What I do know, however, is that I won’t be on The Opening Show on ITV, even though I was supposed to appear on the programme this morning.
I’m scheduled to ride in Ascot this afternoon, but there is a 6:30am inspection at the track. I was due to travel over last night, to be on The Opening Show but, with the uncertainty about the meeting going ahead, I have had to keep my options open.
If Ascot make a decision to call it off at 6:30 in the morning, I’d imagine I’ll be riding out in Willie Mullins’ yard in the morning, and probably going to Navan in the afternoon.
But, if Ascot decide to delay their decision, I’ll be going to Dublin Airport to get the 7:30 flight to Heathrow. If they call a 10 o’clock inspection and the meeting is called off then, I might get back for the later races in Navan.
I hope Ascot gets the go-ahead, as I’ll be on Un De Sceaux in the Grade One Clarence House Chase.
He was very good here last year, beating Sire De Grugy. He jumped super around there, and travelled well.
Although they’ve had frost covers down on the track, there has been frost in the ground, and that makes it very testing. Frost makes ground very dead, and sapping, and that will suit Un De Sceaux.
He seems in very good form, and I’m told he travelled over well. Virginie Bascop, who looks after him, is very happy with him, and so is Willie.
I know Ar Mad would have improved since they met in the Tingle Creek, as that was his first run of the season. He’s not likely to be as buzzy, or gassy, but I still think he has to improve a good bit to beat Un De Sceaux, and I’d be hopeful we can win this race for the second time.
I’m also due to ride Whiteout in the mares’ hurdle, and she has Kotkikova to beat.
She finished in front of Kotkikova in Leopardstown, but is officially rated lower than her, and that was that mare’s first run for of the season and also her debut for Nicky Henderson, whereas my mare had had a run in Fairyhouse.
It’ll be an interesting race, but Whiteout is in good form, will like the trip, and has improved for her run in Leopardstown, and hopefully will give Kotkikova a run for her money.
I ride a horse for Nicky Henderson in the finale, Reigning Supreme. He won in Newbury, but that’s about all I know about him.
At Navan, Willie runs Renneti and Sure Reef against Jezki in the second race. Renneti is a 149-rated horse, and Sure Reef mightn’t even be as high as that, so both are going to have to go a bit to beat Jezki. I know it’s his first run in nearly two years, but he’s a former Champion Hurdle winner and his level of form is superior to both of our horses.
C’est Jersey, who runs in the maiden hurdle, has been disappointing. I thought he’d win the first day, in Navan, but he ran into a good horse of Dad’s, Any Second Now.
But he regressed from that run. On his second run, at Fairyhouse, he jumped to his right, and he cried ‘enough’ quick enough, and was beaten coming down from Ballyhack. Keith Donoghue took it off me, on Woods Well, and I couldn’t keep up with him.
C’est Jersey is tried in cheekpieces today, but it’s hard to encourage anybody to back him. Going purely on homework, you’d say he’d win, but his two efforts on the track have been disappointing.
Arbre De Vie has improved for his run in a very good beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse, and should go close today. Balko Des Flow and Ballyoisin both went a terrific gallop, and they had me flat to the boards all the way. I made ground up behind the winner into the straight, but was caught for fitness then. He should be better for that run but this isn’t a bad race.
I have six rides tomorrow at Leopardstown, and the one I’m most looking forward to is Yorkhill, in the novice chase.
He has been in great form since he won at Fairyhouse, has schooled well, and his work has been very good. I think he’s a top-class horse, and am really looking forward to the race. He’ll be no price, but he has to be the nap, and, to me, he’s the best horse running at Leopardstown tomorrow.
I ride Bargy Lady in the opener. She ran well the last day, when second to a good mare of Henry De Bromhead’s, Montana Belle, who was going to give Aussie Reigns a race until making a bad mistake at the last in a previous outing. That’s good form, this could be an easier race, and I expect her to go close. I ride for Henry, on Capital Force, in the maiden hurdle. He may have been a little disappointing when fourth behind Bacardys and Kolumbus at this track at Christmas, but his previous run at Fairyhouse was very good, and if he can reproduce that he’ll probably win.
I had the choice between Tennis Cap, The Paparrazi Kid and Rolly Baby in the Coral.ie Handicap Chase — New Kid In Town doesn’t have enough weight for me to ride him — but I thought Rolly Baby and Tennis Cap ran very well for a long way in the Paddy Power Chase and, while I know it looks optimistic going for a 12-year-old, Rolly Baby has only 10-3 on his back and I thought I’d take a chance on him.
The ground and the trip will suit both, but I think A Toi Phil will be hard to beat.
All our horses are at the top of the handicap in the Coral Hurdle, and I’ve gone for Allblak Des Places.
I went for him based on his best form, when he split Footpad and Let’s Dance, with Ivanovich Gorbatov in fourth place. I think it’s very good form.
With that said, when you look down the weights to where you probably need to be to win this race, you have Heartbreak City, That’s A Wrap and After Rain. They all have lovely weights on their backs, whereas our horses, with exception of Noble Inn, who is hard to fancy, have over 11 stone to carry. Heartbreak City will be hard to beat.
Regular rider Andrew Ring is suspended so I ride Diamond Cauchois in the three-mile handicap hurdle. I just touched it off on New Year’s Day at Fairyhouse, on Shannak, but a reproduction of that run will put him bang there.
Trolling on social media an unfortunate fact of life
I was reading in the paper during the week about Ciaran Gethings and the barrage of abuse he received after falling off a horse at Hereford last week, and I think that’s an unfortunate reality for any sports person, or anybody in public life. You automatically become a target for people to vent their frustration, dislike, or whatever else. I don’t think it’s right, I don’t like it, but it’s the reality. For anyone with a career in the spotlight, you’re going to have to prepare for that, and I think social media is a bigger concern for teenagers, who haven’t yet developed the mental skills to deal with that sort of stuff. I’m 37, and this stuff doesn’t cost me a second thought, but, as a parent, when I think of what my three kids could be facing into in their teenage years, social media does bother me.