Wednesday 13 December 2017

Katie Walsh: Running in the Ryanair logical choice for Foxrock

Foxrock and Danny Mullins jump the last with Clar Na Mionn before winning the Ten Up Novice Chase (Grade 2) Navan Photo: Patrick McCann 16.02.2014
Foxrock and Danny Mullins jump the last with Clar Na Mionn before winning the Ten Up Novice Chase (Grade 2) Navan Photo: Patrick McCann 16.02.2014

There's just a few finishing touches left but most of the decisions have been made, most of the work has been done, and now all roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival - at long last.

There had been a lot of talk since Foxrock finished second in the Hennessy at Leopardstown behind Carlingford Lough whether or not he would be supplemented for the Gold Cup or not.

Barry Connell, who owns the horse, said from the outset that the decision wouldn't be made in a hurry and now Barry and Dad have made the decision - the horse will be supplemented for the Ryanair Chase today, bypassing the Gold Cup this year

Nobody really goes to the Gold Cup as an afterthought, it's just not that type of race, and there was a reason he wasn't put in it when the entries closed back in January - and that is because he's still progressing and he's still only seven.

At this stage of his career, Foxrock doesn't need to go in a hotly contested Gold Cup, like this year's is, and face a gruelling race over an extended 3m2f, when the Ryanair trip of 2m5f, and the opposition in that race, means that it makes sense to go there.

There is a lot of hype around this years Cheltenham Festival - and is there more than in previous years? I don't know, but there is certainly a very strong Irish team making the journey.

It's certainly even more exciting when you have a horse running and now I'll have a foot in two camps with Dad now sending Foxrock for the Ryanair and my husband Ross sending a horse called Dai Bando over for the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle on Wednesday.


Ross travels over on Sunday night with his horse and I'll probably go on Monday morning with Foxrock and ride out for Willie Mullins the mornings I'm over there as well.

I have to say, when you look at the ammunition that Willie is bringing over, you have to sit back and think of the stories that we heard growing up about Vincent O'Brien and Tom Dreaper - and now here we are looking at Willie Mullins. He is the man of our generation and it's unreal to be around to witness it.

While the general public are counting down the last few days, I just hope that they understand how difficult it is to get horses here. You just have to look at Cue Card and Dynaste going out of the Ryanair, My Tent Or Yours was just beaten in a Champion Hurdle last year and he's not coming back.

It's fantastic to be looking forward to the week but the people who will run horses there from Tuesday to Friday have done some job to even just get them there in the first place.

I'm really looking forward to it the same as everyone else and while there is still nothing written in stone, I'm hoping to have a couple of nice rides over there.

This is the biggest test and this is where champions are decided. There are a lot of horses running around a lot of racecourses but Cheltenham is where everyone wants to win and where the questions are answered. This is it.

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