Richard Johnson: Little Miss Poet boasts a fighting chance
The champion jockey weighs up all his weekend rides at Wincanton on Saturday and Sandown on Sunday, and reveals which is his best chance of a winner.
Wincanton on Saturday
There is plenty of rain forecast on Friday night and let’s hope we get it because it’s been good-to-firm at Wincanton for quite some time, which is just too hard for most National Hunt horses.
I’ve got five rides on Saturday’s card and kick things of with Melchior King in the opening novices’ hurdle (12.40pm).
He’s a horse we like but we didn’t really see the best of him last season like a few of Philip’s Hobbs. Hopefully he can run a nice race progress during the season.
I hope Little Miss Poet has got a decent chance in the mares’ handicap hurdle (1.50pm). She finished off last season nicely, winning here at Wincanton in May.
I schooled her the other day and she has definitely done well for a summer break. She comes into this in good heart and I think there is still some room for improvement. I’d say she’d be my best chance of a winner on Saturday.
John Constable takes his chance in the Elite Hurdle (3.00pm) and he’s a very good horse on his day. He was very impressive when he won the Swinton Hurdle last year.
He was quite highly tried last season, but he was a very good Flat horse back in the day. Evan Williams’ horses are in good form, but realistically he’d probably need a career best to win this as he’s quite high in the handicap.
It looks like a good race with the likes of Verdana Blue, We Have a Dream and If The Cap Fits.
I rode Kings Lad at Ascot last Saturday and he reappears quickly in the Badger Ales Chase (3.35pm). He got a little tapped for toe at Ascot but he ran on well at the end.
He’s no spring chicken, but he’s come out of the race in good form and there’s no reason not to run him. He likes good ground so he’d be one that wouldn’t want too much rain. He should have a decent each-way chance.
It’s always difficult to weigh up bumpers, but Espion (4.10pm) goes nicely at home and this will be his first run on the track. Let’s hope he can start his career in a positive light.
Sandown on Sunday
It’s going to be a busy day for me at Sandown with six rides and first up is Springtown Lake in the novices’ limited handicap chase over 2m4f (1.15pm).
This will be his first start over fences, but he’s schooled really nicely at home and he put up some very solid runs last season. His second behind On The Blind Side here was top class form.
I’d be very hopeful we can get his season off to a good start and he must go there with every chance.
It’s nice to start him off over this trip, there’s plenty of time to step up in distance if we feel we need to. I don’t think he’ll have any problem with three miles.
Oakley (1.50pm) ran in a couple of bumpers at the back end of last season and shaped nicely. He’s sure to have matured for the summer break and I hope he can run well on his first start over hurdles.
I’m really excited to be getting back on Thomas Patrick in the Future Stars Chase (2.20pm). There are only four runners, but they very decent ones and there’s not a lot between them on ratings.
My only worry is if the ground is soft enough for my horse, as it’s a case of the softer the better for him.
Tom’s Lacey plan is to go to Newbury after this and it’s always good to get in some match practice. He’s only a six-year-old, so ideally you’d want to give him a run before putting him in such a tough race.
It really was incredible what he did last season. He started off in novice hurdles and ended up winning a big handicap at the Aintree Festival. I see no reason why he won’t improve again this season, we just need some rain.
There’s a huge field in the handicap hurdle (2.55pm) and I’m on Cigarisi for Philip. He’s a nice horse that showed plenty of promise last season but like many of his, we didn’t get to see the best of him in the second half of the campaign.
This is a very competitive race but hopefully he’ll run well and he looks to have an each-way chance.
I’ve spoken many times before about what a good initiative the veterans’ series is and Pete The Feat will try to win the race named after him aged 14 (3.25pm).
I’m on a slightly younger contender in Flaming Charmer who’s a horse I’ve won on before. He’s very game and straightforward and although I wouldn’t say he’s well-handicapped, he should run well.
Smarty Wild is having the first start of his life in the bumper (4.00pm). He’s a nice young horse who will learn plenty from this and hopefully he’ll show us some promise for the future.
Thrilled with La Bague Au Roi
La Bague Au Roi was very good at Newbury on Thursday on her first start over fences. We half thought about going chasing with her last year, but after Wetherby we decided to stay over hurdles and I think that extra year has done her the world of good.
It rode like a very good race. We didn’t go crazy quick, just increased the pace as the race went on. All the horses were of a reasonable standard and the right four finished in the places.
We were very pleased with the way it turned out, she couldn’t have done any more than she did.
I’d say 2m4f is the right trip for her for now. She’s a big strong mare and we have no problem taking on the boys like we did on Thursday. You get the mares’ allowance which always helps.
She had quite a high mark over hurdles and after this performance you’d have to think there’s a good chance she’ll be as good if not better over fences. She’s an exciting prospect.
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