It was a brilliant weekend of racing and I was delighted to see Envoi Allen prove just how special he is once again. He is the horse of a lifetime.
Ronald Pump ran a massive race as well and he would fill you full of confidence heading into Christmas.
Ronald Pump Going The Right Way
Ronald Pump ran a huge race and there is no shame at all in going down like that to Honeysuckle. Everybody connected with the horse was absolutely thrilled with the run. Roll on Christmas!
The pace of the race just didn't work out for us on the day.
Pace is something that a lot of punters don't take into the reckoning when analysing a race, but its so important and this is a prime example of it. The pace was slow throughout, which meant that the horse who could quicken the best was at a massive advantage. Honeysuckle is a brilliant mare who has won an Irish Champion Hurdle, so she has a proven ability to quicken very well.
When Honeysuckle quickened after the second last she took valuable lengths out of us and you could only be impressed by how quickly she moved away from us all.
Ronald Pump isn't overly slow, but he doesn't have that change of gear that was needed and this meant that from the point of Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore quickening we were caught flat footed and had plenty of ground to make up.
It wasn't until we hit the rising ground after the last hurdle that I could really feel Ronald Pump motoring under me, he really hit top gear at this point and made up a massive amount of ground, but we just failed to get her back. It was a brilliant run and Matthew Smith was delighted with the run.
I would've been delighted before the race to get 2nd, but with how close we were I was a bit sickened afterwards. There isn't a jockey in the business who wouldn't have felt the same way after going down by half a length in a Grade 1!
Since the race I've been playing it back in my head and you always think to yourself "could I have made my move a bit earlier?" or "could I have made the running maybe?", but in reality I set out with a plan and everything nearly worked out to perfection. I've got a lot better with experience at putting these thoughts behind me and Ronald Pump is always ridden with restraint and it would've been a big change to alter that plan. Honeysuckle can also idle a bit at the finish so even had we got to her earlier, she probably would've found more like she has on numerous occasions such as the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
At the end of the day Ronald Pump ran a huge race, he'll be much better over 3 miles and we should go very close at Leopardstown over Christmas!
It's just fantastic to be associated with a horse like this and I'm very grateful to the owners, and Matthew Smith, who has done a brilliant job with this horse, as he does with every individual in his care.
What can I say about Envoi Allen that I haven't already said on this column? I genuinely don't think its crazy to say he could well turn out to be one of the best horses ever, as we just can't get to the bottom of him.
While he will meet better horses than he did on Sunday, he still beat a good one in Assemble and he did it so easily it was frightening.
He has everything in that he has a brilliant change of pace, he jumps his fences perfectly and we simply don't know how good he is as he only ever does enough.
Even in his work at home, he just does the bare minimum and calls it a day. The thing is that the "bare minimum" for him is a piece of work that would blow you away. Last week I worked him and it was a good workout, but afterwards you'd nearly forget by looking at him that he had done anything. No matter how hard you go, it's just all really easy for him.
I can't wait to see Envoi Allen in open company next season as we will properly figure his ability out. I'm not sure he will come out of his comfort zone this season, as in my eyes at least, he is well clear of the vast majority of novice chasers around.
Super Sunday For Gordon
It was a great Sunday for Gordon and as I said before he definitely has the ammo to go close in the trainers championship in Ireland this year. Even if we don't pull it off this season, our depth is getting bigger and bigger and we should at some point soon finally get over the line.
Ballyadam was impressive and he showed a lot of speed to win the Royal Bond. I rode in the race and the pace wasn't quick at all, so to do what he did was very good. He is a live contender now for the Supreme and every similar race.
I knew Zanahiyr was a good horse as he impressed me when I rode him to win at Ballinrobe the time before, but I have to say he slightly shocked me by how brilliant he was in the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle. It's very hard to know what he actually beat on the day, but he did it very well. I have great time for Duffle Coat, but after that you have to say that Zanahiyr is the one to beat at the minute in the division.
Finally, Escaria Ten, a horse I put up in 5 horses to follow for the season, ran a great race on his chasing debut behind Monkfish. That was a seriously hot beginners chase, but he jumped well and should improve a lot for that. There will be plenty of races to be won with him.
One For The Weekend
There is plenty of top class racing on this weekend and if The Bosses Oscar runs in the Grade B handicap hurdle at Navan (1.08) this weekend he should go very well.
I've always had a lot of time for this horse and he ran a huge race when you watch back the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham in March. He won on his comeback at Thurles and he has improved again since then as all of Gordon's had needed the run at that point of the season.
I said recently on Off The Ball on Newstalk that I fancy this horse to win the Pertemps if he was aimed and qualified, and I think he's a brilliant handicapper to have in the yard.