RICHARD JONHSON’S MISFORTUNE WAS MY GAIN AT NEWBURY
The highlight of my weekend was getting on the score sheet at Newbury on Saturday.
It was a case of one man’s misfortunate being another man’s gain, as Richard Johnson got a fall earlier on the card and couldn’t take the ride on the Philip Hobbs-trained CROOKS PEAK in the In Memory of the Late Michael Yeadon Handicap Hurdle, so I was asked to take over on him and he got the job done in good style.
He travelled strongly, jumped well and battled when he needed to. He’s a sharp, pacey type of horse. He’s now won three of his four starts over hurdles and is a novice, so he has plenty of options going forward. I believe they are considering running him at the Cheltenham Festival and given he won a bumper around there, it makes plenty of sense.
Later on the card I nearly made it a double for Philip, but was just touched off by a short-head on DOSTAL PHIL in the Awdry Bailey & Douglas Supporting Greatwood Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
He made hard enough work of it all the way down the straight, but I still thought he’d get there when it mattered only for him to get wore out of it at the death. It’s never nice to get touched off like that, but on the positive side it was a good step back in the right direction after he had disappointed on his previous start.
My final intended ride on the card was the Nicky Henderson-trained Chantry House in the bumper, but for the second time in a few weeks was a late non-runner.
After riding Dostal Phil, I just thought it was just starting to get a little bit quick for him and Nicky agreed. He’s a big horse and this is just a starting point for him, so you wouldn’t want to take an unnecessary risk. He’s a lovely big horse and I’d be looking forward to him whenever he runs.
Earlier in the week, I rode the Paul Nicholls-trained TOMORROW MYSTERY to finish third in a novices’ hurdle at Taunton on Thursday. She was a bit untidy over the last four hurdles, which didn’t help her cause. She ran well enough, but will need to do more to win one of those.
At Newbury on Friday I rode the Ian Williams-trained FALDO to finish third in a juvenile hurdle. He ran well, but Christopher Wood was much the best on the day. His jumping probably needs to improve a bit, but it should do as he gathers more experience. He should be able to win a similar race.
Later today I’m heading to the Goat in Dublin for the At The Races Cheltenham Preview Night. I did the same preview with the same bunch of lunatics last year and it was a bit of a shock to the system. I always turn up to these preview nights expecting anything, that way I’m never too surprised, but this was a bit madder than I’d expected! It was great craic though and I’ll know exactly what to expect this time.
They have assembled a great panel again, though instead of a great steadying influence in Sean Boyce is a stick of dynamite in Matt Chapman, so it might be even madder this year! I’m looking forward to hearing the views of attheraces.com’s Tony Keenan who I thought had a very good read of it last year.
You can watch it live at 8pm on either the At The Races Facebook page or on attheraces.com. If you click on this link and then click “Get Reminder”, it will flash up on your screen when it’s just about to start.
It should be a great night and hopefully any of you that tune in will enjoy it.