Aintree was huge for Willie Mullins as he kicked clear in the Trainers’ Championship – but it wasn’t such good news for me.
I was at the surgeon yesterday and I’m going to need a lot of luck to make the Punchestown Festival on April 26 with my wrist injury.
Only phsiotherapy and time can help it now and at this stage I’d take being fit for any of the five days at the Kildare track.
I went down to Closutton on Wednesday morning and everything is just ticking over nicely. Most of the stable stars have had two races within a month and are just cantering away. They won’t need to do a whole lot ahead of Punchestown and whoever is showing the right signs of being fresh and well will take their chance.
I wouldn’t say Willie has the title in the bag just yet as there’s still time for Paul Nicholls to catch him.
But it’s a big ask and I’d certainly prefer to be stg £182k ahead than behind, especially as the races coming up are handicaps.
Having the best handicapped horse in the race – rather than the best horse in the race if they were Graded contests – is the name of the game now.
Nicholls will throw a few darts at the board in the big races at Ayr this Friday & Saturday as well as the final days of the UK season next week.
We loaded five on the bus to Ayr this morning and hope to pick up some sterling ourselves. I’d imagine what happens at Ayr will determine to a large extent how many runners we send to the Perth festival and Sandown next week.
Speaking of which ……
The plan is to saddle Ivan Grozny and Clondaw Warrior in the Scottish Champion Hurdle. The going will determine their fates as Clondaw Warrior won well at Fairyhouse but carries a full penalty and definitely prefers spring ground. The better the going the better his chance.
Ivan Grozny completed a remarkable day for David Mullins when winning the conditional jockeys hurdle after he guided Rule the World to victory in the Grand National. But Ivan Grozny got a 16lb hike in the ratings for that win.
He carries a 5lb penalty on Saturday so is technically 11lb well in. But a lot depends on The New One’s participation.
Our lads have nice racing weights but if the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner comes out, they’ll both take a hike in the weights. It’s the same for Nicky Henderson’s Sign of A Victory has been running in Grade One contests and will carry a nice racing weight for the first time in a while – provided the New One Runs.
Paul Nicholls could saddle Some Plan who travels smoothly in his races, will appreciate a flat track but may need good ground while Kim Bailey’s Charbal ran fifth in the Supreme Novice Hurdle to Altior and the third-place Buveur D’Air franked the form at Aintree.
The Scottish National is the feature race at Ayr on Saturday and we’ve sent Measureofmydreams over to try and go a couple places better than when third to Minella Rocco in the 4m amateur race at Cheltenham.
The form of that race was franked when runner-up Native River won the Grade One Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree and the sixth-place Vieux Lion Rouge ran a massive race for a novice to finish seventh in the Grand National.
The Paul Nicholls pair of Southfield Theatre and Vicente were just behind Measureofmydreams at Cheltenham and Southfield Theatre has some smart form in the book with Don Poli and finished just ahead of stablemate Vicente at Cheltenham, who now gets a 4lb pull.
Measureofmydreams jumps and travels well, the ease in the ground will suit him and he’s a nice weight on his back.
But one that stands out to me is the Tony Martin-trained Heathfield for JP McManus. I’ve always thought there was a big staying handicap in him and he won well at Navan over hurdles off an 18lb lower mark than his chase mark.
He’s a very good jumper and should love the 4m trip. If he runs he could take a lot of beating.
Kim Muir winner Cause of Causes carries his full penalty and has plenty of weight (11-8) to carry in a handicap.
Seeyouatmidnight is a novice and could be ahead of the handicapper. The quicker ground at the Festival mightn’t have suited him where he was seventh of eighth to Blacklion having previously beaten him in the Dipper Chase on heavy ground. The softer the ground, the better, for his chances.
It’s been an unbelievable couple of weeks for Mouse Morris with Rule the World winning the Grand National last Saturday and Rogue Angel landing the 3m 5f Irish National. If he was to let Rogue Angel take his chance here you couldn’t discount him as he wasn’t stopping at Fairyhouse over 3m 5f and battled all the way to the line.