Four winners on Friday took our score to 118 which is only four less than we achieved all last season.
Although we didn’t add to the total on Saturday several of the horses ran really well, most notably Movewithetimes in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury thirty five minutes after Le Mercurey performed with great credit in the Denman Chase.
I thought it was an awesome display by Movewiththetimes to run Ballyandy so close in Europe’s most valuable handicap hurdle. The pair had the race between them going to the last with the rest well beaten off. Movewiththetimes is a lovely prospect who is still learning about racing and will enjoy better ground than he encountered at Newbury. But Zubayr was undeniably disappointing in the same race on his first run since he had a little wind op. We haven’t quite found the key to him yet but we will keep trying.
While Le Mercurey is not in the Gold Cup he looks tailor made for Aintree where he has the option of the Martell Cup or the Grand National as a flat track suits him so well. We will see how how the handicapper reacts before making a decision about the National.
Le Mercurey was travelling best of all as he challenged the winner Native River going to the second last fence and kept on well on the flat. The form could look gilt edged come Gold Cup day.
Jessber’s Dream lost nothing in finishing second to Rons Dream in the Listed Mares’ race at Warwick on Saturday. She ran right up to her handicap mark and has come out of the race fine.
Full marks to Sam Twiston-Davies on Friday on reaching his fastest century of winners on Captain Buck’s at Kempton. He would have done it a great deal earlier but for missing almost two months with a spleen injury when our horses were in rampant form.
Sam was also successful the same day on Politologue who completed his countdown for Cheltenham with a bloodless victory. He was more relaxed in a first time hood, again jumped like a natural and goes straight to the JLT Chase at the Festival.
At Bangor Pacha Du Polder booked his ticket for another crack at the Foxhunters in which he was only beaten three and a half lengths last year with an inexperienced rider Victoria Pendleton in the saddle. He had a few races before Cheltenham twelve months ago to give Victoria some practise and is much fresher this time. Bryony Frost got a good tune out of Pacha Du Polder on Friday and will keep the ride at Cheltenham.
This week I am sending Saphir Du Rheu to Kelso on Thursday for the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase in which he is well treated by the conditions of entry as he escapes any penalties. Further ahead I will have plenty of entries at the weekend with Capitaine a possible for the Kingwell Hurdle.
For the latest news on my running plans please turn to my Befair column late on Friday afternoon.