Richard Johnson: Why I chose Wincanton over Haydock
The champion jockey previews his weekend rides, and gives his thoughts on Saturday's big races at Ascot and Haydock.
It was nice to get another winner for Henry Daly with Tara Mist at Leicester on Thursday. His horses are running really well at the moment.
She’s a nice mare and is now qualified for the series final, in which she'll hopefully have a great chance.
Wincanton on Saturday
I begin my Saturday rides with War Sound in the 2m handicap chase (2.15pm).
He didn’t quite get home over 2m4f at Cheltenham last time so we are dropping back in trip which I think will suit him well.
He is one of the main reasons I’m going to Wincanton rather than Haydock and with conditions much more in his favour, he’d be my best chance on Saturday.
I ride Flying Tiger in Wincanton’s big race of the day, the Betway Kingwell Hurdle (2.45pm).
I was lucky enough to be on him when he put in his best performance of his career when winning the Fred Winter at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, where the strong gallop really suited him.
It looks a very competitive race with the two market leaders looking like progressive types.
Nick Williams’ horses couldn’t be in much better form though, so let’s hope my horse can put up a similar performance to Cheltenham last year.
Savoy Court is my next ride in the 2m5½f handicap hurdle (3.55pm).
Warren Greatrex is another trainer in great form and this horse did it nicely over course and distance last time.
He looks like a horse who is progressing and it’s a big plus that we know he will handle the testing conditions.
I’d like to think he can step up again on what he did last time, which should mean he goes there with a strong chance.
My next ride is Allee Bleue in the 2m4f handicap chase for Philip Hobbs.
He’s been a little bit disappointing so far this season but he’s getting weight from all of the other runners.
I think that should give him a decent chance in what looks a pretty open contest.
My final ride is Pyrios in the novices’ hurdle (5.05pm).
He’s a nice young horse who is still finding his feet and if he can get it all together, which I’m hopeful he can, he has an each-way chance.
Market Rasen on Sunday
Isle Of Ewe is my first ride of the day on Sunday for Tom Lacey in the 2m2½f handicap hurdle (2.45pm).
She’s been off the track for over a year but looked progressive before that.
Tom’s horses are in good form and I’m hopeful she’ll put up a big show.
I then ride Oxford Blu for Olly Murphy in the handicap hurdle (3.15pm).
He’s been running well so far this season and he gets a weight allowance here which could prove very handy.
He should go there with a decent chance in what looks a pretty competitive race.
I’m on Ozzy Thomas in the 3m novices’ chase (3.50pm).
I’ve won a couple of times on him and his last two runs have been solid, particularly his second to Braqueur D'Or at Ludlow last time.
Dan Skelton’s horse looks the main opposition and while we’ve got a bit to find on ratings, he’s improving and I don’t think there’ll be too much between them.
I finish my book of rides with The Last Bridge (4.50pm).
It’s always nice to ride for my Mum and the horse is in good form at home.
Hopefully he can progress from his win last time and if he can, it would see him go there with a decent chance.
This looks a proper Grade One with plenty of the runners looking to have strong chances.
It’s hard to knock Top Notch , who has been incredibly consistent and never seems to run a bad race.
As you saw with Native River last weekend, Colin Tizzard’s horses are coming back to form so Cue Card must definitely come into the mix.
He looks a big price on what he’s done in the past so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race. He’s been such a star for his connections and I think everyone would really enjoy seeing him back in the winners’ enclosure.
Waiting Patiently was impressive at Kempton, and he is another who is going the right way. It would be very poignant for the Jefferson family if he were to win.
Grand National Trial
Blaklion is the favourite for this and for the Grand National which he has every right to be on what he’s done so far this season.
He clearly loves the National fences having run well in last year’s race as well as being so impressive in the Becher Chase earlier this season.
Aintree is obviously the aim but this race looks a perfect stepping stone for that.
Philip runs Three Faces West and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a big race.
He loves Haydock and if he’s allowed to dominate from the front, he could serve it up to Blaklion.