How’s The Cricket (13:45 Taunton)
We decided to wait and skip Wincanton on Boxing Day to come here instead. He’s won over the course and distance, albeit over hurdles. The alternative was Exeter on Sunday, but that could be very testing, so we’ve opted for the slightly better ground at Taunton. He’s in good form in himself at home. He obviously won well at Ffos Las on his chasing debut, so a flat track suits him well. He runs off the same mark as he did at Exeter and I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and off his rating, I think he can still be competitive.
Credrojava (14:15 Taunton)
We had this race in mind, even before she made a winning hurdling debut at Fontwell. We were delighted to see her get off the mark there. Yes, this is a step up in grade, you’ve got Fergal O’Brien’s mare who won last time out, and Dan Skelton’s mare finished runner-up in a Listed Mares’ Novice Hurdle to the smart filly, Luccia, out of Henderson’s. They’re two horses that bring good form to the table and will set the bar. But Credrojava has done nothing wrong so far and we’re looking forward to running her in a better race. The drop in trip shouldn’t be a problem. We feel she’s going the right way and she’s in good form in herself at home.
Muy Bien (15:45 Taunton)
He hasn’t progressed as we had hoped. His runner-up effort back in the Spring was good form at the time, but he hasn’t built on that. We’re trying a first time tongue strap and cheekpieces, so effectively throwing the kitchen sink at him. He’s been weak in the finish of his races and that probably best summarises his career to date. So, we’re just hoping that by going back to Taunton, where he has run well in the past, brings out the best in him.
Lady Adare (13:50 Newbury)
We’re hoping that we can finally get her season started. I can’t believe it has taken until New Year’s Eve before we run her for the first time, but in fairness things have conspired against her, with the weather early on in the season. She then spiked a temperature when she went all the way up to Bangor, so didn’t run there. We had to give her a chance to get over that. She was due to run at Cheltenham before Christmas, but that was called off. However she’s in good form in herself at home. The trip of 2 miles 4 furlongs around a galloping track at Newbury should suit her, although running against the boys wouldn’t necessarily have been our first choice, that’s just the way the cards have been dealt. But she’s 3 from 3 over hurdles and we’re just looking forward to finally getting her season underway. She’s ready to go and hopefully she can run a race full of promise. Win, lose or draw she’ll definitely build on what she does on Saturday, and we can then plot the rest of her campaign from there.
Queen Annie (14:18 Uttoxeter)
She’s a nice mare by Westerner, who was placed in an Irish Point-to-Point. She shows a really good attitude at home. She’s a fine big mare and we’d like to think she’ll run a nice race first time of asking. As with all these bumpers, you never know quite what you’re up against but we’re happy with what she’s showing us at home. And all being well, she should be there or thereabouts at the business end.
Lydford Lad (14:53 Uttoxeter)
He was second for us on stable and chase debut. That was a very pleasing run. We just bumped into a very well handicapped horse on the day, but he seems to have come forward for that run and with that experience of his first run over fences under his belt, we think he can go very close again. He jumped really nicely at Ffos Las and was just bit unlucky to come up against a well-treated rival. One of the co-owners, Mr Paul Barber, celebrates his birthday on Saturday, so it would be nice if we can give him a birthday winner.
Whisky Express (12:55 Exeter)
As I’ve mentioned previously she doesn’t make life easy for the jockey in her runs so far. Truth be told I’d prefer to run her on a left handed track, but the options aren’t there. We’re dropping her in trip, but it will be testing ground, so that won’t hurt. And I think you’ll see us making more use of her on Sunday and she’ll have the assistance of first time cheekpieces as well. So we’ll be changing things up with her and if she cooperates with the jockey’s instructions, she could run a nice race. Johnny’s (Burke) view is that she’s been doing bloody well to get as close as she has in her last two runs, running the way she has. A galloping track like Exeter will hopefully enable us to make plenty use of her and help make up her mind up. She definitely has the ability to be very competitive off her current rating.
Danton (13:30 Exeter)
He made a pleasing enough debut in a bumper at Exeter, but his hurdling debut just didn’t go to plan. He seemed to forget about all the schooling he did at home! He was very novicey. He has done plenty more schooling since and does jump well at home. But we’ll be looking to see him apply that on the racecourse. He’s very much a work in progress at this stage and is on a learning curve.
How Will I Know (14:05 Exeter)
This has actually been a good race for us, Dubrovnik Harry won it last year and we’ve also won it with King Roland and Neon Wolf in the past. How Will I Know ran well at the track in early December and that race has had a boost, with the winner winning at Kempton on Boxing Day. The step up in trip seemed to suit the Skelton horse and it will definitely play to the strengths of How Will I Know as well. So, we’d be hopeful of a very good run from him on Sunday.
Happy New Year.