Ruby Walsh joins the Over The Line team to take you through his rides on the Ulster National meeting at Downpatrick.
The Ulster National is the feature event of Sunday’s racing at Downpatrick and I have to say I wouldn’t be too bullish about my chances of winning it. I ride Askmeroe for Tony Martin and he’ll like the ground. I won a Novice chase on him at Easter a couple of years ago, so he’ll handle the ground. The big issue is the trip. He’s not a quick horse and I’m not sure he stays either. He falls between a rock and hard place. He’s more of a slow two and half miler and he’ll struggle for three and a half. It’s really going to stretch his stamina. I’d hope I’m wrong, but from riding him in the past, three and half miles will be too far for him. If I’m not on the bridle going to the second last, I’m goosed so we’ll be sneaking along and delivering our challenge as late as possible.
Before that I ride Sarabad in the first and to say he’s been disappointing since joining the Willie Mullins yard is putting it mildly. He looks very ordinary We were making excuses after his run at Leopardstown because a couple of loose horses interfered with him, but he ran abysmally at Thurles. He doesn’t set the world alight with his work at home, but we’re hoping that the good ground brings about a bit of improvement in him and he goes back to some decent French form. Gordon Elliot’s horse, Cause Of Causes is going to be very hard to beat in this race.
Twinlight got a bad cut when he fell at Thurles and missed a bit of time so he’s back over hurdles because there’s no point losing his novice tag over fences at this stage of the season. Last year at Punchestown he turned for home upsides Grandouet and if he reproduces that form here he’ll have real big shout in the 2.50.
I team up with Tony Martin for the handicap hurdle where I ride Sober Sailor. His 4th behind Folsom Blues at Limerick over Christmas wasn’t bad, but he’s been disappointing since. Tony thinks the good ground might bring about an improvement in him and he’ll run well. Being realistic, it’s a modest affair and if he gets back to his Folsom Blues form, he’ll be hard to beat.
I ride Victrix Gale in the handicap chase. She’s another one of Tony Martin’s that will appreciate the ground. I rode her in a hurdle race at Fairyhouse and the ground was just too soft. Paul Carberry rode her at Leopardstown the last time out and she ran well. There were a few fallers and she was badly hampered two out. She doesn’t have much in hand on the handicap, but she’s consistent, she’ll like the ground and she’ll get the trip really well, so we’re hopeful of a good run.