Ruby Walsh: Faugheen justified all the talk, and I like the look of Monalee

Despite not riding Faugheen at Punchestown due to injury, Ruby was impressed with the horse's performance....


Last week, I talked up Faugheen in a big way.

His homework was good, and while you can never be sure with any horse, what we were seeing at home was what he brought to the track on Sunday. A lot of horses can do it at home, but then don’t transfer that to the race.

Faugheen has always been reliable in that regard, but after such a layoff for him, I was just hoping that he came through again in the Morgiana Hurdle on Sunday at Punchestown. I thought he was excellent, and the manner of the victory was impressive.

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Swamp Fox has been on great form, yet looked a spent force with a few fences to go, while Campeador is an improving handicapper, but was basically out of it after three or four jumps.

This race showed the gulf between the Grade 1 horses and the handicappers. Swamp Fox, for example, who’s been in sublime shape, looked blown so early in the race. Jezki was the only Grade 1 horse in the race, and was still on the bridle two out, but Faugheen ended up dispensing even him easily enough.

It was great to see.

It’s hard to watch when you’re not involved, and unfortunately due to my injury I wasn’t able to take my mount on Faugheen. When your horses are winning, it hurts not to be on them – but you need things to look forward to, and the prospect of riding Faugheen again is one of them.

Once you regain control of your emotions, you realise what you have to work to come back for – that too can be a good feeling.

On Monalee and the Drinmore

Having come off Invitation Only in the beginner’s race at Punchestown on Saturday, I got a good look at Monalee.

It was a really good performance from a horse that was a wonderful novice hurdler last year. He looks to have brought that form to the fences – and a bit more with it. If you win your beginner’s then you have to step up again, but there were some decent horses behind him in this race, so Monalee has shown he can do it.

I think with the changes to the programme, and the relative shortage of novice and beginner’s chases, we’re now getting far more competitive beginner’s chases than previously. The form from Monalee is rock solid, and Henry de Bromhead must be delighted with him.

The names are piling up now for the Drinmore Novices Chase at Fairyhouse in December. It looks like it’s going to be an excellent race. It might come too soon for Monalee, but if so you’d imagine he’ll go to Christmas and should add a fair bit of spice to the three-miler at Leopardstown.

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