Improving Some Neck can do business in finale

A great day’s racing at Leopardstown begins with a Grade One Juvenile Hurdle and I hope I’ve picked the right one — Let’s Dance — from Willie Mullins’ three.
Improving Some Neck can do business in finale

She finished second behind Ivanovich Gorbatov on her debut for us, and that’s good form, but I don’t know how or why she can reverse form with the winner today.

I’ve been weighing-up this decision all week.

Earlier in the season I thought she was better than Allblak Des Places and Footpad, but they went out and won their maidens and she got beaten.

Their form ties in together, but nothing about it suggests one is vastly superior to the others.

They have worked together and there isn’t one which consistently comes up in front of the others, but I’m giving the filly another chance because the Leopardstown race rode like a very good one.

She has a National Hunt pedigree and could be improving, whereas a number of her rivals have Flat pedigrees and what we’ve seen could be as good as they are.

I’m also going on what she showed me in a schooling hurdle some time ago, but, make no mistake, Ivanovich Gorbatov is the one we all have to beat.

Bellshill will have to win the Deloitte impressively if he’s going to make Yanworth work in the Neptune Hurdle.

He won well at Navan and last time out at Naas, but will have to be even better today because this looks a great race.

That said, he’s a horse we’ve always thought a lot of, he had very good bumper form, and is improving over hurdles.

Tombstone and Petit Mouchoir stayed on well behind Long Dog at Christmas and will appreciate the extra two furlongs of today’s race, but Bellshill will have to take care of them with something to spare if he’s to go to Cheltenham with strong claims.

I’m on Pont Alexandre in the two-mile-five novice chase. He was a bit disappointing behind Roi Des Francs at Naas but it was just his second run back after a long break and you’d hope he could step up from it.

He seems to be in good form, but has to improve on that last run.

There has been plenty of money for Zabana for the JLT and you have to respect his chance, while Outlander will give Pont Alexandre plenty to think about.

He’s not a good work horse, and if you watched him coming up the gallop you wouldn’t take a present of him, but he’s a very good racehorse, and that’s more important.

He should go well, but I’m hoping Pont Alexandre can bounce back from his Naas defeat.

I had the pick of three in the Irish Gold Cup, and chose Valseur Lido ahead of Sir Des Champs and On His Own because they’re not getting any younger while he is a seven-year-old who could improve.

He disappointed in the King George, but three miles around Leopardstown should be more suitable, and they won’t go as quick a gallop.

He has run in a lot of speed races at Cheltenham, but is more of a stayer and this test can bring out a little more from him.

Sir Des Champs and On His Own have both run-up the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but I would be more surprised if they proved good enough today than if Valseur Lido did.

Clearly, Road To Riches is the one to beat.

By all accounts, he worked very well after racing at Punchestown last week, and if he runs to form he will win.

I’d say if he runs to his 2014 Lexus form — which is below his Cheltenham Gold Cup form — that will be enough.

Willie runs Some Neck in the bumper. If everything has gone pear-shaped for you by this stage, stick your neck out with this fellow.

He was green on debut when behind Gurteen, has improved since, and will hopefully send punters home on a winner.

I have three rides at Naas tomorrow, starting with Babbling Stream in the opener.

There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing this week, as Patrick wanted to run him in a winners’ bumper and I wanted to go for a maiden hurdle and, on this occasion, it fell in my favour.

He has schooled well and is more than capable of winning a maiden hurdle in February.

Gitane Du Berlais will probably be the shortest-priced of my rides this weekend, when she runs in the Opera Hat Mares’ Chase.

She has been beaten favourite in all three races this season, but is in good form at home, and fences bring out the best in her.

She won the Grade One Scilly Isles Novice Chase this time last year and followed up at Auteuil, so hopefully this is her time of year.

Haymount, who runs in the maiden hurdle, has finished second three times, which is frustrating for me as a jockey but even more so for his owners.

He has run into some decent sorts, and I don’t think there’s a Mall Dini or an Edwulf in this race.

Tomorrow will be Haymount’s day.

Reporting rule not being policed properly

There is a rule in place which states ‘a rider must report, at the scales, anything which influenced the running or riding of his/her mount’ and, while I fully understand why it was introduced, I’m not sure it is being policed properly.

Back in October, at Tramore, Paul Townend got suspended for causing interference aboard Vermout Fougeray and when he appealed, jockey Brian Hayes, who had ridden the horse on his previous start, turned up to give evidence.

Brian reported that, when he rode the horse at Galway, it hung towards the stable-yard gate. As it transpired, Paul’s suspension was upheld.

Evidence, such as Brian offered at the appeal, is inadmissible in the stewards’ room if it has not been reported at the scales straight after the race – and, in this instance, it hadn’t been.

The sting in the tail came when the case was recently re-opened and Brian Hayes got three days for not reporting that the horse had hung at Galway, even though it didn’t affect his placing.

There was another example with Rory Cleary, who, in a race at Navan, was set to finish fourth until two horses in front of him drifted across his path forcing him to stop riding and, consequently, costing him fourth spot.

While the head-on clearly showed what had happened, and the stewards could see it as plain as day, Rory was banned for not reporting that he had met interference.

I don’t disagree with the rule, per se, but is this really what it was introduced for?

Sure, a form of the rule is needed, but jockeys, trainers and the Turf Club need to get together to fine-tune it.

Ruby’s best bets 

NAP 

Some Neck 4:45 Leopardstown

DOUBLE 

Bellshill 1:55 Leopardstown Babbling Stream 1:50 Naas, Sunday

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