Quel Destin and Ibis Du Rheu gave us a fabulous start at Cheltenham on Saturday with several more horses, notably Frodon and Old Guard, performing with great credit over the next 24 hours at a meeting I always like to target.
I am thrilled with the progress made by Quel Destin since he joined us from France in the summer. He is improving rapidly and is tough too, as he showed by buckling down and staying on strongly to beat Cracker Factory by a length and a quarter in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial. I can’t wait to run him on softer ground which will bring his stamina more into play. Next up for him could be the Summit Hurdle at Doncaster.
Ibis Du Rheu then completed a quick double for Team Ditcheat with a fluent round of jumping on his way to winning the Class 2 Novice Chase over three miles. I’ve struggled to get him right over the past year or more with niggling little issues holding him back though he did run a decent fifth at the Festival behind Mr Whitaker. Although he has taken his time to win over fences I am hoping he can kick on now and show his true colours. I had him as well as I’ve had him for ages on Saturday. He looked great in the paddock, travelled like the smart horse we know he is and beat some classy opponents. As Ibis Du Rheu jumps and stays so well my immediate reaction was that he is an ideal type for the four mile chase at the Festival.
Harry Cobden excelled on both our winners before it was the turn of Bryony Frost to get another tremendous tune out of Frodon who covered himself in glory in the BetVictor Gold Cup. Running off a career high mark of 161 he was the only one to lay down a serious challenge to the all the way winner Baron Alco who was getting over a stone in weight from him. Frodon is so genuine and was keeping on stoutly at the finish which had me wondering if I should give him another crack at three miles at some point. One tempting option for him is the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
On Sunday Dynamite Dollars again jumped very well in finishing second to the highly impressive Lalor in the Arkle Trophy Trial, a race we’ve won ten times in the past. We would not have dreamed of taking on Lalor over hurdles so this was a big step forward for Dollars who stayed on and probably wants further.
Next it was the turn of Old Guard who stayed on willingly be third in the Greatwood Hurdle. It was a brilliant effort from such a consistent horse who is hard to place these days off a mark of 152.
I was expecting a good run from McFabulous in the bumper but the ground was a bit too lively for his liking with the result that he didn’t act in the track and was a little bit sore afterwards. I’ll give him a break now before one more run in the spring.
We will be busy again on Saturday with some interesting runners at Haydock and Ascot. Clan Des Obeaux is on course for the Betfair Chase and Captain Cattistock is an intended runner in the Betfair Exchange Stayers Handicap Hurdle while Politologue goes for the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot.
For all the latest news on my Saturday plans please turn to my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon,