I find it hard to believe yet another week has passed by and it is once again blog time, it seems that time is flying at the moment and, as we are under a month away from the end of the season, things in Ditcheat are slowly changing.
Of course there is a lot of horses still in full training and working hard with some big spring targets to focus on, but now April is upon us some of the horses have finished their racing season and will begin the process of winding down before their summer holidays.
You may think that as soon as our horses have finished racing we just finish them and they head out to the field, but in Ditcheat this is a timely process that Clifford and Paul do not rush.
For an example, a lot of our young bumper horses that have now finished for the year will continue to canter probably for another three weeks. We do this for several reasons, one being that before they go for their summer holidays they will all have another schooling session so their jumping is fresh in their minds.
The second reason being that Paul believes it is important to have your horses looking really well before they head to grass as if they look poor when they go out in the fields they will not do well while they are out.
They get fed lots of haylage and plenty of feed with an ever-decreasing amount of rugs so that by the time they are heading out to grass they will have been without a rug in their stable for around two weeks. As I said this is a process that can’t be rushed, but Paul likes to ensure he is happy with their physical condition before turning them out to grass. This patience also makes certain that there is lots of good grass for them to eat when they do eventually head to the paddocks.
Two maestros share a morning at Ditcheat
For the horses still in full work, it has been business as usual and we had a couple of cool visitors on Monday with Nicky and Sophie Henderson watching first lot with Paul, before they headed to Seven Barrows to watch third lot at Nicky’s.
Watching Paul and Nicky chat for an hour as first lot played out in front of them was absolutely fascinating. They obviously train their respective strings in very different ways, but both speak the same language in terms of their horses and what they need in order get the best out of them.
I loved just standing by, watching them chat about racing, what they do with their horses, running plans, jockeys, schooling, the weather and just about everything in between. In terms of the National Hunt game there would not be many brains as good as those two when it comes to training racehorses.
Obviously we are all just once again gathering our thoughts after a manic few days away up at Liverpool where Mcfabulous shone through as a top-class young prospect winning the Grade 2 bumper in determined fashion while a raft of other horses ran well in defeat.
Clan Des Obeaux stayed on gamely to finish second in the Bowl as did Topofthegame and Politologue who put in an especially brave performance having bled during the Melling chase.
Christopher Wood travelled really nicely in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle and I’m sure he will have lots more good days over hurdles in his career. Christopher made his first mistake hurdling on Thursday which put him on the back foot, but he will have learnt a lot from that experience and I can see him winning a lovely two-mile handicap at some stage during his life with us.
Away from Aintree, it was great to see the talented little thinker that is Birds of Prey win again at Taunton under what I thought was a really good ride from Lorcan Williams, who produced him at just the right time to win.
My highlight of the week in terms of our horses though is a little bit of a left field one and that came at Chepstow in the shape of Is A Real Champ for the McNeil family. This huge son of Flemensfirth is a million miles from the finished article and I thought he showed plenty to like in his bumper.
He is already a scopey jumper and, for a horse as weak as him, I thought he ran really very nicely indeed. He will go hurdling next season and, although my feeling is that he is not going to be anywhere near the top of his capabilities for a couple of seasons, this will certainly be a horse to follow over the next few seasons as he develops. I like him a lot.
Looking ahead to this week we will be fairly quiet until Friday where we have some nice entries up at Ayr and again on Saturday with some really lovely horses targeted to venture north. Ayr in the spring is a location where Paul has always done well and I am hoping for more of the same this season with types like Ibis Du Rheu, Secret Investor, Getaway Trump and Magic Saint.
The one I would be really looking forward too however at this stage is Imperial Cup winner Malaya, who has been targeted at this race for some time now. Bence, her regular rider, does an excellent job with her and he is delighted with how she is going. She looks in super condition with a great shine on her coat and is in peak physical condition. We have kept her fresh and I hope she will repay us with a bold show on Saturday.
Bryan success just what the Dr ordered
Before I go this week I just want to take you back to last Monday when Dr Sanderson won his third race this season, this time at Ludlow where, having jumped well and travelled remarkably strongly through the race, he ran out a smooth winner. That success confirmed he is a smart young horse, but the reason I want to highlight the victory was because of the man in the saddle, a young guy called Bryan Carver.
Bryan joined us in the summer having spent a season with Will Biddick last year and has been a great asset to us since. A hugely popular guy in the yard, Bryan’s riding has got better and better this year so it was really special for us that he rode his first winner for us.
Bryan is doing really well in the pointing field this year riding plenty of winners and, having caught the eye on a number of occasions, it was nice to see his hard work rewarded.
I know Bryan’s eventual target is to join the professional ranks and with an attitude to match his excellent riding skills I would imagine you will hear a lot more from him. He also hits the golf ball a lot further than me which is annoying but everyone has to have a fault.
That is about all from me, so I hope you have a good week and until we chat again, go well.