We're jig-jogging in and I've stirrup irons digging into both ankles. One of the downsides of long legs. Felix Desjy is on my inside, he'll make it and I'll slot in behind him. Plan A. The jig-jog is becoming a trot and we're still 50 yards from the tape. Willie's bollocking for missing the start in the Plate stops me from slowing an inch.
The starter shouts, "Come On", drops his flag, presses his red button and the tape flies back. I'm away quickest, Aramon with his ears back and head pointed forward like an arrow. A professional racehorse. We speed down to the first, the thunder of hooves chasing us. Aramon measures it in an instant and we touch down in front.
No sign of Felix Desjy, he must have missed the start, I slide over to the rail and drop a gear. With a heavy weight, the shortest way around will be a help and the less pace, the easier to lug the lead up the hill at the finish.
Dark colours appear on my boot as we roll down the hill. Denis O'Regan on the English horse, Hunters Call. I had assumed he would drop out but it appears many plans are in disarray.
Denis goes on past me and into the rail. I angle out from behind him as Denis isn't known for setting strong fractions so I don't want to get caught behind him in a pocket. Aramon is nicely settled so I don't need to have any cover. The revs have dropped and as we head past the stands I'm happy with our position. This wasn't how anyone expected the race to pan out but you play the cards as they come.
We jump the next, a little to the left, and a head appears on my inside. I'm about to close the door when I hear a shout behind me, "Loose one", I do a quick check and see it's a loose horse so lean to my left and let him on.
He gallops ahead. Don't take me out now, you b******d. He goes clear of me and heads off out of the way. I click back over to Denis's tail, locking the inside door. We clear the third last and a grey head appears on my outside. Petit Mouchoir. Hugh Morgan.
We career downhill toward the second last and still no outside pressure. Just keep pulling out of him. Just keep tight to the inside.
We jump the second last adequately and the bend throws myself and Denis a little wide. "The inside Denis," I roar, unnecessary to a jockey of his experience but it's just good habit. We crest the bend and the last rushes to meet us. Just keep the bit in his mouth.
He's an experienced handicapper, let him handle the jumping. The stride is awkward and the temptation is to go long but I sit, Aramon shortens We're tight, we hit it. But he gets his feet on the ground and we're galloping away. There's a sense of horses to my outside. Get over to the rail, get your stick out, stay straight. Where's the bloody post? 100 yards. 50 yards. We flash past. In front. Silence never sounded so good . . .
Today we run seven of the 20 in the main race of the day, the Guinness Handicap Hurdle. Paul Townend has chosen our new recruit Canardier.
I would like to think now having had a few months to settle into Closutton, he can improve upon his performance.
However as an eight-year-old off of 143, his scope for improvement must be limited. Added to that, no horse has carried 11st 9lb to victory in this race since at least 1990 so it could pay to look lower down the card for a jewel in the rough. Diamond Hill has won around Galway three times and, as mentioned earlier in the week, comes from a family that has four Galway festival-winning siblings.
She was going to win first time out over hurdles when she sprawled on landing on the second last in Listowel and she subsequently was beaten in three more hurdles that year but I think she wasn't at her best.
She ran once and won once over hurdles last year and comes here unexposed and I suspect underestimated by the handicapper. With a rating of 98 on the Flat, I'll be disappointed if she can't take advantage of a mark of 125 here.
We run another horse rated 126 today called Fan De Blues. A good-looking French bred, his work at home is far superior to his rating.
The opening maiden hurdle looks a match between Joseph O'Brien's Risk Factor and our N'Golo. A grey Galileo which won on the Flat in France, the latter has the physique of a chaser and is very exciting. However, Risk Factor brings solid form to the table, having been second to Appreciate It in a Grade Two bumper at Leopardstown.
Both are having their first run over hurdles but I expect our horse to have superior speed over this two-mile trip, as Risk Factor has looked a galloper to me in his bumpers.
I picked up the ride on Hallowed Star for Shark Hanlon in the winners' bumper. Shark has been shouting this horse's name from the rooftops for a while now, which isn't like him.
I'd be wary of Gordon Elliott's Jawbox which receives 7lb for having not won a race, another 7lb for Kevin Brogan's claim and a further 6lb for being a four-year-old which is a sizeable amount of lead. But he hasn't looked the most straightforward and the Shark has his string in razor sharp form. This looks a super opportunity for Hallowed Star.
Fan De Blues (5.45)
Diamond Hill (6.15)