Violet ready to bloom

We are coming off a desperate bout of seconditis at the moment, with four horses going very close but just not having their heads in front on the line in the past week.

You’d like if one or two of them had made it to the winner’s enclosure but they ran well and I can’t complain.

Galzig ran a blinder at Wexford last Saturday. She just couldn’t catch Echo Bob, falling short by just three-quarters of a length, but the two of them pulled five lengths clear of Prince Ludovic in third. Starling Lady got bogged down in the ground and then it started to lash rain for the bumper. It was like a monsoon so in those circumstances, I was happy enough with Parramatta.

Rear View ran a great race to be second in Navan the following day and I think he’ll be a nice horse. It really was a big improvement in every way, especially in his jumping. If he’d landed running after the last he might just have got there.

Brave By Nature missed the break which meant he could never get into things. I was happy with him though on his first run. The same couldn’t be said with Pontiac. No matter what the trip is, he doesn’t seem to get it and he’s entering the last chance saloon at Gowran Park today.

There were a couple more seconds in Cork on Thursday. Mystic Desir just got chinned on the line by Tabhachtach in the maiden. It was a much better performance than his last few. He ran the whole way to the line, he didn’t hang, he didn’t run away. He did everything that he was meant to do. I’m hopeful we have found the key to him now, we have him more relaxed at home. A fast-run two-mile race going right-handed on good ground appears to be what he needs so I’ll just have to try and find a race that covers all those denominators over the coming weeks!

Johnnys Legacy was sixth in the same race, less than four lengths behind the winner and that was a big improvement on his previous two runs over hurdles. I think that may be ground-related more than anything else but his runs on the all-weather got him good and fit. He coped with things better as he’s gotten a bit hardier and wiser.

Director’s Forum ran a blinder in the bumper. I don’t think he did anything wrong but rather that he came up against a better horse on the day in Lughnasa. He has a bright future I hope.

It’s strange to be heading into the start of the flat season just a week after being in Cheltenham but it’s exciting. Of course there are plenty of big days still to come in the national hunt campaign. Steps To Freedom, Oscars Well, Jetson, The Bull Hayes and Citizenship have all come out of their exertions well – Jetson didn’t get into the Pertemps Hurdle but made the journey over in anticipation that he would, while Steps was coughing after the Supreme Novices’ – and will have engagements at Fairyhouse and Punchestown.

We will have around 50 flat horses including some nice two-year-olds. We have lost Dragon Pulse, who has gone to race in France but though that’s a bit of a blow, we have to get on with it and I think we’ve as good depth as every other year.

In particular, we have some nice fillies and two of those run on Sunday. Princess Sinead is entitled to take her place in the Group 3 Park Express Stakes. I’m happy with her and she seems to be in good form. She doesn’t mind a bit of a dig in the ground.

Violet Lashes took time to come to hand last year and ran well in two maidens at the back end of the season. She’s a very big filly that has filled out well over the winter so I’m happy with her and we’ll see a different horse this year.

At Gowran Park, Beachdale Lad is a first-timer over hurdles. He has schooled well but would probably like better ground so I’m taking a bit of a chance with him there.

Maggie Neary won a maiden hurdle on her first run for me at Gowran two weeks ago so we’ll try to learn a bit more about her in the novice event today. There are some good horses in it as you’d expect but she is a good prospect with planned engagements at Fairyhouse and Punchestown before her owners bring her to America to race, so I would hope she goes well. She gets all the allowances and it seems to be a good opportunity for her.

I made a cock-up with Saville Row. He’s meant to be running at Downpatrick tomorrow but I forgot to cancel the declaration for Gowran so I’m not sure where he’s going or what he’s doing yet.

Lady Temptress is a nice filly. I think I’ve done enough work with her but it is her first time out. She is by High Chaparral and like Hurricane Run, we’re beginning to see a few more of his progeny entering the national hunt sphere. The Big Easy, who was second to Jezki on his only bumper run so far, is by Hurricane Run and I like him. The thing about them is that they stay so I would expect them to do well as national hunt sires.

In Downpatrick I think we’ve found a nice chance for Gimli’s Rock if he reproduces his last run. He won’t be giving away lumps of weight all around, the ground will be nice, so we just hope he puts his best foot forward. Gimli’s Return has been crying out for this trip and good ground so one would hope this is a good opportunity as well.

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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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