It was great to get a double from my only two rides last Saturday afternoon and while I’ve got a much busier weekend ahead, again I’m hopeful of getting off the mark early, on Gitane Du Berlais at Down Royal.
I don’t know if Simon Munir has other horses with Willie (Mullins) but Gitane Du Berlais is certainly his first one and she looks a nice mare. She’s come from France, where she’s had four runs over hurdles, and has schooled and worked well at home.
I thought Guitar Pete was very impressive when he won in Listowel but he got well beaten in Gowran since. But we think ours is a nice mare. She has to carry a winner’s penalty but she does everything well at home and hopefully we can get off to a good start for Mr Munir.
I ride two horses for Michael Hourigan, starting off on Enchanted Forest in the second race. He has a good rating over hurdles — you’d imagine it would be good enough to win a maiden hurdle — but he doesn’t seem to be able to win off it. He has experience, is fit and we’ll have a go, but he looks exposed.
I’m on False Economy in the following race and he ran well behind Captain Cee Bee in Tipperary. He carries top weight in this handicap hurdle but he’s a good, strong-travelling horse. I’ve won on him a couple of times, the weight shouldn’t be a problem and he doesn’t lack speed. He likes to be held up and a race with only nine runners is ideal for that type of ride.
I’m on Prince Du Beauchene in the Grade 1 JNWine.com Chase and he seems to be forward enough. But this is his first start of the season and, with First Lieutenant and Sizing Europe, both of which are rated about 15lb above him, having had a run, it’s probably asking a lot of him to go and beat them.
He looks well and worked really well during the week but we’re probably looking for a bit of a miracle to think we’re going to beat the principals. If he could beat the others, we’d be happy.
I don’t ride that many for Noel Meade as he has his own jockeys but unfortunately both of them are injured at the moment and so I’m on Texas Jack in the Grade 2 chase. He had plenty of good runs last year, including when just touched off by Boston Bob in Leopardstown.
Noel thinks he’s in really good form but it’s a hot race. Toner D’Oudairies is 110% fit, having been running all summer, Oscars Well had a nice run in Naas last week, and Paul Nicholls thinks Rolling Aces is in really good form. Actually, you could make a case for every horse.
It’s a cracking contest but I’m looking forward to the challenge of riding the horse I’m riding. He likes to arrive late, but there are a couple of front runners in the race and when you’re riding a horse that likes to be delivered late, you need a good pace. There’s nothing harder than trying to challenge late off a slow pace. You can go too soon and you can arrive too late but when there’s a good gallop on, as there should be today, challenging late is a bit easier.
I rode Twin Plan in a hurdle race in Gowran last time behind Jessica Harrington’s mare, Cailin Annamh. She travelled well but probably needed the run, and she’s back chasing today. She’s 15lbs lower over fences than she is over hurdles — that’s the reason I’m riding her and I think she’ll take a bit of beating.
The Cork National is the feature on tomorrow’s card in Cork and I’m on Rockyaboya for the Mullins family — Willie trains him and Patrick owns him. I could have ridden Themoonandsixpence but soft ground put me off him.
I schooled Rockyaboya yesterday and he jumped well. He disappointed in Listowel but had run a good race in Sligo before that. It’s a very competitive race and I hate to be putting anyone into having a bet in it.
I’m on Daneking in the first, which looks a competitive maiden hurdle. You’re looking at unexposed ones and wondering what’s going to happen. There are a couple of bumper winners in there — Katie T and The Game Changer — and then some point to point horses like Allied Victory, and Enda Bolger’s horse, Federici, who was third behind Renneti on his hurdling debut at Downpatrick.
Daneking does things nicely at home, he wears a hood as he can be quite keen going but he was a mile-and-six winner on the flat last year for John Gosden. He’s fit and he’s well and he should put up a bold show.
Indevan has been a very consistent sort, he’s won three of his four over hurdles and he steps up to three miles here. I know he made the running twice when he won but they were farcical races. He has won over two and a half miles and I think he’ll stay the trip. It’s a €35,000 race and he’s entitled to take his chance.
Courtncatcher has been very consistent in handicaps and we beat Lots Of Memories last time and I think we’ll uphold that. I suppose Old Kilcash is the one we have to beat. I’d imagine he’ll be very handy, Danny Mullins will be kicking him along. He stays well but I think Indevan is probably my best ride tomorrow.
I ride the Gigginstown horse, Unic De Bersy, in the maiden hurdle because Davy (Russell) is on Azorian for Eoin Griffin. He won a bumper for us last season, when Patrick (Mullins) rode him. He was second and third and then won a point to point. He jumps well but Davy knows more about these horses than I do and he goes for the other one.
Willie has two in the novice chase but I ride Felix Yonger, who won a novice chase earlier in the year, when he beat White Star Line on his debut over fences. He’s come back in looking strong, he’s in good form and he’ll handle a bit of slow ground. Going forward, I think he’s a better horse than Willie’s other one, Darroun.
Darroun is probably fitter, having been running all summer, but Felix Yonger was second behind Simonsig in the Neptune Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, beat a good field on his first run over fences and I think he’s a horse with a big future.
Meanwhile Willie headed off to Australia on Thursday morning after Simenon just about got in to the field for the Melbourne Cup, which takes place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
I think he’s had an ideal preparation for the race. They brought him to York to get a bit of a run into him and then was in Newmarket and then in Australia then for a fortnight, in quarantine. He has plenty of work done, he had a nice run in Australia, when Kerrin McEvoy rode him over a mile a half and he stayed on to be third behind Sea Moon.
His work in the last week has been very good but I just hope he gets a good draw — anything above 17 is a nightmare.
Richard Hughes rides him and if he’s going to make the effort to fly all the way from Los Angeles to Melbourne to do 8-06, he obviously fancies him too. I know Willie is very happy with him and I, for one, will certainly be setting my alarm clock to watch this race. I think he has a really, really big chance, and best of luck to Willie.
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