In his latest blog, our ambassador Paul Townend talks about his rides in Ireland this weekend, the Dublin Racing Festival, and the equine flu.
I am at Naas on Saturday with four rides. I start with An Fraoch Mor (12.40). He had two OK runs in bumpers and this is his first time over hurdles.
It looks a hot contest for him but we will learn more about him and he’ll get a bit of experience in as well. City Island looks to be head and shoulders above the rest and then Tom Mullins’ Chavi Artist is probably the best of the rest.
I ride Pont Aven for Willie Mullins (1.10) next. He showed very little in his two runs for us.
He had the experience of a run over hurdles the last day but he’ll have to improve a lot to get involved here. Debuchet is probably the interesting runner here.
He was so good as a bumper horse but disappointed all of last year. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do now for Mags Mullins.
Pravalaguna (2.10) is probably my best ride. She is nicely treated at the weights. Although she is taking on more experienced mares she was impressive at Limerick over Christmas and I don’t think jumping will be an issue for her.
The drop back to two miles shouldn’t worry her either and I’d be hoping she’ll put up a good show and be there or thereabouts.
My last ride on Saturday is Maze Runner (2.40). He won his first run over hurdles at Cork beating Band Of Outlaws who was third that day. He takes him on again here.
Band Of Outlaws won over Christmas at Limerick and looks a horse who is improving more than we are. We were found out in a good race at Leopardstown over Christmas.
I suppose the positive is that he jumped a bit better on his second run than he did on his first run so hopefully he can improve his jumping again.
He does look up against it as he takes on Konitho who I was very taken by at Naas the last day. If my horse can run a good race and get placed, we’d be happy. Anything else is a bonus.
On Sunday I head to Punchestown, where I have three rides. La Sorelita (2.20) for Willie Mullins ran well on her first run in Leopardstown for us.
We thought she would improve a lot more for her second run but was disappointing. She has to prove herself here.
She is well treated in the weights but as I say she didn’t improve like we thought she would so we will have to see how she goes here.
Treacysenniscorthy (3.20) had a nice run at Navan the last day. He ran well for a long time and I’d be hoping that a little bit of improvement should put him bang in the frame here.
He’s probably a nice price and is definitely worth an each-way bet. I think even if he can reproduce his last run it’ll put him up there.
My last ride is Orion D’Aubrelle (4.20). He had his first run in a handicap at Christmas. He ran ok to a point but he will have to build on that again.
He has cheek pieces on again and is a nice racing weight. The trip is an unknown although we think he’ll stay. He’d be an outsider chance.
Dublin Racing Festival
The dust has settled after the Dublin Racing Festival. It was disappointing that we didn’t get to see all the horses with the way the ground turned up. Everyone was in the same boat. It has just been such a weird year ground wise; the way it’s been is unheard of.
It’s February and it’s good ground so we’re not getting the chance to run them. However, if you do run them and you injure them, then you have no horse at the end of the day so we just have to be patient.
I think Klassical Dream stood out over the two days. He can only build on what he’s doing. He’s a horse I loved when I won on at Christmas. I think he’s a horse going the right way and he can improve again at Cheltenham.
We are lucky to be still racing here in Ireland. Every day will tell a bit more as to how serious it is but at the moment it is far from ideal.
We just hope it doesn’t cause any interference here but the likelihood is that it will. You just have to take one day at a time and see what happens. There is a big worry. We have seen racing shut down in Britain and it could possibly be disastrous.
It is the right decision to be cautious and stop racing before it gets out of hand though. Nobody really knows how long racing will halt for or how serious it is going to be. Fingers crossed it is solved sooner rather than later.