With horse racing’s very own lottery just a matter of days away, we at Ditcheat enter into the second biggest week of the jumping calendar in fine fettle.

We have danced onto 143 winners, just 12 away from Paul’s finest ever tally, the horses are running well and, at this crucial stage of the season, seem to be in good health body and mind.

It’s no secret that for a second year running we have found ourselves in a battle for the Trainer’s Championship, this time with Mr Henderson, who looks to be a formidable rival with some top quality horses. There’s been an awful lot written about it in the last few days and it seems neither camp can train a winner without the inevitable title chat afterwards. Of course I get it, it’s a massive deal and as my leader said in the press on Sunday, competition like this is surely a good thing for the sport.

At the yard, our focus doesn’t change or divert to the Championship, we merely carry on doing what we are doing, everybody has their jobs and it is down to us all doing our bit and trying our best that Paul can train his horses in the way he wants. As we are heading into a week that will more than likely have a huge bearing on the outcome of the title race I thought I’d look at our stats to provide a little perspective to my view.

Ditcheat stats continue to read well

As I said earlier, this year Paul has trained 143 winners from 564 runners operating at a 25% strike rate, impressive stuff but to me I’m not sure it paints the full picture of how Paul operates.

You see from those 143 domestic winners only one of them has been in a Grade One event demonstrating that, although a smashing bunch of horses call Ditcheat their home, it is the clear the top-class racehorses of today are not currently housed in our yard.

Over two million pounds worth of prize money has been won which really demonstrates Paul’s skill in placement and ability to strike when the time is right. There isn’t an entries book he hasn’t been through twice or a race he doesn’t know the conditions of thoroughly. Go through the yard and there isn’t one horse which he doesn’t have a plan mapped out for.

What I’m trying to say is that whichever way this Championship goes, and I’m sure it is far from over, a season where Paul’s stats read as they do is a fantastic achievement, win lose or draw.

Aintree crew primed for tasks ahead

I’m going into Aintree this year like the rest of our team, optimistic of our chances knowing our horses seem in great condition and running well. We won’t be going up there with hundreds each day instead focussing on the limited, but nice horses we have to run.

Silvinaco Conti, Frodon, As De Mee, Vicente, High Secret, Brio Conti, Aux Ptits Soins and Le Mercurey are all horses that bypassed Cheltenham to focus their sights on Liverpool and, hopefully with that in mind, they will all be in good shape to run their best.

Reflecting on the week that has just passed us by, I’m happy to report it has once again been a good one.

Touch Kick got off the mark in good style at Taunton, Amour De Nuit ran another solid race this time in defeat and we dipped our toes into the water on the level with Volpone Jelois who put in a good effort to finish third at Doncaster, under an accomplished ride from Megan, who now tells us every hurdle or chaser for that matter should spend their summer running on the Flat.

Dolos ran a cracker to finish second at Ascot on Sunday to wish Julius de la Hey a very happy birthday and Present Man, under a determined Jack Sherwood, did what he did best and jumped well on the whole to record his fourth success over the sticks.

Bouncing Benedeto takes Ascot by storm

You’d think after all that a week couldn’t get any better, but that is when our great friend San Benedeto came along and recorded his fifth win of the season, third on the bounce and in doing so made light of top weight to win off a mark of 150.

San Ben isn’t the biggest horse in the world but by god he is tough, Paul intentionally keeps him super fresh at home ensuring whoever is in the saddle always has their hands full and his methods are quite obviously working incredibly well. He jumped immaculately and quickened up smartly when Sam gave him a squeeze. It was wonderful to watch and wonderful to play a part in the career of such an admirable little horse, he really is a belter.

The obvious huge low of the week was when Clic Work went wrong in that very race when in the process of running a huge race, it’s absolutely gutting when things like that happen but he is home now, being monitored closely and is in the best hands he could be in.

So there we have it, another week of the season passes us but we another hugely exciting seven days to get our teeth into. The forthcoming week is of course much, much bigger than some when we will all venture up to Aintree and, with a bit of luck, things will go well and crucially all of our horses will come home safe. I’ve said it before, but to all of us that is of course the most important thing.

I hope you all enjoy the National and everything that Aintree has to offer with it, all of us at Team Ditcheat will be trying our very best and god willing things will go well.