There were no negative vibes for anyone to feed off of and that was very important for the race and for the sport as a whole.
It’s a different race now from what it used to be but if people thought it wouldn’t throw up a big-priced winner anymore, they were wrong. Aurora’s Encore is a flat-bred horse that isn’t very big but he jumped for fun and looked like he could have gone around again.
Aintree was good for Irish-trained horses too with some good winners and plenty of placed horses. Now Punchestown is almost upon us and I am really looking forward to that.
We have to keep our eye on the ball though and while we have no runners today, there are four tomorrow that will hopefully go well.
Liberating takes her place in the Group 3 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. I was very pleased with her tune-up at Dundalk eight days ago when she was third. She is a bit of a stuffy filly and would have needed that. Hopefully it will have her just right.
I think she has quite a good opportunity here, certainly of being in the frame. It doesn’t look as good a race as last year, when the winner, Homecoming Queen was rated 105, just touching off the 111-rated Fire Lily. Our own Remember Alexander was fourth and she was rated 105.
There is no horse rated over 100 in this year’s renewal and Liberating has a rating of 96. What’s more, I think she will handle a little more cut in the ground than she could last year and that might be important if the rain does come. She has strengthened up a good bit. I give her a decent chance and she definitely represents good each-way value in a nine-horse contest.
I would say the same for Bendzoldan, who was fifth in her seasonal debut at the Curragh last week. It was a good effort and she is entitled to come on for that in a similar event. These handicaps are always hard to call but she should be there or thereabouts.
Takeyourcapoff would appreciate the ground as it is right now and won’t be without a chance unless it goes soft.
Why But Why takes in a beginners’ chase at Tramore and is another that appreciates good ground. He took in the all-weather at Dundalk in February just to keep ticking over while we waited for the right conditions. He really likes to jump and again, if the ground is right – and it was still good there yesterday — should give a good account of himself.
We had some pleasing runs in the past week. At Limerick last Sunday, Overcall was just blindsided by the fast-finishing Shanpallas. Again, he enjoyed the improved going and will hopefully win his maiden hurdle soon. We will go somewhere before Punchestown maybe. I was also pleased with Director’s Forum, who needed the run and is coming along nicely.
Steps To Freedom ran a big race to be only two lengths behind Parish Hall when third in the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh. That was a really good effort and if the ground is good, he will take his chance in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
Chino Valdes is another that did very well when following up his debut third over fences with a second at Gowran on Tuesday. He is racing with enthusiasm, which wasn’t the case all the time over hurdle.
He really loves to jump and maybe he’s enjoying the challenge of that. So we have a bit to look forward to there, particularly if the ground stays good.