12th January 2018

Festival fever is mounting

The entries for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup were announced on Wednesday and Festival fever is taking its grip. It’ll be all the talk for the next 60 days, but from a jockeys’ point of view its business as usual and we’ll just be getting on with our day to day jobs, hoping to stay in one piece.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite heads the betting, with last’s year’s winner Sizing John among Ireland’s 18 entries. It’s a shame that Thistlecrack is out for the season, but Colin Tizzard has entered last year’s third Native River who could make his seasonal reappearance soon.

For all the talk about Cheltenham there is still plenty of really good racing ahead with some big prizes up for grabs. Warwick’s card tomorrow includes the grade two Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle I’ll be on Paisely park – he won at Hereford last time. He’s a horse I like a lot but the ground might be softer than ideal and he’s the most inexperienced in the race. It’s a big step up in grade from Hereford too. I’m not sure what else I will be on but hopefully there will be one or two.

The card also features the grade three Betfred Classic Handicap Chase and the three miles five furlongs will take some getting. Missed Approach, ran well in the Ladbrokes Trophy and he’s sure to go well. Kerry Lee usually does well in staying chases on heavy ground and she runs Russe Blanc and Krackatoa King.

Racing at Kempton includes the 32Red Lanzaorte Handicap Hurdle which is always an interesting 2m6f handicap which has been won by some nice sorts in previous years. Paul Nicholls runs a horse called Top of The Game, a second season novice, which is the type of horse you need for that type of race.

Exeter’s Super Sunday meeting on February 11 isn’t far away and I’ve been involved in a film to promote it along side some other well known Westcountry sporting stars. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully it’ll get people excited about a great weekend of sporting action with Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City playing on the same weekend.

I’ve had six winners since the start of the year. Its probably the best start I’ve had. There have been some big priced ones in there for five different trainers. It’s always good to ride winners for different people. Darcy Ward won for Jack Barber at Taunton. He’s probably worth following and he won nicely at Taunton.

I rode Ask The Weatherman for Jack in the Coral Welsh National and he ran well for a long way but probably didn’t quite get the trip.

It was a good training performance from Nick Mitchell who saddled Jully De Buxy to win at Plumpton after 600 days off the track. She’s a well bred filly.

I’m at Huntingdon today where I’m on Stonebrigg Legend in the Smarket Mares’ Maiden Hurdle for Sarah Humphries who I have a good strike rate for. Hopefully he’ll run well.