It was a good few days of racing here in Ireland, but somewhat frustrating for myself.
Canardier fell when looking the winner at Navan, Hardline was a close second in the John Durkan and it has to be said that Racing TV simply isn't working for anyone in Irish Racing.
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Canardier was in the process of running a huge race before falling two out when contesting the lead at Navan on Saturday.
He can be a weak finisher at times, but I thought I had plenty of horse left when he came down. He didn't deserve the fall, but he had made a few novicey mistakes throughout and that was the first fence we properly went into at pace.
This might sound funny, but long term that fall might be the best thing to happen to him.
He was just not really respecting the fences, not backing off them at all and was jumping far too quickly. I thought to myself going down the back that "this lads needs to hit one to learn" and unfortunately he didn't get away with it when he did.
Obviously it would have been much better all around had he won, but long term that fall will do him no harm at all. Now that he should get his jumping together, the way that he jumps and travels should make him a better chaser than he was a hurdler. He's a very interesting horse for Dermot McLaughlin, who's a brilliant trainer.
Canardier is a good horse, gave me a really good feel and I'd absolutely love to get the spin on him again.
It was another case of what could have been with Hardline as well, who ran an unbelievable race to be second in the John Durkan behind Min.
We didn't go quickly at all early and it was an odd pace, but Hardline jumped beautifully and travelled so easy throughout. Everything had worked out brilliantly in the race and he did everything asked of him.
🥇 Five-time G1 winner— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 8, 2019
🥈 Five-time G1 runner-up
✅ Winning return
Min is back and denies the gallant Hardline for successive victories in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase for @PTownend and Willie Mullins 👏 @punchestownracepic.twitter.com/xRkvkfGKY1
Shattered Love made a bad mistake 3 out, Presenting Percy didn't pick up and all of a sudden I'd found myself in second and going every bit as well as anything else in the race. At the third last Hardline just lit up and was really powering into it.
I got home last night and I was just kicking myself that I didn't hold onto him and come with one run down to the last to try and catch Min out a bit later rather than take him on around the bend like we did. Watching the race back, I don't think it would have made much difference with the way Min powered away after the last, but I am still a bit annoyed at myself.
Min's a brilliant horse in his own right, his jump at the last was spectacular and he was a deserved winner on the day. At the last, Hardline was beginning to flatten and just couldn't see the stride like the winner did. He actually did very well to get over the fence and he's ran an absolute stormer again.
Had you offered me the chance to finish second before the race I would've snapped your hand off, but I just would've much preferred had I not got there so early! The race worked out that way, but going that close in a Grade One will always make you question everything you did - that's racing!
Hardline is a class horse in his own right and I'm looking forward to hopefully being on him again soon - we might land another big one!!
A mention has to go to Darren "Speedy" Treacy who rides out Hardline every day. He kept telling me all week how well Hardline was going in his work and that he'd run well - he was bang on!
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Giving the coverage of Irish Racing to Racing TV is a decision I really am struggling to understand, and each passing day it's confusing me even more.
This isn't about yesterday at Punchestown either, there's nothing anybody could do about that clash unfortunately.
It's just frustrating me how Irish Racing is now playing second fiddle to racing in the UK. If there's a clash between a race at even one of our big meetings, and any sort of a race in the UK, our race is treated like the lesser event.
When I went to analyse my performance on the replay of the John Durkan yesterday, even that was on a split screen! You have to go deeper into the app to get the full race and that's not good enough.
Long term this will affect racing here also. I was a big fan of At The Races when they had Irish Racing, as they made it their premier product and made a serious effort on their coverage. Most importantly, it was free with your Sky subscription and the importance of that can't be underplayed.
The fact it was free meant that ordinary people would flick the channel on every now and then - this can only be a help to the sport in general. I'd be out and about, and local people with a small interest would stop me to mention a horse from a previous day as they were able to watch it. Now, they have to pay more money to do so and most people don't have the budget to pay another subscription fee to watch horse racing.
Racing TV had more than enough racing as it was - imagine what St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) will be like?
Even the app doesn't work that well and it's harder to watch back replay's than it was with At The Races. The real pity though for Irish Racing fans is that they have actually assembled a brilliant Irish team of presenters. Yesterday, Gary O'Brien was joined by Ruby Walsh and Jane Mangan, three of the best around in my opinion, but viewers didn't get the chance to see them much with the constant changing of racecourse.
At the moment anyway, selling the rights of Irish Horse Racing to Racing TV hasn't worked out well and it's very disappointing to see these issues happening time and time again.
The Sandown Seven
I watched back the replay of the incident in the London National at Sandown on Saturday and I can't believe the jockeys were dealt with as severely as they were.
One person stood three out with a yellow flag to tell the jockeys the race was being stopped - only one person that was near their eye-line!! That is a not a process that would ever work with the speed horses and jockeys go in a race.
I understand the jockeys should know the colour of the flag, but this is a big enough race, on ITV on a Saturday and they were just started to properly motor in the race. If I was riding on the day I would've thought they were guiding us around the fence as well with the mannerisms of the man holding the flag.
Jockeys get banned when they do wrong and that's fair enough, but what's annoying is that when a steward makes a mistake, like on Saturday, nothing is ever done.
The process was completely flawed on Saturday, but it seems the jockeys were the only one's called into questioning. To rule these jockeys out over Christmas for that is ridiculous and very wrong.
I hope it's overturned and I really feel for the young jockey Philip Donovan who thought he had landed his first proper big one. He'll have other days in the sun, no doubt.
Another 10 To Follow Winner
It was great to see another one of my 10 to follow horses win, and Grangeclare Native showed a willing attitude to win at Punchestown on Sunday. Lisa O'Neill rode him very well and was very strong in the finish. He's not flashy at all, but will make into a lovely three mile chaser in time, like most of Gigginstown's do!
Cracking finish!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 8, 2019
£125,000 buy Grangeclare Native pulls it out of the fire on Rules debut and the unbeaten point winner looks smart for @gelliott_racing@punchestownrace@Lisa_0_Neill
Results ➡ https://t.co/glajGV55GRpic.twitter.com/JSSRUmfsP1
Festival D'ex was very good as well, and he's a dark horse for later in the season when stepping up in trip. He does nothing at home, if you saw him work you'd think he was a really bang average horse, but he produced a good performance on the day. He deserves credit too as he hadn't run in a schooling race which most of Gordon's do, so it'll be interesting to see how he develops.
He's another good novice hurdler for Gordon, but we'll need more of these to compete with Willie!
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