It was fantastic to win the Long Distance Hurdle with Thyme Hill at Newbury on Friday. It was only his fifth start over hurdles and a great effort to win on his reappearance. He beat the best of the British and if he comes out of the race in good form we will look at the Long Walk at Ascot next month.
The long term target has to be the Stayers’ Hurdle and it would be lovely to win it for a second time – 21 years after Anzum gave me my first Cheltenham Festival winner!
KALOOKI - 12.45pm Newbury
We were thrilled with him at Newbury last time and hopefully he will have come on a bit from that. He’s got a good cruising speed but he also stays well and I expect the race to suit him. He’s a big horse who has taken time to mature but he’s going the right way and we hope he can continue to progress. I think he’s the one to beat and my best chance on Saturday.
JACAMAR - 1.50pm Newbury
He won a couple of starts ago at Aintree but then got beaten at Carlisle on very soft ground. The return to a sounder surface will help his chance, but it’s a very competitive handicap and Tea Clipper will be tough to beat. I rode him a few times last season and he’s a very smart horse who will also enjoy the decent ground.
LA BAGUE AU ROI – 3.00pm Newbury
She had a wind op before Wetherby where she didn’t run badly on the soft ground. We hope she will come on for that as some horses often improve in their second run after having their wind done when they realise they can breathe again. She loves good ground and won two nice novice chases round here a couple of years ago.
I don’t have any worries about the trip, she’s a bit older now. If she can bounce back to the form of her novice chases, when she beat Lostintranslation and Topofthegame, she could be very well treated. I schooled her on Friday morning and she seemed in great form. It would be lovely to win it again and fantastic if she could bounce back to form in a race like this.
As you’d expect it’s a very open race and you can make a good case for plenty of them. I won on Aye Right over hurdles last year and he’s taken to fences very well. He’s a second season novice and those horses have a great record in the race. He’s still on the upgrade and I can see him running a big race.
ZANZA – 3.35pm Newbury
He’s had two runs over fences and we’ve been pleased with how he’s taken to them. He ran a nice race behind Allmankind at Warwick where he was outpaced down the back but stayed on strongly up the home straight. The novice chase rules meant they weren’t able to change his mark and with some decent horses behind, if he can translate that form to a handicap he must have a good chance
3.15pm Newcastle – Rehearsal Chase
Whatmore has come out of Ascot really well. He got a bit of a fright over the first few fences but ran a very good race in the end. He hung a bit left so going left-handed at Newcastle should suit him. He looks to have a decent chance.
GARDE LA VICTOIRE, 2.28pm Leicester
He ran a nice race at Hereford on his reappearance. He’s getting older these days and I’m sure he looks after himself a little bit. He will have improved from that and must go there with a very strong chance in a veterans’ race. It’s my only ride of the day and hopefully it will be a worthwhile trip to Leicester.