Was Christmas good or bad for me? I’d say more things went right than wrong but there was no-one more disappointed than me that Un De Sceaux fell and Vautour got beaten a short-head in their Grade One races.
I said I’d do things differently on Vautour if I had to ride the race again. That’s just a natural reaction because I got beaten a short-head. When you lose you should always think what you could have done differently instead.
You don’t get a second chance. It’s done, the result is there and you move on.
Will Vautour stay the extra two furlongs of the Cheltenham Gold Cup trip next March? Honestly, I don’t think we can answer that question until we try it.
It looks such an open year too and the picture is as confusing now as it was pre-Christmas. Nobody really did their credentials any harm.
Don Poli was tough in his Lexus win. You can argue about the bare form but I think he runs the same whether it’s a 0-95 Chase or a Grade One contest. He’ll only ever does enough but he’s only been beaten twice since joining Willie Mullins – at Punchestown – and both times after being to Cheltenham.
Faugheen getting his Champion Hurdle campaign back on track was great, so was Nichols Canyon’s fight-back against Identity Thief in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown, Long Dog saw off Tombstone, Yorkhill and Bellshill won last weekend and hopefully Min can do the same at Punchestown on Saturday.
What’s not to love?
I got a two-day ban in the King George and obviously I don’t agree with it. Myself, Paddy Brennan (on Cue Card) and Tom Scudamore (on Soll last weekend) were getting responses from our mounts.
There is a need for whip rules without doubt but I’ve never thought that judging by numbers was the best way to do it. What looks bad is bad, what doesn’t look bad isn’t bad, and that’s the way the rules are applied in Ireland.
There are days when one smack is too many and there are days when horses are responding for the whip – and that’s what Paddy Brennan and I were getting from Cue Card and Vautour at Kempton.
I actually only counted how many times I used the whip from the last and hadn’t factored in the four times I used it to help Vautour jump the last.
Sometimes you look at lads and think ‘put it down’, but I don’t think anyone who watched the King George VI Chase or Soll last Saturday thought those horses were ridden into the ground.
It’s a brave decision for Racing to switch to ITV but fortune often favours the brave. If you look at the Ch4 figures recently something had to give.
The one thing racing needs is people watching it on terrestrial tv or else it will die on the vine. It’s essential for tracks to attract sponsors for their races and it makes their job easier if there’s an engaged and active tv audience to go with it.
ITV cover plenty of sport and did a really good job with the Rugby World Cup so that’s good for continuity. Live sport attracts audiences and that in turn attracts advertisers.
We can all argue the merits or otherwise of the coverage of racing on Ch4 or ITV/ITV4. But at least it has moved to a big sporting platform rather than being sandwiched between The Simpsons, Countdown and Come Dine With Me.
Something for the weekend
They’re giving the Coral Welsh National another chance on Saturday and as always it’s going to take plenty of guts and stamina to win it. In a strange way the race is more gruelling than the Aintree National even though it’s nearly a mile shorter.
There’s just something about the course that makes it a real, stamina-sapping test. The undulations don’t help.
Ideally you want a horse than races to the front because it’s very hard to make up ground on the leaders – especially in the straight.
Nigel Twiston-Davies Cogry is still young enough and could be improving and his run at Cheltenham behind Sausalito Sunrise on his seasonal bow was promising. Johnjo O’Neill’s Upswing finished second that day and Barry Geraghty rides again.
Venetia Williams’ Rigadin De Beauchene won at Haydock last time out after finishing fourth in the Welsh National trial at the Cheptow track in December while Kerry Lee has taken over the licence from her father Richard and the stable won this with Mountainous in 2013.
He was rated 137 and has slipped back to 132 now. He had a nice run at Sandown in early December and the stable struck with Bishops Road at the weekend and could be the one to be on.