Looking back, it was another busy weekend for the yard, one on which it was particularly pleasing to see Solomn Grundy perform with such credit at Newcastle on Saturday afternoon.
It was a long journey to the north-east, but it proved more than worthwhile as he finished 2nd in the novices’ limited handicap chase. He jumped well which was obviously a plus, and he continues to improve with every run this winter.
Our main focus at the weekend was understandably on Newbury where we had three in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Pilgrims Bay travelled in promising style through the race, and we were delighted with his performance to finish 5th in such a prestigious contest. We will look to drop him back in trip to 3m next time out, and he could now go to Kempton just after Christmas for a 0-145 handicap chase which we hope will play to his strengths.
Carole’s Destrier was having his first run for almost a year, and with that in mind we were more than content with his performance. He was as fit as we could get him, but he should improve for the run, and he has been entered for the 3m handicap chase at Ascot on the 23rd December.
It was disappointing to see Southfield Royale pulled up, and he will now go back over hurdles with the aim of rebuilding his confidence.
Moving on to Plumpton on Monday, we were happy with the display from Kristal Hart to finish 2nd in the 2m handicap hurdle. We knew the winner would be tough to beat, but our mare put in a strong run.
Niblawi made his debut over hurdles at Haydock on Wednesday afternoon, where I enjoyed seeing him stay on again when finishing 2nd in the 2m contest. It appeared that he got caught for a little bit of speed when the winner kicked for home, but overall it was a satisfactory starting point.
Moving on, we are very much looking forward to sending Solighoster to Market Rasen on Thursday for the 3m novices’ chase. It’s only a small field but the track and conditions should suit, and we hope he can build on an excellent win at Ffos Las last time.
A crystal ball would be handy to try and predict the weather, but we are certainly looking forward to heading up to Liverpool on Saturday, with The Young Master set to run in the Becher Chase.
He fell in the Grand National last season, but he schooled well on Monday morning which was encouraging, and further experience over the famous fences can only be a good thing.
Doing Fine was a narrow 2nd in the London National last year, so it seems an obvious target for him to aim at going one better this weekend at Sandown if conditions suit. We were disappointed to have to withdraw him at Cheltenham last time out with the ground too soft, but he is in good form and we hope he can be in the mix wherever he goes.
Shee’s Lucky ran a blinder at Leicester last time out, and we are keenly anticipating her running this weekend at either Aintree or Sandown.
Finally, The Wicket Chicken will go to Sandown on Friday for the mares’ handicap hurdle, and we are hopeful that she will put in an assured display on her first start since July.