Aidan Coleman is chomping at the bit to partner ante-post favourite OK Corral in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
The nearest the 31-year-old has come to winning Saturday’s prestigious staying handicap chase was when runner-up aboard Houblon Des Obeaux in 2014, when Venetia Williams’ charge was sent off a 50-1 outsider.
Coleman recalled: “He gave weight to Many Clouds, who afterwards showed what an impossible task that was – but he ran a great race that day.
“We got close, and that’s the closest I’ve got.”
Teaming up with OK Corral for trainer Nicky Henderson, who has won the race three times, is a totally different proposition – with expectations much higher.
However, Coleman – whose mount recently enjoyed a racecourse gallop under a certain Sir Anthony McCoy – is no stranger to big-race situations and is full of optimism for the task ahead.
“I’m not really (feeling the pressure),” he said.
“It’s a good ride to pick up. I’m looking forward to it, as you would any big race.
“Nicky knows how to win it. He’s a great trainer to be riding for any day of the week, and in any race.
“I just hope all goes well, and there’s no excuses and after that – what will be will be.
“You can give the majority a good shout in this race. It’s a full field. It’s going to be a very difficult race. It’s going to be a big task for whatever horse wins that race on Saturday.”
Coleman finds it impossible to pick out specific dangers in such a large and talented field.
“Colin Tizzard’s horses are flying; you’ve got the horses from Ireland – and there’s Nicky with four runners,” he said.
“All the top owners, trainers and jockeys are well represented, so it shows you how competitive a race it’s going to be.
“It’s a hard race to find an angle in. Some have had prep runs, and some are coming there fresh. It’s one of the best handicaps of the season and is going to be notoriously hard to win.”
Coleman came in for the ride because Barry Geraghty is due to be at Newcastle to pilot the Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Geraghty is retained by JP McManus, who owns both OK Corral and Buveur D’Air.
“It’s a super ride to get. I do a lot of work at Nicky’s. I’m in there once a week and school plenty and it’s great to get something out of it and hopefully he can run well,” he said.
“It’s going to be a very hard race to win, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Coleman has no firm plan of action for the race tactics – but as ever, getting the right start is important.
He added: “You need to get a good start and see after that, like any race really. You can only put your horse where he’s comfortable, but it’s a big field and it’s going to be quite competitive early on.
“I just hope all goes well, that we get a clear round and see how we go.”
:: Aidan Coleman is currently fifth in the 2019/2020 jump jockeys’ championship with 48 wins this season. For more information visit www.greatbritishracing.com