While we’ve had a quiet week in terms of runners, we’ve got a busy day ahead at Exeter and Plumpton on Monday, and everyone is looking forward to having a runner at Cheltenham on Sunday.
Gin Coco is all set for the Greatwood Hurdle (15:30), having finished as the runner-up in the race last year. We were pleased with his comeback run at Ffos Las, albeit he needs to step forward from that. We’ll be hoping that the ground doesn’t get too soft, as we know that he likes slightly better ground and softer going can blunt his finishing efforts. He schooled really nicely on Thursday, he’s on good terms with himself and that run should have got him spot on for this. So, if conditions don’t become too testing, he should be able to run another big race and reproduce or improve on the form of last year.
We’ve potentially got a very busy day on Monday, with runners at both Exeter and Plumpton. Might I starts off proceedings in the 2m3f novices’ chase (12:40). We decided to wait for this, as opposed to running him in the Rising Stars last weekend. I was pleased with his chase debut at Newton Abbot, when runner-up to Complete Unknown, and we want to give him a bit more practice before stepping him up in grade. Hopefully this will be an ideal opportunity for him to gain some more confidence and jump well, so it can be a nice stepping stone to better targets later on in the season. He’ll have learnt plenty from his chase debut, so I’d like to see him channel some of that into his performance here.
Gidleigh Park is next in the 2m½f novices’ hurdle (13:15). He’s a lovely young horse who we’re looking forward to seeing out this season. We’ve taken our time with him and have let him come to hand on his own account and we’ve done plenty of schooling. Exeter should be the ideal track to start him off over hurdles; it’s a nice, big, galloping course and he showed plenty of promise when he was successful in his racecourse debut in a bumper at the end of last season. Let’s hope he can keep the dream alive in his transition to hurdles.
In the 2m2½f mares’ novices’ hurdle we run Queen Annie (14:25). She’s a bumper winner from last season, winning in testing conditions at Chepstow. She’ll get further than this trip, but this is a nice starting point. She schools really well and, hopefully, we’ll see her make a good start to her hurdling career.
Lady Adare will go and take her chance in the rearranged 2m1½f Listed mares’ novices’ chase that they lost at Bangor this week (15:00). She took a big step forward when runner-up in the Rising Stars last weekend and, as long as that hasn’t taken too much out of her and she’s able to replicate that form on Monday, she should go very well. She’s come out of Wincanton very well, so we’ll hope for the best.
Following is Great Name That in the three-mile handicap chase (15:35). He was a little unlucky last year, always finishing second or third in his four runs, but he’s very much a chaser in the making so three miles round Exeter should really suit him. He jumps really well and I’m hoping that he can get off to a good start.
The last of our Exeter runners is Anno Power in the bumper (16:10). She is a lovely young horse and she’ll have the benefit of a mares’ seven-pound allowance here. She’ll learn a lot for this, and we’ll also learn more about her, but she shows us plenty at home and we’d like her to show the same on the racecourse.
Plumpton should be commended for the amount of prize money on offer on their Monday card, where Ree Okka gets his season underway in the 2m3½f handicap chase (13:40). Yet another good prize put up on a Monday, worth just £2,500 less than the equivalent race at Cheltenham the day before, which is quite extraordinary.
We’ve had this race in mind for him for some time and he’s a second season novice now, having not got his head in front last year over fences, and the hope is that the experience gained from last season will stand him in good stead.
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