Tuesday 12 December 2017

Express can deliver to give me perfect boost

Last weekend was a busy one for me, but it was also a frustrating one. Between Dundalk on Friday, Cork on Saturday and Naas on Sunday, I had 16 rides.

Tell The Wind ran a nice race to be third in the Birdcatcher Nursery on Sunday and I had a couple of seconds at Dundalk, but that was as good as it got.

Winners are hard to come by, especially on spares. Often there might be just one spare going in a race and everybody is trying to get on it, so you need your agent to be on the ball.

It hasn't been a bad season, though. I had 56 winners last year and I'm on 49 now, so fingers crossed I'll match that yet. Granted, that's a long way from the 89 that I won the championship with in 2006, but we just don't have that depth of firepower now.

When you set out every year, you want to be in the top two or three with a chance of being involved in the championship. Right now, Pat Smullen, Johnny Murtagh and Fran Berry are stuck in a three-way battle for this year's title.

Such a close-run contest always generates great banter in the weigh room. For example, Johnny, who had grown quite a head of hair this year, turned up at Navan on Wednesday with what could only be described as a fairly sharp haircut.

Having let it grow so long, the difference was marked, and he got plenty Samson-like stick from all the lads. As it turned out, he rode two winners on the day and made some ground on Pat, so the new look obviously didn't do him any harm.

I didn't have a bad afternoon at Navan either. From four rides, I came away with a winner, a second and a fourth -- a good day's work.

The boss Kevin Prendergast's Giants Serapis finished second in the juvenile maiden to Johnny's mount Recital, which they seem to think highly of at Ballydoyle. My fellow ran a blinder. He kept going all the way and is improving with every run.


My winner came on Eddie Harty's Il Boro in the nursery. I had never ridden Il Boro, but Eddie fancied him beforehand, and I read he was well backed. We only just scraped home, but it was good enough for all concerned.

As ever, I have been on duty in the boss's yard every morning this week. I always ride Dunboyne Express, whether he is doing a canter or fast work, so I've been on him every morning as he prepared for tomorrow's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

I couldn't be happier with him. He did his last piece of work on Tuesday and came through it fine.

While you can't ever be confident going into a Group One, Dunboyne Express has done nothing but please us. He is two from two and his form is solid, but he is stepping up to a mile for a first time and he is also stepping up in class. So long as he runs his race, he should be right there at the finish.

Before I fly out in the morning, I have another hectic night at Dundalk. I've five rides, with Alsalwa (8.30) and Velvet Flicker (7.0) probably my best chances.

Velvet Flicker has already won and been placed at Dundalk and should go close in an open sprint again, while Alsalwa has similar claims. She was one of my seconds at the track last week and filled the same spot the week before.

It would be nice to head for Doncaster with another win under the belt. Tomorrow's Group One is the last of the year in Ireland or England, but it would be my first of the year if we were to collect.

Casamento's head defeat in the National Stakes is the closest I have managed in 2010, so hopefully Dunboyne Express can go one better. I won't be in the least bit surprised if he is up to the job.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent

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