I’ll be sitting out the weekend. Willie was fairly keen I get to Cheltenham next week, and he’s the boss, so that’s the way, writes Ruby Walsh.
And, anyway, I would probably cry, myself, if I got a fall and got hurt this weekend and missed the Festival, so I probably didn’t argue too hard.
But it’s a busy weekend for the stable, and there is good racing, starting at Gowran this afternoon. The first of Willie’s horses is New Kid In Town, in the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase. It is a significant drop back in trip for him, and it has been the subject of much debate in the yard, but we think it will suit him better than going up in trip.
To me, the ground is the bigger issue, as he is definitely a better horse on better ground. He has taken falls very late on in his last two races, but is usually a good jumper. He has a nice weight on his back, with just 10-9 to carry, and looks to be in good form. But, with the ground against him today, he is probably one to keep in mind for the spring festivals.
Willie runs Dicosimo in the beginners’ chase. He steps up to two and a half miles, which I think will suit. He was a bit keen earlier in the season, but his last two runs showed he is learning to settle, and I think he wants this longer trip. He jumped much better in his last two runs, at Fairyhouse and Thurles, than he did earlier in the season.
He has General Principle to beat and, on ratings, that could be difficult. But, I would be of the opinion General Principle has a hugely inflated rating, and couldn’t see him running anywhere near that, so I think Dicosimo must have a great chance.
Patrick rides the highly regarded Castlebrook in the point-to-point bumper. In fairness to his trainer, Jimmy Mangan, he doesn’t put bells or whistles on anything. He is very much a realist, but he thinks a lot of this horse – and he knows what a good horse is. Redhotfillypeppers goes to Sandown for the listed bumper for mares. She’s going well at home, and soft ground and the stiff track will suit. She has travelled over well and Willie’s record this year in England is three from three. While I’m sure next week will put a dent in that, hopefully Redhotfillypeppers will keep it at 100 percent until then.
Willie runs two – Riven Light and Bleu Berry – in the opening race tomorrow at Naas. Riven Light has been desperately disappointing. He has the ability but hasn’t produced it on the track and, whatever way you look at it, it’s racecourse form and not homework that you have to go on, so he has something to prove.
Bleu Berry was very good when winning his maiden hurdle last time, and that was a transformation from his runs last season. We thought he was a good horse last year, but he didn’t bring his homework to the track. He looks to have improved again since his win at Fairyhouse, and I think he has a great chance.
With a clear round, Townshend will win the beginners’ chase. He’s in great order, it’s a much lesser race than he ran in last time, at Fairyhouse, and he jumped well there. He has improved fitness-wise since that run and will be prohibitive odds here, but, with a clear round, will win.
Willie runs Sambremont in the Leinster National. He ran well in the National Trial in Punchestown, behind Baie Des Iles. I set off to drop him in, and the winner and Bonny Kate went off a really good gallop, and I got stuck behind horses. I crept, and crept, and crept, but was just too far back. That was our plan going out – but it was the wrong plan.
This is a competitive race, over three miles, but he’s in great order. He jumps fractionally to his left, so going left-handed will suit him better than right-handed did at Punchestown, and a reproduction of his run there will give him a big shout. He’s an improving horse, and I think he has a great chance.
It could be the start of a good week for the owners, who also own Bacardys.
Mystic Theatre, who runs in the bumper, is the nap of the weekend. I think she has improved for her winning debut, is in great form at home, and she can send Patrick Mullins to Cheltenham on a high.
The first Cheltenham-bound horseboxes departed Closutton this morning. I think we have 11 intended runners on Tuesday. The drivers will take all the rest to follow legal requirement, but those lorries will be returning, because they will be going back on Monday.
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday’s runners will depart with a few more staff, and those lorries will also return before heading away again on Tuesday. With runners in Gowran and Naas, and those heading across the Irish Sea, it stretches staff. They’ve had a busy week already, with the preparation for Cheltenham, but next week will be very long for them.
However long it is for punters and socialisers, for pressmen, jockeys and trainers, it’s particularly long for stable staff, be they English or Irish. While I’m sure they’ll enjoy Cheltenham, there’ll be plenty of very tired people on Friday evening.
I have plenty of difficult decisions to make over the next week, but one which has already been made by the team is with regard to Limini not running in the Champion Hurdle. She had to be supplemented and, when we looked at it, it was very difficult to say she’d win that race.
The race we felt she has a better chance of winning is the mares’ hurdle, and that’s where she’s going to go.
Vroum Vroum Mag could run in the same race, but she has been left in every race, and no decision has yet been made. She is in really good form, but I still think her most likely target is the mares’ hurdle, which will leave me with a fairly difficult decision. But, I’d prefer to be making this decision than be sitting at home watching it.
I’m sorry I don’t have more answers for people but, in my life, in my small world, these are big decisions. I know they are inconsequential for almost everybody else, but I’m glad the talking is almost over, and I can go into my little cocoon, and decide what I’m going to do.
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