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No Xmas cheer as Punjabi ends up on the floor; ROBIN CAN HELP ME GET OVER MYST STEPHEN'S DAY GLOOM.

Byline: Barry Geraghty

NOT a good day at the office at Kempton yesterday. But I suppose, after the last few weeks, it had to happen.

I was gutted by Punjabi's fall in the Christmas Hurdle as I felt he had every chance when he grabbed at the second last and hit the deck.

It had been a muddling race early and my horse was a bit too keen early. But, when the tempo increased down the back, he was a lot more relaxed.

Therace only really started on the turn for home. And we had every chance when he fell. Thankfully, Punjabi and myself were fine. So we'll, hopefully, have other days.

And, watching the replay, Harchibald won so well, even after missing the last, that it's hard to know what would have happened.

The word last week was that Harchi haddonea great piece of work and, with the ground very much in his favour, he proved himself again.

Things didn't workout for The Market Maneither, in the Feltham. The race was only taking shape when he made a bad mistake at the fifth last. And there was no way he was going to get back into it from there, against horses like Breedsbreeze and Massini's Maguire.

But, realistically, The Market Man was never tanking as he had done at Newbury the last day and I think that he needs a lot more juice in the ground.

So I'm hoping for better luck at Kempton today, although I don't have as strong a book of rides.

PETIT ROBIN, in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase is my main focus today.

But it's going to be tough for him.

This fellow is a talented young horse, only a five-year-old and he fairly hacked up the last day, in a handicap at Newbury, when he beat Its Crucial by 13 lengths.

The handicapper was obviously impressed - he put the horse up 18lb. So, on paper, he should have a big chance today.

Petit Robin is set to get 6lb. from TWIST MAGIC today, which will help.

But there's no doubt that this is the biggest test he has faced.

Twist Magic would probably have finished second to his stable-companion Master Minded in the Tingle Creek had he not fallen at the second last.

Twist Magic has to concede weight all-round today. But he's a Grade 1 winner and sets a high standard.

For good measure, Paul Nicholls also runs TAKEROC, a very decent novice last season, when he chased home Arkle winner Tidal Bay at Aintree.

And Takeroc was far from disgraced in the Tingle Creek, where the finished third.

ASHLEY BROOK is also in today's field, to emphasise the enormity of the task facing Petit Robin. Fingers crossed.

FRENCH OPERA is our runner in the Grade 2 novice, the Wayward Lad.

And I'm expecting him to run well in a very hot race.

He was odds on for his chasing debut, at Kempton, but fell early in the race won by Doctor David.

Hehas to bounce back from that. And Nicky is pitching him in at the deep end, against Paul Nicholls' OUMEYADE and DEEP PURPLE, which impressed me when he won at Ascot last week.

I'll be on ROYALS DARLING, making his seasonal debut, in the competitive looking, three-mile stanjames .com Handicap Chase.

And INGRATITUDE, which gave me my first winner as Nicky's stable-jockey, needs to improve on is recent runs if he's to count in the last, the two-mile handicap hurdle.

I'll be on GLENFINN CAPTAIN for JP (McManus) and Tom (Taaffe) in the Lexus at Leopardstown tomorrow, my only day at the meeting.

This fellow is an improving horse and delighted me when he won at Clonmel.

But he's stepping-up to three miles, which is unknown territory for him and, although I'd be confident he'd cope with it in lesser company, he's really up against it today.

Obviously, with THE LISTENER and NEPTUNE COLLONGES in the field, there'll be plenty of pace on. And it promises to be a cracking race, with WAR OF ATTRITION sure to appreciate this better ground.

Jessie Harrington's ROBERT GOLDBACK is my mount in tomorrow's opener, a very hot looking maiden hurdle.

Roberto Goldback is sure to know his job for this first venture over hurdles. But it's a tough race, against the likes of PUYOL, PANZER CHIEF, CHATEAU D'EAU and KEMPES.

Myother rides tomorrow are Martin Lynch's KEEP IT COOL, which needs to improve, in the thirty-runner novice handicap hurdle, and top-weight MOORE'S LAW in the other handicap.


TODAY: Leopardstown (Jumps); Limerick (Jumps).

TOMORROW: Leopardstown (Jumps); Limerick ( Jumps).

MONDAY: Leopardstown (Jumps); Limerick (Jumps).

WEDNESDAY: Punchestown (Jumps); Tramore ( Jumps).

THURSDAY: Fairyhouse (Jumps); Tramore ( Jumps).

SATURDAY: Cork (Jumps).

SUNDAY: Naas (Jumps).


FANCIED Petit Robin can provide Geraghty with some Xmas compensation
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 27, 2008
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