I only had one ride last weekend, Knight In Dubai in the novice chase at Haydock. It was a step up in grade and he ran okay, but I felt he was beat a bit quicker than I would have liked and I think he’s better than that. I’ve said it before but he had his flu jab this month and some get over it quicker than others.
Bennys King ran a great race at Ascot but we were all gutted he was beaten. He’s a good jumper but sometimes he’s not that quick away from his fences and he just got a bit underneath the last and it took him 10 strides to get going again. He battled on really well and he’s definitely a horse who can win some nice races. He’s been in cracking form this season and will get better with age.
It was brilliant to pick up some great prize money for the owners with Marracudja but how the handicapper has taken the run literally I don’t know. An 11lb hike seems very harsh and it’s going to be incredibly hard for him now.
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Anytime Will Do – 2:35
This is a really competitive handicap hurdle, but he seems in good form and ran well last time. The form has worked out with Dolphin Square winning at Ludlow and hopefully, he’ll be competitive.
Maire Banrigh – 3:05
She’s in cracking form and we’re stepping up to two and a half miles for the first time. We just hope they don’t get any more rain as the better the ground the better for her.
It’s a Listed race worth some good money so we’ve got to be there. She’s won five on the bounce and must have a great chance. We can then make more of a plan after this race.
Third Time Lucki – 4:05
He won really well at Market Rasen last time and he’s a nice horse but it’s going to be hard under a penalty in what looks a hot race on paper.
Two Taffs and Spiritofthegames – 1:50
We’re not quite sure yet which horse will run but they both won’t, we’ll make the decision on Friday morning. They’re in good form and Two Taffs has been fine since Newbury. I don’t think he quite stayed and he may also have bounced a little after Wetherby. He’s had a break since then and the obvious thing was for him to come back in trip next time.
Spiritofthegames ran a great race in December, although it was heartbreaking to get done so close to the line. We’ve given him some time since then and it was nice that he showed some of his old spark.
Protektorat – 3:00
He was first past the post in a Listed race on New Year’s Day and he’s really improving. He definitely wants this trip and is settling better now which is the biggest positive going forward. This race is going to tell us a lot. He has a penalty which makes things harder, but if we go very close we’ll obviously be looking at the Ballymore. If we get beat 10 or 12 lengths, we’ll be looking at the Coral Cup.
We’ve been very happy with him at home since his last run. Conor Shoemark rides him every day and he’s really been the key to this horse. If he’s happy, we’re all happy.
Sofia’s Rock – 4:10
He has had a nice break since his last run at Huntingdon. He’s in great form at home and I think he’ll run very well.
Boss Man Fred – 2:05
He has done absolutely nothing wrong and is progressing well. We’ve always said he’s a proper chaser in the making and we’re looking forward to running him. He seems in good form.
Cobra De Mai and Solomon Grey – 3:15
We run two in this and Cobra De Mai showed a bit more form last time at Kempton. If he stepped forward, a fast run three-mile handicap could suit him. He’s a bit of a tricky horse as he likes to come off a fast pace, which I’m sure he’ll get here. He can finish well, so you might see him and William Marshall coming late.
The owners of Solomon Grey have been very patient with him. He wants better ground, so it’s been quite a hard job for Dan to place him over the winter. Conditions should be okay here and it’s his first run in a big handicap like this. He could run well.
It’s obviously gutting for Dickie, it’s been nip and tuck in the title race all season and who knows how long he’ll be out for. I’m sure all he’ll want to do is get back quickly and we have great rehabilitation centres like Oaksey House and physios these days.
I’d like to wish him a speedy recovery, I’m sure all his family will be happy to have him at home a bit more often. He’ll be back, though, you can’t keep a good man down.
In terms of his title chances, you never know but of course it’s going to be very difficult. Jockeys have to take every day as it comes. You’ve got to be fit day-to-day, that’s the reality of it.
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