Our horses ended the year in flying form with a four timer on Saturday with a treble at Taunton supplementing the determined victory of Captain Teague in the highly competitive Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
It was the fourth year running that we have landed the feature race at Newbury and the future looks very bright for this year’s winner who relishes testing going and is learning all the time. Although he idled in front he found plenty when challenged, will keep improving and we will see the best of him when he goes chasing next season. Johnny de La Hey and his wife Samantha are huge supporters of ours and it’s great to see them have another top prospect running in their colours.
Swift Hawk, Centara and Individualiste were all successful over hurdles at Taunton at the end of an eventful week for Team Ditcheat.
It’s good to start the New Year top of the trainers’ table with 68 winners and over £1.535 million in prize money at a strike rate of 24%.
On Boxing Day our yard managed the rare feat of providing the runner up in all six races at Kempton’s biggest meeting of the year.
It was hardly a cause for celebration but my daughter Megan managed to capture me on camera giving the thumbs up and smiling broadly in the enclosure for the second horse after Emailandy was beaten in the final race.
Most of them ran really well but it was frustrating that Bravemansgame was just foiled by a strange incident in his bid to win the King a George V1 for the second year running. He was getting a nice tow from Shiskin when that horse come down after the second last fence fence and stopped him dead in his tracks. That cost him any chance and he did well to rally on the flat to regain second place.
I felt Bravemansgame still ran a good race and was staying on at the finish. He will be much more effective on better ground and we will now freshen him up like last year and take him straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup.
On the same day Rubaud finished an honourable second behind Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle and Hermes Allen was also runner up to the French raider Il Est Francais who blew everyone away with the manner of his victory. My immediate reaction was that there’s another Kauto Star.
Elsewhere Tahmuras kept the scoreboard ticking over with a timely return to form at Aintree in first time cheek pieces and a day later Quel Destin relished deep ground as he landed a handicap Chase at Chepstow five years after he was successful in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at the same course. What a trooper he has been for Sir Martin Broughton and friends.
The same day it was a bitter blow to lose Complete Unknown who severed a tendon in the Coral Welsh National. Talented and willing, he won the EBF Final at Sandown in 2022 and there was more to come from him over fences.
Weather permitting we are back in action on New Year’s Day at Musselburgh and Exeter while Stage Star heads to Cheltenham for the £100,000 Paddy Power Premier Handicap Chase.
Then on Saturday we plan to send a strong squad to our local track Wincanton.
January is usually our quietest month of the winter but we will be a little busier than usual this time as we have staggered the timing of the bi annual flu jabs for our horses. More than half have already been innoculated but we will keep going with a certain number and they will be get their flu jabs at the end of the month.
For all the latest news on my weekend runners and also my runners on January 1 please turn to my Betfair column which goes live the previous day.