Wednesday 13 December 2017

Oakwood Princess' needs outweigh lure of Croker

Compared to last week, this week has been a relatively quiet one for me on the racing front. I ran five horses over six days up to The Curragh last Saturday, with a fourth place the worst any of them managed -- and that was in a Listed race.

Andalucia Lady was third at Tramore, Whisper Cool and Alpine Glade both won at Killarney and Lizzie Bennett was second at Kilbeggan. Lightening Thief, the one that finished fourth at The Curragh, was as pleasing as any of them.

The time of his juvenile race was the second fastest on The Curragh this year, and he ran his best time yet. Considering he has already won twice, that was fair going.

And it was good to see Alpine Glade back on form after things went against her in the Galway Hurdle. She's one to watch out for on the Flat.

I honestly can't understand how I haven't managed to win with her on the Flat yet. She is rated 132 over hurdles and just 70 on the Flat, so I will definitely be targeting 12 and 14-furlong Flat handicaps. I'm convinced there is a good prize in her.

All told, I couldn't be happier with the horses. I have only 20 in training, half of which are slow-maturing two-year-olds, so I don't have many runners. Because of that, I try to place the horses carefully, not just turn them out for the sake of it.

With Kildare due to play in an All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday, the horses' winning streak has attracted that bit more attention due to the fact that I used to play for the county. That's all good for business, and it helps to raise our profile.

I'm probably the only inter-county player training, even if Paul Nolan does claim to have hurled for Wexford. As far as I remember, he spent all of his time on the bench!

I couldn't believe what unfolded before my eyes last Sunday. Dublin were in a two-horse race, and had jumped the last and gone clear, only to do a Devon Loch up the run-in.

For a team that was supposed to base their whole ethos on defence, they showed shocking indiscipline. When I played for Kildare in the All-Ireland final in 1998, I think we gave 11 frees away -- Dublin gave away something like 27 on Sunday. That's not defence, that's just fouling.

Cork didn't adapt at all through the game -- they did nothing. They were just handed the ball repeatedly, finishing with 1-7 from placed balls. The thing is, they are still the team to beat, because they can improve.

Kildare face a huge task against Down. It all kind of snowballed for them through the qualifiers, but all the white flags and so on have come out recently, so the hype is building up now. That is a worry, but Kieran McGeeney has been there before and I don't think he will allow it get to them.

Dermot Earley would be a considerable loss if he can't play. Dermot made his debut for Kildare when he replaced me in one of the three games against Meath in 1997 and, along with Johnny Doyle, has been Kildare's best footballer over the last few years.

Having said that, I've never seen so many Kildare forwards that can kick points, so I'm hoping that will see us over the line.

But Down have smart forwards too. Kildare won't have faced a collective like them all year, so the challenge will be to curtail them. When you think about it, Down effectively had to beat Kerry twice in the quarter-final, and any team capable of that won't be easily overhauled. If we give them a start in the way that we have with other teams this year, it could cost us dearly.

I don't know if I will be at Croke Park. Oakwood Princess makes her debut for me at The Curragh at 2.15, so I'll have to decide whether I try to get there after that or not.

Oakwood Princess will need the experience, I suspect, and it's worth pointing out that there will be nowhere better to watch the match than The Curragh if you aren't going to the game. Much as I might like to head off to Croke Park in the morning, the GAA never paid me, so skipping The Curragh isn't an option.

On tonight's card at Wexford, I run Annamay in the fillies' maiden. This is her second run, but she will also need more experience before she troubles the judge.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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