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Monday 6th January Update

The fluent success of Cat Tiger at Plumpton on Saturday brought up a half century of winners for the season for Team Ditcheat.

It followed a pleasing double at Sandown 24 hours earlier by Silver Forever and Mercy Mercy Me.

The grey mare Silver Forever continues to shine. She won the Listed Unibet Mares’ Hurdle with authority, relishes the prevailing very soft ground and will return to the Esher track in five weeks time for the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Hurdle.

Mercy Mercy Me jumped very well and stayed on stoutly in first time cheek pieces to land a qualifier for the Challenger Middle Distance series. He could run next in a novice handicap at Cheltenham on Trials day.

At Wincanton I was really pleased with the way Southfield Harvest pushed the winner Hurricane Harvey all the way on his hurdles debut. I wasn’t sure he would enjoy the testing conditions but he seemed to handle them fine and there is definitely more to come from him.

On New Year’s Day Sir Psycho put up an awesome performance at Exeter in beating Bullionaire, rated 136, by thirty one lengths in the novice handicap hurdle. While the winning distance might be flattering, he is improving rapidly and could go for the juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham on trials day.

We will be much quieter than usual over the next fortnight after giving 120 of our horses their mid winter flu jab in midweek. Those that ran at the weekend will be vaccinated today (monday).
They are all having a little break though we are keeping them ticking over with one canter a day before everything will be back to normal in a fortnight and it will be all systems go for the rest of the season.

Two who haven’t had their flu jabs yet are Frodon and Pic D’Orhy who are set to run at Kempton at the weekend. Frodon is entered in the Silviniaco Conti Chase and Pic D’Orhy in the Lanzarote Hurdle.

Our regular weekly bulletin will return in a fortnight.


Monday 31st December Update

Christmas delivered the best possible presents this year with Clan Des Obeaux winning an eleventh King George VI Chase on Boxing Day for the yard followed quickly by news of my award of an OBE for services to racing.

I am hugely proud of the honour which could not have happened without the tremendous support and hard work of Team Ditcheat who have backed me all the way.
I was also delighted to hear that Nicky Henderson,too, has received an OBE. No one deserves it more.

One way and another there has been plenty of celebrating these past few days. It was brilliant to see Clan Des Obeaux record back to back victories in the King George and even better that we were also responsible for the runner up Cyrname.

It wasn’t an easy call for Harry Cobden choosing between them because they are both high class horses though, for what its worth, I thought he was probably on the right one. There will be plenty of other big days for Harry and I’m chuffed to bits for Sam Twiston-Davies who rode Clan so well and comes in to school once a week.

While both horses were in top order going to Kempton from an early stage of the race it seemed to me that Cyrname was a bit flat and didn’t have his normal zest.
Harry had to niggle him a couple of times and maybe the horse could have had an off day or possibly he hadn’t quite got over his race at Ascot where be beat Altior. Even so he still finished a respectable second.

The more it rained on the day the more I felt that it would suit Clan who had come on in leaps and bounds from his run at Down Royal when most of ours were just needing their first outings.
While nothing is settled we are thinking of taking him straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. He didn’t quite get the trip in the race on very soft ground last March but he is stronger and better this season, turns eight on January 1 and we know he goes well fresh so he can have a nice little holiday now before we start training him for Cheltenham.
He is still improving and there is no reason why he can’t be attempting the hat-trick in the King George next Christmas.

Cyrname was a bit stiff for a couple of days but is fine now and I’d imagine he will be again be going for the Betfair Ascot Chase which he won in breathtaking style in February.
Earlier at Kempton Master TommyTucker was still going going strongly in the lead when he came down at the 15th fence in the Kauto Star Chase. There will be other days for this smart novice who has only run a handful of times.

A day’s hunting the previous week may well have helped Worthy Farm bounce back to form on Boxing Day at Wincanton.

The next afternoon it was good to see Truckers Lodge and Yala Enki finish second and third to Potters Corner in the Coral Welsh National. Both ran right up to their best form in conditions that suited them well and they will continue to be serious players in staying chases.

Miranda then completed a great two days for the yard with an easy success in the final race at Kempton on December 27.

Plenty of others ran well over the holiday, too, and it’s pleasing to see the team in such good form as the New Year beckons.

We have plenty of runners this week starting at Taunton today, Cheltenham and Exeter on January 1 and then Sandown on Saturday.

Please be sure to check up on the latest news on all my Saturday runners by turning to my Betfair column which goes live at 5pm on Friday.


Monday 23rd December Update

Greaneteen’s stylish success was the high spot for Team Ditcheat at Ascot’s two day meeting where a number of our runners couldn’t handle the dire conditions under foot.

It’s frustrating the huge volume of rain we have had in recent weeks and I am hoping things will dry out a bit by Boxing Day because there is no doubt most of our horses prefer better ground.
Despite being keen the whole way at Ascot, Greaneteen jumped slickly and beat the Irish trained favourite Debuchet with something to spare in the Class 3 novice handicap Chase.
It was decent performance given that he has run only four times over hurdles and hadn’t schooled over fences on grass. I will make a plan for him in time and imagine he’ll run next in another novice handicap.

The ever reliable Black Corton ran another blunder in finishing fourth under top weight in the Silver Cup on Saturday. He has earned a little holiday now and will appreciate better ground when he returns in the spring.

My Way stayed on well to finish second in the Plymouth Gin Chase and will surely be winning over fences this season over a trip.

The mood in the yard is upbeat ahead of an exciting few days over the Christmas holiday. Around 45 horses, all these running over the next week to ten days, will be ridden out in just one lot early on Christmas morning with everyone heading home by nine o’clock. Half a dozen of us who live locally will also come in again to do the evening feed. Then we will be flat out over the following three days with the immediate focus very much on our twin assault on the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day with Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux.

We will be having plenty of other runners at Kempton, Wincanton and elsewhere and for the up to date news on all our horses racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday please be sure to turn to my Betfair column which goes live at 5 each evening.