Richard Johnson has been Champion Jumps Jockey for the last three seasons since the retirement of 20-times champ AP McCoy, but I just wonder if there will be a changing of the guard this season. Johnson is 4/9 favourite with BetVictor and that is too short in my opinion.
At the time of writing Harry Skelton (9/4 with BetVictor) tops the current standings on 30 winners for the season (from 88 mounts) and you would have been up £40.87 to a level £1 stake had you backed all Skelton’s mounts. Johnson has had 116 mounts and is on 15 winners and you would be over £52 out of pocket had you backed him blind so far this season.
Harry Cobden (33/1) is out injured for the next three months but Aidan Coleman (33/1), Brian Hughes (5/1) and possibly Sam Twiston-Davies (14/1) are all likely to advise their agents that they would like a crack at the title. It promises to be a fascinating race and I am convinced Johnson will not run away with the title this term. Hughes looks the value.
Andrew Thornton retires from the saddle this afternoon at Uttoxeter and the Gold Cup winning jockey has had a fantastic career having ridden over 1000 winners. He could easily go out with a winner and I am keen to take on the likely short-priced favourite Stradivarius Davis in the Novice Hurdle and think the former winning point-to-pointer Lively Article (3.40) might cause a shock in receipt of 6lbs from the Paul Nicholls-trained runner.
At Kempton this evening Beyond Reason (6.00) has to overcome the worst of the draw in the opening Novice event but she is taken to go one better than when runner up at Newmarket last month on her debut. The winner has subsequently flopped on soft ground and it is possible that the third home – Angel’s Hideaway – is the best long-term prospect but Charlie Appleby’s filly should be well up to a winning in this grade.
Simon Crisford looks to have found an excellent opening for the reappearance of Red Mist (7.00) who was last seen finishing fourth in the Gp 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster back in September. The son of Frankel makes his all-weather debut this evening and if successful one would imagine he would be seen in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting later in the month.
Tight Lines (7.30) might not have got home over Nottingham’s extended mile last time and the return to 7f should suit Mark Johnston’s filly who has a cracking draw in stall two. Roger Varian’s Character Witness is stepping back up in trip and will have his supporters, but the filly may have more scope for improvement.
The Way You Dance (8.30) did us a favour at Lingfield last week and his 6lbs penalty might not prevent him following up in the two-mile handicap with Sylvestre De Sousa again in the plate for Neil Mulholland.
There is a terrific Conditions event at Hamilton over 6f and Newmarket raider Sir Dancealot (3.30) should be too good for Kimbrella and the promising three-year-old Laugh A Minute. The selection likes a bit of cut – ground good to soft at time of writing – and I thought might make his mark at the top table of the sprinting division this term.
Harry Angel gave him weight and a beating at York last time although he does not face anything of that ability this afternoon.
Over at Wetherby and Our Kylie (8.10) looked on good terms with herself when runner up at Towcester over timber last time and she can go one better in the 1m 6f Fillies’ Handicap this evening.
Brian Ellison’s mare is only 2lbs higher than when scoring at Carlisle back in July and she bounces off good or fast ground. The William Haggas-trained Tarte Tropezienne disappointed on rain-softened ground at Salisbury last time but remains lightly-raced and open to further improvement. She could be well treated despite having the steadier of 9st 12lbs.
At Wolverhampton Barend Boy disappointed at Nottingham last time and is overlooked in favour of Burj (2.20) who is the first juvenile runner of the season on the all-weather for Saeed Bin Suroor. The selection showed ability when third at Newbury on debut and this well-bred son of Dansili should take the beating with that experience under his belt.