Richard Johnson: Ready to bounce back from Cheltenham
The champion jockey recaps a disappointing week at Cheltenham and looks ahead to his weekend of rides at Uttoxeter and Ffos Las.
Native River was never really travelling like we know he can in the Gold Cup. I had to start riding him earlier than normal and he was just a bit sluggish.
To be fair to the horse, he stayed on well up the hill to finish fourth. He’s very gutsy, it just wasn’t to be.
It’s obviously disappointing not to ride a winner at the Festival. Olly’s Murphy two horses, Thomas Darby and Brewin’upastorm, both ran great races and we were also very pleased with Thyme Hill in the bumper.
It’s such a hard place to have winners, but I was delighted for Philip Hobbs and the team when Defi Du Seuil won the JLT on Thursday.
I’ve still had a great season and there is plenty to look forward to over the next few weeks.
Uttoxeter on Saturday
I have six rides at Uttoxeter on Saturday and my first is Polydora in the novices’ handicap chase (14:25).
He won nicely at Newcastle and then ran okay but was beaten a fairly long way at Newbury last time.
I think the handicapper was quite harsh on him, as he went up 11lbs for his win at Newcastle. That’s his biggest problem. He definitely has an each-way chance but the handicapper might have just got him.
This will be my first time riding Buckhorn Timothy in the three mile handicap hurdle (15:00).
He won well on his reappearance at Ffos Las in November and didn’t run too badly at Exeter last month.
The return to a softer surface will suit, although he is another who might be in the grip of the handicapper.
The big race of the day is the Midlands Grand National (15:35) and I’m looking forward to getting back on Back To The Thatch for Henry Daly.
He was travelling really well in the Eider last year when he came down. He loves soft ground and has to go left-handed.
He stays really well, hopefully he ticks all the right boxes for the race. I think he’s got a great chance.
The horse to beat is Folsom Blue. I rode him last time and he’ll love the conditions.
I go from Back To The Thatch to Back On The Lash in the 16:10. I won on him at Ludlow, he’s a nice horse. I’d just be a bit worried about the soft ground for him, though.
I ride Hope’s Wishes for Barry Brennan in the mares’ handicap hurdle (17:20). She’s a daughter of Kayf Tara so will love the ground, as she showed when winning at Plumpton two starts back.
It was probably too quick for her at Musselburgh last time and hopefully she can show her true form back on soft ground in what doesn’t look the greatest of races.
My final ride of the day is Jackson Hill in the bumper (17:50) for Warren Greatrex. He’s had a couple of starts this season and this is his first run after a wind operation.
He’s the most experienced in the field and let’s hope he can use that to his advantage.
Ffos Las on Sunday
I’m off to Ffos Las for two rides on Sunday.
First up is Sparkling River for Henry Oliver in the three mile handicap chase (16:10) who I won a handicap hurdle on at Warwick a couple of years ago.
She fell last time at Newcastle, so hopefully she’s none the worse for that and her confidence hasn’t been knocked. Henry Oliver is a very good trainer, he knows his horses very well and he wouldn’t be running her if she wasn’t in top form.
My final ride of the week is Pileon in the bumper (17:20) for Philip. He’s run well in two Irish point-to-points and should stay well.
You’ll need to do that here and that should stand him in good stead.
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