Rayadour ready for Sandown debut
Top Jockey Wayne Hutchinson is back with his first column of the winter and has an exciting new recruit to ride on Saturday.
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It's good to be back and getting into the swing of things again and I had a couple of winners last weekend, starting with Bless The Wings at Wetherby.
This was a good comeback and despite making a mistake at the first, he jumped well and won nicely so he's returned in fine fettle.
He progressed all last year and I think there will be more to come this season when he's stepped up to three miles. Hopefully he will be able to turn up for some good handicaps at the Saturday meetings.
Raya Star has been very good to me and he won another good race at Ascot last weekend.
It was a lovely performance off topweight on a mark of 149 and he has really grown up with his racing. There was a false start and last year that would have seen him lose his head but it didn't affect him at all and he has really settled down.
He relaxed beautifully in the race as well and travelled really strongly before showing his battling qualities to get the better of It's A Gimme.
Alan (King) always leaves a little bit to work on with our horses first time out so there is definitely more to come. I am not sure what his next target is - it may be the the race that used to be the Greatwood at Cheltenham or possibly the conditions hurdle over two and half miles at Ascot that Overturn won last year.
He has gone up to a mark of 155 now so is entitled to take his chance against the better opposition now.
Lidar and Nataani also ran good races in defeat at Ascot last weekend.
Lidar normally has to have things fall exactly right for him but he surprised me as he showed all the right qualities and a good attitude when finishing second to Gus Macrae.
He will be competing in some good two-mile handicaps but doesn't want the ground too soft.
Nataani took a big step up in class after winning three races over the summer but he gave me a good ride. He should see out three miles if ridden with a bit more restraint against that sort of quality of opposition.
Looking ahead to Sandown on Saturday, I ride Rayadour for Alan on his debut in the juvenile hurdle.
He is a very interesting recruit and I had a sit on him on Thursday when I schooled him over nine flights.
He went very well and is a horse we like at home - he used to be owned by the Aga Khan and I would say he's my best ride of the weekend.
I'm also onboard Ranthambore for Warren Greatrex in the bumper and he is a new addition to the stable having had one run for Charlie Longsdon.
He was sixth at Uttoxeter and I don't know a lot about him but he is well bred and comes from a good family.
A quick word now on a couple of the Alan's runners at Wincanton on Saturday - Balder Succes and West End Rocker.
I schooled upside Balder Succes the other day and although things did not go to plan on his final two starts last season at Cheltenham and Punchestown, he has not been affected.
He is a lovely horse, has done really well over the summer and remains unexposed so we will know much more about him after the Elite Hurdle.
West End Rocker has also done well after his summer break and I think the plan is to campaign him a lot more aggressively this season.
The Badger Ales Trophy looks a good place to start him off and he's in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and also the Becher Chase again.
I think that a target like the Grand National is out of the question but he should be going for the big staying handicaps again on Saturday afternoons.