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Richard Johnson Betway blog: Cheltenham and Aintree rides

26 Oct | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson Betway blog: Cheltenham and Aintree rides

The champion jockey reflects on his hat-trick of hat-tricks, and previews his weekend at Cheltenham and Aintree.

It’s not often you ride three trebles in three days, so you have to enjoy it when it happens.

It’s been a fantastic week. Everything is going really well and I just want to keep the ball rolling.

With Chepstow last week, and Cheltenham and Aintree this weekend, the real National Hunt action is getting going, which is great for both racing fans and us jockeys.

Cheltenham on Saturday

I have six rides on Saturday and first up is West Approach {ODDS:337478248:16/1} in the opening handicap chase (14:00). He’s Thistlecrack’s half brother and had some decent form last year.

This is a very competitive race and it’s interesting that Minella Rocco runs, as it keeps the weights down.

He’s a very good horse in his own right and if he’s back to his best, he’ll be hard to beat. Jonjo O’Neill’s horses are in good form as well.

West Approach could easily improve again, though, as a second season novice chaser.

Philip Hobbs also thinks For Good Measure will run a big race off a light weight.

I’m really looking forward to Gumball {ODDS:337478241:2/1} in the four-year-old hurdle (14:35). If he can reproduce his form from the start of last season, or at Aintree, he’ll go very well indeed.

Redicean is the one to beat. He had some very good form but disappointed a little in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival.

Gumball seems really well at home, I was very pleased with him when I schooled him on Wednesday.

The ground should be perfect and hopefully he has a massive chance.

Wait For Me {ODDS:337478268:10/1} goes in the handicap hurdle (15:45). He’s been running well over the past 12 months, with the step up to three miles suiting him really well.

This is a very competitive race, with 20 runners, and the faster they go the more it will suit him.

Good ground is very important to him and although top weight isn’t ideal, he’s a big, strong horse, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I still think he’s well able to win off 140.

I ride Dinons {ODDS:337478258:SP} for Gordon Elliott in the novice hurdle (16:20). He’s been very busy over the summer, winning his last four. This is a slight step up in class, but if the handicapper is right, he’s the one to beat.

Colin Tizzard runs Ultragold who has won the last two Topham Chases.

He’s yet to win over hurdles, but he if he can transfer his chase form to the smaller obstacles he’ll be hard to beat.

Dinos is fit and well, though, and must have a decent chance.

There are just five runners in the novice chase (16:55), where I’m on Cubomania {ODDS:337478274:SP} for Gordon. I’ve won on him three times over the past few months and it was a good performance last time I was on him at Perth.

He has a fair chance in what is a small but select field. Movewiththetimes could be a smart novice chaser and we’re going to have to give him quite a bit of weight.

My final ride of the day is Geordiebest {ODDS:337478298:SP} in the bumper (17:30). I’ve never ridden for the trainer before, but the horse has run twice in Ireland, finishing third and fourth.

He’s got some experience and I’m sure they’re not bringing him over for a day out. It’s a competitive bumper, but hopefully he’ll run well.

Aintree on Sunday

I’m off to Liverpool on Sunday morning for Aintree’s first meeting of the season.

I ride Stoney Mountain for Henry Daly in the opening maiden hurdle (12:40).

He was a dual bumper winner last season and ran at the Festival in the Champion Bumper, which was a bit much for him.

I schooled him this week and he was very good over hurdles. He’s got a good attitude and has definitely improved physically from last season. He should have a decent chance.

My next ride is Lygon Rock for Henry (14:45) in the handicap hurdle. He won on his last start at Ludlow in May and he’s a big, strong horse.

He had a wind operation in the summer which should bring about some improvement. Henry’s horses are in great form and off 10st9lbs I think he’s a well-handicapped horse.

I don’t have a ride in the big race of the day, the Old Roan Chase (15:00), but Cloudy Dream looks the obvious one on his first start for Donald McCain.

He’s generally found one or two too good, but Aintree will suit him and he’s only an eight-year-old.

I’m on Polydora for Tom Lacey in the novice handicap chase (15:35). This will be his first time over fences, but I schooled him at home the other day and he jumped nicely.

He was very consistent over hurdles last season and should take to fences well.

Drovers Lane won well at Hereford last time and he could be the one we have to beat.

My final ride of a busy weekend is Teme Spirit in the mares’ bumper (16:10) for Henry. She was second on debut at Bangor back in May and we were pleasantly surprised how she ran that day.

She has improved for a summer off and we’d be very hopeful that she can run well. She must have a strong each-way chance.

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Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.

Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.