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Thursday 14 November 2019

Fox Norton's absence a big loss to Cheltenham Festival

Fox Norton, with Bryan Cooper on board, on the way to winning the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November, 2017
Fox Norton, with Bryan Cooper on board, on the way to winning the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November, 2017

I was bitterly disappointed to get a call from Joe Tizzard yesterday to tell me that Fox Norton wouldn't be making Cheltenham.

It was so disappointing to lose him so close to the Festival and it has been a hectic few days for horses being pulled from next week so hopefully that will be the end of it now.

Fox Norton had delighted us on his two runs this season and it was all systems go for the Ryanair so it is a blow but hopefully I won't lose any more of my intended rides between now and then.

All of Jessica Harrington's team for Cheltenham did their last bit of work yesterday morning and everyone who rode horses yesterday seemed happy.

Ticking

They all seem to be in good form and will school this morning.

After that it will just be a matter of keeping them ticking over and getting them there in one piece.

We go to Thurles today and I've two horses to look forward to for Robcour.

My first ride is WALK AWAY (4.10, Thurles) in the 2m6f maiden hurdle.

I haven't sat on this horse yet but he is a new recruit to Henry de Bromhead's and Henry has been pleased with what he has seen so far.

Walk Away won a point-to-point in December and since joining Henry he has liked what he has seen and as the horse is a six-year-old and a chaser in the making, Henry decided to get him more racecourse experience over hurdles.

We might get to see him two or three times now before he is put away for the summer and the hope would be that Walk Away could catch these on the hop today.

It's a strong maiden for this time of year with Debuchet and Final List in there but my horse could have bundles of potential and I'm hoping he is a horse on the up.

Quality

There is plenty of quality on show today and the Thurles Handicap Hurdle is a hotter race than you'd expect for this meeting.

I ride ANOTHER BARNEY (4.45, Thurles) who I hoped could run well here but it looks a hot race.

This is a bit of a confidence booster for Another Barney as we were disappointed after his run behind Poker Party at Naas.

We did find a little issue after that and back over hurdles should do his confidence the world of good.

Getaway John is a maiden hurdle winner, Salty Boy won a very competitive handicap at Navan and Smoking Gun brings strong form to the table too so Another Barney will have to bring his A game here but I wouldn't rule him out and I'd be hopeful he can pick up some prize money.

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