The best place to start this week is with a look back at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting. It is obviously fantastic that we have been having so many winners of late, but there is no doubt that a couple of big successes on a Saturday gives the yard a major boost, especially when they are live on TV.
We knew that Shantou Village and Fox Norton were in good form going into their races, but they both had to go and do the business on the track, and thankfully they did just that.
It was lovely to see that Fox Norton had improved over the summer, as we hoped he had, and like everyone else we were impressed with the way he ran. It was his first start in handicap company and given the fact that he has gone up 15lbs because of such an excellent performance, it is likely to be his last start in that sphere!
Fox Norton has an entry in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter next week but the Shloer Chase back at Cheltenham next month remains the more likely option.
Shantou Village made that mistake at the top of the hill during his race but I was happier with him after that to be honest. He showed guts to get himself out of trouble and to get up the hill and win after that was particularly pleasing, apart from that mistake he produced a lovely round of jumping.
He has come out of the race in great nick and we will be keeping an eye on the ground before we make any decisions on where he goes next. Ideally, I would like to get another run into him before he has a mid-season break, but he won’t want it too soft so we will just play it by ear and keep an eye on the weather forecast.
It wasn’t all good news at Cheltenham though with Pinkie Brown a faller on the Friday. Happily, he appears to have come out of his race fine, which is great news, and we will give him a plenty of schooling ahead of his next run to restore confidence.
I spent much of the early part of the week searching for new talent at Newmarket sales. This is an exciting process but there is no doubt that it is hard work. There is plenty of competition for the best horses, but we managed to pick up a couple of new recruits and hopefully they will be providing our yard with winners for years to come.
A special mention should go to Earls Fort who has been a real star for us this week with two wins in three days at Chepstow and Sedgefield. He defied a 7lb penalty to win on Thursday and we were delighted to give his owner, John Maguire, a winner at his local track.
Moving on, we have a lovely set of runners heading to Wetherby on Friday afternoon and we will be keeping our fingers crossed for some strong performances.
ClondawCracker makes his hurdling debut for us and he is one we are looking forward to running. He has won his point-to-point and his bumper so he does have experience of jumping which is a positive so fingers crossed he can be successful today.
Hadfield is one we bought out of John Ferguson’s yard and he will be making his debut for us this afternoon in the 2m handicap hurdle. A son of Sea The Stars who we could also run on the flat in the future, he has been going well at home and we are hoping he can pick up some prize money for his new owner.
Indian Stream ran very well on seasonal debut and we are hoping she can be on the premises in the handicap chase. Despite carrying plenty of weight, she travelled well at Chepstow before getting tired and having been dropped a 1lb and going left handed we have our fingers crossed she can run well.
Queen’s Bay was unlucky last time when slipping on landing at Newton Abbot and she is another one we hope can be involved in the finish. She ran a nice race before that fall last time out and she will be wearing first time cheek pieces in the handicap chase. En Joule had a bad experience at Bangor earlier in the summer but she has picked up confidence in her last two starts and if she can reproduce her bumper form, she too could be in the mix.
None of ours go to Ascot on Saturday with the ground still too quick but we do have a couple of yard favourites making the trip up to Wetherby. Pass The Time seems to run well wherever she goes so we are hopeful about her chances in the mares race, whilst Kalondra has won his last two and there is no reason why he can’t make his presence felt with Tom Scudamore on board in the handicap hurdle.