It’s Punchestown for me over the next two days, with the battle between Hurricane Fly and Jezki in tomorrow’s Morgiana Hurdle likely to prove the big talking point of the weekend.
But first things first and let’s start with today and Clondaw Court in a conditions hurdle. I believe this is a good horse and my idea of a banker.
He is unbeaten in four races, a point-to-point, a bumper and twice over flights. He was last seen at Thurles in January, scoring by 18 lengths.
Clondaw Court is working and schooling well at home, will love the trip and the ground and I have to be confident.
I had a choice between Tarabiyn and Verawal, in the three-year-old hurdle, and have gone with the former.
I rode him as well at Down Royal, when he was only fifth, and has plenty to find with Verawal, third in the same race.
But, I do think there is little between them and, essentially, feel that whichever handles the ground the best will emerge as the better of the pair.
I’m on Abbey Lane in the beginners chase and the one thing he has going for him is the fact he’s relatively experienced.
Willie Mullins also runs Valseur Lido and because he is owned by Gigginstown will, of course, be ridden by Bryan Cooper.
I’ve seen him working at home and he is fairly straight to my eyes. His hurdles form tells us this is a classy individual, he has schooled well and is obviously the one to beat.
I partner Celtic Abbey for Pat Fahy in a handicap hurdle and, despite having it to do off 11-10, he won’t be far away.
I rode him to finish second at Galway last time and think I learned a fair bit about the horse. Let’s see if I can make it tell now.
My day ends aboard another French recruit of Willie’s, River Run, in a two and a half mile maiden hurdle.
He has been absent for 488 days, but is doing everything right at home and does jump well. I’m anticipating a big run, but he is immature and likely to improve through the winter.
The romantic in me indicates that Hurricane Fly will beat Jezki tomorrow, but the realist says we are up against it.
We all know how good Hurricane Fly has been for many years, but he will be eleven in a short few weeks and there is no more improvement, you’d imagine, in him.
In contrast Jezki is four years his junior, is the reigning champion hurdler and then backed it up at the Punchestown festival subsequently.
On both occasions he beat Hurricane Fly, but we live in hope and will certainly be giving it our very best shot.
I’m on Sir Ector for Jimmy Lambe in a handicap hurdle and he has to have a life, in what looks an ordinary race. Mind you, he does seem to be a better horse on the flat, rather than as a hurdler.
Willie’s Alelchi Inios will attempt to make it six from six over fences in a Grade 2 Novice Chase. He has done everything asked of him so far, but my worry is the ground.
It has to be an issue, although he is a fine big horse. The two-mile trip is ideal and if he handles the surface is more than capable of winning.
I think Indevan will go through the ground, in the other Grade 2 novice chase, but doubt he is good enough to beat some smart opposition.
My idea of the winner is Noel Meade’s Very Wood, who greatly impressed me when getting off the mark over fences at Galway.
Gigginstown have two runners in a two miles and six maiden hurdle and Bryan Cooper has opted to go with Gordon Elliott’s No More Heroes. That means I get to ride Outlander for Willie and am more than pleased about that. Outlander has, admittedly, not run for 571 days, but is a good horse and has a lot of work done.
Martin Brassil’s Troll d’Oudairies rounds off what I hope will be a lucrative few days in a handicap hurdle.
This will be his seasonal debut, but Martin is likely to have him ready to go and the horse will relish the ground.
Willie sends runners to Cork tomorrow and I definitely fancy two of them in maiden hurdles, Sempre Medici and Black Hercules.
Sempre Medici, yet another from France, ran in a schooling hurdle at Thurles in March and jumps super.
Black Hercules will appreciate further in time - it’s two miles tomorrow - but possesses enough class to make light of that.
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