Oh, the up and downs, the highs and lows of national hunt racing. Yesterday had it all for me. It was amazing to win the first race on Klassical Dream and to watch Duc Des Genievres win the second – it was clear the horses were in great order. Sharjah was unlucky in the Champion Hurdle, but I don’t think Laurina ever got into a rhythm. I was never comfortable.
And then Benie … The one thing I was right about is that she was my best ride of the week, because she was going to win. But why she fell I don’t know. Years ago, when Annie Power took off at the final hurdle in this race, I knew we were on a one-way ticket, but when Benie took off I thought we were going to clear the hurdle – I couldn’t believe she fell. But that’s life and that’s sport. All you can do is move on and think about tomorrow because that cannot be changed.
Looking ahead to today’s action, we start in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle, in which we are running two horses which, at best, are probably 20-1 chances. But you could argue they have each-way chances. I’m on Easy Game, and I think his Navan runs showed him to be progressive. He has improved again since those runs, but it’s a good race and Champ is a worthy favourite, while Battleoverdoyen is a very good horse and I think is probably a little overpriced at 4-1.
I think he can get the better of Champ, and if I could rob some of the money by sneaking into the frame I’d be delighted. I have no ride in the RSA Chase, but I think Delta Work is the banker of the day. If you were to offer me one ride which I don’t have at this year’s Cheltenham Festival it would be him. Everybody else might say Altior, but I’m going to try and take him on with Min. I think Delta Work has been very impressive. He beat Le Richebourg over two and a half miles, he won the Pertemps here last year, and split Kilbricken Storm and Next Destination in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown.
I think he is head and shoulders the best horse in the race and I think he will win. Uradel got into the Coral Cup quite comfortably in the end. He ran really well last time out, at Leopardstown even though the inside track was a bit sharp for him. He got tapped for a bit of toe when the winner appeared down the outside so the step up in trip should suit him. But, in a 26-runner race around here, I don’t think he represents any value.
If all the rain that is forecast comes then Paul could have gone for the right one, in Killultagh Vic.
Patrick rides Wicklow Brave and I thought he ran a lot better last time when runner-up to Espoir D’Allen, who couldn’t have done much more for the form than win the Champion Hurdle the way he did.
He’s on the way back and could run well. They are better value than my horse but hopefully Uradel is the right one. It’s a competitive handicap but if he’s able to hold a decent position and we have luck in running I think he’s got a great chance. Bleu Berry won the race last year but is carrying a penalty for that, while Scarpeta jumped great for Danny in a novice hurdle here last year and could run well but I don’t think he’s favourably treated.
Calie Du Mesnil won’t want any rain and if it stays dry, she could run a race. In the Champion Chase, Min is taking on Altior again. He has been too good for us twice before but we’re hoping it will be third time lucky for us. He was second to Altior in the Supreme in 2016 and in the Champion Chase here last year, but someone has to have a go at him. There are actually more runners than I thought there would be.
He’s in terrific order but Altior is going to be very hard to beat. You can’t be afraid of one horse, even though you have to respect that one, but we’ll give it a go and if he chases him home, he’ll have run a great race. I think Ballycasey is a runner in the Cross Country Chase. He jumped a bit big the last day, at Punchestown, but Tiger Roll will be incredibly hard to beat, with Josies Orders the one to give him a race.
We have three in the Fred Winter and I went for Ciel De Neige, who is making his debut for us. It’s not that I know something about him that nobody else does, it’s just that I don’t know is the form of the other two good enough. I think the race will suit Maze Runner, with stamina sure to come into play, but La Sorelita has been a bit disappointing on her couple of starts.
Ciel De Neige seems to go well enough at home and hopefully will go well enough on the track. Blue Sari has a great chance in the Bumper. If only he was a bit older, though, as four-year-olds have an ordinary record in the race. He’s not a flashy horse but the most important thing is that he has never disappointed. He never works brilliantly, he never works badly. He was very quick at Gowran and I think he has a great chance in a race that has cut up, and he might have too many gears for Envoi Allen.