Another fine day, beautiful and clear with a strong North wind that was very mild for the time of year, bizarre really and the frost taking time to come out of the ground, we could school this morning but only just.
Ayr tomorrow where the ground is still soft, we have five declared runners starting with Titian Boy making his hurdling debut in the 2.20, 9 run and Lucy rides, he’s a lovely big well bred horse that will hopefully make a staying chaser in time. Then in the 3.15 we run Northern Acres, Blair rides, he was runner up over course and distance last month so should go well again, 12 run. Kit rides Whybutwhy in the 3.50, 5 run and this is his trip and grade however the ground may be on the soft side for him, on the other hand it is unlikely to be soft enough for Wicklow Lad to show his best in the 4.20, 8 run and Stephen rides, he is fresh and well and this should be more his cup of tea than the £50k race he contested last time. Finally Benny’s Secret runs in what looks like a competitive bumper at 4.50, 10 run and Lucy rides, we will know more about him after tomorrow. Lucy also rides Quicuyo in the 3.50 and Sa Suffit in the 4.20.
Of course the weekend in racing was about one man, AP, our Champ; with the local point-to-point cancelled we had taken a last minute decision to go racing at Leopardstown and felt deeply privileged to witness one of the sport’s great days. With AP having announced his retirement on Saturday afternoon the Irish racing fans appeared in their thousands to pay tribute to him at what was likely to be his last appearance at Leopardstown; he was beaten on an even money favourite, took a fall in the next, won the handicap hurdle and then unbelievably won his first ever Irish Hennessy Gold Cup, extraordinary scenes followed. It is as if to an extent we had taken him for granted, sort of assumed he would always be there and now that the racing public realises he is mortal after all they want to come together to say thank you. He moved on to Catterick today and will be at Ayr tomorrow, in the words of Alistair Down in yesterday’s RP, “never has brilliance worn a more modest face” – words can do his achievements no justice, let us just relish every moment of the last ten weeks of his riding career before he heads off into the sunset at Sandown in April, catch him while you can.