Season pointing in the right direction
WITH finishing touches being applied to a bunch of the weekend's point-to-point runners, Friday mornings are always hectic.
Colin Bowe, for whom I work and ride, has multiple entries at Kilfeacle and Tinahely on Sunday, so they all need to be put through their paces first thing today.
We have four five-year-olds in the maiden at Kilfeacle, which is where I am going. Three are first-timers and the other, Shinrock Beat, was second on New Year's Day.
Whatever Colin decides to run should take plenty of beating. They are four lovely horses, and all of them are in the equivalent race at Tinahely as well, so the chances are we'll have a strong hand in both races.
It looks like I will have a full book of rides at Kilfeacle, so that's a good start. I'm sitting third in the riders' table at the moment and, if I can say the same come the end of the season, I'd be delighted with that.
Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd are in a league of their own at the minute. They were the only two to finish ahead of me last year, but they both rode more than twice my total of 42 winners, so that's what you are up against.
Jamie is currently injured, and his absence has left the eastern championship wide open for now.
Maybe I can put myself in contention for that while he is out, but even that will be hard as you know he will hit the ground running as soon as he returns. Still, being a Wexford boy and with my sponsor Celtic Equine based in Enniscorthy, I'll be giving it my best shot.
I had a winner on the southern circuit at Aghabullogue on Sunday.
Colin's Kevin Fancy won the mares' maiden in fine style, and I was denied a double when Michael Murphy's Star War crashed out at the last fence with the race at his mercy. Had he stood up, I'd have finished the day on 12 winners, but that's racing. We were delighted with the mare, and she is one to keep an eye out for in a bumper shortly.
Sometimes people think we specialise in mares on the track, but our geldings are sold as soon as they win a point-to-point. Mares, however, are simply not as easy to shift.
The pointing season is starting to hot up now. With the ground right, this is the time of year when everybody wants to run their best horses, so it is really competitive.
We have a stack of nice sorts to go to war with, including a Kalinisi four-year-old that has been particularly pleasing. He is still unnamed, but we don't have another Kalinisi gelding in the yard, so pay attention to the point-to-point entries over next month. In general, the youngsters seem to be bursting out of their skins at home, as is Askanna. She is a class mare that has won a total of eight races for me.
On her chasing bow at Limerick after Christmas, she turned in an absolute exhibition of jumping, and I'd like to think that she will compete well in the Grade Three mares' race at Thurles next Thursday. I certainly don't think she is done winning yet.
Glibin won for us at Thurles last Saturday. Because she did so with her ears pricked, the handicapper has lumped her with another 10 pounds, so that could make life difficult.
Still, you can't complain when they are winning. The most important thing is that we can get the horses to hold their form, and for me to stay sound. I was pretty sore for a few days after Star War's fall last time.
On Wednesday, I was supposed to school a few horses down at the Ballyedmond facility, but I sat it out in the end, as I was anxious not to risk another spill before Sunday. Once we are done with all the gallopers at Colin's this afternoon, I will head for my neighbour Sean Doyle's place in Ballindaggin instead.
He has a few that need schooling there, so that will get my eye in again ahead of Sunday's activity.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out: www.goracing.ie