A busy day at Newbury where my first ride is Elle Est Belle in the mares’ novices’ hurdle (12:10). She ran an excellent race to be third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and had a nice run over course and distance a few weeks ago. That experience will have done her the world of good, she’s definitely taken a big step forward and a little bit of rain would definitely help. I think she’ll take a lot of beating, she’s probably my best chance on the day.
Ashtown Lad won nicely when making all at Wetherby and he should go well in this novice chase (12:40). From what we’ve seen at home he’s come on for that run, but this is a good race and it will tell us a lot more about him. The track and trip should suit.
I won the Kingwell Hurdle on Grand Sancy a couple of seasons ago and it’s nice to pick up the ride again in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (1:15). This is a really competitive race but he’s on a decent mark and he has a run under his belt which will help. He’s a classy horse on his day.
It’s great to get Ch’tibello back on the track in this handicap hurdle (1:50) – he’s been off for nearly a year. We’ve done as much as we can with him at home but he’s an old boy now. It’s going to be a tough ask off top weight and he’ll definitely come on for the run.
Unfortunately I don’t have a ride in the Ladbrokes Trophy (3:00) but I’ll be watching with interest. It’s always a really competitive race. I’ve ridden Enrilo before and I think the race will suit him, although it’s very hard to win first time up. That said if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Paul [Nicholls]. Ontheropes is the most likely winner for me. He was impressive in the Munster National last time and he was second to Monkfish last season. He could be a graded horse in a handicap.
My final ride of the day is Eclair D’Ainay in the two mile handicap chase (3:35). He didn’t quite stay at Wetherby, he’s a galloping two miler and any rain would be a plus. It’s a competitive race and we’re putting a first-time tongue tie on him. I think the track will really suit him and he looks to have a decent each-way chance.
We also run King D’Argent in this. He did really well last year but is going to be hard to place off his handicap mark now. He seems in good form, it’s just that the handicapper has a tight hold of him.
Bridget goes up to ride a couple at Newcastle with Too Friendly taking his chance in the juvenile hurdle (11:45). He won in good style at Stratford. The form hasn’t really backed up but he’s been going nicely at home and he’s fresh and well for this. He should be very competitive.
Spiritofthegames ran nicely at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago and runs in the Rehearsal Chase (2:05). He’s stepping up in trip and I think he’s on a competitive mark. He’s hard to win with but Bridget gets a good tune out of him and if it falls right he’ll be bang there.
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle (3:15) looks like a very good race. Epatante has undergone back surgery and if that’s worked and she’s back to her best with the mares’ allowance, she’s going to be hard to beat. Monmiral is an improving four-year-old. It can be a difficult year for them because they don’t get the allowances, but he showed a lot of class at Aintree and will make the mare work for it. Sceau Royal is a fantastic horse and has started the season in flying form, so you can never rule him out.