Richard Johnson: Imperial Presence my best chance of the day
The champion jockey assesses all his Wednesday rides at the Cheltenham April meeting after taking a few days to recover from a heavy fall at Ayr.
Good to be back after Friday’s fall
It’s been a quiet few days for me as I’ve been taking things easy since falling at Ayr on Friday.
The way the horse fell, he kicked me as well as falling on top of me which completely knocked the stuffing out of me. I felt pretty sore afterwards, though while it was a heavy fall, nothing was broken which was obviously a relief.
I wouldn’t have been much use to anyone on Saturday, so I took the weekend off and am feeling much better now. There’s a good two-day card at Cheltenham to look forward to and it’s good to be getting back into the swing of things.
It’s the last trip to Cheltenham of the season for us on Wednesday and Thursday. The Festival was disappointing from a personal perspective, but, on the whole, the course has been good to us over the past year.
I’ve got some good rides to come over the two days and whatever time of the year it is, it’s always nice to ride winners at Cheltenham.
My first ride of the day is Cotswold Way in the novices’ hurdle (14:05).
I’ve only ridden him once before as Micheal Nolan is usually on board, but he’s been in great form this year and his last run at Taunton was the best performance of his career.
His best form is on good ground, so Wednesday’s conditions should be perfect.
It’s obviously a fairly competitive race, with a few of our rivals in good form too, but I’m hopeful we go there with a good chance and with any luck he can cap off a fine season in style.
The Silver Trophy (14:40) has cut up a bit with only nine runners and I’m on Imperial Presence for Philip Hobbs.
He hasn’t run since September, but his record fresh is very good coupled with the fact he’ll love the good ground should mean he’s got a good chance.
He’s made great strides this year and he felt really well when I schooled him at Philip’s the other day.
Having not run since September, he comes here a fresh horse, which I’m hoping might give him a slight fitness edge over some of the others in the race.
Even though he’s off 150 now, he’s improved every season, so let’s hope he can do that again.
He’d probably be my best chance of a winner on Wednesday.
I’ve actually got his half-sister at home, so if anyone wants to buy her let me know!
I ride I’m A Game Changer in the handicap hurdle (15:15).
He won the last day at Newbury and he’s been settling much better in recent races which bodes well.
That win seemed to be over his optimal distance as he had been far too keen over two miles, so over 2m4f, he relaxes more and is finishing off his races better.
It’s another race that looks competitive, but he’s coming into it in good form on the back of a win.
My next ride is Bob Mahler in the novices’ handicap chase (15:50), who is another of my rides who comes here after a win last time.
He really knuckled down well that day at Newbury to get his first win over fences. He’s been a bit tricky to get right, but I thought that run was the best of his life.
Hopefully he will have got a bit of confidence from that win and I can’t see why he won’t run another big race here.
My final ride of the day is Who’s My Jockey in the handicap hurdle (16:25).
He’s a little bit quirky and you can never be quite sure which horse is going to turn up, but he won very well at Doncaster the last day.
He put in a good performance in very similar conditions to what we’ll get at Cheltenham, but winning by 10 lengths, he’s obviously been given a good hike in the weights which makes life a bit tougher.
It’s a very competitive race with the likes of First Assignment and Tobefair in there and I think he’ll probably need a career best to win off top-weight.
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