Richard Johnson: Western Ryder in good order for Cheltenham
The champion jockey reviews his weekend rides and reveals how schooling went at Warren Greatrex's yard before the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday.
It was a busy weekend, riding on both Saturday and Sunday, and it doesn’t get any quieter with the three-day November Meeting at Cheltenham just days away.
I was up at Warren Greatrex’s early this morning, schooling Western Ryder ahead of his tilt at Sunday’s Greatwood Hurdle. He ran well in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and seems in good order.
I’ve got a nice chance at Hereford on Tuesday in the shape of Ballygown Bay (1.00pm). He ran well in some good novice hurdles last season without getting his head in front and we’re really looking forward to getting him out again this year.
Sandown on Sunday
Springtown Lake did everything we hoped he would in the 2m4f novices’ chase at Sandown and will hopefully come on for that run too.
He did it well and showed a really good attitude. He’s a very honest, straightforward horse and hopefully going forward he will definitely get three miles.
Whether that’s next time or not we’ll have to wait and see. There’s a very valuable three-mile handicap hurdle at Haydock in a couple of weeks’ time which could be an option for him.
He was a good novice hurdler last year and is now a winner over fences so he has plenty of options.
Thomas Patrick was just caught late to finish second in the Listed Future Stars Chase but I couldn’t have been happier with him. He showed good heart and will improve for the run.
He’s a very big horse, is still only a six-year-old and is definitely on the upgrade.
Fingers crossed we get lots of rain before Newbury because I think he’d go there for the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase with a massive chance. The soft ground is very important to him.
Oakley was fifth in the maiden hurdle and will come on for that run. Obviously he made a couple of mistakes, but I’m confident there’s plenty more to come from him.
In the 20-runner handicap hurdle, Cigarisi ran well to finish sixth. Again, that was his first run of the season and we’d hope to see plenty of improvement next time out.
Wincanton on Saturday
It was a bit of recovery mission for John Constable in the Elite Hurdle to be honest.
He was well in himself and I can’t see any reason why he won’t be very competitive in some big handicap hurdles come the spring if he slides down the weights a bit more.
Verdana Blue is a very progressive mare and was going away at the line as well. She’s definitely an improver and has to be taken very seriously now.
Little Miss Poet didn’t really get the run of the race in the mares’ hurdle. She’ll hopefully come on for the run and will be suited by a truer gallop next time out.
In the Badger Ales Trophy, it was another great moment for Bryony Frost and Present Man winning the race for the second year running. He jumped and stayed well and clearly loves it round there.
I would image he’ll feature well throughout the season in a number of top staying handicap chases, with the Grand National maybe on the agenda too.
Impressed with winners in Ireland
You’d have to be impressed with Saint Calvados’ performance at Naas on Saturday, even if Footpad was a faller at the last.
As a second-season novice chaser, he could be getting better all the time and is an exciting one to follow this season.
Apple’s Jade was very impressive at Navan on Sunday. She ought to have a stellar season in Ireland again and I’m sure we’ll see her over here at some point too.
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