With Coneygree running, Total Recall has just 10-8 to carry and, while that’s a nice weight, the 18lb penalty he picked up for winning the Munster National is a huge thing, whichever way you look at it.
To carry a substantial penalty like that is very, very difficult. It can be done, and horses can improve rapidly, but I always think it’s a bit easier if you start from a lower mark.
To win off a mark of 147, Total Recall has to be a Grade One horse. I don’t know if he’s that — perhaps he is, but only time will tell. I hope he can be, but it’s a tall order.
We run Pleasant Company as well, with 10-9 to carry. He ran well for a long way in the Aintree National. He probably got racing a bit keenly with me from the Canal Turn to the Melling Road on the first circuit.
I was in a lovely position, not that far in front of the winner, early in the race, but he pinged the Canal Turn and ended up racing forward with me in the second quarter of the race. He looked like he didn’t get home, but that’s probably because of the exertions he had at that stage. He’s in really good order, and will run a good race.
It’s a competitive race.
Coneygree is obviously a very good horse, but I think the 4lb penalty Whisper got for winning at Kempton will make it difficult for him. American has been well touted, while last year’s runner-up, Carole’s Destrier, has a chance.
A Genie In Abottle is going to need to be a bit lucky. I think horses like him who race behind the bridle can get into awkward positions in handicaps like this, and that could make it difficult.
If you were asking me for another one with a chance, it would probably be Missed Approach, for Warren Greatrex. He finished second in the four-miler at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and, at 25-1, is an outsider with a big chance.
Willie runs six this afternoon at Fairyhouse, and I think he can get the weekend off to a flyer with Livelovelaugh, in the beginners’ chase. He was a decent novice hurdler last year, without being a top-class one, but he’s in really good form, has schooled well and is working well. The track and the trip will suit him, and I think he’ll win.
Retour En France, who runs in the mares’ handicap chase, is what she is. She was disappointing at the back-end of last year, but had a couple of good runs previously. She’s fit and she’s well, and, hopefully, will run a good race.
Willie runs two in the rated novice hurdle. Hey Little Boy was disappointing in Galway, but he raced keenly and didn’t get home as a result. I don’t think the two-and-a-half-mile trip is an issue for him — he won a maiden over two-five at Tramore — but I’d imagine he’ll be ridden with more restraint.
Our other one in this race is Didero Vallis. By no means is he a ‘flash Harry’ at home, but he stays well. On his first start for us, at Downpatrick, he never looked like winning and yet won well in the end. I’d have a slight preference for him.
Camelia De Cotte runs in the following race. She hasn’t run since disappointing at Punchestown in February. She is doing plenty at home, and the two-and-a-half-mile trip should suit her, but she’s only had the two runs for us and it’s her first handicap, so I think she’ll improve for the experience.
Our runner in the bumper, Minella Encore, goes well. He’s in good form, and worked well during the week. I think Patrick is happy with him, and Bang Bang Rosie winning during the week gives us encouragement. This fellow should give a really good account of himself.
There’s a great day’s racing tomorrow at Fairyhouse, and we have plenty of runners, though nothing in the opening juvenile hurdle, which I think will go to Espoir D’Allen.
The Royal Bond is a good race. There are two five-year-olds and five four-year-olds, and I think he’s hard to fancy the older horses.
If I’m being brutally honest, I was really, really impressed with Mengli Khan at Navan, and think he’ll take the beating. I was also impressed with Le Richebourg throughout the summer, and Early Doors was good in Naas.
Our runner, Makitorix, was very good in Listowel, and has improved for that run, but he lacks experience against these, and I think that could count.
I think he’s a really good horse, but I’m just not sure he has the experience to beat Mengli Khan yet.
Willie runs three in the Hatton’s Grace but, on ratings, it’s a match between Nichols Canyon and Apple’s Jade. Cilaos Emery has to improve almost 10lb to beat them, while Augusta Kate is only rated in the 140s, as is Mick Jazz. Supasundae ran a blinder in Aintree, and got his mark out of winning the Coral Cup, but he has to step up again, while Swamp Fox is an admirable horse, but I think he’ll be outclassed in this race.
We’re hoping Nichols Canyon can beat Apple’s Jade, but Gordon’s mare has the fitness edge. That said, Nichols Canyon is a cracking little horse and will run a big race.
We have four in the valuable handicap hurdle. Bleu Et Rouge reverts from fences to hurdles, and I think it often takes a couple of runs to get you back in the groove. Chateau Conti won well in Fairyhouse, but drops back in trip. Meri Devie ran well in Naas, behind Early Doors, and has improved for the run. She looks like she has a nice mark, of 136, and just 10-7 on her back.
We also run Timi Roli, but I think he’s a better horse going the other way around.
Ben Dundee looks to have improved a hell of a lot since he moved to Gordon Elliott’s yard, and has a good chance, while Housesofparliament, with a tongue-tie back on and running off a mark of 132 with just 10-3 on his back, must have a great chance.
In the Drinmore, Townshend is coming back off a bad run at Galway, but has had a break, has been freshened up, and seems to be working really well.
Our other runner, Rathvinden, has improved with every run over fences. He has loads of experience, and will put that to the fore, and I think he has a great chance.
Death Duty is a cracking horse, Shattered Love is a good, honest mare, and Dinaria Des Obeaux, with just 10-9 on her back, has to come into consideration. But I think Rathvinden has age and experience on his side, and is a good, hardy individual. Willie has chances in the graded races, but I think this fellow could be the one to cause an upset.
For our runner in the bumper, Imperial Grey, you can use Minella Encore today as a good guide, as they’re similar sort of horses.
Willie also sends Benie Des Dieux to Carlisle for the listed chase. She lacks a bit of experience, but she’s in really good form, and it’s a nice chase for her to second have her second outing over fences. We’re really looking forward to her.
Turf Club need to up testing for recreational drugs
This week, three jockeys got their bans for failing tests for recreational drugs. I suppose drugs are an increasing part of society. It’s disappointing, but I’d hope the Turf Club would increase the amount of testing they do, and I’d agree with the proposal of longer bans as a deterrent.
I don’t know the background to any of these guys, and I don’t know their circumstances, so, as a parent, I’m not going to judge. But, I do think it’s an issue which needs to be tackled head-on, and I welcome any changes the Turf Club are proposing to try and deter guys from going down this road.