It’s a busy day for Paddy Power Blog columnist Ruby Walsh and his bosses Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins as they send horses all over the place. Ruby discusses his rides as well as some of the more interesting runners from Ditcheat and Bangelstown.
I don’t Mister Mole today, but he is a nice horse, I was there on Wednesday morning to see him school and he jumped well as he did when he won at Exeter. It’s just a pity for me that JP McManus didn’t have a runner or two and Sandown and AP McCoy would confine himself to there, but he’s a greedy git when it comes to riding winners so it’s no surprise he’s coming down to Wincanton for the ride before heading on. He’s an exciting horse whose two from two and I’ve no doubt he’ll make it three from three this afternoon.
I ride Poungach in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase. He fell at the first last time out, but it wasn’t a fall, just more of a slip. There were only four runners in the race, I went to make the pace got over the first and he knuckled on landing. It wasn’t a jumping error at all, it was just bad luck. He’s a decent horse. He’s a 150-rated hurdler. I schooled him on Wednesday and he jumped well. Paul Nicholls has high hopes for him and if he can put in a good round of jumping, he’ll take a bit of beating.
Paul saddles three of the seven going for the Elite Hurdle and it was a tough call for me to make about which one to ride, but I’ve gone on the weights and picked Prospect Wells instead over Zarkandar. Both of them are ex-flat horses and they’re not the biggest or most robust, so the lighter weight could make all the difference, Zarkandar is a proven Grade 1 horse and Prospect Wells needs to improve a bit, but a stone and three pounds is a lot to be giving away, especially on lighter, smaller horses like these.
Michel Le Bon has a great chance in the Badger Ales Trophy. The concern is it’s not long off three years since he won a chase. He won convincingly at that meeting, but picked up a couple of injuries and he’s missed a lot of time. He ran too keen in the Hennessy Gold Cup last year and faded out. The ground was too quick for him when I rode him next time out at Kempton. He won at Cheltenham in April but that was over hurdles. At one point, Paul Nicholls thought he might develop into a Gold Cup horse, but injury put paid to that. The benefit is we reckon he is well handicapped, but it’s a long time since he won a chase and that has to be in the back of your head.
Foggy’s Wall was entered in the hurdle on this card, but Paul decided there was no point taking on Mr. Mole so he sticks with the bumper for today. I’d imagine win, lose or draw, it’ll be his last bumper and he’s a progressive horse who can produce a big run.
Paul sends a few to Sandown today. Polisky drops back in trip for the Beginners Chase, but the biggest danger isn’t the distance, it’s Overturn making his chasing debut. He was obviously a top class hurdler, but he’s also a brave, athletic horse so I don’t think the fences will be an issue for him. If he puts in a clear round, Polisky will need a miracle to beat him. You never know, but a win looks unlikely for our lad.
The Mobb makes his debut in the Sandown bumper. He’s by Westerner and his offspring have been doing well of late. He’s in good nick, he’s showing plenty at home and I’m sure he’ll run a big race,
Gorgeous Sixty was fancied to do well in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham, but for whatever reason, she jumped terrible on the day. She was very careful and jumped very high and we’ve no idea why because that’s not how she jumps at home. She came back and ran a cracker at Fairyhouse and I should have won at Punchestown on her. She’s about the first of Willie Mullins’ ‘winter horses’ to run and until she runs in the Fishery Lane Hurdle, it’s hard to know where we have them at what stage they’re at. I would say she’s well in, but until we see how Willie’s horses are running, it’s hard to know how well in.