It was quite a nice run from Jet Plane, when finishing behind two nice horses at Leicester. We were very happy with that and he now qualifies for the EBF Final at Sandown, so we’ve got plenty of options with him. He’s very consistent and whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus as he looks a chaser in the making.
Frere D’Armes got the job done nicely at Wincanton, where he jumped and travelled really well. To be honest, it looked like a good opportunity for him, so it was great to win like he did. He’s had three runs over hurdles and the doors to the better handicaps are now open. We’ll see what the handicapper does with him on Tuesday. I’m sure in the spring he’ll be a player wherever he goes.
We were happy with Parkin Fine’s run. She got a bit outpaced turning in and then managed to stay on quite nicely towards the end. She’s a nice filly who I think is definitely going to want a trip in time as her mother was a stayer. She jumps nicely and we might give her a run over hurdles before she goes home for a break in the summer.
Once he straightened up off the home turn and got balanced, Etalon came into the race really well. He looked like winning two furlongs out, but his run just flattened out once I let him down. He’s a big horse and perhaps a bit weak still. I don’t think we’ll run him again – he’ll be put away and then go hurdling in the autumn. We were very encouraged to see a really promising run from him.
Our Jet got on top well at the finish and showed a good attitude to stay on strongly. That was nice to see because he’d been a bit of a weak finisher in his first two runs. The first time he won at Wetherby he just went round on the bridle, but he had a bit more of a race on Saturday. It was nice to get two wins under his belt and he’ll have some options come the spring.
No Getaway ran fine. I think slightly softer ground or more pace in the race would have helped, as he’s not the quickest and the race turned into a bit of a sprint. I was aware that he ran a good race and pulled up at Aintree the time before, so I just wanted to hold him together a bit and make sure he finished his race out, which he did. If we get some rain in the spring, hopefully he can build on that and be winning again soon.
We were happy with Ashtown Lad. Obviously Ahoy Senor was very impressive and I just couldn’t go with him up the straight. My horse jumped great and galloped all the way to the line, so it was a promising run and we couldn’t have asked for much more.
It was good to ride a winner for Olly Murphy, who has been a friend for a long time. He seems to have a promising horse in No Risk Des Flos who has now won his last two. I thought that I was going to win quite well after the last and he then just showed his inexperience by idling and drifting right up the run in. I think he can step forward again from this.
Don Hollow switched off nicely for me in the bumper, which is how we like to ride our bumper horses. He went through the race well and then picked up, seeing it out to the line, which was very encouraging. I don’t think we’ll run him again, like Etalon he’s quite a big horse that will need plenty of time, so we’ll probably go over hurdles with him in the autumn. It was a great start to his career and he’s definitely one to look out for.
Dublin Racing Festival
There were so many impressive performances across the two days, but I thought Galopin Des Champs was the stand out for me. I think he’ll learn plenty from that run and come on again. It looks to be a great race on the cards between him and Bob Olinger at Cheltenham if he goes for the Turners.
Honeysuckle is just unbelievable. It was great to see her win again and she is absolutely faultless. Racing needs a horse like her and if she turns up in form at Cheltenham, I don’t think anything will beat her.
The Triumph Hurdle is starting to hot up. Vaubanwon nicely on Saturday, beating a strong rival in Fil Dor. That opponent could probably have done with a bit more pace in the race, which would have turned it into more of a stamina test. That will be the case at Cheltenham, and I think the hill will really suit him. The tide might turn on a different track, so don’t write off Fil Dor if you are a supporter of him.
It’s going to be very difficult for the home side come the Festival, as the Irish are very strong once again. I think the Brits look to have some good runners though, so although the Irish have the upper hand, there could be a few surprises.
Willie Mullins dominated once again to win six of the eight Grade 1s. He’s got such a powerful team and is going to be very dangerous as usual come the Festival.
Elle Est Belle is likely to run in the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon. She’s stepping up to 2m4f for the first time which I think will suit her. She’s in good form and I hope she can run a very nice race.