasonably confident we won’t be far away.
Willie introduces a newcomer in the bumper, Prince d’Aubrelle, who is by Malinas. He does look a nice sort of horse, but must admit to knowing little about him.
I have to end by referring to the late Pierce Molony, who was a great friend to National Hunt racing.
He was Mr Thurles and, along with his family, put his heart and soul into the racecourse.
He was simply a great man and, quite honestly, National Hunt racing in this country would be lost without Thurles.
Pierce’s, and the racecourse’s, contribution to the game is incalculable, with the amount of racing Thurles houses in winter and also with its schooling days.
I sincerely hope that Pierce’s family continue what is a wonderful Molony tradition in that part of Tipperary.