Team Ditcheat enjoyed an excellent day on Saturday with a rewarding double at Ascot and a highly encouraging return to action by Clan Des Obeaux in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal.
Clan ran an absolute blinder in finishing second to Road to Respect, doing his chances of a repeat victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day no harm. He always comes on for his first run of the season and travelled powerfully until getting a little tired going to the last fence.
The ground turned against Secret Investor who also did very well to be second to Reel Steel in the Daily Mirror Chase. He needed to be running in this because I’d withdrawn him twice at the last minute in recent weeks and I’d expect him to improve enormously for the outing.
We looked all set for a one/two in the valuable listed handicap at Ascot until a dramatic incident late on which left Diego Du Charmil scrambling over the edge of the final fence and Capeland somehow squeezing though a narrow gap on the inside of the wing. It happened when both seemed to want to follow a loose horse that by-passed the fence and Diego and Lorcan Williams did amazingly well to recover from a standstill to somehow rally to regain the lead close home.
Capeland, who was the worst sufferer, eventually finished fifth before a tense stewards inquiry that seemed to last for ages. Luckily common sense prevailed with the winner allowed to keep the race though Capeland was disqualified for taking the wrong course.
I was thrilled with the pair of them who both seemed to have improved and I hope the handicapper plays fair by leaving Capeland on the same mark. I’m not sure where he goes next but Diego could well return to Ascot in three weeks’ time for a £120,000 Handicap Chase.
It’s really pleasing to see the horses coming together now after a spell when a fair few of mine have been needing their first runs.
We will probably raise our sights with Ecco who defied a penalty with plenty to spare at Ascot and is repaying our patience with him last winter.
Black Corton produced another marvellous run to be third in the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup off a new career high mark of 163. He is an absolute star and gives his all every time. A race that might suit him is the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
Bryony Frost felt she was unlucky not to win the Sodexo Handicap Hurdle on Red Force One who had a bit too much to do going to the final bend before finishing so strongly that he would have caught Gumball in a few more strides.
Darling Maltaix also ran nicely on his first start over fences. He learned a lot from the experience and will definitely improve.
We are in for another busy week starting at Exeter on Tuesday where Dolos runs in the Haldon Gold Cup. He is very well and has been away for a racecourse gallop.
McFabulous and Silver Forever will be out in the week while on Saturday we will be sending a big team to Wincanton where Present Man tries for a record third consecutive success in the Badger Ales Trophy in which Give Me Copper also runs. If You Say Run is pencilled in for the Rising Stars Chase, Quel Destin is a likely starter in the Elite Hurdle and Danse Idol goes for the valuable mares handicap hurdle.
On Sunday Pic D’Orhy, who has done very well over the summer, returns to France for a valuable race at Auteuil.
For all the up to date news on all my runners on Saturday please turn to my Betfair column which goes live at 5pm on Friday.