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Thursday 14 December 2017

Super weekend for us to savour

THIS weekend is always a massive one in the jump racing calendar. It features so many good races, most notably the Hennessy Gold Cup and the three Grade Ones at Fairyhouse on Sunday, and it'll certainly be a weekend that could shake up a lot of the markers for Cheltenham and maybe even burst a few bubbles.

Tomorrow's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury is one of the most prestigious races there is to win for anyone involved in jump racing. While Ruby has been lucky enough to claim it a couple of times, it is a race that eludes Willie Mullins but he sends over a real live chance in Djakadam who looks like going off favourite.

Despite the fact that he's at the head of the betting, a lot of people are suggesting that he can't win because he's only a five-year-old but I think that's one thing that won't beat him.

Look at Long Run, for example ... he would have only been five when winning a King George had it not be cancelled and run a few weeks later in January, so those horses from France can handle that and his age certainly won't be stopping him from winning.

Question

The only question mark over him is that he has only had three runs over fences. He is made for fences, he's a real chaser who is built like a tank and he's as wide as he is tall. He's ready for the challenge and they must think that down in Willie's too or else they wouldn't be asking him that question. It'll be interesting to see how he gets on.

Looking ahead to Sunday at Fairyhouse and it will be fantastic to see Annie Power out again as she starts off in the Hatton's Grace.

Little King Robin will be there to take her own again and set a proper gallop as she did for Jezki and Hurricane Fly in the Morgiana but Annie Power will just be in a different league.

Little King Robin is a great little mare has been a brilliant servant for connections but on all we have seen so far off Annie Power she should win this.

The Royal Bond is an intriguing race and because it features Willie's newcomer Allez Colombieres.

I can't believe the way bookmakers are making Allez Colombieres such a short favourite for this and their fancy for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle considering nobody has even seen him yet. That is solely down to the Willie, Ruby and Rich Ricci factor.

No More Heroes is a big asbsentee from the race as he wasn't declared this morning but Willie's horse is still going in to take on horses who have already run and won over hurdles.

I don't know why Allez Colombieres is favourite for the Supreme Novices' today but if he's able to beat them horses convincingly first time out in a Grade One, he'll definitely deserve that position on Sunday evening.

Probably the most competitive of the three Grade Ones is the Drinmore Novice Chase but, as I mentioned here after he won, I was really impressed by Valseur Lido at Punchestown and he's a really good horse who has done most of what was asked of him in his career.

It's a real good race though with The Tullow Tank being a proven Grade One horse over hurdles last season and returning to that stage again, and Apache Stronghold is in there as well for Noel Meade. You could make cases for a few of them. It's going to be a great test from them all and I'm sure a lot of people will be cheering on The Tullow Tank from their hearts as well as their pocket as he makes his first start for Sandra Hughes who has taken over the licence from her late father Dessie. As with a lot of people I would love to see The Tullow Tank win.

Rewarded

Hopefully the great card at Fairyhouse is rewarded with a great crowd.

I drove into Navan last Sunday after the first race and the car park was nearly full which very rarely is the case.

There is no doubt that people are going racing because so many great horses are turning up but a big factor is also down to other sports as well. The rugby match last weekend being on Saturday was a big help to Navan on Sunday and the fact that there is not much GAA action on is also a help because people can't be everywhere.

But Sunday's card is fantastic and there's certainly worse places you could.

You go to the Aviva to watch Ireland soccer team and even the rugby players and you could be sitting anywhere and never get near the action but go to Fairyhouse on Sunday and you'll have great horses and our best jockeys and trainers. You'll be so close you could nearly touch the horses and you can have all autographs or selfies you want with them so hopefully Sunday's crowd will be more of the same.

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