The doctor was happy with the most recent x-ray, so it’s just a matter of how quickly I can get myself into shape. The bone is fully loaded now so it’s just about how soon I can be back in the saddle. Initially, I would have said I’d be back race riding for the Red Mills Chase Day at Gowran, but that was probably a bit unrealistic. So, if it’s not the weekend of the 24th, hopefully it’ll be the weekend after.
I could even be riding out by the end of next week. Things are going well; I just need to be patient and not do myself any damage. There’s no real pain any more, but things can’t be rushed. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, although as a natural optimist I would have preferred that to be even quicker. Once the doctors and physios are happy, that’s good enough for me.
On Altior and Native River
Altior was very good in the Betfair Exchange Chase last weekend – at the track he has the ability, and his owners must be delighted. He looks like a horse who’ll be very hard to beat at Cheltenham. He’s unbeaten over jumps, and on Saturday you could see why. Perhaps we make a bit too much of the ground – a good horse does well on any ground, and that’s exactly what Altior does. He jumps and travels well, and is a worthy favourite for the Queen Mother.
At Newbury on Saturday, Native River did what Native River does. He was very impressive, as he was at last year’s race. The difference this year is that he’s a much fresher horse going to the Gold Cup – we know after Saturday that he’s fit and well. Last year, he ran the Hennessy and the Welsh National, so he’d had a much tougher campaign in comparison to this one.
You’d have to be happy with him. He ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of people. If he could put in a good performance, he has a shot at the Gold Cup. Colin Tizzard and everyone associated with the horse are entitled to think he has as good a chance as anyone else.
Benie des Dieux
At Naas, it was probably the first time Benie des Dieux had to battle since she joined the Mullins stable. Asthuria really put it up to her, in a very impressive performance. But Benie proved to be up to the task. Where she goes next I haven’t a clue. She raced a bit keenly, so we would have thought she’d prefer a longer distance, but she showed she had the pace for two miles. She can improve even further.
Still, she will have to improve a lot in the ratings to have a chance in either the Ryanair or the Mare’s. She’s entered for those purely speculatively.
Speaking of the Mare’s, Vroum Vroum Mag is progressing nicely, but she may be the only one we have on paper in Apples Jade’s class who could go in the Mare’s. Augusta Kate and Let’s Dance are two good novices, but aren’t at that level yet.
Douvan is entered in the Red Mills Chase, but I’ve no idea whether or not he’s going to run.
He’s progressing nicely, and how he works over the next day or two will determine if Willie runs him or not.
If Willie thinks he’s up for an entry, it’ll be wonderful to have him back. Willie also has Bellshill and Ballycasey in the same race and with Presenting Percy and Our Duke also possible runners, it looks like being a wonderful race.
Meanwhile, Vroum Vroum Mag is progressing nicely and she too has the option of running this weekend. At the moment, she may be the only one we have on paper in Apples Jade’s class who could go in the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. Augusta Kate and Let’s Dance were two good novices, but they aren’t at that level yet.