At The Races

Barry Geraghty's blog

Barry Geraghty looks ahead to his trio of rides on Friday at the Punchestown Festival.

SQUOUATEUR CAN CONTINUE HIS SMART HANDICAP FORM ON FRIDAY

SQUOUATEUR has been running well in good handicap chases and he goes to the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (4.20) at Punchestown on Friday with a chance.

He didn’t jump well enough in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Chrismtas, but he stayed on well to finish third behind Anibale Fly. He didn’t jump well enough either next time over two miles back at Leopardstown, but he did jump well in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. He was beaten fair and square by Missed Approach and Mall Dini but the first three pulled clear. It was a good run.

He was unlucky to be brought down early in the Irish Grand National last time, it was just one of those things, but it means that he didn’t have a hard race there. This is a very competitive handicap, but two miles and five furlongs should be fine for him, and he goes there with a chance.

I ride SLOWMOTION in the mares handicap chase (4.55). She ran well in the race last year to finish second to Definite Ruby and if she hadn’t made a mistake at the second last she might have won. She stayed on well. She ran a big race after that in the Galway Plate to finish third behind Balko Des Flos.

She hasn’t run since November, but she can go well fresh and Joseph is happy with her. She is a good mare and if she can re-produce her Galway Plate run or her run in this race last year, she would have a chance.

I have picked up the ride on REAL STEEL in the Profile Systems Champion Novice Hurdle (6.05). He promised to be a high-class novice at the start of the season, he was impressive in winning his maiden at Thurles in November on his first run for Willie, and he was second favourite for the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas, where he probably would have finished second if he or Sharjah hadn’t fallen at the last.

He ran okay in the Deloitte Hurdle, but his last two runs have been disappointing. He was well beaten in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and he was pulled up in the Grade 2 novice hurdle at Fairyhouse at Easter that Pallasator won. He is an outsider, but if he could bounce back to his early season form, he would have a chance.

It is an open race. Pallasator was a quirky but talented horse on the Flat and he has won his last two over hurdles, including that Grade 2 race at Fairyhouse. Scarpeta was third in that race, but he had run much better before that in the Ballymore Hurdle at Cheltenham. Getabird was disappointing on Tuesday but if he bounced back to his best he would be the one that we would all have to beat.

The feature race of the day is the Champion Hurdle (5.30). Melon is the horse with the form on the board, but Gordon is taking him on with Samcro. Gordon should have a good line on Melon through Mick Jazz, so it is interesting that he is happy to run Samcro in the Champion Hurdle instead of in one of the novice hurdles.

This will be a step up in grade for Samcro, but he would be stepping up in grade anyway early next season in October or November, so he should be up to it. He is a very exciting horse and he is uncomplicated.

Melon made Buveur D’Air pull out all the stops in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, and he is a young horse so he could still be improving. Jessie is running Supasundae here too instead of in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle. He won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February over this distance. 

Wicklow Brave won this race last year and he would have a chance if he could re-produce that run, but this year’s race is a stronger race, and Samcro is a worthy favourite.