Eshtiaal Fits Bill For American Grand National

We plan to run Eshtiaal in the American Grand National next week. He travelled over last Saturday and the staff reported that he is eating and drinking well since his arrival, which is great news.

When you travel a horse, especially as far as America, you are always worried about how they cope with their new surroundings so it came as a big relief to hear that he was settling in well.

It’s not the first time we have had a runner in America. We have run horses like Salford City and Dirar over there in the past and we always like to explore our options whenever the right horse comes along.

We think Eshtiaal fits the bill.

He rattled up a hat-trick of wins earlier on during the summer before winning a decent handicap at York where he had some good handicappers behind him.

He subsequently ran a bit flat on his last start at Galway, but we have freshened him up since that run.

As for the fences, it may well be called the American Grand National, but the jumps would be more comparable to an Easy Fix fence than something you would see around Aintree or Fairyhouse. His jumping has been very good at home over them, so with a nice round, he should run well.

I’ll be making the trip over on Friday before returning home on Saturday, so it will be very much a flying visit from myself. It wouldn’t be possible to be running without good staff and I’m very lucky that I have a great head lad in Simon McGonagle right down to the girls who travel the horses. It definitely doesn’t go unappreciated.

Delighted To Be Back Pointing
Back on home turf, the point-to-point season is up and running for another year, which needless to say is music to my ears. Point-to-point racing has got stronger and stronger over the past number of years and is something that I have always been heavily involved with.

I rode my first winner on a mare called Over The Wall for Martin Higgins in a point-to-point in The Pigeons, just outside Athlone in Co. Westmeath and it’s fair to say I have been hooked on winners ever since.

Point-to-point racing has become a bit of business, especially with the maidens. If you win a four-year-old maiden with a horse, it won’t be long until the phone starts ringing. Most of our good horses – Mount Benbulben, No More Heroes and Whistle Dixie etc – have honed their craft in the point-to-point fields of Ireland.

It’s still early days in respect to this year’s next batch of youngsters but hopefully there will be a star or two among them. We won’t really get going until February with our pointers, as the three-year-olds are only getting going around now, but one horse that ran last year that we are particularly looking forward to seeing on the racecourse is the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Death Duty.

He won his point-to-point by 15 lengths at Cragmore back in February before backing up that performance with a nice run in the Tattersalls Bumper at Fairyhouse in April to finish third. We think he has progressed nicely over the summer months and we are looking forward to him getting back onto the racecourse whenever a bit of rain arrives.