It’s good to be back racing, although it’s been somewhat of a different experience and that was really highlighted at the Galway Festival for us. To have empty stands on Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate day was just just an eerie experience and hopefully something we’ll never experience again.
HRI have announced that the owners are coming back to racing in Ireland on September 21st which is a fantastic step in the right direction.
Attention turns to Listowel
I’m not sure which way it will work out in terms of which of Willie’s horses I’ll ride, but he will have a great chance in the Kerry National. Cabaret Queen, who I rode in the Galway Plate, goes there and on that run and going a few furlongs extra, she’d have a great chance.
One of Emmet’s horses, Fujimoto Flyer, is definitely a mare to keep an eye on. I’ve won on her before and she’s very talented. She goes in the Lartigue Hurdle on Monday.
John Ryan has had a great summer for me this year and I’m looking forward to riding for him again next week.
I started riding for John around eight or ten years ago. I was coming off the Flat and I was light enough I was able to pick up a few spares for him in those bigger handicaps. I clicked on a horse called Kylecrue and from there we started to build a good relationship. He’s a good trainer who campaigns his horses plenty and wins a lot of races with them. It’s fantastic to see a small, family run operation that can compete. I think in four of the last five seasons he’s been a top ten trainer in Ireland and it’s great to have someone like that to be riding for.
He’ll have a few good chances at Listowel, including Fairyhill Run. I won on her the last day at Ballinrobe and she lines up in the 2m4f handicap. She’s got a mark of 107 which to me seems a workable mark. She jumped quite well there so, going into a handicap, it should be easy enough for her to adjust.
La Hachette won a couple over the summer and goes in the mares’ handicap on Sunday. She won quite well over hurdles in Ballinrobe and steps up in class but she might have a bit more to offer. Grange Walk, who I won on at Tramore will take his chance and is one to look out for.
On Willie’s Horses
I’m lucky enough that I’m a small part of the team at Willie’s and there’s a huge number of horses doing their flat work and preseason training there. There are so many of those that I would love to get a spin on at some stage during the winter. Paul will have his pick and myself and David will be fighting over the rest of them!
You’d have to think of Aramon as a potential Champion Hurdle horse on the back of his Galway Hurdle win. The only thing that might come against him is that he’s a little bit ground dependent. Although we thought the Galway Hurdle morning that the ground was going to be a lot slower, the hurdle track had fresh ground and the time was fairly good. On a bit of nice ground he’s a very good horse. Through the winter he might need to improve a little bit to step up to Champion standard, but who’s to know? He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with if the weather stays right for him.
Al Boum Photo is the horse they’ve all got to beat in the Gold Cup again. Willie is a creature of habit and I imagine he’s going to aim him at the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Years Day. It seems to be a route that’s paid good dividends in the last couple of years. He’s back in pre-training and he looks a million dollars. It would be some performance to win a third Gold Cup and you’ll have plenty of those good novices coming through. It’s certainly a difficult division, but because Willie has campaigned him so lightly it will mean he can keep pitching up in those races and be very competitive.
Faugheen is back on the go in the yard and he seems to be in great order. I’m sure Willie and Rich will have a chat closer to the time. On his last run at Cheltenham, there’s no reason you would say you’d have to retire him. Age is going against him, but he’s just a very classy horse. He’s a Champion Hurdle winner, he seems to have adjusted to chasing very well, he made his mistake early at Punchestown and there’s very little you could find wrong with the way he’s run since then. All being well, there’s no reason he couldn’t start marching on for a little bit longer.
Princess Zoe to take her chance in Group 1
There’s been plenty of talk around Princess Zoe who has been a fantastic performer for my dad, Tony, this summer.
She won very well at the Curragh and then backed it up with two wins at the Galway Festival and produced a big performance to win a Listed race there on the last day. That’s swayed their decision to go to France and contest a Group 1 in early October.
It’s a big step up, but she’s a mare who seems to be improving no end and it would be fantastic to see my dad and Paddy Kehoe, who has been a big supporter of the stable for many years, to have a mare that can compete at that level.
Going through the winter, the aim is to have a go at the mares’ novice hurdle at Cheltenham.