Things continue to be very busy at the moment. People are still wanting to do interviews because it’s the end of the season and it’s all been a bit frantic. That will settle down eventually but I’m definitely not short of things to do.
I will be at Sandown on Saturday where I’m looking forward to presenting the Menorah trophy to the winners of the Oaksey Chase. I went to Worcester on Friday to have a walk around the track which was my first time on a racecourse since retiring at Newton Abbot. It will be nice to see some familiar faces again.
Well done Harry
I would like to congratulate both Harry and Dan Skelton for their wonderful achievement, it’s been a big team effort and I’m thrilled for them. To be champion jockey from mainly one yard is very hard to do and this is the first time it’s been done since the days of Martin Pipe. All jockeys dream about becoming champion and to achieve it is fantastic.
Even though he’s been riding mainly for his brother it’s still been very hard work, he’s really put the hours in. Brian [Hughes] has had a great season and it’s been a really close run thing for the past few weeks. I’m sure Brian will be going all out to regain his title next year.
It’s a lovely feeling going to Sandown on the Saturday knowing you’ve won the title. You often go racing thinking you’ve got a good chance but you never know that you’re definitely going to win. Harry can really enjoy the day, it doesn’t hang on his rides tomorrow, he has it in the bag. It’s a shame the crowds aren’t there but his family will be there. I did feel sorry for Brian last year that he didn’t get to go to Sandown and receive the trophy. It’s a big moment.
There are lots of very good young jockeys riding now so both Harry and Brian are going to have to work hard to win it next year. Harry can enjoy Saturday, have a few quiet days and then get ready to do it all over again.
It’s always a strange feeling when you go back to zero and you’re starting from the bottom. I always felt the first 10 winners was the hardest. Once you’ve got the first 10 it gives you a bit of momentum, but if it’s a slow start even though you remember last season it feels like an awful long time ago.
Both Dan and Harry have had incredible seasons. They’ve had the quantity for the past few seasons but the quality is really improving. As a young trainer you have to prove that you can do it and he has. He has plenty of big owners there and I’m sure Paul Nicholls is thinking he’ll have to be on his A-game next season to keep Dan at bay.
Congratulations to Paul
Paul is amazing, he never sits still and is always looking forward. He admitted Cheltenham was frustrating but he’s had a great season. Whether it’s Monday at Newton Abbot or Saturday at Cheltenham, he’s never far away. It’s a fantastic achievement to train more winners than ever before in a 10 month season. He’s not just sitting back, he’s keen to do the best he can with every horse he has and he deserves an awful lot of credit.
2.30pm - Oaksey Chase
I was lucky enough to win this race four years in a row with Menorah, so it’s obviously a race that is close to my heart. Mister Fisher is a very talented horse and both the ground and small field will suit. He certainly has the talent but his last two runs have been a bit disappointing.
Frodon had a hard race in the Gold Cup but he’s a very tough horse and he has less to prove than Mister Fisher.
3.05pm - Celebration Chase
This really is a fantastic renewal with the Champion Chase winner up against Altior. It will be interesting to see if Altior shows his old zest and they’re trying cheekpieces on him. You can’t discount him but Put The Kettle On is a wonderful mare – you can’t do much more than win the Arkle and Champion Chase!
She’s unbeaten round Cheltenham but I don’t think coming to Sandown will be a problem. She’s a very good jumper and I’d have thought the track would suit her. Decent ground should be fine as well, she is going to be hard to beat.
3.40pm - Bet365 Gold Cup
It looks a very open running of this race and as it’s the end of the season some of them might be coming to the end of their tether. On form you have to struggle to see why Plan Of Attack is favourite. Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore can’t do anything wrong but I think he’s favourite because of his connections rather than his form. He looks very short.
I can see Crosspark running well, he’ll definitely stay which you can’t say about all of them. They’ll go quick and he has been incredibly consistent. It won’t be easy off top weight but he looks like a good each-way option and definitely one to put in your Placepot.
4.15pm - Select Hurdle
Another very open race and quite a few of them have questions to answers. If he comes back to form, Kim Bailey’s Younevercall can run a big race. He likes decent ground and was a very impressive winner of this race two years ago.