Richard Johnson: I couldn’t be happier with Rock The Kasbah
The champion jockey reflects on a successful weekend at Newbury, and gives us the latest on preparations for his first Grand National ride in three years.
Rock The Kasbah on track for the Grand National
I don’t have any rides at Wincanton today, but I went to Exeter to give Rock The Kasbah a racecourse gallop this morning. We galloped around two miles and all went well, we couldn’t be happier with him.
He hasn’t run since December, so it was good to give him a day out and a bit of a pipe-opener. He felt really well and it’s now just a case of keeping him ticking over until a week on Saturday.
The forecast looks good for him. I’m sure they’ll water to make it good-to-soft, which will be perfect. He just wouldn’t want a bog.
He has always run well fresh and we’ve targeted him at the National ever since he won at Cheltenham in November.
He will have a nice racing weight and if he can reproduce his form from November he must have a great chance. Philip Hobbs' horses are in very good form which is a bonus.
I haven’t had a ride in the race for the past couple of years. I’ve ridden in it a lot and if I’m going to take a ride I want to do it on a horse that has a good chance.
You obviously never know how they will take to the fences until they try them but there’s no reason why he won’t. He’s a very good jumper and stays well. Everything points to this being the right race for him.
Tiger Roll was very impressive at Cheltenham and you’d have to fancy him again on the back of that run. He does have to carry a bit more weight than last year, though.
Nice double at Newbury on Saturday
It was good to get another couple of winners on the board at Newbury on Saturday following on from Friday’s double.
The Knot Is Tied was good in the juvenile handicap hurdle. He travelled nicely and did everything well. It was a long run after the last, but he stuck his head out and battled on well.
He definitely appreciated the step up in trip and he seemed to like the decent ground. It was a nice prize to pick up and I’m sure Neil King will look for another handicap over a similar trip.
We were very pleased with Gala Ball in the handicap chase, he jumped nicely. He had run really well a few weeks ago after a long layoff and you never know how they’re going to follow up.
The ground was as quick as he would want. He has always been a talented horse and unless we get some rain, that may be it for the season. There should still be some good days ahead for him on softer ground.
Strong Pursuit was also having his second start after an injury layoff and he just never seemed comfortable.
He is a horse that gives himself quite a hard time, he’s quite flamboyant. He probably did bounce a bit from his first run and he’ll also need it to rain if he’s to run again this season.
Perfect send off for Noel
It was fitting for Noel Fehily to go out winning the bumper on Get In The Queue, everyone was pleased to see him finish on a high.
I wish him all the best, he’s been a brilliant jockey and a good friend. I look forward to catching up with him, he’s already got plenty of things in the pipeline and he’s not going to be stuck for things to do.
He was on my left in the weighing room near the door, so Tom Scudamore is a peg closer to me now. The door is getting closer for all of them!
Where you sit is based on when you started, it doesn’t matter how many winners you’ve ridden. I can’t really get any closer to the door!
Newbury on Friday
It was nice to start the weekend with a couple of winners at Newbury on Friday.
Bob Mahler is a bit of a character but it all went right for him. I had quite a straightforward ride which you don’t always have with him.
I thought Zanza showed a really good attitude in the handicap hurdle. He doesn’t mind good ground and settled better in the hood.
It was a nice performance and Philip may well look to step him up in trip on decent ground. He’s a promising horse for the future and is still on the upgrade.
Exeter on Sunday
Things didn’t really go to plan for the first few races at Exeter, but Pileon put in a taking performance to win the bumper.
He was very straightforward and had a bit of experience having run well in a couple of point-to-points.
He looks to have a nice future and will be one to look forward to novice hurdling next season, most likely over a trip.
Next couple of weeks
It’s a fairly quiet week this week. Philip is getting close to his 100th winner of the season and things have gone well for the yard over the last fortnight or so.
I’m also getting closer to 200 winners, which would obviously be nice to achieve again before the end of April.
We’ll then all be heading up to Aintree a week on Thursday. Hopefully Brewin’upastorm will go there and Philip should have plenty of runners as well.
The plan is to take La Bague Au Roi there for either the two and a half or three mile novice chase. I’d imagine if the forecast is correct, we’ll go for the longer race.
Warren Greatrex seems happy with her and it’s nice that she’s had a quietish time after Ireland. I hope to school her later this week and it’s great that the form worked out so well at Cheltenham.
Visit Betway's horse racing betting page.