I am delighted to be writing my first weekly RacingFX blog ahead of an exciting weekend of racing in the UK and Ireland, where UN DE SCEAUX, SHANES HILL and VROUM VROUM MAG will all be in action.
CHILDRENS LIST is my first ride at Fairyhouse this weekend, who will have a lot to find on hurdle ratings against MARTELLO TOWER and ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS. MARTELLO TOWER has run over fences and is a Cheltenham Festival winner, so we’ll be up against it, but it’s a good race to start his chasing career and it will be a good introduction for him.
In the Mares Handicap Chase I ride THANKS FOR TEA who has been very consistent over fences, but has run into Willie Mullins horses on her last couple of runs. The trip and ground will suit and she deserves her day in the sun, which could be tomorrow if all goes well.
JARRY D'HONNEUR returns tomorrow in his first run since March 2015, where he was in great form and we could expect him come on a lot for the run off the back of such a long absence.
I liked THE WEST’S AWAKE when he won his Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse and he runs in the Novice Hurdle at 2.30pm tomorrow. His trainer Edward O’Grady thinks he has improved since Fairyhouse, and although he will have to step up, we think a lot of him. I think BILKO, the Gigginstown Horse, will be the one to beat in this race but THE WEST’s AWAKE will take a bit of whack with the good ground.
My final ride tomorrow is THE JAZZ SINGER who has won two around Navan over 2m6f and 2m7f, but we go back to 2.5 miles tomorrow. He’s gained over 11ibs since his first win and I think the handicapper could be catching up with him a bit, but saying that, it’s a big race and we could still be in the shake-up.
Looking at Sunday’s races, my first ride is SATURNAS, who won very well in his maiden and he’s an improver, so I think he’ll give a good show. It’s a competitive race, with Ruby choosing to ride PENHILL, which to be honest, I was happy enough with, although you can’t forget what he did at Galway, coming from the top of the hill, which was very impressive. PEACE NEWS, the Gigginstown horse, will also take some beating, but we know enough about him from last year, so I think SATURNAS has a good chance here.
The Hatton’s Grace Hurdle will be a great race. I ride SHANES HILL who had a run at Navan and will come on plenty from that. VROUM VROUM MAG is an exceptional mare, so giving her 7ibs is never ideal and if she’s in form, it’ll be hard to beat her, but we will be there to pick up the pieces if there’s anything there to take. I’m surprised to see APPLES JADE on the card so soon after her performance last week. It’ll be a big ask for a four-year-old to go again so soon after her last run.
I ride UPAZO in the next race, who I was disappointed by in his last run at Cork where he was pulled up. Sunday’s run will probably be to see what he can do as much as anything and to build a bit of confidence on a nice run.
HE ROCK’s is my final ride of the weekend. I was very impressive over three miles at Roscommon, but at Galway everything went wrong, where he nearly went down twice during the race, so I’ll be looking to get him into a good rhythm to give him some confidence early on. It’s a competitive race, with the top two looking good and they’ve probably given us weight for a good reason, but if everything goes right he should stay the trip.
Tomorrow’s Tingle Creek at Sandown will be a great race, where I expect strong performances from Gary Moore’s two horses, AR MAD and SIRE DE GRUGY. It’ll be UN DE SCEAUX’s first run of the year, where softer ground probably would have been better for him and It was only SPRINTRE SACRE who beat him there the last day, so although the ground will be quicker than ideal, I have my fingers crossed for him.