Sunday 25 February 2018

High hopes Sizing Europe can play starring role against Kauto

My week got off to a typically busy start on Monday. First stop was Jim Dreaper's, where I schooled Telenor upsides Robbie Colgan on Notre Pere. They both jumped well, and Notre Pere went on to be second to Glencove Marina at Thurles yesterday. That was an excellent start to his season, as he'll come on an awful lot for the run.

Telenor is entered in the Fortria at Navan on Sunday, although he may not run as two miles would be a bit sharp for him and it's a hot race. We are thinking about following the same route with him as we did with Notre Pere in 2008.

That would mean going for the Troytown Chase in two weeks, before a tilt at the Welsh National at Chepstow after Christmas. Or at least that's the plan.

Later in the afternoon I met the Conways, who own Notre Pere and Telenor, at the Daw gallops near Bellewstown. They do a bit of pre-training with the youngsters at their home in Derry and wanted to try a couple with the ride-on endoscope, a high-tech device that allows you to examine a horse's breathing during exercise.

The recording kit sits in a package on your back, so there were a few worried faces when one of the horses fell back on top of me as I went to mount up. Suffice to say everyone was relieved to discover that the equipment was unscathed -- as was I!

From there I went to Claire O'Connell's in Ashbourne to school a couple for her, and that was it for the day then. But it was more of the same on Tuesday.

I was meant to meet Michael O'Hare on the Curragh at 9.30 to ride two that are going to Sedgefield next Tuesday, but he got caught in traffic and I only had time to ride one in the end. Michael's horses have been in great form. I've ridden winners for him in Ireland and England this season, although I missed out on a double for him at Naas on Saturday when I went to Ascot to ride for Henry de Bromhead. That's the way it goes.

Once I finished on the Curragh, I darted across to Galway to ride in the schooling races there that got under way at 12.0. There were six heats and I had rides in all of them -- three for Paul Gilligan, two for David Christie and one for John Monroe.

Berties Dream, Jadanli and One Cool Tornado were the three I rode for Paul, and they all worked nicely. Berties Dream and One Cool Tornado both go to Cheltenham next week, while Jadanli is in the Grade Two Chase at Down Royal tomorrow.

It's going to be a good race, but I'd like to think he'll run well. He had a bit of a setback after he fell on his seasonal debut at Punchestown so it's hard to say exactly how fit he is, but if he jumps okay he shouldn't be too far away.

Wednesday was even more frantic. I was in Denis Cullen's in Naas at 7.30, then rode one on the Curragh for Robbie Hennessy at 10.0 and one for Paul Magnier at 10.30. I was meant to have five rides at Fairyhouse in the afternoon, but lost out on one when the meeting had to be called off after the fourth race.

The ground was getting less secure underneath the horses' feet as the day wore on, so they had no option but to abandon. Still, I won the first on a lovely horse of Henry de Bromhead's called Romanesco, and finished second on Sizing Mexico for the same connections in the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle.

I was delighted with him. He enjoyed the soft and will be a proper three-miler in time, but that was his hurdling debut and he ran encouragingly against race-fit opposition.

Once racing was called off, I was able to get away early to school Royal De La Thinte, which runs in the beginners' chase at Down Royal today, for Jim Dreaper.

Royal De La Thinte won two point-to-points in the spring and he goes well at home. Priority will be to get a clear round in this afternoon, but he could be pretty decent.

Before racing yesterday I was in Henry's to school Sizing Europe ahead of the Champion Chase tomorrow. He fenced brilliantly, as he has done ever since he ran at Punchestown last month. That day, I was disappointed with how slowly he jumped, but I was pleased with the way he stayed on over the longer trip.

Three miles tomorrow won't be a problem. He wasn't fully wound up last time, so he'll strip much fitter now and we'll hope for the best. Kauto Star is obviously going to be hard to beat, but you can't be afraid of one horse. They all get beaten some day.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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