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Richard Johnson Betway blog: Cheltenham, Presenting Percy

28 Jan | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson Betway blog: Cheltenham, Presenting Percy

The champion jockey reflects on his rides at Cheltenham on Saturday and discusses the main threat to Native River in the Gold Cup.

Brewin’Upastorm fine after Cheltenham fall

It was very frustrating that Brewin’Upastorm came down at the last in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Trial on Saturday.

He’d jumped really well up to that point and just didn’t get high enough. He was absolutely fine afterwards and that’s the main thing.

We’ll never know what would have happened, but I felt there was plenty left in the tank and he was picking up again coming to the flight.

If he was tired he would have stayed on the ground for a few seconds but he got straight back up which is a good sign. We know he stays well and I’m sure it would have been a close run thing.

Olly Murphy says he seems absolutely fine and whether he has another run or goes straight to the Ballymore, we’ll have to see.

I wouldn’t be worried if he went straight there, he’s got enough experience and is man enough for Cheltenham.

Ideally, we wouldn’t have made the running on Saturday but we knew after Newbury that a falsely run race wouldn’t suit, so we let him enjoy himself from the front.

Although it’s disappointing that we didn’t win, he showed that he’s one of the best novices around and definitely up to that grade.

On the whole he’s a very good jumper, so let’s hope he doesn’t make a mistake like that again.

My other Cheltenham rides

Azzerti was unlucky in the novices’ handicap chase. It took him a while to get into his rhythm, but he was getting back into the race when the horse in front came across him and knocked him down three out.

He didn’t do anything wrong and Alan King says he’s fine which is great. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on for the future.

I was happier with War Sound than I was last time. At the top of the hill I thought he’d run a big race, but he just didn’t really get home.

We were chatting afterwards and he’s never really run well at Cheltenham before so I don’t think you’ll see him at the Festival.

His best form has been on flatter tracks like Aintree and Haydock so we’ll probably look at somewhere like that next for him.

Flashing Glance ran really well in the closing handicap hurdle. He’s a very tough and enthusiastic little horse.

The winner was obviously very well treated, he came by me like a racing car!

We were pleased with Flashing Glance, though, and I’m sure he’ll get his head in front in a handicap soon.

Gold Cup picture taking shape

Frodon loves it round Cheltenham and it was another good performance from him in the Cotswold Chase.

He did look like he was tiring a little late on, with Elegant Escape closing on him at the line, but he could do no more than win and I’m sure he’ll go to the Gold Cup with a live chance.

There will be a strong pace in March and that will suit Native River. I know he stay forever and you need that extra yard of stamina to win a Gold Cup. It’s always a truly run race and it looks like I’ll have some company up front.

I’m sure Presenting Percy’s connections were delighted with him at Gowran Park last week. It had been a while since we’d seen him and his form from last year’s RSA was very good.

Pat Kelly is obviously a very good trainer, he always seems to know how to get him right on the big day. I think the Stayers’ Hurdle is definitely the route they should take!

You have to have massive respect for Presenting Percy, he’s the one I fear most but Native River has been there and done it. Like I’ve said before, I’d never swap him for anything else.

Paisley Park very impressive

Paisley Park was very good in the Cleeve Hurdle. He’s a horse on the upgrade and is going the right way. The Stayers’ Hurdle is all about staying and the further he went the further he went clear.

You love to see a horse pricking his ears going to the last. It shows they’re not tired and have plenty left in the locker.

He’s beaten the best of the British and the Irish are the only ones I could see beating him.

Go Conquer could be one for the Grand National

I was impressed with Go Conquer at Doncaster. He jumped really well, settled nicely and got the job done. It was a taking performance and I’m sure they’ll look at the Grand National now.

He’s obviously a decent horse, although he’s been a bit in-and-out in the past. He should go to Aintree with every chance.

I’m hoping I’ll be on Rock The Kasbah in the race. He’s very well at home and has just been having a bit of a mid-season break.

His form from Cheltenham earlier in the season has worked out well and it looks like we’ll head straight to Aintree as he’s always gone well fresh in the past.

Umndeni an exciting horse for the future

Saturday was frustrating but it was nice to get a winner on the board at Fontwell on Sunday with Umndeni. It was a bit different to a fortnight ago when we didn’t even get to the start line!

I think it’s a fairly decent level of form as the second Birds Of Prey is rated 128. We’ll probably look at another novice next under a penalty before stepping him up in grade.

We’ve always thought a lot of him, but he’s just been a bit of a slow learner. We’ll go slowly with him for now but he’s an exciting horse for the future.

Over to Ireland on Sunday

I schooled La Bague Au Roi on Friday morning and all went well. There’s nothing too complicated about her and we’re really happy with her.

Warren Greatrex’s horses are in very good form and let’s hope she can run well in the Grade One novice chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.

{ODDSBANNER:353472829:2/1:Paisley Park to win the 2019 Stayers Hurdle}

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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.