I’d love to be contributing more than I am at the minute, but I suppose place prize money counts too. I’ve been smashing the crossbar, in what has been a very frustrating week for me, but you are part of a team in Willie’s.
To think that 60 horses departed in October, and Annie Power, Faugheen, Vautour and Avant Tout didn’t get to the track, while Min and Limini only got to run twice, and for Willie to be in front at this stage, it has been some effort by everyone in yard.
It’s not over yet, and place money could play as big a part as win money today, so we’ll have to keep battling. And if he can hang on now, it will be some achievement by a man that I admire so so much.
It’s been a long winter, a hard winter, and for Willie to pull it off, if he can, will be a monumental achievement, and I will be delighted to be a part of it, even if I wish I could have contributed more this week.
The Mares’ Champion Hurdle probably revolves around Apple’s Jade. She won the Hatton’s Grace, was turned over by Limini here, but then won in Cheltenham. She also won here last year, as a four-year-old, and we know how good she is because we had her then.
But, we’re throwing plenty of darts at her. Augusta Kate was good in Fairyhouse, and she’ll stay well. Whiteout won this race last year, but has to recapture that form, while Airlie Beach seems to have lost her way a bit, but was a Grade 1 winner in the autumn.
I ride Karalee, who is unexposed, and short of experience. But, she’s a filly we think a lot of, and has been working well. It’s a huge step up, but she does everything right, so hopefully can make a race of it with Apple’s Jade.
The other Grade 1 on the card is the four-year-olds’ race, and I’m on Bapaume. He just pitched at the last, and ultimately got outstayed by Mega Fortune, when they were second and third behind Defi Du Seuil, in the Triumph Hurdle.
You have to look for a reason why you can win every race and as, in my opinion, Mega Fortune outstayed Bapaume at Cheltenham and Leopardstown, and so I hope, on drier ground and a faster track, we can reverse the form back. It would be great if he could snatch a Grade 1 late in the year.
But, Landofhopeandglory was bang behind us on both occasions, and there’s little or nothing between the three horses. All that separated them in the Triumph was a good jump.
They’re a good bit behind Defi Du Seuil, but they’re three honest horses, that will run their races. Willie also runs Dandy Mag, who ran well in Fairyhouse, and Meri Devie, who is come off the back of a lay-off. She seems to be in good form, and hopefully it’s not coming too soon for her.
I’m on Sambremont in the three-and-three-quarter-mile handicap chase, and am only hoping he can bounce back to his best form. His runs in the Leinster National and the Irish National were terrible, but his run in the National Trial here, behind Baie Des Iles, was a good one. That was over three and a half miles, and this is only a couple of furlongs further, around the same track, so we’re going to give it a go.
He’s a way better horse than his last couple of runs - we don’t know what’s up with him. It’s a very competitive handicap, and who knows what will happen, but if he finds his best form he could go close.
Willie has two in the three-mile handicap chase, and I’m on The Crafty Butcher, who ran a blinder in the Paddy Power. He fell over hurdles in a Pertemps Qualifier, and then found Wexford too sharp over two and a half miles, back in a chase. This longer trip will suit and a reproduction of his Paddy Power run would put him bang there, and there’s no reason why he can’t do that. He has a great chance.
Willie has a whole host of runners in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle and I really don’t know if I’ve picked the right one. I’ve gone with Bonbon Au Miel, He’s a relatively unexposed horse, and had a great run on his comeback, behind Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown.
He didn’t run to the same standard when winning at Cork, but a lot of horses do that. I think he’s in great form, has a reasonable mark, and while it’s an unbelievably competitive race, we have a number of horses you could make a case for being on good marks.
It’s very easy to make a case for Livelovelaugh, who ran a blinder the last day, off 135. It’s also easy to make a case for Open Eagle, even though he has plenty of weight, and the same for Thomas Hobson, who won well at Fairyhouse last week. I think the extra half-mile will really suit him.
They’re four live ones and, if Allblak Des Places could recapture his best form – he split Footpad and Let’s Dance in a Grade 1 juvenile hurdle last year – he would be absolutely thrown in. He is working well at home, and must to have a chance.
I think Willie has a lot of live ones, and I didn’t know which one to ride, but I can only ride one, and have gone with Bonbon Au Miel, just because he is the least exposed.