I’d like to wish all the followers of this column a Happy New Year.
I’m riding tomorrow so didn’t start off 2019 as wild as some – the job comes first!
Hopefully my self-control will result in a win aboard Dark Alliance at Wolverhampton.
He was so unlucky not to strike at the track on Boxing Day – I got boxed in a bit on the rail at a crucial moment and we could never quite get to the winner.
However, it was great to see him back in top form and he should go very close this time provided he gets a clearer run.
He goes there in great form and all the team at the yard are happy with him, so here’s hoping.
Away from the all-weather, Cheltenham hosts a quality card today and Dad’s got a few runners with decent chances.
Give Me A Copper makes his return in the 2.00, a Grade 3 over an extended two-and-a-half miles.
He’s a horse we think a lot of and was last seen winning nicely in a novice chase at Kempton in November 2017.
Unfortunately he picked up a tendon injury that day and hasn’t been seen since, so it’s not going to be an easy task.
However, he’s schooled well and if he finished in the first four or five we’d be over the moon.
On the Hunt
I got to ride Pacha Du Polder with the local hunt yesterday afternoon, and it was great to give the old boy a spin.
He was joined by both Present Man and Southfield Vic.
We jumped a few obstacles and had a great day out, so hopefully we can do it again in the future.
Present Man is likely to have his next run at Taunton on January 19.
Dad runs Chameron in the 2.35, a Class 2 handicap hurdle over three miles.
His last two stars have seen him fall and then unseat which is such a shame as he has a massive engine.
We’ve schooled him loads of times but for whatever reason he’s just not put it together.
He’s going back over hurdles today to try and give him a confidence booster and we just want him to get a clear round – anything more would be a bonus.
The Eaglehaslanded also goes in the race and we’re going to ride him a little more patiently as he didn’t quite get home last time.
He really likes this track but probably got to the front too soon last time out.
He’s been dropped to 129 so looks well-handicapped having previously been a winner off 132 and we’re hoping for a good run.
Old Guard has been running out of his skin this season and deserves to win the Relkeel Hurdle at 3.10.
The two-and-a-half mile trip will suit him much better than the two miles he ran over last time and he has really solid form in the context of this race.
One to watch…
A filly I’m a massive fan of is a three year old by Camelot called Miranda.
She was a smart horse on the Flat with a rating of 89, so clearly brings lots of potential now going over hurdles.
She loves her work and has got a lot about her. I’ve ridden her plenty, and hopefully she can pick up some races in the near future.
Expect to see her plying her trade in both spheres, and I’m hoping to ride her when she returns to the level.
He finished second behind If The Cap Fits at Ascot on his penultimate start, who’s since gone on to frank the form.
Favourite Wholestone is a good horse and if he bounces back from his flop last time then he’ll be tough to beat, but I wouldn’t swap our fellow.
Over at Exeter, Cliffs Of Dover takes his chance in the 1.15.
I’m lucky enough to ride him at home every day, so know him better than anyone.
He’s come out of his last race at Doncaster in good form and is definitely getting his head back in the zone.
This is probably weaker than that race and considering he’s rated much higher than his nearest rival, i’d be hopeful of a big performance.
He saw out two miles well on the Flat so this longer trip over hurdles should help him and I reckon he’s capable of winning off his current mark of 136.
Dutch Uncle wasn’t as easy as it looked!
A few of the Twitterati were commenting after my win aboard Dutch Uncle on Friday that anyone could have ridden him to win.
However, it wasn’t as easy as it looked as he’s wise to the game and doesn’t tend to find a lot off the bridle.
Yes, on the ratings he should have won but if I’d started riding him properly then he may well have curled up.
The race played into my hands nicely and now that he’s got the win hopefully his confidence will be up next time.
Credit must go to Olly Murphy too, who’s done a cracking job getting him back to form.
Greaneteen goes in the 1.50 and should come on from his British debut at Sandown last time.
He’s only had one start for us after finishing third in France so we don’t know a massive amount about him, but he’d had a long time off and got bogged down a bit in the very heavy ground that day.
He didn’t disgrace himself at all by coming sixth but we’re expecting a much improved run today.
Mister Timmytucks is our final runner of the day in the bumper at the end of the card.
He’s a brother to Master Tommytucker, who’s a horse we think an awful lot of, and just like him he’s a big, scopey type.
Hopefully he can run a nice race but he’s got a large frame to fill and will probably come on for the run. This is a nice starting point.