It was great to pass 100 winners mark for the season during the week.
I set the target of getting the ‘ton up’ at the start of the season and the two main factors in achieving it was avoiding injuries and the yards that I mainly ride for have kept up their strike-rate all season.
When you’ve riding freelance it particular that kind of support justifies slogging up and down the motorways and the cold, dark mornings on the gallops, a million miles from the likes of the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.
Trainers Harry Fry and Neil Mulholland have provided about 60 of my winners between them and my association with Silviniaco Conti and Paul Nicholls is a huge plus too.
Speaking of which ….
I ride Art Mauresque for the Ditcheat stable in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury (3.25pm) on Saturday who has a great chance of finishing in the places at least.
He ran well just to finish outside the places in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last November, having won at the track the month before and they expected him to improve again in the following month’s December Gold Cup. But he got stuck in the mud and never really got into a challenging position.
Spring to it
He hasn’t run since then and with the word ‘good’ starting to appear in the going descriptions for the first time in a long while, better spring ground will definitely help his cause.
He’s a progressive young chaser who’s returning to action after a nice break and I’m hopeful of a big run.
The one he may have most to fear is stable-mate Sametegal. When you factor in Harry Cobden’s 7lb claim it means we’re conceding 8lbs to him and he’s been knocking on the door with two seconds at Cheltenham (to More of That) and Musselburgh.
It’s very open race with Colin Tizzad and Paddy Brennan looking for another Saturday success with recent Wincanton winner Ultragold, who steps up in trip, course and distance winner Little Jon and last season’s Grand National fifth Shutthefrontdoor getting another run in before the Aintree Grand National next month.
I should get a good spin off Shuil Royale in the veterans’ race (2.15pm) earlier on Newbury’s card. I won the Summer Cup on him at Uttoxeter over a similar trip and he’s now slipped back to just above his winning mark in his three runs since June.
The ground is the key to his chance and if it continues to dry out he could give the likes of consistent performer Pete The Feat a fair bit to think about.
At the other end of the spectrum, I ride a nice five-year-old bumper horse Bags Groove for Harry Fry in the finale.
He steps up to two miles after winning at Huntingdon over 1m 5f (where I was third on Alan King’s Zipple Back) and he shouldn’t be too far away on Saturday.
Meanwhile at Doncaster a few Grand National entries run in the 3m 2f Grimthorpe Chase at 3.45pm. The Druids Nephew was cantering in the Aintree showpiece last year until falling four out but he really needs good ground to show his best – and the forecast at Doncaster is mixed.
He’s a completely different horse when he gets ground conditions in his favour.
Charlie Longsdon’s Drop Out Joe looks progressive and has won two on the spin while the ultra-consistent The Last Samuri runs for the first time since December ahead of a probable tilt at the Grand National.