ITV hit the deck running with their coverage
6 January 2017
All the talk this week has been of ITV Racing’s debut on Sunday, and I was very, very impressed with the start they made.
I recorded the programme and watched it when I got home. As you’d expect with a first show, there were teething problems but I thought there were lots of positives.
The team seemed to have a direction they want to go down and I think it will appeal to not just racing fans, but hopefully the wider public too. It was entertaining and can only get better.
They played out a quick-fire Q&A with me, which ITV are pre-recording with most of the jockeys. I singled out Ladies Day at Aintree as my favourite day’s racing, to which AP McCoy said afterwards that I would be the least likely person to enjoy it. I have no idea what he meant by that but I’ve had some interesting questions on the back of it!
I was also interviewed live after riding Shantou Flyer to win the big handicap chase on his first start for Rebecca Curtis, having previously been with Colin Bowe in Ireland.
He was 20-1 but had some decent form in Ireland so it wasn’t a massive upset. I have to say I was very impressed. He jumped and travelled strongly and could be an ideal type for the Randox Health Grand National.
The previous day Buveur D’Air took another step in the right direction at Warwick and will come on again for that experience. He missed the second last, but otherwise I thought he jumped OK given it was only his second start over fences.
The runner-up, Gino Trail, was going there on a hat-trick and is a decent horse, so I was happy with the performance.
On to Sandown on Saturday and it’s difficult to pinpoint my best chance; I have a few each-way chances but you never know and I might be able to nick a winner.
I am on Charlemar in the big race, the 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle.
These types of races are difficult to predict as a lot of the horses are in the same boat, unexposed and taking a step up in class, and trainers haven’t got a handle on their horses’ true ability.
I rode Charlemar to win a novices’ hurdle at Aintree last month and was very impressed with him that day. Harry Whittington mentioned the Tolworth afterwards and here we are. It’s a jump in class, but that’s the case for most of them. Harry’s horses are in good form and I’m looking forward to learning more about him.
Morello Royale didn’t run her race in the 32Red.com Mares' Hurdle for whatever reason last year, but comes here in good form, following a really good third at Kempton 10 days ago. She will be there or thereabouts, but she’s got to try and give weight all round.
I’m looking forward to riding Hollywoodien again in the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase.
I rode him to win at Ascot just over a year ago and he gave me the feel of a decent horse then. He won at Wetherby on Boxing Day and a repeat of that should see him pick up some good prize-money.
Pete The Feat has been a great servant over the years. He runs in the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase, a £100,000 race for veterans.
It’s fantastic prize-money which means we’ve got a very competitive field. He was a good second to La Reve over course and distance last year and he will go out from the front and give everyone a good run for their money.
My final ride, John Reel, is an interesting one. I actually rode him to win his bumper back in 2012. He’s got some decent form on the Flat; he’s been running in Listed races and picked up a nice handicap at Newmarket in the summer. This will be his first run over jumps for three years and he is well-handicapped on his old jumps form. He runs in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle.