Both Petit Mouchoir and Paloma Blue ran huge races for me and Henry De Bromhead on the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival. I tried to make all the running on Petit Mouchoir in the Irish Champion Hurdle and despite being headed before the last he rallied so well and in the end we were only a length adrift of his stable companion and winner Honeysuckle who maintained her unbeaten record.
Earlier, Paloma Blue gave me a great spin when second in the Matheson Handicap Chase. We got a bump at the last and might well have narrowed the gap with winner Eclair De Beaufeu but for that.
Notebook’s win in the ERSG Arkle Novice Chase gave Henry a memorable Grade 1 double on the day. As for me, I’m looking first winner but have another great book of rides to look forward to on the second day of the Festival on Sunday.
BLACK TEARS (12.55pm)
I ride Black Tears in the opener for Gordon (Elliott) and she is a nice consistent mare who drops back into handicap company. Hopefully that will help her as she has found Graded company tough, but this looks a big test. Willie Mullins’ Drury looks useful as does Gavin Cromwell’s mare Jeremys Flame. Hopefully my mare can run her usual solid race.
OAK PARK (1.25pm – Spring Juvenile Hurdle)
It was such a shame that Oak Park crashed out at the second last when travelling nicely a few weeks back in Punchestown. Everything had gone well to that point and he takes a big step up in class here. Obviously Aspire Tower looks the one to beat after a hugely impressive performance at Christmas and he looks the best juvenile hurdler in Ireland at the moment. We’ll give it a go, but he does look pretty good.
CONFLATED (1.55pm – Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle)
More Grade One action over two miles and Gordon looks to hold a strong hand with both Easywork and Conflated. Easywork looks the pick of the pair on paper having won his last three and will be a tough one to beat. I ride Conflated who is a nice horse and consistent. He deserves a crack at a race like this so I’m looking forward to riding him. You cannot rule out Willie Mullins who saddles three nice types up against us. It looks a fascinating race.
JURY DUTY (2.30pm)
A really competitive looking three-mile handicap hurdle where I ride former American Grand National winner Jury Duty off topweight. He’s got plenty of class and she be competitive despite having to carry a big burden. There are plenty of talented horses lurking in the shadows though and it won’t be easy seeing off the likes of Column Of Fire.
BATTLEOVERDOYEN (3.00pm – Flogas Novice Chase)
Only the seven runners in the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase where I’m really looking forward to getting back on Battleoverdoyen. He’s won all three starts over fences and was brave to hold off Champagne Classic here over Christmas. This will require him to step up again as he faces some smart types, but hopefully he can take it in his stride. It’s hard to signal out a danger, but obviously Faugheen is a quite extraordinary horse and its remarkable what he’s doing at the age of 12.
PRESENTING PERCY (3.30pm – Irish Gold Cup)
The big race of the two days and it looks a real cracker on paper. I’m back on Presenting Percy who definitely will have to improve to close the gap on Delta Work from Christmas. I’m sure he will take a nice step forward, but he will need to as Delta Work will have come on for that run too. Don’t forget Kemboy who finished fourth here at Christmas. He’s bound to improve for that and may be the one we all have to beat if in the form he was in at Aintree and Punchestown. It promises to be a really exciting race and I’m hoping our fella can take a giant step forward.
No ride for me in what looks a wide-open handicap chase. You can make a case out for any of these, but I’m convinced that Last Goodbye has a good race in him this season. Whether it’s this one, remains to be seen.
Final race of the meeting is the mares’ bumper where Gordon looks to have a strong hand. Bigbadandbeautiful looks really smart and should take all the beating despite having to carry a penalty.
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