Richard Johnson: Garde La Victoire can go one better this year
In his exclusive column, the champion jockey reviews a busy weekend of racing and looks ahead to the Haldon Gold Cup.
Uttoxeter on Friday
It was great to get a couple of winners on the board after a frustrating week.
Both Who’s My Jockey and Tara Mist got the job done on Friday.
They have come out of their races really well and hopefully both will progress nicely as the season goes on.
Wetherby on Saturday
La Bague Au Roi was very good on Saturday.
I was slightly concerned that two miles would be on the short side, but she showed a really good attitude after being headed two out.
That confirmed that two-and-a-half miles is her optimum trip and I would imagine she would stay over hurdles.
There are a lot of valuable mares' races to come and it’s nice to kick off with a Listed win. She’s an exciting mare with a bright future.
Missed Approach faded towards the end of the race on his comeback and he will go back over fences where he is much happier.
The target is Newbury and with any luck the bigger obstacles will bring out a bit of improvement from him.
Charlie Hall Chase
I rode Village Vic in the big race on Saturday.
Unfortunately, he never quite felt himself and just isn’t showing his old spark at the moment.
He’s come out of the race fine, and we need to find out where is best to go with him next.
I was very impressed with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai.
I know a lot of people will point to both Coneygree and Cue Card not delivering, but I wouldn’t take much away from the winner. He jumped really well and on soft ground he’s very good.
It looks like all roads lead to Haydock now and he could prove very tough to beat if the ground comes up similar to Wetherby, especially with Nigel’s horse in such good form.
Coneygree’s early mistake put him out of his rhythm and in such a high quality race, Nico was definitely right to pull the horse up.
He didn’t look as slick and as confident as he usually does, but hopefully the injury isn’t anything major and he’ll back soon.
I also wouldn’t write off Cue Card despite his fall.
He struggled in the race last year and then went on to win at Haydock.
The horse is as tough as old boots and on that ground, you can forgive any horse for making a mistake.
Carlisle on Sunday
It was clear that Westend Story needed the run at Carlisle.
He jumped nicely and I thought I’d win three out. He just got tired towards the end, but I definitely think he’s a horse to keep on the right side.
I’m sure he will be winning soon.
Haldon Gold Cup, Exeter on Tuesday
I ride Garde La Victoire in the Haldon Gold Cup and I can’t wait to get back on him.
We’ve been very happy with him since Auteuil and this race has always been the plan.
The stiff two miles will suit him really well and on ground that’s ideal, he must go there with a great chance.
He was only beaten a short-head in this race 12 months ago so we’re all hoping he can go one better.
I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be easy, though, as it looks a very strong renewal with the likes of Ar Mad, Politologue and Forest Bihan all lining up.
They all bring some decent form into the race but I’m very happy with our horse.
I think he will have really benefited from that first run, while a few of the others are making their seasonal reappearance.
Ar Mad should guarantee a strongly run race which would suit my horse so fingers crossed.
I was extremely sad to hear of the passing of Mary Reveley. She did amazing things over the jumps and on the flat as a trainer and will be a big loss to the racing world.
My thoughts and condolences are with her family.