Richard Johnson: Noel's last day will be sad for weighing room
The champion jockey runs through his rides at Newbury on Saturday and Exeter on Sunday, and reveals the latest plan for Native River at Aintree.
Newbury on Saturday
My first ride at Newbury on Saturday is Strong Pursuit in the 3m2f handicap chase (13:45).
He came back from a long lay-off to run really well at Sandown last month and it was great to have him back and in good order.
He will strip much fitter for that and has been working really nicely at home.
I know connections thought a lot of him before his lay-off and you’d have to think he has a good chance.
The Knot Is Tied has been in really good form without managing to win of late and goes in the 2m3f handicap hurdle (14:40).
He’s found one too good on each of his previous three appearances but hasn’t run a bad race.
It’s his first run in a handicap and you’d think he would have a decent chance for trainer Neil King.
Millarville goes in the Grade 2 mares’ final (15:15) and it’s very competitive as you would expect.
She has run well on her last two starts, winning at Fontwell in January then finishing third there last month.
It’s a big field with plenty of dangers but she looks a nice one and has a chance.
Like Strong Pursuit, Gala Ball is another who ran really well last time out after a long lay-off.
He runs in the 2m4f handicap chase (15:50) and is a really nice consistent horse.
If he can reproduce his run last time out, then he will certainly go close.
The valuable Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper (17:00) marks a sad day for the weighing room as it’s Noel Fehily’s last in the saddle.
He looks to have a good chance of victory on Harry Fry’s Get In The Queue.
Of course it would be nice to see him bow out with a winner, but all the jockeys in the weighing room will want to beat him.
I ride Ben Buie for Martin Keighley and he looks a really nice horse.
You would have to say he disappointed a bit last time at Southwell having finished second on debut at Ascot.
But the yard are among the winners and it would be no surprise to see him bounce right back.
Exeter on Sunday
Halloween Harry is a very likeable horse and he’s my first ride of the day at Exeter on Sunday.
He goes in the 2m7f handicap hurdle (14:40) having run consistently without placing of late.
The ground and conditions look fine and with Philip Hobbs' horses in such fine form he could grab a place.
Next up is Ebony Gale, again for Philip in the 2m2f handicap hurdle (15:15)
He finished first and then second in two really good runs at Leicester and Exeter in December and January.
He struggled to land a blow at Newbury last time out but is running well and should go close.
For Good Measure goes in the three miles handicap chase (16:20). He’s been a little bit disappointing but the handicapper certainly isn’t giving him a chance.
This track will suit him and he stays well, so hopefully he can get competitive in what looks a strong race.
My final ride of the weekend comes on Pileon in the bumper (17:25).
He comes from the Irish point-to-point scene and looks a nice recruit.
It’s difficult to know exactly where we are with him because he is still learning. He’s doing everything we ask of him at home and will hopefully go well.
Native River set for Aintree
Native River ran a good race in defeat in the Gold Cup when finishing fourth and connections were chuffed to have him back.
I think even softer ground would have helped, but he’s come out of the race brilliantly and looks happy and well within himself.
Attentions could now turn to Aintree with the Betway Bowl a potential target.
Obviously it will depend if he gets his preferred conditions but it’s definitely an option.
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