Monday, 17 January
That was much more like it from West To The Bridge at Chepstow. He got into a good rhythm up front and enjoyed the conditions. A small field suits him and while he was well handicapped on the day, it was great to get him back on track with a win.
Thursday, 20 January
Captain Chaos was obviously disappointing at Wincanton. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for him, we’re just going to have to see how he is after the race.
Friday, 21 January
Nurse Susan ran a really nice race at Lingfield, where she was beaten by a mare that relished the heavy conditions. I knew the mare of Harry Fry’s was the one we had to beat. My horse went through the race really well, I just felt when I got racing, she was a bit green.
You could see over the last couple of hurdles she was a bit slow on landing and started to change her legs when the race was on. To be honest that’s the first time she’s really had a race and I think she’ll learn from that and improve an awful lot. Going forward she will be a good mare.
I was absolutely gutted that Eclair D’Ainay got beat, especially when you’re 20 lengths clear of the third – it’s really frustrating. He didn’t deserve that as he jumped like a buck throughout. When Frero Banbou joined me, he battled on gamely but the seven-pound rise in the weights got him in the end. All in all, it was a very good run and arguably a career best, but the defeat was hard to take.
Saturday, 22 January
Doctor Parnassus was impressive at Ascot on his first start over hurdles. His jumping got better as the race went on and he picked up really well from the back of the last to win with plenty in hand. We’ll have one more race now, and then I would have thought we’ll go for the Triumph.
I’m glad we got the job done with Unexpected Party. He’s always shown us plenty at home but has had a few small problems as a young horse. He’s much stronger now and coping well with his training. He’s improving and hopefully the handicapper won’t have caught up with him, as I think we’ll now go for the Coral Cup.
Molly Ollys Wishes was great in the mares’ hurdle. This was the race that Dan always had in mind for her this season, so it was a great training performance to get her to peak on the day.
I wanted to keep the race flowing as I know she likes an end-to-end gallop. She pricked her ears after the second last and idled once I hit the front, but when the others started to come to me, she picked up again. She’s a Grade 2 winner now and it’s fantastic for her owner-breeders to get some black type with her, as they put an awful lot into the game.
There was something clearly amiss with Knight In Dubai. He keeps travelling and jumping well in his races before cutting out at the same point, between three out and two out. That’s not like him as he’s a horse that is normally a good stayer and finds plenty off the bridle. It’s our job to dig a bit deeper now and find out what’s wrong. When we get him back on track, he’s well handicapped.
It was good to jump round and pick up some valuable prize money with Amoola Gold in the Clarence House. What a race it was!
It was a clash between two great horses, two great trainers and two great jockeys. I was sort of always struggling a bit in the rear, but when I watched it back, to see two horses go at it like that was what we all wanted – it was a brilliant advert for racing.
As I suggested in my blog last week, Shishkin just finds something extra when you really need it and that’s what makes him a true champion. Energumene did nothing wrong in defeat, he kept galloping but just couldn’t fend off Shishkin. Shishkin is going to be hard to beat come March.
Alnadam was disappointing up at Haydock. He never really got into a rhythm and might have had a hard enough race three weeks ago at Cheltenham. He’ll probably need a little break just to get him back right again.
I was happy with the run of Galia Des Liteaux. It wasn’t ideal that there wasn’t much pace in the race, so I had to make the running. She kept going really well from the back of the last and started to get going again near the finish. I think she needs very soft ground to be seen at her best. She can be a good mare, especially when she goes chasing.
Sunday, 23 January
Lingfield did a fantastic job at the weekend putting on the Winter Million. There was good prize money, good racing and the ground staff did brilliantly helping the fixture go ahead.
They went a really strong gallop up front in Ballygrifincottage’srace, which suited him as he’s a proper stayer and only really gets going after a mile and a half. That’s what happened on Sunday. Once I’d gone a circuit he started to come onto the bridle, picked up well and won with something in hand. I think we’ll go to the Albert Bartlett next. He’s going to make a cracking chaser and there’s lots to look forward to with him.
Faivoir ran really well and picked up some nice prize money. There wasn’t much pace in the race which didn’t play to our strengths, as he really did finish with a rattle. He’s a horse that has to be played late as he pulls himself up in front if you get there too soon. There are lots of options with him and we’ll probably mix chasing and hurdling. He can continue to be very competitive wherever he goes.
One to look out for would be Knickerbockerglory at Wincanton on Wednesday. He won nicely at Taunton last time and should go well again. At the weekend, Third Time Lucki goes up to Doncaster for the Lightning Novices’ Chase where hopefully he will have a good chance.