Promising Dildar can boost Triumph prospects

PAUL NICHOLLS got among the winners yesterday, which was a big relief to all of us associated with the stable.

As you all know, he has had coughing in the yard for a number of days now and that was a major worry, with Cheltenham looming large on the horizon.

The question is can we keep the new-found momentum going at Kempton today?

I kick away aboard Dildar in the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle and this is a hot contest.

Dildar won on the flat in France, at Longchamp, when trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre. He has had one run for Paul, when I rode him to score at Taunton.

He won nicely that day, but his jumping did leave something to be desired. I schooled Dildar at Paul’s yesterday morning and his technique was far better. I think he will definitely appreciate the drier ground now and, if he’s going to be regarded as a live candidate for the Triumph Hurdle, he has to win this, hot race or not.

I’m on Michel Le Bon in the Racing Plus Chase, which used to be the Racing Post Chase. Given the massive money on offer, I think this is an ordinary contest.

Michel Le Bon was returning from a break of about two years in the Hennessy at Newbury in November, finishing tenth behind Carruthers.

He seemed to run a bit too free and Paul has given him a nice break in the meantime, 91 days to be precise. Truthfully, he is not the greatest jumper in the world, but has a big engine. He has a serious chance.

Cristal Bonus too shouldn’t be far away in a Grade 2 chase for novices. I won on him by 25 lengths at Chepstow.

The funny thing is that I never felt we were travelling well that day, but in the end he bolted clear and could have won by a furlong.

He has Cheltenham aspirations, possibly the Jewson Chase, and he’d want to be competitive here if such notions are to be in any way realistic.

Dodging Bullets has his first outing for Paul, and his first over jumps, in another Grade 2, for novices over flights.

He used to be trained by Andrew Oliver in Ireland and left on the back of winning on the flat at Sligo and Galway.

He is a bit buzzy and keen and I will have to tuck in. It is hard to know what they will do first time up, but I saw the horse yesterday morning and he is a strong individual.

I end on The Reformer over hurdles, but he’s badly handicapped, needs fences and I hope I’m still not winnerless at that stage.

Tomorrow, I will be shopping local at Naas and have only two rides, Felix Yonger and Seabass.

Felix Yonger worked reasonably well during the week and has a life in a novice hurdle.

This is not best Graded contest ever run and, hopefully, he will continue to improve. Felix is one of those who came to Willie Mullins’ from Howard Johnson and was a bit disappointing when only second at Cork.

He didn’t jump great and hung, but was good subsequently at Downpatrick when beating reliable yardstick, Beef To The Heels.

Downpatrick wasn’t really his course and he will, I’d imagine, be much more at home around Naas.

I partner Seabass for my dad in a two-mile chase. He’s won three in-a row on the track, at Punchestown, Limerick and Leopardstown.

My sister, Katie rode him in the last two, but I’ve jocked her off, so I hope she’s still talking to me!

Seabass wants further, but it won’t be any great surprise if he delivers all the same. He’s heading to Aintree for the National and this will sharpen him up.

I probably won’t be riding Seabass at Aintree, but could be on Prince De Beauchene, who runs in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse today.

I’ll be watching with more than a little interest, having finished fifth on him in the Troytown at Navan. There wasn’t much pace on in that race and I was a bit too far back.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox