Friday 23 March 2018

Saturnas can run rings around rivals for Walsh

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Ruby Walsh will have his first Irish rides of the new season at Punchestown tonight.

Less than three weeks after fracturing his wrist at Aintree, the 11-time champion returned to ride on a select basis at the Kildare venue's showpiece festival.

Walsh then opted to take another two weeks off prior to guiding Footpad and Un De Sceaux to victory at Auteuil 11 days ago, and it is back to Punchestown now, where he restricts himself to two Willie Mullins runners.

He rides Saturnas in the maiden hurdle. Successful over two miles in one of two Flat starts in France, Saturnas has been given time to acclimatise.

That is Mullins's style with imports, which are often by pretty obscure sires. In Saturnas' case, the unknown is a stallion called Davidoff, a German-bred son of Montjeu that stands for a mere €1,500.

However, the most crucial aspect, given Walsh's piecemeal tendency right now, is that he has chosen to partner the hurdling newcomer. Saturnas is clearly showing plenty at home, so he is not one to oppose in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden, and nor is Walsh's other mount, Asthuria.

This daughter of Sagacity tackles the mares' maiden hurdle, having been a fine third to Jer's Girl in a Grade One on her Irish bow at Fairyhouse.

If Asthuria runs close to that now, she won't come off the bridle at this level. Mullins could also strike with Devils Bride in the conditions chase.

David Mullins partners the Gigginstown runner in the absence of Bryan Cooper, who will be out for a few weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a pin from his leg. Gigginstown also have the Jack Kennedy-ridden Bright New Dawn in this, but Devils Bride is fancied.

Elsewhere, Tramore racecourse will receive a €400,000 grant from Horse Racing Ireland's development fund to put towards a €1m revamp.

Facilities such as the entrance building, stable yard, parade ring, grandstand and weigh room area are all due to be upgraded at the popular seaside venue.

Irish Independent

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