Davy Condon: Russell holds the key to quirky Mallowney
"It has been a difficult week coming to terms with the fact that I won’t ever ride again."
I’m not even sure it has fully sunk in yet. I still find myself perusing all the racing data on a daily basis. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.
I’m a racing fan and want to follow the game, and I’m not bitter. Whatever I end up doing, I would like to stay involved in the game somehow.
I’m still waiting to hear from the neurosurgeon to whom my neurologist Dr Brian Murray referred me – I’d say he is a busy man. I’m not sleeping great because I am still in a lot of discomfort, but in general I am dealing with everything – both physically and mentally – a little better on a daily basis.
It will be strange watching Punchestown knowing that I won’t compete there again. Still, I’ll try to point you in the direction of a few winners.
I wasn’t too surprised that Vautour wasn’t declared for the Boylesports Champion Chase. Willie Mullins would have been breaking the habit of a lifetime if he thrust a novice in against senior opposition, so he’d have wanted to be sure everything was just right.
He still has three to go to war with, but I think Mallowney is the one to keep on side with Davy Russell back in the saddle. He is a quirky sort of horse that goes especially well for Russell. Paul Carberry is one of the best riders in the world but he didn’t get the same tune out of Mallowney when he was beaten by Twinlight at Fairyhouse last time.
The way it panned out played into Twinlight’s hands, but I’d back Russell to turn that form around here. Mallowney has been progressive all season. He has looked as though he would be capable of winning a Grade One and was a winner here last year, so this could be a chance for Tim Doyle to record a major victory.
Champagne Fever has had a mixed season. You couldn’t put too much faith in him. His stablemate Felix Yonger might be the one of Willie’s to give Mallowney the most to think about.
Danny Mullins got a great performance out of him at Cork in December and if the drop of rain gets into the ground, he could have a big say. Again, Twinlight will appreciate any rain that falls and he rarely runs a bad race, so I wouldn’t write him off, either.
They are putting blinkers on Hidden Cyclone but I’m not sure he will ever win a Grade One now. He is usually the bridesmaid, but his run at Cheltenham was his worst for a while.
Douvan has to win the novice hurdle. I was very impressed with him at Cheltenham. Willie has compared him to Vautour and you can see why.
Sizing John is a good, solid individual. He is probably a chaser in-the-making but he hasn’t done much wrong over hurdles. He has a Grade One to his name already and he ran well at Cheltenham. I’d expect him to finish second.
Don Poli seems to be a Gold Cup horse so I couldn’t take him on in the novices’ chase. He doesn’t do a stroke so I’d say he could still have loads of room to improve, which is a bit scary.
If the ground stays decent, Apache Stronghold might give him a race. He wasn’t himself at Fairyhouse and he had a heavy fall, but Noel Meade has obviously been happy with him since.
Noel might win the last bumper with Showem Silver. Nina Carberry owns and rides this fellow and he goes quite nicely, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he went very close.
Ruby Walsh is down to do 10st 3lb on Rupert Lamb in the handicap hurdle. That could be significant. The Game Changer has a chance for Gordon Elliott but he has too much weight, and Rupert Lamb was a decent horse over fences once. He will be fitter for his comeback at Fairyhouse, so he could take a bit of stopping.
Gordon has Petit Mouchoir in the Land Rover Bumper. He won his point-to-point but he has always looked better than that at home. He is a sharp sort and should have a good chance of winning. Noel’s Red Giant is a decent type too, but he looks more of a long-term prospect.
3.40 Wish Ye Didnt 4.20 Douvan
4.55 Rupert Lamb 5.30 Mallowney (Nap) 6.05 Petit Mouchoir 6.40 Don Poli
7.15 Showem Silver