Cascade can improve for his comeback run

I GENERALLY go on a skiing holiday at this time of the year, when the racing scene is quite enough and so this column is coming to you from Megeve in France.

This is our third year in a row here and I am really enjoying it.

Yesterday it was snowing fairly heavily but we still went out and felt our way down the slopes as visibility wasn’t great. Crucially, we all came back in one piece afterwards, with a hot bath, warm meal and a drink aiding the relaxation process.

Johnny is still in hospital after his operation last week. He’s been through a tough time of it but he is due to be left out in the next couple of days and hopefully will progress after that.

From a racing point of view, it’s good to see that we’ve stopped the rot judging by the figures that were released during the week. Attendances and Tote betting have increased and that’s a good sign.

The one slightly worrying thing is the reduction in the amount of horses in training but that was bound to filter through with the way the economy was and it’s only now that it has arrived. The upside of that though is that there were probably a lot of horses that shouldn’t have been in training so there has been a weeding out process.

If you look at it, 12 months ago there were a lot fewer runners in bumpers and that has filtered through to the maiden hurdles.

But the quality of the racing is very good in Ireland and people will always come out to see that. The next six months will be very interesting I think.

The levels of prize money are very important in that regard because the one group we need to look after is the owners. A thing that narks me a little bit is you’ll always see the jockeys and trainers quoted in the media, but rarely the owner, who buys the horses and pays the bills every week to keep us all in business. If there are no owners, there are no horses, trainers or jockeys.

Since last week, I’ve had just two runners before the two that ran in Dundalk last night. Unfortunately Hugo De Vindecy suffered a small hairline fracture of his pelvis at Punchestown on Saturday. It’s a big blow because it had taken a lot to get him back on the track after almost two years out. It’s a pity but that’s the way it goes.

On Sunday at Navan, Spanish Auriga was third in a novice chase. He’s a bit of an enigma but he’s been third twice now in the space of a month after being off the track for 18 months. I was very pleased with the run though. He seemed to do nothing when he got there and was just caught by the horses coming from behind. I had it in the back of my mind that he mightn’t like going left-handed but he was really good and jumped straight and well so that increases our options with him and if things go right, he’ll win races.

Feabhra is our only runner today at Naas in the maiden hurdle. She didn’t have bad form in bumpers but disappointed me the last day and I’m just hoping for an improved effort on this occasion.

Tomorrow at Fairyhouse, Espresso Lady runs in the mares’ novice hurdle rather than another maiden because it’s more important she gets a bit of black type. She would appreciate a better gallop than she got the last day.

Her half-brother, Saludos runs in the Grade 2 chase against Noble Prince, Blazing Tempo, Psycho and Tranquil Sea. I’ve said it here before that he just falls between two stools. He’s rated 141 and he couldn’t win a handicap off 139 giving weight all round. So where do you go with him? He’s just a hard horse to place at the moment. There are only five runners of course so there’s some good prize money on offer and he has picked up prize money in all his races this year. But it’d be nice for him to win one!

Imperial Cascade is making a quick reappearance in the maiden hurdle after having his first run in 21 months when fourth, also at Fairyhouse, ten days ago. I’m hopeful for him. He’ll be fitter and I was delighted with how he ran on his comeback. He jumped well and has continued to do so in schooling. He should come on a lot for that and I’d expect that he will go close.

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