PLENTY OF PROMISE FROM THE WEEKEND DESPITE CHELTENHAM FRUSTRATIONS
It was a blank weekend for me at Cheltenham, which is always a bit frustrating even before you get into the post-mortem, but there was definitely some promise for the future amongst my rides.
Never Adapt proved to be a bit of a handful in the JCB Trial Triumph Hurdle on Saturday. We knew she was likely to be strong, but we had hoped she wouldn’t be as free as she was.
She took a right grip going down to the start and while the plan was to try and cover her up in the race, she just wasn’t in the form to be contained on the day and pulled her way to the front fairly quickly. At that point, I felt I was better off trying to get her settled in front rather than having a wrestling match with her to try and get her back in cover.
Considering how hard she pulled, I was surprised with how well she finished off the race. To be honest, I didn’t think I was holding onto much coming down to the second-last and when she made a mistake at it, I thought she was done with, but she came home quite well up the run-in to finish third. The engine is there, it’ll just be a case of harnessing it and I’m sure Nicky Henderson will try a few different things to help her.
Defi Du Seuil was a bit disappointing in the Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase. He was just a bit up in the air at a few and too brave at a couple. He had done a lot of schooling at Philip Hobbs’s, but different horses react differently in their first race over fences.
For example, Lalor was so slick over his fences for his first start over them, whereas Defi had schooled really well but just didn’t do it right when it mattered. He didn’t jump badly, he just didn’t find the rhythm he needed to. That said, Cheltenham is a tough place for a horse to make their chasing debut, so you’d have to give him another chance to do things right. He’ll have learned plenty from it and will hopefully be slicker next time.
Movewiththetimes in the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase was a frustrating one. Getting his jumping right was the important thing for him and he was very good all the way, but then he did what he has done before by taking a big chance at the last fence and came down.
While it looked like he might have been third had he stood up, to me it was a tired fall and I suspect he would have had a race on to hold that position. He ran a good race to a point and there was some promise there for the future. Bravery isn’t his problem, he’s over-eager if anything, but hopefully he can put it all together at some stage.
BUVEUR D'AIR GIVING ALL THE RIGHT SIGNS AHEAD OF SAMCRO CLASH
While it was a bit of a frustrating weekend, I got a nice feel for what will hopefully be much better to come in the near future as I rode Buveur D’Air in a racecourse gallop at Newbury this morning. We went two miles on the flat and he felt really good. He had a small breathing operation before he came back into full work and I think it has definitely helped him.
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle is very much the plan and it seems Samcro might be coming over for it. He is obviously a horse that has to be respected, but I have the utmost faith in Buveur D’Air.
I expect some people might think Buveur D’Air is a bit vulnerable this season given he wouldn’t have blown everyone away with what he did in the Champion Hurdle last March, but I just don’t think we saw him at his very best that day.
I thought he felt more like his best in the Christmas Hurdle than at Cheltenham. I don’t know why that was, but I don’t think it was anything to do with his preparation, he just wasn’t right on the day. The fact that he didn’t recover well enough from the race to go to Aintree backs up the thought that he wasn’t right that day. I’m really looking forward to Newcastle with him.