A week that involves a trip to my beloved Fontwell and boasts a Saturday with four winners is never going to be a bad one so this week was really quite good.
On the racecourse, the Grade 2 winning Zarkandar was the absolute highlight, rolling back the years with a smooth success reminiscent of him in his pomp a few seasons back. Zarkandar is now a little longer in the tooth at this stage, but at Haydock on Saturday under a fine ride from Harry Cobden he showed that form may be temporary but class is indeed permanent.
Elsewhere this week the infamous Stan Sheppard was Dreamcatching round Wincanton, our very own Matt Hampton rode a point to pointing double at Buckfastleigh, Saphir Du Rheu hosed up at Kelso putting in a good round of jumping, while the loveable Topofthegame ran a superb race in defeat at Ascot.
So for a while now I’ve been thinking of a question and answer type scenario for my blog and I decided this week I should bite the bullet and do it. I asked people to send me questions about the yard and I’m going to answer some that I think people I will be interested in hearing about.
Thank you for all your responses everyone, and as I say this is a bit of an experiment so I hope you enjoy it. Here goes.
First question is from Mike Newell asking: “can you explain a little on how the yard gears up for Chelters over the next 3 weeks. What changes? Routines?“
Not a great deal changes really Mike, the horses generally have their set routines through the season and leading up to Cheltenham it’s just a case of doing our best to keep our team sound and healthy. We strive to leave no stone unturned so if a horse needs an extra schooling session or slightly more work leading up to their big targets then we cater for that. Paul always says it’s about getting them to Cheltenham ready to run for their lives not having left it all on the gallops.
Second question is from Jack Reid who asked: “what’s your best chance of a festival winner?”
I’d like to think we’ve got a number of nice chances but a horse I really like is Brio Conti. He is due to run in the conditional jockeys’ race on the Friday with Harry Cobden aboard. Having a jockey with the experience of Harry on in a race like that is a huge positive and Brio is young, unexposed improving horse who we believe in. I like him and think he has the ability to do well.
Question three comes from Matt Thomas who asked: “Is Chameron set fair for the Fred Winter?”
For those of you who aren’t aware of Chameron he is a four-year-old who joined us before Christmas having won two valuable prizes in Auteuil in the Autumn. He won’t be going to the Festival this year, in fact we are currently training him with the intention of going back to France later in the spring. He is a nice horse who has taken time to acclimatise so we haven’t rushed him. We are looking at him as a long term prospect, who we like.
Lucy Harrison has the next question and it goes like this: “Hi Harry, which horse isn’t a morning person? Also who is the most mischievous/gets up to no good?!”
In terms of which horse isn’t great early doors then Le Mercurey would probably take the prize for grumpiest in the morning, he spends most of his days either sleeping or eating and I don’t envy Rose Loxton who has to try and brush him every evening. Without doubt mr mischievous is the little wonder that is Frodon. There’s not a day that goes by where he isn’t squealing or trying to run away with his regular rider Holley Evans, he’s the most hilarious horse and everyone loves him for his personality, he’s fondly known as Frodatron.
I’ll do two more as I’m aware there’s a strong possibility I’ve lost most of my audience at this stage, Karen Colleran asked me: “Are they any horses who have yet to run this season that you are excited about?”
Mont can reach the peak
We currently have a four-year-old full brother to Le Prezien who goes by the name of Mont Des Avaloir, he is a good looking young horse who seems to do everything we ask of him pretty nicely. Mont is well built and looks to have plenty of scope, as with our bumper horses we will plan to run him in the spring and build upwards after that. Hopefully he’ll have a good future.
So there we have it, my first question and answer and I hoped you enjoyed it. I’ve chosen to ignore the questions on whether Paul has Dominos on speed dial or if he spends his evenings in a hot tub drinking champagne, and yes Mr Chambers, Capitaine could well run in the Supreme, you might catch up with him at Kempton first though.
Before I check out for the week I’ll leave you with this thought, last seasons tally of winners at the end of the year came to 126, Dreamcatching’s victory bought up our 123rd for the season, signifying the horses continue to be in excellent form. Long may it continue.
Have a good week all.