This looks a fiercely competitive renewal, on a cracking programme that promises so much and to be hugely informative.
I discarded On His Own, in favour of Boston Bob, in the Lexus at Leopardstown at Christmas and got that wrong.
On His Own ran a smashing race to finish second to Road To Riches, while Boston Bob could only manage fourth.
Have I got it right on this occasion? To tell you the truth, I really have no idea. Both horses are working equally well and it is just a case of hoping for the best.
On His Own does have a marked tendency to jump to his right, so I am going to have to do my best to keep him as straight as possible.
What of the opposition? Well, Lord Windermere has enjoyed two great days at Cheltenham, but Leopardstown doesn’t seem to be his course.
Chances are he will now bite me in the backside after that remark, but you can only cross the bridge as you go!
Carlingford Lough was fifth in the Lexus, but that was his first outing of the season and he’s entitled to come on plenty, while my father’s Foxrock shaped well when winning a handicap in fine style on this track last time. It’s wide open and we will all be a lot wiser come Sunday night.
My afternoon starts aboard Kalkir in a Grade 1 hurdle for juveniles. He was most impressive on his Irish debut at Fairyhouse, but was then disappointing when beaten by Fiscal Focus at Leopardstown subsequently.
I have no explanation for that and think it was simply a blip. He is working especially nicely now and I’m more than hopeful Kalkir will get back on track.
Willie Mullins throws four darts at the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle and I’m on Nichols Canyon, who got rid of me at the third at Leopardstown on his latest appearance.
He won at Fairyhouse and Cork prior to that, is a fair horse in his own right and will like the two and quarter miles.
McKinley keeps going forward, but Sempre Medici has to improve his jumping, although possessing a solid engine.
But if I had a choice it would be Alvisio Ville, who is owned by J P McManus and will be ridden by Tony McCoy.
I know he has to improve on the bare form of his win in a maiden at Leopardstown, but is a horse I like and he is doing everything easily at home.
Willie runs three in the Grade 1 novice chase and I’m on the mare, Adriana Des Mottes. She departed at the final fence at Limerick, when destined for second behind Gilgamboa.
She gets plenty of weight, but, given a choice, I’d be with Gigginstown’s Valseur Lido. He jumped and travelled great when winning the Drinmore at Fairyhhouse and is a smart sort.
Willie’s Prince de Beauchene, impressive when winning at Thurles, will be even better suited to Leopardstown and can win the hunters chase.
And I fancy Willie to end his day on the perfect note with Potters Point in the bumper. I thought he wouldn’t get beaten on his debut at Naas, but the five-year-old probably ran into a smart horse in Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone. I’m certainly not giving up on him.
This morning I make the journey across the Irish Sea from Dublin to Heathrow to partner Wicklow Brave in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
I suppose the notion he might win isn’t immediately obvious, considering his last run, also at Newbury, saw him finish eighth of eight in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle behind L’Ami Serge in November.
But that particular weekend, Willie sent four horses to Britain and they all disappointed, for whatever reason.
Anyway, Wicklow Brave seems in good form right now and will, you’d imagine, strip a lot fitter. Let’s not forget he took a highly creditable fourth to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and we’re hoping that’s what he will bring to the table now.
Willie is set to run three at Naas today, headed by the progressive Vroum Vroum Mag in a mares’ chase. Since arriving from France, she has won all three of her races, at Wexford, Cork and Thurles.
She now steps out of novice company for the first time and has to take on the 135-rated Jacksonslady. But Vroum Vroum Mag is good and can cope.
The rather frustrating Blood Cotil tries again in a beginners chase. I rode him at Naas last time, when he got cannoned into at the first fence. As a result, I was four or five lengths further back than I wanted to be and always struggling to get on terms.
He did run on in the closing stages, but it was too late. Blood Cotil is more than capable of winning, but is probably up against it with Gilt Shadow, who would have won in a canter at Navan, but for suffering a heavy fall at the final fence.
I do think Willie will take the bumper with Pylonthepressure. Successful in his only point-to-point, he then scored easily at Thurles and and is a fair horse.