Richard Johnson: Why I was very happy with Native River
The champion jockey reflects on all of his weekend rides, including three winners, and explains why he was encouraged by defeat in the Betfair Chase.
On the whole, we were very happy with Native River’s performance at Haydock. It was his first run back after the Gold Cup in March and he jumped fantastically.
He travelled well, but I don’t think the ground really suited him. It was still a very encouraging start to the season.
He lost little in defeat and it bodes well going forward, especially on softer ground and stiffer tracks.
You had to be impressed by Bristol De Mai who is a top-quality staying chaser.
He jumped and travelled throughout and there were no hard luck stories, we were simply beaten by the best horse on the day.
There aren’t an awful lot of options, but the King George at Kempton looks likely to be Native River’s next race.
Hopefully we get a good amount of rain over the month or so because, with a bit of cut in the ground, he has to be a big player.
Rest of Haydock
Black Mischief showed a great attitude to win the handicap hurdle considering we got outpaced turning in.
Once he jumped the last, he really battled on well to win and his stamina coming to the fore.
It was a very nice prize to win and it was obviously great to get a winner for Harry Fry. He’s a horse that clearly has plenty of ability.
I was glad to see Bishop’s Road return to some of his old form. He looks to be on a competitive mark now and is going in the right direction.
Hopefully he’ll be getting his head in front sooner rather than later.
Exeter on Sunday
Vango De Vaige got my day off to a good start on Sunday.
He ran really well over course and distance on his first start of the season, so I was pretty hopeful he’d come on from that.
The horse stays well and is suited by soft ground which means he’s definitely one to keep an eye on over the winter.
The same could be said for Monbeg Gold, who is back in decent form after a couple of setbacks.
It always nice to ride a winner for Jonjo O’Neill and it should give the horse plenty of confidence as the season goes on.
I think Tobefair will be seen at his best on some slightly softer ground.
We didn’t go very fast which didn’t really suit him and if you look at all his wins over hurdles, they all came in competitive staying handicaps.
I’m sure he’ll be more competitive once he gets conditions more to his liking.
The forecast rain will definitely help Thomas Patrick at Newbury on Saturday.
I’m going over to Tom Lacey's on Wednesday to sit on him and from everything I’ve heard he’s come out of the Sandown race really well.
I was very happy with him that day and hopefully we get his conditions.
He’s had an ideal preparation and providing the ground is on the slower side, he goes there with a very strong chance.
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