I was really pleased with Native River in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree. As a jockey most seasons you have two or three of those horses that you’re always thinking about and he’s been one of mine for the past three or four years.
He felt in very good form and it was just a shame the sun was so bad that they had to doll off the fences in the straight. It was definitely the right thing for them to do but fences really light Native River up so it was a negative for him.
He ran really well and I think the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day is now the plan. It gives him a nice gap leading up to the Gold Cup and I can’t see why he won’t go there with a big chance. He’s 10 now but hasn’t had a huge amount of racing over the past few years and he still seems to have all his enthusiasm.
Hunters Call ran really well and going to the last I thought he’d win. It was another good effort and he’s bound to pick up one of these nice handicaps through the season when it all falls his way.
We couldn’t have been happier with Straw Fan Jack, he was very good. It was a bit of a surprise really, we knew he had a chance but he jumped really well and is just a very straightforward horse. To be honest, I didn’t realise I was that far clear. When I jumped the last I presumed there would be a few behind me – I was delighted but shocked.
Sheila Lewis has a small team of horses but they are in very good form. He is on the upgrade and will have to take on some better opposition now.
There was a lot said and written about Altior not running in the Tingle Creek. Ultimately Nico [De Boinville] advised the owners not to run having ridden on the course on Friday and I completely understand the decision. I know it’s disappointing for the public but he had a hard race at Ascot first time up last year. The ground was very testing and it’s difficult to make a decision until you ride on the ground.
I thought Nicky Henderson handled it exactly right, he told everyone quickly. If you run a jumps horse on heavy ground you won’t be able to run again for at least a month, it takes a lot out of them. It’s not like a horse on the all-weather when you can run again a few days later. You want conditions in your favour and it’s up to the owners, trainer and jockey to decide what’s best for the horse. They put the horse first and that’s exactly right.
Politologue was very impressive and he thoroughly deserved another Grade One success.
ZANZA – 1.15pm Cheltenham
It was a career best run at Newbury last time and the form of his second to Allmankind at Warwick was franked when he was an impressive winner of the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown last weekend. I was very taken with the way he did it at Newbury and he must have a very good chance in this. I schooled him on Monday and he was in great form. Hopefully he’s a horse that can continue progressing throughout the season.
1.50pm Cheltenham – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
We were hoping Musical Slave would get into the race but he missed out by one which was a shame. I was really pleased with him at Newbury last time and a fast run race over two and a half miles on slow ground would have been ideal for him.
It is a typically competitive race. Master Tommytucker was impressive at Haydock a few weeks ago and Windsor Avenue ran well behind Imperial Aura at Carlisle. Coole Cody was a good winner here last month and he’ll be trying to pull off a double not many have managed to achieve in the past.
MAKE GOOD – 2.25pm Cheltenham
John McConnell wouldn’t be bringing him over from Ireland if he didn’t like his chances. He’s the top rated in the field and although the trip has to be a slight doubt, John obviously thinks he’ll stay. He’s a good trainer and I’m looking forward to riding Make Good.
3.00pm Cheltenham – International Hurdle
Goshen was going to be a very impressive winner in the Triumph Hurdle if he hadn’t fallen. It’s always hard to know what the juvenile hurdle form from last year is until later in the season. Gary Moore says he’s the best horse he’s trained which is quite a statement considering he won the Champion Chase with Sire De Grugy. I suppose it’s just a worry taking on the older horses.
I think Song For Someone is interesting. He stays very well and he’s also a front runner so Goshen won’t have it all his own way. He also has the benefit of having a had a run. He’s in good form, the yard are flying and he ticks all the boxes for me – it’s just if Goshen is better than him or not.
I’m heading up the M6 to Carlisle on Sunday for two rides. Looksnowtlikebrian has won a couple of times here and he’s ran well on his last two starts. He should have a decent chance, as should Lagonda for Tom Lacey in the closing mares’ bumper. She ran a decent race on her first start for the yard at Ayr last month.