Drop in trip key to unlocking Monterg’s potential

I have five rides at Navan tomorrow but just a couple this afternoon at Tramore.

Of the smaller, tighter venues, I don’t mind Tramore. It’s a track which has been lucky enough for me and I’d be delighted if I could come away with a winner today.

I start off on Valyssa Monterg, for Willie Mullins, in the mares’ maiden hurdle.

She was probably a bit disappointing over a longer trip at Thurles but, having said that, she came with a bit of a reputation that she raced a bit keenly and so I dropped her in to make sure she settled.

I ended up too far back in the race, she made two mistakes in the backstraight at the wrong time, and could never get into the race. She probably did well to finish third.

I’ll be riding her much differently this afternoon. This shorter, two-mile trip should suit but she has to give away the 8lb for winning bumpers in France, and all the others are maidens. That can be difficult but I’ll be hoping for a much improved performance.

In the third race - a two-mile-five maiden hurdle - I ride Cappacurry Zak for Leslie Young.

I haven’t ridden for him for a while but I rode a good few winners for him in the past. He doesn’t ring Jennifer (my sister and agent) looking for me to ride one for the sake of riding it.

He gives it a chance, and he’s the type of guy I trust so, if he fancies it, that’ll do me, and he shouldn’t be far away.

Tomorrow, I ride three for Willie and two for Tony Martin. I start off on Dollar And A Dream for Tony, in the maiden hurdle.

I thought he ran okay in a maiden hurdle at Down Royal on debut, but didn’t seem to improve as expected next time.

He’ll have to improve to have a chance here but Tony thinks he’s a nice horse, with a big future, so hopefully he can run well in a very tough race - 30 runners is a massive field.

Having been successful on Boston Bob, Pont Alexandre and Briar Hill, I’ll be hoping to win the Navan Novice Hurdle for the fourth consecutive year when I get the leg up on Shaneshill.

It was a Grade 1 for those wins, but has Grade 2 status now - don’t ask me why - but I’m really looking forward to it, as he’s one of our better novices.

He was very impressive on his hurdling debut, at Fairyhouse, where he jumped well, travelled well and got the trip no problem.

He was a very good bumper horse, having finished second in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before winning at Punchestown.

He seems to be working well at home, and I think he’s a very good horse, but he’ll have to be as I have a lot of respect for No More Heroes.

Gordon Elliott’s horse has a huge reputation, and looked very good winning his maiden hurdle.

But, I think Shaneshill would slightly shade it on bumper form, and hopefully he can slightly shade it on hurdle form.

My second ride for Tony Martin is on Dara Tango in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle.

He caught my eye in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock on his last run. I was in Ascot that day but was watching the race live, and thought he ran a blinder .

It was a valuable handicap, fiercely competitive, and he finished third.

Hopefully the drop back in trip, from three miles to two and a half, shouldn’t inconvenience him and, while you couldn’t be confident in such a competitive race, a reproduction of his last run will put him bang there.

I ride French import Jarry D’Honneur in the Beginner’s Chase. He’s schooling well at home and working nicely but, again, there’s a big field and he’s going to need a bit of luck.

He missed a bit of time - I’m not really sure why - and it’s hard to get a handle on how good he is, but when I rode him in work recently he went well.

If he can reproduce his French form or if he has improved a bit since then, he can run a big race.

Dad has Champagne James in the race. He’ll run a good race if he has improved for his run behind Valseur Lido at Punchestown.

Abbey Lane (Foxrock Handicap Chase) was travelling well when he fell in a race won by Valseur Lido last time. He’s making a bit of a habit of falling, which is a surprise as he schools really well and doesn’t give you any clue he’s going to do it. But the fact is he has done it a couple of times now.

That said, he has a nice weight on his back and should run a big race - if I can get him around!

Willie also runs Bordini in the bumper. I thought he was very impressive at Punchestown, and has improved a bit for that run.

Henry de Bromhead’s Attribution must be respected. He was just touched off by another of Willie’s, Bellshill, at Thurles last time, and that’s good form.

But, I’d be happy with Bordini, he’s a really exciting horse, and will be very hard to beat.

Aside from that, the preparation of all the good horses for Christmas is going well. Their workloads have been upped and they’re all answering the questions so, fingers crossed, it’s all systems go.

Ruby Rant: December racing schedule a real puzzle

I suppose it’s a little bit confusing to think, in the middle of December, there is just one more jump race than flat races in the week. Something is seriously wrong there.

There were two seven-race meetings at Dundalk this week, and there are seven races this afternoon at Tramore, and eight tomorrow at Navan.

If you look at it in late May into early June, it can be the other way around - there can be nearly as much national hunt racing as flat racing.

I don’t know what’s happening. When they’re doing the calendar, do they not look at the months or the time of the year? There was no national hunt racing last Thursday, and there is none next Thursday.

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