Harry Cobden “Conditionally Speaking” 15th December 2016

Being fortunate enough to be attached to Paul Nicholls’ powerful stable is a blessing for a conditional rider like myself, but the return of Sam Twiston-Davies after his injury has meant the boss has had to shuffle his pack, and I’ve had a quieter time of it in the past fortnight.

Despite that, there have still been some nice horses, not least of which is the highly progressive Tobefair. Mrs Hamer’s six-year-old by Central Park gave me a great feel at Chepstow in a competitive handicap hurdle, eventually winning by two lengths. He’s a really nice big chasing type who has won his last five races now, moving from an opening rating of 81 to his current mark of 126! I think he could still be ahead of the handicapper over hurdles, but I can also definitely see him winning a couple of novice chases in time.

On the same Chepstow card, I rode Daylami Kirk, a 33/1 outsider, trained by Ron hodges. He’s a huge lad – he stands at about 17’2 – and this striking son of Daylami really impressed me. This was his debut and we were only headed in the last half a furlong: there is undoubtedly more to come from this horse as he was green throughout, and I’d be confident in saying that he will run a tidy race next time. Looking ahead, a fellow with his size, I’d imagine his future could be quite rosy over fences in years to come.

In keeping with the way it has been in recent times, All Set To Go provided me with another Saturday win last weekend – my third week in a row where Saturday has been ‘winner day’.

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Rated 102 when last seen on the flat, he showed a nice turn of foot after the last in this decent Doncaster handicap hurdle. All the way around he jumped and travelled great and won a little cosily, although one thing I will say is the handicapper hasn’t taken any chances with a revised mark of 146.

A couple of hours later, my old mate Cliffs Of Dover proved as tough as ever showing some real class in the process. He travelled and jumped beautifully as I made the running and, jumping the fourth last I was about 15 lengths clear. I managed to get a breather into him after the third last so, as one of Joseph O’Brien’s came within a few lengths of us after the last, my lad was firmly in command, though he did finish quite tired. He’s likely to be push higher than his current perch of 140 when reassessed, and he’s one of the highest rated juveniles in the country. Surely he’s entitled to a crack at the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival now.

I ride Royal Native for Anthony Honeyball this afternoon. There aren’t too many secrets with this chap, who was a bit unlucky to come down last time in a better race. The drop in grade combined with a return to his last winning mark and a testing track mean he’s well suited to conditions and I’m hopeful of a good spin round.

Looking further ahead, I’m waiting to see what I might ride at the weekend. Modus is a possible in the last race at Ascot, a valuable handicap hurdle over two miles. He’s gone up a few pounds for two narrow defeats in his last two starts, but remains in good form.

And a bit further on than that, I can pass on a strong word for Amour De Nuit. A smart flat horse, rated as high as 106 for Sir Mark Prescott, he could make his debut in a maiden hurdle at Taunton on Monday. He’s schooled brilliantly and, though he may want further in due course, he ought to be capable of winning first time up.

Even through what has been a quiet spell for me, my tally is up to 35 winners for the season, putting me 13 winners clear in the conditional jockeys’ title. As I always say, though, you’re only ever one tumble away from sitting a few months out, so there will be no complacency in this corner!

Until next time,


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