He was very good in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Irish Gold Cup, and the Kinloch Brae, and is going to be very hard to beat.
But, we have to try and take him on. Coneygree is a confirmed front-runner, as is Champagne West, so I’m sure it’ll be run at a good gallop, and there’ll be no hiding place.
I’m on Djakadam, who seems to be in good order but, ultimately, he disappointed us in the Gold Cup.
We thought he was in great form and, while he did make a mistake at the second-last, it wasn’t the difference between winning and losing.
He may well have finished second. Hopefully he’ll run a good race, but it’s hard to see him turning the form with Sizing John.
I had the choice between Battleford and C’Est Jersey in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle, but went for the first-named because he is rated 4lbs superior.
He ran okay in the Martin Pipe, before which we probably gave Adam Short the wrong instructions.
We thought it would be a stronger gallop than it was, and he was probably too far back. That wasn’t Adam Short’s fault, it was our reading of the race.
He came home well, but has been a bit frustrating, and has managed just one win over hurdles. But, he seems to be in good order, so hopefully he’ll run well.
Willie puts blinkers on C’Est Jersey. He hasn’t yet brought to the track what we think of him at home, but maybe blinkers will turn him around. We thought he was a good horse, but he has disappointed us somewhat.
Willie runs four in the Grade 1 novice hurdle over three miles, but, I suppose, the favourite will be Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy. He was a good winner of the Pertemps, at the Cheltenham Festival, and has a rating of 159, which is huge for a novice.
But, Penhill, which I ride, was very good in the Albert Bartlett, in which he jumped well, travelled well, and quickened smartly to win, and hopefully he can do the same today.
We think he’s a very good horse and if he can jump as well today as he did at Cheltenham, that’d be great.
Bon Papa was disappointing in the Neptune, and will have to improve on what he has shown. Tin Soldier ran well in the Coral Cup, in what was his first run in a handicap, and I think this smaller field will suit him better. He’s in good form at home.
Paul rides Al Boum Photo, who quickened up well to win at Fairyhouse, and is an improving horse. He’s definitely a dark one, and shouldn’t be dismissed lightly.
In a quality race, there’s also Champagne Classic, who won the Martin Pipe Hurdle at Cheltenham. He looks a fair horse, even if he is the worst horse Michael O’Leary has.
It’s the newest Grade 1 at the meeting, but this is another very competitive renewal. It’s a race which has seen Killultagh Vic beat Thistlecrack.
Willie runs Carter McKay in the Champion Bumper. He didn’t sparkle at Cheltenham, but seems to be in great form since he came home. That said, Gordon Elliott looks to hold the aces, with Fayonagh and Poli Roi, who look two very good horses.
Fayonagh was brilliant in Cheltenham, and Jamie Codd gave her a wonderful ride. She’s the one the geldings have to beat, but there has also been plenty of talk about Poli Roi.
I think Carter McKay can get a lot closer to Fayonagh than he did at Cheltenham, whether he can turn the tables or not only time will tell.
Polidam makes his debut for Willie, in the Guinness Handicap Chase. He has a nice mark, and goes well at home, but he has been running over fences in France and sometimes they find it difficult when they go jumping English or Irish-style fences.
We saw that with Alary, who moved to Colin Tizzard’s stable with a huge reputation. He has a nice weight on his back, and if he jumps well enough he won’t be far away.
Willie runs Wood Breizh in the opener, and Niall Kelly rides. He ran okay on the flat, for Katie, at Dundalk, and appreciates a bit of nice ground.
He ran better than his finishing position might suggest, when in midfield behind Electric Concorde on penultimate start over hurdles, at Leopardstown. But this is another very competitive handicap hurdle, and if he ran into the money we’d be delighted.
We run Mystic Theatre in the finale. She was very disappointing in Naas, but her work at home since has been good.
Yesterday was a day of near-misses. Melon ran a cracker, but probably got racing a bit early, and Cilaos Emery picked him off. And Un De Sceaux just can’t burn them off on quick ground.
They can get to you, that’s all it is. He never stopped, he jumped super, but he just couldn’t burn them off on quick ground. It’s beautiful ground out there, but he wants it soft.