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PAT HEALY: Brand Ambassador Pat Healy discusses Presenting Percy’s plans for the season ahead, shares his excitement for Fairyhouse this weekend, and sends his best wishes to injured jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle.

Presenting Percy

Presenting Percy was very impressive at Thurles last Thursday and going forward I suppose that Gordon [Elliott] will have to weigh up whether to run him in the Gold Cup, the Grand National or maybe even both. He’s always been a high-class horse, as we know, as shown when he beat reigning Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo in the 2018 RSA at Cheltenham. Although Al Boum Photo fell at the second last, I’ve never seen a horse race up to the winning line at Cheltenham with his ears picked the way Presenting Percy did that day. He’s run in two Gold Cups so they will have to decide whether to have a third stab at it or wait until the National at Aintree. It’s a tricky decision, but it’s a nice headache for owner Philip Reynolds and Gordon to have.

The more I think about it, the more I think maybe they could look at running Presenting Percy in the King George too. Three miles around Kempton might just suit him and it would be a fascinating contest if they decided to take on the English horses.

Gold Cup

There are plenty of potential contenders for the Gold Cup this year, but I’m still a huge Al Boum Photo fan. You don’t win two Gold Cups by chance or luck and at this stage, he’s very much the one they all have to beat. I don’t think he quite gets the credit he deserves as we don’t see that much of him over the course of a season, but when he does run he usually wins! He won’t run until New Year’s Day, then he’ll have a racecourse gallop and then he’ll go to Cheltenham. It’s a very simple formula, but he’s shown in the past two years it’s a formula that works and at the moment he is the level that the others need to reach.

If Presenting Percy were to produce the form he achieved when he Al Boum Photo a couple of years ago, he would be a big danger. However, at the minute every other horse is an ‘if’, whereas Al Boum Photo just goes out and does it.

Fairyhouse Sunday

We’re all looking forward to seeing Envoi Allen (pictured) out again in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse on Sunday. It looks as if opposition is going to be low on the ground and that’s probably understandable given the huge regard he’s held in. There’s no point in running in getting these novices beat out of the gate this early in the season, especially if that could have a knock-on effect come Cheltenham.

Obviously what he did at Down Royal was very professional. He jumped round like an old hand and he’s become one of those real-talking horses who everyone wants to get a glimpse of. I’m sure all of the eyes of the racing game will be on him given he’s the up-and-coming star, so it will be interesting to see how gets on. I suppose it’s pretty likely he’ll jump around safely and he’ll come home with his head in his chest.

On the same card, Honeysuckle makes her seasonal reappearance in the Hatton’s Grace. There are some pretty smart types entered against her including Willy Mullins’ Sadlier, who hasn’t been seen since winning last year’s Morgiana. Likewise Fury Road, who I mentioned last week I’m a huge fan of. If they all turn up it will be a cracking race.

It is going to be fascinating to see if Honeysuckle retains the ability that she had last year. With good mares like that, they usually say you get 18 months or maybe two good years out of them. She’s six going on seven, so it’s going to be very interesting to see if she can become a Champion Hurdle prospect.

I’m always one who thinks a horse should go for the big prize and given Honeysuckle won the Mares’ Hurdle last year, I’d love to see them target the Champion Hurdle with her. When you look back at Cheltenham, you don’t talk about Mares’ Hurdle winners, you talk about Champion Hurdles and if I was her owner Kenny Alexander I’d be telling Henry De Bromhead to go for the Champion. The Champion Hurdle has “history”, which the Mares’ race doesn’t and if I had the option there’s only one route I’d be going down. 

Dylan Browne McMonagle

I just wanted to wish young jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle a speedy recovery from injury after he was involved in a car accident recently. Hopefully he’ll be back in the saddle soon because he’s been one of the bright stars of the 2020 season and there are many more big days to come for him.