Our Irish ambassador Paul Townend has a very busy weekend ahead, with ten rides at Navan and Cork.
I’m at Navan on Saturday and my first ride is on Buildmeupbettercup in the 12:00 Maiden Hurdle.
It is her first run for us as she came from Mick Channon’s. She has good bumper form. She ran very well in the Aintree Mares’ Bumper and she went back running on the flat in a couple of listed races.
She shows plenty at home. She gets a seven pound mares allowance here. It is her first time over jumps so she lacks a bit of experience but we are hoping for a big run.
Next up, I ride Treacysenniscorthy in the 1.05 Handicap Hurdle. It is his first run in a handicap. His last run in a maiden was probably his best run.
He lacks experience for a big field like this though. He is probably better suited to handicaps but maybe he still has a bit to learn.
In the 2.10 Beginners Chase, I am on Last Man Standing. He had a nice first run over fences in Mallow behind Edward O’Grady’s Allardyce, who had chasing experience already so hopefully he can build on that.
I rode him a few times over hurdles in the early part of his career and I like him. He has bits of decent form and I think chasing will definitely bring out the best in him.
It looks a good race with Henry De Bromhead’s horse, Chris’s Dream, who was well fancied for the Staying Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He sets the standard on hurdles ratings. I think while I can build on my ones run at Cork, he may not be good enough for this calibre of a race.
Solomn Grundy is up next in the Handicap Chase at 2.45. It is his first run for Henry de Bromhead.
He ran to a good level for Neil Mulholland. He is a nice racing weight. His best form is probably over further but it is nice to starting point and to see where he’s going. He could be competitive but is probably best suited to three miles.
My best chance of the day on Saturday is Buildmeupbuttercup in the first. She has good level of form and hopefully inexperience won’t stop her.
On Sunday I am at Cork, a place where I have loads of luck and it is my home track as well to be fair. It suits me and I am probably the only one that it suits.
I start on Maze Runner in the 12.05 Maiden Hurdle. He is fit from running on the flat albeit an ordinary enough level. He won the last time in Galway on softer ground so the ground won’t be a worry.
He has done plenty of schooling at home but there’s a few here that are much higher rated on the flat like Joseph O’Brien’s horse.
Come To Me is my next ride in the 12.40 Maiden Hurdle. He is a nice horse at home.
He wasn’t beaten that far in his maiden at Punchestown when he finished sixth which isn’t the norm over jumps.
That experience will have suited him and he can improve. He is an interesting horse for the season ahead.
Robin De Carlow runs in the Stayers Novice Hurdle at 1.10. She impressed again at Mallow the last day, stepping up in trip.
She is a course and distance winner. She made a few jumping errors around the course that day but she has experience under her belt and is improving the whole time. I would be disappointed if she didn’t go close again.
Willie Mullins has two in the race and it wasn’t an easy decision to pick Robin De Carlow over Pleasure Dome who has been improving all summer.
She probably improved beyond anything we thought she could. I just felt Robin De Carlow had a bit more room for improvement and the fact that she’s a c&d winner.
The Hilly Way Chase at 1.45 looks a good renewal and I am on Castlegrace Paddy. He is probably not overly exposed.
He has a bit to find with the best ones here but there’s a lot of pace in the race which could play a big factor in how it’s going to run.
There might be more to come from him than a few of the exposed horses. He is not going to be favourite or anything like that but he is not one to be overlooked.
I ride Camelia De Cotte in the Mares Novice Chase at 2.15. She did well surviving a bad mistake early on at Clonmel the last day. She really showed guts to go on and win.
That was over two-and-a-half miles, the drop back in trip probably isn’t ideal and she has to give weight away all around her so it won’t be an easy task for her.
Chasing brings out the best in her and with a clear round of jumping she will give them something to think about.
Finally on Sunday, I ride Eight And Bob in the 3.20 for very important owners. This is the pressure ride!
The step up in trip will be a big positive for him and he won’t mind the ground either.
Denis Hogan’s mare Youcancallherthat doesn’t seem to be as good over hurdles but off the mark she has, she has to be feared everywhere she goes.
The John Durkan has cut up but I know Willie Mullins has Min in it. Min looked like he was going to beat Altior in the Champion Chase on the bend but Altior turned on the turbo up the straight.
You would hope he sets the standard but it is his first run back of the season. He is probably more of a two miler than a two-and-a-half miler.
It is mad talking about the jockeys’ title this early on but with Rachael Blackmore doing so well it brings more gloss to it.
What she is doing for girls over here is amazing. There is a long way to go but I couldn’t be happier with how the season is going and a lot of trainers have given me help so I will keep chipping away and knocking in a few winners.
The end of March is probably the time to be looking at that but I am delighted to be a part of it anyway and long may it last.