There’s a big field for a great renewal, with plenty of pace and numerous horses with chances. Sizing John is the one they all must beat, but I can’t wait to see Yorkhill stepping up to this trip for the first time.
Djakadam has always been a favourite of mine. He’s a great horse, is in great order but must improve to reverse form with Sizing John, who was spectacular in the John Durkan. He’s going to be very hard to beat, but I’ve long since thought Yorkhill could be a Cheltenham Gold Cup horse.
It’s going to be hard for him first time out, with Sizing John having the run under his belt, but he’s in good order. I don’t know if he’ll beat Sizing John today, but I hope he’ll give him a race, push him really close and, come March, we’ll be able to take him on again.
If he had a run under his belt, I think he’d give him all he wants of it. It might just be fitness is the difference today, but I’m convinced he’s a Gold Cup horse, and hope I’m right.
Francin, who runs in the opening race, is a horse who works really well at home, but has very little experience. He jumps well, does everything nice and easy at home, and will love the two-and-a-half-mile trip. I don’t think it looks the strongest race in the world, and I’d be disappointed if this fellow doesn’t go very close.
We run four in the Pertemps Qualifier and, for my money, Voix Du Reve and Chateau Conti have too much weight, and both will struggle.
Isleofhopendreams was unlucky in the race last year, though he had 9-10 then and carries 10-10 this year. For some reason, he didn’t get home in the final of the series, behind Presenting Percy in Cheltenham, but maybe the travelling didn’t help.
I think he’ll run a big race, as could our other runner, Didero Vallis, who is unexposed and has just 10-1 on his back. I thought he ran really in Fairyhouse, the last day, and think he’ll love the trip and is an each-way shout.
We run three in the Christmas Hurdle and Bapaume, being only a four-year-old, might struggle, but where are you going to go with him? Augusta Kate was very disappointing in the Hatton’s Grace, and must improve, but so does Nichols Canyon, to reverse form with Apple’s Jade.
That said, I think he’ll strip a bit fitter today and will be a bit sharper. The extra half-mile will suit, but he has to go to beat Apple’s Jade. She was outstanding when she beat him at Fairyhouse, and looks the one.
We run Low Sun in the two-mile handicap hurdle. He was disappointing last time, when last of four behind Us And Them at Punchestown.
He jumped terribly that day, but he also jumped badly when winning on debut at Bellewstown. He doesn’t seem to be getting any better in that department, but the frustrating thing is that he can jump, has loads of ability, and I think he’s well handicapped.
It’s a case of trying to make him concentrate and go forward, but he wears cheekpieces for the first time so hopefully they will help somewhat. I don’t know when he’s going to crop up but if you have the patience to stick with him, he’ll reward you some day.
Voix Des Tiep ran here in February and we thought he’d win that day, but Someday beat him. He’s in great order ahead of his return in the bumper, and should go very well.
Bacardys was very disappointing on his chase debut, at Naas, but hopefully he can get back on track in the beginners’ chase which closes the card at Leopardstown.
He didn’t jump very well at Naas, but his schooling has been great since, and he’s in really good form at home. He fell first time out last year, in a maiden hurdle in Cork, and came here and won, so hopefully he can bounce straight back from a disappointment again this year. He will be hard to beat.
In Limerick, we run two in the Grade 2 hurdle, and Meri Devie looks absolutely thrown in with 10-6 on her back. She’ll be very hard to beat, but our other runner, Dolciano Dici, goes very well at home. He came from Sandra Hughes’ stable, and we know very little about him, but Meri Devie, on ratings, should be very hard to beat.
Epicuris, who we run in the maiden hurdle, has a lot of ability but is a funny character.
Looking back to yesterday’s racing, if there are rules in racing Min had to be demoted. I feel terribly sorry for Paul Townend, who didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but there are rules in racing and it had to be changed - it’s as simple as that. The novice hurdle was incredible to watch. I didn’t fancy Mengli Khan, and was right about that. Regardless what Mengli Khan did, Sharjah was going to win, and was the one to take out of the race.