Daryl Jacob: D-day for Bristol
Daryl Jacob is delighted with how his Cheltenham team is coming together – and looks ahead to Bristol De Mai's Newbury run
Bristol De Mai: Faces big test at Newbury on Saturday
It's been another really good week for our horses and things are coming together really well ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
Messire Des Obeaux may have been beaten in the Sidney Banks Hurdle at Huntingdon but there was no disgrace in going down by a neck to Keeper Hill, trying to give him eight pounds.
That horse was rated 138 going into the race and the track didn't suit my fellow as well as Sandown or Newbury did. He lost nothing in defeat for me, travelled and jumped well and I know Cheltenham is going to be much more his cup of tea.
This was a prep race for the Festival and he's had that now. You learn a few things about a horse when they get beat, and that was the case here, so while it was disappointing he didn't win there are plenty of positives to take and I'm very much looking forward to riding him in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle next month.
It was great to see Top Notch earn a first Grade One win in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown last Saturday.
He gave me a great feel and was just continuing his trend of improving with every start over fences. It was a really good performance and a really encouraging one too. He travelled and jumped as you'd like and it's full steam ahead to Cheltenham now.
The JLT is the obvious race for him there. There's no point taking Altior on over two miles in the Racing Post Arkle, he'd have more pace than my horse, and Top Notch is another I can't wait to ride next month.
I'm not sure yet whether Domperignon Du Lys will join them in the Festival raiding party but I was very happy with him at Market Rasen. The going was soft enough for him there but it was a great confidence booster for the horse.
He has a mark of 133 and is going to be a better horse on better ground so is a nice one to have on our side going into the spring.
So is Sceau Royal who I schooled last week. He seems to be in good form at home. There are a couple of options for him as potential preps for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, including the Kingwell at Wincanton but there are no firm plans as yet. He's on great terms with himself though.
It's very much a case of quality over quantity this weekend and I hope Bristol De Mai can book his own Cheltenham ticket in the Betfair Denman Chase.
We're taking on the current second favourite for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in Native River so Saturday is going to tell us exactly where we are with our horse. It's a real test despite the small field and an important day.
I'm very excited and keen to have a go at the race and see how we go. Bristol De Mai is a very, very exciting horse who was impressive at Haydock in the Peter Marsh.
I'm not concerned by the small field. I don't think for a second the Colin Tizzard team will want a falsely-run race for Native River who has been running over further this season and he could make the running – or I could go on.
No-one will want this to develop into a sprint from second last. It's a good test despite only three runners. You can get messy races sometimes when you have three in there and no-one wants to go on. I don't expect it to be an issue at Newbury and I hope Bristol De Mai emerges with his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials underlined.
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