Christmas is well and truly over now and I hope you all had an enjoyable one. It was a fantastic week or so for the yard and it was great to have a winner myself on St Stephen's Day!
My Own Christmas Luck
Overall I was very happy with how my luck was over Christmas. Isle Of Destiny was a very good winner on St Stephens Day at Down Royal and really stayed on quite well in the conditions.
We weren't sure how she'd handle the ground, but she was great. It's always fantastic to have a winner early as it calms you down heading into the rest of the week.
Apart from that I had a few near misses who were unlucky somewhat to be giving away such amounts of weight like Pegase Amour for Liam Lennon at Down Royal who was only three lengths behind in second despite having to give the winner over twenty pounds! He should pick up a low grade race like that in time as that was a nice performance on the day to get so close under such a big weight.
Ronald Pump was another who ran a great race going down by only a length to Treacysenniscorthy despite giving that winner well over twenty pounds as well! As some of you know I put him in my 10 to follow for the season - I'm very fond of Ronald Pump and he ran another great race for Matthew Smith. He has plenty of options now over hurdles and fences.
The others who grabbed my attention were Last Minute Man, The Church Gate & Ben Dundee.
Last Minute Man ran another great race in third behind two lovely rivals and will pick up a win quite soon if continuing to progress like he is. Ben Dundee ran a huge race on ground that wouldn't have suited back over hurdles. We were somewhat minding his chase mark for Cheltenham and he showed a lot. I still think he'll win a big one yet. The Church Gate ran a great race when trying to win the same race back to back, but simply bumped into better rivals off a worse mark. He actually probably improved this year and will be winning again.
The Yards Winners
On a personal note I was so happy to see Apple's Jade bounce back. Obviously I've got to know her very well and she means a lot to the yard so to see her do that was brilliant - it's incredible how much going hunting improved her! Hunting really can freshen up a horse, as it's nearly a holiday for them and can spark life back into them!
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I've no idea what her long term plan is, but it's just great to have her back loving the game again.
It was great to see Delta Work show his true ability as well, as I'd said in a previous blog that the pace at Down Royal just did not suit him and he showed how good he is when a race is run to suit. If he gets a proper pace like that in the Cheltenham Gold Cup he should go very close and he's improving every week really. He looks a bit of a big price all things considered for that race.
Abacadabras was excellent as well, and his jumping is improving which is the main thing to take out of the race. Blue Sarri flopping on the day was disappointing as it's hard to know how strong the form is, but he did everything he had to do. Abacadabras will be one of the yards leading hopes heading into the Cheltenham Festival in a few weeks.
Easywork was impressive again at Limerick and Jack gave him a great ride to see it out from the front. The second Unexcepted clearly didn't stay the trip on the ground so the form can probably be taken with a pinch of salt. He's improving though and is another very good novice hurdler in the yard.
Speaking of exciting novices, The Bosses Oscar really impressed me at Leopardstown. I had put him in my 5 to follow over Christmas, and he duly delivered beating Fun Light and the hot favourite Jon Snow. He will improve some more going up in trip and he'll be a dark horse no matter where he shows up in the festivals in the spring. He's a novice I really like.
Fury Road continues to impress everyone and won at Limerick in the manner of a very good horse. He jumped very well, apart from the last, and really if Davy had felt the need to properly go after him he could've won by much more than the one length winning margin. He's built up plenty of experience now and that can only help him heading into the spring.
The Albert Bartlett looks the long term target, but there could well be a race for him at the Dublin Racing Festival as well.
A horse who didn't win was Samcro, but I wouldn't be giving up on him as quickly as others are. There is no excuses, he was beaten on the day by a superstar in Faugheen, but Samcro can improve for that run and will have learned plenty. A fall and being beaten in a Grade One doesn't make you a bad horse overnight!
Battleoverdoyen Deserves More Respect
I don't understand social media sometimes, but the reaction to Battleoverdoyen's win has confused me really. What more can he do?
He was brilliant on the day I rode him at Galway, on his second start he won a Grade Two beating the 150 rated Any Second Now and last time he beat a very good horse in Champagne Classic in a Grade One. His jumping is brilliant and he's not that slow a horse either - you don't have to be that quick a horse to win an RSA Chase anyway!!
He's an improving horse and I think he'll go very well if staying fit and healthy in all those big novice races in the spring.
As I have been all year in everything he does, I was blown away by Envoi Allen at Naas on Sunday. He hadn't done much work at all really going into it and to win as easily as he did shows how truly special he is. The horse in second, Elixir D'ainay, is a very good horse too.
He had only really done one piece of major work between his last two runs as we just wanted to keep him fresh enough for the rest of the season and it was great to see him take such a blow after the race - it'll really stand to him.
He still won easily and he is not the type of a horse who'll win races by twenty lengths - even in his work he loves to let others get near him only to power away again. He won like this in the Champion Bumper, at Fairyhouse and at Naas on Sunday. It's just his style, but he's still the best novice around in my opinion.
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