A treble on Saturday took the prize money earned by our horses this season past £2.5 million.
For Team Ditcheat to reach that total more than two weeks before Cheltenham is rare and so encouraging as we enter the final two months of what has been a brilliant campaign. The most pleasing aspect is that we have a lovely bunch of young prospects to keep up the momentum in the next few years.
Solo and Rubaud were outstanding in winning Grade 2 races at Kempton with Harry Cobden excelling on both while Ioupy Collonges was successful in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow.
Harry controlled the pace of the Pendil Novice Chase from the front on Solo who I thought might just need the run after having his palate re-cauterised in the first week in January. We had to take things easy with him for most of the month before stepping up his training.
Solo was very good over a course and distance that plays to his strengths and is really fulfilling the promise he has always shown. They say trainers are creatures of habit and that is definitely the case in the Pendil as Solo was my seventh winner of the race in the past eleven years and 13th in all !
Initially we were toying with the idea of aiming him next at handicaps at Sandown or Kempton but now after discussions with Johnny we have decided to keep him fresh for the Grade 1 Manifesto Novice Chase at Aintree over two and a half miles.
Rubaud is also on course for Aintree after his stylish front running victory in the Dovecote Novice Hurdle which he dominated from start to finish in a first time hood. He is a big, scopey horse who is going to be a lovely chaser next season.
More immediately he will tackle the Grade 1 Top Novice Hurdle over two miles on the Friday of the Grand National meeting in April.
I was also pleased with the performance of Rare Middleton in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. He was travelling beautifully until hampered by a faller at the last flight down the far side which put him on the back foot. With a clear run he would have finished a fair bit closer but he does need to sharpen up his jumping.
He is a proper horse, will only improve with experience and we might give him another outing in a small race in a fortnight’s time before a crack at the Grade 1 Anniversary four year old hurdle at Liverpool.
Frodon did best of our trio in the Coral Trophy Handicap Chase which was run at a frantic pace. Bryony Frost said the leaders set off quicker than in the King George and Frodon was flat out the whole way before keeping on willingly to finish third.
He is on course for the bet365 Chase at Sandown and I’m hopeful that he can be even sharper for that challenge as Kempton came a bit soon for him after the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.
He will be joined in the bet365 Chase by Enrilo who ran a bit better on Saturday. He is still a work in progress and needs to get his confidence back so I’ll try to find a small race for him en route to Sandown.
The big disappointment on Saturday was Saint Calvados who I expected to run a big race in the Coral Trophy. But he ran no race at all and there are no excuses because he just didn’t fire. I think Saint Calvados wants fast ground and riding positively and that’s what we’ll do when he returns to Sandown in a bid to repeat his success in the Oaksey Chase.
Also on Saturday it was good to see Ben Bromley win at Chepstow on Ioupy Collonges, one of the Million In Mind horses which are organised so well by Ben’s dad Anthony Bromley. The horse is another lovely chasing prospect for next season and was given a cracking ride by Ben. Talking about young jockeys poor Freddie Gingell broke his collarbone in a fall at Taunton on Tuesday . Hopefully he will be back soon.
We plan to have a few runners at Wincanton and Taunton in midweek but with fast ground a concern we might be relatively quiet at the weekend though we should have a couple of entries at Newbury and try to add to our fine record in in the Greatwood Gold Cup.
For all the latest news in all my Saturday runners please do turn to my Betfair column which goes live early on Friday afternoon.