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Katie Walsh: 'All-weather' is a total godsend


Katie Walsh and Foxrock

Katie Walsh and Foxrock

Katie Walsh and Foxrock

WHERE would we be without Thurles? There was all sorts of weather warnings in place around Ireland yesterday and it was a horrible day but that didn't bother Thurles and Irish National Hunt racing is indebted to the racecourse and the Molonys who run it.

Jokingly, Thurles was known as Ireland's first all-weather track because regardless of the weather they seem to always be able to race and the ground is always in super condition. It's a credit to everyone involved.

Yes, we all know that facilities like the stable yard at Thurles could do with improving, but the main thing is the track we race on and that is always presented in a way that no other track, maybe outside the metropolitan tracks, could manage for the level of racing it takes.

The biggest compliment Thurles can get is just to look at the horses they attract. Our champion trainer, Willie Mullins, is at every meeting there with a load of runners and any trainer could run any good horse around Thurles.

Look at the race like yesterday's Kinloch Brae where you had Don Cossack who is favourite for the Ryanair Chase and Champagne Fever who has won at two Cheltenham Festivals and could run well in this year's Champion Chase and it's just a shame that there is no way to get a bit more funding to the place because it certainly deserves it, probably over any other track in the country.

Of that race, it's one of those that is impossible to know what would have happened if they both got up over the last.

I think anyone that backed Champagne Fever will say that he would have won, while anyone that backed Don Cossack will probably say that he was always going to win. Either way it was good to see that there was nothing between them and they'll both have a big part to play at Cheltenham hopefully.

I was very impressed with Willie's mare Vroum Vroum Mag who was still running away with Ruby after the last fence and she looks like she could be an exceptional mare.

She's a big tank that kind of looks like a gelding and the sky remains the limit for her.

Finally, it was sad to read the news about Charlie Swan this week and I wish him all the best in the future.

Andy is a perfect fit for racing coverage on TV

I wasn't in Thurles yesterday but I have to say that I really enjoyed watching the coverage on At The Races and I was really impressed with Andy McNamara who was part of their line up.

Andy (pictured) has started to do a bit for At The Races in recent weeks and he is a breath of fresh air on the coverage and he is also set to join the RTÉ team at the Irish Champion Hurdle meeting next weekend which is fantastic.

Andy is obviously still right in the middle of things still being a jockey, but he has a great voice, is knowledge and has a way about himself in front of a camera and it's great to see both At The Races and RTÉ bring somebody in like that. After-all, Dad is not getting any younger although he is as contrary as ever so fresh faces will do no harm whatsoever!

RTÉ are also bringing Richard Pugh in to do some work for them and I think he'll be a great addition also.

Richard is also very knowledgeable about the sport and along with Andy will do a very good job in portraying the game to the general public and I'm only waiting for Dad and Richard to get into a good argument about something on air because that will be worth watching because they both think they are always right!

Trip no problem for Foxrock

FOXROCK runs in the Leopardstown Chase on Sunday and he seems well in himself after his fantastic run in the Paddy Power at Christmas.

Sunday's trip is a bit shorter but I don't think that will bother him at all and it's not easy when you are high in the weights of those big, competitve handicaps but if he runs a similar race to last time, everyone will be happy.

I ride a horse for James Leavy in the bumper on Sunday called Be My Sea and four-year-old bumpers are hard to make out but he's by the right sire anyway and hopefully he'll run well.

While tomorrow I'm in Naas to ride On Fiddlers Green for Eddie Hales. I rode him at Punchestown and I'd say he's improved and Eddie must think a bit of him to go back for another bumper.