BUVEUR D’AIR READY TO RETAIN FIGHTING FIFTH BUT FACES STRONG TEST
Traditionally, the “proper” jump season would be well underway by now, but it’s probably fair to say that the lack of rain has held it back from really erupting into life just yet.
I’m obviously biased, but that all changes this weekend as there is fabulous racing both in Britain and Ireland and thankfully I have some really exciting rides to look forward to.
My highlight of the weekend will obviously be in the BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2.05) at Newcastle on Saturday where I ride last year’s winner and dual Champion Hurdler BUVEUR D’AIR for Nicky Henderson.
He has been a wonderful horse and it’s been a long time since he has been beaten, but he’ll face a really strong test on Saturday. Samcro was the talking horse of last season and if you are happy to forgive his last run, he’s a horse you’d really have to respect based on what he did last season.
Summerville Boy did well to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after what happened him at the second-last flight and he is another one I’d have great respect for. Bedrock can’t be ruled out either based on his last run.
It’s a proper race.
I rode Buveur D’Air in a racecourse gallop at Newbury last week and he felt very good. He has had a breathing operation since his last run and from my point of view, he feels better for it. Nicky is very happy with him and his weight is good, so he’s ready to go.
I know it’s his first run of the season and there are other targets ahead for him, but this is a proper Grade 1 race, Nicky is very happy with how forward he is, and he is the one to beat.
Earlier on the card I ride the Nicky Henderson-trained STYLE DE VOLE in the Weatherbys General Stud Book “Introductory” Juvenile Hurdle (11.50).
Style De Vole was actually the horse that worked alongside Buveur D’Air in that racecourse gallop at Newbury last week and he went nicely. I schooled him a few weeks ago and was very happy with him and Nicky has schooled him again since.
He was impressive in coming from last-to-first to win his only start on the Flat in France. He seems a nice type and Nicky likes him, but you never know with these juvenile hurdlers until you run them.
My last ride of the day is for Nicky Henderson again on CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM in the Ryder Architecture EBF “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle (12.40).
I’ve schooled him and he jumps well. It’s hard to know how much he achieved when winning his point-to-point at Quakerstown as there was only two finishers, but he is a nice type and Nicky seems to like him, so we’ll find out more about him on Saturday.
LE RICHEBOURG WILL BE TOUGH TO BEAT IN DRINMORE
I’m heading over to Fairyhouse on Sunday for what is always one of the best National Hunt cards anywhere in Britain or Ireland this side of Christmas.
I’m really looking forward to him. As a hurdler, he always rode like a horse with loads of scope that gave him hurdles a bit of air, so making the transition to fences has been very natural for him.
He was impressive in a Grade 3 novice chase at Tipperary last time and it looks like two-and-a-half miles might well be his best trip based on that. He has always seemed to like decent ground, so it should suit him well on Sunday.
All being well, he’ll be tough to beat.
He’s had a bit of stop-start time of it in the last couple of seasons, but he has some very good form over hurdles to his name. Apple’s Jade will obviously be very hard to beat, especially with a run under her belt, but hopefully Sutton Place will acquit himself well. Any rain that falls will be a help to him.
The Paul Nolan-trained FITZHENRY is my ride in the Telebetting Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase (2.10).
I won on him last season and he rides like a staying type. He has never tried anything like a trip this far, but I think he has a good chance of staying, especially with the ground being as it is.
He had a nice run over hurdles a couple of weeks ago and hopefully that will put him spot on for this. It can be tough for a horse as young as him in these marathon handicap chases, but hopefully he can run well.
This is his first-ever run in a handicap hurdle and he is 19lb lower than he was at his peak, but he has dropped in the ratings for a reason and clearly isn’t the horse he was once.
Two miles around Fairyhouse might be sharp enough for him at this stage of his career, but I was happy with his comeback run first run at Navan and I’m finding myself being hopeful that he can run well.