But that was a big step up for her and she was taking on geldings, while today she’s back against her own sex. She won her maiden hurdle here last May, and won a grade three over two and a quarter miles, so neither the track nor today’s trip is a concern.
But it’s a very good race, and she is taking on decent mares. Rock On The Moor finished second behind Vroum Vroum Mag in the mares’ hurdle at Cheltenham in March, and Joseph O’Brien’s filly, Slowmotion, looked very good at Fairyhouse. But I’d be pretty hopeful Limini will take a lot of beating.
Willie also runs Whiteout, who has been a very consistent sort, and has crept up the handicap. She needs a career-best effort to get competitive here, but has given her owner a lot of fun.
I’m on Let’s Dance in the Grade One four-year-olds’ hurdle, but she’s obviously Willie’s second string as Apple’s Jade deserves to be favourite following her amazing performance at Aintree.
Let’s Dance wasn’t good enough to finish in front of Ivanovich Gorbatov or Apple’s Jade at Cheltenham, and will do well to reverse that form. What she has in her favour is that she didn’t go to Aintree, whereas those two did. Whether or not that’s good enough to turn around the Festival form only time will tell.
But Apple’s Jade has only had four runs this term, and will take beating. Cap D’Aubois also runs, and he is making his debut for Willie.
He won a hurdle in France, and goes well at home, but will have to be a hell of a horse to win this race.
Pleasant Company runs in the three-mile-one handicap chase, having missed the cut for last week’s Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
He was a bit keen when he ran in the four-miler at Cheltenham, but wears a hood for the first time today, which should help.
He ran well twice at this meeting last year, is a good jumper, seems in good form at home and has to have an each-way chance.
While Willie depends on Pleasant Company in that race, he has three in the Coral Handicap Hurdle, headed by Arbre De Vie.
He finished runner-up in the race last year, and was unlucky as he clipped heels and stumbled just before the turn for home, and yet was beaten only a length. He hasn’t scaled the same heights this year, and has to concede weight all around.
Dicosimo carries only 3lb less, but has been a bit frustrating this season, having fallen on his last two starts.
He only fell because he’s too brave, so hopefully he has learned a bit from those falls. If he settles and jumps better, he is potentially well handicapped, even if he has a lot of weight to carry.
Bamako Moriviere ran here on Tuesday, and shaped as though the extra half mile should suit.
If this doesn’t come too soon, he could go well. Looking outside of the stable, I think Anibale Fly and Desoto County – who contested the same race at Fairyhouse – have been crying out for this trip, and could be the two against the field.
Today’s two runners complete my season, and it will be fantastic to be crowned champion jockey for the eleventh time. I’ve had a really good year, and not too much to complain about. There have been a couple of near-misses along the way, but Cheltenham was amazing.
Aintree had its ups and downs, Annie Power being the highlight, and the fall from Blood Cotil, which cost me the rides on Douvan and Yorkhill, obviously the lowlight. If there was one horse not to fulfil his potential this season I suppose it was Vautour, who was touched off in the King George and brilliant at Cheltenham, but he fell at Aintree and came up short here this week.
But Douvan was spectacular throughout, and we hope to have Faugheen back next year.
He was brilliant in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and looks great, so there’s an awful lot to look forward to for next year.
A lot of water will have passed under the bridge by the time I next write for the Examiner, during the Galway Festival.
Air Force Blue will have won the Guineas, US Army Ranger will have won the Derby, Max Dynamite will have won the Ascot Gold Cup, Clondaw Warrior will have won the Queen Alexandra at Ascot, and Meta Osborne will have had a big job steering the Turf Club back on course.
Changes clearly need to be made but, in Meta Osborne, the Turf Club has the right lady at the helm.