Our Girl Salley adding nicely to stress levels
Our Girl Salley's wonderful run of form continued at Fairyhouse last Sunday when she won the Listed mares' novice hurdle. That was her fifth win in succession and her third over hurdles this season, so it is extremely exciting to have her.
She was an odds-on favourite on Sunday and that does, of course, add to the stress levels. When people have put a lot of money on your horses, it puts a lot of weight on your shoulders to make sure they deliver.
I run a modestly sized yard in Dunganstown, Co Wicklow, with only nine or 10 horses in training at any one time.
We have had some good ones over the years that have won valuable races, but the pressure is always there for me to do the job right when I get one that has as much potential as Our Girl Salley.
Thankfully, it has been a case of so far so good with her. I can't tell you definitively where she will go next, but the mares' race at Cheltenham is an option. In the interim, there is a race at Fairyhouse next month that may suit, so I'll play it by ear for now.
The most important thing is that she came out of Sunday's race well. You always worry -- especially with the better ones -- that something untoward will come to light the day after a race but she trotted out perfectly the next morning and hasn't left a nut.
Mondays are generally quiet days on the yard. This week was no different. Because there was no racing pending for us over the next few days, the horses had only been exercised on the walker on Sunday morning, so it was a case of gently getting them up to speed again from Monday.
Our Gar, which won at the Punchestown Festival last April, is back in training in preparation for another spring campaign. He did run in the autumn, but his wind was catching him a little and we decided to have that operated on.
While he is still some way off a run, he has started to make real progress and I'm really looking forward to getting him out again now. He has been a very good horse for us anyway, but I feel he will be better still for the procedure. Time will tell.
Tuesday morning then was a work morning. I have two entries, Clifton Pier and Glenturn, in the Martinstown Handicap Chase at Navan's rescheduled meeting next Tuesday, so they both did a strong gallop upsides.
I think Clifton Pier will have the better chance of the two, as the race is over two and a half miles and Glenturn would probably prefer three.
Clifton Pier is having just his second run in a chase for us, so we are still learning about him to some extent, but I think he should go well. The main concern I'd have is that the tacky ground that we have at present might not be ideal for him.
While most of the focus at the moment is on the jumpers, it is also a time when the Flat horses are beginning to occupy a bit more of our energies. Certainly they occupy a bit more of the lads' energies. Put it this way, on a frosty morning there is nothing like a sprightly two-year-old to get its rider's blood flowing!
Fair play to the people that work for me, though, they are very adaptable. Numbers have always lent more towards the National Hunt side of things here, but we do like to keep a couple of Flat horses for the summer.
Last year we had just two, Gagnant and Take It Easee, both of which won. Obviously, that makes it worthwhile, and it is nice to be able to keep the place active during the summer months.
With the evenings yet to really start lengthening, however, that's all still some way off yet.
The jumpers will keep us on our toes for now and I certainly won't mind if Our Girl Salley continues to demand so much of my stress levels on race days. That's what it's all about.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie