Black Hercules has the potential to be a star

A potentially eventful morning as I’m due to be in Naas but, should that fall to the frost, I could be heading for Warwick, provided, of course, Willie Mullins wants me to do that.

Black Hercules has the potential to be a star

Hopefully that won’t come into the equation, as there’s a good card at Naas, and I have three good rides.

On ratings Sempre Medici should be hard to beat in the Limestone Lad Hurdle, but he went up 9lbs for finishing second in the International Hurdle and must prove he’s up to that rating.

He’s yet to win beyond two miles, but I don’t think two-three is a concern.

He’ll handle the ground, jumped well in Cheltenham, and will hopefully get through against today’s opposition.

Willie has two of the four runners in the Grade 2 Novice Chase and that’s purely down to a lack of opportunities for them.

Pont Alexandre looked very good at Punchestown, but you always worry about them having their second run back after a long lay-off.

That said, he has had a good break since and shouldn’t bounce.

If he is to turn into a serious contender for the RSA Chase he’ll have to beat Roi Des Francs, and beat him well.

The latter improved from his chase debut defeat behind Monksland when winning at Fairyhouse and, on the same terms, should confirm that form with Sub Lieutenant.

As with Pont Alexandre, today will tell a lot about their ambitions for Cheltenham. The winner could be an RSA horse but, with the level already set by No More Heroes and More Of That, an impressive display will be needed. The four-miler could beckon the beaten.

My only other ride at Naas is Haymount in the maiden hurdle, and he should take beating.

I was a little bit disappointed with him at Thurles last time but, on reflection, think I should probably have made more use of him.

As he had run so well over two miles on his return, I held onto him when I should probably have gone harder from the start.

Over today’s shorter trip I won’t be hanging around, and it’ll take a good effort to catch him.

Willie runs three in Warwick, and Black Hercules, in the novice chase, looks the best of them. He could just as easily have run in the Naas race but it was a no-brainer one should be sent to England.

It’s hard to get a handle on the opposition, but he’s a horse we’ve always liked and believe he’ll take beating.

Other than his run in the Albert Bartlett, his form is rock-solid.

He was a smart bumper horse, beat Alpha Des Obeaux over hurdles, and could hardly have been more impressive on his chasing debut last month at Navan.

He beat Sambremont in a hack canter, and the runner-up went on to win easily at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.

He has the potential to be a very good horse, and this race will tell us a bit more about him.

Willie runs Open Eagle and Thomas Hobson in the two-mile-five novices’ hurdle and, again, if we didn’t run them here we’d have too many for the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle at Leopardstown next weekend.

I don’t know which of the two I’d side with if I had the choice.

The step up in trip will definitely suit Open Eagle but he’s already been to England and was well beaten, while Thomas Hobson was a difficult enough ride at Navan, where he did everything to the right.

I hope I’m wrong, but I have it in my head he’s better going the other way around.

Tomorrow, at Leopardstown, I start off on Pylonthepressure in the maiden hurdle and I like this fella. He was a very good bumper horse, and lost little in defeat behind Tombstone on his hurdling debut.

His work since suggests he has improved, and the experience is a help.

Our Duke looks the main danger, and Jessie’s (Harrington) horses are going well, but I’m looking forward to Pylonthepressure, and will be disappointed if he’s beaten.

Childrens List has a lot of weight to carry in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

I didn’t get the run of the race at Navan but he ran well, and the form has worked out well, with winner Prince Of Scars winning a Grade 1 next time. He’s prefer better ground, but should run a solid race.

I had the choice of four in the Coral Hurdle, and plumped for Buiseness Sivola. Ivan Grozny hasn’t run for nearly two years and has to carry top weight, while Bamako Moriviere has to improve on his run at Limerick - he may do so, but has a little to prove.

That left it between Kalkir and Buiseness Sivola.

They’re working equally well at home, but I went for Buiseness Sivola because he has experience in a handicap, having run in the Fred Winter.

He jumped too high in that race, and gave himself no chance, but was better when runner-up to Petite Parisienne at Punchestown.

It’s an ultra-competitive race and you can’t be much more than hopeful, but he’s ready to do himself justice.

I’m on Blood Cotil in the Coral Handicap Chase but fear the handicapper might have him in his grip. He was impressive at Punchestown in May, but hasn’t run since.

His work has been good, but he has a lot of weight to carry. That said, top weights have a good record in this race.

The last of my five today is Killultagh Vic, in the two-three novice chase.

He was very good the last day, but the runner-up was disappointing next time.

Lord Scoundrel is a 142-rated horse so it’s not going to be a saunter, but Killultagh Vic jumps well, has stamina in his pedigree and his form, and will take beating.

Great to have some down-time before the madness begins again

After a very busy period after Christmas and around New Year, it was great to have some down-time and a “normal” week this week.

Just to get the chance to bring the kids to school and to go for dinner with Gillian was a bonus as, from next week on, it begins to ramp-up once more.

From the Thyestes, next Thursday, we’re into the really busy period, where the pressure comes on and the big decision have to be made.

The spring festivals will be upon us before we know it, so this was a last chance to wind-down before the madness begins.

Ruby’s best bets

NAP

Black Hercules 1:50 Warwick

DOUBLE

Haymount 2:30 Naas Pylonthepressure 1:20 Leopardstown, Sunday

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