All the horses have come out of Cheltenham okay. It was an unbelievable week but now you have to start thinking about Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown, and which horses are going where.
You’d imagine Faugheen will follow the Hurricane Fly route and go straight to Punchestown. I would imagine that Douvan, like last year’s winning novices will do the same.
Don Poli will probably head for Punchestown but there’s a three mile and a two-and-a-half mile in Aintree, and you have the Ryanair in Fairyhouse over two and a half, so who knows where Vautour could go?
Annie Power seems really well with no ill effects from her fall, so there’s a chance that she could do both Aintree and Punchestown. She seems 100%.
They’re all well and the plan will be to maximise as many big races now between now and the end of the year with them. The way Willie trains them, Cheltenham is the first of the spring festivals and all ours will be heading for the rest of those festivals too so there’s more to come.
For the moment, it’s back to the run-of-the-mill stuff. It’s not difficult to return to that, it’s normal. The best part of the winter season is geared around Cheltenham. It comes, it’s great, it’s over. You then have to move on and get back to the normal stuff and start thinking about Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown. They’re the next goals.
I suppose it is the time to start thinking about the possibility of chasing the champion jockey’s title too. I’m in shouting distance so I will give it a go now. I was out for four months at the beginning of the season when I had the operation on my shoulder, having held off on it until June so I could ride in Punchestown and Auteuil.
That gave me a little bit of an uphill climb but I am only six winners behind the unfortunate Mark Walsh, who broke his arm at the end of February, and just two in arrears of Paul Townend. If I got a little bit of luck in the next three or four weeks, I would have a good chance. But things will have to happen.
I have chances at the weekend. Willie only has Killer Crow declared over jumps and the Gigginstown horse has to have a chance in the novice hurdle (4.05) at Gowran today. Having said that, I ride Blair Perrone for Tony Martin and on his best form he would have a good chance.
I think he’ll handle the ground and he should handle the trip. His maiden hurdle win over Silver Concorde was a good run and if he came back to that, he’d be there or thereabouts. The race should suit him. There looks to be a couple of front-runners in it in the form of Domesday Book and Walk To Freedom. A bit of pace should help him to settle although that said, that might take the sting out of him too. He’s a good one to pick up.
I am in with a shout in the earlier maiden hurdle (2.55) too for Oliver McKiernan’s Golden Boot. He is rated 118 and if he can run to that level, it would be good enough to win most maiden hurdles at this time of year.
I ride The Winkler in a handicap hurdle (3.30) for Eoin Doyle. He was capable of winning a bumper and a maiden hurdle and if he came back to that, he would be in the mix. Eoin rang Jennifer yesterday morning to see if I’d ride him and seems happy with him. Hopefully he can put his best foot forward.
Patanne is the nap of the weekend even though he hasn’t been seen on a track for two years to the day, when he was third in a bumper to The Game Changer in Cork. He was previously second to Some Tikket, having participated in contests won by Clondaw Kaempfer and Blacklough to get his career under way.
We were disappointed with him when he was beaten but on reflection, the form has held up pretty well. He is working well and has a lot of work done. He hasn’t missed a beat. We’re happy with him and I think he’ll win.
It’s just the one in Downpatrick for Dad tomorrow. Salsa Sensation (2.10) was third in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown won by Fletcher, who has since won a handicap. Heck Thomas was second and while he disappointed in Limerick on Tuesday, he did win a maiden hurdle since. We’d have Utmost Zeal to beat but I’d say the form of his race isn’t working out too bad.
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