Paul Townend rates his chances at Naas and Navan this weekend

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The season has been brilliant so far. We had a very good summer and hopefully the bug guns will start coming out now. It’s all very exciting at this time of year.

The meeting at Down Royal last weekend is effectively the start of the jump season proper in Ireland, but everyone’s bringing their good horses out even later than usual this season given the lack of rain around.

Saturday – Naas

I ride Good Luck Hope in the 12.00. I rode this horse first time out at Galway. He should improve for his first run but he’ll have to improve a lot to win this.

Rhinestone looks a very good horse, and has good form in both Champion bumpers, so he’s the one to beat. Hopefully my horse will show improvement and we’ll learn a bit more about him.

The 12.30 is a cracking race with Saint Calvados coming over to take on Footpad. It’s the start of the season for both of them.

It’s rare to see a horse of that quality coming over to Ireland at this time of year. It will definitely be a test for Footpad and there will be no hiding place, that’s for sure.

I ride Mr Adjudicator in the Grade 3 hurdle at 1.05. He ran to a very high level of form last year in juvenile races. This is his first run of the year as it is for his stablemate Saldier. Saldier looks to be slightly ahead of my horse.

He beat him fairly and squarely at Punchestown. It’s their first runs of the season so we will just have to see.

It’s a good starting point for the pair of them. There probably isn’t a whole pile between them.

I ride Slippery Serpent in the 2.50 for Edward O’Grady. His horses are running brilliantly and this lad won snugly last time and he got put up 6lbs for it.

This looks a good bit more competitive but I thought my horse won with 6lbs in hand the last day.

He has a lovely light racing weight and should put up a big performance. There are a few in there which are probably not as exposed as my horse.

Air Supremacy blew out in a novice race in Limerick the last day but he had good form in novice hurdles earlier in the summer. I’d be very disappointed if my horse doesn’t put up a good show.

Naas is a good, fair test for horses. It has a big long straight with a good climb to the back of the last.

The ground will be good, as they’re expecting a bit of rain. It’s a good test of a horse. You have to stay well to win at Naas.

Bacardys is running in the race he started out in last year, the Beginners Chase at 3.25. He had a terrible season in all honesty last year.

Things didn’t go right over fences so he went back over hurdles and was running a big race when he fell in the World Hurdle.

So we just have to forgive him a bad season, and start him off again. He’s schooled well, which he did last season, but hopefully he can get off to a better start.

It’s his first run and he’s open to a lot of improvement. Ted Walsh’s horse Any Second Now looks the one to beat.

He’s rated 144 and was touted for Cheltenham last season so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he takes all the beating.

Sunday – Navan

I ride Aramon in the 1.05 Grade 3 Novice Hurdle and he’s taking on Quick Grabim who was very impressive at Tipperary last time.

Quick Grabim has to give weight away to everyone here which won’t be easy especially to Felix Desjy. You’d have to be impressed with how Felix Desjy won at Galway last time on only his second start over hurdles.

This is another really decent Beginners Chase at 2.40 where I ride Dolciano Dici. He only had the one run for us last year. I think he could make into a nice chaser.

Campeador sets the standard on hurdles ratings. I hope my lad can run a nice race and we can plot a path for him afterwards.

It’s just the starting point for him. Let’s hope we can get a clearer run with him this season than we did last.

Misty Millie in the handicap hurdle 3.15 is probably a little bit exposed although runs very consistently. She was second to Bay Hill at Listowell and he’s come out and franked that form a couple of times since.

She probably is what she is. Charles Byrnes’ horse Wonder Laish was a 90 rated flat horse that we probably haven’t seen the best of over hurdles.

He could have a few pounds up his sleeve.  Hopefully my horse can run a decent race and if she’s a price than she could be an each way bet.

Paul

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Paul Townend

Paul is an Irish jockey who competes in National Hunt racing and is an integral part of the famous and vastly successful Willie Mullins team. Paul was Irish jump racing Champion Jockey for the 2010-11 season and will be discussing his rides in a weekly blog with Ladbrokes News throughout the jumps season.