Daryl Jacob assesses his season so far, reflecting on Bristol De Mai, Footpad, Janika and more, while looking ahead to his Ladbrokes Trophy ride on Borice.
BRISTOL DE MAI: He ran an absolute belter in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday. He probably just got a little bit tired on the way to the last, but the winner, Lostintranslation, looks a very good horse. His form with Shloer Chase winner Defi De Seuil has stacked up well, I think those two novices from last year are very good indeed. Bristol ran the best he could run. I thought the fractions were good, his jumping was good, the only thing we would've wished for is softer ground. It's the Cotswolds Chase next for him at Cheltenham in January and as he's getting older he seems to be handling the undulating tracks a lot better, his third in the Gold Cup looks rock solid form. It's the obvious race for him, there's no point in going to the King George again.
FOOTPAD: I might well have a King George ride anyway with Footpad being aimed at the race. He was really good at Thurles last week, he showed a lot of enthusiasm and his jumping was good, so he felt as if he was getting back to his old self. He beat a nice quality field there and it's very exciting to have a potential King George ride at Kempton on Boxing day. It's obviously turning into a very hot renewal, but when I rode him two years ago I felt he had the potential to be the best horse I've ever ridden and he still could be if his problems stay away. If he keeps improving he could hit those heights, it's a step into the unknown and a few more questions have to be answered, but I can't wait to find out.
FUSIL RAFFLES: I sat on him last week and I'm delighted with the way he's come out of the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. I knew he would do and I know people are crabbing the form but you have to remember he's just a four year-old having had his third start. To come out and beat a horse that's hard fit in Grand Sancy, a horse that loves that track, I think it was a very good run and I know he has to improve, but I think he will do. He's being aimed at the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and he might have to take on Buveur d'Air there if he comes out of the Fighting Fifth well, but it would be an interesting clash. It's a speed test at Kempton but he has the attributes to cope; he's won at Wincanton which is a speed track as well and he's won the Adonis there, but we'll learn plenty about his Champion Hurdle credentials whatever happens. If we get beaten for a bit of toe around Kempton, he might well be an ideal Cheltenham contender.
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JANIKA: He's come out of his Exeter race really well, a lot better than I thought actually. He had a hard enough race in the Haldon Gold Cup, despite winning by three or four lengths, but he's trimmed up a lot like a lot of Nicky's do. It's nice we have him as an option for two mile chases when it's soft and heavy, as we have Sceau Royal for the better ground and it's looking like he'll run in the Tingle Creek next at Sandown. Janika travels well on heavy ground and he jumps well, but it's shaping up to be a tough race with Un De Sceaux coming over and Defi Du Seuil a potential rival. He's dropping in trip to two miles, but if they go hard it'll suit me as his jumping is good and he stays further, but if they go slow it is at the back of my mind he could be done for toe.
TORPILLO: Torpillo goes for the Scilly Isles on Tingle Creek weekend and it's a race myself, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have a great record in having won it in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 with Gitane Du Berlais, Bristol De Mai, Top Notch and Terrefort. I thought he was very good at Warwick on his chasing debut and he gets all the allowances being a four-year-old. We always felt he'd be an exciting chaser and it was the obvious route after getting beat over hurdles at Cheltenham.
TOP NOTCH: I think he'll go for the Peterborough Chase on Sunday week. He ran an excellent race to win at Aintree over hurdles, putting is head down when horses surrounded him despite blowing up a bit going down to the last. He retains all of his enthusiasm and his class, he has so much heart and abilty, so all the signs are good for him going forward this season.
BORICE: I'm really excited to be riding him in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday as he has a good chance. For him to win a Galway Plate on 2m6f on good ground on a sharp track like that is a major positive, as it shouldn't be ideal for him really. He's a big, strong horse and Newbury should be tailor-made for him, with its big long straight and the big, galloping track. He's got a lovely weight carrying 10st 13lb and I really fancy him, I think he's got a great chance.