Four winners over the weekend took the money won by our horses this season past the mark of £2 million.
That is a really pleasing achievement given that there was no jump racing for so many weeks at the start of the campaign and that prize money on offer in this country is significantly down on past levels.
A glance at Willie Mullins statistics in Ireland shows the gulf in financial rewards between the two countries. It does not make for happy reading.
Our 148 winners have earned £2,008 million win and place money for their owners. In stark contrast Willie’s 147 winners have collected €3.571 million Euros win and place money for their owners. The level of prize money here is a major concern for our owners and professionals at a time when the rewards in France and Ireland are in a different league.
Good Ball was the star of the show on Saturday as he gained his second success from three starts at Newbury. We’ve made no secret that he struggles a bit with his breathing, which is why he wears a tongue tie, but he keeps galloping and is an out and out three miler for the future.
Good Ball will be off on his holidays soon, is booked in for a wind op in the summer and will be a lovely novice over fences next season.
Earlier in the week at Ludlow it was terribly sad to lose Capeland who was a super horse was and has been an absolute legend for the yard in recent years. He managed to win at least one race every year and was last successful at Wincanton in January but had to be put down after breaking a hind leg on the flat at Ludlow. Our commiserations go to Kathy Stuart who is such an enthusiastic and fantastic owner and has been with me from the start.
It was good to see Adrien du Pont back in the winners enclosure at Newbury on Saturday after more than two years in the grip of the handicapper. He is running in Hunter chases now because he hasn’t been competitive in handicaps for ages. The official assessor is always too slow to drop horses which is a problem when they get beaten time after time. On his last start before Newbury he was out with the washing at Kempton at Xmas, beaten fully 32 lengths, yet was only dropped 2lbs. It was much the same story in his previous race. Cases like his make me think the handicapping system in this country is completely wrong.
Adrien has taken over two years to be dropped a few pounds and simply cannot win handicaps. He is still rated 140 which is totally unrealistic. He hasn’t won for 27 months, is no more a 140 horse than I am and should be around 130 at best. So it made sense for him to go Hunter chasing.
Truckers Lodge is another prime example of the need for change. It was ludicrous that he was put up 14 lbs for winning the Midlands Grand National just over a year ago in terrible ground and he is still paying for it. He returned to Uttoxeter for the same race eight days ago, finished a well beaten seventh and was dropped a measly pound. That is not fair on the horse or his owners. It can’t be right and it all needs a serious review. No wonder horses trained in this country are not competitive in the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival. Quite simply the whole herd, as it were, is too high.
We will be relatively quiet this week before gearing up for a big push for the closing weeks of the season. We have loads of runners to take to Aintree and will then be making our annual raid at Ayr ahead of Sandown on the final day.