Nick Rockett – 11.45 Fairyhouse
This is a hot race, with the likes of Corbetts Cross lining up. He had a nice run behind Grangeclare West at Naas and he will be competitive. Good Time Jonny is a Cheltenham Festival winner over hurdles, albeit he has had a couple of goes over fences and hasn’t shown a lot. I will be keeping an eye on him to see how he takes to chasing this time around. Three Card Brag has some very fancy hurdle form to call upon. He ran into a couple of decent horses over hurdles last year and was competitive then, and it looks like chasing will help him.
I think Nick Rockett was one that surprised us a little bit. He won a bumper last year and Willie Mullins just decided to send him over hurdles in the middle of March. He won at Naas before the week of Cheltenham and then he took a massive step forward when he won the Grade 2 at the Fairyhouse Easter meeting. He is a point-to-point winner also, so he has that bit of experience over fences, and I think he could be a smart one for the season to come.
Ballyburn – 12.50 Fairyhouse
Ballyburn had some eye-catching performances last year, his schooling has been good, he is a point-to-point winner, and he looks exciting. I am really looking forward to getting him started over hurdles.
This looks as hot a maiden hurdle as you’re going to find. Firefox had the run at Down Royal and he won the bumper there. His bumper form last year ties in with a lot of winners including Ile Atlantique. That is decent form and he will be hard to beat. Gordon Elliott’s horses are flying. Helvic Dream from Noel Meade’s yard comes to jumping with a rating of 105 on the flat. Now it doesn’t always mean they take to jumps but it is a hell of a flat rating to bring to the table.
Gust Of Wind – 2.35 Fairyhouse
He dined at the top table last year taking on a lot of fancied horses in big races. He ran well at Fairyhouse behind Blood Destiny and behind Lossiemouth at the Cheltenham Festival. He couldn’t have been in hotter water. This is his first run of the season and a few of them in here have had a run already. I think he could really come into himself, and we are hoping for a good year. That experience in Grade 1’s will definitely stand to him.
Batman Girac – 12.25 Fairyhouse
He is the first of our three-year-olds to come out but he has the benefit of two runs over hurdles in France. He won his second one in Compiegne so that is a good level of experience to bring to the table. He lacks a recent run compared to some of the ones he takes on here. The obvious one is Gordon Elliott’s Kala Conti who won a three-runner race at Navan the last day. Jack Kennedy has opted to ride it again here. She is in receipt of 3lbs off us but we like Batman and it will give us a good handle of where our three-year-olds are. I am hoping for him to run a nice race.
Bialystok – 1.25 Fairyhouse
I ride Bialystok in the Royal Bond. It is going to be his last run as a novice so he takes his place in this Grade One. On everything he has shown and done, he probably needs to step up. He was disappointing I suppose when he was beaten by Williamstownaancer at Tipperary at the back end of the summer. I like Fascile Mode in the race. I think he is a horse that can improve and I just like the way he took to hurdles at Punchestown on his first run for Tom and Mikey O’Sullivan.
Gordon Elliott has three runners in the race, with Jack (Kennedy) riding Farren Glory who was a good winner at Clonmel; the second in that race has been beaten since. Henry De Bromhead’s An Tobar has to be given respect, while Gavin Cromwell’s Encanto Bruno was a good winner in England the last day. It is a competitive field, and we need a career high to win.
Sharjah – 2pm
In the Drinmore, I ride Sharjah. He’s two from two over fences so far and has shown a lovely attitude for it. My Irish Grand National winner I Am Maximus also runs here and he just qualifies for a novice as well, having not won a chase until the National last Easter. He probably wants a step up in trip. Perceval Legallois fell at Mallow the last day behind Letsbeclearaboutit and I think the latter shows a lovely attitude to chasing. He jumped very well that day.
Found A Fifty won really well at Down Royal and I was taken by how he settled and took control over fences, albeit some were bypassed, so he didn’t get as much experience as they hoped for. He showed a better attitude and more maturity than last season and he sets a good standard. On what they have all achieved over hurdles though, Sharjah sets the standard and wouldn’t it be brilliant if he could win a Grade 1 over fences on top of all the Grade 1s he won over hurdles.
Impaire Et Passe – 2.35 Fairyhouse
Impaire Et Passe is a very exciting ride in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. This is his first run out of novice company. It won’t be a stroll in the park by any means, with last year’s winner Teahupoo setting a very good standard. He was runner-up at Cheltenham and not beaten by too far at Punchestown over three miles. They have been dancing all the dances at the top table and we are coming out of novice company. I guess we will find out on Sunday if Impaire Et Passe is the horse we are hoping he is.
Everything is positive, although he’s not the best work horse at home so it is hard to get handle on him but what he shows on the racecourse looks to be very special and he is my best ride of the day.