Going to war at Chepstow with Soldier
Top jockey Wayne Hutchinson reviews the last week and looks forward to an exciting ride in the Coral Welsh National.
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First of all, Happy New Year to everyone!
I start on Saturday at Wincanton with a ride on Hot Whiskey for Alan King in the novices' hurdle and he has had one run back this season at the track in October.
That was a very encouraging fourth and he has done well at home since so I would like to think he has a live chance.
I will then be getting away sharpish and heading to Chepstow for the Coral Welsh National where I ride Universal Soldier for Charlie Longsdon.
I went and sat on him on Thursday morning and he seems a lovely, big staying type and connections are pretty sweet on his each-way chances.
They think that he is crying out for three and a half miles, he is proven on heavy ground and sound hopeful of a big run from him - I was very pleased with what I saw.
He finished second behind Quartz de Thaix first time up at Haydock and I think Charlie felt he was a little bit short that day and still had something left to work on.
On the back of that, this race has been the plan since the start of the season and he looks to tick a lot of the right boxes in terms of a Welsh National winner - let's hope he is good enough.
I was back on board Bakbenscher at Newbury last Saturday and he ran another solid race under a 6lb penalty. We were pleased with that effort and he will now have a little freshen-up before his next outing.
Kuda Huraa ran with plenty of promise on the same card when sixth in the introductory hurdle. He was a little keen but jumped lovely before getting tired in the heavy ground going to the last hurdle.
He will have learnt a lot from that and will be winning his maiden or novice event in the near future.
I had two rides at Taunton last Sunday and I have to say the ground there was as deep there as I had ridden on in the last 14 days.
I had to pull Over The Rubicon up at the end of the back straight in the novices' hurdle as he simply suffered in the going.
He had jumped well but after a circuit the conditions took their toll and it was one of those days. It will be case of regrouping with him and waiting for better going as he does not handle it when it is this soft.
Hero's Call was sixth in the handicap hurdle and the ground was the excuse again for him. I tried to race wide all the way around but when these horses come off the bridle it starts to take a toll.
He handles soft going but not heavy and I still believe this horse will pop up at some stage during the season. He had come on from his first run and had improved fitness-wise so we just need to find some good to soft somewhere where he will be fine.
The ground was too soft for Go Amwell in the handicap hurdle at Fakenham and all his form is on good going. It was a muddling race and he is a bit of a character and things did not pan out for him.
But I won on board Ubaldo Des Menhies at the same meeting in the maiden hurdle and a change of tactics worked for him.
It was his second run for Oliver Sherwood in this country and after he had been ridden previously in mid-division, Leighton Aspell said that he had lacked a bit of confidence with other horses around him.
So they decided to pop him out in front in a smaller field in what looked a good novice on paper and he has routed his rivals and made the race look ordinary.
I think he will be progressive and win with a penalty on that evidence. He's definitely one to keep an eye on.