Richard Johnson: Western Ryder could go for County Hurdle
The champion jockey reflects on his weekend at Haydock and Exeter, and discusses a potential Cheltenham target for Warren Greatrex's seven-year-old.
Haydock on Saturday
Western Ryder ran his usual decent race in the Champion Hurdle Trial, picking up some more prize money. Haydock is a really sharp track these days, especially with the lack of rain we’ve had this winter. It was a strongly run race and turning in they picked up again.
He’ll be better suited to a slightly stiffer track and I’d have thought the County Hurdle at Cheltenham will be the plan for him. He certainly didn’t disgrace himself at all and a stiffer test will be more up his street.
I hope there’s a nice prize in him this season, but he’s maturing all the time and I’m really looking forward to him over fences next season.
Robinsfirth ran really well in the Peter Marsh Chase, especially considering he’d been off the track for over a year. I was struggling a bit down the back straight and I thought our chance was gone when he made a mistake four out but he rallied really well.
He's a bit of a fragile horse, but hopefully there’s a decent staying handicap chase in him. Something like the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham or the Midlands National could be a good target for him and he should have every chance of going well again.
The ground wasn’t soft enough for Flashjack in the staying handicap hurdle, but I thought he still ran really well to finish fifth not beaten far.
He hasn’t had his conditions yet this season and when the heavens eventually open he’ll have a great chance.
A nice double at Exeter
You’re never pleased to hear someone isn’t feeling well and it was a shame for Sam Waley-Cohen that he couldn’t ride Printing Dollars.
She won a bumper in November and ran well on her next two starts, so she deserved to get her head in front. She showed a very good attitude and I’m sure she could pick up a similar kind of prize next time.
Young Lieutenant ran okay on his first start for Warren Greatrex a few weeks ago, but he definitely improved for that. I really liked his attitude, he put his head down and did it nicely.
He’s another who could win a similar contest under a penalty and he’s definitely a horse to look forward to for novice hurdles next season.
We’re getting to the point with the bumper horses now that you’re thinking about next season as much as anything. That stops people talking about me retiring as well!
Altior in a league of his own
Altior looked like he was doing it in a hack canter at Ascot. I know some people said he jumped to the left, but he’s just in a different league to the other two mile chasers.
It was always going to be hard for Fox Norton after such a long absence. He’s a top class horse, he was just beaten by an absolutely brilliant one.
Amazing sit by Michael Sweeney
Well done to Michael Sweeney for an amazing sit on Ask Heather at Killeagh point-to-point on Sunday, anyone would have been pleased with that.
It will be seen all over the world now and it’s something he will always remember. Just to stay on was fantastic, but to then win the race was incredible.
I’m sure there will be plenty of people looking to buy the mare now!
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