Daryl Jacob: Smart Alex

Daryl Jacob looks ahead to a fascinating book of rides at Ascot on Saturday including Alex De Larredeya in the Long Walk.

Wholestone impressed Daryl Jacob with this Cheltenham performance

I was very pleased with Wholestone's win at Cheltenham last Saturday. It was great to get another course victory under his belt and his form there is looking strong as we build towards what will hopefully be a tilt at the Albert Bartlett at the Festival in March.

I was a little worried when the heavy rain arrived as he hadn't run well on testing ground last year but I was very, very happy with him. He jumped great, quickened well off the bend and stayed on very well. He's an improving horse and Nigel Twiston-Davies and his team are doing a great job with him.

There were plenty of positives to take from L'Ami Serge's return to action at Exeter on Thursday despite the defeat to Le Prezien.

I was delighted with my fellow, it's no secret he can jump to the left and that was the case again here but we needed to get a run into him and there were no suitable alternatives at a left-handed track. He had a nice blow afterwards and will improve for the run. It was a really nice starting point for the season ahead.

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I'm really looking forward to my book of rides at Ascot on Saturday starting with Butney Island in the Foundation Developments Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

I've schooled him a couple of times at home and he ran in a novice chase at Towcester last time where he didn't really travel as well as he can do. We've stuck cheek pieces on him here and switch back to hurdles in what looks a competitive race. Nick Mitchell's horses are in good form though and I hope he can go well at a decent price.

I've also schooled Captain Conan, my ride in the BGC Partners Handicap Chase at home. He seems to be in really good form. He was a multiple Grade One winner in the past and back in a handicap I'm hoping for a great run. It's exciting to be on him.

The latter remark certainly applies to my other two rides.

Top Notch steps up to two-and-a-half miles in the GL Events Owen Brown Graduation Chase and I think the course here will suit him. This is a significant stepping stone as we build towards potential big-race targets in the spring. He's done nothing wrong over fences so far and was very professional at Plumpton the last day, I was delighted with him there. He's been a great servant to Nicky Henderson, Simon and Isaac his owners, and myself and I can't wait to ride him again.

Alex de Larredeya is a fascinating runner in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle. I went to school him at Maisons-Laffitte three weeks ago over English-style hurdles and that went really, really well. I had a sit on him at Ascot on Friday morning and the horse looks a picture and is in great form with himself.

He won a Grade One at Auteuil on his last start with Ptit Zig back in third and I think he has a massive chance on Saturday. He's one I'm really looking forward to.

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