Last week was the start of the new race times – there were a good few of them in the UK - and I think, for people who were viewing racing on the whole, it was a better experience.
With all the racing that was on channels last week, there was only one split screen.
Hopefully with the odd race times in Naas today, viewers will again get to see all the racing.
Willie’s first runner of the weekend is Cut The Mustard, in the second at Naas, and she will take a good bit of beating. Dropping down in trip will really suit her.
She ran over two-six in Thurles behind Elimay and it was just too far for her.
I thought she was going to win the mares’ handicap hurdle at the 2019 Dublin Racing Festival, and she would have won at two miles but got beaten at two and a quarter. She’s a good jumper and will be hard to beat today.
Willie runs Hybery in the maiden hurdle, but I think it’s between Entoucas and Village Mystic and if you pushed me, I’d probably go for the latter.
Willie and I are still arguing over what the correct pronunciation is for Aione, but you’re reading it and not having to say it aloud so you can decide for yourself what you want to call him.
Whichever way you choose, he’s still a nice horse and should go very well in the auction novice hurdle.
He and Russian Diamond look the two to concentrate on. I think he might just get through this time and he could have the bigger future as well.
Dad runs Hardwired in the bumper. He should have improved for his first run, he’s a strong stayer, and hopefully he will go close.
Willie runs Ciel De Niege in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. He had a great run in the Fred Winter and a very good run behind Janidil, Buildmeupbuttercup and Articulum at Fairyhouse.
He’ll like Newbury, as it’s a stiff track, and, at around 10-1, I think he’s a great each-way bet.
Altior runs in the Game Spirit. In the last two weeks, Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil put their cards on the table for the Champion Chase, and Altior can enhance his claims of holding his crown.
There have been rave reviews of him in the paper and I actually saw a video of his schooling and he was very good. It will be great for racing if can bolt in today and turn the Champion Chase into a mouth-watering clash.
It’s hard to believe that when we saw Native River and Might Bite going toe to toe in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup that 23 months later we’d see them lining up in the Denman Chase and one would be 3-10 favourite and the other 13-2.
But that’s the way their careers have gone and it certainly looks to be Native River’s to lose.
Tomorrow at Punchestown, Francin should be hard to beat in the two-four maiden hurdle. He was third behind Cobbler’s Way last time and that form is really working out.
Runner-up Sempo won on Thursday, fourth-placed The Big Getaway won next time and Aarons Day, who finished sixth, also won next time. It’s strong form and he is improving.
Pleasant Company is probably up against it under top weight in the Grand National trial. We have a couple down the bottom – Stones And Roses and Ifyoucatchmenow – and I’d probably have preference for the latter.
Ferny Hollow runs in the bumper but he has been bitterly disappointing.
He has been all the rage in both outings and it should be a matter of time before he gets his head in front but I have a bit of an allergy to horses that find a way of losing – and I think he has twice found a way to lose.
Leopardstown’s December to February plan is both simple and effective
I really enjoyed last weekend in Dublin. From Latest Exhibition in the first on Saturday, all the way to Darling Daughter in the last on Sunday, Leopardstown had it all. Big names winning big races and small yards landing massive pots.
With the mix of Grade 1s and valuable handicaps, everyone had a shot.
The hype and expectation never fell flat on its face, largely thanks to the job Leopardstown did with the ground but also due to the standard of horses we are lucky to have on these shores right now.
Some have quibbled about the shortage of foreign raiders but realistically why would you come into the lion’s den when a home game of higher stature awaits you in five weeks’ time?
Others have bemoaned the use of the inside hurdle track, which, for as long as I can recall, has been the track of choice at this time of year in Leopardstown.
The Foxrock venue provides a fresh racing line for each of its six meetings in December and February, so they start on the outside and work their way inwards.
A simple but effective measure and, while the track gets a little tighter each day, its innermost track is by no means tight.
Actually, at over 1m and 5f on the round, it’s actually one of the bigger “laps” on the circuit.
Saturday outdid Sunday crowd-wise again but, from an action point of view, it was probably a close call. Some massive equine performances were equalled by a few human ones.
Names like Kevin Brouder, Robert Widger and Conor Maxwell emerged. Paul Gilligan reappeared, Charles Byrnes cropped up as he often does when there is money to be won, and Paul Nolan, Bryan Cooper and Danny Mullins continued their fine seasons.
All the regulars scored: Rachael rocked on Saturday and Faugheen created Danoli-like scenes on Sunday. Then one young man hit a huge high and then a cruel low, and that was Jack Kennedy.
I know how he feels. It can’t be written, said or explained. It can’t be fixed overnight, and no amount of painkillers will ease his pain because the pain is in his head and his heart.
The physical pain of a broken femur is a mere inconvenience to be tolerated and scorned at as he looks down at his leg that won’t allow him to ride for probably four months.
No Cheltenham, Aintree, Fairyhouse or Punchestown. No celebration of his Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup triumph on Delta Work. No time to even enjoy it.
Instead, he departed Leopardstown for St Vincent’s Hospital, off Nutley Lane, in an ambulance.
Bound for theatre to have a pin inserted in his leg from his knee to his hip.
But there will be no “poor me,” no “why me?” no “I can’t deal with this,” no “it’s not fair.”
Jack will just tell you it could be worse, because even at just 20 years of age he is wise enough to realise it could be.
He will heal and he will return, he will have more big winners and he will live his dream.
He has the talent and has already shown he possesses the ability to return to the top.
But he knows it already: he will be here again too. And that is the hardest part of this great game.