The winners flowed for Team Ditcheat during the festive season and we added two more on the first day of the new year.
With many more runners finishing in the frame we start 2022 in a healthy position clear at the top of the trainers table with our horses having earned more than £1,570 million for their owners.
However things will be much quieter over the next fortnight or so now that we have given the vast majority their mid winter flu vaccinations, although we have a few to run on Saturday including Mr Glass in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.
Then it will be a case of building them all up again for a big push in the second half of the season all the way to the finishing line at Sandown late in April.
There is so much more to come from a quality group of horses including Bravemansgame who delivered in style in the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. He is a natural over fences, jumped fluently the whole way and outclassed Ahoy Senor, the favourite, once the race came to the boil.
He is a proper horse and I was thrilled to see him win in such great style on ground that was soft enough for him. It was a mighty performance and he is only going to get better with time. The Brown Advisory looks the race for him at Cheltenham but he will also get an entry in the Turners over two and a half miles. The long term plan is to bring him back to Kempton for the King George in twelve month’s time.
Although we missed out on victory in this year’s King George there was consolation in seeing Clan Des Obeaux, Saint Calvados and Frodon follow the winner Tornado Flyer home on ground that was more testing than ideal for all three after heavy rain in the morning.
Clan was in the right place on the front end but couldn’t fill his lungs up turning in because Saint Calvados took him on after 4 out , He was then a bit one-paced in the ground and outstayed late on.
It was still an excellent run by Clan who looked superb and will go next for the Denman Chase, then on to Aintree and Punchestown.
The fierce early pace left its mark on Frodon who was struggling once they turned for home. He gave everything as usual, is enjoying an easy couple of weeks and has an entry in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown early in February amongst other options .
Considering Saint Calvados has never won over the trip and was making his seasonal debut he was in front way too soon at the fourth last and paid the penalty. If Gavin Sheehan could ride the race again he would surely wait much longer. By making his move so early he didn’t help the cause of Clan Des Obeaux. There are surely decent races in Saint Calvados because he is bound to improve plenty. He will probably run next in the Ascot Chase over two miles, five furlongs.
On Monday Iceo made a thunderous winning debut for us in the colours of Chris Giles in the juvenile hurdle at Kempton and now heads for trials day on 29th, while at Chepstow, Highland Hunter and Truckers Lodge both ran close to their best in finishing second and third in the Coral Welsh National.
It was a very smart performance by Iceo who was keen throughout, jumped slickly and pulled well clear in the closing stages. We can raise our sights with him now as he had loads left in the tank at the finish.
Later at Kempton in the Desert Orchid Chase Greaneteen couldn’t lay a glove on Shiskin who looked every inch a champion. Greaneteen didn’t really handle the ground and it was clear from a long way out that Shiskin had his measure.
On Wednesday at Doncaster Gala de Corton provided the first leg of a treble before Thyme White showed his true colours with a decisive first victory over fences. Stage Star then completed a rewarding day with a highly impressive triumph in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
In following the same path as Bravemansgame twelve months ago he gave every indication that he, too, can develop into a high class chaser next season. I want to do the best for him and look after him because he is very exciting. The Ballymore is the obvious target for Stage Star at Cheltenham but he will also have an entry in the Supreme just in case the ground is very testing.
Another treble at Taunton on Thursday kept our scoreboard ticking over with Irish Hill making a winning debut over hurdles and Brave Kingdom again looking smart before Rainyday Woman took the the Listed mares’ hurdle in great style.
A double on New Year’s Day then took our score for the season to 97. Amour de Nuit, such a consistent performer, won tidily at Musselburgh while Broken Halo jumped well on the way to a ready success at Exeter.
At Cheltenham Simply The Betts bounced back to form with a fine run into second place in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Chase with stable mate Magic Saint just behind in fourth place.
In addition McFabulous ran a race full of promise in finishing second in the Relkeel Hurdle on his first start of the season. He was on the easy list for a while following a little setback shortly after coming back into training and is bound to improve plenty for the outing. I also believe he will appreciate stepping up to three miles.
All the others in the Relkeel were race fit but McFabulous was the pick of the paddock and after being slightly hampered on the run to the final hurdle he was closing fast on the winner at the line. The plan is to go for the Cleeve Hurdle on January 29 and then back to Cheltenham for the Stayers Hurdle. He will go novice chasing in October.
Finally, on a personal note, I’m thrilled that my sixteen year daughter Olive has ridden two point-to-point winners during the past week in her first season and is following in the footsteps of Megan who had a successful first season pointing when she was 16. She gained her first success last Tuesday on Virak and then rode Monsieur Gibraltar to victory at Larkhill yesterday in the novice riders race beating debutant Freddie Gingell who is a very promising young jockey with a bright future .
Talk about a proud dad, Olive is keen as mustard, has learned plenty from years of pony racing and eventing and is a tidy rider and can only get better with practise and experience .