Ruby Walsh: Wicklow Brave is some warrior but could be vulnerable to a young gun

Ruby's gearing up for the Dublin Racing Festival next weekend as the Willie Mullins' string starts to hit its stride ...



It was great for the yard to get a treble at Gowran Park on Thursday and a double at Fairyhouse yesterday.

The horses are running well and it’s all systems go for the Dublin Racing Festival next weekend. Hopefully, the Irish horses will start to sort themselves out in the pecking order for the Cheltenham Festival during the two-day meet.

But there’s a bit of business to be taken care of at Naas on Sunday first.

Naas 1.20pm

J P McManus’s Farid was just behind Fenta Des Obeaux at Punchestown and she was third at Fairyhouse on Saturday. We’ll have to see whether that’s a good omen for Fairid’s chances.

Paul Townend rides Runrized who works well at home, has schooled well, and seems to be going in the right direction. So we’ll see if he carries that promise to the track on Sunday.

Naas 1.50pm

I ride Wicklow Brave in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle. He’s been a fantastically versatile campaigner down the years winning everything from an Irish St Leger in 2016 to a Punchestown Champion Hurdle a year later.

However, he’s a 10-year-old now you’d have to acknowledge that both he and the nine-year-old Tombstone, are vulnerable to an improving five-year-old like Espoir D’allen – even if they are both getting weight off him.

Barry Geraghty’s mount is on the up and looks the one we have to beat.

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Naas 2.20pm

Ballyward brings a good level of hurdling form to this Grade 3 Novice Chase. He was fourth at the Cheltenham Festival to Kilbricken Storm in the Albert Bartlett Novices hurdle and has taken that into novice chasing, when just chinned by Shady Operator over 3m 1 f at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve.

He’s in good order but this is a very competitive race with the like of Blow by Blow, Champagne Classic, Chris’s Dream and Moonshine Bay in there.

Naas 4.20pm

Patrick Mullins rides Roll Again in the bumper and I’ve been riding him a little in his work at home recently.

He seems well and while he’ll appreciate the trip, he hasn’t raced since last spring. He’ll also have to improve a fair bit on his Sligo run when second to The Red Menace, to win a Naas bumper in the winter.

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What do you think?