There are some great races on this afternoon’s card in Down Royal, where the Champion Chase is the feature, and a very good card tomorrow in Mallow, where the Cork Grand National is the highlight.
I have just one ride this afternoon at Down Royal, and that’s Shanning, in the two-mile handicap hurdle.
She has probably been a bit unlucky insofar as she ran into Low Sun at Galway and to Ballyoisin at Listowel.
She has crept up a bit in the weights, but not too much, and she’s in really good form.
She’d appreciate a drop of rain — they are forecast some — and hopefully she’ll justify my trip to country Antrim.
Willie’s only other runner in Down Royal today is Buck’s Billionaire, who runs in the bumper. I thought he ran better in Navan the last day than he did in his two previous runs.
He seems to be in good form and will appreciate the big galloping track, but if the vibes are right, the horse that Gordon runs, Malone Road, is going to be very hard to beat.
We have no runner in the Champion Chase, but it is a cracking race.
It’s dominated by Gigginstown, and they have the class horses in the race. Woodland Opera and Sandymount Duke are the only two runners in the race that don’t run in their colours.
They are fit and both in good form, but they’re not quite Grade One horses, so Gigginstown should win this, and Road To Respect is the standout for me.
The trip is a bit of an unknown for Balko Des Flos as his dominant performances last year were in the Ryanair Chase and the Galway Plate, both less than three miles.
The Grade Three chase is also a cracking race, but I’m a Monalee fan and think he will take beating. The trip just shy of two and a half miles for his first start will really suit him, Noel Fehily comes over to ride him, and I think he’ll be hard to beat.
Wille has plenty of runners at both meetings tomorrow, and my first ride in Cork is on Getareason in the listed novice hurdle over three miles.
He was disappointing at Limerick, where he raced keenly, and Percy Veer came from the back to beat us all. He has been a bit in and out, but should appreciate this step up in trip and go very well.
Robin De Carlow hasn’t done much well in her life.
She quickened up well to beat Awayinthewest and Good Thyne Tara at Limerick and, getting 7lbs off Getareason here, must have a big shout.
I’m on Robin Des Foret in the Grade Three Novice Chase. He has done nothing wrong all year, two and a half miles really suits him, he has loads of experience, is fit and well, and has a great chance.
The one concern would be that there’s a good bit of rain forecast, and he probably wouldn’t want too much of it.
I ride Minella Beau in the Cork Grand National. It’s hard to say he’s well treated off 132 but the fact he has 10-13 gives him a good shout. He lacks experience for a test like this, having had just three runs over fences, but he jumped well each time and we think he’ll get the trip. He seems to be in very good order so hopefully he will go well.
Willie runs two in the bumper and I’m not surprised Patrick has gone for Royal Illusion over Northern Belle.
Although, at six years of age, she is the older horse, I think she has improved more.
She doesn’t show a whole pile at home, but she really came alive at the track and could have come on enough to win again.
Moving to Naas, Wille has half of the 20 runners in the November Handicap.
Limini has had a good campaign but didn’t quite get home in the English Cesarewitch and I think the handicapper might just have her. Whiskey Sour is in the same boat. He has been a great money spinner but might just be in the grip of the handicapper. Willie is claiming off both and maybe that will give them a chance, but to me it’s quite tough.
Stratum raced too keenly in the English Cesarewitch, but we think he could still be ahead of the handicapper. Colin Keane rides him, he’s in great order, and is a massive runner.
Uradel ran a blinder in the English Cesarewitch when just touched off by Low Sun. He has come out of that race well and will give a good account of himself. Chelkar had a great run in Ascot on his first start of us but has been bitterly disappointing in his two runs since. But, I’ve been riding him in his work lately, he’s in good form, and I think he could go well at a big price.
Pakora was very good on her first two starts over hurdles for us but disappointed behind Pearl Of The West on quick ground at Bellewstown.
It’s her first run on the Flat for us and if it rains it would give her a good shout.
Nessun Dorma got a great ride from Billy Lee when winning over a mile and a half at Galway. He ran his race in Navan, but I think the penalty from Galway seems to have slowed him down. Exchange Rate has been banging on the door and, as a result, has been creeping up the handicap without winning. But, he’s in really good form and the trip will suit him.
Makitorix has been bitterly disappointing and we can’t quite figure him out. He’s not bringing his home work to the track. If he did he would run a big race but you’re taking that on trust.
The lowest-weighted of our runners is Pleasure Dome. She didn’t get a great run in Navan where she was boxed in and shuffled a long, long way back. She would like a longer trip, but she has no weight on her back and could run a nice race.
Willie also runs two in the finale. Law Girl got no run in Lingfield on Thursday, but If it rains, Riven Light has a great chance and Law Girl has no chance. The quicker the ground the better for Law Girl and if she could get black type that would be great. Riven Light is in great form, but I think a mile and a half stretches his stamina.
Ruby’s best bets
Royal Illusion 4:25 Cork, Sunday
Shanning 1:55 Down Royal, Saturday Robin Des Foret 2:10 Cork, Sunday