Withdrawal of Willie’s No1 sets up stablemate with Ruby
ON FRIDAY night I spoke about how nice it is to ride a winner at Christmas and it is something every jockey likes to do, so it was a brilliant feeling to ride a double in Limerick yesterday.
Initially, it was disappointing that my dad's horse, Seabass, missed the cut for the Paddy Power at Leopardstown, but there isn't a better bit of compensation than to go to Limerick and win a Grade B Chase worth €40,000.
Seabass has been a brilliant servant for the yard and he's unbeaten on his last five starts now, which isn't bad for a horse who isn't the easiest to train.
I thought he would run a nice race and I was always handy enough on him, and he jumped the last well and stayed at it all the way to the line.
Obviously it is lovely to ride a winner for dad at Christmas and it's even more special that it was over fences, and even though he was at Leopardstown, mam was a good replacement!
To ride one winner this week would have been grand, but to go on after Seabass and win the bumper on Hidden Identity for Terence O'Brien was fantastic.
I rode a couple of times before for Terence and he is a real easy trainer to ride for, and it wasn't until after the race on the way home that I realised there was actually a good few quid on the horse.
He certainly didn't put me under any sort of pressure going out and she seems a nice horse as she won very well.
Tomorrow at Leopardstown, one of my favourite horses in training, Thousand Stars, lines up in the Istabraq Hurdle.
Thousand Stars has been a very important horse in my career ever since I won the Coral Hurdle on him at Cheltenham.
I was fortunate enough to win a big pot on him at Fairyhouse and get a great spin off him in Grade Ones at Punchestown for the last two years, and at Leopardstown, Aintree and France.
Ruby is naturally looking forward to riding Thousand Stars in the absence of Hurricane Fly and I can’t see anything that’s going to prevent him from adding to his win in the Morgiana Hurdle earlier this season.
Another horse I won a couple on is Prunella Dobbs' Our Girl Salley, who I think will win the chief supporting race – the Grade Three ITBA Fillies Scheme Mares Hurdle – that she also won impressively last season.
She beat a good mare of Peter Fahey's to win this race last year and she just wasn't herself before Cheltenham so had to give it a miss.
Her form has been improving gradually this season and she is the top rated in the race so will be hard to oppose.
At Leopardstown yesterday, Big Zeb was very impressive in winning the Dial-A-Bet for a third time.
It's hard to believe he is 11 this week, and it was a top performance from a wonderful horse and, as I said last night, Colm Murphy just continues to prove how good a trainer he is.
Big Zeb has now won 13 races and it was brilliant for Paddy Power, although it was a tough one to watch as Golden Silver took a crashing and fatal fall in the race.
Golden Silver was such a pet down in Willie's and everyone in the yard had a soft spot for him and loved riding him. He was such a gentle horse. He was a credit to everyone in Willie's, to Paul and to the owners, and he'll be sorely missed.
Thankfully, Paul was able to get up and walk away and it could have been worse, and although he had to have X-rays on his collarbone and may be sidelined for a short while, you have to put everything into perspective.