A rewarding week ended on a quiet note on Saturday when I withdrew several runners at Wincanton with the ground unusually quick for this time of year.
It was good to see Knappers Hill maintain his unbeaten record under a 6lbs penalty in the novice hurdle early on the card before Mick Pastor came up short when second to Captain Tom Cat in the Rising Stars Novice Chase over two and a half miles.
He travelled like the best horse and looked poised to land the Grade 2 prize when moving alongside the leader two out but was just outrun on the flat.
Mick Pastor is still a horse of some potential and given that he has plenty of pace I might well drop him back to two miles next time.
I’d wanted to run Bravemansgame in the Rising Stars until the ground went against him and I’m now thinking of sending him to Haydock for a Graduation Chase later this month.
Earlier in the week I was hopeful of a big show from Hitman in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and everything looked to be going to plan when he came to the last fence with a useful lead. But once on the flat he pricked his ears and half started to idle which allowed Eldorado Allen to come past in the closing stages.
While Hitman’s jumping was phenomenal he is still lightly raced at the age of five and needs to learn to knuckle down when he comes off the bridle. It will come with experience because he has loads of potential and the better the race the better he will run as he will get a tow for longer. At the moment I’m open minded about his next target.
Greaneteen ran a cracker behind Hitman and will come on loads for the outing. He ran just as I expected before blowing up and will be much sharper when you see him next in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
On the same day at Exeter Threeunderthrufive jumped like an old hand in winning the novice Chase in style. He stays, jumps, and keeps galloping and looks ideal for a race like the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot. He would be brilliant round there in that type of race.
We moved on to Chepstow on Wednesday where our new recruit Brave Kingdom earned rave reviews from the pundits with a stunning debut over hurdles. He set off in front jumping soundly, was always in command, cruised well clear turning for home and won in a canter by nine and a half lengths. You couldn’t ask more from a youngster on his first start over hurdles and his jockey Gavin Sheehan was suitably impressed. Brave Kingdom certainly looks to be up there with several of our exciting novices.
On Thursday we took three runners to Newbury and they all won. Siroco Jo set the ball rolling in the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle and Silent Revolution was the next to strike before Silver Forever completed a great day for the team with a spirited success in the beginners’ Chase.
Siroco Jo now heads to Lingfield on Tuesday when he will be partnered by the top Northern rider Kevin Scott in the handicap hurdle for flat jockeys. Kevin has been a frequent visitor to Ditcheat when time allows and rode out for us for three months in the early stages of the pandemic. He has done plenty of schooling on Siroco Jo who escapes a penalty for his success at Newbury.
I was thrilled to see Silver Forever back in the winners’ enclosure on her first run back after a break of 670 days with a pelvic injury. Top marks to my pupil assistant Natalie Parker who rides her every day and assured me she was fit enough to do herself justice.
The three day Cheltenham meeting is the highlight this coming weekend though the lack of rain over the next seven days is a bit of a worry.
We may only have one or two runners on Friday with Gelino Bello a possible for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle.
On Saturday Lalor and Simply The Betts are intended runners in the Paddy Power Gold Cup while our third entry Magic Saint may run 24 hours earlier.
I’m entering Politologue and Rouge Vif for the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday and will make a firm plan later in the week.
For all the latest news on my weekend runners please turn to my Betfair column which goes live late afternoon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.