Everyone at Leopardstown, and Irish Racing as a whole, should be immensely proud of what was a great spectacle for the Dublin Racing Festival. It was two days full of top-class action, with plenty of drama thrown in for good measure!
I was absolutely delighted with the run of Adamantly Chosen who finished second in the Grade One Novice Chase on Sunday.
We went into the contest with a bit of a form boost after Gerri Colombe won the Scilly Isles at Sandown, so I was surprised to see Adamantly Chosen going out at 40/1 with the bookmakers as he had finished only four lengths behind him at Christmas.
I was happy throughout the race; he can race a shade keen so it was important he relaxed early which he did. I really started to pick up approaching the last but Mighty Potter powered away up the run in. The winner is a very smart horse.
Adamantly Chosen has an entry in the Turner’s Novice Chase in Cheltenham so it will be interesting to see if connections take up that engagement.
On Saturday I was very taken again by Good Land who dismissed a good field comfortably. Some of the horses who took him on in front early seemed to fall away quickly, but he finished strongly. It was a performance that can be marked up as a result of that.
I rode Cinsa in the Spring Juvenile, and while she went well for a long way it was a tough task on her debut in Ireland. Lossiemouth obviously has her excuses, but I thought Gala Marceau was impressive and Danny Mullins, who had a super weekend, was excellent also.
You do not get any favours as a jockey, particularly in Grade One’s, and Danny Mullins showed this as his quick-thinking kept Lossiemouth in and then they kicked at the perfect time to get away from her. The runner up did run home brilliantly and will take a lot of stopping once again in March. Lossiemouth’s star did not fade anyway after that!
The winner blew me away in the Irish Arkle, and he looks like a special type. I rode Flame Bearer in that race, and I knew I was in trouble at halfway such was the pace of the race.
El Fabiolo pulling away to win by 10 lengths in that company on only his second run over fences was a massive performance, it could be the race of the Cheltenham festival with him and Jonbon going head to head in the Arkle.
Before the season started I had question marks over Galopin Des Champs staying the Gold Cup trip, I just felt he was so classy that he might not be a dour stayer but I feel that he put those question marks to bed as his new style of racing seems to be of a more relaxed and measured horse, popping fences and saving energy – he will take all the beating in March!
If Stattler had a proper pace to aim at, something like Denman’s famous Gold Cup win of 2008 where they went a relentless gallop from flag-fall, he could get closer perhaps.
Of the remaining big races at the weekend I thought Il Etait Temps was very good, but you can definitely forgive Facile Vega and I would still be sticking with him for the Supreme in March.
State Man was brilliant, and I do think he will give Constitution Hill a proper race in 5 weeks’ time. While Honeysuckle did not reach the levels she once did, I was still taken by her finishing effort as she held off Vauban to take second. That was pure heart. She will take some stopping in the Mares Hurdle at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.
I put up A Dream To Share and Fun Fun Fun as horses to follow for the weekend on this blog and I was really taken with both of them when winning their respective bumpers.
Fun Fun Fun was excellent, and she particularly impressed me as she can still improve plenty. She arguably looked in trouble turning in, but just seemed to come back on the bridle again. She looks like a nice prospect for her new connections Simon Munir and Isaac Souede who had a festival to remember.
I was particularly taken though by A Dream To Share, who won a very good bumper with a degree of ease. He is trained by John Kiely, who has done it all but is particularly an excellent trainer of bumper horses in my opinion and should go very well in the Champion Bumper in March.
On Thursday's race cards I have three nice rides at Thurles, and I’m particularly looking forward to Maggie Walsh for John and Michael Bowe. She won a competitive race last time out and she could go close here in this 80-95 rated handicap hurdle on Thursday. Having a horse in form can make the world of difference in races like this.
Cian Quirke gave her a smashing ride on that occasion and his patient approach on the day could well be the key to her.
I also take the mount on Japers Jack who is another to watch after running well last time out and at this time of the year he should be up to winning a maiden hurdle.