Thyme Hill ran a brilliant race in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, but it was obviously hugely frustrating to get beaten on the line by Paisley Park.
I didn’t want to be in front before the last. Everything had gone really well and I’d followed Younevercall up the straight. My horse couldn’t have jumped the last any better and I thought we’d then go on and win our race. When a horse jumps the last like that you have to go. Ascot is a big place, he’s still a young horse and he may just have idled a bit in front.
There are absolutely no excuses, the three pound turnaround from Newbury made a difference and it is clear that there is very little between the two horses. Thyme Hill is still learning, he’s only a second season novice and we hope there’s still more to come. It was nice to see the first three finish in those positions, it gives the form a really solid look. He showed he’s one of the best around and even though we lost the battle let’s hope we win the war.
Slightly better ground would have suited us better, but I’m sure that’s the case for Paisley Park and Roksana as well. I’m looking forward to taking them on again and we all know that our horses will have to be on their A-games whenever they meet each other.
The TV cameras picked up my frustration when crossing the line and I really hope I didn’t offend anybody. You just initially feel massive disappointment and you’re gutted but I couldn’t have been prouder of the horse and it was a great race.
This was one of my biggest races of the season, it’s a Grade One and it’s so hard to find these Grade One horses. If you think about the percentage of horses in training that run in Grade Ones, it’s probably less than half a percent. When you do get one they mean an awful lot to everyone. Every race is important but these are the best of the best.
There is no plan yet about his next run, we could go for the Cleeve Hurdle or wait until Cheltenham in March. The Stayers’ Hurdle is the main aim and I think he advanced his claims for that on Saturday. We know he’s up to that class and I can’t wait to ride him again.
Oakley ran respectably in the Betfair Exchange Trophy, he just got a little tired on the ground and a better surface will suit him. Smarty Wild ran a really encouraging race in the handicap chase on only his third start over fences. Hopefully he’ll get his head in front very soon.