Four winners on Sunday made up for a frustrating afternoon 24 hours earlier when persistent rain turned the ground at Cheltenham softer than ideal for several of my runners.
With Modus beaten only half a length in the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday and Adrien Du Pont an excellent close third at Auteuil the same day it was another rewarding weekend for Team Ditcheat.
It was good to see Le Prezien on the mark in the Arkle Trophy Trial on his second start over fences in a race we’ve now won six times in the last nine years. I’m sure he would have preferred a stronger gallop but he does finish well and that’s what he did after the narrow leader Some Plan came down at the second last fence. I’ve always felt he would be suited by more than two miles so will be stepping him up in trip at some point.
Harry Cobden won the Greatwood Hurdle for the yard a year ago on Old Guard and came tantalisingly close to doing it again on Modus. They got there at the right time but were just beaten by a better horse North Hill Harvey on the day.
We’ve already schooled Modus over fences and he jumps really well, so we have to decide whether to switch him to fences next or keep him for something like the Ladbroke Hurdle.
We sent four horses to Fontwell on Sunday and three of them won. First to strike was our veteran chaser Aerial in the Southern National on his return from a break of 525 days. While I felt he would definitely benefit from the outing, all of ours do plenty before they run and he showed lots of his old dash to beat Fergal Mael Duin by two and a half lengths. I was chuffed with Aerial and his young jockey Jordan Williams who was so polished on only his third ride over fences.
More Buck’s then jumped really well on his way to a game victory in the novice handicap chase, confirming that I might have been a bit too easy on him at home ahead of his defeat at Sandown a week ago.
Our exciting French recruit Peak To Peak hacked up in the novice hurdle at Fontwell after jumping like an old hand. He is definitely one to follow.
Adrien Du Pont kept up the fine run of our horses at Auteuil with an excellent third place in the Grade 1 four year old hurdle. He is going to be a proper chaser.
On Saturday Bouvreuil did the best of ours in the BetVictor Chase and will improve for the run. Frodon was travelling with purpose until he winded himself when he hit the last ditch hard and Art Mauresque found the ground too soft. I suspect As De Mee would be happier in a smaller, less competitive race.
Also on Saturday I was thrilled with Irish Saint‘s fine run under top weight in the long distance handicap hurdle on his return from injury. That should put him spot on next time.
We will be very busy again at the weekend with Silviniaco Conti (Betfair Chase) and Caid Du Berlais (Fixed Brush Hurdle) heading our team at Haydock while we will also be well represented at Ascot.
For all the up to the minute news on my runners please turn to my Betfair column late on Friday afternoon.