Richard Johnson: Jammin Masters my best ride of the weekend
The champion jockey runs through all of his rides at Chepstow on Saturday and Fontwell on Sunday, and gives the latest on his Cheltenham preparations.
Cheltenham is just over two weeks away now, but the action continues to come thick and fast. It has been a busy few days for me as I have ridden at a number of tracks a long way away from my farm – so I have certainly been building up the mileage!
Chepstow on Saturday
I’m off to Chepstow on Saturday where I have six rides.
First up is Melchior King in the handicap hurdle (13:55) for Philip Hobbs.
He was very disappointing at the start of the season at both Wincanton and Newbury, but the penny dropped last time out at Chepstow and you would hope he can continue to progress.
It’s a competitive race and I don’t think the handicapper has been overly lenient, but he’s showed he has the form and hopefully he can run well again.
My second ride of the day comes on McNamaras Band in the maiden hurdle (14:30).
He is another from Philip Hobbs' yard and got the job done on debut in a Worcester bumper in June.
Unfortunately he stumbled when running a really good race when last seen in November. He was just getting his act together and I think he would have been placed at least.
It’s another competitive race, but a similar run would put him right up there and he has a good each-way chance.
Jammin Masters looks my best chance of a winner when he goes in the novices’ chase (15:05).
He has finished second on each of his previous three appearances and is just a really consistent horse.
One of those performances came behind Count Meribel who has since won at Cheltenham, which is a nice boost to his form and he is my best ride of the day.
There’s only four horses entered but to be honest I think you can put a line through two of them as Nicky Henderson’s Chef Des Obeaux looks the main danger.
He unseated when favourite on his last appearance and I think it’s probably between the two of us.
Samburu Shujaa runs in the handicap hurdle at 15:40. He has been consistent all season and got his head in front at Chepstow last month.
It’s not an overly lenient mark but he is unexposed and hopefully has more to give.
I ride Beau Bay for Dr Richard Newland in the handicap chase (16:15).
He was well beaten at Doncaster on his last start and will need to bounce back to form to feature.
He won nicely at Wetherby prior to that so hopefully he can run to a similar level here. A lot of it depends on how many other improvers are hidden in the field.
My final ride on Saturday’s card comes on Kavanaghs Corner for Simon Earle in the handicap chase (16:50).
He has finished in the places on each of his last six races so he's clearly a genuine horse.
We haven’t seen him since December but he looks to have a fair each-way chance.
Fontwell on Sunday
Just the two rides for me on Sunday but I am really looking forward to getting on Zafar in the novices’ hurdle.
He has finished second at both Taunton and Ascot this season, which were both decent efforts.
He gets all the weight allowances and hopefully puts in a big performance before attentions turn to the Fred Winter. He’s my best ride on Sunday.
Prior to that I ride Fight Commander in the handicap chase (13:50).
He made a modest start for Olly Murphy last time out and we just felt he needed a little more time.
Olly has given him a couple of months off the track and hopefully he will return to action in good form in what looks an open race.
Countdown to Cheltenham
Lalor is having a racecourse gallop at Exeter on Saturday morning as Kayley Woollacott looks to get him ready for the Festival.
I will also school him down at Philip’s yard next week, so fingers crossed everything goes to plan with him and it’s nice and straight forward.
When it gets this close to Cheltenham it’s just nice to keep horses ticking over and making sure their daily routines don’t change too much.
Obviously you can’t wrap horses in cotton wool but it’s good to protect them as best we can.
I also sat on Brewin'upastorm and Thomas Darby at Olly’s earlier this week and they seemed in good form. There’s no reason to believe either won’t have solid chances at the Festival. Those three, as well as Native River, are all horses I’m looking forward to riding at Cheltenham.
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