Freedom schools brilliantly ahead of Supreme Novices

You have to enjoy it when the horses are going well and, with three winners in the past week before last night in Dundalk, I am certainly not complaining. In fact four out of my previous ten runners came up trumps so that’s a percentage you’d have to be happy with!

It is a good time of year to have them going well, with Cheltenham just around the corner, but you can’t take it for granted because, as we are reminded of time and time again, racing is the greatest leveller.

The news that Kauto Star could miss out on the Gold Cup is another example. Hopefully, he will make it, but there is no doubt that people take for granted just how much of a job it is to get horse to Cheltenham fit and ready to race, not to mind actually winning there.

It’s remarkable, when you think of it, the number of years he raced at the festival consecutively. It’s a great testament to the horse, but also to Paul Nicholls and his team. So, while I will hopefully have three or four horses travelling with very good chances, at this stage you’re just hoping that everything will be alright between now and then.

Steps To Freedom schooled brilliantly on Tuesday, jumping 12 hurdles at the Curragh. He’s after getting a good bit stronger and I’m very happy that we decided against running him at Dundalk as he had a busy enough flat season before going hurdling. It’s all systems go for the Supreme Novices.

I’m very happy with Oscars Well too. He galloped on Tuesday and we were delighted with him. He doesn’t necessarily show a lot at home, so you have to be careful not to do too much with him, because you often think he needs more work than is the case. He has improved with every run this year and I’m hoping he will be just at his peak for the Champion Hurdle.

We had the press down on Wednesday to watch Citizenship work ahead of his bid for the €100,000 Boylesports bonus and I’m very happy with him too. He more or less trains himself, so he’ll be fine.

I was over the moon with Fairy Wing’s win in Dundalk coming back off a break. He has returned a much stronger horse and will now mix it up between hurdles and the flat right through the summer. He schools very well and seems to love jumping. I’m not 100% sure he’ll stay but the better ground will suit him.

Chaperoned was disappointing, as she has been a little bit all year, but she had a wind operation during the week and that will hopefully get her back on track, along with the drying ground.

Bostons Angel has just fallen out of love with racing a little bit. I thought after the Hennessy that maybe the RSA Chase had left its mark, but now I think it’s just him after Robert pulled him up in the Bobbyjo on Saturday. He’s gone up to the Powers now to jump ditches, banks and drains and the hope is that this strategy will pique his interest once again. Until we see what happens, it’s hard to say what plans for the future might be.

Play The Market was very good on Sunday, making all the running to win the maiden hurdle. I had said here last week that I was hoping for a big run but my one concern was that two miles might be a bit short. He may run next at Naas tomorrow week, with potential handicap or graded dates at Fairyhouse or Punchestown to follow up on better ground that he will appreciate. Whatever happens though, anything he does now is a bonus as he is going to be a lovely chaser.

Saludos ran a much improved race when third to Seabass, showing a renewed interest and verve. We took a chance in running him so quickly on Thursday and it paid off as he got his head in front for the first time this year, and did it easily. He will probably be confirmed for the Grand Annual Chase but we would need rain for him to run. Starling Lady just got stuck in the ground.

Imperial Cascade is a former Goffs Bumper winner who will strip fitter today after two good runs back following a lengthy injury lay-off, while the drying ground will also be of benefit and I am looking forward to a big run.

Mystic Desir and Rear View both run in the maiden hurdle at Leopardstown tomorrow. It’s Rear View’s first hurdle race but he has schooled well. I was disappointed when Mystic Desir was second to Lyreen Legend, which gives an indication of the hopes I had for him. He is a bit of an enigma but he seems in good form.

Jenari and The Bull Hayes both run in the handicap hurdle and they should both be in with a shout, although it will be Jenari’s first time in handicap company.

Paradis De Thaix should be good enough in the handicap chase. It’s a good race but he jumps very well, will like the better ground and is off a very nice mark, even though he is 4lbs out of the handicap.

We run two in the bumper as well. I hadn’t really wanted to run The Big Easy against Jezki but his owner will be over. He is a nice horse, by Hurricane Run, and there actually isn’t much between them on work at home. Jezki has the experience of the one run, which he won, and if he is to take his chance at Cheltenham, he will really have to win this.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.


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