Great to be back blogging for starsports.bet and the new season really gets cranked up a few gears this weekend. I’ve had a nice break which has allowed some minor injuries to repair and it’s been great to have some quality time with the family.
I had a trip over to the States to ride at Far Hills including in the American Grand National and it was of course desperately sad to see Wicklow Brave lose his life in that race. My commiserations to connections of a lovely horse.
There’s been plenty of rain about in Ireland – I’m riding at Down Royal on Saturday before flying over to France on Sunday to partner Carriacou again at Auteuil. It was a great day when I won the French Gold Cup on him in May (video below). He is in another Grade 1 on Sunday, the Prix la Haye Jousselin, on expected proper heavy ground.
At home on Sunday it’s the Cork Grand National – the race I won last year on Out Sam and he’s sure to put up a bold defence off just a 4lb higher mark. At a bigger price though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Forever Gold put in a good round. He’s finished second in this before and although now a 12-year-old if he comes back after his break with a bit of zest he could get involved.
I’ve got a nice book of rides at Down Royal on Saturday. I also rode on Friday’s card and was delighted to ride two winners for Gordon (Elliott). I had a scare on Daylight Katie three out where she decided at the last second to go two feet first, thankfully gravity was kind and we recovered nicely to go on and win. She’s still learning about the game and is now two from two over hurdles.
Later Coeur Sublime won really nicely in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle. He travelled well and we had a really smooth victory. He was very good last season as he proved when runner-up in the Triumph but he felt a different horse to me today. He’s grown up and a lot stronger and there should be plenty of good opportunities for him as the season progresses.
SAINT D’OROUX (12.40pm)
He’s been in the yard for a couple of months now and looks a real good National Hunt type so I’m hoping the testing conditions will suit. He’s joined from France where he handled soft ground well when second in a hurdle race there and that experience should help him in a race full of horses with potential. Joseph O’Brien’s pair A Wave Of The Sea and Colfer Me both bring experience and look the dangers. As always, in races at this stage of the season, we’ll know much more about what we’ve got with Saint D’Oroux after the race.
ENVOI ALLEN (1.15pm)
Obviously I’m very much looking forward to his hurdling debut after his fantastic unbeaten run in bumpers which included the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival back in March. He’s in great shape and his homework has been good. He already has some jumping experience – he won a point at Ballinaboola before joining the yard and remains a very exciting prospect. He’d definitely be my best chance on the day.
STAR MAKER (1.50pm)
He can be a bit of an in and out performer but on a going day he’s got plenty of talent. I just hope the ground won’t move too much against him as his recent wins have all come on good ground. Needs to bounce back after his run in a valuable handicap hurdle at Listowel but will find this easier.
ALPHA DES OBEAUX (2.25pm Ladbrokes Champion Chase)
He ran a cracker for me first time out this season when just pipped on the line in the Grade 3 Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown. He always seems to run a big race but this really is the deep end for him with the two other Gigginstown runners Delta Work and Road To Respect both hugely respected. When you throw in the Paul Nicholls trained King George winner Clan Des Obeaux, you’ve got a serious race to look forward to.
BEN DUNDEE (2.55pm Daily Mirror Chase)
Has been running really well in handicap company, including when third in the Close Brothers Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but he might just be a bit vulnerable back in Grade 2 company. He finished third to Delta Work in a beginners chase on this card 12 months ago.
Good vein of form but also unlucky too. He was running a huge race for me at Gowran before tipping up at the last and I think he would have won. The handicapper must have thought the same too as he put him up 3lbs for his fall. He ran another big race at Punchestown when third last time out but gets nudged up another 1lb. It’s a wide open race here and I’m hoping he’ll put in another big run.
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