Returning Paul Townend says Blue Lord the pick
Paul Townend returns to the saddle this weekend with three rides at Fairyhouse almost two months after dislocating a shoulder.
I am excited to be coming back this weekend. I have been waiting long enough! I went schooling this morning. Everything feels good and it doesn’t hurt anymore. I have to get the Christmas expenses somehow!
I would have loved to have ridden Chacun Pour Soi at Sandown
I suppose I haven’t actually missed a whole lot compared to what I could have. I just hope I don’t have to miss any more now. With the weather the way it was, the horses weren’t quite ready. I missed the Ladbrokes Trophy and Tingle Creek which was tough. I would have loved to have been at Sandown riding Chacun Pour Soi despite the way he ran.
I also would have loved to have made the decision on whether to go to Cork or Punchestown with Energumene but it wasn’t to be. There is plenty of the season left and I just want a clear run from here until the Punchestown Festival.
Chacun Pour Soi is better than that
Reflecting on Chacun Pour Soi, it was obvious to me that he wasn’t himself the way he jumped the second. He threw himself at the third and he was never going after that. It felt too bad to be true. We know he is better than that. It is a worry that he has travelled twice and been beaten on those occasions. However, that performance was just way below his run at Cheltenham even. I would say put a line through it and try again.
On Sunday, Willie had six winners so it was a good weekend. The horses are going to take a run. It is obvious that they’re behind but with the rain last week, the gallop is good and heavy now and they might just be coming right for me.
Tough opener for Energumene
Energumene was special. They went very hard and Notebook took him on. He seems to be perfectly fine coming out of the race, but the worry I suppose is that it was a very hard race for his first run of the season.
The Hilly Way is a lovely race to step out of novice company and I know Sean O’Keefe enjoyed it anyway. He is a super jumper, has loads of pace and stays really well.
He seems to have the full package and hopefully we can keep him in one piece. He is a very exciting horse and was the standout Irish novice for me. He looks like he can sit at the big table now.
Fairyhouse trio should be no problem
I have three rides on Saturday and the first two are in Novice Chases at Fairyhouse so it’s not a gentle introduction for me. The two novice chasers are very good jumpers, touch wood. They are very good horses and are straightforward rides.
Blue Lord (11.30) is one I am really looking forward to. All of last year, I thought he was going to make a better chaser. I schooled him and his jumping has been really good. He has matured a lot from last year. He struggled against Appreciate It but he was as good as the rest of them as a novice hurdler. Trip wise, it is nice to start him off over two miles but I’d imagine he will go out in trip as the year progresses.
Stattler (12pm) is similar to Blue Lord in that he is starting over two-and-a-half miles and will probably end up going three miles. Again, we thought he would be a chaser last year, having run to a high enough level over hurdles. He was a bit disappointing at Cheltenham. I think we will see the best of him over fences. He jumps well and this is a nice place to start him off.
Hi Ho Phoenix (2.12) had a funny couple of runs in bumpers. He ran badlythe first day, his two other runs were better and he was probably unlucky not to have won one. It doesn’t look like the strongest of maiden hurdles for this time of year so hopefully he can put his best foot forward. He comes from a good staying family so the trip will be no problem, nor will the ground.
Blue Lord the one to watch
Of my three rides, my best chance is Blue Lord. He was the highest class as a hurdler and it looks like the fences will bring him on a little bit. To be fair, there isn’t much between him and Stattler. I think we will be talking about the two of them for the rest of the jump season.
I’m rooting for Rachael to land top accolade
Rachael Blackmore has brought racing to another level. She’s up for the BBC World Sport Star award. Jockeys aren’t usually associated with the likes of Formula One drivers and famous tennis players! Fair play to her; we will all vote for her and hopefully she will win it. Given what racing is going through at the moment in the press, it is nice to have a positive story.