Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Brian Hughes: It’s meant to be a ‘Premier’ meeting, not just one race


Brian Hughes: It’s meant to be a ‘Premier’ meeting, not just one race


It was great to win the River Don again last weekend. Kerryhill is a lovely type who jumps and stays well for a novice, which is what you’d expect from a three-mile point-to-point winner. I don’t know what the plans are with him next – I know that Aintree was spoken about after the race – but he’s the one to keep an eye on.

Malystic and Max Of Stars ran solid races on the day without winning. The former should come on for the run, given it was his first proper run since November and only his third of the season if you discount the effort at Kempton, where he was pulled up shortly after the start because of the jockey carrying an injury.

As for Max Of Stars, she made a mistake at the second last, which was partly my fault, to be honest. Without that, he would have finished closer. And Fiercely Proud wasn’t too far away either in the Supreme Trial. Fair play to Ben Pauling and the team for having the faith to step him up into that company against the likes of Jeriko Du Reponet. He ran with plenty of credit and proved he’s a good horse that can only improve.

Jaytee is owned and bred by a lovely man, so it was good to see him back in the groove again last Sunday. Whether it’s hurdles or fences, it all seems to come the same to him.

I had a nice double at Newcastle in the week. Not Now Nathaniel had been showing up well at home, but you never quite know how well they’re going to go on the track for the first time. She came alongside the favourite easily and then pulled herself up a bit after edging half-a-length in front. She was having a good look around but kept on nicely to the line and then took off again after the line and I couldn’t stop her!

On the same card, Moon Over Mexico didn’t love the ground but jumped and stayed well. That was his first run over hurdles and the ground would have been testing enough, so he should improve plenty.

Friday at Catterick

The only two that I’ve sat on before are Shighness (3:05 pm) and Not Staying Long (3:35 pm).

Three miles on testing ground is what Shighness wants, so this should be ideal. She’s probably better on a bit more of a galloping track but has won around Market Rasen, so I wouldn’t be too worried. She ran well on the last day and I’m expecting another good effort.

Not Staying Long is still open to improvement. She was a winner here over the distance last February, suggesting that this step back up to three miles will suit.

Saturday at Musselburgh

It’s a ‘Premier’ race day at Musselburgh and the prize money is good, but it’s a shame they can’t spread it across the card a bit more evenly.

The Edinburgh National is worth £100,000, which is great, but it feels a bit unnecessary. If they want to improve the quality of racing across the card, they should think about the other pots too. You’re going to get the same kind of runners going for a £70,000 or £80,000 Edinburgh National as you would a £100,000 race like we have this weekend, so why not use some of that elsewhere? I’m sure they’ll keep looking at these things, as it could be a simple fix that makes for better racing across the card. After all, it’s a ‘Premier’ meeting.

I’d like to see a bit more in the pot for the opener, as General Officer (1:40 pm) has a chance. I might end up with egg on my face here, but I look at his rivals and think he has to have a big chance. Monmiral, okay he’s a fair horse on his day, but he hasn’t won since 2021.

My lad has been great all season and comes into this in good form. We finished second to a Grade 1 winner in the shape of Tahmuras the last day, won well at Donny the time before that, and finished second to another good horse in Master Chewy three starts ago. He’s been around Musselburgh a few times before as well, and won there twice, which is another positive. His form is very solid and I wouldn’t swap him for anything else.

I don’t know much about Brandy McQueen (2:15 pm). He’s only a seven-year-old taking a big step up in trip, so if he stays well then we could be in with a squeak off his mark. He dropped out pretty quickly after making a mistake the last day, but hopefully, that’s a blip in what has otherwise been pretty respectable recent form.

Ballygeary (2:50 pm) is solid. He ran well on the last day here at Musselburgh and was running off just a pound higher, so he should be in the mix again.

Got Your Back (3:25 pm) steps up to 3m, which won’t be a problem for a horse like him. He’s got a bit to find against most of the field, but I wouldn’t look into the ratings too much at this stage of their careers.

As for the two coming over from Ireland, Routine Excellence (4:00 pm) and Superbolt (4:35 pm), I don’t know too much, apart from the fact my agent was keen to book me for them! Riding for Gavin Cromwell is no bad thing given his form in the UK so far this season, whilst Tony Martin running one on handicap debut in the UK off a mark of 104 is interesting.

In the Galopin Camp

There’s some brilliant action over in Ireland this week, with a rematch between Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow being one of the main attractions.

If Galopin Des Champs can put two runs together, then he’s going to be very hard to beat. He was very impressive in the Savills Chase, and I’d imagine Willie Mullins has him firing on all cylinders now, so he’s hard to oppose. If I had the choice, it would have to be Galopin.