Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Tiger Roll, Samcro And My 10 To Follow

Cheltenham Festival winning jockey Keith Donoghue discusses Tiger Roll, Samcro and gives 10 horses to follow for the National Hunt season in the first edition of his weekly column.

Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Tiger Roll, Samcro And My 10 To Follow

I'm delighted to have joined up with the team to bring you a weekly blog on the upcoming jumps season. Let's hope we all have a good one!

Tiger Roll

Tiger had a great summer break and has come back in a few weeks later than the other winter horses, there's absolutely no panic in getting him going just yet.

He's only starting now to steadily canter, and as usual it's case of slowly building him up towards the spring, he'll only come into his own after Christmas anyway.

Before Christmas he's a very quiet horse, if you looked at his work you would never think you were looking at a back-to-back Grand National winner, you'd barely even notice him.

I remember last year it was only in February, a week before he ran in Navan, he was walking down the arena and he was shining, stepping out really well and you just knew by him that he was very well in himself. When he's kicking and bucking, and the more messing he does be doing, you just know he's in great old form - he could knock down rails or anything!

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The People's Horse

He's an unbelievable horse.

In 2016, 2 years after winning the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, Tiger was coming off the back of a bad second season over hurdles and he was even beaten in a 2 mile flat maiden at Dundalk - to do what he's done since is legendary.

Going over fences rejuvenated him and of course, he went on to win the Four-Miler at Cheltenham that season with Lisa in the saddle. He did lose his form after that as well for a while, before the cross country completely brought out the best in him, winning that twice and two Grand National's to boot!

Everything about the Cross Country suits him to a tee. The 3 miles and 6 furlongs suits him so well, those fences really bring him alive and he seems to just really enjoy it.

Tiger Roll is the kind of a horse who get's more and more confident the better he is going, so the slower pace in the cross country helps him. He always starts his races relaxed and gets more and more keen as the race goes on, the complete opposite to a lot of horses!

If you'd have told me 3 years ago this would have happened, I wouldn't have believed you. Everywhere I go now I'm asked about Tiger Roll, everyone loves him - he's definitely the peoples horse.

To be involved in this story is just brilliant and I'm very grateful.

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The Jumps Season Is Back

This is probably my favourite time of the season. There's no bubbles burst yet, and all the dreams are alive for all the good horses in Gordon's.

Somebody could turn around to you during work and say "this is a good horse", and you'd be wondering which horse it is, as there's that many working at the same time!

I start in Gordon's at around 7am, to get in early to ride an early lot of keen horses and I finish up about 4.30, if I'm not at the racecourse obviously. The afternoons at this time of the year are spent schooling the younger horses over poles and getting them ready for life over the obstacles.

There's not as much pressure either at this time of the year compared to when you're coming up to the bigger festivals, so everyone can enjoy it that bit more. Every day now the novice chasers are schooling, the older horses are being tuned up and there's a great atmosphere around the place, with every horse being worked.

Samcro is a good example of this, as he was a horse who nothing went right for last season. He's back working now and it's business as usual - last season is just forgotten about.

The thing about Gordon's is that every horse is trained the same, it doesn't matter whether it's Tiger Roll or anyone else. When you have the numbers that Gordon has, you have to do it like that.

Saying that, Samcro does look a lot stronger this year, and while I haven't sat on him myself, the reports are all good on him. Hopefully he can fulfil the promise over fences we all thought he had.

Keith Donoghue's National Hunt Season 10 To Follow

Fury Road (IRE), 5yo trained by Gordon Elliott

He won a bumper last year at Fairyhouse and he will be one for those staying novice races such as the Albert Bartlett. Obviously being a Gigginstown horse you'll see the best of him over fences, but I think he will improve past his bumper form and be a lovely horse this year up in trip.

Larquebuse (FR), 5yo trained by Gordon Elliott

She will either be going for a bumper or a hurdle next and is another horse I like a lot.

She was unlucky last year as she never got her ground, but when she gets proper soft ground, a hurdle in front of her and a trip, you'll see the very best of her. She has strengthened up a lot over the summer and looks great.

Geraldo (IRE), 4yo trained by Gordon Elliott

Looks a very sharp bumper horse and will be ready to go in the next 7 - 10 days. Won a point to point in May when with Ellmarie Holden, and has joined us since then. Looks a really nice prospect and is one of our more forward bumper horses. Definitely should be winning a bumper soon enough.

Grangeclare Native (IRE), 4yo trained by Gordon Elliott

A really nice bumper horse, and he should make into a lovely chaser in time. Won his point under Jamie Codd for Denis Murphy and is another new addition to the yard. He's a bigger lad than Geraldo so may take a bit more time, but he's definitely one to look forward to.

Coeur Sublime (IRE), 4yo trained by Gordon Elliott

He didn't have a clear run at all last year, he got a fall at Christmas and then wasn't right after his run at Gowran Park.

He was a great second in the Triumph Hurdle, but with soft ground and a step up in trip you will see the best of him this season. He's not far off being top class, and while it is very hard for 4 year olds to step up to the next level, he would be one of the best work horses we have. His work is phenomenal.

Cracking Smart (FR), 7yo trained by Gordon Elliott

He looked very promising in his first season over hurdles, but found it tough going last year.

He didn't go chasing last year as he didn't come back until after Christmas, but if he can come back to his novice hurdling day's he will be very good as he is built for chasing. He won a point to point, so his schooling has been as good as we expected - he's a natural.

Ravenshill (IRE), 9yo trained by Gordon Elliott

Was a very unlucky second in the Kerry National and I still think he's improving a little bit. If he gets a good galloping track, he'll go close in a good race.

He's an out and out stayer, and if he got a bit of nice ground in April at Fairyhouse he could go close. He might not have the class of some horses who win a National, but he jumps well and is improving.

Chacun Pour Soi (FR), 7yo trained by Willie Mullins

You could only be very impressed with what he did at Punchestown last year, he beat the Arkle and JLT winners easily enough and looks very good. With how easy he travelled that day I think he could go over any trip, so Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci will have a lot of options with him.

I know Rich Ricci doesn't own Al Boum Photo or Kemboy, but if they wanted to keep these apart he could easily make into a proper Queen Mother contender.

Ronald Pump (GB), 6yo trained by Matthew Smith

I won a handicap hurdle on him at Fairyhouse and he really impressed me that day. He's gone up 9 pounds, but I've sat on him a few times this year and I think he's still improving. There should be another hurdle race in him and he should go over fences then and will do very well there also.

Matthew Smith is an excellent trainer and is very underrated generally - he gets the best out of every horse he has.

Envoi Allen (IRE), 5yo trained by Gordon Elliott

I don't say this lightly, but Envoi Allen is a very, very special horse.

I didn't get to ride him last year, but I have this year and I've fallen in love with him. He's schooling very well, and whatever he does over hurdles will only be a bonus. The sky is the limit for him.

Gordon is very strong with 2 mile novice hurdlers, so this lad might end up going up to 2 miles and 4 furlongs this season, but he's more than quick enough for 2 miles as well if needs be. He has that much class he could run over any trip.

In his bumpers last year people kept saying he was a slow horse, but I'm riding him this year and I can tell you he's not at all slow!

If I had the choice of the novice hurdlers in the yard at the moment, I'd take him as I love him, but really I'd be delighted if I got to ride any of them at the track! He will probably make his reappearance sometime in November.

Editor Note: Envoi Allen is currently a best priced 10/1 shot with Unibet for the Ballymore Hurdle.

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