It was obviously good to be back and, more importantly, back with a winner at Fairyhouse today – and a very promising one at that, as well.
It was the first time I had ridden Avenir D’Une Vie but he had smart bumper form last season and he travelled and jumped well for me today on his hurdling debut, and he looks a good prospect for the coming weeks and months.
The action steps up a gear with an excellent Clonmel card on Thursday, where I have two rides.
The Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase at 2.10pm is obviously the big race of the day and I think I have a fair shout on Outlander.
Willie’s Alelchi Inois is the highest-rated in here off a mark of 161, and he was very impressive at Punchestown and Galway in the summer before finishing third in Italy in September.
He is probably the one we all have to beat but I think there is more to come from Outlander.
He is very versatile trip-wise, and I thought he ran an excellent first race of the season when just coming out the best horse at the weights when second to a race-fit Sub Lieutenant at Down Royal earlier in the month.
He was a high-class novice last season, and he certainly wasn’t done with when he fell 4 out in the JLT over this trip at Cheltenham. Good, decent ground suits him well, but if it rode on the quick side of good – and it could even be good to firm if there is no rain – then it would probably suit Willie’s horse more.
One other obvious downside is that has a 7lb penalty for his defeat of Monksland in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in February, as does our other horse Clarcam for his Aintree win last year, and this could be a messy race pace-wise.
But, like I said, I would hope there is more to come from him. This is only his eighth start over fences, after all.
I ride Berry Des Aulmes in the opening maiden hurdle at 12.35pm. This is his first start for Gordon after leaving Willie’s, and I rode him when he badly disappointed at Thurles back in January.
He hasn’t run since but he had earlier shaped much better when second to a good horse in Ball D’Arc at Limerick – the winner won a Grade 2 afterwards and won over fences recently – and he would have a leading chance on that form.