DAVY RUSSELL New Year’s Day: FAIRYHOUSE
It was nice to end 2021 with a winner on Friday thanks to Pied Piper in Punchestown for Gordon (Elliott). We had a good battle with Vauban and the pair finished nicely clear so hopefully the form will go on to prove quite smart.
It’s been a big year for me in terms of returning from injury and I can’t tell how how delighted I am to be back in the saddle and riding winners. I’ve had terrific support along the journey that was 2021 and a big thank you to everyone who has helped me and wished me well – and of course to you too for reading the blogs! I wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
There’ll be no midnight celebrations for me tonight as it’s an early start at Fairyhouse where I’ve a busy afternoon planned with six rides – it really is non stop over the Christmas period. Thougts on them all below. It’ll be on the testing side as we’ve had a fair amount of rain in Ireland but I can’t complain about the temperatures which are warm for this time of the year. I’ll be back with a new blog on Saturday with thought’s on my rides in Naas on Sunday.
SATURDAY – NEW YEAR’S DAY
11.50am BUST OF BRAY DEE Happy New Year From All At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle 2m 4f
My fella Busy Of Bray Dee comes here on the back of a couple of recent runs so his experience should stand him in good stead against most of the field who have had limited experience. It would come as no surprise to see something decent emerge from the race as there are a few likely types on paper but the trip and conditions look perfect for mine. Gordon also runs Reddys Island who is a nice type and it’s his first day at school after his point win in Oldcastle. Hubrisko, a French recruit for Willie (Mullins) obviously could be a tough one to beat.
12.30pm MOTOWN MAGGIE Wishing Everyone A Healthy 2022 Mares Hurdle 2m 2 1/2f
She’s a grand mare who doesn’t know how to run a bad race. She gave me a win here two starts ago in a similar race so I’m hoping she will enjoy her return to the course on similar ground. Motown Maggie comes into this on the back of a second at Kelso the last day when she travelled like the winner but lost some momentum after clattering the second last. Again, Willie Mullins looks the danger to us with his French recruit Allegorie De Vassy who has placed hurdles form in deep ground.
1.30pm DAPHNE MOON Tote+ Pays You More At Tote.ie Handicap Hurdle (Div I) 3m 1/2f
She’s very tough but I think Daphne Moon will need every yard of this three miles. The concern would be that she comes into this on the back of a disappointing run in Ballinrobe where she didn’t run her race but has had a decent break since and hopefully the pieces will have a positive effect too. It’s a huge field and impossible to name a danger – there are too many of them!
2.05pm EXCELCIOR Tote+ Pays You More At Tote.ie Handicap Hurdle (Div II) 3m 1/2f
We were pleased to see him put in a much better round the last day at Navan after he was pulled up in Down Royal. Excelcior was staying on so I’m hoping he will enjoy the extra half mile here in what looks another tricky handicap on the card.
2.40pm MOUNT IDA John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase (Grade 3) 2m 5 1/2f
This looks a hell of a good race and better than the official Grade 3. Just the five runners but you really can’t rule any of them out. I ride Mount Ida for Gordon who is an admirable mare and I’m fully expecting trip and conditions to suit. She gave me a nice win the last day in a Listed race at Clonmel and in the main jumped really well. This will be harder but she has plenty of class as she showed when winning the Kim Muir at Cheltenham back in March (pictured below). Put The Kettle On is a real superstar who will be tough to beat. The Arkle winner in 2020 and reigning Champion Chaser she hasn’t been at her best in two starts since but it would come as no surprise to see her bounce back. I have to mention Elimay too who proved her class when second in the Mares’ Chase in Cheltenham before winning over course and distance here in April.
3.15pm GRAND PARADIS Happy New Year From Tote.ie Beginners Chase 2m 5 1/2f
We’re on a bit of a recovery mission with Grand Paradis who has struggled in his first two races over fences but now gets an easier opportunity. He fell two out on his chasing debut and I then had to pull him up in the Drinmore here where he was in at the deep end. We know from his hurdling form how much class he has and he likes to get his toe in so I wouldn’t mind to see some more rain but he just needs to brush up his jumping which has been very novicey.