Sunday 18 February 2018

Nina and Ted's gig will leave Boss in shade

There were some wonderful equine performances at Leopardstown last week, with the highlight for me being Katie Walsh's fine exhibition of horsemanship on Seabass.

A loose horse nearly carried her out at one point, but Katie deftly averted the danger. While there was definitely contact, she made a difficult problem look very simple, which is exactly what we have come to expect from both her and Nina Carberry.

Nina has been brilliant for us over the years and people don't realise the graft that she puts in.

Every Friday morning, she travels down to us here in Bruree from Ratoath. It's a two-and-a-half-hour journey, but she rocks up at 7.30 sharp, and is never in a hurry home. She'd stay here teaching youngsters to jump all day if you wanted.

Mondays and Wednesday are also busy days, so JT McNamara and Lenny Flynn come in on those mornings, too. Obviously we have a number of horses for the banks races.

Because those races are so demanding, we have to get plenty of graft into the horses to harden them. We are off the fields right now due to the wet ground, but we could go for miles on our all-weather figure-of-eight gallop, just cantering and jumping.

On a quiet day, we might head around the roads for six miles without retracing our tracks. Traffic is non-existent here, so mornings like that are good for man and beast.

During the afternoons, I spend a lot of time loose-schooling the youngsters.

I love watching horses jump. Whether it's eventing or show jumping or racing or hunting, there is nothing like the spectacle of a good horse and rider scaling obstacles.

Normally I'd go hunting once or twice a week with the Limericks or the Scarteens, but I retired my own hunter, so I haven't been out yet this season.

Heads Onthe Ground is a horse I would hunt, but he has been so well at home that we felt we'd give him a run in the PP Hogan Memorial banks race at Punchestown on Sunday.

You certainly wouldn't think he is 15 years of age. Aine O'Connor, an amateur jockey who rides out with us, will have her first ride over the banks on him and she could hardly get a more proficient conveyance.

Garde Champetre, Freneys Well and Can't Buy Time will run in the race too. While none of them are in the throes of youth, they should make their presence felt.

I suspect Scotsirish will be very difficult to beat for Willie Mullins, but Garde Champetre showed plenty of his old spark to take advantage of the opportunity that fell his way at Cheltenham in December, so he is probably still the pick of mine.

Can't Buy Time will be having his first try at the banks since joining me from Jonjo O'Neill's. He is an excellent jumper, so hopefully, he will show up well.


The PP Hogan race is usually a good guide to its Cheltenham equivalent. On The Fringe, fourth in the Christies Foxhunters' for us at Cheltenham last year, will return in the Raymond Smith Memorial Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday week.

He won that en route to Prestbury Park 12 months ago, and it would be great if he could do likewise this time. We are getting excited about seeing him out again. I was also looking forward to No Notions at Clonmel yesterday, but he was disappointing. He never looked happy and I'm still scratching my head as to why.

People always ask if I keep in touch with Bruce Springsteen, but I haven't spoken to him for a while. I remain a devoted fan, however and am looking forward to catching up with him again when his new tour comes to the RDS in July.

Big and all as The Boss' return will be, it will come a distant second to the social event of the year -- Nina and Ted Walsh Junior's wedding next week.

I hope they are looking forward to the day out as much as I am!

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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