Saturday was one of the busier days, I’ve had featuring just one ride. The Morning Line, doing a few bits and bobs for television and then riding Twinlight in the Clarence House Chase – I was kept on my toes.
From where I was sitting, it was a good return to action for Sprinter Sacre. He jumped well, he traveled nicely and he looked a winner as we went for home. But he got a bit tired as he’s likely to do after a long layoff. I read there were reports of a small amount of blood found in his nose afterwards. Nicky Henderson said that’s normal enough and that Sprinter’s heart was fine. They don’t seem too concerned but that’s not a good sign. I’d have major concerns.
If you can ignore that, it was a decent comeback, but don’t take anything away from Dodging Bullets who is now a dual Grade One winner and deserves his place as one of the main contenders for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. They went a strong gallop and it was a true test. Sprinter will have to improve and I’m sure he will, but Dodging Bullets is the one to watch for me.
Leopardstown has been given the go ahead today and I’m most excited about getting back on board Vautour, but I’ve got some other useful rides.
1.20pm Leopardstown – 2m 4f Maiden Hurdle
Salsa Sensation (7/1) won a point to point race last time out and he jumps and stays well. It looks like an okay maiden hurdle with nothing standing out as being head and shoulders above the rest. Fletcher and Heck Thomas probably deserve to be at the top of the betting based on the snippets of form we’ve seen, but I think my lad is a decent horse and I’d be hopeful of running into a place.
1.50pm Leopardstown – 2m 3f Grade Two Novice Chase
I’m really looking forward to getting back on board Vautour (1/8) and hopefully getting back on track after a disappointing showing here at Christmas. He under-performed that day, but then again, Mouse Morris would probably say the same about Real Steel who is a useful horse too. The trip will suit him, he’s been in good form at home so hopefully it all goes well and we get him back on track.
2.20pm Leopardstown – 2m 5f Handicap Chase (Grade A)
Dogora (11/1) fell in the Paddy Power Chase here over Christmas which means it’s almost exactly two years since his last win. This race is wide open and you can never be too confident going into such a fiercely competitive contest. Lots of horses have chances – Foxrock, Byerley Babe with AP McCoy on board, Fever Pitch and Back Off Mate at the bottom of the weights. Dogora is a big price though and I think he’s got a good each way chance.
2.50pm Leopardstown – 2m Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)
I’ve chosen to ride Clondaw Warrior (9/1) over Lucky Bridle in this race because he’s carrying a good, light weight and I think that’s what you need to win a competitive race like this. I really like Lucky Bridle, but it’s a big ask to win off the weight he’s carrying so I think Clondaw Warrior is my best chance. Again though, there’s lots in with a shout here. Katie T, Snake Eyes, Waxie’s Dargle, Shantou Ed, Rock On The World – they’re all good horses who’ll be there or thereabouts at the end. There’s a few horses in the race who like to hit the front and who’ll set a strong pace and that won’t worry Clondaw Warrior. He’s good enough to get into the frame.
3.20pm Leopardstown – 3m Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)
I finish off my day in the saddle riding one for Tony Martin. Mydor (5/2) won well at Fairyhouse last time out. The time before that I rode him at Cork and some bad jumping really hindered his chances of getting anything. I like him a lot and although he’s carrying an eight pound penalty for that win earlier this month, he’s still racing off a light weight and that’s always a positive at this time of year when the ground can be soft and ride a bit dead. I’m expecting a good run from him.