First things first, it’s great to be back as Great British Racing’s ambassador for this Jumps season. Hopefully I can kick the partnership off with a winner or two over the long weekend at Cheltenham!
It’s been tough not having fans on the racecourse to create a bit of atmosphere and excitement going into big fixtures like this. But the safety measures in place are totally necessary and everyone must stick to them. All us jockeys are very grateful that racing is still on!
I’ve been very happy with my start to the season. Paul’s horses are in great form and I think it’s my fastest ever 50 in the Jump Jockeys’ Championships. It’s fantastic to be so near the top of the table. I just hope I stay injury free and keep the progress going.
My main focus is still to keep Paul happy and concentrate on the big winners, but becoming Champion Jockey is definitely something that is on my mind.
Myself and my agent, Dave Roberts, have said we are going to keep going the way we are, get Cheltenham out the way in March, and if we are still in contention then we will put absolutely everything into it. Hopefully we can keep maintain the pace we’re at now.
Let’s take you through my top five exciting youngsters to follow this season.
He’s certainly an exciting horse for the future. We feel he’ll come on a lot for that experience so who knows how far he can go.
He stayed over hurdles last year because we didn’t want to run him over fences at such a young age. But he’s a great jumper and a horse that runs consistently well, so I think he’ll make into a great chaser.
He’s a real tryer and wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t let you down.
He was a juvenile last season but he’s a big-framed horse, so should fill out nicely in time. He was much too keen in the Boodles Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last season but still ran very well and just got tired up the hill.
He’s already ran at Chepstow this season and won very well. The handicapper has put him up 11lb after that which is quite a hike. But he runs in the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday and given the good form he’s in I think he’ll go close.
Another lovely big horse, Bravemansgame just got beat at Chepstow’s first meeting of the season. He then went to Exeter where he showed he’d learned loads from that first run over hurdles winning by 14 lengths (pictured above).
He’s a horse that we all like and he falls in the “could be anything” bracket. I think we will see the best of him over fences, so whatever he achieves this year would be a bonus. He’s a horse with a serious amount of talent.
He’s probably one of the most exciting hurdlers in the Nicholls’ yard this season. I think he’s going to step up to Grade 1 company later with little fuss. I think very highly of him, he’s a horse that I’m hoping can develop into a Stayers’ Hurdle horse.
He showed he had a big engine in his first season and last year it just took him a while to learn how to jump slickly. But the penny appears to have dropped now given he scored so nicely in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
He has all the talent and tools to make a big impression at the top level. That’s why we are all excited about him.
Southfield Stone – 2:25, SSS Super Alloys Supports Racing Welfare Novices’ Chase
Southfield Stone is improving from last season. He won really nicely round Cheltenham last time out.
Dan Skelton’s Protektorat is the favourite in Friday’s race, he was very good at Carlisle last time and he’ll be the one to beat. Southfield Stone is consistent and Paul’s horses are in good form, so he’ll give the Skelton horse a good run for his money.
Hell Red – 12:30, JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
He was very, very impressive at Chepstow when I last rode him, first time out for us. He travelled through his race fantastically, jumped brilliantly and he looks a very smart juvenile.
We’re really looking forward to him and fingers crossed he’ll have a safe passage on Saturday and do the business. He’s also a horse that likes the ground soft, so any rain will be welcome.
Quel Destin – 1:40, Grade 2 From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase
It’s the first time over fences for Quel Destin which is exciting. He’s done a good bit of schooling at home. I’ll expect we’ll get a lead, sit close to the pace and see how it unfolds. He’s done loads of jumping at home, fingers crossed he’ll run a big race in a competitive renewal.
Saint Sonnet – 2:15, Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Saint Sonnet has undoubtedly got a right sort of profile for the race. It’s easy to see why many fancy him so strongly to win.
He won first time out for us at Catterick last year then took a huge step up to Grade 1 level at the Cheltenham Festival. He ran really well to finish a not distant seventh in the end against some high-class and more experienced rivals.
He’s enjoyed a great summer and has certainly trained well coming into this. In terms of race rivals I think Nicky Henderson’s horse Mister Fisher looks a real danger; he’s got plenty of class so if it falls right for him I think he’ll take some beating.
Ucanaver – 3:35, Kamdean Design flooring Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
Ucanaver won a bumper at Fontwell a few weeks ago for Anthony Honeyball and Aidan Coleman by a massive distance of 20 lengths. This looks a great spare ride to pick up and I’m just really gratefull for the opportunity.