As far as the injury is concerned, I won’t know the extent of it until next Monday or Tuesday, but it looks like the problem is right on the inside of the old fracture, which would have been the weakest part of the leg.
Looking to today’s racing, I’m not sure if Willie has ever had as big a team for one day — he has 20 runners, including four in the Gold Cup.
I had picked Killultagh Vic for the big one because I think he’s the one that could be the class-act.
That said, he wants the ground as soft as it will be as his jumping is only okay. If he puts it all together, he could be a leading player.
Djakadam has been there and seen it all. He jumps well, stays well and I’d love him to win it.
He looks sure to run his race, but he didn’t win it in previous years and I don’t know of any obvious reason why it should be different today.
Total Recall has been brilliant this year but has to improve a good bit to win.
Might Bite did his best to gift last season’s RSA to Whisper but still got up to beat his stable-companion.
Total Recall beat Whisper in the Ladbrokes Trophy but only did so by a similar margin when in receipt of a stone. He has been improving this season, but this is a much bigger ask.
I find it hard to fancy our other runner, Bachasson. He has been in great form this season, and I’d love him to go well for connections, but he has never run in a Grade One chase before, and this is some baptism of fire.
If I was offered the ride on any horse in the race I’d go for Might Bite.
He’s an incredible athlete. What he did in last year’s RSA was remarkable, and I think he will take a world of beating today. I’d love to be riding him.
Willie also runs four in the Triumph Hurdle and I had opted for Stormy Ireland because I think she has the right profile for the race on testing ground.
She was brilliant on her only start for us, at Fairyhouse, and that effort screamed stamina and toughness, which will be needed today.
Mr Adjudicator would have been the obvious form choice. He won his maiden well, won a Grade One afterwards and is in good form, but Saldier, with a rating of 99, was the best of these on the Flat and could prove to be the best of these over hurdles.
That said, he would prefer nicer ground.
Sayo would appear to be the outsider of ours but I think he has a good each-way chance. Much like Stormy Ireland, he is a strong stayer who should be suited by the race and I think he will outrun his odds.
I really fancy Meri Devie in the County Hurdle. It’s a race I have won four times and I had chosen her over the other three of Willie’s I could have ridden as she screams ‘County Hurdle’ to me.
I rode her in her last few pieces of work and she went really well. It’s a competitive race but she was very good the last day and I expect a big run.
But the stable is divided. Paul was delighted I went for Meri Devie because he was looking forward to riding Sandsend, who is a fine prospect.
And David fancies Whiskey Sour, which he rides, and Danny is really looking forward to riding Lagostovegas.
A case could be made for them all to give Willie a fifth win in the race this decade.
The only one of Willie’s horses which fits the profile for the Albert Bartlett is Fabulous Saga, but I just couldn’t get myself to pick him. He has all the experience and mileage you need for a race like this, but probably needs to step up again to figure.
Ballyward and Real Steel are classy sorts. The former wants every yard of this trip and could go well at a price, while the latter is stepping up in trip but should appreciate it.
One I fancy at a big price is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Calett Mad. He stays all day, has won at Cheltenham and comes here on the back of a win over further.
Willie runs three in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle, a race he has won with Sir Des Champs, Don Poli, and Killultagh Vic.
I thought Carter McKay was a bit disappointing last time out at Leopardstown and needs to bounce back. Deal D’estruval is the shortest price of today’s three runners, and he ran a cracking race when runner-up to Off You Go in a competitive handicap at Leopardstown. That was over two miles, but he won his maiden over two miles five furlongs and today’s trip won’t be a problem.
He should go well, but I prefer Burrows Saint. You have to forgive his run at Thurles, behind Dortmund Park, but I think you can. He has loads of experience from his days in France, he jumps well, Lizzie Kelly rides him, and I think he’s the pick of our runners.
The Festival finishes up for another year with the Grand Annual and we run Townshend. The ground is not ideal for him, but he could be worth keeping in mind for Punchestown.
Might Bite - Gold Cup, 3:30 pm
Stormy Ireland - Triumph Hurdle, 1:30 pm
Meri Devie - County Hurdle, 2:10 pm