Lifeboat Mona provided the highlight for Team Ditcheat on a weekend when the ground at Sandown and Wincanton was very testing after rain on turf that had been frozen in midweek.

We have several really nice mares in training this season and Lifeboat Mona showed that she is up with the best of them with a clear cut success in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle at Sandown. Early this season we were thinking of switching Lifeboat Mona to fences but she is not very big and will stay over hurdles now. She jumps well and has a nice touch of class so I’ll look for another similar race for her in a month’s time.

I thought Capitaine performed with great credit in finishing second to the highly-rated Finian’s Oscar in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. While a mistake at the second last hurdle cost him valuable momentum just when the race was coming to boil I liked the way he kept on in determined fashion all the way to the line. Capitaine was neither suited by the slow pace of the race nor the ground that bordered on heavy in places. It looked like Capitaine ran into one but he is a much better horse on decent ground and I wouldn’t hesitate to take on the winner again when conditions are in our favour.

Rocky Creek was another who didn’t appreciate the going in the final of the Veterans Chase at Sandown and soon decided it was not his day over a trip that is too short for him now. As he jumps brilliantly and clearly stays well I might look at the cross country race for him at the Festival where the ground should be much more suitable. Another option might be the Eider Chase.

At Wincanton Orbasa ran his best race by some way this season in the colours of Ditcheat Thoroughbreds as he finished runner-up behind Walk In The Mill. He wants better ground and further.

Anchor Man laid down a strong challenge to the much more experienced French recruit Cataraman Du Seuil in the novice hurdle before the concession of 6 lbs proved to be too big an ask on the flat.

All our runners over the last few days will have their winter flu jabs now before going on the easy list for a week or two.

Clan Des Obeaux and Arpege D’Alene both ran very well without quite managing to win at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. A mistake at the second last when he held a narrow lead unsettled Clan Des Obeaux just as Whisper moved into top gear. You had to be impressed by the way he fought back on the hill against a horse that was so highly rated over hurdles. It was quite close at the finish and there will be other days for Clan Des Obeaux who has a big future over fences.

Arpege D’Alene again showed that stamina is his forte as he stayed on all the way to the line in finishing second in the three mile handicap chase. He would have gone very close if he had winged the last. He looks an ideal candidate for the four mile NH Challenge Cup at the Festival and will then be heading North for the Scottish National at Ayr.

This weekend Vivaldi Collonges and Virak are likely to go for the Classic Chase at Warwick while Vibrato Valtat travels to Kempton for the Listed two and a half mile chase.