RUBY WALSH: Listen Dear the standout bet on a big weekend

Much as I would love to ride Douvan in the Hilly Way Chase in Cork tomorrow, I can’t be in two places at once, and so I’ll be in Punchestown to ride Djakadam in the John Durkan Memorial. It’s a Grade 1 race, the biggest race of the day, and that’s the reason I’m going there.

Before that, though, I have five rides this afternoon in Navan, starting on C’est Jersey in the opener. He was second on his only start over hurdles in France, schools well, and goes well at home. But whether he’ll be good enough to beat Chirico Vallis, who was second to Peace News, is the question. But we have had a few maiden hurdle winners lately, and hopefully this fellow will give a good account of himself.

Pravalaguna starts off for us in the mares’ maiden hurdle and, as she won on the flat over a mile and seven furlongs, she should be able to cope with two and a half miles today. But coping with Three Swallowsnick is a different ball game. Gordon’s mare’s bumper form is very good, and she’s a point to point winner. Our filly works well at home but you’d be a brave man to say she’d beat Three Swallowsnick.

Two miles and a furlong is probably sharp enough for Briar Hill in the Klairon Davis Novice Chase, but Navan is a stiff track, he ran well in the beginners’ chase over two miles at Galway, on what was his first run in a long time, and I think he can follow up his win at Killarney.

Three Stars and Attribution will definitely be more at home over the trip, but our fella is in good form and if we get enough rain at Navan and it turns into a slog he will be hard to beat.

King’s Wharf is running in a very competitive handicap chase, and I’m not sure he’s a certainty to get two and a half miles as I thought he’d win between the last two at Wexford and he got run out of it. I think Ball D’Arc could be well handicapped, he’s crying out for the trip, and could be hard to beat.

Rathvinden is off the track a long time, but has schooled well over fences and is going well at home. We’re not sure how much of his ability he has retained – he was third behind Faugheen in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival when last seen. With Our Duke, Prince Of Scars and Edwulf also in the line-up, it’s a very good race, and will take winning.

As mentioned earlier, I’ll be in Punchestown to ride Djakadam in the John Durkan and, on ratings, he has nine pounds and more in hand of his rivals. I thought he was a good winner of this race last year, when he beat Valseur Lido, and we think he’s as well now as he was then.

I’m not sure Sub Lieutenant will confirm recent form with Outlander. He had a run under his belt when he beat him in Down Royal, and is worse off at the weights now. Also, Outlander looked to have improved a good bit for that run before falling at the last in the Clonmel Oil Chase.

You’d have to respect the chances of both but I think Djakadam’s biggest danger is Black Hercules. He has been working well at home, and I’d say he has improved a nice bit since last year. But I’m happy with Djakadam and hope he can win.

Earlier in the day, I’ll be on Turcagua, in the maiden hurdle over two and a half miles. On his return he made a few mistakes early before running on well to finish third behind Monalee at Punchestown. I thought that was a good effort and, with the run under his belt, will be hard to beat this time.

American Tom makes his chasing debut in the beginners’ chase, but obviously hasn’t run since winning over hurdles at Gowran last year, when he got hurt. He has schooled well and we always thought plenty of him. Two miles will suit him, whereas it might be a bit sharp for Woodland Opera and Gangster. We’re happy with him and would be very hopeful he could make a winning return.

Willie runs Come To Me in the bumper, and his work has been good. We hit the target with a couple of bumper horses last weekend, so that would give you confidence that he could continue that vein of form.

In Cork, Douvan is in great form ahead of his return in the Hilly Way Chase. He has been working well, has schooled perfectly, and we’re very happy with him.

On ratings, he’s only 10lb ahead of Gilgamboa and has to give him 8lbs, so is only 2lbs well in with that rival. But we’re delighted with him, there should be plenty of pace in the race, and hopefully he can put in a good performance which will set himself up for an exciting season ahead.

Willie runs Kolumbus in the two-mile maiden hurdle. He has been working really well, but the going has changed dramatically and that could be an issue for him, as he wants better ground.

I’d have the same worry for Screaming Rose, who runs in the three-mile novice hurdle. Last time out, over course and distance, I probably tackled Blood Crazed Tiger too early, and my filly ran around a bit. Her one bad run was on this kind of ground, at Listowel, so that would have to be a worry.

Listen Dear made the odd mistake in Thurles, last time, but drops back to two miles and a furlong tomorrow. She’s in really good form and, looking down through the field, it will be too sharp for Daisy’s Gift, while Misty Lady is making her chasing debut. Colla Pier had a couple of good runs, but I honestly believe Listen Dear is a 140 mare, and that should be more than good enough to win this. She looks nap material on a big weekend.

Fog could be grey area for Turf Club

I was reading during the week that the Turf Club are reviewing all sorts of rules and regulations. There’s a full review of rule 212 (which deals with non-triers), which won’t be a bad thing, but I did see correspondence about legislation for fog, and, you’ll have to pardon the pun here, but fog is a very grey area.

They were talking about distances and lines of sight, etc., but I really believe this should be left to common sense. I hope they don’t try to introduce legislation in this area, because it won’t work.


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