Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Andy Dufresne, Last Minute Man and Twitter Q&A

By Keith Donoghue
 |  5 mins
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Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Andy Dufresne, Last Minute Man and Twitter Q&A

Christmas really is getting close and there's big excitement around the yard. Naturally though for us jockeys it's the racing on the 26th of December we look forward to more than anything!

It was an interesting weekend of racing, where unfortunately Andy Dufresne lost his unbeaten record at Navan.

Andy Given An Exhibition

Andy Dufresne lost out to a better horse on the day at Navan, and take nothing away from the winner, Latest Exhibition, who did it very nicely.

Latest Exhibition is a very good horse, who really made his experience count and toughed it out excellently in the end.

It has to be said that Andy Dufresne has been hyped up far too much on social media and is not a horse to just write off now that he has been beaten. He will have learned plenty from that and still retains plenty of ability, but the hype around him was possibly a bit unwarranted. The races he has won haven't worked out that well and he simply bumped into a good and hardened rival on Sunday.

He's still a very promising novice hurdler and should improve for that run going forward.

Last Minute Man

I was delighted with Last Minute Man who was a brilliant 3rd behind Run Wild Fred at Navan on Sunday. There was plenty of promise in the run and he should definitely pay his way this season.

He was a horse we had in the yard who showed plenty of promise early when owned by Paul & Clare Rooney, but he ran into some problems with injuries and they opted to sell him. I recommended my sponsor, Stephen O'Connor, to buy him and thankfully it looks like it will work out!

Stephen runs a company called the Underwriting Exchange, is mad into horse racing and is Master with the Ward Union Hunt. He owned Bless The Wings previously, so is no stranger to a good horse! He is a great sponsor to have and goes back a long way with Gordon's' yard - he was actually the first owner we had! Hopefully Last Minute Man can kick on now and I really think he will.

The plan at the minute is for him to run on New Years Day at Fairyhouse and he should improve a bit for that last effort.

Out Sam ran a huge race when third in the Cross Country for me on Friday, I was really delighted with his effort. He made a few mistakes, which is to be expected as it was his first go over these fences, but he handled it brilliantly and gave me a great spin. I absolutely love the Cross Country races and Out Sam gave me a real thrill around Cheltenham.

I actually thought turning in that I might even catch the winner, but that French horse Easysland was very good in the end and will be another threat to Tiger Roll in March.

Hopefully Easysland will run in March so he can give us a lead a bit longer so I won't have to take it up so early!

On Saturday Texard was a bit hot and novicey in his race, but ran a nice race to be fourth. He'll improve when there is better ground in the spring. Braeside also ran well to be third in his race, behind a nice horse in Monkfish who looked decent.

Twitter Q&A

Mick McGuinness (@mick_mcguinness) asked: "How is Farouk D’Alene and will he be out anytime soon?"

He's fine and well Mick, just there is no real clear plan with one as young as him really. He looks like a good one and his point win was very impressive. Here's hoping he might be another good one!

Joe Smith (@Smithyjoe16) asked: "Any news on Felix Desjy? Arkle division needs him!!! #keithsaid #racehour"

He's only back in work now Joe so while he's building up his fitness again, it remains to be seen if he'll jump a fence this season. We'll see how he recovers first before making any concrete plans for him. I was quite excited by his jumping early on, so it's a real pity he picked up the injury like he did. He will make a fine 2 mile chaser!

Stuart Akister (@StuartAkister) asked: "Has there been any talk at all amongst connections of Envoi Allen going for the Champion Hurdle in March? #racehour #keithsaid"

I'm not aware of any talk anyway Stuart! I said in a previous blog that I think he'd win it, but it's Gordon who has that decision to make thankfully and not me!

National Hunt Opinions (@NhOpinions) asked: "This is a really boring question! But I’ve always wanted to know about how a yard allocates a stable lad/lass to a horse, is it simply a rota as horses leave/join the yard, or are personalities/experience/riding ability considered....? #SorryBoring #KeithSaid #RaceHour"

This isn't a boring question at all. It actually tends to work itself out by the horse and rider bonding rather than anything else. You see it every day, a stable lad or girl will just fall in love with one and that becomes their horse really. Take Envoi Allen, he was only getting off the trailer when Seainin Mahon took one look at him and made him her horse!

Seainin didn't know he was as expensive as he was or anything else, and it wasn't a bad one to pick!

Darren "Speedy" Treacy as well just fell in love with Hardline and he only looked an average enough horse when they first bonded. Saying that though, if somebody is regularly travelling to the races, but doesn't have a "good one", Gordon will usually reallocate one to them to keep it fair all round.

Daryl Miley (@darylmiley) asked: "What horse is he most looking forward to seeing over Christmas and what one is he most looking forward to riding?

My own riding plans are still to be finalised, but I'm most looking forward to seeing Fury Road. I've believed in him a lot this season and put him in my 10 to follow. He's stepping up in class and I can't wait to see how he gets on.

Scott Gibson (@ScottG19912019) asked: "What’s his thoughts on riding Tiger Roll in the Cross Country, but then having to hand over the ride when it comes to the Grand National? Does he ever get slight bitterness? (without trying to make it sound harsh)"

It just one of those things Scott. The first year it wasn't physically possible for me to ride him in the Grand National with the weight he ran off - you'd have to cut both my legs off to get me down to that weight. I wouldn't be human if I said it didn't bother me at all, but this is the life of a jockey. It's the same if you ride any horse in a normal race and it wins next time with another jockey on it's back - no one likes that happening!

I'm just over the moon to be involved with the Tiger Roll story, and I'm thrilled when he wins with or without me on his back!

Bode (@bode699) asked: "Best chance of a Cheltenham winner in Gordon’s yard?"

I've been saying it since this blog started and I'm not changing now - Envoi Allen!

Victor Antony (@VAGStairmand) asked: "Will Samcro step up to 3 miles? Looks tailor made for the RSA?"

I really don't think he needs to this season Victor, but that's just my opinion. I think the JLT is the race for him as he has plenty of speed.

@BasedGodNorthy asked: "Any news on Geraldo?"

Unfortunately Geraldo has a setback and it doesn't look like we'll see him this season. A real pity as I quite liked him. There's plenty of time on his side though.

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Keith Donoghue is one of the top National Hunt jockeys in the world, famed for his partnership with Tiger Roll winning two Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Keith also boasts a Grade 1 winner over fences, and is a great writer to boot. Keith covered the day to day of being a jockey in his weekly blog exclusive to Bookmakers.

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