It's always an exciting time with Cheltenham just around the corner.
I will start with Annie Mc at Bangor. It was great that she won again and I was so pleased with the way she jumped because it was real testing sticky ground and she jumped out of it like it was good ground. She's definitely going the right way and will be entered in the Novices' Handicap over 2 and a half miles on the Tuesday at the Marsh Novices' Chase and the Plate on the Thursday. It will probably be between the two races on the Thursday but we will be deciding nearer the time.
The journey with Annie has been amazing, with Chris [Hughes] and everyone at Coral, We have been very lucky and you have to pinch yourself sometimes that we have stumbled on such a nice mare.
There was plenty of pressure on my ride on Native River at Newbury but I just tried to take it in my stride. It was a huge day and definitely the most important success of my career so far. Hopefully it will springboard a few more opportunities. He was deadly and jumped fantastically well. The blinkers definitely sharpened him up. I am very lucky.
It's desperately sad to hear that he will miss the Gold Cup and the National and I'm gutted for the Tizzards, Mr and Mrs Broom, Brocade Racing, and Dickie [Johnson]. It looked like he was really coming back to form and it's just really frustrating and unfortunate for everyone.
Copperhead was very good at Ascot last week. He put decent horses to bed very quickly, jumped them into submission really and was relentless in the finish. I don't think we found the bottom of him. Whether he goes for the National Hunt Chase or RSA Chase at Cheltenham, he'll be a huge ride in either race but we'll see where the connections want to go. He's going to be very exciting and will only improve with some summer grass on him.
Photo courtesy of Nigel Kirby
It's been a really good busy month with over 50 runners and a few winners which is always nice.
I have to start with Annie Mc. It's great that she has won her second Novice Chase. The horses she is beating are not mugs. She beat If You Say Run the first time at Wincanton who's a good yard stick, and was wasn't too far away from Reserve Tank who was a dual-grade one winner over hurdles last year. She beat one of Alan King's mares who is rated at 140 decisively at Wetherby. She jumped great and is getting better and better with each run.
She will probably go to a normal Novice Chase next with two penalties but will get a Mares' allowance so will probably only be offset by 3lbs. If she won that, we would definitely to have start thinking about the Cheltenham Festival with her, either the handicap or the Grade 1 Marsh Chase. Her next run will probably tell us a lot more. She's going the right way and we're very excited about her.
It was good to get Django Django on the right track. I was really impressed with the first day behind Erick Le Rouge and Not That Fuisse at Uttoxeter which is really good form. He was disappointing the next time at Aintree with Bryony but to be fair, he lost his two hind shoes so there's an excuse for that run. He looked very strong in the finish at Newbury and won going away. He does look like he could turn into a National horse next year but he has a long way to go but he does have that way about him. He's a horse I have always really liked and has probably still got another year until he reaches his full potential. A horse we're very much looking forward to for some lucky owners who are very loyal to us at Jackdaws Castle.
We really fancied Knight Destroyer in the Fred Winter at The Festival couple of years ago when he fell and it was great to see him win again at Taunton. He had a major pelvis injury, which he has now got over, and seemed to lose a bit of confidence. I would say we will be going over fences sooner rather than later. He suits the tight tracks and making all the running and it's great he got his confidence back and really deserved the win.
Arrivederci beat a strong field at Wincanton. He was due a win after coming second behind Fiddlerontheroof last time out at Sandown who went on to win a Grade 1. He's got very good form, he came third to Tea Clipper at Warwick who has gone onto win a few races since. He's progressing nicely and is going to be a chaser for next year and definitely a horse to look forward to.
It was good for the veteran Valadom to get back to his winning grove at Catterick, and good placing by Richard Hobson. He runs at Musselburgh tomorrow in a similar race but I won't be riding him as I will at Sandown.
Beaufort West was very good at Fontwell for Colin Tizzard. He quickened away nicely and really impressed me. It will be interesting to see where they go with him now. I think he could go for a handicap race at Cheltenham, perhaps the Martin Pipe or Coral Cup.
It was very exciting to win Conditional Jockey of the Year at The Lesters. It's a huge honour to win a Lester award as it's your peers who are voting. I feel very lucky that I have a good network behind me and around me. It really does make you appreciate how lucky we are that we live in a such a good weighing room where the camaraderie is great.
I'm extremely grateful and feel very privileged to get asked to ride Native River and to be associated with a Gold Cup winner. It's a huge call up which I'm relishing and don't take lightly. It's Dicky's (Johnson) ride and hopefully he'll be back fit for Cheltenham but it's great to be riding him at Newbury and hopefully it works out well. He won very well at Aintree last time and the blinkers seem to sharpen him up. I'm very much looking forward to Newbury next weekend!
I have three good rides for Mr Tizzard at Sandown tomorrow (Saturday 1st Feb). Elderado Allen in the Champion Hurdle Trial. He's pretty unexposed and ran really well on comeback when he was second at the same track earlier this month. Vision Des Flos in the Scilly Isles Grade One Novices Chase. He's bee a very good horse who won at Chepstow last time very comfortably and has a good chance n what looks like a open race. Mister Malarky runs in the Masters Handicap Chase. He ran very well in the Ladbrokes Trophy earlier in the season. If he returns to that kind of form he should go close.
It's been a great couple of weeks which started with Soaring Glory winning, in my opinion, a very strong bumper at Ascot on bad ground. It was pleasing that he put daylight between the second and third who are both good horses. He still has to go forward but it looks like he has the world at his feet at the minute. He will probably return to Ascot next Friday in a listed bumper.
It was a really nice surprise to have a 40/1 winner on Who Shot Jr for Colin Tizzard in the Novice Hurdle at Taunton. He won nicely, although I'm not sure it was the deepest of races. However, he had come on a lot from his first two experiences at Chepstow and Wincanton.
I had great ride in the Hennessy at Newbury on Mr Malarky. He ran a cracker. I thought 3-out that he had a right chance. He probably didn't quite see out the trip but the cheek pieces definitely made a difference to him and there's definitely a good race for him to win this year. It was nice to see him back to his usual self.
Plumpton on Monday was a great day. I was just touched off on Bean In Trouble in the first which was a little frustrating. Adicci battled really nicely to win over 2 miles. It was a good performance and a nice horse for the future. He definitely will get further in time as he's from the same family as Black Jack Ketchum. It was great to ride out my claim too and to do it on one of dad's made it even more special.
We had a comfortable success at Lingfield on Tuesday with Maypole Class, followed by Cobolobo winning very nicely at Haydock on Wednesday after a good display of jumping.
Huntingdon produced another winner with Pagero. Hopefully we might get him out at the end of the week as he runs without a penalty.
Quarenta jumped nicely to win what turned out to be, a two-horse race at Fontwell yesterday. It was the feature race and good pot to win.
The horses are in great form at the minute. That's 6 winners in the last 9 days so hopefully it can continue!
It feels like the season has got properly underway now and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the course this weekend.
I went over to Ireland last weekend to watch some of the pointers, some of which will be going to the sales next week. I went around with Richard Pugh, an auctioneer with Tattersalls which was a great experience and we learned a lot.
I love The November Meeting at Cheltenham. It's the first multi-day meeting of the season, and one where I have happy memories. I rode my first ever Cheltenham winner aboard Palmers Hill in the Conditional's race on the Sunday last year for Mr McManus and dad.
I'm not sure who I will be riding on Friday. Maybe L'Air Du Vent of Colin Tizzard's who is entered in the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m5f trial. I won his bumper in Bangor last year and he's a very nice horse. So if he goes there it would be nice to ride him. He's very much a work in progress but he could be something really nice.
Saturday, we have Prefontaine running in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle. He's a bit of a monkey. He unseated me in his first run and was quite sloppy in his jumping on his second time at Fontwell. He really got his act together at Kempton the next time in blinkers that sharpened him up and won quite nicely having made the running. The horse that came second that day has gone out this week and won, so the form looks good which bodes well. This however is a big step up in grade and we will know where we are with him after the race.
Pop Rockstar is also in on Saturday in the 3m3f Grade 3. He's an interesting horse who is on the way up. He has won his last two races at Carlisle and Chepstow and he's a good strong stayer who jumps very well. He could either go for this race or wait until next weekend at Haydock. He's in great form and dad will make a decision with owner Laura Day later this week. He could have the Welsh National in the back of his mind if he goes well in the next couple of weeks.
I was at Cheltenham on Tuesday morning with Richie (McLernon) schooling over the cross-country fences. The ground was pretty soft and I imagine the main track will also be relatively soft which is to be expected. It could definitely suit Pop Rockstar.
On Sunday, we have a couple of entries in the conditional race. It's a pretty special race for me and it would be amazing to try and win that again.
I'm really looking to getting going again with hopefully no hold ups and a clear run through the season, touch wood"
"The season has already been full of ups and downs already with some nice winners and a couple of injuries. My jaw is now fully recovered after breaking it in a fall in August. I'm really looking forward to an exciting season ahead.
It was pleasing last Thursday winning on Pop Rockstar. He looks like he's going the right way and hopefully he can turn into a long distance chaser. Perhaps the Welsh National trial at Chepstow at the beginning of December could be somewhere we go next with him. He's on an upward curve.
Friday saw our first juvenile winner of the year with Pop The Cork winning at Uttoxeter. He ran well at Perth the first time and has come on well from that. I would say that they will look for another juvenile race for him in November.
Although there were no winners, it was good to get back to Ffos Las on Saturday for their first meeting of the year.
We headed to Kempton on Sunday where Prefontaine won the Juvenile Hurdle. He was a very good horse on the flat and I think the blinkers definitely sharpened him up and there's more to come from him. It was great to get a winner for Paul Smith - his first jumps winner.
It's exciting that Cheltenham is just around the corner. There seems to be a lot of nice young horses entered. Colin Tizzard has some really nice novices', and one or two bumper horses that I rode last year entered up. L'Air Du Vent has a couple of entries at Cheltenham. He is a very exciting prospect and, although I won't be riding, I look forward to seeing him running.
Also, my younger brother AJ hopefully has his first ride at Cheltenham on Friday on Mustmeetalady so I will be looking forward to seeing him have his first ride over fences. It's great to see him coming back into racing and Cheltenham is a brilliant place to start and I hope it all goes well. I won on Mustmeetalday in the summer at Perth and he should have a good chance and give him a good spin around.
It's nice to see Minella Rocco back on Saturday at Cheltenham. He had a difficult season last year. I've ridden and schooled him in the last couple of weeks. He's been in great form and he likes it around Cheltenham so it's an ideal place for him to start.
Hopefully Carys' Commodity will run in the bumper. He would have probably won with me at Worcester last time when he unseated me halfway up the run in. I'm hoping he can make amends for that, although this is a far better race and possibly the most competitive bumper of the year so far so we will have to wait and see. He's an exciting prospect."