It’s the final day of the UK jumps season at Sandown on Saturday as the title race goes to the wire.
One thing’s for sure though is that it will be a day for the calculator and Paul Nicholls is still in the driving seat.
Does my wrist injury make me feel like a bit of a ‘spare’? Maybe, but I’m still at the yard observing and offering advice. Depending on what the surgeon says about my injured wrist on Saturday, I might even head over to see how it all plays out. Apart from anything else, it’s a cracking day’s action.
I’m disappointed that I can’t ride any of ours as the season reaches its climax and just hope everything we send runs to its potential because we’ll have a fighting chance then.
If not, we won’t. Simples.
Is it fun? It’s more fun when you’re winning!
I don’t think there’s the same day-in, day-out pressure that you have when preparing horses for the big Christmas festival, Cheltenham, Fairyhouse, Aintree & Punchestown.
The targets you set yourself here have to be reached in order to achieve that final goal.
The trainers’ championship is different. It has evolved over the course of the season because we’ve hit our targets at these points along the road.
Holds the aces
We’re optimistic that we can overhaul Paul’s lead but realistically he holds all the aces.
Every horse – bar our own of course – is effectively running for the Nicholls’ yard this weekend if his lead is still intact by then.
If Paul’s runners don’t win, there’s plenty of other stables who can prevent us winning enough prize money to overtake him.
And even if we win some races, Paul can cushion the blow by taking second and third-place prizemoney to stay ahead. Whether he’s in front by £100k or £100 come 5.55pm on Saturday doesn’t matter. He’ll still have won.
We don’t have that luxury. For us it’s win or bust.
Paul had an unbelievable day at Ayr last Saturday (and Sunday) with his four-timer and winning the big prizes made all the difference in turning around what most people thought was an unbridgeable gap.
Willie’s already said he may have to pull off a four-timer of his own at Sandown to win this and the plan is to send over some pretty strong ammunition.
There’s a few of them who have double entries at the moment but we’ll be sending Valseur Lido who looks like he has a great chance in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase while Vroum Vroum Mag could take her chance in the Select Hurdle (4.45pm).
She’s stepping out of mares’ company for the first time to take on the boys and as we saw with Limini at Aintree it’s not just a case of the Cheltenham winners turning up.
This is a different test for Vroum Vroum Mag but she’s much older and more experienced than Limini so I don’t think taking on the boys will be as big an issue for her.
Un De Sceaux didn’t given his true running at Cheltenham for whatever reason. Maybe the ground was a little quick, maybe he didn’t like been taken on for the lead by Special Tiara. I’d expect a better show from him this time.
But Sprinter Sacre beat him well in the Champion Chase and looked back to his best. It looks a match between them on Champion Chase form as Special Tiara waits for Punchestown and whoever comes out of Cheltenham best should be the winner here.