We suffered from a touch of seconditis over the weekend with five horses finishing in the slot for the runner at Newbury on Saturday and Exeter on Sunday.
Our team continues to look great in their coats and run very well at a notable strike rate and we don’t have a sick horse in either of our yards. But there is no denying that one or two of ours have completely underperformed.
I’ve noticed that the ones to run below par have done so about a month or six weeks after their mid winter flu jabs. While it didn’t happen in the past several definitely didn’t run up to anything like their form twelve months ago and a couple have done the same this time, in particular Toothless at Musselburgh nine days ago.
What’s interesting is that this doesn’t just apply to our horses because a number of runners are underperforming for other yards too.
Whatever the reason I’m sure they will bounce back and be flying again in a couple of weeks.
We got off to a poor start on a frustrating day at Newbury with McFabulous pulled up by Harry Cobden at halfway. When he was tested afterwards he was found to have an irregular heartbeat which obviously explains his performance. I have no idea why it happened because he’d been in fine form at home all week.
Barbados Buck’s finished second in the long distance handicap hurdle and Hitman was also runner up in the Betfair Denman Chase. I thought he ran well in chasing home course specialist Zanza who provided Philip Hobbs with the 3,000th winner of his career which is a tremendous achievement.
The race was run at a scorching pace in a record time. In hindsight the front three took each other on from the start and Hitman probably paid for this exertions late on. He also had a little bleed afterwards, just as he had done after his previous race in the King George at Kempton.
We will freshen him up at home and probably bring him back in trip for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
Greaneteen then ran below expectations in the Game Spirit Chase. It’s strange how he doesn’t seem to perform up to his best at this time of year. He was below par in the same race two years ago before going to the Champion Chase and running a blinder to finish fourth.
He was flat out at Newbury the whole way and didn’t jump well going down the back straight. I recall that he had a leg injury earlier in his career, after which he was fired, and I suspect he wouldn’t let himself down on the fast ground on Saturday, I’ve also left plenty to work on. Greaneteen has achieved so much for Team Ditcheat and the plan is to take him to Cheltenham again for the two mile chase then Sandown.
I was hoping for a big run from Rubaud in the Betfair Hurdle but he was way too keen in the first mile and paid for it later. He will probably head to the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton in a fortnight.
We had two more seconds at Exeter on Sunday but Sabrina and the newcomer Banteer both ran very well in defeat and we started the day with the pleasing victory of Cap Du Mathan who beat a strongly fancied rival Lac Du Constance , he may now go for the Pendil at Kempton.
Earlier in the week Holetown Hero won nicely at Taunton on Tuesday. On the same day Hugos New Horse qualified for the EBF Final at Sandown next month with a game victory under a penalty at Market Rasen.
Two days later the much improved Sonigino gained his third success of the campaign from the front in a competitive handicap hurdle at Huntingdon. He is likely to be part of our squad at Aintree in April.
On Friday Secret Investor gained his first success at Bangor since going hunter chasing. He was well ridden by one of my assistants Natalie Parker and he could be out again at Kelso on Friday in a bid to secure their qualification for the Foxhunter at Cheltenham where he would have an outside chance.
Secret Investor was a useful staying handicapper at his peak but is older now, has had quite a few issues and hopefully this discipline will give him a new lease of life if he stays sound .
We will be fairly quiet in the first half of this week before taking a number of runners on Saturday to Haydock, Ascot and Wincanton where Knappers Hill goes for the Kingwell Hurdle on the good ground that he enjoys.
Our smart four year old Afadil will be entered at Haydock for the Victor Ludorum and Makin’yourmindup has a entry in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle. Pic d’Orhy goes to Ascot for the Betfair Chase and will be joined by either Danny Kirwan or Enrilo in the three mile Swinley Handicap Chase.
In addition Irish Hill probably runs in a £50,000 handicap hurdle and I’m looking forward to starting a nice type Jennywise in the fillies bumper.
For all the up to date news on my Saturday runners please be sure to read my Betfair column which goes live early on Friday afternoon.