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Jacob mustn't feel like a number one

OVER the weekend Paul Nicholls suggested that the reason Daryl Jacob was overlooked for the ride on Big Buck's was because Jacob had described the ride as a "poisoned chalice" ... how ironic.

Indeed it was Jacob who inherited a poisoned chalice when he stood up to the mark as stable jockey to Nicholls back in May and tried to follow in the footsteps of Ruby Walsh.

I say stable jockey, that is the role the racing world assumed Jacob held, although Nicholls this week said: "He isn't the retained jockey at Ditcheat, he's our main jockey. There's a difference. He'll never ride all our horses and at no point did he think he would."

Now, maybe I'm missing something, but when Nicholls was quoted after Walsh's departure in May as saying: "Daryl takes over as the number one and I am as delighted for him as I am sad to see Ruby go; Daryl has earned his chance," it certainly looked as if Daryl would have first call on the horses, just as Ruby did.

I suppose the point is that there's no doubt what happened with Daryl Jacob certainly wouldn't have happened with Ruby Walsh, but surely a stable jockey or "number one" is exactly that and has the pick of the rides?

If Jacob did make remarks about Big Buck's being a poisoned chalice ride, however, it would seem a rather foolish comment to make and a jockey that has been around as long as he has surely must know it's just as important to say the right things when dealing with owners and trainers.

It was clear from a long way out, though, that Andy Stewart wasn't keen on Jacob riding the apple of his eye, Big Buck's, and it has also been fairly evident that Sam Twiston-Davies' standing in Ditcheat is growing by each big ride he is being handed by Nicholls.

We are now eight weeks from the Cheltenham Festival and Paul Nicholls is the leading trainer across the water, something he wouldn't have even expected last May as there looked like being a changing of the guard with him and Nicky Henderson.

And while a lot can change in the next eight weeks, something that Jacob wouldn't have been expecting when he got promoted last May was that Nicholls would have the favourite for the World Hurdle, the second favourite for the Gold Cup and the favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle – yet he wouldn't be riding any of them.



Being number two jockey for Paul Nicholls saw Sam Thomas win a Cheltenham Gold Cup, but deputising as number one pretty much ruined his career.

Being number two jockey for Paul Nicholls saw Daryl Jacob win an Aintree Grand National, but becoming number one might well be going in a similar direction.

Yet, racing is a funny game ... if Jacob wins the World Hurdle on Celestial Halo or Zarkandar, the Gold Cup on Al Ferof and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle on Nicholls' second string, how it would all change fairly rapidly.

As it stands though, I wouldn't be offering huge prices about a change to the 'number one' at Ditcheat next season.