Barry Geraghty's blog

Our star blogger previews his rides at Sandown and Plumpton this weekend, headlined by Rathhill in the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at the Esher track on Saturday.

  • Friday 04 January
  • Blog
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After a quiet few days at home, I’m ready to head back into action over in England this weekend.

My first port of call is Sandown on Saturday and my main ride comes on the Nicky Henderson-trained RATHHILL in the featured Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (2.25).

I was very happy with him when he won a maiden hurdle at Newbury,. He’s a straightforward type with a good attitude. He knew his job at Newbury but should improve from what was a good learning experience for him in amongst horses.

The trip wouldn’t really concern me, he has plenty of pace for one with his profile. This is obviously a very big step up in grade for him.

Elixir De Nutz is a smart type that has plenty of hurdling experience, so he looks to set a high enough standard for Rathhill to come up to. That said, Rathhill has a fair reputation, so hopefully he’ll live up to it here.

Earlier on the card, I’ll be getting a close look at the potential Champion Hurdle contender Laurina in the Unibet Mares’ Hurdle (1.50) from the back of the Noel Williams-trained SENSULANO.

I won a mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on her last time and it’s great to get back on her. She looks up against it with Laurina being clear of the field on ratings, but we look to have a great chance of finishing second and maybe even capitalising if Laurina doesn’t bring her A-game.

I’ve considered Laurina the biggest potential danger to Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle all season, so it will be fascinating to see what she can do.

My final ride of the day is on the Philip Hobbs-trained DEMOPOLIS in the Handicap Hurdle (3.35).

I haven’t ridden him in a race yet, but I have schooled him at Philip’s yard and he’s a nice type. He was a well beaten second to The Big Bite at Haydock on his first run for Philip and he’ll need to improve on that to compete off a mark of 136 here.

It’s a tough ask for one so inexperienced to carry top weight against much more experienced handicappers, but he is so unexposed that the hope will be he can find some natural improvement.

We’ll know more about where we are with him after this.


Plumpton is my destination on Sunday and I ride the Gordon Elliott-trained GLENLOE in the well-named Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices’ Chase (1.10).

He was only just touched off by Delta Work in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival and the winner has given the form a good shine since. If he can translate his hurdles form to fences, he’ll be a good recruit.

He is a lovely big horse that should be suited by fences, so I’d be hopeful he can do that. While his best form was over three miles over hurdles, he doesn’t lack for pace and should be fine over this shorter trip.

This looks a particularly strong novice chase with recent Grade 1-winning hurdler Master Dino coming over from France and Knocknanuss already being rated 148 over fences, but we’ll give it a crack and see how he goes.

My other ride comes on the Harry Fry-trained PHOENIX WAY in the Visit EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (1.40).

He came from the point-to-point field with a bit of a reputation, but disappointed on his first start for Harry at Bangor. He produced a better effort when second to I Can’t Explain at Sandown last time and while the winner was beaten since at Cheltenham, the third won his next start.

On paper, he looks to have a great chance in this company, so hopefully he can improve again and be tough to beat.

Barry Geraghty's blog

Sandown 13:50, 5 January 2019

Sandown 14:25, 5 January 2019

Sandown 15:35, 5 January 2019

Plumpton 13:10, 6 January 2019

Plumpton 13:40, 6 January 2019

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