It’s a big weekend for the Graham Wylie novices, with Bellshill and Yorkhill both in action in Grade One company, and Yorkhill plays his hand first, in this afternoon’s Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
He’s a horse we like a lot, and he won well at Punchestown on his first start over hurdles. He drops back to two miles, which shouldn’t inconvenience him because two miles around Sandown at this time of the year takes a lot of getting.
I’m really looking forward to riding him, I think he has a great chance, he’s a lovely horse, and has improved a good bit since his first run.
His work is good at home, he’s not short on speed and has proven stamina so, fingers crossed, he can do the business today.
O O Seven, from Nicky Henderson’s yard, looks the best of the opposition, but we think ours is a very good novice, and are very hopeful.
Gitane Du Berlais is my first ride of the day, in the mares’ listed hurdle, in which Willie also runs Petite Parisienne.
There’s probably not a whole lot between them, but Petite Parisienne was a dual Grade One winner last season.
She was disappointing on her first start of this season, but needed the run badly, and has come on a good bit for it.
Gitane Du Berlais had a really tough race at Carlisle, against Emily Gray, and it has taken her a bit of time to get over it.
We think she’s back to form now, but is probably a better chaser than she is a hurdler, so I’d be more hopeful than confident today.
I also ride two for James Nash, starting with Your Busy in the veterans’ chase.
He’s been targeted at this race for some time. I’ve ridden him a number of times, and won a hurdle at Listowel in June.
He’s a great ride, but would prefer better ground.
James also runs Cardinal Palace in the last race. He’s not a bad horse, but definitely wants quicker ground.
There’s some great racing at Naas tomorrow, and I start off on Uranna in the mares’ beginners’ chase. She has schooled really well, got to a reasonable standard over hurdles, and I’m looking forward to her going chasing — hopefully she’ll start the day off on a good note.
The novice chase is a cracking contest. This is only a winners’ race but my mount, Shaneshill, and Kitten Rock could as easily have pitched up in Leopardstown for the Grade One race won by Douvan, and I’m sure they wouldn’t have been disgraced.
Kitten Rock is probably quicker than Shaneshill, but Shaneshill might stay a bit better.
Don’t get me wrong, even though this is over two miles, I wouldn’t swap Shaneshill.
He gave me a great feel when winning at Thurles, but I rode Kitten Rock to win over course and distance over hurdles and am well aware just how good he is.
Both might prefer a bit better, but it’ll be a very good race and whichever comes out on top will definitely have Cheltenham credentials.
The big race of the day is the Grade One Novice Hurdle and I can’t wait to get back on Bellshill. I loved him at Navan last time.
That race used to be a Grade One and this one a Grade Two, but they’re the other way around and so we’re meeting these horses without the penalty he would have had, which is no bad thing.
I really, really like him, and, to be honest, with all due respect to the opposition I will be disappointed if he doesn’t collect.
I’m on Waterville Rock in the maiden hurdle. He won a bumper for Katie at Downpatrick, and had previously been placed in a good bumper at Cork, behind Mall Dini, who bolted-in in a maiden hurdle recently at Thurles.
James (Nash) says he’s in good form, and hopefully he’ll run a good race.
No point moaning about rules
I could go ranting about the King George, and the whip rules, but they’re English rules, no-one else in the world has rules like them —
I don’t agree with them, but it’s probably best to forget about it now.
It’s a shame, but it was a great race, and the rest is history.
On a much more positive note, I want to compliment the ground staff in Leopardstown, Limerick, Punchestown, Taunton and every other track which managed to defy the weather in the last week.
These islands are awash with water, people in every neck of the woods struggling, and you have to feel sorry for them.
But, I must tip my hat to all the grounds men and women who have done an unbelievable job to get racing to go ahead.
I ain’t calling him Sir
My good friend will now be Sir Anthony, and it’s an amazing accolade, but no more than he deserves for what he has achieved and the way he has conducted himself as a sportsman. Thoroughly merited.
But, I just can’t see myself ever ringing him up and saying ‘Good morning Sir Anthony’! Lady Chanelle, maybe, but Sir Anthony, no!
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