Last week was another good week for me, which started just down the road...
Wincanton is my local track, and one of my favourite tracks, too. It once again provided me with a winner, in the form of Brelan D'As. He had some really smart form in France, and clearly couldn't have been right on his one run at Exeter in heavy ground back in February. He is a different horse this term though, and the way he settled and jumped impressed me tremendously. I certainly don't think he will ever see a handicap mark of 130 again!
That was a first winner for me in the famous green and gold silks for Mr McManus, to whom I'm very grateful for the opportunity to ride for over the past couple of weeks.
On Friday at Haydock, Capitaine stepped up in to Listed company. Unfortunately he was keen throughout and the Hobson horse, Tahira, had a very easy lead from the front. That one probably stole the race turning in, but Capitaine kept on well up the straight to finish second. It was a likeable performance, and I think there's definitely more to come from this striking four-year-old.
Politologue is a big imposing chasing type by Poliglote. A Listed novice hurdle winner at two miles last season, this was his first time over fences, though you would never have known the way he travelled and jumped brilliantly. Every time I came to a fence he would take a length out of his field where he jumped so great. Turning into the straight he was cruising and when I let out an inch of rein he took off. It must have been some performance as he earned quotes of 20/1 for the RSA [top priced 25/1, Ed.].
In a week of firsts for big owners, it was my first winner for Mr Hales, who is a huge supporter at Ditcheat and has had so many good horses over the years, the most notable ones being Neptune Collonges, who won the 2012 Grand National, Al Ferof, Azertyuiop, and of course One Man.
There are no immediate plans for Politologue at this stage, but the RSA would be the obvious seasonal target. I wouldn’t be thinking he’s only a mud-loving horse either; he ought to be just as effective on better ground.
I also rode Brio Conti in a decent novices’ hurdle. He’d fallen at the first on his first start over timber, where he just over-jumped and landed a little steep and found himself on the floor. This time, Brio was quite keen throughout, and he was winging every hurdle which wasn't helpful when I was trying to hold onto him! This horse gave me a really good feel and I think he will make a very nice chaser in turn, but not before he picks up a nice Saturday handicap hurdle or two first.
In the big handicap hurdle at Haydock on Saturday, I was lucky to pick up the ride on Yala Enki. He’s a relentless galloper who just kept on keeping on, eventually finishing third. I think the plan is to go back over the bigger obstacles now – he’s already a dual chase winner in France and top class handicaps over fences is likely to be his next challenge.
It was very good of Clive Hitchings, who also owns Virak down at Ditcheat, to get me the ride when his regular jockey became unavailable.
I'm not booked to ride anything for the weekend at the moment, but hopefully I'll have a couple of nice rides on Friday and Saturday. They might include Sweeping Beauty, a bumper horse that is entered up at Doncaster on Sunday. She’s a filly I rode last time at Huntingdon over this sort of trip, and she really impressed me that day. I think she should go very close if she runs.
One who is going very nicely at home, as you might expect from a horse that cost £270,000 at the Goff’s Aintree sale, is Give Me A Copper. Owned, amongst others, by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jeremy Kyle, this son of Presenting is from the same family as Cheltenham Festival winner, Copper Bleu, and is a full brother to the smart Presenting Copper. Give Me A Copper has three entries this weekend, and he might just be one for the Albert Bartlett at the Festival [for which he is a top-priced 25/1, Ed.]. He has to win his novice hurdle first, though!
Another two winners for me this week mean I’m now on 31 wins in the Conditional Jockeys’ Title race. Harry Bannister pulled one back yesterday and is on 20 now, the same as David Noonan, and Jamie Bargary was also among the Monday winners, moving on to 17 for the season. I’ve got clear daylight at the moment, but we all know that things can change very quickly so I’m certainly not taking anything for granted.
Until next week…