These 2 have had their runs and there isn’t a lot to say. Chessman is below this grade but if a race set up for him and he gets running late he may pass a good few. He handles fast ground but doesn’t recover from his races as well so the juice makes my life easier. Golden Valour was eye-catching in Navan. Finishing well from a poor position. It’s important to remember he put himself in that position by blowing the start. He’s liable to make mistakes and that draw won’t help. I imagine he’ll have to be ridden cold but I’ll leave it to Ronan. His form on testing turf is very poor and may be related to that but he was out of form at the time so we have to look at him today in these conditions. Hopefully he handles them.

Our first trip racing to the Curragh this year. I work all my horses here a couple of times before they run. It’s a well worn path. We run 3 and on the face of it they appear to be bit part players. The Alpha Man goes in the mile maiden and it’s as hot a maiden as you could hope to find. This lad is ignored as a result and to be fair his 2 placed efforts have come in much lesser races. The interesting thing with this fella is both runs were like debuts due to the lockdown enforced gap between run 1 to run 2. He appears to have improved a lot since Gowran and he will give a good account of himself. You can make a case for a load of them and maybe conclude this lad would be better waiting for a mark. I think he’ll run well. Bullish, no but he’s getting uber professional. We’ll see. Ampeson runs next and I’m sceptical of him. He shocked me one day last year by travelling like a dream in Cork and getting there to look like he might nick a big pot. I haven’t seen it since so it’s up to him to claw his way back to that. Cautious Approach was underwhelming on her first run back post lockdown. It’s not like her. She has been busy and well since. She can get herself back rolling today. It’s very competitive. Hopefully she travels, finds daylight and finishes to much better effect. She did a piece of work a few weeks ago that was better than anything she has done. I’m hopeful she can reproduce that here. She needs to.

Musalsal is back to the scene of last week’s 3rd. Everything is the same, 7f, good draw, similar opposition. With normal luck and a reproduction of last week’s run he should be there or thereabouts winning. We’re still finding out about him and he needs to have a good constitution both mentally and physically to continue showing up. He’s had an easy week, he has exercised every day and eaten well. You have to take it on trust that the wellbeing has been retained as you can’t afford to go looking for it. Hopefully he’s still there and can get rolling. 🤞

Another foray into the national hunt sphere today. Bavarian Girl runs in the ladies bumper, the last race on the card. She has the physique of a 3 mile chaser and that was why we went down the point to point route with her. I trained her like a flat horse for that day and she jumped like a flat horse that had never seen a fence, turning a somersault at the first. I turned her back quick and again she was brain dead, getting no further than the first. We are trying to get her foot on the ladder today. Colm who owns her, works here and he only peddles in nice horses. She wouldn’t have been kept if we didn’t see something in her. We’ve had to tone down the work load and the pace of things to give her every chance of giving herself a chance. She’ll run away fine if she settles and she’s talented enough to do something. She will probably need it but should be well capable of finishing in front of the middle of them. We’ll see.

Just a brief word on Musalsal who runs at 6.35. He went too hard and faded late on over 6f 10 days ago. This is 7f and if he needed it he will improve for more patient tactics and the run and should be competitive. I got caught with this lad in that we were looking at him too long in lockdown. It didn’t change the fact he hasn’t really done anything in his life and I should have been taking the opportunity to learn about him over his first few runs. I’ve wound my neck in now and while everything points to him being competitive I’m not going to be throwing my toys out of the pram if there’s more to be figured out. We’ll see…..

We have 2 today. The Alpha Man runs in the 9 1/2f maiden in Gowran. He needs to step forward from his 1st run. He can improve a lot for that experience. This is tougher so he needs to be better. Lockdown prevented him rolling on to his 2nd run 2 to 3 weeks after his 1st. That would have been ideal. Global Pass is well drawn closer to home in Limerick. His Leopardstown 3rd is good enough to be there or thereabouts especially given his draw that evening. He’ll have to be ridden to nick it. Hopefully he can back up quickly and do just that. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Dean Street Doll at Ascot. I’ll have to have €50 quid on her. It’ll assist with counselling if she can pull it off!

Week one down and an OK week for us but a great week for Irish racing. Great to see the show back on the road. Aidan has hit the ground running and appears to have been moving through the gears during lockdown. It’s amazing how he can miss the entire period when his horses are traditionally finding their feet and come out the other end all guns blazing. Facilities and no end of talent, both human and horse, makes life easier. Siskin’s Guineas win was terrific. Obviously a feather in the cap for the team behind him but that was a real gear that he showed on Friday. He’s an exciting horse regardless of who has him. We ticked along fine and I was happy away with all our runners bar one. They’re needing it a little and things could have fallen better for a couple. They’ll be fine if they progress and they get the bounce of the ball. We run 3 tomorrow and it’s hard to get excited about the first 2. Ampeson runs in the maiden and on his best form should finish 3rd or 4th but he’s difficult to predict. He had a heavy schedule both at home and at the races at 2 and I was keen to give him an easier time this year. I wanted to allow him build through a few races and keep him a bit happier and fresher. He was showing nothing on that schedule. His behaviour was poor, his weight was poor and his work was dreadful. We had to up his daily routine as a result and he has improved. His weight has come right, he has worked OK and he has been a lot more focused. I had very little insight in to him last year, I don’t expect to have much more this year. He could pull my trousers down tomorrow but I just have to not let him vex me. Littleton Hall was poor last Wednesday and if he continues in that vein, I’m in trouble. He showed less than nothing. He wasn’t with the program from the moment he left the yard. He screeched and roared all the way to the races and at the track his eyes were on stalks. Hopefully the day just passed him by and he can show a bit more tomorrow. I’m clutching at straws I’m aware but he can’t be that bad or can he? Cautious Approach goes next and she’s one to look forward to. It’s a competitive race but she’s a competitive lady and she should run her race. I think she will improve her rating over the coming months. She can race lazily now which opens up options at anything up to 2 miles. I’m in no rush up to those trips but tomorrow will tell us if we still have options at 12 furlongs. I haven’t seen a ground update but she’s best on fast ground.

A puncture on the way home from racing, a real thrill. Making a long day longer. An older gentlemen stopped to enquire if I needed assistance. His jack was better than mine, then he followed me to a garage to make sure I got sorted and then offered to follow me an hour out of his way in case I had further trouble. This is a great country. A smoother run to and from Navan would be nice. We go with 2. A couple of years ago I received a phone call, someone enquiring about buying a 3 year old filly I had. I told him to forget about it, she was no good and we’d find something else. We did and we’ve had bits and pieces of luck together and he’s a good owner and friend. The filly was useless and I think he appreciated the attempted honesty. The other side of that coin was Beach Bar. When I got him first, I received a few enquiries for my half share. He was a lunatic, I couldn’t recommend him and put everyone off. When he won 4 races over the following 12 months I’m sure there was plenty of head scratching and profanities. The point being it’s very difficult to know. The best scenario when pulling together ownership is gather together people and figures and source your horse thereafter. This brings me to Littleton Hall. He runs in the 5f sprint handicap. I bought him to syndicate him. It didn’t happen immediately. There have been expressions of interest but I don’t know where I sit with the horse himself. I’ve been happy with him at different times and less so at others. I’ll run him and if he shows enough and people are still interested I’ll syndicate him for what he has cost me. If he shows little I’ll stomach him and have him as a lead horse or for Dundalk. He’s grand, some of his 2 year old form is poor and some of it, well one bit, is OK. If he travels and finishes in the middle of them tomorrow then I’ll be happy. He had one bit of work but it was unsatisfactory as his work partner was very green and it told us very little. He should improve plenty. A boring ramble about a modest horse, wouldn’t be a first for me. Golden Valour runs in the last, a competitive handicap. He has little or no turf form and that is the doubt. Is he better on synthetics? The handicapper says so and he’s right plenty. However if he is the same horse as 89 days ago then he’s 5lbs well in and should run well. He worked with Chessman last week and pushed him to a neck. The video is on a previous post. That’s good work by any measure, hopefully he carries it through. Finding horses to take you to a big day is hard, we have very few possibles but he’s one. Tomorrow should tell us plenty. No punctures tomorrow please, not least our ambitions for this fella.

One day down and I’m wrecked! It was great to be back. Ours ran away fine. They’re healthy and I’m happy that today’s 3 should be contributing through the coming weeks and months. The track was in unbelievable shape. Lovely fast ground with a beautiful cover of grass. Leopardstown tomorrow and we have just the one. Global Pass is drawn widest of all in a poor race. Ronan will want to ride him for a bit of luck but he’ll need plenty of it from there. He was on his way back pre lockdown and hopefully he can continue his return. If they go a good gallop and gaps come for him then he should run well. Fingers crossed it opens up for him but from that draw you have to be prepared to take your medicine.

We’re back tomorrow for the first time in what seems like an age. It’s exciting to get back racing. Not just because we have runners but for the whole thing to get moving again. 2 year olds, stakes horses, new faces and old reliables. Browsing results, pedigrees, watching the odd replay has been trickling back in to the routine since the UK resumed but we need to get going in this country to really feel like we’re rolling. I have been borderline breezy for the last few weeks. The snakes in the belly have returned with a vengeance in the last 3 days. I’m sure everyone is the same but I spend all my time looking for bogeymen. A nod at a jog, a stray snot, a spontaneous cough, an untouched lunch. So far so good. Tomorrow we start with a 2yo. It’s his first run, as is the case with the remainder bar one. This fella is by Twilight Son out of a Miswaki mare (Galileo’s Dan sire). Twilight Son is a first season sire and I think the general consensus would be positive. This fella is a nice horse that we have about 6 or 7 weeks. He was breeze up bound and slotted in to our routine quickly. He flashed himself in to shape without very much pressure and after a couple of away days I’m looking forward to starting him. I had thought about hanging on to him a bit longer but he’s got quite fit looking and I’m happier to be running him rather than working him and then looking to find a race. He goes well, will want 7f or a mile and tomorrow will tell us plenty. This is an incredibly deep maiden but that was always going to be the case. To see him travel and finish well would be nice and we can make a plan thereafter. Musalsal runs immediately after. He’s a 4yo Shamardal out of a Sadler’s Wells mare with as good a pedigree as you’d find anywhere. He’s a fine, big horse with loads of bone and plenty of power. His previous form is poor and he’s going to need to leave that behind him to do anything. He has been a dream to have around the place, never missing a beat since day one. His work is much better than his mark but I believe that was the case in his previous residence too. I’m starting him short intentionally, if one is well handicapped at 7f or a mile they’ll get away with 6f for a run or 2 and that’s the logic here. He could spend tomorrow finding his feet but as long as he finishes and hits the line then we’ll have fun with him. If he got rolling and found a rhythm then he could be competitive, a strong finish is what I’m looking for. He has a kink, I just haven’t found it. He’s not as assured mentally as I’d like but that’s being picky. Chessman runs in The Woodlands Stakes, a listed race over 5.5f. It’s a deep race and probably Group 2 in Irish sprinting terms. He’ll run and with a run under his belt we can see if we’re going high end handicapping/Listed races or if we can consider a step higher. He needs to find 8 or 9lbs and it’s not obvious that’s there to be fair. He looks terrific and if he is fit enough he’ll rattle home and we can see from there. As a throwaway remark I told a little girl here if we have 7 winners before July end we can stay in a hotel for our holidays as opposed to an apartment. I found her praying at the top of the stairs before bed, she explained she was praying for winners. Seven seems like a lot but every little helps.

2017 Richard O'Brien Racing Limited