Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh has been casting his eye over the new jumps season and anticipates Gordon Elliot and Gavin Cromwell being in the mix for the sports big prizes.
He said, ‘I look at it and think that when the cameras are at Wetherby, Down Royal, the November meeting at Cheltenham, that’s when you know the jumps season is in full flow, it steps up again this weekend.
‘The November Meeting is not the Cheltenham Festival, but it’s like a mini one. There are always great crowds, a great atmosphere, it’s a really enjoyable vibe. I am really looking forward to it.
‘It really starts ramping up this weekend.
‘You could have the likes of Delta Work and Galvin in the Cross Country race – they are two massive names. Who knows who we might see in the novice hurdle or novice chase, the likes of Unexpected Party for example, who won’t be a novice for much longer, but he could run.
‘You’re looking at the November Meeting and wondering who are going to be the future stars, you saw Down Memory Lane in Down Royal, Ile Atlantique at Gowran Park, on Friday there was Brighterdaysahead and Mahon’s Way on Sunday, horses coming out of bumpers, horses coming from foreign fields, all that new talent is coming through and it’s such an exciting time of year.
‘Gordon Elliott is driving Willie Mullins on – the Irish will remain dominant but the wheel will turn eventually
‘Gordon Elliott had a brilliant weekend at Down Royal. He is the one that keeps driving Willie Mullins forward, then there’s the likes of Henry de Bromhead and Gavin Cromwell who are driving Gordon forward. Every sport requires competition.
‘The Irish dominance of the racing isn’t going away just yet, but that wheel will eventually turn, just not yet. There’s a lot of good horses in Ireland and a lot of people who are investing big money in Irish racing, which is a huge help. The success will have to keep coming and you just don’t know what the next generation will bring.
‘Constitution Hill is the flagbearer for British racing – the Irish are coming for him though
‘ Of course they can, any horse can. Is it likely? Probably not but people are always going to have a go at him.
‘People always had a go at Kauto Star, always had a go at Big Buck’s, Hurricane Fly and they will always have a go at Constitution Hill. Eventually they all got beaten too. Look, he’s a great horse, the flagbearer for English National Hunt racing but look, the Irish are coming for him.
‘Graham Lee managed to do what a lot of jockeys can’t – these accidents don’t happen often but once is too many
‘ I know him very well, I rode with him for a long time. He was very dedicated to his craft, a gentleman obviously and gave everything to his profession. I just feel so sorry for him, you hope that every bit of news you get going forward is positive and my thoughts are with him, Becky and his kids. It is a very worrying time for them and you just hope that God is good.
‘They don’t happen often but once is too often. We all know the risks involved but you just hope it never happens to anybody.
‘He is such a good jockey, very stylish and tactical, he managed to do what a lot of people can’t, which is go from a very successful National Hunt jockey to a very successful flat jockey. How many jockeys have won Grand Nationals and then Group Ones on the Flat? Not many.
‘It’s a fair double – an Ascot Gold Cup on Trip To Paris and then a Grand National on Amberleigh House – that doesn’t happen by luck’.
Ruby Walsh’s horses to follow this season
‘ What’s created the impression so far and what’s to come but from what I have seen so far this year, I think that Found A Fifty was very impressive at Down Royal in the novice chase, Grangeclare West was impressive at Naas on Sunday and also Affordale Fury was very good at Galway at the end of October.
‘In the UK, I thought that Iroko was very good at Warwick, I really liked Stay Away Fay at Exeter and Knappers Hill at Exeter. Both of them looked impressive in the chasing division.
‘Over the hurdles in the UK, I really liked Personal Ambition at Warwick, Willmount at Newbury, and Deafening Silence was tough at Exeter for the Skelton’s.
‘In Ireland, Mahon’s Way and Slade Steel looked really good for Henry de Bromhead, Brighter Days Ahead and Down Memory Lane for Gordon Elliott too, Ile Atlantique for Willie Mullins, and Redstone for Gavin Cromwell.
‘ Gavin Cromwell has a big team and they are in really good form, he had a brilliant October festival at Cheltenham and has trained Cheltenham Festival winners. ‘
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