Our columnist reveals La Bague Au Roi came into season on Saturday to explain her below-par reappearance and he takes us through his weekend team.
La Bague Au Roi was disappointing on her reappearance in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last week but I do think two issues were behind the performance.
The lesser of them was the ground. It rained all day and became very soft but Richard Johnson was unable to put his finger on what happened.
However she then came into season after the race and that would be the main explanation for me. She was never happy from the word go, if I could have stopped the race after one fence I would have done.
She never went with her usual zest, you expect to see her on the bridle and jumping boldly and it just didn't happen. It was only her class that carried her within reach of the leaders turning in.
Richard looked after her from there and she came out of it fine. It was in my mind to go to Kempton for the Ladbrokes King George on Boxing Day, and while plans can always change, I’m still inclined to think that way.
Young Lieutenant is a lovely horse and I was delighted with his hurdling debut at Newbury on Friday when he was just beaten for a bit of speed by Sir Valentine. He ideally wants softer ground but is a tremendous prospect. He’s a very good jumper with a wonderful attitude and if he keeps going the right way is very exciting.
I’m drawing a line through Miss Honey Ryder’s run at Market Rasen on the same afternoon. The ground was so testing there it was barely raceable and her best form is on good to soft. She was never going at any stage and Richard Johnson looked after her. She’ll be about again in two or three weeks’ time and we’ll avoid heavy ground in the future.
We’ve three interesting runners this weekend starting with Trio For Rio in the Premier League Betting At Virgin Bet Chase at Aintree. He did very well for us last season, winning three times, and was bought over the summer by Trevor Hemmings.
He’s been jumping well and while he’ll want here miles in time, this is a nice starting point for him over two-and-a-half. He’ll improve for the outing but is fit and well and I was very pleased with his schooling on Friday.
Star of Lanka won twice last term and finished fourth in the Lanzarote. His form faded away a little after that but he’s had his wind done and is back bigger and stronger this term. The Premier League Betting At Virgin Bet Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on Sunday is a good starting point for him. He carries condition but I hope he’s fit enough if good enough and he’ll love the ground.
Gangster was once a very high class horse in Ireland. He came to us last year but wasn’t quite right health wise so we purposefully gave him the season off. He’s come back in big and well and has had a couple of days hunting which can help freshen these older horses up.
He starts out for us over timber in the Mandy And Gary Jones Silver Wedding Anniversary Handicap Hurdle at Ffos Las. He’ll go over fences later but this is a good spot for him and it will be interesting to see how he goes. We’ll learn plenty about him on Sunday.