After reaching 108 winners last season it's been tougher this term, but we continue to work extremely hard and hopefully that will pay off over the next couple of months.
One very bright spot was the performance of Queen’s Magic as she showed her quality to take the mares’ bumper at Plumpton in terrific style a couple of days ago. It looked a decent contest on paper which is encouraging, with longer term aims involving the possibility of the mares’ flat race at Aintree as a logical target.
Looking ahead, the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival is always intense but it is more than worth it if you can pick up a winner at the biggest fixture of the season.
The Druids Nephew managed to win the big handicap chase for us on day one back in 2015, and it was a massive moment for the whole team. The meeting is our World Cup and walking back into the winners’ enclosure that day was truly a special moment.
We are thoroughly looking forward to sending a small but select team to Prestbury Park with the ground conditions likely to be key to most of our chances.
Kalondra – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
A course and distance winner who hopefully has a chance of being in the frame in what looks a red-hot renewal. Cheltenham seems to suit Kalondra down the ground and we are delighted to sneak into the race having been dropped 2lbs to 145.
Tikkanbar – Ballymore or Albert Bartlett
Owned by my Father, Tikkanbar has already exceeded all expectations.
Having won in brilliant style at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, it was a slightly disappointing display last time out. Having said that, several horses tried to take him on for the lead and our lad wasn’t able to settle.
A chasing career nest season is the main aim, so I don’t want to have another hard race this campaign, but he does remain in the Ballymore and Albert Bartlett. If one of those contest cuts up badly we could take our chance, but it will be a last-minute decision.
Doing Fine – Kim Muir
A lovely horse to deal with, the long-term target for Doing Fine is the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April.
The Kim Muir on the Thursday looks tailor made as far as the Festival is concerned, with James King, Champion Amateur Jockey, hopefully taking the ride. Cheltenham appears to bring out the best in the horse which is a big bonus, but he will only run if the ground is decent.
Indian Stream – David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle
Indian Stream was first British horse home in the mares’ hurdle last year, and her preparation has gone well. The ground was too soft last time out under top weight at Newbury, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that she will be spot on for Cheltenham.
It is obviously a tough contest with some excellent horses engaged, but we are happy with our runner and fingers crossed for another bold show.
Impulsive Star – National Hunt Chase
It has been a slightly difficult campaign with Impulsive Star over fences, but the four miler has been the long-term aim and we are hoping for a bold display. He wasn’t quite right last time out at Chepstow but has deliberately been kept fresh since, and I would like to think we will see a better horse at Cheltenham.
His work at home has been improving and the stamina test of the race should be ideal for a horse we have always held in high regard.
Kansas City Chief – Pertemps Final
Kansas City Chief is a solid horse who has put in three impressive displays on the bounce up in trip. I’ll need to speak to the owner to finalise the running plans, but the Pertemps Final is an option if he can sneak in at the bottom of the weights.
The Young Master – Kim Muir or Ultima
It has been a frustrating spell for The Young Master, but he is a horse we retain our faith in and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a return to form. Cheltenham has tended to be a happy hunting ground for this horse, so we are hopeful he will get into one of the races, and a recent wind op could also have a positive impact.
Carole’s Destrier – Midlands National
Carole’s Destrier ran a solid enough race in the Ladbrokes Trophy first time out, and it may be that he wants stepping up in trip as he gets older. The Midlands National at Uttoxeter looks like the ideal opportunity to do just that, and a positive ride will hopefully bring about an improved performance.
Shantou Village is in grand form at home and we are looking forward to a spring campaign on better ground. There is a race that could suit during the Scottish National Meeting at Ayr, and we are excited about what he can achieve after a mid-season break.
Lastly, Id like to wish everyone an enjoyable Cheltenham and fingers crossed we can all be lucky and pick up a winner or two!