Five star performances from Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux capped an amazing day that yielded eight winners for Team Ditcheat on Saturday with five of them coming at Ascot.
That is a record haul as the best we’ve managed before was seven in a day in November, 1998 from ten runners with trebles at Chepstow and Sandown and a lone success from Derrymore Mist at Wincanton.
This time we gave ourselves plenty of chances with twenty four runners at three meetings which has to be the most we have ever sent out on a single afternoon. The winners kept coming at Ascot with a double at Wincanton adding to the early success of the hardy Quel Destin in the Victor Ludorum at Haydock. By the end of an unforgettable afternoon our horses had earned just over £260,000 which took our prize money total for the season sailing past £2 million. To reach that figure a month before Cheltenham is quite something and to have the chance to bring such a strong team to Ascot was great after the loss of Newbury the previous weekend.
The bonus was that the two major races from Newbury, the Betfair Hurdle and Betfair Denman Chase, were added to the card.
My head lad Clifford Baker and I have been thrilled with the way the horses have been going at home over the past fortnight but they can’t win standing in their boxes and it was a huge relief when the BHA allowed racing to resume in midweek.
Quel Destin set the ball rolling with a fluent victory at Haydock. He is tough, talented, progressive and looks a big player for us in the Triumph Hurdle. Brio Conti then really surprised me at Ascot by coming through to land the two mile, three and a half handicap hurdle narrowly. He badly needed his first run back at Sandown and still looks so burly I felt sure he wasn’t fit enough to do himself justice! He will now go for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
Next up was Magic Saint at Wincanton. Although we’ve run him over further, two miles looks to be his trip judging by the stylish way he travelled through the race on his way to a comfortable success. He could be very interesting in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.
Back at Ascot Clan Des Obeaux looked every inch a serious Gold Cup contender as he landed the Betfair Denman Chase in tremendous style. His jumping was brilliant and his confidence is sky high. Still only seven, he was a big baby last season but he has grown up and is improving each time he runs, becoming more professional and the timing of the race at Ascot was ideal with Cheltenham on the horizon.
Clan Des Obeaux has had a little break since Kempton and we can now put the finishing touches to his preparation to have him spot on for the Gold Cup.I believe he goes to Cheltenham with a massive chance.
There was barely time to greet Clan Des Obeaux in the winner’s enclosure before we were able to cheer home Grand Sancy and Harry Skelton in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton thanks to the big screen on the edge of the Ascot paddock. Grand Sancy has been another of ours to shine over the past few months and has fully earned a crack at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
I felt we had two serious chances in the Betfair Ascot Chase but it turned out to be a one horse race as Cyrname put up one of the performances of the season with a stunning win by seventeen lengths from the favourite Waiting Patiently.
Harry Cobden had a plan all week for Cyrname and executed it perfectly. The horse is a relaxed racing machine these days and a brilliantly bold and accurate jumper of a fence. He was quite a challenge when he came to us because he wouldn’t accept restraint and wanted to do everything at a hundred miles an hour. He has come on in leaps and bounds over fences since the penny dropped and on what he showed on Saturday and on his previous start it would have been really interesting to see how he would have fared against Altior at the last Ascot meeting.
The King George will be Cyrname’s principal target next winter and if he runs again this season it is likely to be in the Punchestown Gold Cup. I am sure he will get the trip of three miles and he does seem much happier going right handed though I wouldn’t rule out trying him again left handed at some stage.
Sam Twiston-Davies felt Politologue struggled a bit with his breathing after they finished fourth behind Cyrname. We will check his wind this week.
A fabulous day at Ascot got even better when the promising Worthy Farm and the talented mare Silver Forever won the last two races to complete our five timer at Ascot. They are two lovely horses for the future.
There was time for a quick drink at Ascot before we headed home with my nephew and assistant Harry Durham at the wheel while my mobile phone was close to meltdown by the time we reached Ditcheat. Then it was off to the Manor Inn in the village for lengthy celebrations at the end of an astonishing day that will live long in the memory.
With the horses in top form at home we plan to be busy again at the weekend with Adrien Du Pont and probably Romain de Senam on course for the 888Sport Handicap Chase on Saturday at Kempton where I will be also be running one or two nice juvenile hurdlers.
On Sunday Old Guard returns to Fontwell for another crack at the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle which he won last year.
For the up to the minute news on all my runners on Saturday please turn to my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon. Hopefully there will be some winners among them.