Richard Johnson: My ride in the Imperial Cup fits the bill
The champion jockey previews his weekend rides at Sandown and Market Rasen, and discusses Ruby Walsh's participation at next week's Cheltenham Festival.
Double at Fontwell on Wednesday
It was great to have a couple of winners on Wednesday for Warren Greatrex and Philip Hobbs.
Dicosimo and Reikers Island showed that both yards are in good form which is good with next week in mind.
It all bodes well for Cheltenham and it’s nice to know that we are going into it with the horses running well.
There’s a lot of hype and talk about next week. It’s obviously a very exciting time of the year, but you’ve got to try and treat it as any other meeting.
I’ve got plenty of good rides to look forward to before then.
Sandown on Saturday
My first ride of the day is in the Imperial Cup (2.25pm), where I ride Master Of Irony for John Quinn.
He was supposed to run at Leopardstown last month but didn’t travel over well.
He comes into this fresh and well and I was impressed with him when I won on him at Wetherby in October.
He ran a very good race in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury last time which showed he is still improving.
The horse stays really well which is a big plus with the testing ground we are going to get on Saturday.
You always need a strong stayer on the hurdles course at Sandown and he really fits the bill.
It’s obviously a hugely competitive race, but he’s coming off the back of two good performances. I’m hopeful there is more to come from him.
My next ride is Aimee Da Sivola in the mares’ bumper (3.00pm).
Nick Williams’ horses are in great form and she’s another who has run well on her last two starts.
She shouldn’t have any problems with the ground, as shown by her win at Newbury which looks solid form.
Let’s hope she can progress again on Saturday.
My final ride of the day is Aloomomo for Warren Greatrex in the handicap chase (4.45pm).
He hasn’t really shown his old hurdles form over fences yet, but I believe he is going to wear blinkers for the first time to try and sharpen him up.
Any rain that comes will only help his chances and if he could recapture his old form, then he’d be a definite player.
Market Rasen on Sunday
My only ride on Sunday is Rio Quinto for Olly Murphy in the novices’ hurdle (2.30pm).
He’s had a decent novice season so far with all of his form coming on testing ground.
I think the track should suit him well and he must go there with a strong chance.
It was great to see Ruby back in action at Thurles and it was no surprise at all to see him ride a winner.
The Festival wouldn’t be quite the same if he wasn’t riding. He’s been such a massive part of it over the last few years.
Cheltenham, as well as the other spring festivals, are what we all look forward to and you never want to miss them.