CHAMP BIDDING TO TAKE BALLYMORE TITLE
My first ride on Wednesday is an exciting one, the Nicky Henderson-trained CHAMP in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.30). He’s been very good all season.
I thought he was particularly impressive when winning a handicap hurdle at Newbury back in December after pulling quite hard. While the form of the Challow Novices’ Hurdle might not be that strong, the slow pace didn’t play to his strengths and I thought it was a good performance from him considering that.
You’d imagine a well-run race would be a big help to him and you’d hope he’d get that in this company. Nicky has only ever seemed to have this race in mind for him and he’s one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while.
I’m also very much looking forward to riding BLUE SARI for Willie Mullins in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30).
He was impressive when making a winning debut at Gowran Park. I think everyone was looking forward to seeing what the runner-up would do for the form on his next start at Naas, but he clipped heels and came down on the turn into the straight, so we haven’t had a guide to the level of it yet.
That said, what Blue Sari did was very good in visual terms. He’s only a four-year-old, but with him originally having come from a very good academy in France, you can be sure he has had a very good grounding and won’t lack for maturity. That there are only 14 runners will make it a bit easier for all of them and hopefully he’ll go well.
I have a ride in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50) on the Joseph O’Brien-trained FINE BRUNELLO. He ran quite a nice race at Cheltenham in January when behind Fakir D’Oudairies. On the face of it, he looks to have plenty of weight for what he’s done, but we’ll hope for the best.
In between those two I ride HELL’S KITCHEN in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30). He’s a horse with plenty of ability, but he’s had a stop-start career and hasn’t been easy to train.
He was very good at Ascot last time, but he needs to improve again. Being realistic, if Altior is anything like himself, a place is the best I could be hoping for with him.
My other ride on the day is on the Nicky Henderson-trained APPLE’S SHAKIRA in the Coral Cup (2.50). She was very disappointing on her last start at Sandown back in December. She just hasn’t been sparkling at home, but she has shown some hints of a revival.
The step up in trip is probably more in hope than confidence, but she should be ok over it based on her pedigree. As much as anything, she just needs to get her spark back.