Everyone in racing was shocked when Willie Buckley passed away last Friday. He was a very popular man and had a smile for everyone. Willie was very good at his job and it’s a very sad time for his family and friends and I’d like to pass on my condolences to them.
It was very much the right thing to do to cancel the rest of the fixture on Friday and when we get back there later tonight, Willie will be in everyone’s thoughts.
6.15 Gougane Barra (Ronan Whelan)
He has developed into a good servant for (his owner) Paul Rooney and he ran well to a point when we stepped him up in class the last day. He wasn’t beaten far and we were more or less forced to run him the last day, as there was nothing for him until tonight. I’d say the race may have come a bit soon for him too – it was just a seven-day turnaround after he had won the week before. He drops back a bit in class tonight and he has three lengths to find with Sevenleft on their last run, and he also drops back from a mile to seven furlongs. I’ve been happy with him, but he has a poor draw in 11 and that will make life difficult for him. Having said that, if things go his way, he looks sure to run a big race and Ronan knows his well.
6.45 Surrounding (Ronan Whelan)
She has developed into a great servant and we had planned to give her a break after she won her listed race at the end of last year, with the aim of trying to qualify her for Good Friday at Lingfield. On all known form, she has it to do to beat I Can Fly, but she is in great form and takes her chance. As I said, I have Lingfield in mind for her – this is a fast track qualifier and depending on how tonight goes, she may have to run again before Good Friday. She is fresh and well and she has never been out of the first four at Dundalk. I just hope there is a bit of pace in the race, as she loves to have something to aim at in her races. Her owners, the Newell family have been wonderful supporters of the yard and they love their racing and I’m delighted that she has done so well for them.
7.15 Playa Del Puente (Ronan Whelan)
He is a winner of two from two over the winter at Dundalk and his owner Mr Huang Kai Wen, came over to see him run last week. He had to return home since, but he’ll be watching on from Hong Kong. He looks an exciting prospect. He likes the track and he is a very progressive type and I think he’s a stakes performer, but Aidan runs two smart horses rated 107 and 110 respectively and they will be hard to beat. Our horse is going the right way and he has a great temperament and I’ve been very happy with him since his last run. This looks the obvious place to go with him and either way, we will learn a good bit more about him after tonight.