A timely lift in temperatures helped deliver a fabulous series of results for Team Ditcheat on Saturday.
We enjoyed seven winners spread across three meetings and owe a big thank you to the hard working staff at all three courses who made sure that racing took place despite big doubts in midweek.
Top marks in particular to Libby O’Flaherty and her team at Chepstow who made a huge effort to cover the whole course early in the week as protection against severe frost.
When the horses are fit and well you want them to perform to the best of their ability and in nearly every case that is what happened on Saturday with seven winners from eighteen runners.
With Flemenstide landing the bumper at Exeter on Sunday we are up to 108 winners for the season. If we can maintain the momentum until the end of April then we ought to get close to our best previous total of 171.
Pozo Emery and Storm Arising scored an early double at Chepstow before Yala Enki ran another cracking race in finishing third under top weight in the Coral Welsh National. He is still improving, stays all day and has now been placed in the race three years running.
At Kempton the stylish success of McFabulous in the Relkeel Hurdle was the cornerstone of an impressive treble for the yard. It was a bonus that the race was transferred from Cheltenham on New Year’s Day when the then deep ground might not have been in his favour.
Harry Cobden came in for some criticism from Mick Fitzgerald among others for going wide for much of the race but he was following my instructions to find plenty of daylight before edging over to the favoured stands rails in the finishing straight.
The obvious target now for McFabulous is the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle in April because I am not convinced I want to take him to Cheltenham for a hard race in the Stayers Hurdle against Thyme White and Paisley Park who both finished in front of him at Newbury.
McFabulous is top class and will be such an exciting chaser next season when I could see him taking part in the Kauto Star Chase over three miles at the track on Boxing Day.
Barbados Buck’s, who is much improved, struck first at Kempton with a clear cut victory in the Class 3 Novice Hurdle despite carrying a double penalty. The plan is to take him straight to Cheltenham for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle.
It was the turn of Master Tommytucker to shine in the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase over two and a half miles. He jumped great apart from an error at the last fence which he did well to survive. I did suggest to Harry afterwards that I saw a better stride than him going to that fence!
Master Tommytucker is obviously very talented but he has been a challenge from the start and is still lightly raced at the age of ten. He is suited by flat tracks like Kempton and while he will have an entry in the Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase all options are open and I feel he could be awesome in the Grade 1 Chase over two and a half miles at Aintree.
A double by Flash Collonges and Capeland at Wincanton completed a memorable day for Team Ditcheat and congratulations to Capeland’s jockey Daryl Jacob for riding his first five timer.
It’s exciting to have so many lovely young horses coming through the system. Barbados Buck’s, Pozo Emery, Flash Collonges and Storm Arising will all be going chasing next season and we have a particularly smart group of bumper horses to go hurdling in the autumn.
Most of those who ran on Saturday will be on the easy list after their mid winter flu vaccinations today (Monday) but I will probably keep Yala Enki for Taunton’s valuable staying Chase later this month before he gets his jab.
With most of our horses having had their vaccinations a week ago we will be a little quieter over the next two or three weeks. Runners of interest at Warwick at the weekend include Sending Love in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle and and Next Destination in the Grade 2 Novice Chase.
For the latest news on my runners on Saturday please check out my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon.