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Category Archives: Latest News

Monday 20th March

We ended a superb week in high spirits with two winners at the Cheltenham Festival, a brilliant run by Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup and a treble on Saturday.

In addition I was thrilled to see my 17 year old daughter Olive finish third in the Hunter Chase on Shantou Flyer on her first ride at Cheltenham.
The horses remain in top form and have now earned well over £3.1 million for their owners with six weeks before the end of the season of the season.
Stage Star recorded my 47th success at the Festival on Thursday in the Turners Novice Chase with the help of a finely judged ride from the front by Harry Cobden who was riding brilliantly all week and was one of the features of the festival for me . All the talk beforehand was of the Irish invaders having a stranglehold on the race but Stage Star was more than equal to the challenge, jumped for fun, and stretched clear at the finish to win by three and a quarter lengths.
I was delighted by the quality of that performance and imagine I will train Stage Star for the Ryanair. He has plenty of boot, travels so well and I’m not sure he needs to be going the full Gold Cup distance yet but prob has to go left handed.
On Friday it was the turn of Stay Away Fay to sparkle with another positive ride by Harry in the Albert Bartlett. Once again the Irish horses dominated the market but Stay Away Fay, owned by Chris Giles and Dave Staddon, disputed the lead the whole way, jumping slickly, and kept on strongly to defeat Affordable Fury by a length. It was a taking performance by our horse having only his third start over hurdles. He is improving rapidly, a stout stayer who will be going chasing next season. Before then he could go to Aintree or Punchestown.
Bravemansgame then ran the race of his life when finishing second to Galopin Des Champs. The pair were upsides at the last fence before the Irish trained favourite eased clear on the run in. It was a hell of a race, as good a Gold Cup that you will ever see with an end to end gallop and some proper horses in the line up. We had the two best staying chasers from England and Ireland coming to the fore. What more could you want?
I’m so proud of Bravemansgame who travelled superbly, was pinpoint accurate at his fences, and was the only one to make a race of it with the winner. He certainly got the trip all right and we will have another crack at the Gold Cup next year. The options for him now are Aintree or Punchestown although he had a hard enough race on Friday and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he didn’t run again this season.
Earlier in the week Greaneteen did well to finish third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase after somehow surviving an alarming mistake at the ditch. Hitman put in another solid run to be third in the Ryanair while I was delighted to see Captain Teague finish third in the bumper and will be a lovely novice hurdler for next season. The one that probably got away was Thyme White who is so good fresh and was tanking along when departing at the 2nd last when looking full of running .
The biggest disappointment came from Hermes Allen who failed to shine in the Ballymore. I know he is a smart horse and You Wear It Well, who finished second to him at Newbury, confirmed the point with a deserved victory in the mares’ novice hurdle at the meeting. I am quite keen to run him over three miles at Aintree if the ground is good. He will bounce back .
We hardly had time to draw breath before heading to Kempton on Saturday where Outlaw Peter and Complete Unknown landed the two most valuable races on the card at the Sunbury course. Both were given copybook rides by Harry on their way to decisive victories in what had seemed beforehand to be competitive handicaps.
The day ended with Farnoge completing a treble for the yard with Bryony in the bumper at Uttoxeter taking our score for the season to 143.
We are back in action at Taunton on Monday before a brief lull ahead of Newbury’s two day meeting at the weekend. We will have a few to run there including Summer Brise, a nice Kapgarde filly, in the £100,000 bumper. Go West could possibly go for a valuable bumper at Kelso .
Meanwhile I am half tempted to try to beat our best total of prize money of £3,646,511 which came in 2007-08. Obviously we need things to go our way but there is so much good racing to come so we could get close to that figure if the cards roll our way.
For the latest news on my Saturday runners please do check out my Betfair column which goes live early on Friday afternoon.


Monday 13th March

We head to Cheltenham in top form after a double at Sandown including a tremendous success by Iceo in the Betfair Imperial Cup.

With Larchmont Lass breaking her duck with a determined victory in the Listed Mares’ EBF bumper and Quel Destin only just beaten in a valuable novice handicap Chase we had plenty to celebrate.
Iceo has bounced back brilliantly after missing the best part of a year with an injury that had us baffled for three weeks when he was on and off lame soon after running in the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton last February. Just to make sure my head lad Clifford Baker organised an Xray of his front legs which revealed a hairline fracture down the front of his cannon bone. He then required surgery which involved using several screws to repair the damage.

We gave him plenty of time to heal and didn’t rush him when he returned into training so I was a bit surprised at how well he ran on his comeback at Sandown in January. The moment he passed the post in third place I told his owner Chris Giles that I’d aim him at the Imperial Cup in the hope that the ground would be soft enough for him. Once the rain arrived I was quite bullish about his chance because he’d improved tonnes in the past few weeks.
Harry Cobden gave Iceo a lovely patient ride but still felt he got to the front too soon. But he kept on willingly late on for a well deserved victory by three and three quarter lengths.
While Iceo is in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham I’d say he is unlikely to run there as he had a hard enough race on Saturday. I’ll try and find one more race for him this season provided there is cut in the ground which is so important to him.
Chris would certainly love to run Iceo the Scottish Champion Hurdle if the going is soft enough. Long term he will be an exciting novice for fences next season.
I was thrilled with the success of Larchmont Lass on the most testing ground she has encountered. She has progressed with each race and dug deep with the help of a determined ride by Harry. She will not run again this season, has already schooled over hurdles, and will tackle mares’ novice hurdles next season.
Quel Destin relished the conditions at Sandown, set out to make all the running and was only just caught on the flat by Hudson De Grugy who was in receipt of almost a stone.
All roads now lead to Cheltenham where we will have around sixteen runners through the week. They are all in good shape after they worked nicely on Saturday morning and our strike continues to hover at around 30%.
We’ve made a fast start to March, the horses look fabulous and we couldn’t be happier with their preparation ahead of the Festival where we will have three runners on Tuesday including the highly progressive Tahmuras in the Supreme Hurdle.
Then we will be busy with chances each day leading up to the Gold Cup on Friday in which I have high hopes for Bravemansgame who looks amazing in his coat.
A day later on Saturday we will be sending some interesting runners to Kempton and Uttoxeter.
For the latest news on all our Cheltenham contenders please check out my Betfair column which this week will go live soon after declaration time each day.


Monday 6th March

We have made a sparkling start to March with six winners from twelve runners. It’s highly encouraging to see our horses in top form as the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival continues and I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.

A treble at Wincanton on Wednesday set us up nicely for the week with Outlaw Peter and Toothless winning tidily before Magic Saint capped a great day by giving my 17 year old daughter Olive her first triumph under rules in the Hunter Chase.
She is full of enthusiasm, getting tidier with experience, already quite strong, is improving all the time and has some nice horses which I am pleased to provide for her to ride.
Magic Saint has had a few issues including surgery on a joint last year and we have had to mind him. He loved the better ground at Wincanton and got into a great rhythm with Olive who is equally at home eventing or race riding and is already good at both disciplines.
She should have a lovely experience on Magic Saint in the Foxhunters’ at Aintree in April which was always the plan. In the meantime it is up to me to to keep him in one piece until then because he is fragile.
On Thursday it was the turn of the free going Matterhorn to shine with a clear cut victory from the front in a novice hurdle at Taunton. We gave him a wind op after he struggled in heavy ground late last year at Sandown and he was in total command from start to finish. While it wasn’t a strong race he looked a high-class prospect and I loved the way he attacked his hurdles which left me thinking he will make a cracking chaser in due course.
I didn’t want to run him before March because I’ve already got my eye on the Persian War Hurdle for him at Chepstow early in October.
I will discuss with Johnny where we go next .
Flash Collonges and Seeyouinmydreams then completed a rewarding four days for Team Ditcheat with a double at Newbury on Saturday.
I feared Flash Collonges was on a stiff enough mark but he kept on strongly to land the Jacky Upton Trophy. I bought him because he comes from the same family as our Grand National winner Neptune Collonges and he is a real old fashioned staying chaser who will gallop all day.
We bought Seeyouinmydreams after she won a Point-to-Point in Ireland on her debut by fifteen lengths last April. Harry Cobden has never sat on her at home and said afterwards that on the way to the start he thought she would win because she felt so good. Who knows what she beat but she was seriously impressive as she drew well clear for a stylish success.
On Tuesday Broken Halo bids to complete the military double in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown.
Further ahead we will have plenty of entries at Sandown on Saturday including Hugos New Horse, Twin Power and Henri The Second in the EBF Final while we have Iceo, Samarrive and Holetown Hero for the Imperial Cup.
Larchmont Lass is an intended starter in the Listed Mares’ bumper and Quel Destin, and Cap Du Mathan will all be entered for the £50,000 Betfair Novice Handicap Chase.
For the latest news on all my runners on Saturday please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live early on Friday afternoon.