RUBY WALSH: We couldn’t be happier with powerful Yorkhill

The Christmas festivals are on the horizon but there’s plenty of good racing this weekend, and I’m really looking forward to riding Yorkhill on his chasing debut in the two-mile beginners’ race at Fairyhouse this afternoon.

I schooled him during the week and he jumped really well. David Casey rides him most of the time at home, and he’s really happy with him. He was a very, very good novice hurdler, winning three Grade Ones, and was probably feeling the effects of Cheltenham and Aintree when disappointing at Punchestown.

But he looks strong and well and we couldn’t be happier with him now. There are some decent sorts in opposition, but he was better than them over hurdles, and should be hard to beat. Un De Sceaux won this race a few years ago, and hopefully Yorkhill will be as lucky as him.

I’m on French-import Al Boum Photo in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle. He fell on his only start over hurdles in France, but he would have had a lot of schooling done before that and has always jumped well at home for us, so hopefully that was only a blip. He’s a fine big horse and has been working well enough, but he’s not a flashy type. He does things nicely, is ready to start, and should give a good account of himself.

Tony (Martin) seems to be happier with Living Next Door than he has been for a while, but he’s hard enough to recommend in the handicap hurdle. I was due to ride him in Cork one day but hurt my back and missed out on the ride. He ran badly that day and, while Tony is happier with him now, it’s a long time since he showed anything, and he’ll have to come back to his best to get involved.

That completes my book of rides for today, but Willie runs Blazer in the other beginners’ chase, and Mark Walsh rides him. He finished up last season with a hurdling mark in the low 140s, but prior to that had run over fences. He ran well on his first start over fences, when third behind Net D’Ecosse, but his second run was disappointing.

When he reverted to hurdling things seemed to happen for him, and he’ll have to get his act together a bit better than he did last year.

It’s a tough race, though. Mall Dini ran well in a very hot race at Punchestown, where he was just behind Coney Island, who boosted the form, and is probably the one to beat.

I’m in Navan tomorrow, where I start off on Cilaos Emery in the maiden hurdle. He won his only bumper, at Punchestown, and is going well at home. But Joey Sasa ran really well behind Brelade last time, and, though Cilaos Emery is a nice horse, I think he will be hard to beat.

I ride Invitation Only in the Navan Novice Hurdle, and he is stepping up in class having won his maiden at Gowran Park. He did it nicely, but this is a much tougher race.

Death Duty was a smart bumper horse and has looked very good in his two starts over hurdles. Gordon also runs Baltazar D’Allier, who has been well-touted, and Labaik, who was very good here two runs ago but refused to race last time. If you fancy his chances, you’re as well to wait to see him jump off.

Henry De Bromhead’s horse, Monalee, was also impressive when winning at Punchestown, and the third in that race, Turcagua, won next time. Most of the runners are taking a step up from maiden company, so nobody knows how good they are, but I was impressed with Invitation Only, the step up in trip won’t do him any harm, and I think he’ll give a good account of himself.

I ride Ross Voss for dad in the Tara Handicap Hurdle, a race he won last year off a 20lb lower mark. It will probably be hard enough to win it off this mark, but he’s a good ride, comes here in good form, and hopefully can run respectably. High Expectations and Automated are probably the two to beat.

Madurai runs in the maiden hurdle. He’s not an overly big horse, but he goes okay at home and this doesn’t look an outstanding contest. He shapes like a stayer, hence the reason he’s starting off over two-seven, and if he switches off over the trip, could prove too good for these.

Willie runs Good Thyne Tara in the bumper. She’s a good mare but is probably up against it taking on Samcro, who was very impressive on his bumper debut, at Punchestown.

Willie has three in Thurles tomorrow, and should go close with Royal Caviar in the beginners’ chase. He is working well, and won a hurdle over course and distance last year when he beat another of ours, Haymount. He has schooled well, and has a great chance, though he would like less rain, rather than more.

Asthuria should take beating in the mares’ novice hurdle. She won her maiden over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse, and is dropping back to two miles here, but that shouldn’t be a problem to her. She’s a great jumper, stays well, and it’ll take a fair one to get past her.

I’m taking it as a tip in itself that Patrick is going to Thurles to ride Sharps Choice in the bumper, rather than going to Navan.

Why can’t an insulin-dependent diabetic be a jockey?

Any jockey over 35 has to do an annual medical to renew his licence, and I did mine last Sunday. It was fine, but what I did learn whilst doing it was that an insulin-dependent diabetic cannot ride as a jockey. There may be a very good reason for that, but an insulin-dependent diabetic can drive a car and surely if they can do that, they should be allowed ride a racehorse. They control their diabetes, look after it, and test their blood, etc. I’m sure there’s a good reason for the rule, but it was news to me.


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