It’s something of a quiet spell in the jumps season. The excitement of Cheltenham is over and things are gearing up for the Irish Grand National and the Aintree Grand Festival meetings, but there’s some high class action today and Ruby Walsh takes us through his rides this weekend.
His first ride of the day is Balding Banker in the 3.05 Uttoxeter. “I’d love to know what happened to him last time,” said Ruby about the surprisingly poor run at Fakenham in February, “if he runs like that again to day he has no chance, but if he goes back to the form he had at Cheltenham he’ll go close.” There were no excuses or medical reasons for that distant 6th of 12 at Fakenham and Ruby explained “if they run their race and finish second or third, you know that’s just as good as they are, but he ran a stink and we’re hoping to put a line through it and hope if was just an off day.”
Tonic Mellysse is heavy odds-on to provide Ruby with a win in the 3.40. A fall at Warwick in November has raised doubts about his ability to oblige for favourite-backers, but the Kildare native has few concerns about his jumping. “No, it’s not an issue,” said Ruby, “I’ve schooled him and I won on him at Ayr last year when he jumped really well. He’s long odds-on, but he doesn’t know what price he is and I’d imagine it’s only a matter of getting him around.” He did sound a note of caution for anyone considering backing the winning distance. “He doesn’t do a lot out in front, so don’t be expecting him to win by half the track.”
After that, it’s a race against time as Ruby heads to Stratford for a ride in the bumper. Paul Nicholls was keen for him to partner Whisky Yankee in the race and Ruby reckons he’s an interesting improver. “He ran well first time out at Warwick and he’s out of a half-sister to Denman, so he has the pedigree. He’ll need to improve a bit to beat the Tizzard horse (Kings Lad), but he’s got ability.”
On Sunday, Limerick is the destination for a good day of racing with the highlight being the Grade 2 Hugh McMahon Memorial Novices’ Chase. Ruby rides Your Busy for owner and Irish and Munster rugby legend, Ronan O’Gara, but he’s cautious about landing a touch for the partnership. “He has to improve on anything he’s done before to suggest he’ll win a Grade 2 race, but he’ll bounce off the fast ground,” said Walsh, “He ran well in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. He’d need to improve on that, but the trainer tells me he’s come along for that race, so maybe he can catch the others on the hop. He’s got an each-way chance.”
He gets a leg up on Captains Dilemma in the maiden hurdle at 2.35. He steps in to ride for Henry De Bromhead due to the suspension of jockey Andrew Lynch and he’s optimistic about the ride. “He was up with the pace at Cork last time out and around Limerick, with all the hills, that’s a good thing. He’ll need to improve to reverse the form with Jessica Harrington’s horse (Mystic Desir), but we’re hopeful of a good run.”
Ruby takes the ride on board False Economy in the 3.05. The Michael Hourigan trained runner hasn’t been seen jumping fences since last October, but that resulted in a nice win over Four Commanders and with the faster ground likely to play to his strengths, he should have serious claims. “He is a big, fast jumper and he’ll handle the ground so Michael is hopeful of a big run,” was Ruby assessment of his ride.