We start this week by looking back at the Cheltenham Festival, where once again we found out just how competitive the handicaps are…
Any trainer will tell you it is extremely tough to get your horses into the winners’ enclosure, but happily the majority of ours ran decent races so we can’t be disappointed, although the fall of Southfield Royale in the Kim Muir was particularly frustrating as we felt he had a great chance.
Importantly, he has come home without a scratch on him, and the Scottish Grand National at Ayr is likely to be his end of season target.
The ground ended up being too tacky for The Druids Nephew in the Ultima, but The Young Master put in an encouraging display in the same contest to finish 6th. We have made no secret that the Grand National is his main target, and with that in mind it was fantastic to see him doing his best work at the end of the race.
We were delighted with Indian Stream in the Mares’ Hurdle as she finished 4th behind three top class horses. She came to the last travelling well, and to be the first of the British mares’ home is a cracking achievement. We haven’t made any specific plans for her at the moment, but she has the option of hurdles or fences so she is a terrific horse to have in the yard.
Impulsive Star never quite got into it in the Pertemps Final with the ground probably coming up a little too quick for him on the day. We obviously wanted him to perform better but we are excited to send him chasing next season, and with a bit of luck we could see him in the four miler in 2018.
Away from Cheltenham, the string has been in good form over the past ten days or so, although a number of them narrowly missed out when making the frame. It’s always frustrating when the horses don’t quite get there in a tight finish, but on the flip-side it shows the team are in good form in general.
One that did get his head in front was Moayadd, who made it three on the spin when winning in impressive fashion at Kempton on Monday afternoon. Hollie Doyle has built up a lovely partnership with the horse recently and he is likely to be seen again quickly, with either Lingfield or Newcastle on his agenda next week.
Looking ahead to the weekend, we have a number of entries but the underfoot conditions will dictate how many we run, and where.
Doing Fine has entries at Newbury and Wincanton and we would like to get a run into him in on decent ground. He has been off since December, and although it might be tough for him to get in, he does also hold an entry for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
We were pleased with Hygrove Percy on his re-appearance last time out, and he wouldn’t have to improve much to be in the mix at Newbury on Saturday in the juvenile handicap hurdle. We are likely to be double-handed in that one with Dusty Raven also set to take his chance, and he should improve from his last run when the ground was too soft.
Most Celebrated ran well last time but didn’t get home in testing conditions, so provided the sun shines we are hoping he will perform well this weekend, at either Newbury or Wincanton.
Elsewhere, Walt has entries at Bangor and Hereford, and he is fresh and well at home so we hope he can put in another rock-solid performance.
Finally this week, we were disappointed to have to scratch Carole’s Destrier from the Aintree Grand National after he was found to be sore behind. He will miss the rest of the season but it isn’t anything too serious, and hopefully he will be back to full fitness for the new campaign.