Strong Team Set For Sandown After Fantastic Punchestown Success
Friday 28th April 2017
The final week of the season is always a busy one with big meetings on both sides of the Irish Sea, and thankfully the team continue to be in good form.
Kalondra had a big ask off top weight in the handicap hurdle at Ayr last Saturday, but he put in an admirable performance to finish 4th. He has been an excellent horse for us all winter, so it was fantastic to see him putting in another strong display in such a competitive contest.
In the Scottish Grand National itself, Southfield Royale jumped and travelled well before fading. He seems to have come back home in fine form, but maybe he didn’t quite see the trip out as well as we would have hoped.
We were delighted to see Lubatic win the bumper at Wincanton on Sunday afternoon, and he is a horse we hope has a bright future. It was only a small field but they went a good gallop, and it was pleasing to see him improve from his first start earlier in the month.
We will give the horse a little break now before he comes back for a novice hurdling campaign later in the summer. He is one that will need decent ground so in a similar fashion to the way we have campaigned Shantou Village, he could have two smaller breaks during the year, rather than a long summer holiday.
Earls Fort had his first run since November at Warwick on Monday, and it was lovely to see him perform so well. He finished 2nd in the 2m3f handicap hurdle which was fantastic, and he will go novice chasing over the summer.
We also have Stealing Mix to look forward to this summer after he won the maiden hurdle at Exeter on Wednesday. It was lovely to see him do the job so well, so hopefully we can have some success with him on decent ground.
Dead Right winning the flat race at Punchestown on Thursday was a huge result. It was our first winner at the Festival, in fact it was our first success in Ireland so it really was a special occasion for the team.
He is a horse we have always thought highly of, and after running well on debut he seems to have improved as time has gone on. The form of the race looks very solid on paper, and we hope he is one to look forward to over hurdles next season.
It was also lovely to be able to give Jonjo O’Neill Jr his first win at the Punchestown Festival. He gave the horse a superb ride, and it was all the more special as it came in the JP McManus colours.
Looking ahead to Saturday, we obviously have a strong hand in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown with three horses going there with a chance. It is rare to be in a position like this with a trio of horses at the head of the market for such a big race, and they all have claims.
The Young Master fell in the Grand National but he has shown no ill-effects since, and he goes there off the same mark he won on last year which hopefully puts him in the frame.
The Druids Nephew will appreciate the good ground, he ran really well last year to finish 5th, and would have been closer if he wasn’t hampered.
Finally, Doing Fine was a fantastic winner at Cheltenham last week which is encouraging, but he will need to prove he can back up that run quickly.
Lastly this week, we send Shantou Village to Sandown on Saturday for the novices’ handicap chase, and we very much he can put in a strong display. He picked up a nice confidence boosting win at Fontwell recently, and he appears to be in good form ahead of what is looks like a competitive contest.