Richard Johnson: Apple’s Shakira is the best horse in Britain
The champion jockey reviews an emotional Saturday at Cheltenham, and assesses his chances at Leicester and Sandown this week.
Trials Day at Cheltenham
Elixir De Nutz just didn’t quite get home on the ground in the juvenile hurdle. He hasn’t finished maturing yet and he will come on a lot for the run on Saturday.
He felt like a nice horse and I think it will be next season before we see the best of him.
Apple’s Shakira was very impressive and the Triumph Hurdle looks the obvious target for her. Based on what she has done so far, she is the best horse in Britain at the moment.
She handles the track and, as Defi Du Seuil showed last year, that’s so important for the Festival in March.
War Sound impressed me with the way he jumped and travelled.
He was just a bit keen throughout and if he can settle better, I’m hopeful he will be winning races soon.
I think the 2m5f trip suits him, especially when the ground improves and he is a horse to keep an eye on.
Fairmount bumped into a couple of decent horses in the novices’ hurdle. He should improve for a step up in trip as the season goes on.
It was a pretty strong novice hurdle, and you’d expect the first two will be back in March for the Ballymore.
Obviously it was a very emotional day for the Woollacott family at Cheltenham.
Beer Goggles ran well but just hung to his right which didn’t help his chances.
I’m not sure whether he’ll back for the Stayers’ at the Festival or if we will go to Aintree, but he handled the track well on Saturday.
He lost nothing in defeat and he is still very much one to look forward to for the rest of the season.
I’ve ridden Definitly Red a couple of times and he is a really tough horse. Saturday was further evidence of that.
It’s great for Brian Ellison to have such a good horse – he’s definitely a contender for the Gold Cup now.
I see Bristol De Mai has got a Grand National entry and that could well be where he ends up. He’s obviously disappointed twice at Cheltenham now, so it could be that he just doesn’t handle the track.
Not all horses do and it might be that flat tracks like Haydock that suit him better.
He’s a great jumper and a class horse, so I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t run a great race at Aintree.
It’s great to see both Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly having so much success.
It can only be good for racing, and the opportunities they are getting from Paul Nicholls and Nick Williams are fantastic. They are really taking advantage of their chances.
It’s great to see and hopefully it shows other girls, especially the younger generation, that they can become jockeys too.
Springtown Lake is set to run at Leicester on Wednesday. He’s a very nice horse.
His second in the Grade Two at Sandown looks pretty strong form.
He’ll go there with a strong chance and is definitely one to look forward to.
Westend Story is pencilled in to run in a valuable handicap at Sandown on Saturday.
The way he won at Wetherby showed he’s going the right way and I’d like to think he’d have a great chance.