Bravemansgame and Hermes Allen were the star turns during a highly rewarding festive period for Team Ditcheat.
The fine run continued with four winners on New Year’s Day which took our score to the season to 95.
Bravemansgame was brilliant in winning the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. He certainly silenced all the doubters who questioned whether he would get the trip or was good enough .
On a personal note I was thrilled to win the race for the thirteenth time. It’s a great race that suits the type of horses we train.
Bravemansgame’s jumping was spring-heeled as always and he would surely have won by further but for L’Homme Presse jumping left in front of him for much of the race.
Frodon ran a blinder, too, from the front to finish third and goes next for the Portman Cup at Taunton or the Denman chase at Newbury. But Hitman was pulled up after a bad mistake at half-way. We will give him a break before dropping him back in trip and making more use of him.
Bravemansgame was so fresh and well the next day you wouldn’t have known he’d had a race. He is going to get better and better as he gets stronger with maturity. The challenge now is to have him in the same shape on Gold Cup day in March as he was going to Kempton and if the ground is not too bad he will have a real live chance.
The crucial thing is that he looks fabulous and hasn’t melted like last winter. He will have a quiet month now and then we will start to build him up so that he is spot on for Cheltenham.
McFabulous didn’t jump with his usual fluency and struggled on the tiring ground in the closing stages of the Kauto Star but he still finished second. We know he wants drier conditions and will keep him for the spring.
Gelino Bello was going oh so well in the same race until an unlucky fall when he was a little bit unsighted. His next target will be the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot in February.
On December 27th Tarras Wood kept the scoreboard ticking over with a pleasing win in the bumper at Wetherby while several others finished in the money including Dixon Cove, who was just touched off in the Grade 2 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow, and Dolos who finished third in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
On Friday Timeforatune and Fame and Fun maintained our fine form with a double at Taunton.
A day later I thought Hermes Allen was awesome in winning the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle in tremendous style in testing ground at Newbury on New Year’s Eve.
While I was worried about the conditions we didn’t know he wouldn’t handle them so he had to run. He travelled beautifully the whole way, jumping fluently, won with any amount in hand and goes straight to the Ballymore Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Hermes Allen has loads of scope and is a different horse now to the one that wasn’t showing much at all in his homework in the autumn. He has improved no end mentally and physically. What a prospect to go novice chasing next season.
We enjoyed doubles at Exeter and Fakenham on New Year’s Day with Irish Hill winning the most valuable race ever held at the Norfolk track. Top marks to David Hunter and his executive for putting on such serious prize money and bonuses. I can think of a few racecourses who could learn from their go-ahead attitude.
Around 75% of our horses are on the easy list at the moment after their mid winter flu jabs but we will still be quite busy through the week starting at Plumpton today, while Tahmuras goes for the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
For the latest news on my Saturday runners please be sure to turn to my Betfair column which goes live on Friday afternoon.