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Richard Johnson: Tolworth a good target for Western Ryder

18 Dec | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Johnson: Tolworth a good target for Western Ryder

In his exclusive column, the champion jockey reflects on his his weekend rides at Cheltenham and Southwell, plus Douvan and the Caspian Caviar.

Cheltenham on Friday 

Western Ryder seems to have worked it all out now and he impressed me with the way he did it in the novices’ hurdle. 

The race wasn’t really run to suit him and the way he picked up showed that he’s a smart novice with a bright future. 

He will be stepped up in grade now and the Tolworth at Sandown in early January looks like a good target. 

Two miles on soft ground should be tailor-made for him and the form of Friday’s win looks solid with the likes of Lalor in behind, who I rode to win a decent bumper at Aintree in the spring. 

Hopefully he comes out of the race well and he can continue to progress throughout the season. 

The ground on Friday wasn’t quite soft enough for Shantou Bob, but he finished the race very well and in more testing conditions I’d like to think he’ll have a decent chance in a big handicap soon. 

Cheltenham on Saturday 

I was pleased with the way Knockgraffon ran in the handicap chase. He just got a little bit outpaced, so a step up in trip on a slightly softer surface should suit him well next time out. 

I was hopeful of finishing among the places on Copper Kay when we jumped the last but she didn’t find anything for me up the hill. 

She’s becoming a little bit frustrating because we all know she’s a talented mare, but at the moment she’s just not showing her old spark and is running a bit flat. 

Hopefully we can get her back on song soon because I’m confident she’s got a decent win in her.

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup 

Guitar Pete won the race well but obviously it changed dramatically after two out where Starchitect looked well on top. 

It was an awful thing to happened and my thoughts are with all of the connections.

The Rooneys put a lot into racing and your heart goes out to them, as well as the Pipes, Tom Scu and the lads and lasses that looked after him at home. 

He was a lovely horse and it’s always very sad when something like this happens. 

The International 

I thought The New One ran a hell of a race behind My Tent Or Yours, giving him 6lbs. 

Nicky Henderson’s horse has been a credit to his connections and more than deserved to get his head in front in one of these big races. It’s amazing to think he’s been second in the last three Champion Hurdles. 

Melon travelled well, but just got done by these two old boys who have loads of experience and have been there and done it. 

The scene when the three horses jumped the last together really picked up the mood of the crowd and it was just what was needed after the low of the previous race. 

Southwell on Sunday 

Article Fifty ran a bit green on Sunday but I think he’ll have learnt a lot from that. 

I’d be hopeful he’ll improve hugely for his next run and I think he’s a horse with a bright future. 


It’s always sad to see these big horses out injured but you’ve got to put their welfare first. 

Let’s hope they can get Douvan back in tip-top form next season. He’s only a seven-year-old and he’s such a talented horse that you have to give him all the time he needs.