A treble on Trials day at Cheltenham on Saturday took the prize money won by our horses this season well past the £2 million mark.
We always aim to try to reach that landmark by the start of the Cheltenham Festival. To do it before the end of January could well be a first for the yard.
This month has certainly been a highly rewarding for Team Ditcheat despite freezing conditions playing havoc with the fixture list. The great thing is that the horses continue to be healthy and are maintaining an impressive strike rate of 30%.
Stage Star was the first to strike on Saturday in the Timeform Novice Handicap Chase under top weight.
He made virtually all the running, jumping for fun and readily drew clear on the final hill. A handicap mark of 142 was a fair rating if he put it altogether and I was thrilled with the manner of his victory which has put him right in the mix for both novice chases at the Festival. He will also have an entry in one of the handicaps.
Il Ridoto, in first time cheek pieces, then dominated the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase from the front with a breathtaking round of jumping before seeing off the stern challenge of Fugitif on the flat.
I was sure he had been kidding us this season because he was coming out of his races too well. Positive tactics with the cheek pieces thst focused his mind made a big difference as he travelled really well the whole way and galloped all the way to the line with a great ride from Harry Cobden.
The idea is to freshen him up before the two miles, five furlong handicap Plate Handicap Chase at the Festival then maybe take him to Aintree for something like the Topham.
Bryony Frost felt that Frodon hated the ground in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. His handicap mark needs to come down a few pounds and I am toying with giving him an entry in the bet365 Chase at Sandown in the final day of the season when ground conditions will be in his favour.
My plan to run Gelino Bello back over hurdles to build up his confidence backfired when he made a bad mistake in the Cleeve Hurdle that put him out of the race. I’m not sure what comes next for Gelino Bello but wouldn’t entirely rule out a speedy return to action in the three mile handicap hurdle at Sandown this Saturday.
Hacker Des Places brought up the hat-trick for Team Ditcheat with a gutsy victory in the closing handicap hurdle. While he got to the front a tad sooner than ideal I loved the way he pulled out more on the run in to see off the persistent challenge of Might I.
Hacker Des Places surprised me a bit and the way he travels now he will be suited by a better pace in a stronger race. He runs next in the Betfair Hurdle in a fortnight.
We began Saturday on a downbeat note with Dixon Cove sustaining what I fear is a career ending tendon injury when finishing third in the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle. She all but severed a tendon when she struck into herself .
Dixon Cove was taken straight off to the veterinary hospital and had surgery on Sunday. She will be unlikely to race again but hopefully she can enjoy life as a brood mare.
We were out of luck at Doncaster where Stay Away Fay and Go West finished second in their races. Stay Away Fay could have done with more daylight on the way round but there was plenty of promise in the way he kept on well behind a more experienced rival. He is a good horse, ran well, and with a clearer run he would probably have won.
We will have plenty of entries in the days ahead before we send decent teams to Sandown and Musselburgh on Saturday and again to Musselburgh on Sunday.
For the latest news on my Saturday runners do please turn to my Betfair column which goes live early on Friday afternoon.