10th November 2017

A double on Exeter’s premier raceday

Exeter’s 188Bet Haldon Gold Cup meeting was superb, not least because I was lucky enough to ride a double. It rained relentlessly all day, but a terrific crowd turned out to watch an above average card with Paul Nicholls taking the feature race for the sixth time. John Hales owns the winner, Politologue, and had flown down in a helicopter from Shropshire to watch his grey put on a great performance to win really well from stable mate San Benedeto. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Politologue featured in major races this season. He heads to Sandown’s Tingle Creek now, with Nicky Henderson’s formidable Altior the one to beat.

My good friend Sam Twiston-Davies was on board Politologue, and he rode a treble on the day, including on Ballyoptic, trained by his father Nigel whose horses have been in terrific form.

It was great to be on Ask The Weatherman for Jack Barber, a first season trainer after a hugely successful time training point-to-pointers. It was a good performance as he was lumping round a huge weight with 12st 4lb on his back to win the three mile handicap chase on ground that steadily became softer as the day went on.

Earlier Victor Dartnall’s Dancing Shadow had won the opening novices’ hurdle with a game front running performance. He now heads to Kelso for the four-mile Borders National.

It’s been a busy few days with rides at Chepstow on Wednesday and Newbury on yesterday. Today I’m at Warwick where I ride the Emma Lavelle-trained Water Wagtail in the three miles one and a half furlongs handicap chase and Jeremy Scott’s Native Robin goes in the two miles four furlongs handicap chase.

He hasn’t run since pulling up at Newton Abbot in May 2016, but before that run he scored back-to-back wins at Doncaster and Wincanton.

There’s a terrific card at Wincanton tomorrow featuring the grade 2 Unibet Elite Hurdle. It was a grand day when I won this race back in 2013 on Melodic Rendezvous, and he’s been entered again for tomorrow’s renewal. Also on the card is the Grade 2 John Romans Park Homes Rising Stars Novices’ Chase as well as the listed Badger Ales Trophy.

There’s also a great meeting in prospect at Aintree with former Exeter winner Unowhatimeanharry among the entries in the two miles four furlongs hurdle. On Sunday all eyes will be on the five-time Grade 1 winner Apple's Jade who makes her reappearance in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

It’s been a terrific three meetings for Exeter and it’s onwards and upwards for its next meeting on Wednesday where Yanworth is set to line up in the novices’ chase.

Cue Card heads for Haydock’s Betfair Chase with Harry Cobden in the saddle having taken over from Paddy Brennan. That made front page news in the Racing Post, but its all part and parcel of being a jockey.

I’m not sure being dressed in a bright red flight suit and galloping across Dartmoor on a Clydesdale is, but its been great to be a part of Exeter’s promotion for its annual Devon Day on November 26 when the Clydesdales will be racing for the Devon Air Ambulance. There’s a chance to win tickets below.