Wetherby, 27th December
My first ride on Monday is Lakota Warrior in the novice hurdle (12.25). He won over course and distance last time, we’ve always liked him, and it was good to see him win nicely. He’s got the penalty, but we’ve always thought he’s a nice horse. He’s been good since his last run and we’d be very hopeful of a decent show. There are no negatives.
Midnight River goes for the novice handicap chase (13.00). It was a bit of a building run the last day after he’d taken a heavy fall at Carlisle the time before. He’d been schooling well at home before that, so it was a bit odd to see what he did at Carlisle. He’s done lots of work since and we know on his day he has a big engine. The most important thing, though, is getting a nice clear round. I’ll try to ride him from the front, let him bowl along and get a good view of his fences.
Eclair D’Ainay seems in good form ahead of the Castleford Handicap Chase (14.15). Two miles on softer ground will suit him. Last time at Newbury he slipped away from the start and made a bad mistake down the back. He dropped away very quickly after that and something clearly wasn’t right on the day. You can put a line through that run and on his best form he’s got a good each-way chance off his low mark. We hope he can be competitive.
I ride Grey Dawning in the bumper (15.20). He’s a really nice horse by Flemensfirth, but he’s very much a baby and one for the future. He’s shown us the right attitude at home and has done plenty of work. We’d be hopeful he’ll run well here even though it would be a tall order to win first time out. Horses by Flemensfirth tend to improve with age, and when they meet some obstacles, and we’d expect the same with him.
Chepstow, 27th December
Bridget goes down to Chepstow and rides Getaround in the three-mile handicap chase (15.25). He ran okay a couple of times this season and, to be honest, I think we made too much use of him last time at Ascot. He’s a proper galloper at home which is why we’ve ridden him prominently. This time we’ll give him more of a lead so hopefully he can see his race out. We feel he’s on a competitive mark and hopefully he can run well.
Rocky Man takes his chance in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle (13.40). He ran fairly well at Cheltenham last time and made a nice debut over course and distance when second to Magistrato in the autumn. He should run well but it will tough to see him winning what is always a very good race.
We don’t have a runner in the Welsh Grand National (14.50) but it will be an interesting race to watch. As always, there are loads of horses with chances, like last year’s winner Secret Reprieve, and Highland Hunter, who was very good at Sandown last time. The Big Dog comes over from Ireland and he could be interesting but if I could pick one horse to ride it would be Native River. I know he’s nearly 12, but he’s a brilliant horse and he was a very good winner of this race in 2016. He’s the class horse in the race and it would be great if he could win it.