Double bumper delight up the road at Listowel
Every Sunday, any horses that are due to run in the coming week have to be ridden out. With Listowel this week, we had plenty to ride out last Sunday morning. I got everything exercised with the help of my head lad Brendan Walsh. For a change, there was no great rush on us, as Listowel is only up the road.
Now that Tralee is lost to racing, Listowel and Killarney are my local tracks and Listowel is the traditional starting point for the jumpers. Although my winter horses won't be ready for a while yet, I always try to gear a few up for the bumpers there.
On Sunday afternoon, The Shepherd King won the bumper nicely for us. I had a lot of work done with him, so he was fit and I was confident. He didn't let me down.
I think an awful lot of him. Before he won his point-to-point at Ballynoe in April, he had fallen at the last at Boulta when he would have won and he was also unlucky when he was subsequently a fast-finishing third on his bumper debut.
If things had gone differently, The Shepherd King might be a dual point-to-point and a dual bumper winner now, yet he didn't attract a single bid when he went to the sales at Doncaster in May. Not that I'm complaining -- I'm glad to still have him to train.
That night I went for a few drinks in Quanes in Blennerville with his owner/breeder Noel Collins and his family. Noel lives in Mullingar, but is from Tralee. He also bred Lucky William, which won the same bumper last year, so spirits were high.
Then, on Monday, Eightybarack-street won the bumper -- well, he dead-heated, but a win's a win. He is a lovely four-year-old. I wasn't as confident as I had been on Sunday as he is still a bit weak, so to get the win was superb.
I wouldn't have a huge number of horses -- around 20 -- but I try to keep the quality up. With the young horses making such a good start, it augurs well for the season ahead.
I had no runner on Tuesday, but I headed back to Listowel for the jump races once we finished up at home. The day ended with my having to visit a good friend, the jockey Sean McDermott, in Kerry General Hospital.
Sean, who is also from Tralee, took a bad fall in the handicap chase, crushing a vertebra in the process. He had been on a roll lately and rode a winner at Listowel on Sunday, so it was a nasty knockout to get now.
In fairness, he was in good form, although I was none the better leaving the hospital. These jump jockeys have a tough life. When you see the injuries they get, you wonder if they are being paid half enough or if people really appreciate the risks they take.
Maybe I'm more mindful of the dangers now that my son Bryan is riding. Thankfully, it's going well for him. He is based with Dessie Hughes, who gave him his first ride in the Kerry National on Montero on Wednesday.
That was a big deal for Bryan. Montero finished seventh and he also rode seconds for Paul Cashman and Leonard Whitmore. All in all, not a bad day's work for him.
I won't have any runner over the weekend, but Do You Follow Me will probably go to Ballinrobe on Monday. He had been off for two years before his run at Roscommon two weeks ago, and I'd expect him to go well now that he has that under his belt.
Over the next couple of months, I'm looking forward to getting the likes of Forpadydeplasterer, River Liane, Son Amix and Lucky William out again. Forpady has summered really well -- he has come back in looking very, very strong.
I'm going to give him one crack at three miles this year to see how he goes. He'll probably start off in the Fortria Chase at Navan over two miles in November because he always takes a run and I'd say we'll aim for the King George at Kempton then. Based on what he has done over two, the sky's the limit for him over three if he stays.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie