Harry Cobden: Rising Star of the National Hunt

Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 8th Nov 2016

It’s been another good week for me with four winners from eleven rides, and a personal milestone as well.

Last Thursday, Unify won her third novice chase, dropping back in trip from her last two runs. She travelled and jumped well to win by a length and quarter. She has her issues, so huge credit goes to Antony Honeyball who has done a brilliant job placing her in the right races.

Saturday was my eighteenth birthday, and I had a fantastic book of rides at Wincanton. Capitaine and Boa Island were very short priced favourites, both really nice progressive horses who travelled and jumped brilliantly to win very nicely.

Capitaine is still learning and was maybe a little bit keen here. But he’s classy and his owner and trainer will put their heads together about maybe stepping him up in grade next time.

The day got better with Frodon bolting up in a small but select field in the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase. He’s still only four and is very smart. Best of all, he gets a lovely weight chasing because of his age. He's an easy horse to ride because he jumps and travels so well throughout his races, and he gave me my highest level win, my first in Grade 2 company.

Southfield Theatre was very unfortunate not to win the Badger Ales Trophy Chase. Turning in to the straight I wanted to make ground on the leaders, and as we jumped the second last upsides I felt like I had it won. Coming down to the last with a half a length advantage, my lad just clipped the top of the fence and, very disappointingly, came down.

Annoyingly, I also came off Zubayr at the last. While he was probably held at the time, we were rallying and it might have been close. The main thing is that both are fine so they should be back in action soon enough. Mrs Yeoman, Southfield Theatre’s owner, was especially good about it considering there was a very trophy – and pot – up for grabs. I’m very thankful for her kindness, but disappointed he didn’t quite get high enough.

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Although it was my eighteenth birthday, I just had a quiet night with no big celebration, because on Sunday, I was at Ffos Las for another nice couple of rides. City Supreme will definitely come on from his run, and with any luck the handicapper will drop him a couple of pounds for finishing 7th. He looks sure to be bang there next time.

Unify was unable to build on her third win in six weeks when only third in a handicap chase. She might find life a bit tougher now.

I’m now up to 28 winners for the season, putting me nicely clear in the conditionals’ race at the moment. But I know I have to keep my head down, ride well, and continue to develop. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of Mr Nicholls and Anthony Honeyball, as well as a number of other very supportive trainers.

Looking forward to this week, I ride John Biscuit at Huntingdon today. He has to have a chance only going up three pounds for his win at Plumpton, and I’d be optimistic that he could be progressive now he's got his head in front. Off a mark of 82 he still looks well treated.

All going well I might get another chance to ride Frodon in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday. He was very impressive around Wincanton the weekend just gone, and I'm really grateful that Mr Nicholls and the owners, Mr Vogt and Mr Fogg, are thinking of keeping me on him. He's got a lovely weight and the track and trip should suit just right.

It was a busy Monday morning yesterday schooling some of the weekend runners. All the horses seem in great shape and it was very good to see Sam Twiston-Davies making an appearance this morning after his nasty fall at Chepstow’s opening meeting, Sam should hopefully be back race riding this weekend.

Sam’s fall and, much worse, Freddy Tylicki’s at Kempton are a stark reminder that all jockeys are only one fall away from serious injury. It is obviously a risky sport for all involved. The mood in the weighing room this week has been sombre, with plenty of the lads going to see Freddy.

One small silver lining is the attention the Injured Jockeys’ Fund has received, and the number of people who have contributed either directly to Freddy or to the IJF shows racing in a positive light at a very dark time.

Have a great week.

- Harry

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