RUBY WALSH: Clonard can click this time

FRONT RUNNER: Diakali put up a decent performance when he won at  Auteuil in June.

I think I can head to Naas today with a degree of optimism and it’ll be a surprise, at least to me, should I leave empty-handed.

I kick away on the grey, Rupert Lamb, in the first, a conditions chase. This will be his first outing of the campaign and, while he was not one of the top novices of last season, has to go close.

He has returned a stronger horse and has plenty done, so should not lack for fitness. I rode him work on Thursday and he more than pleased me.

The one I fear the most is Dylan Ross, who seemed to be going well when departing two from home in a contest I actually won on Twinlight at Naas.

At worst, however, Rupert Lamb will give you a big run and I’ll be most disappointed should he not be fighting it out heading to the last.

Next up is Diakali in a Grade 3 hurdle. He is a Grade 1 winner, so has an 11lbs penalty to carry. The last time he ran he won at Auteuil for me in June.

That was a decent performance and he has been in a good while. He likes to bowl along, gallops and jumps and simply wears his heart on his sleeve.

It is always difficult for four-year-olds in their second season over flights and we are delighted he is starting off against his own age group. I’d say whatever beats him will win!

I don’t ride in the two-mile maiden hurdle, but have to give a mention to Willie Mullins’ Turnandgo, who is owned by Gigginstown and will be ridden by Davy Russell. This is a gorgeous horse, who is working well. He won two bumpers last season and was very impressive at the Punchestown festival. I believe him to be a very good horse, with the potential to be one of Willie’s leading novices.

I team up with another of Willie’s, Clonard Lad, in a two and a half mile maiden hurdle and he really should win. He was coming back from something like a three-year absence when second at Listowel and then improved on that last time at Punchestown.

Clonard Lad jumped super and ran an absolute cracker. He was beaten by a fair horse in Noel Meade’s Apache Stronghold and looks especially well at the moment.

I end on Good As Gold for Pat Fahy in a mares’ handicap hurdle and wouldn’t want to be waiting on my first winner going into this contest. I don’t know a whole lot about her, except that she was fourth in a maiden at Clonmel on her latest appearance.

Whatever her fate, I plan to throw my leg over another of Pat’s, Morning Assembly, at Puchestown tomorrow week.

I rode him to win a beginners chase at Punchestown last month and will certainly be with the horse again, unless needed by Willie.

I’m heading down to Limerick tomorrow and hope to get away to a perfect start on Un Beau Roman in a two-mile hurdle.

He freewheels and jumps and only knows how to run one way and that’s from the front. You can argue, I suppose, that he mightn’t find a huge amount off the bridle, but I still think is the one to beat.

The Paparrazi Kid will need luck in running in the 16-runner beginners chase. If getting it, then will go very close.

He put up a decent performance to take a handicap hurdle at Punchestown in April, has schooled well and is fit.

My weekend ends on Themoonandsixpence in a veterans’ handicap chase. He did okay at Ballinrobe, but ran a shocker in the Cork National last Sunday. Hopefully, he will be on a going day.

I must mention Flemenstar, who is having his first outing for Tony Martin at Navan tomorrow. About two weeks ago I rode in a piece of work, two miles over fences, at Tipperary. Flemenstar was one of the horses in that gallop and was ridden by Andrew Lynch. All I’ll say is that he blew me away.

On Thursday, Willie Mullins came back from Australia, Simenon having done him proud in the Melbourne Cup. Willie’s return was the signal that it will be full on between now and next May. I just pray to stay injury free and will be giving it everything.


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