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Category Archives: Latest News

Monday 29th April

We ended another very rewarding but somewhat frustrating season at Sandown on Saturday with the fantastic sight of our brilliant stable jockey Harry Cobden deservedly being crowned champion jockey for the first time.

Harry is a big team player, a good man, and has never stopped improving ever since he started riding out for us at the age of fourteen. He gained his first winner for us on Ulck Du Lin at Wincanton in April 2015, when he was sixteen, has kept progressing year after year and has been riding at the peak of his powers all season.
Some of our horses were a bit over the top by the final week of the season and rain on watered ground didn’t help a few of them on Saturday and lots will be finished now and turned out if it ever stops raining or warms up.
Blueking d’Oroux ran a blinder in the Select Hurdle and might just have an entry in France before going out to grass. He is an exciting one for the future and is likely to stay over hurdles next season.
It was good to see Pic D’Orhy parading with all the other stars at Sandown. He had another cracking season, won a Grade 1 and will be back for more in the autumn. The same applies to Ginny’s Destiny. We also have some smart types to look forward to including Caldwell Potter, Kalif du Berlais, Kabral du Mathan and Regents Stroll and many more talented youngsters
Although I missed out on the trainers’ title this time I’m pleased that we had such a good season with 132 winners, more than any other yard in this country. Our strike rate was consistently high at 23% and our horses earned almost £3 million in prize money for their owners.
The persistently wet weather month after month put a dampener on our chances because a lot of our horses like better ground than they encountered this season.
But we have still had a great campaign with a top team of enthusiastic staff, loyal owners and nice horses who will be ready to go again after a summer break. If you look at the statistics over half the horses we had in training won races. How can we be disappointed with those kind of results?
The same team can’t win the Premiership every year and that applies equally to racing. Now it is a case of re-grouping, just like a Premier League club, by having a little bit of a clear out, bringing in some fresh legs to try to bolster the squad and running a handful in the summer before we go again when we get busy in October.
The loss of Paul Barber and the tragedy of Keagan Kirkby made for a difficult time for everyone associated with the yard and I can only praise and thank my team for their thorough professionalism through it all. I also want to thank all our owners for their support this season.


Monday 22nd April

We head to Sandown on Saturday with the exciting prospect of Harry Cobden being crowned champion jockey for the first time.
He has been riding at the top of his game all season and richly deserves to end up top of the table.

Harry is such an important part of our team, provides vital feedback on the horses and I’m delighted to have put him on 84 of his winners this season.
The chances of my retaining the trainers’ title are pretty much over after Willie Mullins left Ayr in Saturday night with a substantial lead. We have given it a good go as usual and a glance at the statistics shows that we have had 127 winners this season including a double at Wincanton on Sunday. That’s more than other yard in this country and at a consistently high strike rate of 24%.
I’m proud of our system at Ditcheat which has delivered success at the highest level over many years. 3760 winners since 1991 confirms it works well and I have a target of 4,000 firmly in my sights.
I’m lucky enough to have been champion trainer fourteen times and will be doing my best to increase that total in the future. But it’s hard to be champion without any truly top horses and I’d say we have done really well to pick up all the prize money we have this season with the quality of the horses in the yard. We do lack top horses and some of our squad that have been on the go for quite a while have been running a bit flat.
The trainer I feel sorry for is Dan Skelton who looked to have sound claims when he hit the front in the title race but now looks to have been blown out of the water by the Mullins battalions.
I will be picking and choosing our runners through the week before taking a big team to Sandown on the final day on Saturday which can hopefully help us reach the total of £3 million in prize money. They include Fire Flyer and Panjari in the novice handicap hurdle, Threeunderthrufive in the bet365 Gold Cup and Blueking d’Oroux in the Select Hurdle.
Then we will be starting a new campaign afresh and it goes without saying that I will be giving it my best shot.


Monday 8th April

We are heading to Aintree with plenty of runners for the Grand National meeting which starts on Thursday.

Ginny’s Destiny, Kalif du Berlais and Bravemansgame have solid chances in the first three races on the card while Cap du Mathan should give my daughter Olive a great spin in the Hunter Chase.
Ginny’s Destiny hasn’t stopped improving since he joined us at the start of the season. In time I’m sure he will get three miles but the two and a half mile Grade 1 Chase looks the right option for him at Liverpool after his fine performance at Cheltenham
Then it is the turn of Kalif du Berlais who is unbeaten in two starts for us and goes for the Grade 1 Anniversary four year old hurdle. He was always going to by-pass the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and seems in top order at home.
It was clear Bravemansgame hated the heavy ground in the Gold Cup and hopefully conditions will be more suitable for him at Aintree.
On Friday Pic d’Orhy bids to repeat last year’s success in the Grade 1 Melling Chase. He’s another who missed the Cheltenham Festival to be fresh for Aintree.
Others of interest on Friday include Sonigino in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle and Afadil in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle.
I’ve felt for some time that Kandoo Kid was an ideal candidate for the Topham Trophy but he doesn’t really want soft ground so I could keep him instead for Ayr.
Saturday sees Monmiral back in action after his brilliant victory in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. He’s been raised 6lbs to a mark of 144 and should still be competitive in the three mile handicap hurdle that opens the card on Grand National day.
One I can’t wait to see run is Caldwell Potter who is set to make his debut for us in the Grade 1 two and a half mile Mersey Novice Hurdle. While he doesn’t show too much at home his form in Ireland was very smart and I felt it was important to give him time to acclimatise after his purchase at a dispersal sale early in February.
For the latest news on all my runners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday please turn to my Betfair column which goes live the previous day.