An eventful three days at Aintree included a Grade 1 double on Thursday, some disappointments on Friday and a terrific winning ride by my daughter Megan on the smart Knappers Hill in the hot Grade 2 bumper late on Saturday.
It was a victory which ensured that I ended up leading trainer at the meeting. But the best news was that both our jockeys Harry Cobden and Bryony Frost were able to return home that evening after spending several hours in hospital being assessed after taking nasty falls.
While they are both battered and sore Bryony hopes to return in ten days and expects to be fit to ride Frodon on the final day of the season while Harry will give an update on his recovery in the next few days.
Thursday was a red letter day for Team Ditcheat with four winners at Taunton to compliment the triumphs of Monmiral and Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree.
It was always the plan to by-pass Cheltenham with Monmiral and keep him for the Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle which he won with breathtaking authority. He is unbeaten in three starts for us, keeps improving, and has a huge future.
He is finished for the season and we will have a chat over the summer to decide if he goes chasing or stays over hurdles. If that is the case he could run first in the Fighting Fifth which could show us which way to go with him.
Clan Des Obeaux was equally impressive in the Betway Bowl which he won in stunning style by twenty six lengths. He has shown in the past he isn’t at his best at Cheltenham and it certainly paid off to take him fresh to Aintree in first time cheek pieces. They helped focus his mind and he jumped brilliantly under a positive ride from Harry. Clan could run once more this season under top weight in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown if we are happy with him.
Thursday was a great day for his joint owners Sir Alex Ferguson and Ged Mason who were both present on course to enjoy success in the first three races of the meeting. They are also involved with Hitman who showed immense promise in third place behind Protektorat despite running a bit free. He has a massive future.
On Friday Politologue travelled beautifully for two miles in the Marsh Chase before weakening quickly into fourth place. It was a mirror of what happened in the Tingle Creek eighteen months ago and sure enough he bled again.
He will have a nice long holiday before returning in something like the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham. He is in the twilight of a fabulous career and we will do what is best for him. One more good run and we will carry on. If not then we have a decision to make.
Sadly on Friday we lost a lovely young four year old Houx Gris who was fatally injured when he fell in the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle.
Bravemansgame again showed bags of promise in finishing second in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle when he was a little further back on the first circuit than we had planned. I still retain great faith in him. He will now go novice chasing in the autumn.
On Saturday Harry Cobden took a heavy fall with Lucky One in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, was taken by ambulance to hospital and was joined there later in the afternoon by Bryony Frost who parted company with Yala Enki in the Grand National.
We were all in need of a pick me up at the end of the day and it was provided by Megan on Knappers Hill, who is now unbeaten in three starts, with his talented stable companion Stage Star running a fine race to finish third.
We have had an awesome season already and with Knappers Hill taking our score to 163 we need nine more winners to beat our best previous tally of 171. So you can be sure we will pushing hard over the final fortnight of the campaign with runners at Cheltenham’s two day mid week meeting before the focus switches to Ayr at the weekend.
I’ve got lots of nice horses for our annual raiding party in Scotland, depending on the ground. For the latest news on all my weekend runners please check out my Betfair column which goes live late the previous afternoon.