AFTER the weather we’ve had, I could ride the most aptly named winner of my career this afternoon.
Riders Onthe Storm goes for the Betfair Ascot Chase, and we’ve been riders in the storm, the wind and the torrential rain on the gallops all week.
Here’s hoping Storm Dennis doesn’t strike and put the mockers on us all.
The whole country’s been battered and it was no different down in Gloucestershire. At least we know the drains on the gallops are working well!
We know Riders Onthe Storm has been working well, too, and it would be nice to think he could blow away the other three today.
But joking apart, that’s obviously not going to be a breeze with Cyrname in the field, because we know how good he is – especially at Ascot.
I got the better of him in the King George on Boxing Day when I came in for the ride on Clan Des Obeaux, and what a Christmas present that was.
But he’s a different horse here and won this race by 17 lengths a year ago , when I got a distant look from fourth on Politilogue, and started this season beating Altior in November.
So being realistic, if the same horse turns up today, it’s going to take something very special to beat him.
But because of that, it will be nice to go into the race without loads of pressure, and Riders Onthe Storm has been schooling very, very well.
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He’s been at dad’s since the start of the season and in many ways we are still learning about him – and we’ll find out quite a bit more at Ascot.
Of course it is by far his stiffest test so far, stepping up from a handicap and a graduation chase into a Grade 1, but he’s done nothing wrong.
Tom Taaffe did a very good job with him in Ireland before us, and we’re lucky to get him in the prime of his career.
I’ve ridden him in both his races for us and although he got a few things wrong in the first, and made a couple of mistakes, he still won easily enough.
Obviously there was that mistake when he was taken out of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in error, but a week later he was even more impressive.
He dotted up over this course and distance, and ever since people have been talking of him as pretty special.
We do think he could have a serious chance in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, and hopefully today will be the next step towards that.
To be honest, even if we didn’t beat Cyrname, but ran well, then it wouldn’t dampen our enthusiasm too much.
Paul Nicholls has said he might not even take that one to the Festival anyway, so let’s just look forward to this now and see where it takes us.
What I do know is Riders Onthe Storm is a strong traveller, a good jumper and Cheltenham wouldn’t be a problem. He certainly ticks a lot of boxes so fingers crossed it all goes well.
While he could be one of my best chances at the Festival, I’m also on the horse which could be my Grand National ride just over an hour earlier in Ballyoptic.
He got a good walloping off the handicapper for winning at Chepstow and was great when he followed up in the Charlie Hall.
It was no surprise that he was no match for Lostintranslation at Haydock, but he’s been given a nice enough weight for the National.
To be honest his jumping wasn’t the slickest or the best in the past, and he was slow getting to grips with it.
It won’t be easy today, but if he gets into a decent rhythm, then he could give me a decent spin.
He was running a good race when he came down four out in last year’s National and at this stage I’ll probably be on him or Crievehill at Aintree.
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It’s turned out to be quite a busy day for me in the end, assuming the winds stay away, and I kick off with Torn And Frayed (1.15).
He took another step forward here last time, but there are a couple of potentially smart ones in there and it looks a tough little race.
I’ve also come in for the ride on Blu Cavalier (3.00), who won two starts back 2m 3f should be right up his street.
He was a good third in last year’s Betfair Hurdle, which was run here, and does have some nice form, although it will be tough under top weight.
My best chance of a winner this weekend is probably tomorrow, when I go to Market Rasen for one ride on Our Power (3.45).
He’s back to two miles after running over five furlongs more on his first run for us, so I’ll probably be pretty positive on him and I’m very hopeful he will be good enough.