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.