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Lessons from the weekend

It was another eventful weekend of racing, with an even more eventful one coming up and tonight we look back on some points of interest and forward to Aintree.

1 Ruby will be back on Denman on Thursday, while Katie will be looking to overturn him on Saturday

The start of the Aintree Grand National meeting is only days away and over the weekend it was confirmed that Ruby Walsh would be reunited with Denman for the first time since the pair won the 2009 renewal of the Hennessy at Newbury.

Incidentally that was Denman's last success as he won the race for a second season under top weight.

Tony McCoy was onboard for his next three runs, which included his second placing behind Imperial Commander in the Gold Cup, while Sam Thomas was in the saddle for both his starts this season when third in the Hennessy and second in last month's Gold Cup.

Paul Nicholls tweeted yesterday evening: "Everyone asking me how Denman is. Well he did a great piece of work with Big Buck's yesterday and we are very happy with him. Ruby rides Thursday."

Meanwhile, Evening Herald columnist Katie Walsh is relishing her first ever ride in the English Grand National as Willie Mullins again puts his faith in the 26-year-old amateur by giving her the leg-up on Our Monty.

Walsh recorded two Cheltenham Festival successes last year, one of which was for Mullins who she rides out for once a week, and, providing Our Monty makes the cut, she will get the chance to again show her ability against professionals in the most famous race of them all.

Our Monty needs eight to come out of the race between now and Thursday's declarations, however that looks likely with five already as good as confirmed non-runners.

"I'm just so pleased that Willie asked me and I can't wait -- I wish it was tomorrow," Walsh said.

2 Dermot Weld can do it on every stage

Maybe this doesn't come under the bracket of something 'we learned over the weekend' as it was obviously a long time ago, but yesterday was further proof of the talent of the man who resides in Rosewell House.

After getting Unaccompanied to finish a somewhat unlucky second in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, Dermot Weld did a superb job to freshen her up enough to return to listed company on the Flat yesterday at the Curragh and claim the Alleged Stakes and the scalp of St Nicholas Abbey.

The four-year-old, pictured left winning yesterday, was a first ever runner over hurdles for Weld's loyal patrons Moyglare Stud, and will now go to the Punchestown Festival at the beginning of next month to contest the Grade One Juvenile Hurdle on the final day before a worthy break over the summer.

"She'll go to Punchestown once the ground is not firm. She's got a big future over jumps," Weld admitted.

That was the first leg of a listed race double for the trainer who also claimed the listed bumper at Limerick with the unbeaten Waaheb under the ever confident Robbie McNamara.

Waaheb was one of just two previous winners in the race restricted to four-year-olds but he oozed class and now heads to the Champion Bumper at Punchestown.

3 A mixed day at the office for Ballydoyle

Aidan O'Brien was pulling the positives out of a disappointing return to action for the long time absent St Nicholas Abbey who could only manage to finish third behind Unaccompanied yesterday.

O'Brien mentioned the ground afterwards which undoubtedly would have been a factor as heavy rainfall overnight left the Curragh soft to heavy and heavy in places.

However, Sing Softly was cut from 50/1 into 20/1 for the 1,000 Guineas with Paddy Power after she took the listed Loughbrown Stakes on the same card.

O'Brien will now ponder between the Newmarket Classic or the French equivalent but she would have to be expected to be better on better ground.

Meanwhile, debutant Marksmanship was a very eye-catching winner of the 10-furlong maiden and the three-year-old may now be seen in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial after leaving some very highly regarded horses in behind in the hands of the trainer's son Joseph.

"He was drawn badly but travelled really well and he looked a clear-cut winner over some fancied horses," commented the trainer.

After racing, two of the stable's more high-profiled inmates for this season, 2000 Guineas hope Roderic O'Connor and the much-hyped Australian import So You Think both worked and appeared to go well ahead of their opening targets this season.

4 Tommy Stack is again the man to follow this time of year

Already this season Lolly For Dolly has won herself two valuable prizes in a short space of time, but followers of her trainer Tommy Stack, will also be showing a healthy profit as just like last season he heads the trainers' championship in the early stages.

A double at Dundalk on Friday night and the emergence of the very promising young apprentice Shane Gray as well as the services of the constantly under-rated Wayne Lordan, means that the Stack team is worth continuing to follow.


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