Six winners over the weekend completed a tremendous week for Team Ditcheat which included two trebles and a four timer at Wincanton on Saturday.
Greaneteen and Frodon deservedly dominated the headlines and were supported by an imposing cast of young horses who showed their well-being with success after success as the week unfolded.
The final tally between Tuesday and Sunday was fourteen winners who earned significant prize money which took the yard to the top of the trainers’ table. We are currently operating at a strike rate of around 40%. Long may it last.
Stage Star set the ball rolling on Tuesday at Warwick with a fluent victory on his first start over fences. He is an exciting recruit to chasing.
A treble at Chepstow on Wednesday upped the tempo with Tahmuras and Knowsley Road winning maiden hurdles decisively before a gutsy debut by Isaac Des Obeaux who came out on top in a tight finish to the bumper.
A day later Huelgoat extended his winning sequence over fences at Newbury before Greaneteen was the undoubted star of our three timer at Exeter in Friday. He has definitely improved again and defied top weight in the Haldon Gold Cup in stunning style with stable mate Dolos running a career best in second place.
In giving lumps of weight to all his rivals and adopting bold tactics from the front off a mark of 168 Greaneteen put up a superb performance, not far short of Denman’s unforgettable triumph in the Hennessy off 174.
He now heads straight to Sandown in a month’s time when he will bid to repeat his victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase.
Saturday delivered four winners at my local track Wincanton with Frodon justifying the faith of his huge band of followers with another astounding run from the front off a mark off 158.
With the ground too testing at Down Royal it made sense to keep him closer to home with the handicapper tempting me to go for the Badger Beer off a 6lbs lower mark than his last race at Cheltenham where he picked up an injury.
A legend of a horse, he has forged a brilliant partnership with Bryony Frost. He bowled along happily at the head of affairs, flew the last fence with his ears pricked, kept going right to the line and returned to a brilliant reception.
There will not be a more popular winner for a long time. Next stop for Frodon is the King George V1 Chase which he won in 2020.
Enrilo was travelling beautifully just behind Frodon when he came down at the water jump with just under a circuit to go. He is a bit sore after being kicked so we will go quietly with him for a week or two. He looked right back to his old self until the fall and I’m sure his turn is not far away.
Knappers Hill is improving fast and was another to benefit from positive tactics in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle under a sound ride by Harry Cobden. They led throughout, took the sting out of the favourite Sceaux Royal and galloped on strongly for an impressive success.
While he will have an entry in the Fighting Fifth he is far from certain to go to Newcastle. Another option is the International Hurdle at Cheltenham next month and an attractive long term target is the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles in April.
Hugos New Horse and Don Alvaro completed the four timer at Wincanton where McFabulous was out of the Rising Stars Chase at an early stage after Harry felt he had gone lame when slipping on landing at the sixth fence. I’m relieved to say that he was fine in Sunday morning. He’d jumped like a natural until his mishap and could well run at Exeter on November 14.
On Sunday we managed to win the first two races at Sandown with Halo Des Obeaux and Solo before the meeting was called off for safety reasons after the third race.
I’m thrilled with the way the horses look and are running although we may not be taking too many to Cheltenham’s three day meeting at the weekend.
Hermes Allen is pencilled in for a novice hurdle on Friday while Simply The Betts and Il Ridoto are both intended starters in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday and possibly Monmiral in the novices chase. A day later Sonigino looks like being our only runner in the Greatwood and we are considering sending Blueking D’Oroux to Auteuil for a valuable three year old hurdle although he will also have an entry at Cheltenham saturday.
For all the up to date news on my runners at Cheltenham please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live early in the afternoon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.