Last week was a bit up and down, but I couldn’t have asked for any more at Newbury on Friday.
It was wonderful to win the Long Distance Trophy at Newbury on Friday with Beer Goggles. It was a really lovely surprise.
I thought it was a race with plenty strength in depth and I can’t see any reason why it was a fluke.
He’s only a six-year-old but he’s had plenty of racing and has taken part in some competitive handicaps. He’s a horse still on the upgrade.
It was undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the season so far and if he can run to that level next time, he’ll be a serious Stayers’ Hurdle contender.
The plan at the moment is to go to the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of January. That looks like a sensible idea and they’ll have a strong idea after that if he’s up to Stayers’ Hurdle class.
It was a fantastic result for the trainer and the owners. They’ve got plenty of options now.
We were really pleased with Missed Approach. They went very fast early and we struggled to keep up for the first three quarters of a mile.
A few of the lads came in and said they couldn’t believe how fast we went early. It was a cavalry charge and there was no hiding place.
There’s no way to get an easy lead in the race. There are never any flukes. You need to jump, stay and gallop.
He ran his race and there was nothing to be disappointed with. Softer ground will suit and should eke out some more improvement.
The Welsh National is a possible option, but it does come around a bit soon. These big staying handicaps take a lot out of these horses.
I thought Whisper ran a hell of a race. He’s a Grade One performer and the class horses came to the fore again. You expect that in this race.
Total Recall was probably off a lenient mark. He proved that he’s a very good horse and that won’t be the last big race he wins.
Rest of Newbury on Saturday
It was great to win the opening mares’ novices’ hurdle at Newbury with Dame Rose. She won a good race at the Grand National meeting and was obviously up to running in Listed class.
The way Cap Soleil beat her last time you had to have a doubt that she’d be able to turn it around. They thought they’d made a bit too much use of her last time and I was able to build it up slowly.
She’d have preferred slightly softer ground, but she showed a very good attitude. It was a nice performance and should prove pretty solid form.
Wait For Me jumped fine, although he was a little bit careful after his fall at Chepstow which was understandable.
The three horses who finished in front of him are all decent, while the ground was probably a bit on the slow side for him.
I rode Crosspark on his first run of the season where he ran really well. I thought he’d have a big chance, but he never jumped at all.
The vets were going to check him out afterwards. He definitely wasn’t 100 percent and never got into it at all.
Master Dancer ran well, it was one of the best races of his career so far. They didn’t really go fast enough for him. When he won at Cheltenham they went really quickly the whole way.
Poppy Kay was a little bit similar to Master Dancer. She got a little bit outpaced and then stayed on strongly after the last. We’ll need to decide now if we keep her at two miles or step up in trip.
Carlisle on Sunday
It was a long trip up to Carlisle and unfortunately my only ride, Black Tulip, didn’t really handle the ground.
It was pretty soft and we now know that doesn’t suit her. I haven’t lost faith with her, though. Slightly better ground and probably going left-handed should suit her. She’s relatively unexposed and one to keep an eye on.
We watched the race in the paddock at Newbury and Buveur D’Air was very impressive. When you look at it in black and white, he should have been impressive, but it was the manner that he did it.
Faugheen was also visually very impressive a couple of weeks ago. They look by far the best two mile hurdlers at the moment. It’s nice to see one on each side of the Irish Sea. Let’s hope they both get there, as it would be a great race to watch.
I agree with the Betway traders that Faugheen should be favourite. He was so good when he won the Champion Hurdle and was then obviously off the track for a long time.
If it was the Tuesday of the Festival now and they were both lining up, I think he’d be a strong favourite. He’s very, very classy.
Buveur D’Air’s form doesn’t quite match up to Faugheen’s yet, but there’s lots of water to go under the bridge before March.
Gordon Elliott had another Sunday to remember with a Grade One hat-trick and I’m sure the highlight would have been Apple’s Jade in the Hatton’s Grace.
She’s the best mare around at the moment and I presume she’ll try to defend her crown in the mares’ race at the Festival.
It doesn’t matter what trip she runs over or who she races against. She’s a massive threat to anyone.
Westend Story will probably go to Haydock on Wednesday. If he’s improved from Carlisle he should go very well. He loves soft ground so Haydock should suit perfectly.
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