Friday 24 January 2020

Hard work can pay dividends for Luska lad on local track

A large part of my team at Fenniscourt is made up of summer types, so a lot of the focus at the moment is on getting those horses going. I'm excited about running them in the coming months and I'm lucky to have a great staff to prepare them.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Tony Durkan's two fillies, Shaimaa and Bohola Lady, in action on good ground. I'm hoping Bohola Lady, which won her bumper at Gowran Park in October, might win the Champion Bumper at Punchestown before going hurdling.

Last Saturday, my sister Mary arrived home from New York for the Christening of my son Sean. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time for hellos as I had horses to gallop before rushing off to a point-to-point in Killashee, Longford.

We're lucky to have Duninga gallops just 300 yards up the road, so Saturday is always a busy morning. The Duninga gallop is a mile and a quarter on an all-weather surface, and we can also school over the hurdles there.

I managed to get back for the Christening just on time -- if I didn't, I had been warned not to come home! We had a late night in the Lord Bagenal, which continued on to the early hours in Langtons in Kilkenny.

The following day, I was off to another point-to-point, this time a little bit more local in Ballydarragh, Wexford, where I had two first-timers run well to be placed.

I was also interested in claiming a horse in the 4.0 at Musselburgh, so I rushed back to the bookies in Tullow to watch the race. I had everything organised to claim the horse, but unfortunately it got badly injured and that put a halt to that.

Up at Leopardstown, I was delighted to see young Brian O'Connell, who rides quite a few of mine, steering Dunguib to an easy victory in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle.

Dunguib is definitely the best horse I've seen in my time, and it's pleasing to see him doing well, as my own Luska Lad was placed behind him twice last year.

Monday started off extremely busy, as ever. The horses were fresh and kicking during exercise, while the equine dentist also landed in to give the horses their routine three-month check up -- a cold morning to be doing that job!

We also brought our Cheltenham bumper hopeful Yeomanry back in after being out in the field on a well-earned break for the past 10 days. A son of High Chaparral, Yeomanry will be a good horse, and is ready to make his debut in the next fortnight. He'll need to win to qualify for Cheltenham, but I think he should.

It was off down to Duninga again on Wednesday to work the stable heroes Luska Lad and Western Leader. It was Luska Lad's last bit of fast work before the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park tomorrow. I was absolutely delighted with the way he worked.

He is in super form and it will be great to win (yes, I'm that confident!) on our local track where our neighbours and feed suppliers sponsor the race.

I was also delighted with Western Leader, which will run in the Michael Purcell Hurdle in Thurles, a Grade Two event on the February 25.

In the afternoon, I went to Fairyhouse with two runners, Lemonade Jack and The Long Haul, which both ran okay. On the way home from there I went off to buy a new jeep, as one of the lads had made love to a wall with the last one during the frosty times. Fortunately he was okay, but the jeep was very, very sick!

Yesterday, Barry Connell came in to ride out some of his promising young stock. I'm delighted to see Barry back in the saddle as he hurt his shoulder in a fall last November. He should make his comeback on Viking Splash at Thurles the day Western Leader -- which he also owns -- runs. Viking Splash is a 'point' winner that ran well in two bumpers a year ago, and he could give Barry a winning return.

While I'm looking forward to Luska Lad tomorrow, it might also pay to keep an eye on Financial Beauty in the bumper. She is a full-sister to Willie Mullins' Financial Reward, and I expect her to run well.

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