That was just typical of the way Tuesday and Wednesday had gone, when the ball was not bouncing for us, and a few of those defeats were on the nod. But, Unowhatimeanharry was a very good winner, and Nichols Canyon ran his heart out.
Those big things weren’t happening for us, but then Great Field went and won the Grade 1 Novice Chase, in the race Townshend got rid of me. And Asthuria, who gave me my first winner of the meeting, could easily have tipped up at the last in the mares’ novice hurdle, but she didn’t and Willie had the first three. Maybe, just maybe, our luck is just turning.
Vroum Vroum Mag won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last year, and I’m hoping she can repeat the feat this afternoon.
She looked a winner going to the last in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but was probably outstayed by Apple’s Jade. She seems to be in really good form – everyone is really happy with her since. I did have a choice but she looked the obvious one to me.
Diakali was very good on his last start, but this is a very good race. Arctic Fire won the County Hurdle off top weight, and must be given consideration.
Wicklow Brave, had he jumped off with the field in the Champion Hurdle, would, obviously, have run a lot better. He ran great, considering, but it would have to be in the back of your mind whether he would behave himself or not – and it’s probably the same with Diakali. Ivan Grozny would be hard to fancy on what he has done in the last couple of months.
Supreme winner Labaik is declared, but will he or won’t he jump off? If he does, he has a chance. He could have company this time, as Wicklow Brave hasn’t always behaved himself, and neither has Diakali.
With Petit Mouchoir in the race, there should be plenty of pace, and I’d imagine, with the possibility of Ivan Grozny or Diakali also going forward, this will be run at an end-to-end gallop. Brain Power was probably a bit disappointing in the English Champion Hurdle, but if you went back to his previous form he would have a chance. It’s a good renewal, but I’m happy with Vroum Vroum Mag and hoping for a big run.
I had the choice between Arbre De Vie and Dicosimo, in the two-mile-five handicap chase, and went with the former. To be honest, I don’t think he’s particularly well handicapped, but if he could reproduce his Naas run, when second behind Acapella Bourgeois, he could run into the money.
Dicosimo won a beginners’ chase the last day, but I think it was an ordinary enough race, and if he could pick up prize-money we’d be delighted. This is always a good race, and usually a pointer to the Galway Plate, so worth keeping a close eye on.
I’m on Retour En France in the mares’ handicap chase, which has a good pot. She was a bit disappointing in Navan, on testing ground, but is only a novice, is a good jumper, will appreciate the nicer ground, and I think could run a good race. I was quite hopeful going to Navan, and really disappointed, so hopefully she will put her best foot forward today.
Willie has four in the Champion Novice Hurdle, over two and a half miles, and I went with Let’s Dance. I think we may have been a bit kind to her after Cheltenham, and may have left her a little bit short going to Fairyhouse. Daft as it sounds, I think she has improved since then. That’s what I’m hoping.
It’s a big punt to take and, with Finian’s Oscar and Death Duty in the race, it’s going to be a great race. But I’m hoping she has improve and, if she comes back to her previous form, has a great chance.
Bacardys didn’t enjoy the rub of the green at Cheltenham, but comes here a fresh horse, and has been in great form at home. Kemboy ran well when fifth in the Neptune, at Cheltenham, and should have improved, as that was only his third run over hurdles. And Bleu Berry has done nothing but improve this all season. Again, I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision, but hopefully so.
Willie also runs four in the two-mile novice hurdle, and I’ve gone with Riven Light. I rode him in a Grade 1 a good while ago, and he didn’t jump that well, but he looked to jump a lot better the last day, at Fairyhouse, and stayed on well to finish fourth. I think the drying ground will suit him, and I think he will go well.
It’s hard to make a case for Bravissimo. He has been bitterly disappointing, but works a lot better at home. I don’t know what happened to Chateau Conti the last day, when pulled up behind Bleu Berry at Fairyhouse. He has the rating to suggest he should be very competitive, but that last run was desperate.
Montalbano ran well behind Outspoken and Bleu Berry at Fairyhouse, in a Grade 1, and Riven Light was just behind him. There is little between them and whichever one turns up on the day may be the right one. I’m guessing, and hoping I’m right with Riven Light.