Friday 18 January 2019

Every Naas meeting should be buzzing

Death Duty on the way to victory with Jack Kennedy on board at Naas
Death Duty on the way to victory with Jack Kennedy on board at Naas

I think I have to start with Naas and just say what a fantastic crowd was there last Sunday for their Grade One day - whatever they did to get that crowd there, I hope they continue to do it all year long.

It's the second year in a row now that people have been talking about the fantastic atmosphere at that meeting. I don't know whether it was down to the marketing or the ladies' day, or what, but that's the type of crowd and buzz that should be at every Naas race day, be it in the middle of the winter or in the summer for their Flat meetings.

The racecourse is within walking distance of the pubs and a lot of estates in Naas and I'd be fearful for the future of racing if a track like Naas couldn't bring in crowds like that on a more regular basis.

Every trainer loves bringing a horse to Naas and every jockey loves riding around there because it's a proper National Hunt track so it is a shame they haven't got more racing. However, fans were treated to a very good Grade One race there last weekend, which Death Duty won after Augusta Kate had crashed out.

Talking to Ruby afterwards, he felt the mare had a bit left in the tank and who knows what would have happened if she hadn't have fallen at the last hurdle ... it's a pity because it was a great race but it could have been even better to see the two of them go at it after the last.

It's hard to call which horse would have one if the mare's race hadn't ended early, but I think Death Duty is an out-and-out stayer and might have had enough left in the tank. Hopefully, the two horses now go on to Cheltenham with every chance.

There was also some good racing on the support card at Naas and I'd say Henry de Bromhead's Some Plan could be a fair horse. If you are a person who takes note of horses, I'd say you could follow the first five home in the bumper.

I rode in the race and I thought we went a good honest gallop, there were no hiding places, and I would definitely say that the first five are above average and are going to win plenty of races between them.

The previous afternoon at Cork we may have also witnessed a star of the future in the bumper with West Coast Time making a winning debut.

Trained by Joseph O'Brien, West Coast Time has a smashing pedigree being by a top stallion in Westener and out of the high-class race mare Refinement, who was a Grade One winner. This was her first runner to race on the track and he was worth waiting for and I'd imagine he could end up at the likes of Fairyhouse and Punchestown, making a big impression, before going jumping next season.

A good start to the week for Gordon Elliott was followed by the unfortunate news that Don Cossack has had to be retired. Ever since his bumper days, he was a big, gorgeous-looking horse and last March he went to Cheltenham and ultimately did what the O'Learys bought him to do: win a Gold Cup.

It's a pity that he never got to race after that and he won't be taking on Thistlecrack this March but he owes connections nothing and goes out at the top.

One of the main talking points this week has been the proposed closure of Kempton. It's a racecourse that I have actually never ridden around but my own opinion is that, yes, while it will be a loss and the King George has a lot of history there, it's in a prime site in London and the Jockey Club have to do what they see is best to keep racing viable in Britain.

I would think that if it was Sandown that had to close it would be a much bigger loss to the sport. The King George will go to Sandown now and I have to say, the best horse always wins around Sandown.

From when you jump the railways fences down the back, you are on the climb all the way home, it's a tough stiff test where you have to jump well and stay well and that's what National Hunt racing is all about.


Looking at the week ahead and the plan is that Dad will run Any Second Now at Punchestown tomorrow. He seems well after his win at Navan but it's a step up again from a maiden so hopefully he'll give a good account of himself.

On Thursday, Foxrock will run in the Hunters' Chase at Thurles and I'm looking forward to being back onboard him. It looks a very good Hunters' Chase and it will certainly make good viewing with the likes of On His Own and Bucker's Bridge also likely to run.

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