You would imagine connections of Jezki wouldn’t go this route if there were any doubts about him staying. He’s a half-brother to Jetson, who stays really well, so his pedigree suggests he will.
I have no concerns about Hurricane Fly in that regard. I won a four-year-old hurdle on him many moons ago over two-and-a-half miles and a Hatton’s Grace. As time has progressed and he’s gone a tad slower, I think he’s crying out for this trip. We are very happy with him. He ran a blinder in the Champion Hurdle to finish third and came out of the race really well. Paul is happy with his work at home. He’s always had the beating of Thousand Stars and Zaidpour.
The proven stayer and the one we have to beat is Dedigout. He quickened up smartly in Fairyhouse to beat Thousand Stars and has done nothing wrong this year. He would just probably want the forecast to be wet but if I’m being brutally honest, I wouldn’t swap Hurricane Fly for any other horse in the race.
His first sparring partner, Solwhit made the transition easily and that bodes well. Hurricane may have lost that little bit of speed but there is plenty of spark in him, he loves life and if you saw how he was spoiled at home, you’d understand why. If he wins today hopefully it will be on to Aueuil in June for a French Champion Hurdle.
Un De Sceaux is in great form. His homework has been very good. He’s had one blip in his whole career when he tipped up in Thurles. He silenced a lot of doubters with his jumping at Cheltenham and quickened up so impressively between the last two. He attacked the last and sprinted up the hill. He’s a winner at the Punchestown festival over hurdles so the track won’t be a problem. I’m really looking forward to 6.40 tomorrow evening!
Willie and Virginie Bascop have done a great job getting him to settle and to race. He isn’t as hard on himself now even though he still goes a good gallop. He’s just not the tearaway he was. Because he used to be, Willie was slow to pitch him in at the deep end in case he’d bottom him out. That policy has paid off now. If he can be good again today he’ll go to grass this summer with the potential to be a top championship horse next season.
I don’t think Our Lord would pick the winner of the 3.40. Bryan Cooper rides Argentino, who was running really well in Cork when he fell at the last in his first start in a handicap. He seems well since and should run a good race. I’m on Verawal, who gets the four-year-old allowance and ran well for a long way in the Fred Winter in Cheltenham. He has a chance, but with 25 horses, you’re going to need plenty luck in running.
Upazo (4.15) put two disappointing runs behind him when beating Edeymi well in Fairyhouse. He jumped super but this is his first handicap and it will be different to going around in beginners’ chases. He was a decent hurdler in his day, finishing third in a rescheduled Tolworth Hurdle in Kempton. The trip and ground will suit if he gets into a rhythm and jumps, he’ll run a big race.
Willie has four in the three-mile handicap hurdle (6.05). Avant Tout (Danny Mullins) disappointed in the Albert Bartlett but had a very good run here before that behind Bentelimar. Killer Crow’s (Mikey Fogarty) form has been very in and out and he’s hard to fancy.
I ride Present Company, who ran a blinder in his first start for Willie over the trip at Fairyhouse. He was only beaten two necks. I’m hoping he may have improved from that. Sambremont (Paul Townend) finally gets the three miles he wants. He’s a great jumper and is only a novice. I picked the wrong one of three on Tuesday, picking the right one of four is even more difficult in a handicap. I think Present Company is a great each-way chance but I wouldn’t be discounting Sambremont or Avant Tout.
Uranna will want as much rain as is forecast in the mares’ novice hurdle (7.15). She has to reverse form with Lyrical Theatre, who Patrick rides and is probably the one to beat. Uranna won well over two-and-a-half at Sandown and dropping down to two miles, I’d imagine I’ll be making plenty use of her.
We have two in the La Touche Cup (4.50). Uncle Junior never ceases to amaze me. He was third in the cross-country race in Cheltenham to Rivage D’Or, who reopposes and will be hard to beat. The 4m 1f will suit Uncle Junior down to the ground and as usual, Patrick rides. Katie has the mount on Dogora. It will be a different ball game for him. Cross-country in Cheltenham is different to the La Touche, where there are way more banks. He ran well for a long way in the Irish National but made a few mistakes and failed to get home.
Willie has two in the last (7.40). Up For Review (Katie) is a horse I loved in autumn. He won very well on his debut but was a little bit disappointing in Naas, even though he was probably beaten by a very good horse. He ran no sort of race in Cheltenham when everything got to him. Yorkhill (Patrick) was very good on his debut and the good judges in the yard are telling me he’s one of the best bumper horses we have and I’d say he could be quite hard to beat.
In the debrief from yesterday, the Punchestown Gold Cup looked a great race beforehand and it ran that way too. It was a true-run contest and Don Cossack is a very good horse. While I hate finishing second, I was delighted for Paul Carberry. Unfortunately Djakadam was just a bit lit up.
Not for the first time this week I picked the wrong one as Killultagh Vic won the three-mile novice really well. I wouldn’t say Shaneshill didn’t stay just on the basis of that race though. I would say that maybe Fairyhouse took the edge off him. He didn’t have the same exuberance.Turban ran really well off top weight and will win a big race. He can go further up in trip again.
Hurricane Fly (5.30)
Pleasant Company (6.05)