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Al Boum Photo

10 b g Buck’s Boum – Al Gane

A real star, he has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice and ran another good race (third) last year when going for his hat-trick in chasing’s Blue Riband. He made his comeback at Tramore in the New Year’s Day Chase which he has now won for each of the last four seasons. Paul said at the time that he was in way better form than he was 12 months ago. We thought that would take a bit of pressure off but because we had not had the chance to run him again, we have worked him very hard at home and maybe we have overcooked it. He did some work a couple of weeks ago that I was not too happy with, but he was much better last week when we took him for a racecourse gallop. And the most important thing is that he was fine the next morning. I was not that worried as he usually comes right for Cheltenham. If he is on form he will be a major player, but it looks a very open race this season. He has done his job for us and Joe Donnelly and owes us nothing.

Allaho

8 b g No Risk At All – Idaho Falls

He put up a huge show 12 months ago when taking the Ryanair Chase by 12L and has not done much wrong since, winning both starts this season. He is in great form at home and doing well. Everyone asks me for my banker of the week, and he would be the one that springs to mind first, and I would be very disappointed if he did not put up a bold show.

Appreciate It

8 b g Jeremy – Sainte Baronne

Another who never put a foot wrong last season with four wins from four starts, including a hat-trick of Grade 1s. This will be his first run of the year which is never a huge worry for me as we have done it in the past with the likes of Quevega. Initially we were going to go chasing this year, but he got injured so we had to change plans and remain over hurdles as we did not want to lose his novice status this late in the season. It was a fairly easy decision to make. The novice chases can be very lucrative, but you do not want to waste it, you want to win three or four races during the season and if it is a good season you maybe win six or seven. If he gets started early and the ground is decent, we will see. As for next week I know we are facing a very tough challenge in the guise of Honeysuckle who is a true champion. I did take him away for a gallop recently and it all went very well so we will see.

Asterion Forlonge

8 gr g Coastal Path – Belle Du Brizais

When he gets his jumping together properly, he is going to be a serious player but unfortunately, he picks a fence or two to make a mess of. He made a couple of mistakes in the King George, and it cost him any chance and even then he was still coming back at the final fence like he had a chance. I thought he ran a cracker at Leopardstown going to the penultimate fence and for no reason he just put down which lost him his position and then passing the winning post he finished fourth which made me think ‘that wasn’t a bad performance.’ I suppose I am hoping rather than expecting that we can get things right one day. He is a lovely horse, but you would not want to put a kid on him. When he is racing, he just seems to find a fence to make a mistake at, and I have found over the years that if you keep running and running those horses, they will get the hang of it. He is not a handicapper that you can run every three weeks – maybe that is what I should do – but at the moment we feel he is good enough to take his chance in Graded races. I would imagine he will go for the Gold Cup but there is talk that he could go to the Ryanair. It is a possibility as he is a son of Coastal Path – which says stamina – but we may drop him back because he does jump well. Going flat out over two may suit him and he may be better off being very aggressive. We can all see when he races that he has Grade 1 ability, it is just that his jumping can let him down.

Billaway

10 b g Well Chosen – Taipans Girl

Last year Paul [Townend] rode him in the St James’s Palace Hunters’ Chase when a close second, which was his first time on him, and to be honest he is an individual that takes a bit of knowing. Patrick gets on very well with him and when we put cheekpieces on him the last day at Naas it transformed him, so there is no point in removing them next week. I remember we promised John Turner, his owner, that we would win a nice trophy for him at Cheltenham and that is why Billaway went hunter chasing. It is a fabulous trophy and if we are lucky enough to win it is not one I would be taking on my load bag at the airport. He has a good chance of going one better.

Blue Lord

7 b g Blue Bresil – Lorette

He has done little wrong this season winning all three novice chases, including the Grade 1 Arkle Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown last month. He jumps very well, and he goes for the Arkle next Tuesday with every chance. I took him away recently for a gallop and he did just as I had hoped.

Brandy Love

6 b m Jet Away – Bambootcha

She won her point as well as a bumper before taking a maiden hurdle nicely at Naas. She subsequently acquitted herself well when stepped up to Graded company last time, finishing second to stablemate Allegorie De Vassy. Some will believe that as they will be racing left-handed next week she has the beating of Allegorie De Vassy in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. It should be a fascinating race.

Burning Victory

6 br m Nathaniel – M’Oubliez Pas

It was good to see her get her head in front again on the last day at Punchestown. I have always felt that when she puts it all together her rating will soar. That will have done her confidence the world of good and she goes for the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

Capodanno

6 ch g Manduro – Day Gets Up

He had finished second to Bob Olinger at Punchestown prior to falling in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase last month. That was so uncharacteristic for him and he came home with a badly bruised shoulder, but thankfully he is fine again. He is likely to go for the Brown Advisory.

Chacun Pour Soi

10 b g Policy Maker – Kruscyna

He is one of our highest profile runners and a horse I have always loved. I know some people believe he will not face the Prestbury Park hill, but I would love to see him get a fair chance there – which I do not think he has had yet. It could be that he is a horse that runs better fresh, especially when you take the travelling into account. It has been suggested we should fly him in, but I do not think that is the solution as it brings a whole new thing into it. I believe he will be fine going over the way we do. When we went to Cheltenham in the early years all the horses flew. Since then ferries and roads have improved and we can get to Prestbury Park two or three hours longer than if we fly, plus there is not so much waiting around when you do that. There is a plus and minus to everything. I thought we should have made more used of his pace wise last year. ‘Chacun’ would prefer nicer ground for the Champion Chase. I have not asked Paul whether he rides Chacun Pour Soi or Energumene, and I genuinely do not know which way he is leaning. It is going to be hard to turn around the Shishkin form for Energumene so maybe he should play the other card if we can get him there in the order I want him there, but the decision will be Paul’s.

Classic Getaway

6 br g Getaway – Classic Magic

He is not so highly tried as many of his stablemates, but he won comfortably at Punchestown the last day. I feel he wants a trip which could mean the Ballymore for him as I would think he has not got enough experience for a race like the Albert Bartlett.

Concertista

8 ch m Nathaniel – Zagzig

She is a very consistent mare who has won both her chasing starts in Grade 2 events at Cork and Limerick. She likely to go for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase and boasts good form around Prestbury Park having won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2020 as well as finishing a head second in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle last year. She suffered a small setback a month ago, but when we worked her recently she jumped over some hurdles and fences and everything looked fine, so we were very happy.

Dinoblue

5 ch m Doctor Dino – Blue Aster

She has always looked nice at home, but it was nice to see her show it on the racecourse when coming home 15L clear at Clonmel in January. That was on heavy ground, and she looked very good, and things have gone well since. Her work recently has been very pleasing and she will make up my quartet in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Dysart Dynamo

6 b g Westerner – Dysart Dancer

He has maintained his unbeaten record with two separate 19L wins at Cork and Punchestown this season over hurdles. He is in the Supreme and Ballymore, but we will not make a decision about his target until we have to. He was very free the last day in front, but I think Paul has said to me more than once that when he settles behind a horse he is fine, so we will make a final decision nearer the time.

El Fabiolo

5 b g Spanish Moon – Sainte Mante

He has had the one run since coming here from France and that was at Tramore where he was very impressive. We tend to use Tramore as our Cheltenham trial track and it seems to work well enough. The form of his win is working out well, but he did sustain a little cut that day which forced us to withdraw him from the Dublin Racing Festival, but his form stacks up wel. You would probably automatically think he is a Supreme horse, but we could change and ride him differently in the Ballymore. He possesses a lot of speed and Paul is happy that he can settle him, which is very important, so we could go for the Ballymore instead of the Supreme.

Elimay

8 gr m Montmartre – Hyde

It was interesting how much the cheekpieces helped her last time out when successful in the Listed Opera Hat Mares’ Chase at Naas. She jumped very well with them on so we will probably stick to them next week and likely ride her more prominently in the Mares’ Chase. I am happy with how she is going and looks to be in good form ahead of Cheltenham.

Energumene

8 br g Denham Red – Olinight

We have two strong challengers for this race with him and Chacun Pour Soi. Energumene is a young horse coming into the Champion Chase on the back of an epic race with Shishkin at Ascot. It was a terrific race to be involved in at Ascot and I am really looking forward to the rematch. We know there is not much between him and Shishkin on that run, but as I said at the time it is going to be very tough to turn the tables. Shishkin made a couple of mistakes, and we could possibly change things a little bit. It is going to be a tough ask but we will see. He did have a little hiccup last week, but he seems grand again and after going away for a racecourse gallop last weekend I was very pleased with him. He was fine in the morning, so hopefully everything is on course for the rematch. I never worry about the ground at Cheltenham and I have no concerns whatever it is for this fellow. Clearly there will be a lot of interest in this rematch, and he seems in very good form at home, but we also have Chacun Pour Soi, so it is no two-horse race.

Facile Vega

5 b g Walk In The Park – Quevega

He is a son of the brilliant mare Quevega who won at six successive Cheltenham Festivals for us, so he was always going to be of interest. More often than not good racemares do not breed good horses, they sometimes take a generation or two before they produce something good, but Quevega was not hard raced and that is in her favour. We had Facile Vega going nicely last year and I remember one piece of work left me very impressed but then he got jarred up, so we had to back off. I thought if I can get him back to where he was last year, he could be very good. I did not want to overstretch him and as a result he did not make his debut until Christmas at Leopardstown. I knew he was smart, and we stepped him up to the Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival that was packed full of nice horses, where he put up an even more impressive performance. To my eye what he did from the furlong marker to home the last day was so professional and he must have a big shout in the Cheltenham Bumper.

Galopin Des Champs

6 bl g Timos – Manon Des Champs

His first win for us was in the Martin Pipe last year and he has done nothing but progress since. His two runs this season have both been by wide margins at Leopardstown. First time out he caught everyone’s eye but when we stepped him up to the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Novice Chase he was very brave and Paul learned a lot about him. I have him in the Turners as well as the Brown Advisory and he could run in either. I will have a chat with Paul closer to the time, but I would not mind if he went in the Turners as he jumps so well and is very sharp. That is the way I am thinking at the moment. Some ask do I look at the opposition when deciding, but for me the most important thing is which is the best race for the horse. He is a real warrior and I think the shorter race looks more likely.

Grangee

6 br m Great Pretender – Quelle Mome

People looking for a dark horse might have a good look at her last race when falling in the Solerina behind Allegorie De Vassy. Bryan Cooper rode him that day at Fairyhouse and when he came back in, he said he felt he had them all covered, so she has to be an interesting contender in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Klassical Dream

8 b g Dream Well – Klassical Way

He was off for almost 500 days before winning the Champion Stayers at Punchestown 10 months ago and he returned in good style to beat Flooring Porter in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He had a hard race there and I felt he would benefit from a break after those exertions, but I was wrong as he was beaten at Gowran the last day. It was my fault as I sent him there on a wing and a prayer thinking he would be fine, so you can ignore that. If I can get him to the Stayers’ Hurdle in the right order next week, he have a good chance. He is a horse I would love to go chasing with but every time I do, he seems to hurt his back or get a niggle. We will probably look at that next year when he has matured a little more. He is much easier to keep right over hurdles.

Kilcruit

7 b g Stowaway – Not Broke Yet

He had a grand campaign last year winning the Champion Bumper at Punchestown after finishing second at Cheltenham. He goes for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. We know he handles the track well and I think this is his race although you would think that a horse which can run second in the Cheltenham Bumper would go for the 2½m race, but I am not certain that distance would be ideal for him. I would like to hear what Paul says about what he would like to ride in the race, but we will not discuss it until we see how the horses are working just before they head over.

Minella Cocooner

6 b g Flemensfirth – Askanna

He has done little wrong in his three hurdles runs, which included victory in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Soilicitors Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Danny gave him a terrific ride at the Dublin Racing Festival, and I was very pleased with his jumping. He has options in the Ballymore and Albert Bartlett and just looking at how he races it might be that the latter would be tough for him. We will make up our minds nearer the time but looking at his style of running and racing then the Ballymore might the one for him.

Redemption Day

5 b g Blue Bresil – Cutielilou

He had been going well at home before his debut at Leopardstown over Christmas, so we were not surprised he ran so well. Patrick and I were very impressed with how he won there. We then missed the next meeting, so he goes for the Champion Bumper without another race, but he is very much all about the future. You had to be impressed by the speed he showed at Leopardstown and although his stablemate will be the horse most people will focus on, this fellow is smart.

Sir Gerhard

7 b g Jeremy – Faanan Aldaar

Winner of the Cheltenham bumper 12 months ago he made a successful start to his hurdling career, winning both races including the Grade 1 novice hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. On the last day we made the running which I felt did not suit him, but on his hurdling debut he was very professional sitting in behind runners and whatever he goes for next week he would be happy getting a lead. If for some reason he did not get a lead Paul and the horse will know better as Sir Gerhard learned a lot. He has options in either the Supreme or Ballymore.

State Man

5 ch g Doctor Dino – Arret Station

He fell on his debut for us at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day but made amends next time out at Limerick last month. He is progressing nicely and there is a chance he could go for the Ballymore, or we could look at the County Hurdle.

Stattler

7 br g Stowaway – Our Honey

We have had the National Hunt Chase in our sights for him for some time. He is a good jumper and before he ever tackled a fence we thought he would be ideal for this race. It will be up to Patrick to settle him. He is very quick jumping. I will not be switching races to the Brown Advisory, which he is also entered in as I am very happy with this target.

Stormy Ireland

8 b m Motivator – Like A Storm

She is in great form having won the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham the last day. She clearly loves the track and I think she goes into the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle with a big chance, so she would be one to watch. I could not be happier with her at home, and I am hoping we can get more out of her as we approach the Festival.

The Nice Guy

7 b g Fame And Glory – Kilbarry Beauty

He never had a race until November, when taking a Fairyhouse bumper and he added to that at Leopardstown over Christmas. It was a bit of a surprise to me as I could not get that type of feeling for him that he would win a bumper, nevermind what he has done. We decided to send him hurdling in January and again he did his job nicely. I think he will be a lot easier to keep sound as he is a light-framed individual. He is not a big strong three-mile chaser to look at, but his jumping makes me think he will be a nice chaser in the future. I have been very happy with the progress he is making, and the plan is the Albert Bartlett.

Tornado Flyer

9 b g Flemensfirth – Mucho Macabi

Was a good winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas, where he was given a fantastic ride by Danny. I think a similar performance to Christmas would put him right in there and the extra 2½f around Prestbury Park could be an advantage for him. I have seen a few people suggest the extra trip may not help, but I think it could. If it does then that puts him right in the picture. Looking back at Kempton, things fell into his lap a bit and softer ground would be a help. It might favour him but, on his pedigree, you would say he should be better on quicker ground. The beauty is he goes on either ground and I am not too worried, stamina is not an issue, and he jumps well, so he must be a player in the Gold Cup. Going straight to the Festival was the plan after Kempton having chatted to connections there. I was not too concerned about another run, in fact we entered him in the Irish Gold Cup but I am very happy to go straight there.

Vauban

4 ch g Galiway – Waldfest

I had originally intended keeping him as a novice for next year, so I had not really been training him. He clearly met a smart horse on his hurdling debut when second to Pied Piper, but he came out of that well and I was obviously impressed with his win in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Festival. That was a field packed with decent horses and he did the job nicely. With a lot of Triumph horses this is their big day, but I think this horse can go on to bigger and better things. Everything has gone well since the last day, and I am very happy with where we are ahead of the Triumph Hurdle.

Whatdeawant

6 b g Aizavoski – Hidden Reserve

I think he will be going for the Ballymore as his owners (Sean and Bernardine Mulryan) sponsor the race. He won on his hurdling debut at Navan in December but he didn’t do things right at Naas last time in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle.

Trainer’s pick – Allaho

Each-way chance – Capadanno (Brown Advisory)

Reporter’s pick – Vauban

GRAND NATIONAL ENTRIES

Melon (11st 6lb) – We skipped the Dublin Racing Festival to look at Cheltenham and Aintree, I think he will like the ground that Aintree usually throws up. He would be an interesting runner as he is at an age now where he is finding it hard to win at the top level. He runs good races all the time, but he is just finding it hard to get his head in front.

Franco De Port (11st 4lb) – He ran very well the other day. He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree. We felt he deserved an entry in the race. If he likes Aintree, it the place he could go back over the next few years.

Brahma Bull (11st) – He is a proper handicapper that has been placed in plenty of the top staying handicap chases. By Presenting he will like the ground that usually turns up at Aintree. I think it was the soft that did not help him at Gowran. He is a horse that the heavy winter ground does not suit. He really improves each spring.

Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) – He looked very good for most of last year race, but he ran out of petrol going to the last. He is more mature this year and one a lot of jockeys would love to ride. It was a good run behind Al Boum Photo on his penultimate racing, but it was a bit disappointing the last day when I thought he would run better. It was a bit disappointing but we have not changed our minds and the plan is to go back for the National. He has a nice weight and is a horse with a chance

Ontheropes (10st 9lb) – His runs have been okay, and he needs to hit better form. He is another who does not appreciate the heavy winter ground. He won the Munster National well and is a proper staying chaser so these are the races I will be entering him in over the next couple of years.

Class Conti (10st 4lb) – He has a nice racing weight and should get in from number 47. I was happy with him last time at Gowran. He is coming along nicely and has a lovely light weight. Everything is positive about his run in the race last year so we said he would go back again this time.

Agusta Gold (10st 3lb) – A very light weight to shoulder and should get in. She has not hit form this season which is disappointing. We bought her as a Grand National horse, and I am hoping she will turn into that. She will probably have another run before Aintree and then we will assess things.

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