It’s great to be back at the start of the national hunt season once more, and there’s so much to look forward to for the months ahead, writes Ruby Walsh.
Apart, of course, from Hurricane Fly, who has been retired, all the stars from last season are back in the stable, and they’re in great form.
We are, however, being frustrated by the weather, as our all-weather gallop is quite dry at the minute, and until it softens up a bit we won’t be able to get any serious work into the horses.
I seem to remember we had the same issue with a lack of rain at around this time last year, and it didn’t hold us up too much
At this point there have been no setbacks with the horses which have come back in, and there is also plenty of new stock in the stable. They look a decent bunch but we won’t know exactly what we have until we can get more work into them.
Until we get the weather everyone else doesn’t want we will continue to be held up. It’s frustrating, but there’s not a lot we can do about it.
I’m in Fairyhouse this afternoon, where I have just two rides, both of which have a chance.
I start off on Joy Neville, for Eric McNamara, in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle.
The only time I rode her was back in July in Killarney, where she ran a great race to finish second behind Millstream Ned.
She was disappointing at Listowel last time, but was quite free that day, and I’d be inclined to forgive the run as there were plenty of horses who wanted to be in the first four but none that really wanted to make the running.
That didn’t help her and if she’s back to the form she showed at Killarney, she’d have a fair chance.
In the two-mile handicap hurdle I ride Artful Artist for Tony Martin.
He’s a decent horse on the flat, with a rating of 82, and gets in here off a mark of 102. If you take the rule of thumb that a flat rating is roughly 40lb below a horse’s jumps rating, that would make him look quite well in, and he must have strong claims. I’d expect a big run from him.
Willie runs Bobarlee in the bumper, and Patrick rides her. She ran an awful lot better at Navan last time than on her previous starts, is fit and well, but is what she is.
Over in Newmarket Willie runs Renneti in the Cesarewitch and he’s certainly not out of the reckoning.
He ran at Leopardstown last month and you’d have to say was very disappointing. However, I’ve been riding him in some of his work recently, can tell you he’s in really good form, and think he has a great each-way chance.
Tomorrow is Munster National Day in Limerick and I start off on Long Dog in the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle.
He won well in Listowel, to give David Casey a winner on his final ride, and should be a cut above these rivals.
He’s stepping up in trip, but I think he wants that.
Delegate looked promising in bumpers but if our horse runs to his mark he’ll have to run to nearly 140 on his first run over hurdles, and that’s a very big ask.
I rode against Adrian Joyce a number of times but I ride for him for the first time on Rock On Rosie in the mares’ handicap hurdle.
She is a consistent mare, who has been improving steadily, and much depends upon what sort of hold the handicapper has on her now. If there’s more to come from her, she has a real chance.
I’m more familiar with Sir Harry Cash, who I ride in the two-mile-six handicap hurdle, as we won this race last year.
I’ve actually ridden him a number of times, including when he ran a blinder in the Galway Plate Trial at this track.
He disappointed at Tipperary last time, but clearly really likes Limerick, is 4lbs lower over hurdles than over fences and should go close.
Willie runs Devils Bride, which Bryan Cooper rides, in the Pricewaterhousecooper Chase, and he looks to have a great chance.
He’s been very busy recently, winning at Galway and Listowel last month before disappointing at Gowran last Saturday. He’s very fit, certainly won’t blow up, and this looks a good opportunity.
I have chosen to ride Urano in the Munster National, but could have ridden any one of Willie’s three.
He was just caught on the line in the Kerry National, by Rogue Angel, and comes here in good form.
The Paparrazi Kid and Indevan were both behind him in that race, but I don’t think any of them look particularly well handicapped at the moment. Whichever produces its best on the day could go close, but the one we all have to beat is last year’s winner, Shanpallas.
He was unlucky in the Galway Plate, having nearly been brought down, and won this race last year. Even though he has to carry top weight, he won’t be far away.
Willie has two in the Irish Cesarewitch: Digeanta and Whiteout.
Digeanta was very disappointing the last day, and may be in the grip of the handicapper, but Whiteout is a real improver.
She ran a blinder over hurdles last week at Gowran, has a featherweight on her back here, and I think has a good each-way chance.
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