West Approach going in the right direction
21 October 2016
I rode 59 winners from 181 rides for John Ferguson last season – his last as a trainer – so, as you can imagine, I was a little anxious as to how I was I going to fill that void.
But I’ve found another source of winners thanks to Jonjo O’Neill, who’s provided me with 23 winners so far this season.
We’ve struck up a good partnership and then when you add Venetia Williams’ string to the mix, plus a few other trainers who are using me regularly, then it has the makings of a really exciting season.
I’ve ridden 57 winners so far, which is a little behind where I was last year, but is a lot more than I was expecting. It’s been a busy time. In fact I’ve probably had more rides at this point of the season compared to previous campaigns.
I am third in the championship behind Sam Twiston-Davies and Richard Johnson. I am 13 off second-placed Sammy and while he has given me a chance with his injury, which thankfully he’s recovering well from, I think I am going to struggle to beat him although it’s obviously very early days.
I’ve got a busy weekend lined up at the two premier tracks of Jumps racing, Cheltenham on Saturday and then Aintree on Sunday.
Saturday is a funny old day. I’ve got six rides but none of them stand out as having an obvious chance.
I kick off on my old favourite Any Currency, who is 13 years old but probably had his best season just gone and loves it around Cheltenham. He was obviously first past the post in the Cross Country race at the Festival, and then followed up there over the conventional obstacles in April.
While the Randox Handicap Chase is a nice prize, his main targets will be the cross country races in December and at the Festival, so he should come on for his first run of the season.
West Approach is a nice horse who I rode in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival. He then enjoyed a drop in grade to win at Newton Abbot in May. The trip and track will suit him well and he would have a squeak in the Richard Allen, Waters & The Brittons Novices' Hurdle.
Alan Potts has transferred two horses from Ireland to Colin Tizzard. I can’t tell you anything about Mick Thonic but I schooled Sizing Platinum in the week and he jumped well but I couldn’t tell you much more aside from he has decent form in Ireland, having been runner-up in a couple of Grade Threes. He runs in the Randox Health Handicap Chase.
I am on Listen And Learn for Jonjo in the Pertemps qualifier. I won on him a couple of runs back at Plumpton and then he ran OK behind The Romford Pele at Newton Abbot this month. He’s straightforward and will run his usual consistent race.
I’ll pick out three at Aintree, starting with Masters Hill, who runs in the 188bet Handicap Chase for veterans. He relishes these staying races and was a decent eighth in the Scottish Grand National in April. He is placed more often than not and is in good form at Colin’s.
Duke Street lines up for Dr Richard Newland in the Premier League Betting At 188Bet Handicap Hurdle. He was a far from disgraced ninth in the Fred Winter at the Festival and then won a valuable handicap hurdle at Newbury before finishing a close fifth in a similar race at Sandown.
Third Intention runs in the big race of the day, the 188Bet Monet's Garden Old Roan Handicap Chase. He’s a grand old servant with some very good form in the book, as illustrated by his third in the Topham at Aintree and fourth to Menorah on his final start of the season. It’s a classy renewal but he won’t look out of place in the line-up and will be there to take advantage if one or two don’t run up to form.
Finally, it was wonderful to see Qewy win the Geelong Cup in Australia on Wednesday. I rode him this time last year in a novice chase at the Showcase meeting for John Ferguson so it was a hell of training performance from Charlie Appleby. Qewy was a real dude – everyone loved him in the yard!