The Badger Beer meeting at my local course Wincanton on Saturday turned out to be one of the most enjoyable day’s racing I’ve experienced since I started training.

Although we didn’t manage to win the big race sponsored by Hall & Woodhouse for the 62nd year, Threeunderthrufive and Frodon ran well to finish second and third behind Blackjack Magic.
We still won four races during the afternoon with the highlight the exciting success of Knappers Hill in the Rising Stars Chase in the colours of my close friend Paul Barber who died in June and backed me to the hilt from the moment he gave me the keys to his stable yard back in 1981. Paul would have been hugely proud to be there to watch Knappers Hill win in such great style with a tremendous round of jumping. He has now has now won eleven races since we bought him together as a young horse and there is surely more to come. The future is very bright. He needed his first run over fences at Chepstow where a clear round was the priority, gained plenty of confidence from it and was foot perfect on Saturday. Paul adored Knappers Hill and used to walk down from his house each day to see him in his stable.
I don’t mind admitting I miss Paul every day. He was so good too me and has left a big hole in my life. His sons Chris and Giles have taken over his horses and were thrilled at the triumph of Knappers Hill along with co owner Paul Vogt who kindly agreed to Knappers running in Pauls colours this season, he could possibly run next in the Grade 2 John Francome Novice Chase at Newbury on December 1.
Rubaud also shone with a highly professional victory from the front in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle. He is progressing swiftly and his jumping was mustard as he came clear after seeing off the brief challenge of Hansard with a spectacular leap at the second last flight. He is going to make a really exciting chaser next season but before then we will see what he can do against Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. We should find out then where he stands in the the pecking order and if he finishes second to Constitution Hill we will be delighted.
My hopes of winning a twelfth Badger Beer Chase were ended by the fine success of Blackjack Magic. Top marks to his trainer Anthony Honeyball who is making quite a name for himself and used to work and ride for me and is a very good trainer .
I was pleased with the run of Threeunderthrufive in second place on his first start since a wind op while evergreen Frodon kept on to be third under top weight despite not jumping quite as fluently as he can on the tacky ground.
The day had begun with a double for Team Ditcheat from Meatloaf and Huelgoat. Huelgoat was very well ridden by Freddie Gingell and Meatloaf provided the first leg of an excellent treble for Harry Cobden.
Twenty four hours earlier we had enjoyed two winners at Exeter thanks to Insurrection and Stay Away Fay who made the perfect start over fences with a resolute success in the Future Stars Silver Bowl. He was headed after the third last but rallied strongly and soared over the last fence on his way to beating The Changing Man by one and three quarter lengths to the delight of his owners Chris Giles and Dave Staddon.
I’m sure there is plenty of improvement to come from Stay Away Fay who is being aimed at the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham in March and could appear next in another three mile novice Chase at Sandown early in December. You’d like to think he will end up a Gold Cup horse one day in the future because he stays so well. That’s what we would like to think and what his owners dream of, and he has put his foot on the first step of the ladder.
We ended a rewarding three days by landing the bumper at Sandown with Touquet on his racecourse debut in the colours of Graeme Brooks.
Later this week we will be taking some interesting runners to Cheltenham’s three day meeting starting on Friday when the impressive Chepstow winner Captain Teague is pencilled in for the Grade 2 Trustatrader Novice Hurdle. A day later Il Ridoto and Stage Star are both intended starters in the Paddy Power Gold Cup while on Sunday Blueking D’Oroux, Afadil and Sonigino are all under consideration for the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
Everyone at Team Ditcheat would like to send their best wishes to Graham Lee for a full recovery from injuries sustained in a fall at Newcastle on Thursday evening.
For the latest news on my thoughts on my runners on all three days do please take a look at my Betfair column which usually goes live early the previous afternoon.