It was a good performance in Navan by Blazing Khal when beating Meet and Greet on his first run for 14 months. The manner in which he did it was very taking, it was a very stylish performance.
Does the form of that race mean he could win the Stayers’ Hurdle? I’m not so sure but you’d have to be really impressed with the way he did it . Is he going to be as good again at Cheltenham or can he improve? It’s just one of the imponderables when training a racehorse.
That’s what trainer Charles Byrnes will have to gauge. So you monitor things like his weight and how much he’s eating, his form and his general well-being. But when you pick a race or pick a date, as Paul Nicholls always says, he finds it easier to pick one day and work back from there, to have his horse spot on. When you’re trying to win, let them down, build them back up again, that’s when it becomes more difficult.
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Connections have always said that Teahupoo needs soft ground. They’ve always said he’s a better horse with a cut in the ground and his form would suggest that. He beat Klassical Dream and Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace, he absolutely bolted up in a race in which he was entitled to bolt up in Gowran Park in the Galmoy Hurdle. He showed us that he gets three miles so that’s what we wanted to see but the ground – if you’re listening to connections – could be key. They’ve always said he wanted soft ground and we’re going to find out at Cheltenham whether he can act on better ground. You say every horse can get away with it once, and Teahupoo is a very good horse.
Home by the Lee is the one I like. I’ve been impressed with him this year, he ran down Bob Olinger at Navan and won by two lengths. I was impressed with him at Christmas when he beat Ashdale Bob. I think that was a strong race and he was going to win from a long way out.
He’s an eight-year-old, there’s a bit of strength about him now, he was disappointing in the race last year, but I think they’re riding him a little differently.
They riding him with more room, more daylight. Jockey JJ Slevin is keen to stay wide on him and it seems to be suiting him better. When some horses get stopped in their run, it can take them a long time to get going again. The gaps close too quickly for them, so every time they get stopped, it’s back to zero to start their effort again
When you ride them wide with daylight however, you don’t get involved in a stop-start race and that seems to be working for Home By the Lee this season.
Of the others, Klassical Dream was outside the places but returned to win at Punchestown. We haven’t seen him since he put in a good run in Fairyhouse this season.
I saw him on the gallops though and he’s progressing. I haven’t read an update from Willie Mullins and I haven’t asked him about him. Haut En Couleurs looked like he didn’t get home in the Red Mills Chase the other day at Gowran Park, if Sharjah takes up the option it will be his first try at three miles and two and a half miles might suit him better, Saint Sam is very keen in his races and I couldn’t see Chacun Pour Soi I switching to this contest now.
Ruby’s Stayers’ Hurdle Tip
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