Richard Johnson: Defi Du Seuil looks ready for Leopardstown
The champion jockey previews his weekend rides, including the Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday afternoon.
Looking back on the week
Springtown Lake did what he had to do at Leicester on Wednesday.
Obviously it was only a two-runner race, but he showed he's well and we can now look ahead to the spring meetings with him.
Whether it’s Cheltenham or the EBF Final at Sandown, he’s definitely a horse to look forward to.
Horses like him hopefully show that Philip Hobbs' yard is going in the right direction.
Leopardstown on Saturday
I’m flying over to Ireland on Saturday for two rides at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Leopardstown is a lovely track. I haven’t ridden there an awful lot but it’s great to be part of this festival which is a great idea.
They have put a big effort into it and the quality of racing over the two days is fantastic.
There’s been a lot made of the fact that British trainers aren’t sending their horses over there, but the key thing is having the right horse.
If you don’t have the right horse, there’s no point in sending them and everyone is focusing at this time of year on the big spring festivals. That’s where everyone normally meets.
I can’t wait to be back on Defi Du Seuil in the Irish Champion Hurdle (3.30pm).
He felt fantastic and was really well in himself when I schooled him a couple of weeks ago.
Philip wouldn’t have sent him to Ireland unless he felt he had a good chance, so let’s hope he can show his form from last year.
Melon looks to be the most solid of those we are up against. His run behind My Tent Or Yours and The New One at Cheltenham was a good performance.
Obviously if Faugheen is back to somewhere near his best, he will be very tough to beat, but he does have a number of questions to answer after his poor run last time.
Defi Du Seuil was the leading juvenile this side of the Irish Sea last year and Saturday’s race will tell us if he is a genuine Champion Hurdle contender.
He has showed all the signs at home that he is back to his old self, so if he can jump and travel the way he did last year, he shouldn’t be far away.
In the Coral Hurdle (4.05pm) I ride Master of Irony for John Quinn.
I won on him two starts ago at Wetherby where he jumped and travelled really nicely.
He ran well in a slowly run race at Newbury last time, which didn’t really suit him.
You’d expect the race on Saturday to be run at a much quicker gallop which should play to his strengths.
It’s a wide open race but with a bit of luck he should be in the mix. I’d like to think he’s got a good each-way chance.
Irish Gold Cup
The big race on Sunday is the Irish Gold Cup and it looks very competitive.
If Our Duke is back to the form he showed at the end of last season he will be very hard to beat.
Killultagh Vic is the one who is the slight unknown quantity having been off the track so long before he won over hurdles on his reappearance.
Like a number in the line-up, if he could step up on what he did last time, he would definitely be in with a chance.
Taunton on Sunday
I kick-off my rides on Sunday with Great Lover in the novices’ hurdle (1.05pm).
He has been a bit too keen on his first two runs, but hopefully he can improve on what he’s done so far and can be a horse for the future.
I ride Bradford Bridge in the handicap hurdle (1.40pm) who is reverting back to hurdles after starting the season over fences.
He is relatively unexposed so I’d hope there is a bit more improvement to come from him. He has an each-way chance in an open race.
In the handicap hurdle (2.50pm) I’m on Mahlervous for Warren Greatrex.
He’s a nice horse who won on his first start over hurdles at Southwell before running well at Haydock last time.
That was a fairly strong race, so let’s hope he goes well in this handicap. I’d say he’s my best chance of the day.
My final ride is Private Malone in the handicap chase (3.25pm). He’s talented and definitely has a chance if he can put it all together.
On his best form he’d have a strong chance, so hopefully he’s in that sort of mood on Sunday.
Malcom Jefferson and Willie Codd
I was very sad to hear about Malcolm Jefferson. He was a top class trainer and enjoyed lots of success over the years. My thoughts are with his family.
It was also very upsetting to hear about Willie Codd passing away at such a young age. Again, my condolences to all his friends and family.