Richard Johnson Blog - A good week and Aintree to look forward to

Racing
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28 March 2019

I’ve had several winners in the past week, helped by Philip’s horses being in great form. 

One of the winners was Gala Ball at Newbury, in the same ownership as Samburu Shujaa. He’d been off the track for 2 years before returning to finish second last month, and it was great to see him back in winning form. The 5 year old Zanza, a winner of a handicap hurdle at Newbury, is also going the right way. I’ve also picked up winners for Neil King and Warren Greatrex this week.

With Cheltenham ticked off, the action moves to Aintree and I’ve got some exciting rides. The mare La Bague Au Roi has beaten the 1, 2 in the RSA Chase and the second in the JLT Chase this year so her form is rock solid. She’s had a breather since winning in Ireland and I’ll school her on Friday.

In the Grand National I’ll be riding Rock The Kasbah for Philip Hobbs and the Whateleys. I’ve won several races on this horse, including three at Chepstow. The Grand National is a bit of a lottery but there’s no reason Rock The Kasbah can’t win it. This has been the plan all season and he hasn’t run since December because he goes well fresh. He showed in the bet365 Chase last April that he stays a trip. He jumps well and he likes the decent ground we’re expecting.

We took him for a day out at Exeter last week and he went well, and I expect I’ll school him next week. He ticks all the boxes for Aintree!

Native River is likely to run again at Aintree too. He has only had the three runs this season. They went quick in the Gold Cup and he had to work hard in the early part of the race, and I don’t think he was quite in the same form as he was last year but it was still a good run to finish fourth. Hopefully he’ll bounce back and run well at Aintree, he previously won the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase there in 2016.

I rode a few nice youngsters at the Cheltenham Festival including Thyme Hill for Philip Hobbs in the Champion Bumper, and Brewin’upastorm and Thomas Darby for Olly Murphy. Whether they’ll run again at Aintree I don’t know, but they’re all nice horses for the future. 

We’ve got 3 foals due at home in the next few weeks. We’re just getting the stable cameras rigged up so we can keep an eye on them. Mares tend to foal at 2 or 3am, so there are likely to be some sleepless nights ahead!

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