INSTEAD of teaming up with the likes of Big Buck’s, Pepe Simo and Big Fella Thanks at Ascot today, I will be spending the afternoon at home.
I think it would be no exaggeration to describe yesterday as rather eventful. I was supposed to ride at Ascot and still flew to Heathrow, even though I knew the meeting was off.
My thinking was that I had a lot of important rides on Saturday and didn’t want to be stuck at this side of the pond.
So, I got on the plane in Dublin at 8.15, knowing I certainly wouldn’t be riding in the afternoon. We didn’t leave, however, until 10.00, due to delays at Heathrow.
The stewards at Ascot were supposed to inspect at 4.00 on Friday but, by the time I landed at Heathrow, today’s meeting had already been abandoned.
All that was left then was to skip through customs and change my ticket from Saturday night to 1.30 on Friday. That, as they say, really is showbiz.
At that stage it was too late to get on anything at Navan today, especially with Willie Mullins having no runners at the meeting.
I cannot remember the last time I had a Saturday off, but if you think I’m looking forward to it, you could not be more wrong. I like spending time with my family as much, if not more, than the next man.
But I will be doing that next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. No, as far as I’m concerned, Saturdays in the winter are for working, not for spending at home.
I have four rides at Thurles tomorrow and, realistically, they are not calculated to exactly set the pulses racing! That said, it will be surprising if Mourad cannot win the Listed Hurdle.
He has mixed it with some decent company since going over hurdles, the likes of Zaynar, Jumbo Rio and Starluck and Willie Mullins has clearly identified a very suitable opportunity.
We have to accept Mourad doesn’t win too often, and seems to like to be placed, but the conditions of this contest are particularly in his favour.
His second to Donnas Palm at Fairyhouse last time wasn’t a bad effort and I have to be confident he will deliver, in this class.
I have a good record for Davy Fitzgerald and, when he rang last Monday, was happy to accept the ride on The Burrow Vic in the long-distance maiden hurdle.
I know nothing about the horse, other than the fact he’s had three runs and what the form book tells me. I’d say Davy is giving him a good chance, that’s nearly always the case when he asks me to do duty for him.
I’m on Financialregulator for Jim Nash in a handicap hurdle. I hope he has an each-way shout, although not performing too well of late.
I’ve ridden this lad before and, essentially, would describe the horse as slow. He actually has enough ability to go close, but whether I can get it out of him remains to be seen.
I finish aboard Clear Gold for Willie Mullins in a handicap chase. He ran moderately at Thurles on his seasonal debut, but was a bit keen and got terribly tired.
He has improved a lot for the run, but the ground is a major worry. Both his wins have come on a fast surface.
A word about a couple of horses I rode at Navan last Sunday, starting with Rhyl Accord, who was no match for Shinrock Paddy.
This was bitterly disappointing and he completely failed to bring his homework onto the racecourse. Not for a second would I want to take anything away from Shinrock Paddy, but Rhyl Accord should have, at least, been able to give him a race up the straight.
In contrast, I was more than pleased with Cousin Vinny, even if he got beaten by Roberto Goldback. He had the benefit of two previous runs and was probably entitled to emerge the better.
Roberto can enjoy his day in the sun, because he won’t beat Vinny again and, I think, it will be onwards and upwards from here.
The only thing I am sure about over Christmas is that I will be at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day to ride Kauto Star. The plan, at the moment, is to fly out of Dublin on Saturday morning, but I’ll be watching the weather forecasts like a hawk.
If I have to, I’ll go across on Christmas Day. The nightmare scenario would be being stuck in Ireland, watching someone else partnering Kauto Star.
That would be even worse than Santa not turning up.
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