Daryl Jacob: Aintree hopes
Our columnist Daryl Jacob reflects on a great run of success and looks ahead to his weekend rides at Aintree and Kelso.
Daryl Jacob: Two great chances over the big Aintree fences
I said at the start of last week's column that it was either going to be a very good – or very bad – day at Newcastle last Saturday and I'm pleased to say it was the former!
It was nice to ride three winners and all on promising horses. Elgin, who won the opener for Alan King, is a very smart prospect for the future. He's only going to keep improving and he was a great way to start the afternoon.
I was also very happy with Domperignon Du Lys in the Vertem Introductory Hurdle. He did exactly what we hoped he would, jumping and travelling well throughout. It was a great introduction to British racing for him and I hope he's going to go on to bigger and better things.
Calett Mad was another who made a winning start over here in the Weatherbys Stallion Book Chase. He jumped very professionally and is still very big and raw, he's only four and you'd expect that to be the case. I like the way the front two pulled away from the third and he's another with a future.
Sceau Royal got a little tired on the dead ground in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle having travelled and jumped well for a long way. He'll be give a little break now and will be back.
Bristol De Mai finished second in the At The Races Rehearsal Handicap Chase on his first run over three miles. I was happy with him and we learned plenty for the future too.
I was very pleased with Top Notch at Plumpton on Monday. It wasn't ideal to make the running but he was very professional, especially as it can sometimes be a tricky track. He jumped very well and the time was fast which stands us in good stead.
Nicky Henderson and the team are doing a great job with the horse, he's improving with every run, and we're all really happy where we are with him right now.
I have two rides for Nicky at Aintree on Saturday and the fact the guv'nor's horses are in such good nick is a real positive sign.
The small field in the Betfred Lotto '100k Cash Giveaway' Chase will suit Cocktails At Dawn.
I've done plenty of schooling on him and he's a lovely free moving horse so the good ground will suit. I'm looking forward to the ride here.
Hunter's Hoof goes in the Betfred 'Home Of Goals Galore' Handicap Hurdle which looks very competitive. Again I've schooled the horse and he seems in very good form. The ground won't be an issue and hopefully he'll go well too.
I'm delighted to have picked up the ride on Call Me Vic in the Betfred Watch Sky Sports In Our Shops Handicap Chase for Tom George. I've had success for the yard in the past and I've ridden against this fellow a couple of times. I'll be watching some videos of him tonight too to learn as much as I can.
My other two mounts are over the big National fences which is always exciting – and it's even more so as I think both have great chances.
I'm very much looking forward to Ucello Conti in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase. He didn't quite stay when sixth in the Grand National on the very soft ground. I spoke to Simon and Isaac, his owners, and Gordon Elliott after that race and suggested we aim for this so his preparations have been geared around the race.
I'm hoping for – and expecting – a very big run from him. He jumped well over these fences and hopefully will take to them again.
Seefood goes in the Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. I won on him at Musselburgh the last day. I thought that rode like a competitive race and the track would have been a bit sharp for my fellow so I thought he did it well.
Afterwards I spoke to Dr Newland and we thought it was a good idea to head here. The trip will be perfect and touch wood, he's a nice, little, neat jumper. I think he'll take to the track has a live chance off his current mark so we are giving it a go.
I then head up to Kelso on Sunday for two rides for the same trainer.
I rode Westren Warrior in the Pertemps qualifier in his reappearance at Cheltenham and he ran well in sixth. Brian Hughes was aboard for his run in the Fixed Brush Final at Haydock where he again ran well on very, very soft ground.
He makes his debut over fences in the John Wade Group Paris Pike Novices' Chase and is a very good jumper at home. I'm sure he'll go well for all that the presence of Aux Ptits Soins makes it a warm race.
I won the Durham National on Royale Knight at Sedgefield two years ago and we try to win the Persimmon Homes Borders National with him on Sunday. I think he's tailor-made for the race and while he has to concede weight to all of his rivals, I'd expect a bold show.