I’m off on my travels again today to ride two horses for Willie Mullins at Newbury, including Prince De Beauchene in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
There’s no doubt he has his share of weight with 11-9, but I’m still expecting a big run from the ten-year-old.
I know he was well beaten on his seasonal debut behind Roi Du Mee in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Downpatrick, but was badly in need of that outing.
Prince De Beauchene just blew up, before getting his second wind and staying on again. He will strip a lot fitter now, in what I feel is not a vintage Hennessy.
It is, of course, as you would anticipate, seriously competitive, but I doubt there’s a Denman, or even a Tidal Bay, lurking among the contenders.
Willie also runs Terminal and he is certainly working particularly well at the moment. The problem with Terminal, however, is that he has worked well in the past and then failed to replicate it on the track.
I am a big believer in the prospects of second season novices in this contest and so Jim Culloty’s Lord Windermere interests me.
I accept he has plenty of weight as well, but won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and is clearly not short of class.
My other ride at Newbury is Vicky de L’Oasis in a Listed hurdle for mares. She was entered in a 0-130 rated hurdle at Fairyhouse today, but wasn’t qualified, which tells me the handicapper intends to give her a mark in excess of 130.
That puts her right into the mix here. She won three bumpers in France and is unbeaten in two races over flights here at home, at Wexford and Galway.
They were two ordinary contests, that’s a fact, but she stays and jumps and, have to admit, am sweet on her chances.
I’m at Fairyhouse tomorrow and feel my best shot at a winner comes in the first, a Grade 3 hurdle for juveniles, aboard Analifet.
She is owned by Gigginstown House Stud and, I’d imagine, Davy Russell would prefer to ride her, rather that Clarcam. But Davy can’t do 10-6 and I get to team up with her again.
Davy was suspended when I rode Analifet to win by nine lengths on her Irish debut at Punchestown and she greatly impressed me that day.
Willie runs three in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and I’ve gone with Alonso. It was a tough call and I’m just hoping to be on the right one.
All three, anyway, are facing a difficult task, because this is the best race of its kind run so far this season. Gilt Shadow, The Tullow Tank and Minella Foru look very smart, on what I have seen.
I don’t ride in the Drinmore Chase, but have a liking for Henry de Bromhead’s Sizing Rio. I loved the way he went about his job when winning easily at Cork and he could be good enough to take this step up in class in his stride.
Willie runs Zaidpour and Diakali in the Hatton’s Grace and I’m on the first named, on the basis Diakali is only four and not getting much of a weight allowance.
Zaidpour won this a year ago and is always at his best at this time of the year. You’d have to say, though, that Jezki and Rule The World are going to take a lot of whacking.
I favour Jezki and can’t think of any good reason why he won’t stay two and a half miles. In any case, on the likely good ground, this is going to be as much about speed as stamina.
I end on Prosperity Square for Conor O’Dwyer in a three miles and five handicap chase, but he really is my least attractive proposition of the weekend.
Willie has a number of runners at Fairyhouse today, starting with the rather frustrating Upazo in the opener, a 25-runner maiden hurdle.
Looking down through them yesterday morning, it didn’t take long to conclude that, despite the huge numbers, this is a weak race.
What I can tell you about Upazo is that, for whatever reason, he is working far better than he was last season.
Willie has two of the seven possibilities in the aforementioned rated hurdle, Primroseandblue and Smashing.
I can’t be a lot of help here, I’m afraid. Primroseandblue has been disappointing, while the only thing I know about the ex-French horse, Smashing, is that he is grey.
Willie starts Touch The Eden off over fences in what looks a really hot beginners chase. The horse has schooled nicely and is fit and ready.
He won his maiden hurdle last season and then finished fourth to Bright New Dawn in a Grade 2 at Thurles in February.
I rode him at Thurles and he spent far too much time up in the air, that’s why was well beaten in the end. Whatever happens today, he is one for the future and was always going to be a chaser.
Willie’s Shaneshill did his job in style when scoring at Naas, seems to have improved in the meantime and will make them all go in the bumper.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved