This weekend promises plenty, as Willie Mullins takes the wraps off some of his better horses, with an ease in the ground finally arriving.
Willie has decided to run two in the Champion Chase at Down Royal today and I have gone with Boston Bob, in preference to On His Own.
I was faced with the same choice at the Punchestown festival in April, the last occasion that both horses ran.
That was in the Punchestown Gold Cup and I also went with Boston Bob. You can often get it wrong in this game, but that was one I got right and Boston Bob scored in fine style, with On His Own running no sort of race.
I wouldn’t be reading too much into that, however, because On His Own went to Punchestown on the back of a gruelling race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he was only beaten a short head into second by Lord Windermere. The two seem to be in good form at home and, I’d say, have exactly the same amount of work done.
They are as fit as we can get them, obviously not one hundred per cent but exactly, you suspect, where Willie would want the horses to be on November 1.
So why did I go with Boston Bob? The answer is simple, I have always thought he was better than On His Own and have not changed my mind.
This is a really good renewal of the race and the sponsors have every reason to be more than pleased.
The one who is race-fit is Noel Meade’s Road To Riches. But he has to prove himself a Graded horse and this will tell us more.
Nicky Henderson sends the mare, Ma Filleule, and she is top rated at the weights. Again the question here is can she make the step up from handicap class to Graded company?
Paul Nicholls has a terrific record at the track and you can be certain his Rocky Creek will not lack for fitness.
The bottom line is that we are just a little in the dark as to how fit Willie’s horses actually are and I am only hopeful of Boston Bob, in what shapes as a very competitive contest.
Willie runs two as well in the three-year-old hurdle and I have gone with Tarabiyn, who was impressive when winning easily at Ballinrobe, ahead of Verawal.
At the moment you would say neither is likely to make into a top juvenile, either on what they have done on the track, or in their homework.
But the owners of both should still get a lot of enjoyment and you never know, of course, how much a horse can improve.
I’m heading to Cork tomorrow, where I have five decent rides and should get among the winners, hopefully.
I begin aboard Nichols Canyon, having a first run over flights in a maiden hurdle and a first outing for Willie. He used to be trained by John Gosden and won three times on the flat for him.
He ran in a schooling hurdle as far back as last March, with David Casey in the plate. David was happy with the way he jumped and that’s encouraging.
Nichols Canyon is not the biggest horse in the world, but is going well at home and this doesn’t look a great race.
I’m on Ask Vic in a Grade 3 hurdle and she is on a hat-trick mission, her latest success coming in a handicap at Listowel.
Her overall record is solid, four wins in five outings, and I’m confident three miles will not be a problem.
Patrick Mullins would normally be on Perfect Gentleman, but is in action in the bumper at Naas tomorrow, so I’ve had the call up in a Grade 3 chase.
I’m delighted Patrick is heading to Naas and looking forward to throwing my leg over this fellow. He was no mug as a hurdler and absolutely hosed in over fences at Tipperary, scoring by 13 lengths.
The Cork Grand National is going to take some winning, but I’m very happy to have come in for the ride on Unoccupied. The last time he ran, he won at Punchestown in May, seems to stay and jump well, so I’m anticipating a really good spin.
I end the weekend for Tony Martin on Mydor in a handicap hurdle. He rang me on Thursday to see if I was heading to Cork and seems to think it has a live chance.
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