Richard Johnson: Rock The Kasbah is the horse to beat
The champion jockey previews his Friday rides at Cheltenham, including one horse he won on just last month.
It may not quite live up to the excitement of the Festival, but there aren’t many better places to ride than at Cheltenham so any meeting here is special.
I have four rides on Friday and my best chance is probably Rock The Kasbah in the 3m2f handicap chase (14:30) for Philip Hobbs.
He is a horse I know well having won on him at the track last month. I was impressed with how he stayed on under pressure and the step up in trip won’t be a problem.
His Cheltenham form is impressive, so we decided this was a better option for him than the Becher Chase on very soft ground last weekend.
The main danger is probably the handicapper, but the drying ground is a positive and he should take all the beating.
I start off on Magic Dancer for Kerry Lee in the handicap hurdle (13:20).
He is another with good form at the track having won twice and finished second once on his three visits here.
He has failed to land a blow on his last two starts, but let’s hope the return to Cheltenham will see him improve. If he does, he will have a decent each-way chance.
I’m on Synopsis for Gordon Elliott in the mares’ handicap chase (13:55). She looks to have a good chance in what looks an open and competitive race.
She should have each-way claims, but my only concern is the ground might be drying out too quick for her.
Her best form has come on soft.
The biggest danger in the race is probably Henry Daly’s Black Tulip, who has been knocking on the door without winning recently.
I ride the consistent Lygon Rock for Henry in the closing 3m handicap hurdle (15:40). He looks to hold a chance if he can build on his latest run.
He was a fair eighth at the November meeting last season, but finished in the top three six times before that.
He can certainly be competitive off this mark, but would be vulnerable if one or two are better handicapped.
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