Delighted to ride a double at Fairyhouse on Saturday with Mrs Lovett who came off the strong pace set by Presenting Mahler and then in the next race Duca De Thaix gained reward for his recent consistency when staying on strongly to win the second handicap chase on the card.
It was still riding on the fast side of good on Saturday but Met Éireann are forecasting some rain on Saturday night and showers on Sunday so it’s likely to slow things up a little.
The stakes are raised for Sunday’s card with three Grade 1’s. Should be a great days racing.
CHIEF JUSTICE (12.35pm)
Has done very little wrong since joining Gordon’s (Elliott) yard from Richard Fahey. He won his first two starts for us in comfortable style at Listowel and Gowran but then was no match for Cracker Factory when stepped up in class for a Listed contest at Wetherby the last day. He’s got quite a lot of experience but this will be tough as there are several lightly raced sorts in opposition, notably stable companion Coeur Sublime who made a nice start to hurdling at Down Royal and remains unbeaten after one win on the flat too.
COMMANDER OF FLEET (1.05pm Royal Bond Novice Hurdle)
Small field of five but it’s mighty competitive as you would expect for the first Grade 1 of the day. My fella won well at Punchestown on his hurdling debut and the field was well strung out but it looked a weak contest and was nothing more than a pleasing first day at school for him. This is a big stepping stone and ideally I’d like to see plenty of rain, but he remains an exciting prospect and hopefully he can follow up Mengli Khan’s win for the stable in this 12 months ago.
DELTA WORK (1.35pm Drinmore Novice Chase)
He gave me a Cheltenham winner (just!) with his win in the Pertemps and hasn’t done anything wrong since – finishing a close second to Next Destination in the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle in Punchestown and getting off the mark over fences at Down Royal. We’ll now find out if he can match his hurdle form over the bigger obstacles in this, without doubt, very hot race. Joseph O’Brien has his string in superb form so Le Richebourg is a big danger along with Discorama and even Dawn Shadow can’t completely be ruled out. Gordon runs three including Blow By Blow who has the visor applied for the first time after his narrow defeat to Some Neck in the Florida Pearl the last day in Punchestown.
OUT SAM (2.10pm)
Winner of the Cork National, he gave me a good spin last week with his fifth in the Troytown. He’s out again quickly but loves these races and is well in himself so this looks another good test. It’s a smaller field size than his last two races but he tops the weights as he is now paying the price for his earlier success. Stable companion Rogue Angel is a big danger if he can bounce back from his run in the Troytown and I’m also wary of Oathkeeper and Dinnie’s Vinnie who loves the course.
FARCLAS (2.40pm Hatton’s Grace Hurdle)
Seems versatile ground wise but is very much in at the deep end here. Hasn’t run since the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle in Punchestown and will need to step up on the form shown that day. Apple’s Jade bids for a hat-trick in this and she was hugely impressive last year – it might well be her race to lose again. She looked as good as ever when making all to win the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan first time up this season.
WONDER LAISH (3.10pm)
He was very good when winning for me on the last day in Navan but has been clobbered by the handicapper. On the plus side he’s at a weight at which I can ride him again for this competitive handicap hurdle. The ground would be OK – I’d be worried about extremes of grounds for this fella who has low mileage on the clock and can hopefully continue to progress. Charles Byrnes has a good hand in the race, also saddling Off You Go who is on for the four-timer after wins in testing ground.
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