I rode MONALEE in the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle at Clonmel last week, who won convincingly by over four lengths. He’s a horse who I’ve always thought a lot of and the way he coped with the heavy ground and the conditions on the day surprised us again. He’s everything the connections hoped he’d be and looks like a horse who will keep improving. The aim now will be Cheltenham, but we’re not too sure which race at the moment. In my opinion, the Albert Bartlett would be the obvious race for him, but we’ll have to see what happens.
As expected, DOUVAN was good again, but there were two other stand-out performances for me over the weekend. The first was BUVEUR D’AIR, who won the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown. His short lived chasing career hasn’t done him any harm and the way he jumps gives him a great chance in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The second performance which I was very impressed with was TOP NOTCH in the next at Sandown, who won by five lengths. He improved again off the back of his last race and I would think he’d be a very strong candidate for the JLT in March.
It was interesting to hear last week that female jockeys in France will be given a 4Ib allowance, and there has been a mixed reaction to this across the racing world. In my view, I don’t think they should be given the allowance: they’re either good enough or they’re not. Imagine if some of the top female jockeys in Ireland, like Katie Walsh or Nina Carberry, were given an allowance for every ride – some of the top male jockeys would really suffer.
I’ll be at Thurles on Thursday, where I ride CONRAD HASTINGS in a Novice Hurdle, and he’s a horse I think a lot of. Hopefully the rain eases off and the conditions won’t be too bad for him. I’m looking forward to getting back on track and if he puts his best foot forward, then we should see a good performance.
Sunday’s meeting at Leopardstown looks like it will be a very good day, with four Grade One’s to look forward to and there will be plenty of clues as to where the horses involved will go during the rest of the season. Gordon Elliott has a few entered, so hopefully I can get on some of those in the Grade Ones.