It was great to get back in the saddle at Ascot last Saturday even if things didn’t quite go as well as I’d have liked. Paloma Blue just didn’t quite get home in that ground while Agrapart travelled really well for a long way in the Grade One hurdle before falling in a hole late on. Anyway, I’m back home in Ireland and looking forward to a lovely Christmas at home with the family. It will definitely be a busy night for Santa Claus in our house! As for the big day itself, the only upside of having flu for over a week is that I’m lighter than I have been for some time. That means I can enjoy a bigger Christmas lunch than usual ahead of a good days racing at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day…
ST STEPHEN’S DAY (Thursday)
CEDARWOOD ROAD (12.10pm)
My first ride of the afternoon comes in the opener aboard Cedarwood Road who made a pleasing start over hurdles at Fairyhouse last month. I’d expect him to be a lot more fluent now with that race under his belt, but he will need to step up again to land a race like this. Arthurian Flame was a good second on his debut at Cork, while the likes of Fusain and Jungle Junction are also respected.
THE VERY MAN (12.40pm)
Another really competitive looking maiden hurdle where I ride The Very Man for Gordon (Elliott) and Gigginstown. He’s been a bit disappointing but has had a bit of a break since his last run, so I’m hoping he can return to the form he showed in bumpers. This does look a hot race though with the likes of Mt Leinster and Entoucas.
1.10pm – Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle
No ride for me in the Juvenile Hurdle where it will be interesting to see how Aramax gets on. I know that Gordon holds him in high regard, and it is interesting that Mark Walsh has chosen him over A Wave Of The Sea.
EXCEEDED BRIEF (1.45pm)
I’m back on board Exceeded Brief who made a fool out of me at Thurles the last day. He travelled best of all into the race and had it in the bag before throwing it away close home. I won’t make that mistake again and if he is to win here you won’t see us until very late. This does look a tough race though, but we will give it a good go.
2.20pm Leopardstown – Racing Post Novice Chase
Only the five runners, but both Fakir D’oudairies and Laurina have been declared to run in a mouth-watering clash. It’s a good matchup between the experience of the former and the raw potential of the latter. It is really hard to split them, but if pushed I guess I’d just side with the mare Laurina who looks such an exciting prospect.
ELLIE MAC (2.55pm)
My last ride of the day is Ellie Mac for Henry de Bromhead in the handicap chase. She has won around Leopardstown before and I’m hopeful of a good spin as she returns to fences after a couple of runs over hurdles. She is one of three for Henry and his other two have chances too. Trainwreck has plenty of ability and his turn isn’t that far away.
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