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Richard Johnson: Cheltenham April meeting Thursday ride

17 Apr | BY Richard Johnson | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson: Cheltenham April meeting Thursday ride

The champion jockey assesses all his Thursday rides at the Cheltenham April meeting, including his best chance of a winner for Philip Hobbs.

Cheltenham hosts its final fixture on Thursday and it’s a card solely for mares.

They have made a big effort to support the mares’ division by hosting cards such as this one and I’m fully in support. It’s great for the breeding industry as well as racing that they are supporting it.

I’ve got four nice rides to look forward to so hopefully we can leave Cheltenham for the final time this year with a winner or two.

Cheltenham Thursday

I start the day on Little Miss Poet for Philip Hobbs in the novices’ handicap chase (14:40).

She’s a very straightforward mare who has taken well to fences and has been in good form recently, with two seconds and a win at Ludlow.

She has actually already gone into foal, but I still think she goes there with a decent chance in what looks a competitive race.

Mares tend to be in foal for about 11 months and she is only in the very early stages of her pregnancy. If she were a human, she wouldn’t even know she was in foal yet.

On some occasions, it can calm mares down a bit, so I don’t see it being a negative for her.

This has been the aim for her for a while, so she’d probably be my best chance of a winner.

My next ride is Henry Daly’s Chilli Filli in the handicap hurdle (15:15).

Her best performance came on good ground at Ludlow last year, so she should relish the underfoot conditions.

I think she’s off a competitive mark and although it’s another competitive race, I’d like to think she goes there with a strong each-way chance.

She’s not really a winter filly, and we’ve been waiting for the better ground, so we’re hopeful that this is her time of the year.

In the handicap chase (16:55) I ride Pique Rock, again for Henry.

She won nicely a week ago at Huntingdon, which was her third win of the season and her first over fences.

Like Little Miss Poet, she’s a very uncomplicated ride who jumps nicely, which should stand her in good stead here.

With only six runners, plenty will feel that they have a chance of winning this, and we’re certainly one of those.

She’s come out of her last race well, so hopefully she can take another step forward and get herself involved on ground she’ll enjoy.

My final ride is Singapore Saga in the bumper (17:30).

This will be her racecourse debut, but she goes nicely at home.

With it being her first start you can never be quite sure what to expect, though on her homework I’d be fairly confident she could go there and do herself justice.

She wouldn’t be without a hope for sure.


I’ll actually be heading back to Cheltenham on Friday as my 10-year-old daughter Willow is riding in her first pony race.

Luckily there’s no racing on that day, so the whole family are going up to support and watch her.

With any luck her Dad will have taught her a thing or two about riding!

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Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.

Richard Johnson

Four-time champion jump jockey who is second on the all-time list for most National Hunt winners in the UK.