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Monday 24th February Update

Solo’s brilliant success on his debut for the yard at Kempton on Saturday was the highlight of another rewarding weekend that yielded five winners and several more that came tantalisingly close to adding to our tally.

I’ve loved Solo since he joined us shortly after his eye catching victory at Auteuil in November that earned him a lofty BHA rating of 146.

We were able to get plenty of work into him because he’s a colt and he has thrived on our routine. He has a sound temperament and is a joy to train.

Some French horses can take time to acclimatise after moving to Ditcheat but Solo has done nothing but please, looks the full package and it was great to see him confirm his homework with a hugely impressive thirteen length victory in the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle. He jumped like a natural and oozed class as he readily saw of the field after leading before half-way.

It was a magic performance by a horse who is such an exciting prospect and all roads now lead to Cheltenham where he looks tailor made for the Triumph Hurdle.

We also had a series of near misses at Kempton with Southfield Stone, Diego Du Charmil and Black Corton.

Southfield Stone led two out in the Pendil Chase but couldn’t quite hold the late rally of Who Dares. I suspect both of them might have struggled to catch Master Tommytucker who was sailing along in the lead full of running when he came down heavily just over half a mile out. It was a mirror image of his fall at Kempton over the Xmas Holiday and so frustrating after all the practise we have done with him.
Master Tommytucker was fine afterwards, has bags of talent and hopefully we can iron out his jumping. If he comes through a schooling session later this week I am thinking of running him again at Newbury on Saturday.

Diego Du Charmil ran a blinder on his return to hurdles in the Kingwell Hurdle and looked all over the winner until he was chinned in the last few strides by Song For Someone. He has lots of options including the Celebration Chase on the last day of the season.

Black Corton then ran his usual honest race under top weight to finish two lengths second to Mister Malarky in the valuable Betway Handicap Chase with Sametegal half a length behind in third. I’ll give Black Corton a little break now to freshen him up before maybe running him at Aintree on Grand National day while Sametegal is now eligible for veterans races.

Team Ditcheat is certainly firing on all cylinders as we enter the last two months of the season. We enjoyed four more winners on Sunday with Birds of Prey hacking up on the all weather at Wolverhampton and Grand Sancy, Ostuni and Bob and Co all on the mark at Fontwell.

Bob and Co just pipped Alcala in a tight finish and crucially both of them are now qualified for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham.

Quel Destin also looked sure to land the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell but idled on on the run in and was collared late on by William Henry. That race has been his target all season and I couldn’t quite believe it when William Henry came from the clouds to spoil the party.

We will try to keep up the momentum this coming weekend with interesting runners at three meetings. Last year’s winner San Benedeto and Mont Des Avaloirs run in the Greatwood Chase at Newbury while Calva D’Auge goes for a £50,000 novice hurdle at Kelso where St Xavier is an intended runner over fences. In addition Cill Anna is earmarked for a £30,000 mares’ novice hurdle at Doncaster where Dolos is entered over fences.

For all the latest news on my runners on Saturday please turn to my Betfair column which goes live at 5pm the previous evening.


Monday 17th February Update

The best result by far on Saturday was the sight of Cyrname getting to his feet and walking away after a heavy fall at the final fence in Ascot’s Betfair Chase.

There was understandable concern as he lay winded for a while and it was heartening to hear the great reception from the crowd as he was led back past the packed stands by his lad Rodrigo Zanchi. Moments like that show how precious he is not only to us but everyone. They do care and appreciate these good horses.

The vets were with him straightaway and were brilliant, calm and professional.

Cyrname was a bit stiff and sore on Sunday morning and will have plenty of time to get over it because he may not be running again this season, but we will discuss all options with Johnny de la Hey.

We will run some tests and try to poinpoint why he was some way off his best. There was something not quite right and I’m not sure what it is. I wasn’t entirely happy with the way he was travelling passing the stands with a circuit to go. He was beaten a long way out and was very tired when he came down. The ground was as testing as he has run on and some people are suggesting that it is all down to the hard race he had when he beat Altior earlier in the season but I don’t agree with that theory.

Cyrname had bloomed in the last three weeks, everyone was happy with him and he looked amazing in the paddock. But something was physically missing with him and I can’t put my finger on it. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it. He will be back.

We ended a roller coaster afternoon with three winners further advertising the fine recent form of the team.

Sir Psycho was really impressive in winning the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock. His jumping was mustard, he seems to love testing conditions and if it came up soft at Cheltenham we would have to look at the Triumph Hurdle for him.

Alcala did well to beat a smart hunter chaser at Haydock but needs to finish first or second in a similar race if he is to qualify for the Foxhunters. So does Bob & Co so the pair of them could run at Fontwell next Sunday, the last day of qualification.

At Ascot I was pleasantly surprised by the way Sabrina won the EBF mares bumper by a wide margin. We have given her plenty of time since her promising debut at Taunton and while I didn’t know if she would appreciate heavy ground she handled it fine and looks decidedly smart. Sabrina now heads to Aintree for the Goffs mares bumper on the opening day of the Grand National meeting.

On Friday Greaneteen completed a hat trick over fences without coming off the bridle at Fakenham. He has entries in the Arkle and Grand Annual at Cheltenham but could wait for Aintree. All options are open at this stage.

With Taunton’s card on Tuesday already off and other meetings in some doubt plans in midweek are up in the air but we will have plenty of runners at Kempton on Saturday and Fontwell a day later.

We have three or four in the £100,000 staying Chase, Solo runs in the Adonis Hurdle, Southfield Stone and Master Tommytucker could clash in the Pendil Novice Chase, while Bathsheba Bay and Eritage are possibles for the Dovecote Hurdle.
Quel Destin, who was denied a run at Wincanton by the weather, is set to run in the National Spirit at Fontwell though Harry Cobden is banned that day.

For all the latest news on my weekend runners please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live at 5pm on Friday.


Monday 10th February Update

The success of Pic D’Orhy in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday was the highlight of another rewarding day for Team Ditcheat on Saturday.

With Dynamite Dollars running a stormer in finishing just over three lengths behind Altior in the Game Spirit on his first outing for over a year and Secret Investor a solid second to Native River in the Denman Chase we had plenty to celebrate.

While I have always rated Pic D’Orhy as one for the future and his French form was top class, circumstances had prevented him getting it together in three runs for us so I didn’t arrive at Newbury with great expectations for him. He was still acclimatising ahead of the Triumph last March then fell at Auteuil in the autumn and took a while to get over it before running well at Ascot last time for two miles until tiring late on as he needed the race.

That was really like a first run of the season for Pic D’Orhy over a trip too far for him. I’d worked him hard since Ascot, he had not missed a day and he was ready to win. He certainly travelled better through the race at Newbury and saw it out well under a big weight. As of yet there are no future plans for him. One thing is for sure, Pic D’Orhy is going to make the most awesome chaser next season. That is why we bought him and he could be one of the best we’ve had for a long time. I was even tempted to start him over fences this season so fair play to his owner Johnny de la Hey who preferred to keep him over hurdles which was obviously the right choice.

There should be a nice race, too, in Tamaroc Du Mathan who finished a close fifth behind Pic D’Orhy.

Earlier Dynamite Dollars booked his ticket for Cheltenham with a great run in the Game Spirit. He led for much of the race, jumping boldly, and was only collared after the final fence as lack of fitness told.
The media quite rightly concentrated on Altior afterwards but Dynamite Dollars was beaten little more than three lengths on his first run out of novice company and by the champion chaser and I’m in no doubt that he will come on bundles for the run after such a long layoff. He is young, talented, improving fast and could be right in the mix for the Queen Mother Champion Chase with odds of 33-1 looking decidedly generous.

Secret Investor was another to shine at Newbury where he stayed on strongly in finishing two and three quarter lengths behind the all the way winner Native River who is rated 19 lbs higher. As I’m not sure Cheltenham suits him I might keep him for the Betway Bowl at Aintree.

This coming weekend is an important one for our team as we will have plenty of runners at Ascot, Wincanton and Haydock.

Cyrname worked nicely at Wincanton last week and is firmly on course to try for the double in the Betfair Ascot Chase. Frodon also has an entry in the race but the plan is to run just Cyrname and they will not be taking each other on.

Others down for Ascot include Black Corton in the staying handicap Chase and Danny Whizzbang in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase.

Diego Du Charmil and Quel Destin will be entered in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton where Worthy Farm bids to follow up in the staying handicap chase and Solo is an interesting runner in the National Hunt Novices’ hurdle.

The squad for Haydock includes Truckers Lodge in the Grand National trial plus Sir Psycho in the Victor Ludorum, unless Exeter is rearranged.

For the latest news on all my runners on Saturday please check out my Betfair column which goes live at 5 pm on Friday.