Jockey Mattie Batchelor is hoping King Harald can bounce back to form in the Sky Bet Chase at Southwell on Saturday.
After a thrilling victory in the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season, everything has not gone to plan for the Mark Bradstock-trained eight-year-old.
However, Batchelor has issued an upbeat bulletin and connections are hopeful of a much better run this weekend.
“All being well he’s going to run,” Batchelor told At The Races. “I spoke to Mark and Sarah (Bradstock) this morning and the horse is very bullish and ready to take his chance.”
King Harald managed to win at Cheltenham despite making a terrible mistake at the final fence after setting the pace. Batchelor’s recovery on the horse earned him an award for ride of the season.
“It was nice for the horse to win a race of that calibre,” continued the jockey. “Plenty of other horses would have fallen or wouldn’t have got up the hill after a mistake like that. It just shows you how much ability he has and it’s nice to ride a horse like that.”
The gelding’s Festival victory has resulted in a steep rise in the weights which has made life tougher for King Harald this season.
“Life is more difficult for him now. The Hennessy was a bit of a blip but I rode him last week and he seemed well,” added Batchelor.
“When I rode him first time this season at Cheltenham he felt as if he’d come on a bit and I believe he is a better horse this year.
“He wasn’t himself in the Hennessy, after jumping the first two fences I wasn’t happy with him. He unseated me which was probably a blessing in disguise as he didn’t have a hard race.
“It’s been a while since Mark had a winner but they have been running well even if they haven’t been winning.
“He’s had a couple of bumper horses that have run well so that’s a good sign. They’re all in good heart and I hope they start winning again soon.”