Richard Johnson: I'm confident as can be in Rock The Kasbah
The champion jockey fancies his chances of defending his Welsh Grand National crown, and rounds up the rest of his Christmas rides.
It’s a bit of a quiet weekend for me before the busy Christmas period.
I’m heading up to Haydock for the one ride on Saturday, but it’s a good one and Philip [Hobbs] will have more runners out next week.
Haydock on Saturday
I’m on Three Faces West in the Tommy Whittle (2.45pm) and it has to be a plus that he’s got course form. He was very impressive when he won here last season.
I was pleased with his return at Cheltenham, he ran a decent race. He’ll definitely handle the ground and the drop back to 2m 7f won’t be a problem.
The only issue is that he has to carry top weight, which won’t be easy in bad conditions.
I schooled him on Thursday morning and he seemed very well. He was progressive last season and goes there with a decent chance.
Long Walk Hurdle
I beat Unowhatimeanharry on Beer Goggles in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month and I hope he wins on Saturday to frank the form.
He’s not really on a recovery mission, but I know they were a little disappointed he didn’t win last time. He’s definitely the one to beat, but it’s not going to be easy for him.
Lil Rockerfeller is really gutsy and there was no fluke about his win here last month. The step up in trip will suit and he’s had the perfect preparation. At the prices, he could be the better value of the two.
Sam Spinner is the unknown quantity. He was very impressive at Haydock, but this is a big step up in class.
Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle
It’s interesting that Barry [Geraghty] has decided to ride Bleu Et Rouge over Charli Parcs. He would have had the choice and he’s a pretty good judge.
Hunters Call definitely has a squeak. Olly Murphy has waited for this race and he’s booked Jack Kennedy to come over and ride him.
This has definitely been the plan and Olly thinks if there’s improvement in the horse, it would be nice to use it on the right day.
Wetherby on Boxing Day
It looks like I’ll be going up to Wetherby on Boxing Day and hopefully I’ll be on Aloomomo in the Rowland Meyrick Chase (2.10pm).
He’s due to carry 10st 4lbs at the moment, but the weights look like they’ll go up a few pounds. I won’t be complaining, as it will mean I can have an extra helping of turkey on Christmas Day!
He had a nasty fall on his last chase start at Cheltenham a year ago, so he’s been kept to hurdles for his two runs so far this season.
I schooled him on Friday morning at Warren’s [Greatrex] yard and he popped over the fences really nicely.
Although he hasn’t managed to win yet this campaign, he’s run well. On his old form and the weight he’s got, you’d like to think he has a great chance.
I should also be on Petticoat Tails in the opening mares’ novices’ hurdle (12.00pm).
She was a very decent mare in bumpers last year and I wouldn’t read too much into her defeat at Wincanton on her first hurdles start.
The ground was very hard work and sticky, and hopefully conditions will be better at Wetherby. I’m sure you’ll see a better mare on Boxing Day.
The King George looks a really interesting race. If you look at the replay from last year, Thistlecrack really was hugely impressive.
I’d love to see him bounce back to his best, but there’s a question mark after his run at Newbury.
Might Bite was quirky last season, but he made the perfect reappearance at Sandown. He jumped smoothly and looked really straightforward.
He would have bolted up in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase 12 months ago if he hadn’t fallen at the last and he looks the most likely winner to me.
I’m a big fan of Bristol De Mai, but he’d definitely prefer a lot more rain.
Welsh Grand National
It was fantastic to win the Welsh National (2.50pm) last year with Native River and I’ll be hoping to follow up at Chepstow on Wednesday.
Rock The Kasbah is a slightly different type, but in these races you need a horse still on the upgrade.
He won really well on his first start of the season in October. We could have run him in between then and now, but we wanted to bring him here fresh and well.
I schooled him on Thursday morning and he felt in great order. Conditions should suit and he absolutely loves Chepstow.
I’m as confident as you can be in a race like this. He’s a second season novice and hopefully we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
It’s been a good week with a few winners and I’m looking forward to a busy festive period after spending some time with the family.
I went ice skating with the kids on Thursday night, that was probably the most dangerous thing I’ve done all week!
I haven’t managed to get all my presents yet, so you might see me running around Hereford on Christmas Eve in a late dash to get it all sorted.
I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.