It was great to see Gordon have such a great few days, his horses are in great form and there was plenty who impressed. I was over the moon with Coeur Sublime's run in the Morgiana Hurdle, the race that Gordon took with Abacadabras, but there can be no doubt that Saint Roi was the one to take out of the race.
From a spectators point of view this race did not disappoint at all and I was delighted to see Abacadabras grab a deserved top-level success.
Jack Kennedy probably isn't getting the praise he deserves for a great ride, but it is fair to say they got the run of the race at the same time. It was very pleasing to see Abacadabras settle like he did and while he idled at the finish, he battled well to the line. He definitely would've preferred a better pace in the race, but he travelled off it perfectly and enjoyed a charmed route throughout.
His jumping was very good and he'll be a contender in all of these races now this season which is great for Gordon.
However, as good as Abacadabras was, there is no doubt in my mind that Saint Roi is the one to take out of the Morgiana. Everything went very wrong for him and Mark Walsh on the day.
The lack of a pace meant that Saint Roi was lit up early and Mark Walsh was probably keen to settle him as much as he could to save himself for later on in the contest as the ground was extremely energy sapping. After 3 out he ended up on the inside of us which meant he had nowhere to go between the second last and the last. I was delighted with how Coeur Sublime was travelling and I made a move before the second last towards Jason The Militant and Supasundae, and Jack Kennedy did the same thing. This meant that we had effectively boxed Mark Walsh in, and he had to sit and suffer until a gap appeared.
Being boxed in with loads of horse under you is a horrible place to be and I felt for Mark Walsh on the day. I was very impressed with how Saint Roi finished and he will be a massive contender for the rest of the year. To finish as strongly as he did after being so lit up early on, and after being boxed in for that long, was very promising. With an easier passage you would have to think he probably would've won, but that's racing! Jason The Militant deserves praise as well as he stayed on very strongly and deserves his place in these fields.
As I've said I was truly delighted with Coeur Sublime. He was a bit free under me at times as I expected, but he travelled very well throughout the race. He made up ground very easily and I can't wait for Christmas to go again with him.
Georoid O'Loughlin has done a great job with him and I was very impressed with how relaxed this horse was in the contest - the switch to a smaller stable has definitely worked. Fitness-wise this will have done him the world of good as Georoid is still figuring him out and he just got very tired late on. He's an exciting horse to be associated with for the rest of the season and we could cause a shock or two throughout.
Don't get me wrong either, there is still plenty of promise in Abacadabras. He would prefer a quicker pace, will be a better horse on better ground and there is still loads of scenarios where he can win plenty of these races, including a Champion Hurdle. I just feel that Saint Roi was the one to take out on the day and it will be very interesting next time to see if he can rectify this next time and go one better.
As disappointed as I was to miss the ride, I was even more gutted that Tiger Roll ran as poorly as he did.
When I watched him go down to start on TV I really thought he was going to go well as he was on his toes and looked very alert. He just never got into it and it was disappointing he didn't make it further in the contest. These things happen, but it's never nice to see. Robbie Power did the right thing to just pull him up and we will try to get him going again over the next few weeks.
The talk of retirement is definitely too early. He has never run well at this meeting, and he has lost his form a few times in his career already and has always come back strongly. Gordon is second to none when it comes to getting a horse going again and we'll try a few different things at home with him.
He was showing all the right signs before the contest, so of course it was disappointing, but we can only hope that he does what he always does and improves a lot for the springtime. As us jockeys always say, he owes us nothing and Tiger Roll definitely doesn't, but I really don't think he's finished just yet.
Tough Duffle Coat
I was delighted to see Duffle Coat win again, and he's a horse I really like. Robbie Power gave him a brilliant ride on the day at Cheltenham and did everything perfectly on this horse.
The way Duffle Coat stayed on late was very impressive and he's done everything asked of him this season. He did look slow in the race, but a combination of the ground and his busy schedule might have led to him looking a lot slower than he maybe is. It has to be remembered that this was his 4th run of the season and his second trip back and forth to the UK in a short period of time too. It's very impressive that he remains unbeaten.
Plenty of staying juveniles have won these big races and I wouldn't mind riding him in a few of the Grade Ones going forward, that's for sure!
Fury Road is a horse that I've always had a lot of time for and he won as he should've at Punchestown on Sunday. He will be interesting going down the Stayers Hurdle route this year.
Felix Desjy was good, but he'll be a much better horse on nicer ground and he will be some sight when he gets the right conditions as he really is impressive over a fence. He's a staying 2 mile chaser and he could be hard to catch in a few of these races.
Pencilfulloflead was bought to be a chaser and he's really realising that potential now. It'll be interesting to see how good he will be on better ground, but he was very impressive at Punchestown and beat a properly good one in Latest Exhibition.
Finally, Hollow Games was in my 5 to follow for the season and I was quite taken by this performance. I love a horse who is a grinder in bumpers, as you know they will progress a lot and will have learned plenty as they grow up. He did exactly that and he's one to be very excited about.
One To Follow
It's not as busy a weekend as last time, but one horse I'd recommend to keep an eye out for is Cedarwood Road for Gearoid O'Loughlin. I won't be riding him, but he's a very nice horse and could be one to make a big step up over fences this year. He should take his place on Saturday at Naas in a beginners chase.