The whole team is looking forward to Trials Day at Cheltenham, where we are due to run Love Envoi and Gidleigh Park. You never know what’ll happen on the day, but, if everything goes to plan, it could be a very exciting day for all of us.
Love Envoi made her reappearance at Sandown in the rearranged Fighting Fifth and we were actually quite pleased that she finished second because of the way she had run her race – Johnny Burke said it felt like she was running with the handbrake on. Certainly in the first part, she hadn’t really got into stride and wasn’t jumping with her normal vigour. I’m pleased to say, though, that she’s come forward plenty for that run. She wasn’t quite 100% after the race, and she has come back from an injury at the end of last season, but we gave her a chance and she’s absolutely A1 again. We’ve definitely seen an improvement in her work, and her schooling has been much sharper.
We’re all set to go to Cheltenham on Trials Day for the Grade 2 International Hurdle (15.00). It’s on the New Course, on which she won the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival two years ago, so she’s got course form and we’re hoping to see her take a big step forward from her reappearance. While she runs over two miles this time, I think her optimum trip is definitely two-and-a-half, and we’ve made no secret of the fact that the main objective is to take her back to Cheltenham in March for the Mares’ Hurdle, where she ran a great race last year to finish second to Honeysuckle.
Our hand has been forced by the weather, but it’s important that she runs before the Festival. We could wait for the mares’ hurdle over slightly further at Warwick in early February, but, since we know we’ve got a break in the weather, we’re keen to just get her out while we can.
In the Grade 1 novices’ hurdle is Gidleigh Park (16:10), who will be running at Cheltenham for the very first time. The track is unique and will present its own challenges, but that’s why we’re keen to go there and give him the experience. He’s won around Chepstow and Exeter, which are both undulating tracks and unique in their own rights – every course is different!
If everything goes to plan on Saturday, we’ll hope to go straight to the Festival for the Baring Bingham over two-and-a-half miles. That’s our main focus at the moment, but he may have an entry in the Albert Bartlett, just to give us some options. At the moment, though, we think two-and-a-half is his trip.
He’s a lovely young horse by Walk In The Park; a sire who is getting plenty of publicity at the moment with lots of good horses by him. Certainly, from our point of view, Gidleigh Park seems to be the best horse we’ve had by him, but he’s got to go and prove his worth on the track now.
He’s a typical Walk In The Park in that he can be a little sharp in the mornings, but that’s a good sign and shows that he’s feeling well. We’re looking forward to stepping him up in grade on Saturday, but he’s done everything we’ve asked of him so far, winning both his races and improving for the step up in trip last time. His jumping that day got better both as the race progressed and as the pace quickened, which is encouraging. He just seems to be growing up and learning all the time, both at home and on the track. His schooling certainly seems much sharper and more efficient. We’re very excited about him and hope we can keep the dream alive!
Have a lovely weekend,