I was surprised yesterday when discovering that the BHA has decided to hold a somewhat belated inquiry into Aidan Coleman’s use of the whip when winning the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow aboard Emperor’s Choice.
I watched that race closely and felt the whip was used properly by the jockeys on all of the first three home.
To my eyes, Aidan utilised the whip correctly and responsibly and his horse kept responding. The issue, of course, is not the jockeys, but rather the BHA and their whip rules.
The rules are the real problem and the BHA has essentially dug a hole for itself. The old maxim tells us that when in a hole, you should stop digging.
The BHA thought they would be world leaders when it came to the regulation of the whip. But, and this is very important, not one leading racing nation has followed their lead.
Today, I head to Punchestown for three rides, with Douvan, in a Grade 2 novice hurdle, obviously the big one.
The ex-French horse now has a big reputation, after winning on his Irish debut at Gowran Park by 12 lengths.
He is a big frame of a horse and always looks fit, despite the fact that Willie Mullins does not get stuck into him.
In that way, he reminds me of Faugheen last season, who was also brought along slowly and calmly by Willie.
I’m not for a second trying to say Douvan is the next Faugheen, it’s just that physically there are similarities.
Anyway, I was very taken by Douvan at Gowran, Paul Townend rode, and have to be reasonably confident will make this step up in class. I do think, though, this is a horse that will greatly benefit from a summer’s grass.
I kick away on Jarry d’Honneur, another French import, in the opening beginners chase. He started life in this country by finishing fourth behind Lots Of Memories at Navan.
He was far too free and keen that day and, hopefully, will now have settled down. I believe, however, that this is a decent contest.
Apache Jack was a more than useful hurdler and Bishops Road, who was behind us at Navan, doesn’t have a massive amount to find.
The bottom line is I respect both of those rivals and feel Jarry d’Honneur has to improve nicely to beat them.
Willie runs four in the last, a Rated Hurdle, and I have gone with Aklan. I’d imagine not too many of you will be influenced by that, given my recent record when afforded a choice.
At Cork last Saturday, I went with Valyssa Monterg in another Rated Hurdle and she pulled up. The horse I discounted, Bosman Rule, won in a canter.
Then at Naas on Sunday, in a Grade 1 over flights, I could have ridden Mckinley, who turned over Tell Us More, but instead preferred to go with Killer Crow, who finished sixth of seven.
Aklan was disappointing at Navan last time, but that was his first outing of the campaign and I did think highly enough of him last season.
Looking at Willie’s other runners, Turban is what he is and heads back over hurdles, after falling in a chase at Tramore.
Shamsikhan hasn’t run since scoring at Cork in March, while Rolly Baby has an absence of 696 days to overcome.
I have three rides as well at Fairyhouse tomorrow, with Uradel first into action in a four-year-old maiden hurdle.
He was too free when a costly failure on this track and, as a result, I made too much use of him. That said, he has just been a bit disappointing, although I will be exercising a lot more restraint on this occasion.
I partner Enumerater for Eddie Harty in another maiden hurdle. He was second to Velocity Boy at Limerick and I hope has an each-way shout, in a race that looks all about quantity, rather than quality.
I fancied Abbey Lane at Navan two runs back and couldn’t get any sort of tune out of him, so we try again in a handicap chase.
After that he ran a cracker to finish sixth behind Living Next Door in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown.
That was only 14 days ago, however, and the race does seem to contain a particularly well handicapped horse in Bright New Dawn.
My nap of the weekend is Willie’s Au Quart de Tour in the bumper. Successful in his only point-to-point, at Dromahane, his work is very good.
Willie’s Florishwells d’Ete, Tony McCoy rides, has improved plenty for her first run of the season behind Clarcam at Navan and won’t be far away, in what shapes as a modest beginners chase.
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