There has been plenty of hot air aired over the last few days about the benefits of wind ops on horses struggling with their breathing

They are something I’ve used on a regular basis from my earliest days as a trainer. While we all accept that they don’t work every time I can name any number of horses whose form has improved after we have tinkered with their wind. The latest of ours to advertise the benefits of a wind op is Clan Des Obeaux who was undeniably impressive in landing the Graduation Chase at Haydock on Saturday with plenty to spare.
He was our sixth successive winner of this particular race and I’ve no doubt he wouldn’t have done it without a visit to the top vet Geoff Lane in the summer for surgery to sort out his breathing. After a bright start to last season he began to struggle in his races and repeatedly jumped to the right which is often a clue that something is amiss with their breathing. Clan Des Obeaux looked a different horse on Saturday, jumping beautifully before pulling clear in testing conditions that would have found him out last winter. Next up for him could be the Caspian Caviar at Cheltenham or the Peterborough Chase.

My experience as a trainer over the past 26 years tells me that breathing issues cause a lot of grief for a lot of horses. Surgery is not always the answer because it is not a foolproof, magic cure. But it has done the trick for many of ours and most of our good horses have been to Geoff Lane for the op at some stage. I’ve always been up front about it and just for the record all of ours have a soft palate, hobday operation in one go and then sometimes further down the line a year or two later they might have their palate re-cauterised. They are usually back here at Ditcheat within forty eight hours, ready to start light exercise.

Obviously I cannot speak for other trainers but I certainly don’t have a problem with the new BHA edict that we must now say if a horse has had a wind op since it last ran. One thing is for sure. Clan Des Obeaux will not be the last to benefit from similar surgery.

Back on the racecourse Tommy Silver‘s fluent first victory over fences at Leicester on Monday set the tone for the week. He does need top of the ground so I will look for a similar race in a couple of weeks and he will be one to do well in the spring.

I was thrilled with the way Dolos jumped in winning so impressively on his debut over fences at Ascot on Friday. Honest and straight forward, he was always going to be a chaser and while it looked as though Sternrubin didn’t produce his best form there was lots to like about the way Dolos went about his business. I am thinking about bringing him back to Ascot just before Xmas for the Grade 2 Mitie Noel Novices’ Chase.

In finishing third to Top Notch at Ascot, staying on strongly Frodon again hinted that he wants stepping up to three miles.
On the same day San Benedeto also ran well to be fourth in the valuable Shawbrook Chase but was a bit too keen and would have been suited by a stronger gallop.

I can’t leave last weekend’s racing without giving a mention to Bristol De Mai, whose runaway success in the Betfair Chase confirmed my view that his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, along with Nicky Henderson, is a serious contender for the championship this season. Nigel’s horses are hoovering up most of the big Saturday prizes at the moment and he will be right in the picture if Bristol De Mai goes on to land the treble in the King George and Gold Cup. While I will be doing my best to beat him and Nicky, wouldn’t it be great for the sport if Nigel did become champion trainer?
He has been consistently good at what he does for years and has a tremendous record, particularly with his chasers.

This weekend I will be sending a team to Newbury for the top jumps meeting now sponsored by Ladbrokes following the decision of Hennessy to pull out of the race they first supported in 1957 at Cheltenham. A dry forecast for the week is encouraging for the chances of Present Man who will again be ridden by Bryony Frost in the Ladbroke Trophy.

For all the up to date news of my weekend runners please turn to my Betfair column published early on Friday evening.