Despite the 12 months I’ve had with injuries, I didn’t see any of the results over Christmas as disappointments – I was just delighted to be there.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d have loved Getabird to have jumped the last with momentum, for Footpad to have stayed in front, if Faugheen had stood up and gave Apple’s Jade a race and Bacardys to have cleared the last and galloped to the line.
Of course, it’s easy with hindsight to say all of that.
But I’m looking forward to riding Faugheen, Footpad, Melon, Bellshill and all those horses next time, now most of them have had a run under their belt.
I’m taking the positives out of things as we start 2019, with more to look forward too than regrets to look back on.
Clan rules in King George
Clan Des Obeaux was a very good winner of the King George VI Chase. They went a really strong gallop and Gold Cup winner Native River just got outpaced from the word ‘go’. He was always behind the bridle, which was always going to be a worry for him around Kempton.
I wouldn’t write him off for a repeat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup though, where the track, the trip and possibly any softer ground will be more in his favour.
The eventual second Thistlecrack jumped far better than he did at Haydock and probably gave his true running which gives Clan Des Obeaux’s victory a lot of merit.
He’s definitely a worthy contender now in an open-looking Gold Cup year.
He’s beaten the best in England and has just turned seven.
He was totally in control of the race down the straight, jumped the last couple of fences really well and put the race to bed quickly from the back of the last.
It was some feat by Paul Nicholls, to train 10 King George winners. That’s a fair record to have on your CV.
I always rated Might Bite – but he has a lot of questions to answer now.
Bristol de Mai brought down Waiting Patiently so early robbed us of another angle, but Politologue just didn’t quite get home.
Buveur’s defeat a little up in D’Air
He made a mistake at the wrong time, the third last. He didn’t have much time to recover and to me he looked to be struggling turning in for home.
He wasn’t travelling with the zest that he did at Newcastle or last year’s Champion Hurdle.
Maybe it was a mistake, maybe it was an off day, but I wouldn’t be writing him off.
He’s still the one to beat in the Champion Hurdle for me.
Faultless Footpad just got tired
It all went really well for Footpad – apart from the result.
He travelled and jumped superbly and looked like the Footpad we all saw last year, but just ran out of petrol half-way up the run in.
He flew the last fence but he was only gone five strides and I could feel him emptying beneath me.
That’s not Footpad.
He’s won over 2m 4f, we know he stays well, he just got tired and that was disappointing.
However, the season is still ahead of him and I was delighted with the way he jumped and the way he travelled. He’ll improve from it.
Altior is pure box office
Altior is the superstar in racing and racing needs horses like him.
He’s box office. He’s a remarkable racehorse, he’s ultra-consistent and ultra-professional. He was brilliant at Kempton – even better than he was on his reappearance at Sandown.
Racing needs Altior but it also needs horses lining up to take him on.
Faugheen will fight back
Faugheen jumped and travelled. Apple’s Jade was going along in front and I was following her, waiting to have a race down the straight but he just caught the second last and that was it.
When I rolled off I looked back and I feared the worst for a couple of seconds. I was delighted when I got back to him and he rolled over and was ok. To see him getting up was my Christmas present.
But that’s racing, it was too early to say what would’ve happened. I don’t know if he was going to pick up and give Apple’s Jade a race of it or not.
I hadn’t even put my foot on the accelerator to see what was in the tank.
I hadn’t asked him any questions up until that point so I’m none the wiser.
Kem is some boy
David Mullins gave Kemboy a brilliant ride to win the Savills Chase. He got into a great rhythm and he quickened up and was in control from a long way out.
Kemboy deserves real credit because going to the last fence I thought I had a real chance of getting to him, but from being only two lengths in front he ended up winning seven and a half lengths. It was a very taking performance from the just tuned seven-year-old – a bit like Clan Des Obeaux in the King George.
I was happy with Belshill. He just needed the run and fitness told in the end. A bit more rain and more give in the ground will definitly suit him next time. He’ll be a different proposition for the Irish Gold Cup.
Sharjah took it all in his stride
Sharjah won a tactical race in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle. There wasn’t that strong of a gallop and my mount Melon made a terrible mistake down the back straight and never really got back on the bridle after that.
He did run on well, looked to be finishing a bad fifth, ended up fourth and was gaining all the way to the line. However, the winner deserves credit. He travelled well and quickened up and put the race to bed in five strides.
Samcro was very disappointing again. He didn’t even keep going which was worrying and it looks like his season is over now and he’ll go novice chasing next year.
Supasundae stayed on well for second to prove how versatile he is.
Getabird should’ve won but novices make mistakes
It was just unfortunate for Getabird that his mistake came at the last and not somewhere else. From the way he jumped up to that point, I most certainly didn’t expect him to take an extra half a stride and let Hardline get by me to win.
I wanted him off the ground a half a stride earlier than when he took off.
That being said, when I rallied back the last 50 yards, I wasn’t getting any closer. I was unlucky and if I pinged the last he would’ve won, but novices make mistakes and unfortunately he just made it at the wrong fence. When it’s the last in a race it’s hard to regain momentum.
Bacardys hits the rocks again
I don’t know why Bacardys fell.
His record is pretty average over fences. He took a very similar fall to the one he took with Patrick Mullins last March. He got the right height, he didn’t get too high behind, he just never put out his front legs.
You’d think when they bang their head once they’d remember to put out their feet, but he obviously hasn’t remembered.
Ones to note for the future …
Aramon quickened really well from the back of the last to win at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
Sir Eric and Tiger Tap Tap looked two really good juveniles earlier on that card and were a long way clear of the third horse Nibiru. It was a good contest.
Champ was excellent in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury and Espoir D’allen was very good too at Limerick when beating Stormy Ireland.
Klassical Dream did it well in the opening maiden hurdle on St Stephen’s Day against some big names. Hopefully, he’ll improve a bit from it.
Our talking horse Annamix was disappointing but he just looked rusty. He’s been off the track for a long time, he raced a bit keen and he got tired. He’ll have to up his game considerably next time out.