Paul Townend is hoping for a couple of pre-Cheltenham winners
It may be the weekend before Cheltenham but I will be very busy over both days in Ireland.
There are horses running that have to be rode and if I can sneak a couple of winners out of them it would be brilliant to go to Cheltenham on the back of them.
I start Saturday Gowran Park where I ride Queens Boulevard (1.55). It wasn’t an easy choice between the three Willie Mullins runners.
I have been second twice on Voix Des Tiep in his last two runs but just on the trip and the ground I took a chance on Queens Boulevard.
She has been disappointing on a couple of days but I think the ground was probably a bit quick for her last time at Naas and I am willing to give her another chance.
I don’t know a lot about Castiel (3.05). It’s his second run for Emmet Mullins. He hasn’t shown a whole lot in three runs in maidens so is probably more suited to handicaps.
He would have to improve massively on what he has done to feature here as it looks competitive for the grade.
Dolciano Dici (3.40) is having his first run in a handicap. To be realistic he has been very disappointing as he was one we thought plenty of when we got him.
He was hard enough to train and keep sound but we got a few runs into him this year. His first run was nice behind Us And Them, but he just hasn’t seemed able to build on that since.
He is in against a lot more experienced horses that have proved themselves. We will find out if 135 is a fair mark for him. He has shown us he has the ability but he just hasn’t shown it on the track so far.
I had another choice to make in the beginners chase and I went for Burrows Saint (4.15).
I just thought his first run was good. He will have to come on for that but he ran well behind Duc Des Genievres in Gowran already.
He jumped well that day, just seemed to get tired up the straight.
I thought with the benefit of the run under his belt that might bring him on enough to win here. It looks a winnable opportunity and natural progression from his last race should leave him spot on.
I’m at Naas on Sunday where Chacun Pour Soi (2.40) makes his debut for the Willie Mullins stable.
He has nice hurdles form in France and had one run over fences there. His jumping has been very good since he came to us.
This looks a nice opportunity for him. He shows us plenty at home so we would be hopeful of a very nice run from him.
Mister Blue Sky (3.15) hasn’t been seen since winning first time at Wexford in October. He lacks a bit of experience going in here where I thought Chosen Mate would be very hard to beat.
He will improve for his first run, when he was very keen, but his lack of experience and not having been out for a while is not ideal. He is not without his chance but it is a big step up in class.
I thought it would be hard to get off Camelia De Cotte (3.45). She has improved with every run and her last at Thurles was nearly her most impressive. She should handle the ground and the two and a half mile trip is ideal.
She did meet Robin Des Foret before and he finished in front of her but I am thinking that Camelia is improving and I don’t know when she will stop improving.
However she looks up against it here. She has been taking on mares and is taking on the boys as well here.
I won on Jetz the last day and thought there was a little bit left under the bonnet and you can’t ignore Pat Doyle’s horse Kaiser Black on his run at Leopardstown. If he backs up that run he will be hard to beat.
I hope my mare can keep improving and I give her a chance here as well.
Sayar (4.20) ran in the Ladbrokes Hurdle last time and the race was over early when he made a bad mistake. He was just fresh having not run over hurdles in a long time. I think the experience of going around in a big handicap will stand him in good stead.
It’s obviously a lesser grade here so I hope he can build on that. He didn’t come home as well as I thought he would. He just got a fright early and that put paid to his race.
He was a promising novice and he has a lot of weight so it’s a tough ask but I would put a line through his last race.
I won the Leinster National on Pairofbrowneyes (4.50) last year and he was a big fancy for the Irish National but fell early. He got a horrible fall that day.
His two runs back this year haven’t been ideal. The ground was probably quick enough for him in Leopardstown on his first run back and he was beaten a long way in the Thyestes.
Hopefully those two runs have brought him on a good bit.
It’s a bit of a lottery and £100,000 handicaps are never easy, but he has the ability.
I thought he was a horse going forward when we won last year but things haven’t fallen right since. I’m willing to give him another shot.
I have plenty of chances without a stand out ride, but I have loved what Chacun Pour Soi has been showing us at home.
You have to be cautious because it is his first run in Ireland. Him and Burrows Saint are probably my two best rides.
I will be dashing off Pairofbrowneyes to try to make a flight from Dublin Airport so I will arrive in Cheltenham Sunday night. I will ride out Monday morning and walk the track to try to settle in for the Festival.
I will have more to say on that next week.