Grosvenorsport.com ambassador Harry Skelton reviews his week in the saddle and looks at his rides over the next two days at Newbury.
There wasn’t much to write home about last weekend. It was obviously disappointing Roksana got beat in the Ascot Hurdle. The race may have come a bit too soon after Aintree and she almost travelled too well for me. I normally drop her in but over a shorter trip I decided to run a bit handier and she ran with the choke out a little.
We’ll now follow the same route as last year with the Contenders Hurdle in early February, onto Cheltenham and then Aintree. As we know she really comes alive in the spring. We had a go last week because the race was worth so much money. You can’t wrap horses up in cotton wool.
Hatcher has been a fantastic servant for the yard and brilliant for his owner Pat Betts. His win at Ludlow on Monday was his ninth for us and the race went his way. It was soft ground, he jumped brilliantly and we were delighted to see him win again.
The Newbury Winter Festival gets underway tomorrow and we’ve got some good chances over the next two days – take a look at all the horse racing betting markets ahead of the races.
West To The Bridge – 12:45
West To The Bridge was running well at Wetherby last time when he made a mistake two out. The drop back to two miles will suit him and hopefully, they’ll go a good, strong gallop. He’s in decent form at home, there are no negatives, hopefully he’ll run well.
Shan Blue – 1:20
Shan Blue ran a very good race when bumping into Redford Road at Wetherby earlier this month, pulling a long way clear of the third. He’s a horse we really like and we hope he’ll run a big race.
Oldgrangewood and Spirtofthegames – 1:50
I ride Oldgrangewood and we’re leaving all the headgear off him this time, we thought it was right to try something different. He won this race two years ago but it’s been frustrating recently as we can’t put our finger on why he’s not winning. He’s well-handicapped, has had a wind operation and hopefully he can get his head back in front soon.
This is a hot race and Bridget is on Spiritofthegames who was disappointing at Cheltenham. There were no excuses really, nothing came to light afterwards and it may just be that he’s too high in the handicap. We hope he can put that behind him and put in a better performance.
Anytime Will Do – 3:35
We’re trying a new trip with Anytime Will Do for the first time, stepping up to three miles. He was a little rusty when last seen at Marken Rasen, so we hope we will see a better effort. He had some good form as a novice and hopefully he can find that again.
Ardlethen – 12:40
This is always a good race and it looks like it’s going to be a small field this year. He’s come out of his last run fine when beaten by Sam Spinner at Wetherby. He seems in good form and we’re looking forward to it, the trip and ground won’t be a problem.
Bennys King – 1:15
Bennys King missed out on the Ladbrokes Trophy by one, so we’re going to run in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase instead. He’s come on plenty for his first run at Stratford when the trip was too short. He’s done plenty of work since, the track will suit him and I hope he’ll run very well.
Peter The Mayo Man – 1:50
He ran okay at Cheltenham on his reappearance last month when staying on nicely at the finish. We see Peter The Mayo Man improving and coming on again hopefully. He wants nice ground really, so we hope they don’t get too much rain. You have to run these horses somewhere, it’s been so wet that there aren’t always many options.
Antunes – 2:25
This has been the plan since Antunes won at Wetherby and he’s been going very well at home. He’s an improving horse and hopefully, he can kick on again. He’ll have to as this race is always very competitive, but the potential is definitely there.
Two Taffs – 3:00
I’m really looking forward to riding Two Taffs. He ran a very nice race at Wetherby after a long lay-off, he surprised us how well he ran that day. He didn’t have too hard a race which was nice and he’s done plenty of work since.
We took him for an away day to Newbury last week on a day organised by the course and the sponsors. We hope we can avoid the bounce and if he can he should run a big race because he’s well treated.
This is the furthest he will have been and obviously he has to prove he can get the trip, but we wouldn’t be running him if we didn’t think he would get it. It’s a massive race and would be lovely for everyone involved in the horse if he could win it.
Ashoka – 3:40
Ashoka has been a good horse for us and is in good form at home but I’d expect him to improve win, lose or draw.
Shannon Bridge – 1:30
Shannon Bridge ran fairly well at Aintree back over fences and the trip and ground should both be fine for him. We think he’s on a competitive mark and we hope he can run well.
Captain Chaos – 3:20
Second in this race 12 months ago, Captain Chaos has dropped down to a good mark after a couple of disappointing runs. These three milers take a few races to get to peak fitness and we hope we’re there now. He’s got a nice pull at the weights with Lake View Lad from last year and if everything goes right, he should have every chance.
Knight In Dubai – 12:10
We’re looking forward to getting Knight In Dubai back on the track after he got held up a little bit in the early autumn. He’s a decent horse on his day and has run well in some big handicaps. We want a good clear round and he’ll hopefully improve plenty.
Bandsman ran well over this trip last time, but this will be the softest ground he’s ever ran. The trip has opened up some options for him and he’s in good form at home.
Northofthewall – 1:55
We were a little bit disappointed to get beat at Ascot last time, so Northofthewall drops back down into novice company and hopefully he will take some beating.