I start off on Aretesone, who was disappointing on his last start, in Kilbeggan. But he was stepping up in trip, and raced prominently and too freely that day.
I’d imagine we’ll be trying to settle him in a bit, get him to relax if we can. It doesn’t look an outstanding maiden hurdle and if he reproduced his run at Sligo, when he wasn’t far behind Cradle Mountain, he wouldn’t be too far away.
I’m on Monbeg Rose in the mares’ hurdle, and I know a lot about her because she was with Willie, and I rode on her most recent outing, in a chase at Tramore.
She probably is what she is — rated 121 — I don’t know if she’s much better than that, and technically she has a little bit to find with Billy’s Hope. But she should handle the ground, should stay two and a half miles, and Gordon’s horses are in great form, so she has a definite chance.
Venezia may be my best chance of a winner. He ran well when third behind Labaik the last day. I rode the horse that finished fourth that day (Criminate) in a maiden hurdle on Thursday in Clonmel, and he ran well, finishing third behind Mick Jazz.
Again, this doesn’t look the strongest of races, and you’d be hoping Venezia could go very close. His form looks a level above that of the other runners.
I ride Call It Magic in the beginner’s chase and he, too, should go close. He ran well over two miles on his chasing debut at Roscommon, where he stayed on well to regain second place close home. He should have improved for the experience, will appreciate the step up in trip, and I don’t think this looks as strong as that one was. He probably has No Dice to beat.
King’s Wharf is a course and distance winner, who just got run out of it close home the last day, but he should go well in the following handicap chase. He wouldn’t want too much rain overnight, but he’s in good form, likes going left-handed, and definitely has a chance. It’s very open, as you’d expect for a €25,000 race, but it would be a great pot to win with him.
Back at Leopardstown this afternoon, Willie runs Renneti in the November Handicap. He was a revelation when he won by a wide margin in Naas the last day, but has been given a huge penalty.
Danny Sheehy rides him, and his 10lb claim negates that rise somewhat. He is a good young rider, the horse is in good form, and should stay this longer trip. He is drawn in the middle of the field, but if he breaks well and gets a good position early he should run a big race.
In Wetherby, I know the Charlie Hall Chase is a Grade Two, and the penalty structure doesn’t suit Cue Card, as he is a Grade One winner, but I think he’s at least 10lbs better than every horse in the field and will take beating.
Colin Tizzard’s horses are in great form, and he is the one horse I’d like to ride in the race.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning the focus will be on the Melbourne Cup, where there’s plenty of Irish interest.
Willie has sent down Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave, and David Casey went with the horse. He reports him to be in very good form, and Frankie Dettori will take the ride. He’s in great form, but whether or not the penalty he received for winning the Irish Leger will be too much for him to carry only time will tell.
Tony Martin runs Heartbreak City, who was a good winner of the Ebor, but you would just wonder will the ground be too quick.
Aidan O’Brien’s horse, Bondi Beach, which Ryan Moore rides, could be very well handicapped on old form.
He was a high-class horse, but things just didn’t happen for him in this race last year.
I get the impression this has been the target for him for a long time, and the fact Ryan goes there rather than riding Capri in France on Sunday must be significant.
Should we consider changing the racing calendar?
I don’t think we’re having that untypical a dry autumn, I think it has been the case for the last few years. I think our autumns are dryer and our springs wetter, and I wonder should HRI or the Turf Club do a meteorological study and see would there be merit in delaying the start of the Flat season, when the ground is typically softer, and extending the end of the season.
And the same, of course, for the jumps.
A lot of the National Hunt horses haven’t gone to the track this season, yet we’ll be pulling stumps with them in April. I don’t know the answer, and maybe I’m way off the mark , but with the way the climate has changed, should we be looking at changing our racing calendar?