Switch Hitter was a timely winner for the yard at Kempton on Saturday after a frustrating week at the the Cheltenham Festival.
The trickle of blood in Politologue’s nostril that persuaded me to withdraw him from the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the last minute just about summed up our luck over the four days. He was in top form leaving for the races to defend his crown but there was just a little bit of blood in his nose when we were about to saddle him. It could be that he just banged his face but although he wasn’t in any way upset you can’t take any chances with your horses so I called over the vet and we took him out.
Of course Politologue was right as rain when we got him home, he scoped clean and cantered up the next morning. Given how the race panned out in a slow time and that Greaneteen was only two lengths behind the winner in a tight finish you have to think Politologue would have taken a fair bit of beating. The plan now is to send him to Aintree or Sandown.
While we also had to withdraw Real Steel and Southfield Harvest during the week with minor niggles several of ours ran really well at Cheltenham without managing to deal with the all conquering Irish raiders.
I was thrilled with Next Destination, who was second in the NH Chase. He looks a lovely prospect for next season.
The talented grey Houx Gris was a bit too keen before finishing fourth in the Boodle’s and Bravemansgame didn’t let the side down in finishing third in the Ballymore behind the impressive winner Bob Olinger. Both will head to Aintree .
On Thursday it was the turn of Shantou Flyer to finish in the money despite being put up 5lbs by the handicapper for his defeat at Wincanton which hardly made sense to me.
On Friday Frodon ran a cracker from the front in the Gold Cup until fading into fifth place late on. He has done fabulously well to achieve so much over the years. Paul has always wanted to have a runner in the Gold Cup and we knew after last year that he was likely to be lapped in the Ryanair by the Irish duo who dominated the race.
Paul puts so much money into our sport, has every right to have a runner in the Gold Cup and was overjoyed with his performance. He was so proud of the horse.
Frodon will miss Aintree and if he runs again this season it will be in the Oaksey Chase over two and three quarter miles at Sandown on the final day of the season. His programme next winter will be planned round his bid to win the King George VI Chase again.
In the Hunter Chase Bob and Co looked certain to be involved in the finish and was going strongly just behind the leaders until falling three out. It was fantastic to see Porlock Bay win for my mate Will Biddick who is a key member of our team and does such a fine job pre-training and bringing on our young horses at his yard close to my home.
Top marks, also, to Lorcan Williams who gave Porlock Bay such an impressively cool ride. It’s such a shame that we couldn’t all meet up in the pub on Friday night to celebrate together.
This is not the time for me to pinpoint the various reasons why the Irish swept the board at the Festival but one thing that needs addressing is the poor prize money in this country compared to Ireland. The result is that more and more owners are not prepared to invest in horses in training in this country and you can see why.
Although I knew I wasn’t taking our strongest squad to Cheltenham we are enjoying a great season with close on 150 winners already and almost £2 million in prize money. We have lots of exciting young horses coming through who will hopefully develop into the stars of the future.
We will keep cracking on with runners through the week, at Newbury on Friday and Saturday and at Ascot on Sunday.
For the latest updates on my Saturday runners please do check out my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon.