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Category Archives: Latest News

Monday 12th April

An eventful three days at Aintree included a Grade 1 double on Thursday, some disappointments on Friday and a terrific winning ride by my daughter Megan on the smart Knappers Hill in the hot Grade 2 bumper late on Saturday.

It was a victory which ensured that I ended up leading trainer at the meeting. But the best news was that both our jockeys Harry Cobden and Bryony Frost were able to return home that evening after spending several hours in hospital being assessed after taking nasty falls.
While they are both battered and sore Bryony hopes to return in ten days and expects to be fit to ride Frodon on the final day of the season while Harry will give an update on his recovery in the next few days.
Thursday was a red letter day for Team Ditcheat with four winners at Taunton to compliment the triumphs of Monmiral and Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree.
It was always the plan to by-pass Cheltenham with Monmiral and keep him for the Doom Bar Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle which he won with breathtaking authority. He is unbeaten in three starts for us, keeps improving, and has a huge future.
He is finished for the season and we will have a chat over the summer to decide if he goes chasing or stays over hurdles. If that is the case he could run first in the Fighting Fifth which could show us which way to go with him.
Clan Des Obeaux was equally impressive in the Betway Bowl which he won in stunning style by twenty six lengths. He has shown in the past he isn’t at his best at Cheltenham and it certainly paid off to take him fresh to Aintree in first time cheek pieces. They helped focus his mind and he jumped brilliantly under a positive ride from Harry. Clan could run once more this season under top weight in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown if we are happy with him.
Thursday was a great day for his joint owners Sir Alex Ferguson and Ged Mason who were both present on course to enjoy success in the first three races of the meeting. They are also involved with Hitman who showed immense promise in third place behind Protektorat despite running a bit free. He has a massive future.
On Friday Politologue travelled beautifully for two miles in the Marsh Chase before weakening quickly into fourth place. It was a mirror of what happened in the Tingle Creek eighteen months ago and sure enough he bled again.
He will have a nice long holiday before returning in something like the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham. He is in the twilight of a fabulous career and we will do what is best for him. One more good run and we will carry on. If not then we have a decision to make.
Sadly on Friday we lost a lovely young four year old Houx Gris who was fatally injured when he fell in the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle.
Bravemansgame again showed bags of promise in finishing second in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle when he was a little further back on the first circuit than we had planned. I still retain great faith in him. He will now go novice chasing in the autumn.
On Saturday Harry Cobden took a heavy fall with Lucky One in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, was taken by ambulance to hospital and was joined there later in the afternoon by Bryony Frost who parted company with Yala Enki in the Grand National.
We were all in need of a pick me up at the end of the day and it was provided by Megan on Knappers Hill, who is now unbeaten in three starts, with his talented stable companion Stage Star running a fine race to finish third.
We have had an awesome season already and with Knappers Hill taking our score to 163 we need nine more winners to beat our best previous tally of 171. So you can be sure we will pushing hard over the final fortnight of the campaign with runners at Cheltenham’s two day mid week meeting before the focus switches to Ayr at the weekend.
I’ve got lots of nice horses for our annual raiding party in Scotland, depending on the ground. For the latest news on all my weekend runners please check out my Betfair column which goes live late the previous afternoon.


Tuesday 6th April

We enjoyed a double at Newton Abbot on Saturday but the day deservedly belonged to Richard Johnson who announced his immediate retirement after riding in the race won by Eritage.

Richard is the second most successful jump jockey of all time with 3819 winners and was champion four years running until a broken arm put paid to his chances of a fifth title a year ago. He has been a brilliant jockey, a model sportsman and an absolute credit to racing. He is admired and liked by everyone who has had any dealings with him, had a wonderful temperament for the job, was unbelievably tough and endured countless years of disappointment chasing Sir AP McCoy in vain before becoming champion for the first time in 2016.
Fulsome tributes to Richard came from all corners of our sport with many younger jockeys stressing how ready he has always been to help them with a kind word and sound advice.
Newton Abbot also deserve praise for putting up proper prize money despite the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. The total purse for Eritage’s race was £12,200 and the plan is to take him back there for a £22000 Chase at the start of May.
Earlier in the afternoon Hell Red and Celestial Force finished first and second in a qualifier for the Novice Championship series final at Sandown on the last day of the season.
On Sunday Diego Du Charmil’s cosy success in the Sussex Champion Hurdle at Plumpton took our tally for the season to 154. He enjoyed the better ground and deserved to get his head in front again after a few tough assignments against some of the best hurdlers around.
Later this week we are taking a powerful squad to Aintree for the three day Grand National meeting with entries in almost every race. Thursday’s Grade 1 contenders include Hitman, Monmiral, Clan Des Obeaux and McFabulous with Cat Tiger and Sametegal among the supporting cast in the Foxhunters.
We will be just as busy in the key races at Aintree on Friday and Saturday with Yala Enki and Give Me A Copper on course for the Grand National.
For the up to the minute news on all my runners please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live late afternoon on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.


Monday 29th March

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.