The festive period was an extremely busy time for us with horses running up and down the country, and it was pleasing to see one or two of them get their heads in front.
We were particularly delighted that Bishops Court won so well at Fontwell on Boxing Day in the handicap chase. He made a couple of mistakes, as he tends to do, but in the end he won well, and having gone up 6lbs we hope he can justify that mark next time out.
Our Newcastle bumper winner Solighoster also performed with credit over Christmas, as he finished 2nd under a penalty at Huntingdon. He has come out of the race in fine form which is excellent, and we could well send him over hurdles now rather than waiting until next season.
Solomn Grundy was another one who hit the post as he finished a very unlucky 2nd up at Wetherby in the handicap hurdle. He almost got up to claim the win despite making a bad mistake at the last, and although it was disappointing to get beaten on the day we remain very happy with him.
As a result of that performance he has been hiked up 5lbs, and we can now start planning his next run. If he continues to improve perhaps either the Pertemps Final or the Martin Pipe race could turn out to be Cheltenham Festival targets
Carole’s Destrier struggled slightly in the tacky ground which prevailed for the Welsh National at Chepstow, and I think we will concentrate on a flatter track for him in future. He is a horse that likes to get into a rhythm, and with that in mind there is a 3m listed handicap chase at Ascot that could be ideal next time out.
Crucially, he has come of the race in good form, and a trip to the Grand National at Aintree remains our plan with him this season.
It was fantastic to start 2017 in positive fashion, with Johns Luck claiming the handicap chase at Plumpton on Monday. His owners were thrilled with the win and so were we as he became our 70th success of the season. This is a lovely landmark to reach, and we will be giving it everything to keep adding to that tally over the next few months.
Looking ahead to the weekend we have plenty of runners to look forward to so we will be keeping our fingers crossed for some strong performances.
Pilgrims Bay was going well at Wetherby last time out when falling, so we are hopeful he can go well in the Bathwick Tyres limited novices’ handicap chase at Wincanton on Saturday. It is always something of a rebuilding mission after a fall, but the owner sponsors the race so it would be fantastic if he can perform to his ability.
We also send Hadfield to Wincanton on the same day for the handicap hurdle, and we would be hopeful he can be on the premises at the business end of the race. He made a couple of little mistakes last time out but he is a decent horse, and if he puts in a tidy round we will be pleased.
Moving on to Sunday, Bellamy goes to Fontwell for his first start over obstacles in the maiden hurdle. He disappointed last time out when too fresh in a bumper up at Sedgefield, so hopefully the switch to hurdles will help him relax and breathe.
The aforementioned Bishops Court also goes to Fontwell looking to follow up his Boxing Day success. He’s a course and distance winner and given that he won so well last time we are hopeful he can put in another positive display.
We have been pleased with Walt on both of his starts so far this winter, and we are hoping that a sharper test will suit him this weekend in the handicap hurdle. He was a touch keen last time out so a drop back to 2m3f should help him run his race.
Highbury High has run well at Fontwell before and he goes in the handicap chase. James King can claim a valuable 7lbs, and with the owner a local to the track we hope the horse can put in a solid display.
Fingerontheswitch heads to Chepstow for the novices’ limited handicap chase, and provided we don’t get too much rain he is hopefully on a mark that can see him run a good race.
Finally, Admiral Kid also heads across the Severn Bridge on Sunday and he remains a horse we like. Unfortunately he has fallen twice recently so we will just be hoping for a good clean round of jumping from him in the maiden hurdle.