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Silver our golden boy

A lot of our bumper horses were held up in their work due to the harsh weather. As a result, plenty of them didn't run as well as they might have first time out and Tusa Eire, which I won on at Fairyhouse last Saturday, was a case in point.

He got beaten at Naas on January 2 but showed his true colours at Fairyhouse, giving me an armchair ride all the way round. If Tusa Eire improves as much again, then he would have to enter the reckoning for the Cheltenham bumper.

Lovethehigherlaw, another recent Fairyhouse winner, is probably the best bumper horse I've ridden this season. He's a fair machine but dad said after he won that Cheltenham might not be on the agenda, so we'll see what happens.

On Sunday we were on duty at Punchestown. Dad had eight runners and we thought three or four of them would take plenty of beating. Usually when you think that, you're happy to come away with one winner. This time we got lucky -- with five.

I must say I always thought that Golden Silver would beat Big Zeb one day and Paul Townend gave him a fantastic ride to win the Tied Cottage Chase. There was talk that Big Zeb was a bit unlucky but I felt Golden Silver beat him fair and square.

They both picked up after the last fence to pull clear of Sizing Europe, so I don't see why Golden Silver couldn't confirm the form in the Champion Chase. People might say that he has twice run badly at Cheltenham already, but that was down to tactics. Paul is riding him more patiently this season, which looks like the key to him. It certainly worked a treat on Sunday.

By the time my chance came round in the bumper, Robert Tyner had ensured dad wouldn't be going through the card by winning the second-last race. That was a pity for dad, though at least it took the pressure off me!

Truth be told, we didn't really fancy Celtic Folklore. He had been very free since we got him, but Jack Madden did a superb job teaching him to settle at home. In the end, he made all to win easily and complete a superb day for the yard.

After racing, I went for a meal with Paul Townend, my cousin Emmet and a few other friends. When I got home, I sat down with dad to watch the races all over again. He wouldn't be one to say an awful lot, but he was smiling away. Days like that are rare in this game and I'm sure there was a good night in the Lord Bagenal.

As for me, I headed back to college in NUI Maynooth. I am in my last year of an Equine Business degree course, so the studying can be fairly hectic at times. It is a wonderful course, though, and I've really enjoyed my time there.

As much as anything else, college has given me the chance to meet a different group of friends. And who knows, some of them might be the people running racing in future, or prospective owners maybe, so they might be handy to know!

I have also started playing hurling with the college team in an effort to keep my weight down. Despite my dad and grandad being Kilkenny men, I had never played before so I'm not that great at it. Still, it is brilliant exercise and it's all part of college life.

After lectures yesterday, I made for Clonmel where I was thrilled to ride my first winner over fences on Dooneys Gate. Riding over the bigger obstacles is the ultimate buzz and there's a chance that Dooneys will run over the Aintree course in April.

This weekend will be busy again. At Naas tomorrow, Samain runs in the winners' bumper. John 'Shark' Hanlon's Star Neuville will be the one to beat if he runs, but we feel Samain is up there with our better bumper horses, so he won't be easily toppled.

It's on to Leopardstown then on Sunday. Hennessy Gold Cup Day is my favourite day's racing every year. Myself, Emmet and our late friend Ronan Lawlor always went to the Hennessy together.

In the kitchen at home, there are six photos of the three of us holding the Hennessy trophy after each of dad's wins in the race. Ronan died after a fall on the gallops just a week after the race last year, so this will be our first year there without him. It would be nice to remember him with a winner.

I ride Champagne Agent -- second to Star Neuville at Christmas -- in the bumper. He is another like Tusa Eire that will come on for his debut and he was unlucky to run into Star Neuville the last day, as we came 22 lengths clear of the third home. He should be hard to beat this time.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent