Saturday 20 January 2018

Katie Walsh: Side with Fly but I hope stars can shine again

Looking ahead to the World Hurdle, it looks set to be a real humdinger of a race.

 I suppose the two former Champion Hurdle winners will be still very hard to beat despite the fact that it is their first attempt over three miles.

For so many reasons this is going to be a captivating affair and I’d say it is going to be a very, very tactical race.

The lads riding the out-and-out proven stayers will be keen to make sure it’s a proper test of stamina as they’ll be fully aware of what Hurricane Fly and Jezki will be capable of, doing them for pace at the end if it’s a steadily run race to begin with.

I highly doubt that you are going to see Ruby or Mark make the running on Hurricane Fly or Jezki – that’s not their ploy over two miles so I certainly doubt it will be here – and they’ll be trying to do the others for toe.

The likes of Dedigout, Lieutenant Colonel and Thousand Stars are proven stayers and you couldn’t argue with the quality of the line-up. But, to be honest, I think no matter what way the race is run, the two former Champion Hurdle winners will probably be still fighting it out at the finish.

I think Hurricane Fly will shade it, and what a story that would be if he could win yet another Grade One race in Ireland. But don’t rule out my old friend Thousand Stars either... I’ve had some of my greatest moments in racing on him and I was delighted to see him show so much enthusiasm on his last run and I think, and hope, he’ll be placed at least tomorrow.

The other Grade One sees the brilliant Un De Sceaux line up and what a treat that is for the crowds at Punchestown.

Obviously, not everyone can make it to Cheltenham so for people that couldn’t, Punchestown is a perfect opportunity to go and see him up close and in the flesh and I really don’t think people will be disappointed.

Look, we saw yesterday how Don Poli got turned over at odds on and it’s horse racing – if we knew all the outcomes of tomorrow’s racing tonight, there’d be no point would there . . . but Un De Sceaux is the real deal and he’ll prove that again tomorrow I feel.

If he’s not every bit as impressive as Douvan was on the first day, I’d be stunned.

Yesterday went according to plan in many ways as Willie won the three Grade One races but probably not in the manner in which people expected. 

Douvan was brilliant and yet again, I don’t envy Willie and Rich Ricci sitting down to map out where his future lies because he could easily stay hurdling or be a very exciting novice over fences next season but that’s a great complaint to have and he further emphasises how much of a stepping stone the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle is to bigger and better things as there won’t be many horses finishing in front of him next season, whichever route he takes.

I was delighted for Danny Mullins to win the BoyleSports Champion Chase. He’s just home from a stint in America where he was riding plenty of winners in the week that he was there and it was a career highlight for him winning on Felix Yonger.

Don Poli didn’t turn up in the same fettle as he was in at Cheltenham but sometimes you just have to excuse horses that bad run.

They are not machines and can’t bring their ‘A game’ every day of the week no more than a human isn’t on the ball every day we go to work and I’m sure after a good summer break he’ll be back fighting again next season.

Gigginstown still had the winner of the race with Valseur Lido and that proves just why this is the week to throw all the darts at the board.

Willie might send a few to France in the next few weeks, but in general this is the end of the season and you just take your chances in these big races because there’s so much prize money is up for grabs and connections were rewarded for that yesterday.


Katie's Choice

Punchestown Tomorrow

5.30pm Hurricane Fly

6.40pm Un De Sceaux

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