I REALLY cannot wait until Punchestown gets underway tomorrow as, for me, it'll be back to reality somewhat as I actually still haven't been home since Aintree!
I travelled to Aintree with Seabass before the Grand National and straight after it, I travelled to Newmarket where we had horses up at the Craven Breeze-Up Sales last week and then I went to Doncaster for more sales, so it has been a busy time of things.
Punchestown is brilliant, though, and it's a great week to be both an amateur and a local. I have two rides in the two bumpers tomorrow, in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper I ride for Paul Nolan and in the last race I ride for John Kiely, so it's nice to be getting in on the action right away.
As I said here last week, Punchestown deserve every bit of luck they get and I hope the weather tomorrow is nice because they deserve to get a good crowd when you look at the card that's on offer.
They've put a number of really good special offers together to make it affordable to go and, of course the time of the first race is 3.40, and a great incentive for people to get to the races after work.
Besides all that, just look at the star names that will be on show. Horses such as Sizing Europe, Big Zeb and Sir Des Champs, along with top races like the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle, which always throws up a good one.
For me, in the Champion Chase I can't see past Sizing Europe. We will never know what would have happened at Cheltenham if they had to jump the last. I think Cheltenham made a mess of bypassing the last fence that day (but that's for another article!).
Sizing Europe's forte is his jumping and that's why missing the last fence was a major blow to him, and although Finian's Rainbow came out at Aintree and was very impressive, I still would have liked to have been on Sizing Europe at Cheltenham that day.
Colm Murphy has a real strong hand in the race. Obviously, Big Zeb is the classy horse, and a credit to him, but I just feel that, at a bit of a price for a small each-way bet, Zaarito represents good value.
All of us down at Willie's (Mullins) are really looking forward to Sir Des Champs running in the three-mile novice chase. People are already talking about him being a Gold Cup horse and I think he could even be nearly favourite already for next year, but a lot of water has to pass under the bridge before that will happen as it's nearly 12 months away, but you'd have to be real impressed by everything he's done so far.
He's real laidback and has a sort of lazy way of doing things. Emmet Mullins rides him out in Willie's most mornings but I remember riding him once in a schooling race when he first came and that's just the way he is.
I suppose the one day he looked in trouble was in Limerick when Knockfierna ran out at the second last, but I am convinced he would have still won that day, that's just how he looks and I can't see anything beating him tomorrow.
Tomorrow may be a good day for Gigginstown House Stud as they also have Trifolium in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle and on his Cheltenham run he will be very hard to beat.
Unfortunately, I won't be riding over the banks in the opening Ladies Cup tomorrow. It's a great way to start the Festival and I was lucky enough to win it on Wedger Pardy back in 2009.
Wedger came back and was second in it last year behind Outlaw Pete and you can be sure that Outlaw Pete will run a good race again this time around.
Enda Bolger is the main man in these sort of races, though, and whatever he runs you can be sure they'll be ready and hard to beat - as I have found out in the past.
Tomorrow, Enda's Zest For Life, a former winner of this race with Nina Carberry back in 2010, is probably his pick again.
Punchestown has everything you want, though, with a real mix of both top class races and real competitive handicaps and bumpers and the Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle and the Goffs Land Rover are two real tricky races that I wouldn't like to be investing too much money into, but I think Willie has a good chance in both with Immediate Response and Goldboy, respectively.
Personally, I just can't wait to get back on the boat home later tonight and back to normal at Punchestown and hopefully those of you having a bet throughout the week will find plenty of winners. One will do me to start off!