JERRYSBACK THE ONE TO BEAT ON MERSEYSIDE
I made my return from a longer-than-expected break of nearly two weeks on Friday afternoon. The ankle that had been niggling at me is getting better all the time and I’m more than ready to race ride on it.
Looking ahead to this weekend, it’s a case of easing back into race riding with a view to bigger targets ahead. I only have one ride tomorrow on the Philip Hobbs-trained JERRYSBACK, but I’m not 100% sure where it will be just yet!
Philip made the clever decision to declare him for both his preferred option of the Grade 2 Patrick Coyne Memorial Altcar Novices' Chase at Haydock (1.30) and a back-up option of the bet365 Handicap Chase at Ascot (3.00) later on Saturday.
There is a small threat of snow at Haydock and if it happened to be called off, both Jerry and I will re-route to Ascot, but looking at the weather forecast I think we can afford to focus on Haydock for now.
Jerrysback has always looked a lovely horse, but he picked up an injury when winning a novice hurdle at Wetherby in February 2017 that ruled him out of the rest of that season.
He was back in training last season, but I just don’t think he was sparking, so Philip choose not to run him. He is getting paid back for that patience now as he has looked better than ever since coming back and going over fences this season.
I really liked his run when I finished second to Vinndication on him in a Grade 2 novices' chase at Ascot last time. I’d say the winner could be a very good horse.
I thought I had him coming down to the last, but he just pulled out more on the run-in. Jerrysback jumped well and I’d say that experience will stand to him.
He jumped a bit out to his right in his first two starts over fences which were at left-handed tracks, but I suspect that was just a reflection of his inexperience rather than any preference and I wouldn’t be worried about going back left-handed with him here.
Crucial Role looks to be the main rival for him tomorrow, but the form that Jerrysback has in the book must entitle him to go very well.
If he can improve on what he did last time, and I’d be hopeful that he can, I think Jerrysback be the one to beat.
I liked him when I rode him to finish second to Brain Power in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last time and felt he would have been better suited by a stronger pace.
He’s one that is progressing and if he’s going to run well in a Champion Hurdle, he probably needs to be winning this.
He doesn’t have anything to prove tomorrow, so hopefully it will go straightforward and put him spot on for Cheltenham. He’s a real star.