We had a good day at Newbury last Saturday. Kapcorse was great. And it was great to win that race, the race named after Sir Peter O’Sullevan, in the JP McManus silks.
When you’re a kid, watching the JP McManus colours, all those big horses winning all those big races, you never think that you’re ever going to get a chance to wear them, not to mind win a big race at Newbury in them. It was magic.
I had a score to settle with that race too. I was beaten a neck on Warriors Tale in the race last year. So it was brilliant to win it!
Kapcorse jumped great, it really came together. The easier ground probably helped him, he was able to get in that rhythm. He was clever at the ditch, he wasn’t meeting it on a stride but he found a leg and he was able to balance himself, and he was great at the last. He stayed on well up the run-in. He was the only one galloping at the end.
He’s a good friend of mine now. I’ve ridden him twice, and I’ve been lucky enough to win on him twice. He’s a young horse too, he’s only five but he stands tall, he is big and impressive, and hopefully he can continue to improve.
Black Corton gave his all in the Ladbrokes Trophy, as he always does. The pace was strong from the start, that was his first time in a strong handicap, and I was really pleased with the way that he jumped and handled himself. But in the end, the combination of the weight and the ground was just too much for him.
Carrying 11st 12lb on that ground. He’s only just over 16 hands.
He’s so game. Gong down the back straight, we were tiring, but every time a horse came to him, he tried again.
Even when I pulled him up, he didn’t want to quit, he was saying, no, no, let’s go on. Then I got him back to a walk, and he realised, yeah I’m tired now.
We look after each other. He looks after me and I look after him. We know each other well, we know the days when it’s just not going right. He can have his day again though.
I was delighted to win on Silent Steps at Southwell on Tuesday. I know her from Paul’s. There’s nothing wrong with her engine, she has just struggled with her head a bit. She has lovely owners though, and I was delighted to win on her for them.
I rode her at Lingfield the week before when she was well beaten.
She needed to find her confidence, find easier fences to jump. Get into her rhythm early and get her confidence back over a fence. They couldn’t live with her on Tuesday.
We were happy too with Nearly Perfect’s run to finish second in the novices’ hurdle on the day. He is still a very young horse, and he has good point-to-point form. He finished second behind Envoi Allen in February, and that horse was impressive in winning a bumper at Punchestown on Sunday for Cheveley Park Stud and Gordon Elliott.
Nearly Perfect is still a young horse, and it will be exciting to see him step up in trip and jump a fence.
So we’re off to Aintree on Saturday to ride Present Man in the Becher Chase. You never know with Aintree, the big fences, but a horse who jumps as well as him, he’s either going to over-jump and land on his nose over the first, or he’ll work it out and jump well. You never know how they’re going to take to the Grand National fences until they try them, but I’d be hopeful that he’d take to them well.
The ground is a bit of a question mark. The rain is coming. But I’d rather a sloppy soft than a holding soft. The more it rains, the better. Like when he won his Badger Ales last season.
He’s in great form. He’s been ticking away. Millie rides him every day at home. I rode upsides him this morning, I asked her how is he, and she said he felt great. That she was getting a bit nervous. That’s a good sign!
The atmosphere at Aintree, over those big fences, it’s fantastic. It’s what I love as well, a staying chaser, get into a rhythm. You have to jump to have any chance. You’re with them, they’ve got to be brave for you and you have to be brave for them.
That connection, you don’t get in any other walk of life.
Those races are like puzzles. You put it together as you go, see how they’re taking to it, how they’re travelling, how they get their landing gear out, how strong they are over the big drops on the landing side of the fences. It’s fun to see them working it out as they go. Some of them come alive over those fences. They get as big a buzz out of it as you do. They get that adrenaline rush too.
I’ve ridden over the big fences three times. My first ride was on Current Event in the Foxhunters’ in 2015, I was cannoned into by a loose horse and came off. Then I finished fourth on Pacha in the Foxhunters’ in 2017, and I finished fifth on Milansbar in the Grand National this year.
I’m at Huntingdon on Sunday for five rides.
I ride San Benedeto in the Peterborough Chase, and I am hopeful that he can run well.
He’s a dude, he always goes out there and tries his hardest. I know one thing for sure, he’ll be galloping all the way to the line.
The step back up to two and a half miles could suit him. They went very fast at Ascot last time, and he was flat out all the way. He hasn’t run over two and a half miles in a while, but the step back up could suit him well.
I ride Western Morning in the opening conditional riders’ handicap hurdle. He’s having his first run for Milton Harris, and he’ll be wearing a hood for the first time, to go with his tongue tie.
I haven’t ridden him before, but he didn’t run badly on his final run last season when he finished fifth in a novices’ handicap hurdle at Southwell. He was stepping back up to two and a half miles there, and I hope that he can improve a little on that for his new trainer and in his first-time hood. He has been dropped a little by the handicapper for his last few runs, so hopefully he can find his level.
I am on Oh Land Abloom in the novices’ chase. He tried really hard over hurdles for me last time at Uttoxeter when he finished second.
He ran over fences once, on his debut this season at Worcester, but he should take to fences. He’s a bit babyish, but he should take to them. I’ve schooled him, he’s good, he’s just careful, so you just have to give him the opportunity to be careful.
It’s a good race though, he has lots to find on ratings with the top-rated horses and, even though he gets weight from Bags Groove and Thomas Campbell, it will be a big challenge for him.
I ride Ostuni for Paul in the novices’ hurdle. We were well beaten in a novices’ hurdle at Warwick last month. That was his first run in over a year though, so hopefully he can improve on that.
And I ride The Boss’s Dream in the last, the novices’ handicap chase. I fell off him the last day at Hereford, so hopefully I can stay on him this time.
He’s a well-handicapped horse over fences on his hurdles form, so there should be a race for him if he can translate his hurdles form to chasing. He should enjoy the ground. It’s just a case of getting him into a rhythm, getting him jumping and staying on him!