I’ve been thinking about jockeys a lot this week. It started when one of the members of the Talking Horses forum asked me who would be riding Owega Star in the Grand National this weekend. Peter and I had actually spoken the previous night and he mentioned a jockey but I wasn’t going to say anything until the declarations were out in case he changed his mind and/or the jockey he wanted was not available. In the event he’s going to put up Robbie Power who I suspect he knows very well from his time at Jesse Harrington’s yard and , of course, through Ber’s dad being the head lad there.
Davy Russell has ridden Owega Star in his most recent races but wasn’t in the frame for the Grand National ride as he was lined up to ride for Jim Cullotty. Well…that’s how things stood in the middle of March. A few days later everything had changed: Davy reported that Jim Cullotty told him he would not ride for him again after the ride he gave Lord Windermere in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. – despite the fact that he won the Gold cup for the same connections the previous year. I assume that for a couple of hours he was back in the frame for Owega Star for the National but then, a couple of hours later, he fell, broke his arm and was ruled out , at least, Punchestown meaning he would miss the Grand National anyway! Such is the life of a jockey!
Talking about Owega Star he disappointed at Naas last time out but seemed fully recovered within days and, fingers crossed, will give a good account of himself on Saturday. He will love the good ground and is an excellent jumper who takes very little out of himself jumping. No idea what the tactics will be but would imagine he will hunt around for the first circuit in mid-division and then gradually take a more prominent position. Providing he gets a clear run he has the ability to runinto the first six and , you never know, he could well be placed. One thing for certain is that his price with Corals of 100/1 is an insult; he is a tremendous E/W bet!
Quick update - just spoken to Peter and he is very excited about Owega Star ("never had him so well") but is not at all happy about the 100/1 odds which are an insult. Let's hope he has a clear round - he will outrun his odds easily!
Back to jockeys: I have been wondering who will ride Bay of Freedom at Punchestown. It needs to be an amateur and, obviously, our first choice would be Katie Walsh. The problem is that, assuming Willie Mullins has multiple runners, she will almost certainly be claimed by Willie. She rode a great race on Thunder and Roses in the Irish Grand National for Gigginstown; which probably means that even if Willie doesn’t have anything for her Gigginstown may well be on the phone. We’ll continue to hope but I am assuming that Peter will have to find another jockey and, as we have not discussed this yet, I have no idea who it might be.
The Punchestown website completely fooled me the other day as it stated that Entries for the Champion Bumper would be published on 13th April. This would have meant that entries had to be made by April 8th – yesterday. The Program Book on-line made n mention of this so I asked Peter to double check although he was pretty confident that it was a six-day entry (April 23rd); of course, he was right and he will be entered in a couple of weeks
Entry costs are not cheap: 760 Euros to enter and a further 190 Euros to declare (making a total of 950 Euros); or, to put it another way, more than my airfare and accommodation combined! Prize money goes down to 6th place but it will be a competitive race. I will provide a much more detailed commentary when the entries are announced but for now I will say this:
We think he’s matured since Cheltenham and may even have improved. Considering we lost 5 lengths at the start and then got stuck behind a wall of horses it’s not unreasonable to expect him to get closer to the horses in front of him (if they even turn up). He’s hasn’t done much work since Cheltenham except for some schooling which has been going really well. We will step up the work next week and we should be in great shape for the 29th.
I will leave it that as currently I am in 8th place in the Aintree meeetign Tipping competition on the Talkinghorses Forum; I need to study hard and am second guessing my decision to see Jerry Seinfeld in Boston tonight