I flew from Shannon to Heathtrow on Thursday night, after riding two winners at Thurles, and was looking forward to a couple of days at Newbury.
As I headed to Newbury yesterday morning, however, the news filtered through about Annie Power being lame behind and it really was the last thing I wanted to hear.
Annie is a great mare and would certainly have been a short price for tomorrow’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
She has won eleven of her twelve races and I was particularly looking forward to riding her. Hopefully, she will be back before too long.
Anyway, returning to business and Newbury this afternoon, where the main focus of my attention will be Djakadam in the Hennessy.
He runs off a mark of 142, which translates to 10-11. That’s a very nice weight and I believe Djakadam has a great chance.
I know he has only had three runs over fences, but I won this on another novice, Strong Flow, and his lack of experience doesn’t overly worry me.
Djakadam did fall four out in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham festival, but it’s the trickiest fence at the track and I wouldn’t be reading too much into that.
I would, of course, prefer if Willie Mullins had got a run into Djakadam this season, but it was very much a balancing act on his part.
If the horse had run, we think he would have won and that might have meant not getting into the Hennessy off his current racing. He’s working and schooling well, so here goes.
My only other ride is on Dushrembrandt for Robert Tyner in a handicap chase and he arrives on the back of running a cracker in the Cork National. I don’t ride very often for Robert, but do have a good record for him.
Paul Townend heads to Newcastle to partner Arctic Fire for Willie in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and they can beat Irving, I think.
I rode Arctic Fire on his seasonal debut at Down Royal, when he just got tired in the closing stages and couldn’t quite get to grips with Little King Robin. He has improved a hell of a lot in the meantime.
Willie has a number of runners at Fairyhouse today and let’s have a look at some of them, starting with Adriana Des Mottes in a beginners chase.
She was a useful juvenile hurdler and is a strapping four-year-old. This shapes as a decent contest, but she has to go close, getting all the concessions for her age and sex.
Willie introduces Long Dog in the second division of a maiden hurdle. He’s run just once, winning on the flat at Sligo 466 days ago.
Bought as a prospective three-year-old hurdler, Long Dog picked up a little injury and that’s why he has been missing for a while. He jumps well and we think will win.
The other worth a mention is Royal Caviar in the bumper. This is a good horse and there is every reason to think will also win.
No Annie Power tomorrow means I will now partner Zaidpour in the Hatton’s Grace. Zaidpour is a decent horse in his own right, but there is only one Annie.
That said he won well first time up this season at Navan and this is clearly not the best Grade 1 which has ever been run in Ireland.
My day begins on the ex-French horse, Kalkir, in the juvenile hurdle, one of three runners Willie runs in the race. Tarabiyn and Verawal are exposed, while Kalkir, who was fourth at Auteuil in April, isn’t.
Willie takes the wraps off Allez Colombieres in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and, as you probably know, he has been a big talking horse for a while now.
He won three bumpers in France, but this is a big ask, considering Allez has yet to jump a flight in public. He is doing everything right at home, however, and has a real touch of class.
I expect him to travel beautifully through the contest and fully expect to be bang in contention heading to the last. After that we shall see, but this is going to reveal an awful lot about him.
I think Alelchi Inois is up against it in the Drinmore Novice Chase. He’s a grand horse, don’t get me wrong, but will surprise us if he can beat the likes of Valseur Lido, The Tullow Tank and Apache Stronghold.
Childrens List, winner of his only point-to-point, does duty for the stable in the bumper and both Willie and Patrick are happy with him.
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