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Richard Johnson Betway blog: Ultragold in the Grand National

14 Jan | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson Betway blog: Ultragold in the Grand National

The champion jockey reflects on all his weekend rides at Warwick and Kelso, and explains why he thinks Ultragold has a big chance at Aintree in April.

Warwick on Saturday

It was a bit of a disappointing day at Warwick, starting with Movie Legend who ran well again in the two-mile handicap chase without getting his nose in front.

He was just tapped for toe coming round the home bend but stayed on well to finish second. I’m sure he’ll be winning soon.

Tidal Flow didn’t run his race at all in the Grade 2 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle. Thankfully, he was absolutely fine afterwards and I’d expect him to bounce back.

Ultragold ran well in the Classic Chase but always seems to run better over the National fences at Aintree, so I think the plan would be to head there in April.

You certainly wouldn’t put it past him running a big race in the Grand National.

Lastly, the ground probably wasn’t quite soft enough for Holy Bush Henry in the Pertemps Qualifier. He’ll be much more at home once the rain arrives.

Kelso on Sunday

I rode Encore Champs on his racecourse debut back in May, so it was great to be back on board and winning on Sunday. He put in a nice performance and clearly enjoys the good ground.

I thought he showed a good attitude from the second last to get his head back in front.

He’s definitely a horse who didn’t show his best form on his last run, but has managed to get back to winning ways and could get two-and-a-half miles in time, too.

Prince Charmin’ hadn’t gone over hurdles for some time and was taken off his feet a little bit early on in the two-mile handicap hurdle.

For a minute, I thought I might have got to the winner jumping the last, but he managed to find a little bit more when I got close.

He’ll appreciate a step up in trip next time and is probably one for the spring now.

Top Of The Charts ran a much better race than his previous two starts over hurdles. He’s still a horse learning his job and will be seen at his best when he gets into the handicaps.

Groundunderrepair jumped okay but the ground was much too quick for him. He loves soft ground and will be looking to get his head in front again once the rain comes.

Jonjo O’Neill Jnr landing the Lanzarote

Jonjo is a very nice young lad and, having had a couple of nasty falls in the last 18 months, it’s great to see him having of plenty of success again and winning a big handicap like the Lanzarote Hurdle.

He’s doing his job on the track very well and is a jockey that we’ll be seeing a lot of for a long time to come. He’s very good value for his claim and I’m sure he’s got a big future.

Also down at Kempton, Top Notch’s win in the Listed chase at Kempton was about the best performance of the weekend in my eyes, and you’d have to think the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham looks like the right type of race for him.

He’s a very likeable little horse who very rarely runs a bad race.

Shoes debate

I believe the question of whether horses should have to be shod on all four hooves is more of a Flat issue.

When horses are taking sharp bends at speed on fast summer ground we’ve seen before that they can slip, but I don’t think it’s much of an issue for jumps racing.

Shoes are there to give horses grip more than anything else, but on softer ground during the National Hunt season you don’t really have that problem, so it’s certainly more of a issue for trainers and jockeys on the Flat.

Hopefully the BHA and all parties involved will come to the right decision.

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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.