Mountain to climb if ground goes against Blackstair

It was smashing to ride at Galway on Monday, having missed the previous two festivals.

Two years ago I was out with a broken arm and last year it was a broken neck. Galway is a terrific meeting and it’s great to show what you can do in front of a big crowd.

As jockeys we haven’t really enjoyed that sort of atmosphere since the Punchestown Festival in April.

I got away to the perfect start when winning over hurdles on Train Of Thought for Dermot Weld.

The secret to this game is getting on the best horse in a race and when they travel from Rosewell House to Galway that is often the case.

Today is all about the Galway Plate and I team up with Willie Mullins’ Blackstairmountain.

I was at Willie’s yesterday morning in Carlow, in the so-called sunny south-east, and left the yard fine and wet.

As I headed home, I was told it was only misting in Galway and what had fallen had made no difference to the ground. The news more than pleased me.

Soon afterwards, however, the world had changed and the rain lashed down on Ballybrit.

I was hugely disappointed, because the better the ground the better chance Blackstairmountain will have.

Don’t get me wrong, he does handle cut, but the worry is whether he will stay this two miles and six and the softer the surface the more one would worry about that.

The seven-year-old is at his best on good ground and, if he got his ideal conditions, then I’d be very sweet on him off 10-11.

You can only arrive with one run on this horse and I will have to deliver him late. That’s the way I’ll be thinking, but whether the ground will make it all irrelevant remains to be seen.

Follow The Plan is a dual Grade 1 winner, but you’d imagine has too much to do off top weight.

Wise Old Owl ran a cracker here a year ago to finish second to Blazing Tempo, but hasn’t been seen since.

Tony McCoy travels across to take the ride, that’s a pointer in itself, and we can be certain John Kiely will have him primed for a big run.

Out Now could obviously be well handicapped off just 10-2, but Barry Geraghty will surely be pushed to do that weight. Certainly Barry is bigger and broader than me, so it will be some battle.

If Daffern Seal were trained by anyone other than Dermot Weld he would not be worth a second glance. But he is in Dermot’s care and, for that reason alone, merits respect.

Shot From The Hip, as a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, at Punchestown, could be tossed in off a mere 9-12.

But he was disappointing at Tipperary last time and didn’t attack his fences. If jumping well now then would have a life.

I begin my day on Ted Veale, who ran a really nice race on the flat at Killarney, in a maiden hurdle for Tony Martin.

He has solid form in bumpers, won a point-to-point and Tony is very sweet on his chances.

I partner Dream Champion for Tony in a handicap hurdle. He will love the trip and track and would go well on good ground.

But, quite honestly, now that the rain has come, my opinion is that he may as well stay in the parade ring.

Tomorrow is the Galway Hurdle and I’m torn between Blazing Tempo and Drive Time.

Blazing Tempo won the Plate here a year ago and is probably regarded at this stage as essentially a chaser.

It is difficult for a chaser to win a contest which is going to be as competitive as this. Top two-milers, such as Moscow Flyer and Azertyuiop, hurdle their fences, but most others who jump well are safe.

But you cannot win what promises to be a hectic test with just safe jumping, a horse has to get across his flights quickly and accurately.

Drive Time is a simply a hurdler, winning a tough handicap at the Punchestown festival.

He’s got an American pedigree, but did handle heavy ground well on that occasion. It’s a dilemma for me and I’ll make up my mind this morning, after listening to what Willie Mullins has to say.


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