Royal can rule for me in the big race down at Taunton
Taunton on a Saturday might not sound the most high-profile fixture to be riding at, but it's a very decent fixture.
The Weatherbys Portman Cup Chase has £50,000 of prize-money on offer and ROYAL VACATION (2.50, Taunton) is my hope of picking up a nice slice of that. I rode him in the London National at Sandown last month and he actually ran a lot better than his sixth place suggests.
He just struggled on the soft ground that day and this sounder surface will suit him much better. You only have to look at his previous effort when a close second in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase to see what he's capable of.
He is capable of running a big race and Colin Tizzard has been in great form in the big Saturday races.
My best chance of the day probably lies with THOMAS DARBY (1.40, Taunton).
I haven't ridden him before, but he has been highly-tried since winning his bumper at Huntingdon and ran with credit each time.
This looks like being an easier option and hopefully he'll get his head in front and enjoy a nice confidence-booster.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT (3.25, Taunton) is another with a great chance in the British EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle.
Unlike Smackwater Jack, he doesn't have to carry a 6lbs penalty and was only beaten two lengths by Tidal Flow at Kempton last time.
There was a long way back to third that day and a replication of that could be good enough.
WHAT A HOOT (4.25, Taunton) was third under me on her only start in a Bumper on the all-weather at Lingfield in November and she was another who ran better than her finishing position suggested.
She will definitely benefit for the experience and getting on the grass will suit her more. I would say she has a decent each-way chance.
I have two rides at Exeter tomorrow. HALDON HILL (1.45, Exeter Tomorrow) won his Bumper over course and distance and the starsports.bet Maiden Hurdle looks a good opportunity to follow up providing his inexperience doesn't count against him.
My other ride is SHANG TANG (4.30, Exeter Tomorrow) who I rode when he finished sixth on his debut at Chepstow. If he can build on that first effort and replicate the promise he has shown at home, he should run very well.
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1.40 Thomas Darby
2.50 Royal Vacation
3.25 Before Midnight
4.25 What A Hoot (e/w)
1.45 Haldon Hill
4.30 Shang Tang