With Fairyhouse over its time to look ahead to the Punchestown Festival next week. Being my local track, Punchestown is one of my favourite courses to ride around and getting a winner at the Festival is always very special. I have been lucky to have rode a winner at the Festival the past two years and I’m hoping that will continue this year. The Punchestown Festival runs from Tuesday to Saturday with top-class racing each day and I am hoping to have a few nice rides over the week but won’t know for certain exactly what will run until Sunday or Monday.
I will ride Mr Diablo, trained by Dad, in the Guinness Handicap Chase on Wednesday. He was an impressive winner of a featured handicap chase in Leopardstown at their last National Meeting of the season. He then ran in the Topham Chase at Aintree two weeks ago where he finished fifteenth. He jumped very well over the National fences in Aintree but just got tired after the last. I wasn’t hard on him when his chance was gone and he seems to have come out of the race in good form. That was my first time to ride over the National Fences and he gave me a great spin round. Having finished second at the Punchestown meeting last year behind the promising but ill-fated Avant Tout and it would be great if he could go one better this year.
Whatareudoingtome will run in the three mile Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase on Saturday. Trained by Dad also, he was a bit unlucky in the Ladies National at Fairyhouse but came out of the race okay and the better ground will be in his favour.
Dad has two other runners which we are looking forward to in the week. Definitely Fureys will run in the KFM Hunters Chase for the Bishop Court Cup on Friday. This is a race we often target and have been successful in before with The Baler who was ridden by Jamie Codd. I was only about fifteen at the time and I remember the great buzz after he won! His owner, Ger Langan, is a very popular local farmer and I think the whole of Johnstown Bridge were in the winners’ enclosure cheering him in after the race! It is a nice race to win as it is a local race confined to horses owned by Kildare Farmers. Definitely Fureys is owned by the Beattie Family who will be at every day of the Festival, rain, hail or snow. The horse is named after Furey’s Bar in Moyvalley, and that will certainly be the place to be Friday night if things go right!
His other runner on Friday is Stowaway Forever, a full brother to Champagne Fever, and he will run in the two mile two furlong bumper. I have previously mentioned him in my blog as a horse I like and we are hoping he will improve from his good run in Navan where he finished second behind Noel Meade’s Laverteen. He will be a nice horse for next season to go hurdling with and I am looking forward to being able to ride him when he does.
With Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott fighting it out for the trainers’ championship it will be a very exciting week indeed. After deciding to keep a lot of their horses on home turf instead of sending them to Aintree, there will be plenty of National Hunt stars in Punchestown this week. Likewise, it has been tit-for-tat in the race for the amateur title between Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins, setting things up for an interesting week. So, make sure they are four names you keep a close eye on at the Festival.
Vist thetote.com for Punchestown