Another rewarding week for Team Ditcheat with a treble at our local track Wincanton on Thursday, two more winners on Friday and another double on Saturday. That moved our score on to 77 at a strike rate of almost 33 per cent.
The one that thrilled me the most last week was Politologue who, I thought, was awesome in winning the novice chase at Haydock that we have farmed in recent years. I was worried beforehand that he might lack peak fitness as he came back into training later than most of ours.
But class horses tend to get away with it and he jumped and travelled like a dream before drawing well clear in the closing stages. While he needs to gain some more experience, he is a proper horse who will improve for the run. Two and a half miles looked ideal for him at Haydock so I am not in a hurry to step him up to three miles. If all goes well further ahead I could see him tackling something like the Betfair Chase in twelve months time.
Present Man dug deep to hold on at Ascot on Friday and the two mares Lifeboat Mona and Tagrita did us proud on Saturday.
There were disappointments too, with some of our older horses like Zarkandar and Silviniaco Conti struggling to show their true form while the performance of Dodging Bullets at Ascot is a bit of a mystery. I might have been guilty of running Zarkandar and Conti too quickly after their previous races. They both seemed in good form at home but you never know for sure until they get to the racecourse again. Sean Bowen did say that the steady pace at Ascot didn’t suit Zarkandar who we know needs three miles these days.
I think the truth is that a few of our older horses including this pair and also Vibrato Valtat are increasingly hard to place.
Old Guard hated the ground at Haydock where the slow pace of a four runner race was totally against him. His best form in the Greatwood Hurdle came when he finished powerfully off a flat out gallop. There will be other chances for Old Guard though I do wonder if he is as good as before the pelvic injury that forced him out of the Cheltenham Festival.
The good news is that Dodging Bullets was fine on Sunday morning after Nick Scholfield sensibly pulled him up at Ascot because he wasn’t happy with him. The horse got in a right old state before racing, acting strangely. Nick said that he seemed all right in the early stages of the Stella Artois 1965 Chase then stopped as if something was amiss. Yet he had been working beautifully since Exeter and ate up once he was back in his box at Ditcheat on Saturday evening when we checked on him every hour until midnight. What happened is one of those odd things that has left me scratching my head. If only horses could talk!
We have another busy weekend ahead with Irving heading to Newcastle seeking to win a second Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Saphir Du Rheu and Vicente both on course for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury’s two day meeting where I expect to field number of runners.
Saphir Du Rheu galloped encouragingly on Friday, has improved for his first run and is on a lower mark than last year. But he does now need to put a marker down in the form book. Vicente is 5 lbs higher since winning the Scottish Grand National in the spring. He can go well fresh but wouldn’t want the ground to be too soft at Newbury.
For up to the minute news on all my runners at the weekend please turn to my Betfair column late on Thursday and Friday afternoon.