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Thursday 14 December 2017

Katie Walsh: It's the calm before the storm in Cotswolds

D'Albain, with Katie Walsh on board
D'Albain, with Katie Walsh on board

The weekends are a bit low key at the moment with all the build up well and truly focussing on the Cheltenham Festival which is now less than two-weeks away.

The last of the entries were released in the last few days and the weights for the handicaps were also revealed so plans will be made over the next week or so and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of news after horses work this weekend and so on.

It was nice to ride a winner for Liam Cusack last weekend on Last Time D’Albain in the Hunters Chase at Fairyhouse.

Unfortunately Kevin Power was under the weather and couldn’t ride it but he was kind enough to put me forward and it was nice to ride a winner for Liam as I’ve known him a long time. He’s a right little horse who jumped savage and goes straight to the Foxhunters at Aintree where he could run very well.

A lot of people have been asking about Foxrock but a decision doesn’t have to be made until tomorrow week and I imagine it will be a late decision whether or not he will be supplemented for the Gold Cup.

Champagne James is a horse that is entered in a number of races at the Festival and he is a possible candidate to go as well after running a cracking race last weekend at Naas.

Unfortunately he found one too good in Empire Of Dirt, but he ran out the whole way to the line and the front two pulled well clear of the third horse so it was a brilliant run in a valuable race.

For a small yard thankfully all the horses seem to be running well and in the space of six weeks or so we’ve had Foxrock finish second in a Paddy Power and a Hennessy and Champagne James was second on Saturday and that so easily could have been three big races we’d have won so it’s been a good time because it’s so hard to get horses to run well in these calibre of races.

We’ve a couple of runners this weekend with Tomorrow Morning running at Dundalk tonight. She runs in a handicap and Pat Smullen rides her on her first start after a break so hopefully she’ll put her best foot forward. The handicaps at Dundalk are fierce hotly contested.

Tomorrow at Leopardstown, Colbert Station returns to a track that has been good to him in the past. We’ve been happy with the horse and as I said, they all seem to be running well so hopefully he can run well also for JP McManus.

On Sunday night I’m in the Dunraven Arms Hotel for a Cheltenham Preview Night which should be good fun and on Thursday I’m in Kavanagh’s in Portlaoise for a preview I have done for the last couple of years.

Neither will be short of a strong opinion with Nick Luck, Philip Hobbs, ‘Pricewise’, Warren Greatrex, Andrew McNamara, and Willie Power in Dunraven, while in Portloaise I’m with motor-mouth himself Matt Chapman, Tony Mullins and The Herald’s Niall Cronin.

Speaking of panels, and I was in the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge for the Young Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Assocation Spring Career Seminar on Wednesday and I have to say it was a brilliant night.

Richard Pugh chaired the panel of Jim Bolger, Clodagh Kavanagh and Bill Dwan and it was really refreshing to see how many young people were in attendance - the place was packed.

The panel all came from very different backgrounds but have all been successful in their own right and I found it brilliant to hear what they had to say as you never stop learning.

It gave a great insight into all different aspects of the sport and the industry and if there was one on every month I’d definitely be there.

It just goes to show that there is a demand for young people to come into the industry and I suppose when you go racing and are in the weighroom you don’t really see young people at the races but when you see how many were there on Wednesday night, there is certainly a band of people coming through and wanting to get involved.

When you think that Jim Bolger is one of the greatest trainers in the world and he was there to give his time for so long at a seminar that was free in, I don’t think you’d get that in too many other sports and I know if Jim decides to give up training in the morning he’d make a career out of public speaking!

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