IT’S a big weekend up this way with the Go North series finals being held at Musselburgh, Kelso and Carlisle over the coming three days. It’s a great initiative, giving spring targets for plenty of horses and owners beyond the big festivals.
We have declared five runner in total, with CAILIN DEARG (3.30 Friday), above, the first of them up at Musselburgh. She will step away from Sedgefield for the first time this season to contest the mares’ hurdle final and while her best form has been around there we don’t think a change of track will inconvenience her at all. She’s a tough lady with a couple of wins behind her this season so we go there hoping she’ll be pretty competitive.
LIMERICK LEADER (1.00 Kelso Saturday) ran a very good race last time at Sedgefield and came out of that very well. He had a bit of a blip mid-season, he was a bit unwell and that knocked him back but he’s healthy again now and is thriving again. I really like him and if he builds on the run in February then he’s entitled to go close.
LAST ONE TO SHOW (1.00 Kelso) runs in the same race. He’s got a funny profile in that he’s seven years old now and has only had three runs in his life - two bumpers and a hurdle. He’s had a few issues along the way, including needing hip surgery this season, but he’s been back in training for a while now. He will need the run, we are pretty sure of that, and he’s still learning. He’ll likely be very green and keen because although he is really nice to ride at home when he goes racing it excites him a bit too much - he’s a bit of a weirdo, to be honest! He’s a half-brother to Hitman Fred and is a really lovely looking horse with ability if he can harness it properly.
The aim will be to get him settled, get into a nice rhythm and hopefully take a step forward again. If he can do that he’ll give his owners The Friday Lions a bit of fun.
RAE DES CHAMPS (Kelso 3.15) has had this as her target for a while and although she will want further in time, she showed in her last race that two miles isn’t a problem for her. She’s a lovely mare, this is a competitive race because it’s a good prize on offer but we feel she’s got an each-way chance if she replicates the Musselburgh run.
RATH AN IUIR (Kelso 2.45) was declared because it’s a small field so we thought we’d just put him in. A lot will depend on the ground because he wants it as soft as you can get, so this won’t really be up his street and he will only go if we’re happy with conditions underfoot. Kelso are putting a lot of water on but it’s very sunny at the moment so we’ll assess it beforehand.
Rathy is also in the Scottish National next week but there’s no rain due up at Ayr either! If there was a very wet week forecast we would have kept him for that and hoped we'd get in, but we could go to Kelso if we’re happy it’s safe ground. If we don’t run this weekend then we’ll most likely end up at Perth with him for the Highland National later in the summer assuming conditions are suitable.
While it’s great to have so many runners this weekend there will be a tinge of sadness attached to it as well because Trooper Turnbull’s season had been geared around the two-mile chase at Carlisle and we were expecting to have gone there with a big chance. Sadly racing is a tough sport at times and on Sunday we’ll all be thinking about him.
THE PLAYER QUEEN hated every minute of it at Cheltenham and on reflection I shouldn’t have run her on it after the downpour they'd had on the Wednesday. It’s just a long way to send one home from down there when you have travelled so we thought we’d give it a go but it was the wrong decision. It’s hard to resist when you’re at a big meeting like that but we’ll learn from it, she will only run on good-ish ground from now on. She’s still in at Newbury but it’s likely to come too soon, we’ll see how she is in the next week before deciding on that one for certain.