Daryl Jacob: Right Royal chance
It's another big weekend for Daryl Jacob and the top jockey gives his exclusive thoughts ahead of Sceau Royal's Wincanton run.
Sceau Royal scores at Cheltenham first time out this season under our man Daryl Jacob.
Until the weather starts to turn, I'm afraid we're going to be stuck with some small fields for jumps racing, which is a bit of a shame.
There are some good meetings this weekend and seeing three- and four-runner races isn't good for anyone, especially at a time of year where things are usually kicking on, but understandably you don't want to run a horse and jar them up for the whole season, and trainers are going to be cautious.
In the circumstances, I'm pleased to have two good rides at Wincanton on Saturday and another three at Sandown on Sunday and I'm looking forward to this weekend – although with 10st 5lb to do in the Badger Ales Chase, I'll be spending much of Friday in the gym and sweating in the bath. It's just what needs to be done.
Wincanton got 2mm of rain on Thursday night, and they have been watering this week too, so hopefully conditions will be fine for Sceau Royal ahead of his run in the Stan James Elite Hurdle. I imagine we'll walk the course beforehand and have a little look just to make sure we're happy though.
I'm not surprised that he is favourite, but it does look quite competitive on paper. With Rayvin Black, the race should at least be run at a decent gallop.
He was undeniably impressive at Cheltenham, although that was only against his own age group and he's taking on older rivals here, which asks a different question of him.
We'll get this race out of the way before we look any further forward, but I'm hopeful of another really big run. In many respects, this does look an ideal race for him.
I'm aboard Set List for Emma Lavelle in the Badger Ales Chase and I wouldn't put anyone off him as I hope he has a real each-way chance.
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He's been on the go all summer but seems to be thriving at home and he'll get his ideal ground, which you possibly can't say about some of his rivals.
If you look at his Stratford win in July, I think he'd have finished a couple of lengths behind me on Ballykan if my horse hadn't run out at the last and that's good form – Ballykan won his next two and is higher in the weights now. These are classier horses, but he's fit and very well.
Khezerabad is my first ride at Sandown on Sunday in the Watch Racing UK in HD Hurdle. I was delighted with his return at Cheltenham behind another horse of Nicky Henderson's, and on that form he'll take a bit of beating.
His first start for Nicky in the Adonis was very solid and you can put a line through his Aintree run afterwards as the ground was too soft and he didn't like it. He's a nice horse.
Ballybolley has something to find on the ratings in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase, but I wouldn't want to rule him out.
I think he got a bit distracted when the leader was pulled up at Huntingdon last time but he still put his head down to win and it was much the same at Wetherby previously. The problem there was that he just grabbed hold of the bit four out and got racing a bit early.
He's a fast jumper, who doesn't get very high, and maybe it looks like he isn't totally fluent, but he has always been an enthusiastic sort. He loves his racing and he won't mind the ground at all.
I love the veterans' races and I'm looking forward to riding Court By Surprise in the Racing UK HD on Sky 432 Chase. There are some old favourites in here, including Rocky Creek, who I finished second on in a Hennessy.
Court By Surprise had his first run for a while at Chepstow last month and I pulled him up, but he just needed it a bit there and seems really well at home. I'd expect a much-improved performance.
I'm actually on a hat-trick this weekend, having won on my last two rides, but I'll settle for a couple of winners!
One that I didn't win on was Bristol De Mai, second to Seeyouatmidnight at Carlisle last Sunday, but I think the winner is a very good horse and we weren't too disheartened afterwards.
They went a real good gallop from start to finish and while the winner jumped really well, I was maybe just in a little bit too tight a couple of times and could never quite get on terms. The ground might also just have been fractionally too quick for us, as he does like a bit of give.
It was a decent starting point and he'll come on for it. It will be up to Isaac, Simon, Anthony and Nigel to come up with a plan for him now, but I still expect him to have a good campaign.
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