Keith Donoghue's Weekly Blog: Frustrating Apple's Jade & Exciting Novices

By Keith Donoghue
 |  4 mins
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Keith Donoghue's Weekly Blog: Frustrating Apple's Jade & Exciting Novices

Another week has gone by and it's great to see a few of Gordon's more exciting novices proving themselves at the track.

It's been a good start to the season, and hopefully it can continue!

Busy Weekend

I was busy this weekend with 4 rides at Navan and another 4 at Naas, and while I wasn't lucky enough to be in the winners' enclosure, we learned plenty about a few.

Hardline ran a great race on his reappearance and should come on a lot for that.

He got to Ballyoisin at the 3rd last and just got tired under me. We'll see the best of him next time and I actually think he has improved a bit again this year - there might just be another big one in him!

Column Of Fire was another one to note as he ran better then the finishing position might suggest. He missed the 3rd & 2nd last and ruined any chance he had then. The race was only getting going when he made those mistakes and it meant we were only trying to catch up, when the front two were only starting to quicken.

I don't think he would've beaten the front two anyway, but we would have been closer than we were. He'll be interesting when he gets into handicaps later in the season.

Matthew Smith's The Church Gate ran well for me in 4th in a handicap at Navan on Sunday. It was his first run back and 2 miles and 6 furlongs probably stretched him on the day. He showed me enough to think that he should definitely be up to winning another handicap soon.

Gun Merchant ran well behind Andy Dufresne at Navan as well. We thought he'd win at Clonmel before that, so it's great to see him run like that. He's a very honest horse and the soft ground on Sunday definitely suited him. There is a maiden hurdle in him for sure once the better horses start to step out of maiden company and he's another who'll improve a lot for seeing a fence in time.

There's nothing more frustrating than coming down at the first and that's what happened with Cracking Smart on Saturday at Naas. We thought the addition of blinkers would massively help him and I think we'll see him again this weekend.

I had Cracking Smart in my 10 to follow as I think he's a smart horse, he just needs some luck!

Frustrating Apple's Jade

Apple's Jade was disappointing and she just wasn't at it on the day.

I was watching on the TV and when I saw her walking across the parade ring I was worried as I knew by the head on her that she was being far too quiet in herself.

It's not like her work had been terrible either, it's just one of those things.

As always, she has her good days and she has her bad days - I think simply Sunday was one of her bad ones, obviously.

It's very frustrating when she doesn't show up like that, as when she's on form I think she'd be winning that race by nearly a furlong.

I know this might sound silly, but the weather is set to get colder, with frost on the horizon and I wouldn't be surprised if we see the best of her again in the Hatton's Grace. The cold weather seems to really bring her alive for whatever reason.

Apple's Jade improves a lot for her racing to be fair as well and seemed full of spark this morning. She was absolutely pulling the arms off poor Paddy Merrigan going onto the walker today and I thought to myself that she's doing this a day too late!

She's been a brilliant mare, has won 10 Grade One's and owes nothing to anybody involved with her, but I wouldn't be giving up on her just yet either.

Deadly Dufresne

Andy Dufresne was brilliant, and it's great to see the novice hurdlers running like they are.

He jumped and travelled like a very good one and I'm really looking forward to seeing him in a better race next time.

Also, you could only be very impressed with what Abacadabras did in the Grade 3 novice hurdle earlier in the card at Navan.

We always thought a lot of him, he was just very unlucky in bumpers. He ran out through the rails one day and was only a few lengths behind Envoi Allen on another. He was a bit weak and was a tricky ride last year, so we knew with another summer & hurdles in front of him that he'd be a good horse.

He travels very well in his races and is very exciting, but his jumping could definitely do with tightening up a bit, but I think he will improve for experience in that department

Abacadabras is a very quick horse who won't want more than 2 miles and I've no doubt he'll give Envoi Allen something to think about in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in a few weeks.

Exciting Novices

We're well used to having good young hurdlers in the yard, but this season it's great to have four of them come out and look as impressive as they have been.

As I said, we've had some good ones obviously such as No More Heroes and Samcro in recent years, but never as much quantity of talent we seem to have this year in the Novice Hurdle division. The likes of Fury Road, Abacadabras, Envoi Allen & Andy Dufresne who have run so far have been class.

They have only won maiden hurdles though, so it'll only be when they are stepped up in class next time that we will really find out how good they are and what trip they will eventually want at the likes of a Cheltenham Festival.

I wouldn't want to be swapping any of them anyway!

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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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