I’m happy with where the horses are at the moment. I tend not to run too many over the summer, but the few that we have been running have been going well, not least Ma Belle Noir who has won three times. We’ve been delighted that she’s finally got her head in front and we’re looking forward to trying her over fences on her next outing.
Lady Adare was also a pleasing success last week in her first start over fences. She’s a mare who showed plenty of promise in her first season with us and, while things didn’t quite go to plan last year, we think we’ve finally sorted her wind now. We’ve always felt that she’s a chaser in the making and we’re delighted that she got off to a good start at Worcester.
There’s a Listed Mares’ Novice Chase at Bangor-on-Dee in November and, hopefully, we’ll go there with her next. With her wind, she’s not a horse that’ll go on very testing ground, so we’ll have to keep monitoring conditions for her. I’d like to think that there’s scope for her to be winning black-type over fences; there’s a good programme for mares now, and those races are the ones we’d like to target with her.
Gin Coco finished fifth at Ffos Las in the Welsh Champion Hurdle. His best form has been on better ground and, while this was a solid run, he wasn’t spectacular. When he came to make his challenge, he just couldn’t quite pick up as well as he does on better ground. He has far from disgraced himself, though, and we’ve always felt there was a good handicap hurdle in him, so we’ll look at Ascot’s first jumps meeting in November and get him an entry in the Greatwood. He’s not the easiest horse to find races for over the winter, due to his ground preferences, so that’s why we didn’t see him out between the Greatwood and the County Hurdle last year.
We tend to give him a break in the depths of winter, with a view to get him back out in the Spring. He was ready for a run last week, and we were able to get him out a little earlier than some of our other horses on that ground. We’ve some more targets for him before the ground gets too testing. As long as we don’t get too many of these storms, we should be alright! He’s a horse who goes well fresh, which makes targeting and planning backwards a bit easier.
Newton Abbot, Saturday
We’re looking forward to Might I making his chase debut in the Intermediate Chase (13:40), where he is taking on two other runners, one trained by my former boss Paul Nicholls, and the other by my former colleague, Dan Skelton, who was Assistant when I was Pupil Assistant. I think it’s the first time when just the three of us are represented! This is Might I’s chase debut, whereas the other two have form and are second season chasers. This is a nice place to get him started, though, as he won his maiden hurdle at this track and the ground won’t be a problem. He hasn’t actually won since that maiden hurdle victory, but he’s run some very good races in defeat. We tried mission impossible when conceding six pounds to Constitution Hill in a novice hurdle and finished the runner up in a Grade 1 at Aintree as a novice. He was also fourth in the Martin Pipe last year off top-weight, so he’s just been a little bit unlucky.
Saturday is more a case of a small field and nice place to start him off over the bigger obstacles. His schooling has gone well at home, and we’re looking forward to seeing him on the racecourse, hopefully doing what we know he can at home. He gets a bit of weight from the other two runners, being a novice, but he lacks the experience that they have. It’ll be somewhere to build from. He’s not overly big for a chaser, but he’s big enough and we’re delighted with how he’s been jumping at home. He’s a half-brother to Stattler, who is a previous winner of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Might I is ready for chasing now and I’d like to see him get back into the winning groove.
Whitehotchillifili returns to the racecourse (15:35) having spent the spring at stud in France, where she failed to get in foal, so she has come back into training. She loves the mud – she can’t have it soft enough – and, while we haven’t run her over 3m2f before, she’s run very well over a stiff three-miles before and Ben Bromley takes off a very useful five pounds. We’re looking forward to getting her season underway and the fact that the ground is in her favour is a real positive. She was the runner up on her last start, so we know she can be competitive off her mark and hope that she can go close on her reappearance.
She’s come back from stud showing all of her usual enthusiasm and hasn’t been distracted by her time away. She’s given her owners some great fun days out, and – at her age – this season will just be about trying to get her head in front again before she goes back to stud again in the Spring. No big, fancy aims for her this time – we’ll just do the best we can over hurdles.
Deeper Blue only had the one run last season but has made a good recovery from his time on the sidelines. We were slightly disappointed with his only run over fences last season, but the trip was a little on the short side, and he just got found out. We’re running him over 2m3f at Plumpton, which is more suitable. He does jump well at home, and he’s gone well over hurdles. We’re not envisaging Plumpton posing any problems, so it’ll be good to see him back in action and, hopefully, we can get his career back on track.
‘One To Follow’ for the Season
We took a lorry-load of horses over to Lambourn yesterday to school over fences and one that we were particularly pleased with was Hymac. He’s lightly raced but has won a bumper and placed over hurdles last year. We’ll be going straight in for some novice handicap chasing with him, and he could be seen out in the next week or 10 days, and he could be a good one to follow in handicaps through the season.
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