Tuesday 19 March 2019

What a year it's been for racing - flat and jumps

Sizing John
Sizing John

It is a huge honour to be nominated for RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year alongside some of Ireland's leading sporting stars and I'm really looking forward to heading up there on Saturday evening with my wife, Hannah.

It's not every year that a racing personality gets nominated for this award so hopefully, it is good for the sport and reflects on what has been a magnificent year for National Hunt and Flat racing in Ireland.

Sizing John winning three Gold Cups was never done before, Joseph O'Brien became the youngest trainer ever to win an Melbourne Cup at just 24 and his father, Aidan, broke the world record for Group Ones on the flat in a calendar year. Maybe the sport will get the acknowledgement it deserves.

I'm priviliged to be nominated alongside the likes of Joe Canning, Paul O'Donovan and Katie Taylor but hopefully the racing fraternity and the Herald readers have been getting behind me with a few votes!

My nomination is in no small part down to Sizing John and I have to say I was a little bit blown away by his performance on Sunday in Punchestown.

I knew going there he was in very good form but I had a huge fear about the ground. So to do what he did on that heavy ground just blew me away. It was unbelievable, really.

That was Sunday though and now it's all about the future. He put up a good performance on his first run back but Cheltenham is a long way away and you can take nothing for granted.

It is so hard to get back to Cheltenham, let alone win two Gold Cups back to back but hopefully we can get back there in March with a fighting chance.

I've got a day off today and won't be in Tramore but I thought the first three favourites all look solid.

When Willie Mullins introduces any horse from France you've to stand up and take note and Laurina doesn't have to be a world beater to win the first race.

Philip Dempsey's PERSIAN WIND is trying to win over hurdles after a few nice wins over fences and while transferring a lower hurdle rating doesn't always work out that way, Philip's horses have been flying and he should win.

KILBREW GOLD and POKER PARTY might give Henry de Bromhead a local double. Henry only trains up the road from Tramore and targets most meetings there. He rarely leaves empty-handed.

I'm off to Cheltenham on Friday for two horses with chances for Colin Tizzard. They definitely look to be worth the trip across and hopefully, one of them can connect.

ROBINSFIRTH will probably never have to encounter ground as heavy as it was in Haydock for his last run but Cheltenham is likely to be testing enough and that should suit him. It's a competitive race but he has a chance.

THE DUTCHMAN also ran very well at Haydock on his first run for Colin and if he improves a little from that run it will give him a fighting chance in the last race.

Robbie's tips

Tramore today

12.25 Laurina

12.55 Persian Wind

1.30 Kilbrew Gold

2.00 Poker Party

Cheltenham Friday

2.30 Robinsfirth

3.40 The Dutchman

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