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Monday 17th January

Threeundertheufive took our score for the season to 99 for the season with an impressive front running performance in the colours of the McNeill family in the Grade2 Novice Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

In recording his fourth success from five starts this season he was taking his career total to nine wins from twelve starts.
Adrian Heskin was always in control on Threeundertheufive who jumps for fun, is a strong stayer, and takes his races so well.
His relentless improvement is a pleasing example of our well tried system of buying a group of young stores aged three and four each year and and bringing them on steadily in bumpers before they progress to hurdles and then fences. It’s encouraging that we have loads more like him waiting in the wings.
I have it in the back of my mind to take Threeunderthrufive next to the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on February 19 and he will have entries at Cheltenham in the NH Chase and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
It obviously makes sense to keep Threeundertheufive and Bravemansgame apart and I’ll keep all options open for both of them for the rest of the season.
Gelino Bello also ran with credit on Saturday at Kempton when finishing fourth in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle on his fourth start over hurdles. It looks as though he wants a bit further on a stiffer track.
Rouge Vif travelled nicely in the Silviniaco Conti Chase until his wind cut out. His breathing is clearly an issue because he already had an op last summer to try to sort it out.
We will be quiet again for much of the week before some interesting runners at Lingfield on Friday and at Ascot, Taunton and possibly Haydock a day later. Rainyday Woman has an entry at Lingfield and Yala Enki is on course to defend his crown in the Portman Cup at Taunton.
I will confirm Hitman for the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot and then make a decision about his participation on Thursday morning. If Shiskin and Energumene both look like turning up at Ascot then I might keep Hitman for the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.
On Sunday Master Tommytucker is an intended runner in the new £150,000 Chase at Lingfield.
Further ahead we have entered Frodon, Clan Des Obeaux and Greaneteen at the Dublin Festival at Leopardstown early in February. Running plans for all three are still up in the air and if it stays dry for the next fortnight Frodon has the option of heading for the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
In that case Clan would most likely run at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup while the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase looks an obvious target for Greaneteen if the ground is not too soft.
The vast majority of our horses have enjoyed an easy fortnight since their mid winter flu vaccinations at the end of 2021. We will be pressing on with them at home now and will be firing on all cylinders again before the end of the month as we build up for a big push for the final three months of the season.
Finally I would like to pay tribute to David Powell a brilliantly talented bloodstock agent in France who died over the weekend. He was a lovely man with a wonderful eye for a horse and worked closely with Anthony Bromley in buying so many good horses for Team Ditcheat including Kauto Star, Big Buck’s, Master Minded and Neptune Collonges. David’s knowledge of bloodstock was second to none, he had a host of contacts in France and it was a pleasure to work with him over the years.
One of the last winners he bought for us was Cap Du Mathan, a fine, big, scopey type who won easily at Taunton last week and looks every inch a chaser for the future. My thoughts are with his family and Anthony who I know was so fond of him. RIP David.


Monday 3rd January

The winners flowed for Team Ditcheat during the festive season and we added two more on the first day of the new year.

With many more runners finishing in the frame we start 2022 in a healthy position clear at the top of the trainers table with our horses having earned more than £1,570 million for their owners.
However things will be much quieter over the next fortnight or so now that we have given the vast majority their mid winter flu vaccinations, although we have a few to run on Saturday including Mr Glass in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
Then it will be a case of building them all up again for a big push in the second half of the season all the way to the finishing line at Sandown late in April.
There is so much more to come from a quality group of horses including Bravemansgame who delivered in style in the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. He is a natural over fences, jumped fluently the whole way and outclassed Ahoy Senor, the favourite, once the race came to the boil.
He is a proper horse and I was thrilled to see him win in such great style on ground that was soft enough for him. It was a mighty performance and he is only going to get better with time. The Brown Advisory looks the race for him at Cheltenham but he will also get an entry in the Turners over two and a half miles. The long term plan is to bring him back to Kempton for the King George in twelve month’s time.
Although we missed out on victory in this year’s King George there was consolation in seeing
Clan Des Obeaux, Saint Calvados and Frodon follow the winner Tornado Flyer home on ground that was more testing than ideal for all three after heavy rain in the morning.
Clan was in the right place on the front end but couldn’t fill his lungs up turning in because Saint Calvados took him on after 4 out , He was then a bit one-paced in the ground and outstayed late on.
It was still an excellent run by Clan who looked superb and will go next for the Denman Chase, then on to Aintree and Punchestown.
The fierce early pace left its mark on Frodon who was struggling once they turned for home. He gave everything as usual, is enjoying an easy couple of weeks and has an entry in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown early in February amongst other options .
Considering Saint Calvados has never won over the trip and was making his seasonal debut he was in front way too soon at the fourth last and paid the penalty. If Gavin Sheehan could ride the race again he would surely wait much longer. By making his move so early he didn’t help the cause of Clan Des Obeaux. There are surely decent races in Saint Calvados because he is bound to improve plenty. He will probably run next in the Ascot Chase over two miles, five furlongs.
On Monday Iceo made a thunderous winning debut for us in the colours of Chris Giles in the juvenile hurdle at Kempton and now heads for trials day on 29th, while at Chepstow, Highland Hunter and Truckers Lodge both ran close to their best in finishing second and third in the Coral Welsh National.
It was a very smart performance by Iceo who was keen throughout, jumped slickly and pulled well clear in the closing stages. We can raise our sights with him now as he had loads left in the tank at the finish.
Later at Kempton in the Desert Orchid Chase Greaneteen couldn’t lay a glove on Shiskin who looked every inch a champion. Greaneteen didn’t really handle the ground and it was clear from a long way out that Shiskin had his measure.
On Wednesday at Doncaster Gala de Corton provided the first leg of a treble before Thyme White showed his true colours with a decisive first victory over fences. Stage Star then completed a rewarding day with a highly impressive triumph in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
In following the same path as Bravemansgame twelve months ago he gave every indication that he, too, can develop into a high class chaser next season. I want to do the best for him and look after him because he is very exciting. The Ballymore is the obvious target for Stage Star at Cheltenham but he will also have an entry in the Supreme just in case the ground is very testing.
Another treble at Taunton on Thursday kept our scoreboard ticking over with Irish Hill making a winning debut over hurdles and Brave Kingdom again looking smart before Rainyday Woman took the the Listed mares’ hurdle in great style.
A double on New Year’s Day then took our score for the season to 97. Amour de Nuit, such a consistent performer, won tidily at Musselburgh while Broken Halo jumped well on the way to a ready success at Exeter.
At Cheltenham Simply The Betts bounced back to form with a fine run into second place in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Chase with stable mate Magic Saint just behind in fourth place.
In addition McFabulous ran a race full of promise in finishing second in the Relkeel Hurdle on his first start of the season. He was on the easy list for a while following a little setback shortly after coming back into training and is bound to improve plenty for the outing. I also believe he will appreciate stepping up to three miles.
All the others in the Relkeel were race fit but McFabulous was the pick of the paddock and after being slightly hampered on the run to the final hurdle he was closing fast on the winner at the line. The plan is to go for the Cleeve Hurdle on January 29 and then back to Cheltenham for the Stayers Hurdle. He will go novice chasing in October.
Finally, on a personal note, I’m thrilled that my sixteen year daughter Olive has ridden two point-to-point winners during the past week in her first season and is following in the footsteps of Megan who had a successful first season pointing when she was 16. She gained her first success last Tuesday on Virak and then rode Monsieur Gibraltar to victory at Larkhill yesterday in the novice riders race beating debutant Freddie Gingell who is a very promising young jockey with a bright future .
Talk about a proud dad, Olive is keen as mustard, has learned plenty from years of pony racing and eventing and is a tidy rider and can only get better with practise and experience .


Monday 20th December

We start the countdown to Christmas top of the trainers’ table with 87 winners after a double at Ascot on Friday and £1,164,115 pounds in prize money which virtually mirrors this time last year.

Pic d’Orhy made up for his fall at Newbury with an impressive round of jumping on his way to an easy victory in the Grade 2 Howden Noel Novices’ Chase before Henri The Second beat a competitive field in the Listed Bumper with a determined run from the front.
While Pic D’Orhy has been frustrating at times because of a tendency to take a fence on he has a huge engine and this was his best round of jumping. He will be a danger in races like the Scilly Isles at Sandown and Pendil at Kempton.
I was delighted with Henri The Second who won on his debut at Chepstow despite being as green as grass and again showed signs of inexperience at Ascot. He keeps his head down, keeps galloping and I expect he will wait for the bumper at Aintree we won this year with Knappers Hill.
The dice didn’t roll our way in other races at Ascot. On Friday Thyme White unseated Harry Cobden as he tried to run out at the first fence and then proceeded to jump a clear round in front of the field. He has never done anything like that before and will be out again as soon as I can find a race for him.
A day later Diego du Charmil travelled like the best horse in the Howden Handicap Chase but was in front ten minutes too soon and was then run out of it on the flat. We will find a similar race for him when he can make amends if he is held up until the last moment. He needs to be delivered as late as possible .
Grand Sancy ruined his chance on Saturday by jumping left handed and will not be entered on a right-handed track again.
The ground was too quick for Samarrive in the Betfair Exchange Hurdle. We will freshen him up and train him for the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March and hope for soft ground . He is only four and will make a lovely chaser next season.
Earlier in the week Rainyday Woman again looked smart when successful at Wincanton. If we get some rain she is likely to head to Taunton for a Listed mares’ novice hurdle on December 30.
On Wednesday Silver Forever jumped like an old hand against more experienced rivals on her way to a deeply impressive triumph in a valuable mares’ Chase. I’ll look for another suitable target for her towards the end of January and she will have entries in both the Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham and the Paddy Power Mares’ Chase.
Team Ditcheat is gearing up for a hectic time over the Christmas period. Clan Des Obeaux, Frodon and Saint Calvados are on course for the King George V1 Chase on Boxing Day. All three pleased in a racecourse workout at Wincanton last week.
Bravemansgame runs in the Kauto Star Novice Chase, Paso Doble goes in the novice hurdle and either Solo or Danny Kirwan will represent us in the novice handicap chase.
The following day Greaneteen runs in the Desert Orchid Chase unless it became very soft in which case we would swap him with Politologue, and we will have plenty of entries at Chepstow including Trucker’s Lodge and Highland Hunter in the Coral Welsh National.
For all the latest news on my runners over the two days please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live the previous afternoon.