Greaneteen and Bryony Frost stole the headlines with a stirring victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday on an afternoon that yielded four winners for Team Ditcheat.
Harry Cobden weighed in with a double on Highland Hunter and Samarrive while it was also a big day for Lorcan Williams who rode out his claim on Take Your Time in the three mile handicap hurdle at Chepstow.
That took our score the season to eighty with over £1 million in prize money.
I found it hard to separate our duo Greaneteen and Hitman and was quietly confident they would both serve it up to the odds on favourite Chacun Pour Soi.
I was proud as punch to see them finish first and second in a race I’ve now won twelve times. Although Greaneteen won decisively I’ve no doubt that Hitman would have finished a bit closer but for a mistake at the second last fence which cost him vital momentum.
It had been a tough week for Bryony after some issues off the course but if she keeps riding winners like this it will all soon be history. She kept her head, handled things well, is always professional and rode a lovely race on Greaneteen who is improving swiftly with racing. The victory was good for her and racing and they both got a fabulous reception as they came back to the winner’s enclosure.
Greaneteen is only seven, was so strong at the finish and is still on an upward curve. He started off winning a novice handicap Chase at Ascot off a mark of 135. It took me a while to appreciate how good he was but I knew he would come on plenty for his run in the Haldon Gold Cup. Crucially the race there took the freshness off him and he was relaxed on Saturday.
Now we believe in him and he, in turn, has got so much confidence from racing in the top flight. I’m sure Greaneteen is a real live contender for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. He is very much in the mould of Dodging Bullets, a decent horse who in the early days we didn’t think would go on to win a Champion Chase and Tingle Creek.
Time is still on the side of Hitman who is five and will only get better. A big, raw horse, he lacks experience and will win some nice races in the future.
Highland Hunter’s success in the London National was a pleasant surprise. Although he’d done plenty after a wind op in the summer I felt he’d need the run to put him spot on for the Coral Welsh National which is his first major target of the season. He took a blow at the last fence before finishing strongly to snatch the verdict on the line and so picked up a 4lbs penalty for Chepstow.
Samarrive looked a smart prospect as he pulled clear of his rivals in the Listed handicap hurdle that closed the card at Sandown. He’s only four, can only improve with experience and was clearly suited by racing on a right-hand track on Saturday. The ImperiaI Cup is a likely target for him in the spring and I can’t wait until he jumps fences next season.
I was delighted to see Lorcan Williams ride out his claim on the progressive Take Your Time at Chepstow. He came to us for a week aged fifteen, is a talented young jockey and an important member of our team.
We start this week with a few chances at Ludlow today and will again have a number of interesting runners at the two day Cheltenham meeting at the weekend.
After a long absence Lalor is in good shape after his encouraging performance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup a month ago. He stayed on strongly to finish third that day and the stiffer track and softer ground in the Racing Post Gold Cup on Saturday will be a massive plus for him.
For all the latest news on my runners on Friday and Saturday please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live the previous afternoon.