Richard Johnson: Sandown third wasn't a disaster for Lalor
The champion jockey reflects upon Saturday's disappointing result, but remains positive about the novice's Cheltenham chances.
Lalor at Sandown
While it was disappointing not to win on Lalor on Saturday, it was by no means disastrous as I still felt he put in a great display to finish third.
It was very testing out there and he just didn’t act as well as we usually see in the conditions. It was tough going up the hill but he still got himself in a great position and jumped brilliantly again throughout.
He has come out of the race perfectly fine and I am sure we will see him in better light on a better surface. He will get a rest now before probably heading to Doncaster in January where the ground will hopefully be better.
One horse who certainly didn’t have any issues with the ground at the weekend was Altior who once again proved what an amazing horse he is.
Every time Nico de Boinville asked him a question he responded magnificently and just kept on finding more and more.
I know a tilt at the King George has been mooted, but for me I’d leave him at two miles. He is already a superstar and the best around at that trip and I am sure he can win plenty more races at that distance.
Nicky Henderson will no doubt look to get another run in before Cheltenham but I wouldn’t be concerned were he to go straight there as he is a master of getting and keeping horses at their prime fitness.
It was also great to see James Best land the Becher Handicap Chase over at Aintree on Walk In The Mill.
James is a jockey I know well from Phillip Hobbs’ yard and he really deserves it. He’s a very hard-working man and it’s great to see him land a nice prize like that.
My other Sandown rides
Lalor wasn’t the only horse of mine to struggle with conditions. Zanza was travelling really well, only to struggle as we were about to put an effort in after the final bend.
He was well beaten by Nicky Henderson’s I Can’t Explain and he looks a nice sort. But I would expect to see more from Zanza in better conditions and he will have learnt a lot from that run.
Ice Cool Champs was never able to land a challenge as he too found the conditions all too much, as did I’m A Game Changer who looked a threat turning in but then failed to mount a challenge.
Huntingdon on Sunday
I was really looking forward to riding Brewin’ Upastorm at Huntingdon and he duly obliged to win by four lengths.
He was impeded three out but had the speed on the flat to pull away and I would expect more to come from him.
It was nice to see what he could do and I am sure connections will be looking forward to winning bigger races with him.
My only other ride on Sunday was on Dalkadam who has once again ran well without winning.
The winner has done so by six lengths in the end but the second, third and fourth were all bunched and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win soon.
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