With several race meetings called off and more than half our team on the easy list after their mid winter flu jabs we made a quiet start to January.

Joyou Allen made a highly pleasing debut for the yard with an impressive success in the bumper at Exeter on New Year’s Day. He’s a lovely prospect, a half brother to the Ryanair winner Envoi Allen, and showed bags of promise when second in his Point-to-Point in Ireland to a horse who has already made his mark in this country. We have taken our time with him, he’s been working nicely, made all the running at Exeter and kept on strongly in the closing stages. He will probably have one more run in the Spring before starting over hurdles next season.
Stage Star didn’t run his race under top weight on deep ground at Cheltenham and made a couple of mistakes before eventually being pulled up by Harry Cobden when his chance was gone. He was a bit sore afterwards and wasn’t quite right when we trotted him up a day later. But the good news is that he is A1 now after lots of physio and treatment and will be back cantering this week. We have plenty of time to freshen him up and get him spot on for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
Torrential rain late on Thursday evening led to plenty of flooding in our part of Somerset with the result that we had to rescue half a dozen horses from their boxes at the yard beside my house at Highbridge. It was a short term drama after a nearby river burst its banks. The horses were almost floating with the water and shavings up to their knees.
My head lad Clifford Baker and assistant Charlie Davies were quickly on the spot along with other staff to help move them to drier quarters close by. The water had gone by the morning when everything was back to normal.
We will have some runners through the week before a busy Saturday at Kempton and Warwick.
Pic d’Orhy goes for the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase and Sonigino is on course for the Lanzarote Hurdle.
We also plan to introduce two interesting ex French four year olds who both won on their hurdling debuts Kabral Du Mathan and Kalif Du Berlais. One will run at Huntingdon on Friday, the other at Kempton 24 hours later. In addition Brave Kingdom is an intended runner in the Grade 2 Hampton Novice Chase at Warwick while Broken Halo goes for the £100,000 Classic Handicap Chase.
For all the latest news on my Saturday runners please turn to my Betfair column which goes live the previous day.