Richard Johnson: Sandown should suit Western Ryder perfectly
The champion jockey previews his many weekend rides and reveals the horse he thinks could go well at a big price in the Welsh Grand National.
It was frustrating to drive all the way up to Doncaster on Friday, only to hear that Wetherby had been abandoned.
It’s a shame for all concerned, but these things happen and the safety of the horses is the most important thing.
I was pleased to get back into the swing of things with a winner at Ludlow on Wednesday and I’m feeling much better after my fall.
I spent some nice time with the family during the break, helping the kids with their ponies, but it’s great to be back.
Welsh Grand National
Unfortunately, Rock The Kasbah doesn’t take his chance in the rearranged Welsh Grand National.
The ground is going to be desperate at Chepstow on Saturday and we've never thought the horse was an absolute slogger.
He would have been carrying 11st 10lbs and we felt the sensible thing was to wait for slightly better ground.
There are a couple of alternatives, including the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in a couple of weeks, which we will look at.
He’s only a second-season novice so you’d like to think there will be plenty of other decent long-distance handicaps to aim at later in the season.
Of the others entered in the race, I think Kerry Lee’s Alfie Spinner could go well at a big price.
I rode him last time at Chepstow and he ran a really solid race. He’s got a low weight and I can honestly say that he will absolutely love the ground.
He’s getting on a bit, but his price looks very big for a horse who will thrive on the deep ground.
Sandown on Saturday
My first ride of the day is Glorvina in the juvenile hurdle (12.15pm).
Like at Chepstow, the ground is going to be very testing, and she has form on a soft surface.
She will need to step up a bit on what she’s done so far but hopefully she can.
I’m on Poppy Kay in what looks an open mares’ hurdle (12.45pm).
I thought she ran really well at Newbury last time behind High Bridge and the step up in trip to two-and-a-half miles should suit her.
She has form on heavy ground and, with there being little between them on ratings, I’m hopeful she can go well.
In the big race of the day, the Tolworth Hurdle (2.25pm), I ride Western Ryder for Warren [Greatrex].
I was impressed with him at Cheltenham on his last start and, if he can reproduce that sort of form, he must have a leading chance.
We have spoken about going up in trip with him, so two miles on heavy ground at Sandown should suit him perfectly
Kalashnikov looks the main danger, but the way Western Ryder stayed on up the hill last time really impressed me and I wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race.
In the veterans’ chase (3.00pm) I ride Fox Appeal for Emma Lavelle.
These races are always really popular with plenty of old stagers lining up and my ride is no different.
He has been a great servant to his connections and he ran really well at Leicester last time.
I just hope the ground doesn’t get too sticky as I don’t think that would play to his strengths.
My final ride of the day is Drops Of Jupitor in the handicap hurdle (3.35pm).
She won a novice hurdle at Exeter last time in fine style on a similar surface to what we will encounter on Saturday.
She still looks to be unexposed and hopefully she can continue to improve and put a up a solid performance.
Plumpton on Sunday
I kick off with Flemenskill in the novices’ hurdle (1.35pm).
He was very disappointing at Aintree last time but hopefully we can put a line through that run.
If he can reproduce his bumper form from last season, he will have a great chance.
I ride Whispering Harry in the handicap chase (3.10pm) for Henry Oliver, whose horses are in good form.
It looks a wide-open renewal and he should appreciate the testing ground.
If he can bounce back to his best form, he would have solid claims.
I cap off Sunday’s rides with Landscape in the handicap hurdle (3.45pm).
He ran well last time at Plumpton a couple of weeks ago and seems to have turned a corner.
Hopefully he can continue to progress and put up a good show.