Richard Johnson: I have a good chance in the Eider Chase
The champion jockey previews his weekend at Newcastle and Southwell, including one ride that particularly excites him.
Back To The Thatch in the Eider Chase
I am really looking forward to riding Henry Daly’s Back To The Thatch in the Eider Chase at Newcastle (2.45pm). His horses are absolutely flying at the moment.
It’s obviously a very competitive handicap but we’re hoping he’s still on the upgrade.
He is not got as much experience as most of the others in the line-up, but he likes soft ground, which is going to be a big plus up there.
Even though he’s just a six-year-old, he ticks all the boxes for a race like this. He’s improved with every run so far and the form of his win last time at Chepstow has been franked.
I would be very surprised if he doesn’t stay the trip and we’re confident there is plenty more to come from him.
I schooled him earlier in the week and he felt great. He’s one of the main reasons we are going to Newcastle.
Off what looks a favourable mark, I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t make the frame.
There are lots of dangers in there, but you’d have to say that a number of them look pretty exposed, whereas our horse is very much still improving.
Vinnie Lewis and Hainan are two other progressive young chasers, so it promises to be a very interesting race.
Rest of my rides on Saturday at Newcastle
I kick-off with Kelka in the novices’ chase over 2m½f (2.10pm).
Ruth Jefferson’s horses are enjoying a good spell at the moment after Waiting Patiently’s win at Ascot last weekend.
Kelka won a novice hurdle on heavy ground at Newcastle last season so the testing conditions shouldn’t be a problem for her.
Getting weight from her rivals can only aid her chances and I’m hopeful she can put up a good performance. Lady Buttons looks the one to beat.
I’m on Cool Mix for Iain Jardine in the handicap hurdle (3.55pm). He’s been consistent this season, finishing in the first three on all four starts.
He won well last time and looks to have a nice weight with 10st 5lbs. He’s proven on soft ground, so I’d be hopeful there is a bit more improvement to come.
I ride Christ Grant’s Acdc for the first time in the 2m4f handicap chase (4.30pm). He won nicely at Kelso last time on heavy ground.
He is in good form, and even though it’s a competitive race, I’d like to think he has a fair chance.
My final ride of the day is Cadeyrn in the novices’ hurdle (5.05pm). He won over course and distance last time, so is another who is in good form.
His form has improved over the season, which is a sign that he’s on the upgrade. Let’s hope he can continue that progression on Saturday.
Even though it’s only a three-runner race, they all look closely matched on ratings.
Sunday at Southwell
I start my rides on Sunday with Wood Pigeon in the 2m4½f novices’ handicap chase (2.30pm).
He was second on Thursday but quickly lines up again here, so Olly Murphy must be happy with him.
He should run a big race if he turns up in similar sort of form on Sunday.
I’m then on Batallion in the novices’ hurdle (3.00pm) for Jamie Osborne.
He was a very good horse on the Flat, where he ran well in a number of good races and was rated 111 at one point.
I schooled him on Friday morning and he seems the type who will take well to jumping.
He’s entered in the Supreme at Cheltenham so he’s obviously well regarded. His run on Sunday will tell us a lot about where he is and whether or not Cheltenham is a realistic target.
It looks a fairly competitive race and it won’t be easy to win, but I’m hopeful he can put up a decent performance.
I finish the weekend with Hurricane Rita in the handicap hurdle (4.05pm). She’s back down in class here and Olly’s horses are in great form.
Her win at Fakenham on her penultimate start was encouraging so a repeat of that would see her go close.