McKinley should take beating in beginners’ chase at Punchestown

I have four rides this afternoon at Punchestown, but the standout one and the one, I suspect, racing fans are most looking forward to is Min, in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, writes Ruby Walsh
McKinley should take beating in beginners’ chase at Punchestown

He was very impressive at this track on his debut for us, and it was nice to see him justify some of the hype which surrounds him.

But that was just a maiden hurdle, and he’ll have to improve to be the horse many believe him to be.

For today, though, all I can say is that he’s in good form, he seems to have come on for the win, and his form at this track will stand to him.

He will definitely improve on quicker ground, but you’d have to hope he’s better than today’s opposition.

Ball D’Arc won well last time, but Bryan Cooper has gone for Attribution, which looks significant. He’s rated 132 and has to concede 2lbs to us.

I’m hoping Min is better than that level, and will be disappointed if we don’t come out on top.

I’m on Union Dues in the two-mile maiden hurdle, and it’s a long time since he last set foot on a track.

However, he has a lot of work done, and has probably schooled for the last three years - we just haven’t been able to get him back to the track.

But he’s a horse we’ve always liked, and when he went to Cheltenaham for the Champion Bumper in 2013 we thought he was going there with a career hasn’t worked out as expected but his owner, Allan McLuckie, has been very patient, and I hope that patience will be rewarded this afternoon.

Paul (Townend) asked me to ride Kala Brandy in the mares’ handicap hurdle and it’d be great to have a winner for him and his family.

With Paul having ridden her in most of her races, she’s a mare I’ve seen plenty of, and she showed promise on her return from a break, at Clonmel. Tim seems happy with her, and a good run is expected.

Paul, himself, is also in good form, and is not far off returning to the saddle.

The last of my four rides this afternoon is on Art Of Payroll, for Sandra Hughes.

He’s not a horse I’ve ridden and I don’t know a lot about him but, on the very best of his form, he would have a chance in a tight race.

If Tramore passes this afternoon’s inspection, I’ll be there for three rides tomorrow.

The main reason I’m going there, rather than to Fairyhouse, is to ride Ballycasey in the listed chase.

He has won first time out in each of the last four seasons, and hopefully will continue that trend.

Clearly, he likes to be fresh, his work at home has been good and, while Tramore is on the tight side for him, we’re very hopeful.

Unlike Ballycasey, Willie’s other runner, Turban, improves for a run.

Indien Rouge, who runs in the opener, is a horse we’ve had for a while, and he goes okay at home.

He was second on his only start over hurdles in France, but how he’ll handle Tramore’s testing ground I really don’t know. If he copes with it, he could give us back-to-back victories in the race, after Avant Tout last year.

My only other ride at Tramore is on Thywillbedone, for Paul Hennessy.

Danny usually rides her, but had to make a late switch to ride at Fairyhouse.

She won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown, and I don’t think she’s badly treated off a mark of 104, especially as she also has the four-year-olds’ allowance.

She likes to get on with things, so I can’t imagine we’ll be too far away from the pace from the start, and I’m hopeful of a bold show.

Willie runs Burgas in the two-mile-five maiden hurdle.

He goes okay at home, stays well, and should go close, though bumper winner De Plotting Shed is probably the one to beat.

Willie has just three runners at Fairyhouse tomorrow, and two of those, Mozoltov and Tennis Cap, run in the valuable handicap chase.

Of the two, Tennis Cap is certainly the pick for me. He was third Smashing on his return, has improved, and looks capable of a big run.

It’s competitive, as you’d expect for a race with €60,000 for the winner, and Bright New Dawn stands out on his run behind Felix Yonger in the Hilly Way Chase.

Barry Geraghty doing 10-5 to ride Nearly Nama’d also catches the eye, while Clarcam would be a danger to all if returning to his best.

Willie’s only other runner on the card is McKinley, in the beginners’ chase, and he should take beating.

I thought he jumped well on his debut, when second behind Walk To Freedom, and he has improved for that.

He has been working well since, this is a much weaker race, and it looks a good opportunity to get off the mark.

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