Harry Cobden: Rising Star of the National Hunt

Harry Cobden, “Conditionally Speaking”, 1st November 2016

Luckily, it’s been another good week for me. I mentioned Thegreendalerocket in my first blog last week, and he won well at Chepstow, by three lengths. I wanted to make plenty of use of his stamina because he's a real staying chaser so I was handy all the way on him and, though I was planning to hold onto him for longer, we hit the front half way down the back straight because he was jumping so well.

I didn't want to hold him back because I knew that, being a strong stayer, he probably wouldn't have a turn of foot in the straight so keeping the gallop up played into my hands. Turning into the straight with four fences to jump, I had a peek under my arm only to see that everyone else was off the bridle. Thegreendalerocket floated up the straight to win nicely, and hopefully a few geegeez readers were on. It was a great training performance from Jimmy frost, and it was a pleasure to ride for such lovely owners.

The five-hour drive to Wetherby on Friday was worthwhile, and made a lot sweeter with my first Listed success, provided by Cliffs of Dover. He really showed his class there: he jumped and travelled with ease throughout and quickened up nicely to win by a convincing nine Lengths. Winning his fourth race in fifteen days was amazing and I'm very grateful to his owners, Mr and Mrs cotton, and to Mr Nicholls for keeping me on board. He’s a seriously tough and genuine little horse, and he might just head to Cheltenham in ten days’ time.

John Biscuit was a bit more unexpected, and a pleasant surprise on Monday at Plumpton. His form looked like he travelled to the second last but was one paced from then onwards, so between myself and his trainer, Jo Davis, we decided to try something different and drop him in. He travelled and jumped great throughout and quickened up nicely after the last to win by half a length. I think he could be quite well handicapped and should go very close next time now he's got his head in front. He was another welcome winner, my third of the week, and I'm now five ahead in the conditional title, on 24 for the season.

It’s a quiet few days between now and the weekend, though we’ve been doing plenty of schooling with the weekend team, who are scheduled to be as far afield as Aintree, Wincanton, and Auteuil in France.

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I am booked to ride Unify at Market Rasen on Thursday for Anthony Honeyball. She's high enough in the handicap at the moment but I'm hopeful she can still run a big race because she really gets her head down and tries her best. If she doesn’t run I might be on City Supreme for the same trainer at Newbury. I won on him over course and distance in April, and he should again give a good account of himself if taking up his engagement.

Although plans have not yet been finalised, it looks like I’ll be at Wincanton on Saturday, where I’ll probably ride Boa Island in the conditional jockeys’ handicap chase over two-and-a-half miles. He won a couple of weeks ago over course and distance and, though he’s gone up twelve pounds for that, he seems in good form and I'm hoping for another nice run from him. He'll have top weight but he's a lovely big chasing type and should have no problem carrying the weight.

Thankfully, my boss Paul’s team seem in great shape at the moment and I’ve been lucky enough to pick up some nice rides while Sam Twiston-Davies recovers from his nasty injury. With luck he’ll be back soon, and in the meantime I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’m getting.

- Harry

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