Doubles at Haydock and Wincanton on Saturday took our total of winners to 123 which is one more than we achieved in the whole of last season.
Everyone knows we are short of Grade 1 horses but those involved with Team Ditcheat have worked extremely hard to maintain a really good strike rate of 26 per cent. The highlight of the weekend was the excellent victory of the ageless Zarkandar in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle.
He has been a wonderful horse to train going back to the days he won the Triumph Hurdle in 2011 and he still races with bags of enthusiasm.
Zarkandar has had a few niggling problems along the way and we took the opportunity to re cauterise his soft palate since his last run.
It was only a minor operation and I am honestly not sure if it made any difference because it wasn’t the strongest of Grade 2 races on Saturday.
Zarkandar is ten now but you would not have known it from the way he galloped clear in the closing stages. Next up for him is the stayers hurdle at Cheltenham.
While Aux Ptits Soins needs to jump better I was encouraged by the way he kept on well in the closing stages to finish second. He is highly likely to go to Aintree now.
Wonderful Charm won for the second time this month to book his place in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham provided the ground is not soft.
At Wincanton it was encouraging to see Persian Delight and Dreamcatching both took a step forward to record their first victories over hurdles.
Topofthegame ran another highly promising race at Ascot where he was only just touched off by a smart ex Flat horse. He will probably have one more race over hurdles but he is built for chasing and that is what he will be doing next season. He has the size and potential to be very exciting over fences.
Back at Haydock Vicente found the ground a bit too tacky for his liking. We have trained him all year with Aintree in mind and the National remains his target.
This coming weekend we will have plenty of entries at Kempton with San Benedeto, Frodon and As De Mee all possibles for the Pendil Novices’ Chase while Capitaine is pencilled in for the Dovecote Hurdle.
I’ve also confirmed three horses Irish Saint, Caid du Berlais and Southfield Theatre for the £100,000 BetBright Chase and will decide which of them runs nearer the time. The following day I am thinking of sending Adrien Du Pont to Fontwell for the National Spirit Hurdle.
For all the latest news on my weekend runners please turn to my Betfair column late on Friday afternoon.