Contrasting fortunes at Leopardstown

We’ve had a bit of an up and down week — highlighted by the contrasting fortunes of Bostons Angel in the Grade 1 Fort Leney Novices’ Chase and Saludos in the Grade 1 Bord Na Mona With Nature Novice Chase at Leopardstown earlier in the week.

I suppose that’s always the way but it was just great to get back racing — it really was.

We managed to struggle through Christmas and we got the horses away to do some work at The Curragh on Monday and Tuesday. It was great that we were able to get them out of the place but that’s only ever made possible by the dedication of the entire team.

Christmas was great with all the family here and we got through it all despite the snow and the ice and everything else.

One night before Christmas the temperature here dropped to minus 15 or 16. We’re lucky to have the indoor school so we can keep going. In a funny way it paid off as most of the horses ran well.

All the team came in on Christmas Day and on St Stephen’s Day to keep things going. It hasn’t been easy on the road.

They came in every morning and I must say they are all great. When all the effort gets rewarded with victories such as Bostons Angel’s in the Fort Leney Chase, it’s great for the entire stable. Everybody’s on a sort of buzz after a victory like that.

Personally, I was thrilled with the success — it was great to get that one. I wasn’t really surprised with the performance because Robert (Power) got off him after the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse and said that, over two and a half miles at Grade 1 level, they have too many gears for him. He said to go three miles with the horse and he’d be in his element.

Robert gave him a great ride and he was a good winner. I haven’t really talked to the owners about what’s next for Bostons Angel. The owners live in England and, for various reasons, none of them were able to get over for the race. We just said we’d let the dust settle on that success for a while.

I’m sure they’d love to run in Cheltenham but I’m not sure whether it’d be better to wait for Aintree.

Most of the horse’s form is on ground with plenty of give in it but I don’t think he minds what type of going he encounters. Before he won at Leopardstown I was thinking about aiming towards the Midlands Grand National — a race I won with Miss Orchestra in 1998 and Intelligent in 2003 — but now he’s likely to be too high in the weights for that.

Long term, I think he’s going to be an Aintree Grand National horse. I wouldn’t be thinking of that race this season because you need loads of experience before you go there and he just hasn’t got it yet.

I thought Robert was very unlucky on Saludos, who was still in front when falling at the last in the Grade 1 Novice Chase won by Realt Dubh. He got headed going out of the backstraight but as soon as something goes past the horse he battles back. He beat all of them off and Robert said there was plenty left in the tank at the time he fell.

He met the last fence right — it wasn’t as though he got in too tight or was too long at it. He just clipped the top of it. It’s just one of those novicey falls.

He came out of the race fine. He wasn’t a tired horse when he took that crashing fall. The way he leapt up and cantered off was a sure sign of that. He was fine yesterday. He was out in the field bucking and kicking and he’ll now be aimed at a return to Leopardstown for the Irish Arkle.

Looking to this afternoon, I have just a few runners to send out. Wood Lily and Thirteen Up are making their respective debuts over hurdles at Fairyhouse, while Mosstown runs in a Handicap Hurdle later on the card and he should put up a good show. He was off for almost a year until making his seasonal debut at Fairyhouse a couple of weeks ago and should go well this time. In the bumper I also run a filly called Burn And Turn, who was third on her debut at Cork last month.

In the Beginners’ Chase at Tramore I run Bostons Angel’s half-brother, Bostons Gift, who was just touched off at Naas about six weeks ago. Having had a few bad runs over hurdles, he made dramatic improvement on his chasing debut. It’d be very nice if he could add to his family’s success over fences this week.

It was just great to get racing and there were terrific contests. I was impressed with Hurricane Fly in the Festival Hurdle but I was very, very impressed with Pandorama in the Lexus Chase. He did it very well indeed.

As well as the outstanding performances, there were also ones which left trainers and owners scratching their heads as to where it all went wrong.

That’s racing and, as I always say, if we could open the bonnet and look at the engine of the horses, we’d all be millionaires.

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