I’m heading to France to ride Thousand Stars at Auteuil this afternoon but, at home, Petite Parisienne’s performance in the Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas will give a good indication of where the stable stands at this point.
She was probably the leading Irish juvenile last season and, while they all got run over by Peace And Co, Top Notch and Hargam, amongst others, when they went to Cheltenham for the Triumph Hurdle, she was the best of the Irish challengers.
She’s going to be a good guide to the fitness of our team, and I think she’s in good shape, good enough to win.
As mentioned, I’m in Auteuil to ride Thousand Stars. There are ten runners and, unsurprisingly, a couple from Britain given it’s such a valuable pot.
Thousand Stars’ last two runs were, let’s just say, not inspirational, but I took a little encouragement from the last one, at Tipperary.
Two runs ago he went to Italy, for a Grade 1 at Merano, and ran poorly. That said, the track was always going to be too sharp for him. He then went to Tipperary, where the ground was too quick and trip too sharp, but came home well.
While it may be wishful to think he can win at the top level at eleven years of age, he’s in good shape and I am expecting a good run from.
I’m flying out this morning and back this evening because I have four good rides at Navan tomorrow.
I start off on Thomas Hobson in the For Auction Novices’ Hurdle. He’s a horse with a lot of ability, but his jumping was atrocious before he fell on his hurdling debut, at Listowel.
He was much better at Galway last time, until the third-last, that is. He wasn’t great over the last few but showed what a great engine he has when pulling clear.
He has done plenty of schooling since, and will have to jump better, but there is improvement in him.
Gordon Elliott’s horse (Tycoon Prince) was impressive on his first start over hurdles, leading all the way and quickening up well. He could be very good, but he’s national hunt-bred and my horse was smart on the flat, so I’m hoping our flat speed will prove too much for him.
Arctic Fire developed into a top-class horse last year, finishing second behind Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and at Punchestown, and will take beating in the Lismullen Hurdle.
He was beaten on his first start of last season, but needed the run, and is much straighter this time.
He’s probably a two-mile horse but this longer trip shouldn’t be a problem, he was upsides Jezki when falling at the last in the Aintree Hurdle.
He improved throughout last season, and earned a mark of 169. By some margin that makes him the best horse in tomorrow’s race and, fingers crossed, he’ll win.
I’m hoping Twinlight can complete back-to-back victories in the Fortria Chase, but he’s probably got a bit of a task on.
He didn’t have a Grade 1 penalty then, but won the Dial A Bet Chase at Leopardstown Chase at Christmas and will be burdened with the penalty in all the Grade 2 chases this season.
He goes well fresh, he won first time out for the last couple of seasons, but this is a good renewal and I’m just hopeful of a good. I’m afraid it could be a difficult year for him.
Blair Perrone, in the beginners’ chase, is the last of my four at Navan. He’s a horse I have ridden before, and one I like, and his trainer, Tony Martin, thinks a bit of him, too.
He can be a bit keen, and tipped up at Listowel last time. But, the key is to getting him settled. If he gets into a rhythm early, he should run a good race.
Kitten Rock is the one we have to beat. I thought a lot of him when I won the Fishery Lane Hurdle on him last year. He felt like a natural jumper, should be even better over fences than he was over hurdles, and what beats him will win.