He has big boots to fill now, with no Douvan but, having said that, as a novice he would have been a better horse than Ball D’Arc or Ordinary World, two of his leading rivals today. Tell Us More goes better left, but shouldn’t be quick enough to trouble the principals.
When Min ran here last Christmas he was spectacular, and he was very good on his return, at Gowran Park. He’s in very good form at home and fingers crossed he will enhance his Champion Chase claims.
We run four in the Grade 1 novice hurdle, but we don’t even have the favourite – that’s likely to be Mengli Khan, who is unbeaten in three runs this season, including in the Grade 1 Royal Bond last time out, at Fairyhouse. He was good that day, but I think Le Richebourg, stripping a bit fitter, can get a lot closer to him this time.
Of our runners, I think Makitorix has a lot to prove, and Whiskey Sour is going to find it difficult. I’d have said our main two are Sharjah and Real Steel, and Paul has gone for Real Steel.
Sharjah has been very good on both occasion, in Gowran, and Real Steel did it very well at Thurles. They’re both working well, and it was a hard call for Paul.
It’s a very good Grade 1, and Mengli Khan is a worthy favourite, but I think he is beatable. He had everything going for him in Fairyhouse, not least fitness and experience and, for me, should have been more impressive than he was. I thought he was spectacular in Navan, but just not as blown away by him at Fairyhouse.
In the Paddy Power Chase, Willie has the favourite, Polidam, and Pleasant Company. Polidam was very good the last day, at Navan, in a much smaller field, and this is going to be a different ball game. But he did things right, and was impressive.
Pleasant Company is working very well and worth an each-way shout, but there are a lot of horses you can make a case for. Apache Stronghold is a Grade 1 horse on his day, General Principle was well fancied in the Troytown Chase, and Oscar Knight has to be thereabouts, as does Call The Taxie and Squouateur, which Barry Geraghty rides. And we shouldn’t discount Out Sam, who is interesting on his first run for Gordon Elliott.
Not only is it a hard race to find the winner, it’s a hard race to ride in. You need a horse who can race close enough to the pace and yet settle and jump. That will suit Polidam and, while he is carrying a penalty, he could still be good enough.
Hopefully we can get the day off to a winning start, with Mr Adjudicator, in the juvenile hurdle. He’s a sharp individual, a typical ex-flat horse. He’s forward-going, but has schooled well. He’d be a bit sharper horse than our recent Fairyhouse winner Stormy Ireland, whether he’ll be as good as her only time will tell. But he does go well, we like him, and think he’ll run a big race, and will take a bit of beating.
We run Bunk Off Early and Montalbano in the beginners’ chase, and it’s a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Le Martalin will go a good gallop and so will Montalbano, and there’ll be no hiding place. Paul rides Bunk Off Early. He won his maiden here last year, but he’s by Zebedee, and I don’t know how many of Zebedee’s progeny have won chases. Some people doubted his stamina for hurdles races, but he won one, and can go well.
But, I wouldn’t be surprised if Montalbano beat them all. I think he’ll have improved a hell of a lot for his run in Thurles, and he’s a real strong stayer, which will suit around here.
We run Carefully Selected in the bumper. Dad won a point to point with him, and Willie then bought him. Two and a half miles will suit him, and he should make a lovely chaser in time. He stays and gallops, and will be coming home better than most.
In Limerick, we have Sympa Des Flos in the first, and I think this race is going to suit him. I know he has been second on four occasions now, but I think the step up in trip is what he has been crying out for. He’ll go the same gallop as he went in his two-mile races, and I think he’ll burn these off.
Cut The Mustard, who makes her debut for us in the mares’ hurdle, is a nice sort. You have to respect a horse, Crackerdancer, who has won three bumpers, but our mare does things right at home and we’re hoping for a big run.
Pause And Ponder has his first run for us in the 80-102 handicap hurdle. We don’t have many horses that fit into this bracket, and I don’t know a lot about him. He’s working away fine, but he wouldn’t be catching your eye.