Musical Slave travelled quite nicely at Doncaster on Saturday but he didn’t jump with the fluency we know he can. We had a bit of a disagreement four out and I came off but he’s absolutely fine. He’ll go somewhere else now for a valuable prize in a few weeks’ time. He’s definitely a horse to keep on the right side of.
It was nice to end the day with a winner for Henry [Daly] on Marshmallo in the mares’ bumper. She had run a nice race on her first start and had improved at home. She handled the conditions well and stayed on nicely. I’m sure she’ll make into a nice sort going forward.
Sandown are inspecting at 8am on Saturday morning and I really hope it passes as I look to have a nice book of rides.
SPORTING JOHN – 1.50pm Sandown
I schooled him on Thursday morning and he jumped really nicely. He looked like being a top novice hurdler last year but he disappointed at Cheltenham. Although he travelled and jumped really well at Exeter on his chasing debut, he didn’t finish off his race. A few of Philip’s were doing the same then, so we hope he will have improved.
This is a Grade One and it looks a very hot contest. We do think a lot of him and he’s coming into the race as a fresh horse which could be a bonus for us. He’s an Irish point-to-point winner so we know he stays well and that will be a positive up the Sandown hill.
We are really just looking for a decent run and for him to finish off his race strongly. There are some very decent horses in this but I’ve been particularly impressed with Messire Des Obeaux so far this season, he’s looked very professional.
NATIVE RIVER – 2.20pm Sandown
For his consistency over such a long period of time, he’s right up there with the best horses I’ve ever ridden. It’s not easy to keep horses at that level, he’s mixed it with the best for four or five years, and he is just a huge credit to himself and the Tizzards.
He showed plenty of enthusiasm at Aintree, I wasn’t disappointed with his run at all. The fences being taken out didn’t help any of us really but he had Frodon behind him that day and he obviously went on to win the King George.
Joe [Tizzard] seems very positive that he’s in good form at home. Sandown won’t be a problem for him, he loves jumping which is a big part of the Sandown test. The conditions will be testing and we know he stays well so there are no negatives, but it is a competitive renewal.
Bristol De Mai loves the mud, Santini is a very good stayer and even Lake View Lad who beat us at Aintree has to have a chance. You really can’t rule any of the field out. These kind of races aren’t always competitive but this one certainly is and whoever wins will be shortened for the Gold Cup. It’s a really interesting race.
DOITFORTHEVILLAGE – 2.55pm Sandown
He won over course and distance last time which was a really good effort. I rode him a couple of starts back over two miles at Newbury where he just tapped for toe. He clearly appreciated the extra distance last time and will hopefully run another good race.
DEISE ABA – 3.30pm Sandown
He ended last season in really good form but he hasn’t really shown any of that enthusiasm this time round. Philip is putting cheekpieces on him for the first time and we’re hoping that will help him. He was in very good form on Thursday, he stays well and handles very soft ground. Let’s hope he shows a bit more.
I can see Coo Star Sivola running well in this. I rode him at Kempton last time and I think he just lost his confidence a bit after the Becher Chase. If he can get his confidence back, he is a big danger to everyone.
DOSTAL PHIL – 4.05pm Sandown
It was a really impressive performance at Newbury on his first start of the season, we were delighted with the way he did it. The handicapper put him up 8lbs which I think was fair and this stiff two miles should suit him well. It looks to be the ideal race for him and hopefully he will go very close.
I’ll be heading up to Scotland on Sunday as long as the weather behaves itself. I’ve got two rides for Peter Fahey who is a very good trainer and one you have to respect when he brings horses over here.
Born Patriot (2.25pm) won on debut and then ran a nice race at Thurles last time. It’s difficult to compare the English and Irish form but he has run two decent races so far and must have a chance in an open novices ‘ hurdle.
Belfast Banter (3.25pm) ran well behind Not So Sleepy in a valuable race at Ascot before Christmas. He’s got plenty of experience and must have an each-way chance, although Third Time Lucki will be tough to beat.