This week may have required Americans to make a difficult decision, however my decision for ride of the week was very simple with Jordan Williams easily winning my vote.
Over the last month I’ve talked a great deal about our young jockeys excelling in the absence of Sam, but until Sunday Jordan hadn’t yet been one of them as he was at Ditcheat with the rest of the team working hard and striving to get that one ride that could kick-start things. With this in mind I wasn’t the only one who was absolutely thrilled to see Aerial and Jordan win at Fontwell, in fact I was one of many. Jordan is a quiet young man who rides Aerial every day and was deserving of the big chance he received aboard his regular partner. He gave his mount a quite brilliant ride by picking his competition off one by one, producing him at the last to win nicely.
Tony and Sue Hayward along with Barry and Anne Fulton were also hugely deserving of Aerial’s success having shown unrivalled levels of patience along with Paul in order to get him back to the track in winning form.
Peak practice pays off at Fontwell
As you can imagine the journey home was a pretty buoyant one. Sean was at the wheel having just ridden a double and Jordan didn’t stop smiling all the way back to Ditcheat. I’ve always loved Fontwell since riding my first double there some years ago and today provided another memorable day at the track.
After Aerial‘s brave performance, More Buck’s once again jumped his rivals silly to take his Fontwell tally to two out of two, however we had to wait until our last runner of the day down there for my highlight. There are always horses that come along and do things nicely at home but there’s a huge difference between nice work on the gallops and winning, so seeing Peak To Peak make such an impressive debut was very encouraging. He jumped big the whole way round and will have learned lots, but he clearly has a good slice of ability and all credit goes to Kate McCormack who does a lovely job of riding him everyday – she is without any question his biggest fan.
Coastal a ‘shore’ star of the future
Peaky wasn’t the only star hurdling performance this week with Coastal Tiep winning at the start of the week at Kempton, creating quite an impression on Nick.
For me, Monday was one of the best days of my week by miles as I’m sure lots of you know a great friend of mine and the yard, Ian Fogg, has created Ditcheat Thoroughbreds so I spent a good chunk of the day at Kempton with Coastal Tiep’s syndicate, it’s fair to say they are a hoot. Some fantastic racing fans and hilarious characters made it a day where laughter was never far away and that is surely what it’s all about isn’t it?
Prior to laughing my way though tacking up Coastal Tiep and watching him win, Dad and I headed off to Kempton early on Monday to attend a BetVictor press day for their feature day at Cheltenham on Saturday. It was an occasion that without doubt provided me with my most embarrassing moment of the week.
BetVictor gaff leaves me red faced
It started well. I had my best suit on, Dad had driven so I’d had a little snooze and I was fresh and ready to give my thoughts on the weekend’s proceedings as we wandered in to a room that might as well of had BetVictor wallpaper for all the branding and banners that adorned the Desert Orchid suite.
A few much better qualified racing personalities were interviewed in front of the assembled crowd with no dramas, before Derham, the new assistant was summoned to the mike. I spoke for probably ten minutes on the chances of our horses until I declared that Frodon has a huge chance and come Paddy Power day he’d be ready, not the best thing to say in a room teaming with BetVictor representatives . . .
No matter though, and after blushing for quarter of an hour at my stupidity, I collected myself to talk to the excellent Tom Stanley from Racing UK. We are flying along now, I’m warmed up, it’s flowing much easier, I can see the questions coming, until, “Agghhh Harry stop, you called it the Paddy Power again”. Old habits it seems die hard even in a young mind.
Modus narrowly trumped but Prezien a Grade 1 candidate
There are certain races those of us at Ditcheat are accustomed to winning, happily the Grade Two Arkle Trial at Cheltenham is one of them, so it was pleasing to see Le Prezien keep up the tradition and score nicely. He is a work in progress who I can see running over two-and-a-half miles in due course. Channon Whitstone, who rides him every day, deserves a big well done and probably loves him more than her other half Stan Sheppard.
As this week has proved, results don’t always go the way one hopes they might, this was the case with Modus who was narrowly edged out by North Hill Harvey in the Greatwood Hurdle, a race that since Brampour popped up a few years ago has always provided fond memories for me. As you can imagine Brampour has been in my thoughts these last couple of days as he always is at this time of year, however it came as a huge surprise to wake up to a tweet from his owner Aaron Banks who was pictured with the real Donald Trump and Nigel Farage – a weird but relevant link for this week. It’s a funny old game.
Our thoughts with Severn Barrows on a day of high emotion
As Jordan, Sean and I walked Fontwell before racing I scrolled through Twitter and learned Sprinter Sacre has been retired in what turned out to be an awfully difficult day for all at Seven Barrows. Retiring one of the best National Hunt horses of the modern era must have been very emotional, but to then lose Simonsig only minutes later was the bitterest of blows. The pain suffered in a yard when a horse fails to return from a racecourse in such circumstances is acute and felt deeply by everyone involved. I know many at Ditcheat paused to think about their compatriots at Seven Barrows on Sunday evening and have empathy for the emotions they are feeling at the moment.
Memories are a wonderful thing and no doubt everyone has their own of the great horses over the years, but for me Sprinter Sacre was one of the greatest. There was something different about him, a swagger and brilliance that very, very few possess. As a racing fan, one could talk about a horse of Sprinter’s calibre for days, an animal with talent that rare that words, in my humble opinion, simply do not do him justice. I think the only fitting thing I can say from one top team to another is thank you and congratulations for making him such a wonder and a true joy to behold. Happy retirement Sprinter Sacre, by God you deserve it.