Early indications suggest another good Cheltenham

I CANNOT ever remember the early part of a National Hunt season which delivered so much and produced so many promising young horses.

The last couple of months have been simply exhilarating and we can already say with some certainty that, come next March, this country will arrive at the Cheltenham festival with a serious amount of ammunition at its disposal.

Tony Martin’s Dedigout was another up-and-coming youngster to signal he may well have a bright future indeed when winning a novice hurdle at Navan last Saturday.

Yet another product of the point-to-point fields — second at Dungarvan on his only outing — he appears to have massive scope for improvement.

Navan was only his third ever outing on the track and he arrived on the back of a workmanlike success in a modest maiden at Punchestown.

Ridden on the pace on this occasion by Davy Russell, in contrast to Punchestown, Dedigout was very impressive.

Truth to tell, the Bob Back gelding appeared as green as grass and did a fair bit of weaving about through the contest.

But he didn’t half bound away from the final flight to beat a useful field decisively in the end and is definitely one we have to have on our side, until knowing better!

Then at Punchestown on Sunday you couldn’t fail to be taken by the display of Noel Meade’s Please Talk in a maiden hurdle.

Successful in a point-to-point at Dromahane for John Halley, he went off a warm order on his racecourse debut in a Fairyhouse bumper last month.

Please Talk was, however, quite disappointing in taking only third behind Are Ya Right Chief and Mooney’s Cottage, well beaten since, and didn’t seem to have a huge amount going for him on that evidence.

But Meade has been getting so much right for many weeks now and wasted no time putting a set of obstacles in front of the five-year-old.

The transformation was quite remarkable and clearly anticipated, because Please Talk went off a heavily-backed favourite.

He made most of the running to win with loads in hand and, though it would be wrong to be getting carried away about any horse which has just won a lowly maiden, he has a lot of potential.

Rubi Light was good in the John Durkan at Punchestown, but really has a long road to travel before we can start talking about him as a possible Gold Cup candidate.

Admittedly, there is plenty to like about the horse. He jumps for fun and will be seven in the New Year, the same age both Imperial Call and War Of Attrition were when winning their Gold Cups.

But Rubi Light does seem ground dependent and very much at his best when it is heavy. History has taught us he will not have his surface come March.

As well as that there is no evidence at all Rubi Light will get three and a quarter miles round Cheltenham.

In any case let’s see him in action over three miles in the Lexus at Leopardstown at Christmas before getting too carried away.


SAM Waley-Cohen didn’t half emerge from that Fakenham debacle on Monday with his reputation tarnished.

He rode a finish with a circuit to go aboard Otage De Brion and then attempted to cover up his stupidity with a complete cock and bull story, that the horse had swallowed his tongue.

Anyone can make a mistake, but Waley-Cohen behaved like a spoilt brat and must have thought those watching on At The Races, not to mention the stewards, were total idiots.

The stewards didn’t believe him and he was handed a 12-day ban. You could have absolutely no sympathy for him and Waley-Cohen, up to this regarded as the golden boy of amateur riders in Britain, was suddenly seen in an utterly different light.

Mind you, there was one person who thought he was actually telling the truth and that was Richard Pitman, who was working at Fakenham for ATR.

He got it all wrong and gave the impression that being politically correct was more important than facing up to what he had seen with his two eyes.

Then, when the verdict was announced, he interviewed Waley-Cohen and together they glossed over the affair.

You were left almost screaming for RUK’s Nick Luck to magically arrive to ask the questions, which needed to be posed.


A HORSE to avoid in the future is surely Noel Meade’s Dylan Ross. He cost us a few quid when refusing to go through with his effort behind stable companion, Il Fenomeno, at Navan in November.

Catch me once shame on you, catch me twice shame on me. He didn’t seem to have a lot to beat at Punchestown last Sunday, but I could not bring myself to be with him.

He cruised up the straight, but would not battle when it came to the crunch and was beaten a head by Lord Windermere.

Perhaps, Dylan Ross will improve for better ground, but we will have to be against him in the depths of winter.

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