I was thrilled to be sitting top of the trainers’ table for the first time this season early on Saturday afternoon after a quick double supplied by Casko D’Airy at Ascot and Brelan D’As at Haydock.
But no sooner had I sent Dan Skelton a text thanking him him for keeping the seat warm for me than he was back in front again an hour or so later after winning the Betfair Exchange Hurdle at Ascot! I was hoping to maybe stay on top a shade longer until Boxing Day before Nicky Henderson brought out his big guns at Kempton, knowing full well that Dan and I have zero chance of winning the championship given his firepower.
When you think that Team Ditcheat had only seven winners at the start of October I think it has been a great effort by everyone involved in the yard to be one short of sixty going into Xmas. Brelan D’As has been progressive this season and deserved to win for the first time over fences at Haydock where he jumped well and came with a determined challenge to beat the favourite Whatswrongwithyou.
I’m so pleased to see Casko D’Airy put three runs together after missing the last two season with tendon problems. He was choking at Ffos Las last time so we tried him in tongue tie on Saturday and it seemed to work as he came from last to first to win the opening handicap hurdle from a lowly mark of 113. He has the scope to make a nice chaser next for Sir Alex Ferguson and Ged Mason if we can keep him in one piece.
Darling Maltaix came good in the boys race at Ascot on Friday with the help of a patient ride from Lorcan Williams and heads next to the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton.
Others to please at the weekend included Danny Kirwan in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Ascot and Danse Idol who lost nothing in defeat at Haydock and wants further.
Ahead of a typically hectic holiday period it was good to see Team Ditcheat letting their hair down at our annual Christmas party on Sunday night.
I can’t thank them enough because they do a brilliant job and will all be in for a couple of hours on December 25. Then we will be having loads of runners in the following days starting at Wincanton and Kempton where Politologue and Clan Des Obeaux will be seeking to give me my tenth winner in the King George V1 Chase.
For the news on my Boxing Day runners please turn to my Betfair column which goes live by 5 pm on Xmas Day.