Four winners over the weekend was a great result for Team Ditcheat given that ground conditions were so testing I was in two minds about having runners around the country.
While I am not quite sure why, there is no doubt that many of my horses want better ground than they are likely to find at the moment. Take Just A Par who bounced back to form in style in the Greatwood Veterans’ Chase at Newbury on deep going that he has always disliked.
When his joint owner Paul Barber told me he wasn’t going to Newbury to watch him finish last I promised tongue in cheek to collect the trophy for him. Although Just A Par has always had bags of ability we have been riding him too positively this season so I told Harry Cobden to drop him out and take his time before starting to pass horses. He carried out his instructions to the letter with the result that Just A Par was full of running when he came late to take the prize. He will go straight to the Grand National and would be a player if he is in the mood and the ground dries out.
He is in the National sale two days before the race if anyone fancies buying a decent contender.
Warriors Tale completed our double at Newbury with an easy victory from the front. He has taken time to come to himself up but was bucking and squealing on Saturday morning which is always a good sign.
After so much rain I wasn’t confident that San Bendeto would handle conditions at Doncaster so I was delighted to see him bravely defy a career high mark of 145 in the BetBright Chase. He is likely to go up again to around 150 now which will make life difficult but he is still a novice and could run next in the Red Rum Chase at Aintree.
Most of my other runners on Saturday struggled badly in the ground. They included Le Mercurey who travelled like the best horse in the Premier Chase at Kelso before seeming not to get home. I am kicking myself for running Capitaine again at Kelso so soon after Kempton. I’ll freshen him up now and wait for better ground when he can win another novice hurdle before he goes out to grass for the summer.
On Sunday Antartica De Thaix took our score for the season to 130 with an impressive success in the Listed Mares’ Chase at Huntingdon. She is a smart mare and could go for a similar race at Cheltenham in April. Our select band of mares have done really well this season with Lifeboat Mona and Coillte Lass both heading to the Cheltenham Festival while Tagrita also won over fences. I wouldn’t mind training a few more like them next season and have recently bought an exciting Irish Point-to-Point mare If You Say Run for Highclere Thoroughbreds.
With Cheltenham around the corner and the ground so soft everywhere I will not be having many runners this weekend, perhaps a couple on Saturday at Sandown and Caesar Milan in the Grand Military Gold Cup on Friday.
For all the latest news on my horses please turn to my Betfair column late on Friday afternoon.