Daryl Jacob: Obeaux in tune
Daryl Jacob is hopeful of landing Grade One victory at Newbury, while it could also be a big New Year's Day for the leading jockey.
Daryl Jacob can't wait to get back on Messire Des Obeaux at Newbury
The Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle is a race I have fond memories of after riding Reve De Sivola to victory back in 2009 and I'd love to win it again on Alan King's Messire Des Obeaux at Newburyon Saturday.
He's done absolutely nothing wrong this season after winning by 10 lengths at Bangor then following up in gutsy fashion in a Sandown Grade Two at the start of December.
This is another step up and a tougher challenge again but it's the logical next move, he seems very well in himself and just feels like a horse who is going to continue to improve.
He saw off a quality horse in Ballyandy at Sandown and Nicky Henderson's Cultivator, who reopposes, was back in third so I'm feeling really positive over his chances though it's obviously a strong race with Gordon Elliott sending over Baltazar D'Allier for JP and Dan Skelton's Robin Roe could be anything.
I rode Wholestone to beat Ami Debois at Cheltenham and Graeme McPherson's runner is evidently a very tough horse as he made the running and took a bit of passing that day, so he's another you'd have to respect, but Messire Des Obeaux is a strong stayer too and definitely one I'm looking forward to on New Year's Eve.
I'm riding Percy Street for Nicky in the opening Betfred "5k BTO Cash Draw Today" Juvenile Hurdle and it's another competitive race, which is a bit of a running theme this weekend.
He's making his hurdling debut here but was close to Listed class on the Flat and his work has been encouraging. It's his first run so you'd expect him to improve for it but there's every chance he'll give a good account.
Floresco is a horse I've won on a couple of times in the past and he just looks to have come back down to a competitive mark for the Betfred Wishing You A Happy New Year Handicap Hurdle.
He's a small, tough, hardy type and produced a proper run when fourth at Cheltenham last time. That was quite an exciting performance with a view to going back up to two and a half miles here and the ground won't be a problem for him however it comes up.
The going at Cheltenham is good at the moment which is remarkable for the time of year and in an ideal world it might be a bit softer for Vyta Du Roc, though I personally feel he's a very versatile operator.
He's got some strong form around Cheltenham, winning a Grade Two novice hurdle a couple of years ago, and we've decided to declare him with a first-time tongue tie in the Watch Live Racing On Betbright.com Handicap Chase.
He's worked with a tongue strap since finishing a creditable sixth in the Hennessy and he seems to have moved much better with it on, so hopefully it's a positive addition for him and may prevent him hitting such a flat spot in his races.
L'Ami Serge is another interesting ride for me on New Year's Day as he returns to the smaller obstacles in the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle.
It's quite an open Grade Two with Lil Rockerfeller the top-rated in the field but L'Ami Serge gets 8lb from him and in fairness he looks favoured by the overall conditions of the race carrying just 11-0.
He was a good chaser last season and made a very pleasing return over fences when second to Le Prezien at Exeter. He jumped out to his left there, as he always does, so we'll be sticking to left-handed tracks with him now and the Relkeel is obviously a very good race which may just open up a few options regarding what we can do with him for both the rest of the season and the rest of his career.
I won't be getting carried away with the New Year celebrations as I'm getting down to 10-5 for the ride on Daphne Du Clos in the EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club NH Flat Race.
It's a Listed contest and Nicky has obviously done very well with his fillies and mares in these type of races over many years so she's a great ride to have.
It's a learning curve with the filly, who won a small race in France before joining the yard, but she's been working nicely and it'd be fantastic to ride another winner for Potensis Bloodstick Limited, with whom I've enjoyed some high-profile success in the past.
All of the action from Newbury and Warwick on New Year's Eve will be free to view on Racing UK, following Channel 4's decision to withdraw the fixture from its schedule. The Newbury card, which is headlined by the Grade One Betfred Challow Hurdle, plus seven competitive races from Warwick, will be free to watch in over 13 million homes on Sky 432 and Virgin 536. In addition, Racing UK will stream the live coverage on www.racinguk.com at no cost. Coverage gets under way at 10.30am with the Mark Your Card preview programme, with live racing from 11.30am.
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