Talking Horses: Connor Brace is latest promising jump jockey from Wales

Wales turns out another promising young jockey

We will hear more from Connor Brace, picked by Nicky Henderson to claim 7lb off Verdana Blue in Saturday’s Scottish Champion Hurdle, which the pair won handsomely. The way that she bolted up suggests that an awful lot of other jockeys could have won on her, but it was interesting that Henderson was prepared to trust a 17-year-old rookie with such a mission and I thought Brace handled it extremely well, for someone who got his conditionals’ licence in September.

“It was great to get on a very nice horse like her,” Brace told me on Sunday. “We went a good gallop and she just jumped and travelled the whole way round. We’ve turned in and as soon as I’ve given her a squeeze, she’s taken off with me. I was hoping that’s how it was going to happen. She was the best in the race and showed it.”

Born and raised in Porthcawl, Brace’s introduction to racing came from his grandfather, David Brace, a trainer in Bridgend who founded Dunraven Stud, where Ask stands. “He’s got nine grandchildren but there’s only me who’s interested in horses,” Brace says. The others might have to rethink their life choices now. “Since I was five or six, I was mad to ride ponies and go racing.”

While he eventually rode in point to points for his grandfather, Brace is a product of pony racing, in which sphere he often bumped up against other talented young jockeys from Wales, James and Sean Bowen and Lorcan Williams. Pony racing barely existed in Britain as recently as 15 years ago but there’s a fair bit of it about now and I submit that we’re seeing the benefit in the quality of young jockeys entering the game.

Brace is based at Naunton with Fergal O’Brien, having been spotted by the trainer’s assistant, Sally Randell, when he beat one of Fergal’s in a point to point last year.

ITV Racing figures up again

Having reported increased viewing figures for the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, ITV report that their audience was also up for Saturday’s Scottish Grand National. The peak of 1.18m was up 17% on last year, while the average of 673,000 was also up 10%.

Monday’s best bets, by Chris Cook

Windsor is the card that’s drawn my attention, not least because of the presence of Run After Genesis (4.30), presumably named by a Phil Collins fan and a 7-2 shot for a mile handicap. There are some unexposed rivals in opposition but a good number of them will be sharper for this return, whereas Run After Genesis is already a winner this year, having scored on his handicap debut last month.

That was the grey’s handicap debut and the way he stayed on suggests he will appreciate the additional test of another furlong and a switch to fast turf. It was a bunch finish but the second and third have since made the form look pretty good.

If you play at short prices, Lambeth Walk (2.30) makes appeal, even at 4-5, for Archie Watson, who does so well with zippy youngsters. In the opening sprint handicap, Quick Recovery (2.00) is of interest at 8-1, from 12s, having done well on fast turf as a three-year-old. She’ll be sharper for her comeback run.

An hour later, I might have an each-way pot shot on Smokey Lane (3.00), a drifter out to 33-1. It’s interesting that he’s back with David Evans, having done well for him years ago before moving through other yards and gradually losing his form. The chestnut is on a fair mark and would have needed his reappearance.

Quick guide

Monday tips, by Chris Cook

2.00 Quick Recovery 2.30 Lambeth Walk 3.00 Smokey Lane 3.30 Fields Of Athenry 4.00 Deal A Dollar 4.30 Run After Genesis (nap) 5.00 Vanity Vanity 

2.10 Glinger Flame 2.40 Ringaringarosie 3.10 Etamine Du Cochet 3.40 Solo Saxophone 4.10 Prince Dundee 4.40 Sausalito Sunrise 5.10 Miah Grace 

2.20 Alminoor 2.50 Courtside 3.20 Watchable 3.50 Brandy James (nb) 4.20 The Thorny Rose 4.50 Decision Maker 5.20 Foxtrot Knight 5.50 Conundrum

Quick guide

Tuesday tips

Newmarket 1.15 Stagehand 1.50 Buridan 2.25 Azano (nap) 3.00 Kick On 3.35 Look Around 4.10 Good Vibes (nb) 4.45 Alandalos 5.20 Marhaban

Exeter 2.05 Dolphin Square 2.40 Hattab 3.15 Melekhov 3.50 You Say What 4.25 Come On Charlie 5.00 Theatre Territory 5.35 Whenhellbrokeloose

Wolverhampton 5.45 Amor Fati 6.15 Muraadef 6.45 Nooshin 7.15 Kyllang Rock 7.45 Lopes Dancer 8.15 Voice Of A Leader

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