We had plenty to cheer on Saturday with the thrilling victory of Politologue in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown the highlight of a special weekend.
It is a key race in the calendar which I like to target with my best two mile chasers and we have won it nine times in the past going back to Flagship Uberalles in 1999. So to achieve number ten with such an exciting young chaser was quite an achievement for Team Ditcheat as I’ve made no secret of the fact that we have been short of genuine Grade 1 horses over the past few seasons. Although Politologue is a horse I’ve always liked he was bought by John Hales as a possible Gold Cup contender and it took us a while to appreciate that two miles was his best trip. As he travels so well through his races, jumps brilliantly and has bags of pace it made sense to bring him back in distance at the end of last season.
He would have won the Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree in April with something to spare until tripping up unluckily after the last fence, was impressive in the Haldon Gold Cup and in the biggest test of his life so far on Saturday really looked the part as he quickened up after two out before seeing off the challenge of Fox Norton. You must have faith in your horses and I’ve always believed in Politologue who has already put together an impressive CV for one so young and can only get better. He is a staying two miler with plenty of speed which is just what you want for these top races. He’s progressive, and improving all the time but he is only six so I am not going to overdo him this season.
Top marks to his jockey Harry Cobden who continues to impress and along with Bryony Frost and Sean Bowen has made the most of their opportunities while Sam Twiston-Davies is recovering from a broken elbow. Politologue is likely to run next in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot ahead of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival. Altior and Douvan have to comeback and prove themselves and there is nothing more dangerous than an improving young chaser taking on past champions and on Sunday morning you would never known he’d had a race.
Now that Politologue has emerged as a new star I am hopeful that one or two more of our better prospects can make the necessary progress to compete at the highest level before the end of the season. Just about all our horses are bought with chasing in mind though we are highly unlikely to ever again have a quartet with the superb quality of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck’s in training at the same time.
Shortly before Politologue won the Tingle Creek we passed the £1 million mark in prize money for the season thanks to the success of Mont Des Avaloirs at Aintree. Bill and Barn then completed our treble with a dead heat at Chepstow. Capitaine was keeping on well in fourth place when caught out by a novicey mistake at the second last in the Henry VIII Chase. He is a decent prospect and we will ride him more positively next time which might be at Kempton over Xmas. I was thrilled to see Connetable bounce back to form with a spirited show in the staying Handicap Hurdle where he made almost every yard of the running until caught close home.
Most of ours at Aintree were unsuited by the extreme conditions including As De Mee and Sametegal who kept on bravely to be third in the Grand Sefton despite hating the ground. Malaya, who finished second in the Fillies Listed Juvenile Hurdle, will have a break now as she has had a busy time having raced in France before joining us.
At Chepstow Binge Drinker jumped for fun before tiring in the straight on his first run for over a year after sustaining a leg injury. He will improve massively for the outing and could be one for the Grand National at Aintree.
This weekend we will have a number of runners at Cheltenham with Clan Des Obeaux, Le Prezien and Romain de Senam all in the mix for the the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Old Guard and Movewiththetimes will also have entries while Act of Valour could be out again at Doncaster.
For all the latest news on my runners please turn to my Betfair column early on Friday evening.