Brian Hughes: I was hoping Shishkin would be going to Haydock!
It was good to win with Richmond Lake last weekend. That was over hurdles and he is a better chaser, so we’re looking forward to the season ahead with him now. All being well, he’ll go to Aintree for a valuable chase next. Donald’s [McCain] horses are starting to get back into some good form, so hopefully, we’re in for a nice run of it.
Friday at Catterick
I kick off with Union Flag (12:40pm), who I won on last time. Despite winning, it wasn’t an ideal race as we were left in front turning in and he was very green.
This looks like the right sort of race and Donald is clearly thrilled with him as he is out quick again. He’s a big strong horse and carrying a penalty shouldn’t cause a problem for him. Hopefully, he’ll run well again and then maybe we’ll go back to Musselburgh on New Year’s Day.
Royle Steel (1:15pm) got up late last time and should improve again for it. The handicapper has not been unduly hard on him, so you would like to think that he would be competitive off his revised mark.
Geromino (1:50pm) is rock-solid. His form is strong, and we think he is still competitive off his mark. The step back up in trip should suit and he’ll be in the mix if running up to his best form.
Got Your Back (2:25pm) has his first run for us. He’s a lovely young horse that has done everything right at home. He’s up in trip and over hurdles for the first time, and he schools well and everything he has done at home has pleased us. Got Your Back is a nice horse and we’re looking forward to running him.
Iorangi De L’Isle (3:35pm) is ready to go, having missed a few engagements because the ground got too deep, so hopefully our patience is rewarded. He’s a 3m point-to-point winner, though, and I don’t think he’ll be spending too long in bumpers!
Saturday at Ascot
With Shishkin to beat, it’s not going to be easy for Minella Drama (1:30pm), but we are the only horse in the field with a run under our belt. He ran well on his return at Aintree and I think going right-handed at Ascot will suit. Strictly on ratings, we look fairly matched with Pic D’Orhy, but Shishkin is in the race, and he is a fair horse. I was hoping he’d be going to Haydock!
We’re fit and I’d love to think we could beat him, but Shishkin is some horse. I think we’ll give him a good race, though. We’re hoping he likes Ascot and can pitch up again in the Ascot Chase in February.
A fair bit has been made of Harry Cobden not being at Haydock for Bravemansgame, and if that is because he’s chasing the title, then there’s still every chance he can close the gap. Plenty of season remains, and he rides for one of the most powerful stables in the country.
Malystic (3:15pm) needed the run badly the last day, so I think he’ll improve plenty. He worked well the other day and deserves a shot at a race like this. There’s £100k up for grabs in an eight-runner handicap, so you can’t be walking away from those.