Welcome to my first Grosvenor Sport blog. I certainly hope it proves to be useful to you in terms of finding winners. I’m really excited about the season ahead. I know every trainer says this, but I feel like we have our best ever team of horses. There are several young, potentially progressive horses who we haven’t seen the best of yet and could go on to be competitive in the big Spring Festivals.
My weekly blog will include a quick debrief into my runners over the last seven days, a preview of my weekend chances and some horses to keep an eye on for next week. So, let’s get started…
Week in Review
Ask Me Early – 3rd Bangor, Wednesday
I was delighted with his run. Conditions were testing which we know he relishes. But after the mishap last season, we just wanted to see him do what he did, which was basically jump, gallop and jump. Okay he only finished 3rd, but it was a solid run in a deep enough race, as the winner was having his first run for Dan Skelton and is now well fancied for the Coral Gold Cup, the runner-up was a previous Grand National Trial winner, and the 4th was a previous Classic Chase winner. Our horse wouldn’t have been fully wound up for that. We used the run as a stepping-stone for the Welsh Grand National after Christmas, which he was favourite for last year, but didn’t make the race. Sean gave him a lovely ride, looked after him and we now have a little over six weeks to get him ready and can look forward to giving it a good go.
Get Back Get Back – 1st Kempton, Monday
It was great to see him win, his first visit to the winners’ enclosure in over two years. Running him on good to soft was a bit of a risk, as we always thought he wanted quick ground which we still believe he does! But I think we got away with it on Monday. He was dropped in the handicap and Ben’s claim also helped. He won well, but I don’t think it’s a race that’s going to work out particularly well. We’ll probably look to go again next Wednesday at Warwick without a penalty in another boys race.
Metier – 1st Doncaster, Saturday
My post-race comment of using it as a racecourse gallop was obviously said tongue in cheek. But like all of ours, we were looking to get him started. He had an entry in the Greatwood this weekend, but that was only good to soft with a dry forecast in prospect. I was looking through the entries to see what was coming up and Doncaster was going to be testing, and as soon as we made the entry it began to make sense to run him. We weren’t entirely sure that he’d have enough speed in those conditions dropping him in trip to a mile and a half. But Saffie Osborne gave him a lovely ride and it couldn’t have worked out better. Testing conditions definitely suits him, he just seems to handle them so much better than others. I feel some people crab his record a little bit. But he’s four from eight over hurdles and one from one on the flat, so he’s won five in nine starts, and that includes a Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle, a £100K handicap hurdle at Lingfield and a November Handicap. You wouldn’t mind if they all did that! We’ll probably work towards that Winter Million card again at Lingfield. There’s the 2 mile handicap that he won last season, but there’s also the 2 mile 3 furlongs conditions hurdle and we might look at that this time around. Before that we could run him at Ascot just before Christmas for that valuable handicap hurdle. He was 4th in the race last year and it’s a nice prize. Essentially we’ll run him where ground conditions suit. I wouldn’t entirely rule out running him in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham if conditions came in his favour. One thing that the win last Saturday did rule out, was a novice chase campaign, as if you can win prizes on the flat like that, he’s probably not worth risking over fences.
Ree Okka – 2nd Aintree, Saturday
We were very happy him. Winning is the name of the game, and obviously that’s what we strive for, but I thought he did everything bar win. He jumped brilliantly, travelled well, and looked the likely winner, but just took a blow going to the last at the wrong time. It was his first over fences and we wanted to see him jump well and he certainly did that. And with that experience now under his belt, I think he’ll take a bit of catching the next day. There’s definitely improvement in him. He could go to Exeter or Sandown in early December and then run in a more valuable prize over Christmas with a bit of luck.
Fortunes Melody – Saturday, 14:47 Uttoxeter
She was something of a bridesmaid having finished 2nd five times in six starts, but she won in September and then picked up that nice bonus when winning at Worcester in early October. We had the option of running her at Bangor on Wednesday in the Listed Novice chase, but we’ve opted to go back to Uttoxeter where she’s won before, albeit that was over hurdles. This is a mares novices’ handicap chase, where if she’s lucky enough to win, she could add another valuable bonus to her name. The trip of 2 miles 6 furlongs won’t be a problem. She’s been in good form this autumn and hopefully she can continue in that vein on Saturday.
Gold In Doha – Sunday, 12:30 Fontwell
He’s been a work in progress. He hasn’t necessarily disgraced himself in three runs, two of which were in novices last year. He has just taken time, was a little bit backward, but he seems to be a stronger horse this season. Whether he’s quite up to winning a novice or not remains to be seen, but at least he’ll be qualified to run in handicaps after Sunday and maybe that’s where he’ll come into his own.
Lightly Squeeze – Sunday, 14:40 Fontwell
He’s been a good horse for us. He went to France to run for Tom George, but unfortunately he picked up an injury which has meant we haven’t seen him for the best part of 18 months. But he’s ready now, the handicapper has dropped him for the layout. I wouldn’t be expecting too much on Sunday, it’s very much a case of getting him back on the racecourse and coming out of it in one piece and go from there. He’s done well under Bryan Carver in the past and they’ll be reunited for the race.
Gin Coco – Sunday, 14:55 Cheltenham
After plenty of deliberation, we decided to go for the Greatwood Hurdle. It was very much a toss up between that and the novice hurdle. Although he’s a novice until the end of November, the Greatwood is a big pot. We took him to Punchestown last Spring for a handicap hurdle, as we thought he was well treated, and it very nearly came off. I thought he was going to win going to the last, but he just got outbattled. However I think that experience will definitely stand to him in Sunday’s race. It’s hugely competitive, but he hurdles particularly well. His comeback run at Newton Abbot wasn’t without drama in terms of the loose horse trying to take him out, but that would have put him spot on for this weekend and we’re very hopeful of a big run.
Hay There Mona – Sunday, 15:50 Fontwell
The plan is to run her on Sunday. She’s definitely open to improvement by stepping up in trip. We won the race last year with White Hart Lady. It’s her handicap debut and we’d like to think she’ll be competitive, especially off a mark of 95. Otherwise it could be a long season!
Next Week’s Plans
We have plenty of entries but have a couple of nice bumper horses. Carrigmoorna Rowan, who runs for the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicateand Danton. Both will make their debuts for us early next week. Carrigmoorna Rowan joined up after winning a point-to-point impressively at Dromahane. He’s an exciting addition to the team and we’ll be looking forward to seeing how he gets on. And Danton will be making his racecourse debut, an unknown quantity, but he goes nicely at home. So two potential newcomers to keep an eye on. Boothill is on target to run at Ascot next weekend. He won nicely at Newton Abbot and the second horse that day has franked the form since, but we’ve gone up 4Ibs for staying in our box, which is rather annoying! Might I is on course to run in the Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. Both horses are going for a gallop on Friday (November 11th) to put the finishes touches on them.
She’s in very good form, grafting away at home. She’s another one that relishes testing conditions. The programme before Christmas is not that appealing. But there’s plenty of races for her from January onwards. She could go to Sandown on Tolworth Hurdle day for a mares hurdle. And there’s a Grade 2 mares hurdle at Warwick in February and all being well it’ll be Cheltenham for the Mares’ Hurdle in March. The races kind of pick themselves, but it’s just a case of where we start her off. She could run over the next four or five weekends. The Coral Hurdle next weekend will probably come a bit too soon and it’s unlikely to be soft enough. You’ve got the Gerry Feilden the following weekend, but again may not be soft enough. She could though go to Sandown on Tingle Creek Day for a Listed Handicap Hurdle, which is probably looking the most likely at this stage. Or if we’re feeling brave she might run in the International Hurdle if she got the right conditions at Cheltenham. So it’s very much a case of watch this space!
Hope you have a great weekend.
Best of luck,