HARRY BIDS TO GO BACK-TO-BACK AT AINTREE
I’m delighted to be back on attheraces.com for the season ahead. It’s been great to have hit the ground running this season and ridden plenty of winners in recent months, but it’s only now that the campaign is really going to kick off.
Everyone has been waiting for some rain and now that it has finally arrived, you can expect all the top horses to appear on the track sooner rather than later and that is really exciting for everyone. You can read my blog here every Tuesday and Friday and I’m very much looking forward to the months ahead.
I’m at Aintree on Saturday for five rides and there looks to be a few chances in amongst them.
I ride Unowhatimeanharry for Harry Fry in the BRTC Hurdle (14:10). I won this race on him last year, but he didn’t live up to expectations after that. Whether that was just a reflection of him being that bit older and not quite being same horse, or maybe just a case of him not being in top form after that, it’s hard to know.
Hopefully it was the latter and he will still be capable of competing at that top level this season. Harry is happy with him and hopefully he’ll put up a good show tomorrow.
I’m riding for Harry again in the Rewards4Racing Handicap Chase (14:40) on Hell’s Kitchen. He’s a lovely big horse, but he’s had his share of problems over the years. He had one of his better days when I won on him at Kempton on last Christmas and he beat a subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner in Mister Whitaker that day.
That run looked to give him a great chance at Leopardstown on his next start, but he came back lame and didn’t run again after that. He’s difficult to keep right, but on a good day, he’s a very good horse. Hopefully we can catch him on a good day tomorrow.
He is off a career-high mark, so he looks to have plenty on his plate, but hopefully he can round off what has been a good summer for him with another good run.
My first ride of the day is in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Qualifier (13:35) on the Oliver Sherwood-trained The Organist. I won on her at Newbury last season, but I thought she was all-out there. While she went on to finish fifth in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, I think the handicapper probably has a fairly good grip on her.
My last ride of the day is on the Olly Murphy-trained Blazer’s Mill in the Becher Meeting 8th December Flat Race (15:55) and this is one I’m really looking forward to, as he is a horse that we had here at home after buying him as a foal.
He was with us for a few years and Warren Ewing trained him to finish second to Birchdale in a point-to-point at Tyrella in March after which he was sold to his current connections. Coincidently, Birchdale was bought by JP (McManus) after that to go to Nicky Henderson after that and I actually schooled him yesterday. He’s a horse with plenty of potential himself.
I haven’t sat on Blazer’s Mill since he was a three-year-old, so I’m looking forward to getting back on him. He was always a lovely horse with us and I know Olly is happy with him.
I’m heading back across the water to ride at Navan on Sunday and I have some lovely rides on what looks a really good card.
I ride an old friend in Jezki in the Lismullen Hurdle (13:35) for Jessie (Harrington). He has been a brilliant horse for everyone and I had some great days on him myself, so he’s owes no one anything at this stage. On his best day he would have a great chance, but the clock is obviously against him.
He has a good record when fresh, but he’s wrong at the weights with the likes of Apple’s Jade, who put up a good performance to win this race on her seasonal return last season. I know Gordon was saying that he wasn’t really happy with her in the spring of last season, so maybe we didn’t see the very best of her around that time. She looks the one to beat, but hopefully Jezki will put up a good show.
I’m looking forward to the thetote.com Fortria Chase (14:10) as I ride Ballyoisin for Enda (Bolger). He’s a very exciting horse to ride, it’s always a good buzz on him. He’s had a great summer, winning his last three races. While he hasn’t run in two months, I wouldn’t expect fitness to be an issue for him. On ratings, you’d like to think he has a big chance.
My last ride of the weekend is on the Gordon Elliott-trained Campeador who makes his chasing debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase (14:40). He is a good horse, but he fell quite a few times over hurdles, particularly at the last flight.
It was frustrating for everyone, as at Fairyhouse in particular he was going to win doing handstands when he fell at the last. He jumps well through his races, but he just seemed to guess a bit at the latter end. I’m hoping that fences will help him concentrate and he can find a nice rhythm.
If he takes to it, his hurdle form suggests that he should be very competitive.