Prince Of Scars can make winning start to jumping career

Definite signs that the National Hunt proper is getting in to full swing, with graded races at both meetings in Ireland this weekend, and it’s Naas today for three rides, where I get underway on Saturnas in the maiden hurdle.
Prince Of Scars can make winning start to jumping career

We had him ready to run in May, but the ground was too quick at Punchestown so we decided against it. He goes nicely at home, has plenty of schooling done, and doesn’t work like a slow horse. He is one of our first winter horses to run and we’re hoping he’s fit, but we’re guessing a little.

There is a big field but there doesn’t look to be any stars in it, though you’d have to respect the likes of Blast Of Koeman and Robin Des Mana. We’re happy with our fella, are looking forward to getting him out, and hopefully he’ll give a good account of himself.

I’m on Koshari in the Fishery Lane Hurdle. He surprised us when he made a winning debut for us at Punchestown, as he seemed to have a bigger reputation than his home work was showing us. He beat Bello Conti and Three Wise Men, which is good form, but you’d have to think Missy Tata will have a fitness edge over us and Slowmotion.

That could prove the difference, as there’s probably not a whole pile between the three of them.

Prince Of Scars, which I ride in the beginners’ chase, will appreciate any rain which has got into the ground. He turned out to be a bit of a revelation last year, but that was over extreme distances, and today’s trip — just two miles three furlongs — is about as sharp as he would want it.

It looks a hot enough contest, with the likes of Acapella Bourgeois, Road To Respect and General Principle in the race, but all of Prince Of Scars’ form last year points to him being the best of these and, as he promises to be a chaser, with luck he should making a winning start.

I start off on Aretesone at Navan, tomorrow. He won well at Wexford, over two and a half miles, and you’d think the drop back to two miles won’t inconvenience him too much, especially as it’s a stiff two miles around Navan.

But you would be worried about Tom Mullins’ horse, That’s A Wrap. He has gone up almost a stone for his win at Galway, but I thought it was a good performance, and Tom’s horses are in outstanding form. He will take a bit of beating.

I ride Labaik, for Gordon Elliott, in the For Auction Novice Hurdle. He is a tricky customer, but he jumped off at Punchestown, jumped well, and won really cosily. Gordon thinks he has a good chance, but it is a competitive race. Le Martalin was impressive in Galway, despite making a few mistakes, and you’d imagine he’ll have improved for the run, and he could take all the beating.

The Lismullen Hurdle is another cracking race. I’m on Shaneshill, who was second to Thistlecrack at Aintree, but fell at Punchestown when in with a chance. He then went to America, and finished second behind Rawnaq, but in front of Nichols Canyon. Two and a half miles around Navan should suit him, he seems to be in good form, but it’s another good race, and Jer’s Girl is the interesting one.

She is the potential improver in the field, as she’s just a four-year-old and had cracking form last year. De Plotting Shed has improved at a rate of knots this season, and has a fitness edge. Their chances must be respected but, on his day, Shaneshill is a very good horse, and I think he’ll go very well.

Ballycasey should go really well in the Fortria Chase.

He has won two of his last three starts, over two and a half miles. He’s dropping back to two miles here, but he did win his beginners’ chase over the trip, and we thought shorter rather than further was the way forward with him.

Tell Us More and The Game Changer ran last week, while Gilgamboa’s best form is over further, as is Cause Of Causes’. Fago has lost his way completely but is with a new trainer now, and it will be interesting to see if he can rejuvenate him. Nevertheless, he would need a career-best effort to win.

Ballycasey is fit and well and, while he probably wouldn’t want too much more rain, he’s usually a good jumper, and has a great chance.

I wrap up for the weekend on Tycoon Prince in the beginners’ chase. He was a fair novice last year, and is a good ride to get. It’s a competitive race, but he could leave his hurdling form behind now going over fences, and I’d be hopeful of ending the weekend on a winner.

Looking further afield, I fancy More Of That in the big race at Cheltenham. I’m a big fan of the horse, and might be a bit biased, but I think he is better than a handicap chaser.

You probably do need a horse capable of getting involved in graded races to win this race, and he certainly fits into that category.

And I think one of the four-year-olds will win tomorrow’s Greatwood Hurdle, though the favourite, Winter Escape, is strongly fancied. Wolf Of Windlesham won a Grade Two juvenile hurdle over course and distance last season and, with a decent run under his belt this season, I think he can outrun odd of 40-1.

Footpad runs in a Grade One Hurdle for four-year-olds tomorrow in Auteuil, and Daryl Jacob rides him. He probably has Device, of Guillam Macaire’s, to beat, but he’s in good form, has won twice at the track.

It’s worth a lot of money so he’s taking his chance.

Tylicki plight an awful reminder of racing’s dangers

I have to say how sorry I feel for Freddy Tylicki, who is paralysed from the waist down following his fall at Kempton.

Flat jockeys don’t get too many falls but when they do they tend to be terrible, and what a massive battle he and his family face over the coming months and years. I’m sure he has a huge support network and my thoughts are with them all.

It was heartening to see the generosity of the people, who raised a substantial amount of money in a very short time, but this was just another awful reminder of how dangerous a sport this is.

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