Richard Johnson: All the family will be with me at Sandown
The Betway ambassador reflects on another year at the top of his sport, before looking ahead to the final weekend of the National Hunt season.
It’s been a busy few days with lots of travelling and, although this is the last week of the season, it’s going to be a busy one again.
Ayr on Friday
Bob Mahler ran really well in the three-mile handicap hurdle. The step up in trip suited and a competitive handicap really brought out the best in him.
It was just a shame there was another improving horse in there as we were a long way clear of the third.
He’ll be put away now and go chasing next season, hopefully his quirks are being ironed out. It’s nice to finish the season on a positive note.
Black Tulip was another who appreciated the extra distance. She ran a nice race and has had a good season.
She will also be going chasing next term, which will hopefully eke out a bit more improvement.
Ayr on Saturday
I’m A Game Changer ran OK in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.
He’s a slightly frustrating horse in that he’s a bit too keen at the start of his races. You’ve got to switch him off early.
He’s not slow, but he got a bit tapped for toe before three out and then stayed on.
I’m sure there are better days ahead for him, he just needs everything to fall into place.
It was nice to see him finish his race strongly and Philip Hobbs' horses have been running well over the past few days, which bodes well for the coming weeks.
I was pleased with Anemoi in the bumper. He’s a really nice horse and just got a bit tired in the closing stages. The winner was very impressive.
This is always a decent bumper and Anemoi gave me a lovely feel. He’s sure to improve for a summer’s grass and will be a nice novice hurdler for next season.
I didn’t have a ride in the Scottish Grand National but it was a very good race.
Two unexposed novices fought out the finish and they are the type that often run well in this race.
It looked as though they both appreciated the better ground.
Wincanton on Sunday
Little Miss Poet was unlucky and did well to finish third after being hampered by a faller and then stumbling on the bend.
Hopefully it won’t be long before she gets her head in front.
We didn’t go very quick in the first division of the bumper which didn’t suit Tidal Flow, but he still ran a really nice race.
He would have preferred slightly softer ground and just got done for a bit of speed.
He was conceding weight all round, so it was still a decent performance and he will go over hurdles now next season.
On the other hand, the drying ground was a bonus for Ebony Gale in the second division.
We went a good strong gallop and he travelled well. He was a bit green, but did it nicely.
He obviously came on from his first run at Kempton and is another to look forward to over hurdles in the autumn.
Elliott v Mullins
There’s some fantastic racing at Punchestown this week, but the biggest race of them all is going to be between Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins.
Willie is going to throw everything at it to try to cling onto the title, but you’d have to say it's in Gordon’s favour at the moment.
For Gordon to even have got close enough to challenge Willie has been an incredible effort.
He’s had a brilliant season again, with a great Cheltenham and Aintree. They are two fantastic trainers and it’s going to be fascinating to watch.
Sandown on Saturday
I’m obviously looking forward to Sandown on Saturday.
I’ve said it before, but being champion jockey is the most important thing for me and I’m really happy to be winning it for a third time.
All the family are going to be down there and it’s always a really fun day.
It looks as though Rock The Kasbah will run in the bet365 Gold Cup where he should get his preferred decent ground.
When he won at Chepstow in the autumn we thought he could win another big prize.
It’s a timely boost that Philip’s horses are running better and he must go there with every chance.
Warren Greatrex is also certain to run Missed Approach . He’s another who should go well after his win in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham.
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