Racing TV ambassador Ruby Walsh reflects on the three Grade One winners he rode at the Dublin Racing Festival and gives his thoughts on the new change ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Bellshill had to dig deep to defeat Road To Respect in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup
You would have to say the Dublin Racing Festival went well for us on the whole. There were one or two disappointments that we can’t really explain but, generally, the horses performed really well and they’re all home safe and sound touch wood.
Bellshill put in a fine battling performance in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup and jumped brilliantly every step of the way. He probably outjumped Road To Respect on a number of occasions, though I suppose the runner-up got the quicker jump at the last.
Bellshill quickened up well and it was a ding-dong battle. He improved a good bit from Christmas in the Savills Chase, and he is going in the right direction.
I imagine the Cheltenham Gold Cup will be his next target.
Ground will dictate Klassical Dream's Festival target:
In the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, I was just about on the right one! I was impressed with Klassical Dream and I thought he jumped well on the whole.
We went a good, even gallop and he increased the tempo from the third last and fought off Vision D’honneur between the last two.
I think he idled a bit going to the last and Paul Townend got a good run out of Aramon, but the runner-up hung in and made it quite tight for Klassical Dream. He did well to battle back through a tight enough gap to win.
Both are decent novices. We definitely think Klassical Dream will be better on slower ground and I imagine the ground will depend a lot on where he runs next; the Supreme or the Ballymore.
Will Min take on Altior again at Cheltenham? I don’t know. You can only win the race that is in front of you and he picked up well from the back of the last and won pretty much as he liked in the Dublin Chase.
Had Altior not been around, he would have won a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Champion Chase last year.
We know Min gets two and half miles and he has that option of going out in trip. Whether we try and make it third time lucky against Altior is one for nearer the time and again depends on the ground.
I am of the opinion it is going to rain at some stage!
Leopardstown were unlucky with the weather:
We had a few non-runners at Leopardstown, and they were probably in a Catch 22 situation with the ground, but I am afraid the weather is one thing none of us can control and they couldn’t water in the three or four days beforehand because of the frost.
Could they have watered earlier in January? Possibly, I don’t know. It was very frustrating for them and extremely frustrating for owners, trainers and jockeys.
You have all these horses and you want to run them, but you have to do the right thing by the animal too. I am not a groundsman, or a clerk of the course, and I am not going to pretend to be one.
Two days after and it is lashing rain here all morning!
Johnson believes Cheltenham changes will make difference:
With the Festival approaching, Cheltenham are always proactive and if they think moving the second-last fence on the Old Course along ten yards is the right thing then so be it.
They are trying to make each jump the best it can be, and nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I suppose until the horses race over it and turn off the bend and see how it rides you won’t really know, but you can’t knock people for trying.
Richard Johnson seems to think it could make a difference, so I’d be happy to go along with that.