We haven’t a massive team from Seven Barrows going to the Punchestown Festival this year.
Most of the big guns will start their much-deserved holidays but there is a strong team of bumper horses travelling over to keep an eye out for.
Our best chance of the week is likely to be the lovely Altior in the ‘Attheraces Champion INH Flat Race’ bumper on Wednesday (6.05pm).
He came third last time out in February at Newbury in a classy bumper. The lightly-raced five-year-old has so much potential but needs the ground to stay good to be seen at his best.
We have two entered in the ‘Kildare post INH Flat Race’ on Thursday (7.45pm).
OK Corral is owned by Sue Magnier and won its only race this season in a February bumper at Kempton.
Newsworthy won the other division of that race and is quite well fancied. Both appear to have improved nicely. OK Corral may have the better chance this week and is one to follow in the future.
On Saturday we have Michael Buckley’s Hammersly Lake in the 2m 4f ‘Setanta Sports Handicap Hurdle (5.35pm). He last ran in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and didn’t disgrace himself. He should have a good each-way chance over a slightly shorter trip this week.
Full Shift is in the same race and he has been showing us plenty at home since a disappointing Cheltenham run in the Conditionals Handicap Hurdle. He’s reasonably handicapped, very lightly raced and we expect a big run on better ground.
Farewell to AP McCoy
We all went to Sandown last weekend to bid goodbye to AP McCoy (above) on the last two rides of his astonishing career in the saddle.
It was a surreal watching him walk into the paddock to pick up his champion jockey trophy for the 20th – but last – time.
It was great to be part of what was a very emotional send off for him. There was a wonderful atmosphere, Sandown was a sell out and a privilege to be there.
As his agent Dave Roberts said ’20 not out’, and he leaves the sport at the top. He really has done so much for racing, is a great role model and ambassador for the industry. Hopefully, he’ll still be involved in another capacity not that his career in the saddle is over.
Close but no cigar in another fantastic season
Yet again its been another tremendous season for the Seven Barrows team. We finished runners-up in the trainers’ championship behind the mighty Paul Nicholls yard again. We actually had four more winners (127 v 123) but the championship is decided on prize money.
Paul Nicholls had a lot of big-race Saturday winners including Just a Par at the weekend which is something we fell behind on this season as a lot of our chasers were out or injured.
Philip Hobbs also had a fantastic season with 100 winners – so it shows how competitive it is.
Doctor, doctor, give me the news
Barry Geraghty (above) lost his battle to ride at Punchestown this week. He suffered a broken tibia (shin bone) at Downpatrick just before Aintree that has seen him miss the last few weeks action.
With Barry on the sidelines – there have been more rides going at Seven Barrows. Barry’s been on the phone plenty, helping out and supporting the team.
The stable’s conditional jockey Nico de Boinville has had an amazing season winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Coneygree (below), as well as plenty of other big Saturday wins.
Nico landed on a mighty 43 winners to finish runner up behind Sean Bowen (47 winners) in the conditional jockeys’ championship.
We’ve had a really strong team this season and if it wasn’t for all the hard work of the likes of David Bass, Jerry McGrath, Andrew Tinkler and Peter Carberry and everyone else at home we wouldn’t have had such a successful campaign.
They deserve so much credit for holding it all together, through the stress, the good times and the awful winter weather!
Hopefully, NJH will be back stronger than ever next season to try to regain the champion trainer’s crown.