The only place to start this week is with a look back at the Hennessy Gold Cup last Saturday and it really is with mixed emotions.
We were absolutely delighted with the way Carole’s Destrier ran in the big race at Newbury, but obviously when you come so close to winning a big one you do go away feeling a little bit sick that he didn’t get his head in front.
We knew our lad was in good form at home but we didn’t have too much pressure on our shoulders given how competitive the field was. He was getting better the further they went so to go so close without winning is always tough, but we couldn’t have asked for any more from him and most important of all he has come out of the race in great form.
He has gone up 6lbs for the run and the likely next step for him is the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, which we hope would be the sort of race that would suit him. In the last year, we have won the London National, plus the Bet365 Gold Cup and now come a close 2nd in the Hennessy, so we have a decent record in these big handicap chases and fingers crossed that will continue.
Also at Newbury last weekend, we were delighted with Solomn Grundy as he won the Pertemps Qualifier in good fashion. He was due to go up 5lbs the following day so we were keen to run him and thankfully that paid off with everything going to plan.
He settled much better on his 2nd start of the season, which was pleasing, and he could have another run over the Christmas period. However, he is one we feel is still improving and provided he gets in, the Pertemps Final in March will be the aim.
Moving on from Newbury now and we were delighted to pick up our 60th winner of the season at Southwell on Tuesday, as Mrs Burbidge won the handicap hurdle under Richard Johnson in very good fashion. It is another nice landmark for the yard to reach at such an early stage of the winter, and it is always an extra bonus to have the champion jockey on board for us.
Speaking of which, we are very lucky to be able to be able use so many top-class jockeys, but there is no doubt that Noel Fehily is our #1. I thought he gave Johns Luck an absolute peach of a ride when they won at Ffos Las on Wednesday. What’s more, Noel is a team player and it is huge for us to be able to have someone with his quality and experience riding most of our horses.
Looking ahead now and we have some exciting runners to look forward to this weekend, including Doing Fine who will be lining up in the London National at Sandown on Saturday.
We won the race last year with Carole’s Destrier, who Doing Fine actually beat back in 2014 at Ffos Las, so we are hopeful he can give a strong account of himself. He had a good first start for us when 2nd over hurdles at the back end of October, which will have given him plenty of confidence and that should have put him right for this test.
We are obviously looking forward to The Young Master taking his chance in the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday, and he is very well ahead of his seasonal debut. It looks like a very competitive Becher this year but our lad has been schooling well at home and we are hoping for a good run.
Elsewhere, we send Fingerontheswitch to Chepstow and he is taking a small drop back in trip which we hope will suit. He ran a decent race last time out at Wincanton and in slightly lesser company we are hopeful he can be in the money.
Finally, Bishops Court was running a good race up until falling at the final fence at Sedgefield last time out when booked for 2nd, with the winner that day franking the form since, and he has been schooling well ahead of his run at Huntingdon in the novices’ limited handicap chase on Sunday.