Viconte Du Noyer looks exciting ride in Becher
2 December 2016
Jockeys only get a maximum of four opportunities to ride over the Grand National fences every year so it’s always a thrill for me to take on those fences.
What's more, I should be in for a really good ride on Viconte Du Noyer in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase - the highlight of the card at Aintree on Saturday.
He relished the stamina test in winning the BetVictor Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last month on what was his first run for Colin Tizzard, after Alan Potts moved his horses to the UK.
As I said, I enjoy riding over these fences. People always seem to make a lot of my Grand National record but I have won over these fences and a lot of it is down to luck, especially in a big field like this.
If Viconte Du Noyer does get the breaks then he’s got to have a great chance of continuing Colin Tizzard’s amazing season. He certainly deserves to be near the top of the market.
I haven’t ridden Viconte Du Noyer before or any of my mounts at Aintree for that matter.
I kick off with Pleasure Dome for Jonjo O’Neill in the Betfred TV Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle. It’s her first run over hurdles and she’s straight into Listed company. Her form on the Flat for Peter Chapple-Hyam was pretty decent – she ran up a hat-trick towards the end of last season – and a Flat rating of 87 clearly merits her place in the field.
Ballycoe lines up for Chris Gordon in the Betfred Watch Sky Sports In Our Shops Handicap Chase.
Chris always does well with his horses and is one of the more under-rated trainers. His horse won three in a row within 10 days in April and reappeared with a fourth at Bangor last month. Presumably, he’ll come on for that and, while it’s a competitive race, I can see him running well.
French import Charlemar won on his British debut a month ago for Harry Whittington. It looked a very promising run. Clearly he will need to build on that in the Betfred "Happy 50th John McKenna" Novices' Hurdle, but he’s done absolutely nothing wrong and must have lots of potential.
I was delighted to be asked to ride More Of That in Sunday's Betfred Peterborough Chase, Huntingdon’s big race of the season.
I have sat on him at Jonjo’s and as you can imagine I can’t wait to ride him. He’s a top-class horse, having won the World Hurdle in 2014 and then finishing third in the RSA Chase at the festival last year.
A repeat of that level of form would make him hard to beat, but that said it does look a tremendously tough race. Josses Hill could be the one to fear as he’s the horse in form. More Of That and Dodging Bullets pulled up last time, Volnay De Thaix hasn’t run since April, while Tea For Two and Art Mauresque were out of the places last time.
That’s over-simplifying things but Josses Hill looked the real deal when winning last time – despite it only being a two-runner race and has top notch form, as his Cheltenham Festival runs indicate. That said, I can’t wait to get on More Of That, who’s the class act on his day, in what should be a fantastic race.
The big race of the weekend is the Betfair Tingle Creek, in which Un De Sceaux would be my selection, although Ar Mad will prove very hard to get by. Sandown is a great track as it’s so fair. It suits both front-runners and horses who like to be held up. If you’re good enough, you’ll win, there are no excuses. The one thing you do need in your locker is a good jumper as the fences come thick and fast.
I’ve read that Un De Sceaux’s trainer Willie Mullins has come in for some criticism for having Douvan in the race at the six-day stage. As a trainer, I’d imagine you’d always want to keep your options open, especially with factors like the ground or a horse’s well-being.
There are only a handful of races Douvan could run in, so why rule out one of those options when you don’t need to?
Ultimately, Willie will do what’s best for the horse. If punters want to bet ante-post that’s up to them, but they should know it comes with a risk that their chosen horse might not run. The criticism has been very unfair.