The victory of Bravemansgame in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury last Tuesday was the highlight of a week when we reached a century of winners for the season on the last day of 2020.
It was a bit too tight for comfort though, with Shearer the one to to take us to three figures at Warwick in the final NH race to be staged in this country on New Year’s Eve.
That is the second fastest century we have ever achieved and comes despite nine weeks of racing being lost at the start of the campaign because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The fact that the horses have been in superb form since the second week in October reflects so well on the many individuals who form Team Ditcheat. Our system is tried and trusted and they all play a part as we continually try to improve things.
I think the world of Bravemansgame, who jumps for fun, won easily, and looks better the further he goes. The plan is to take him straight to the Cheltenham Festival for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Denman also won the Challow, when it was run at Cheltenham, but my comments comparing the two horses were rather taken out of context in reports that appeared the following day.
What I actually said was that it would be great if Bravemansgame turned out to be as good as Denman who was a superstar. I think that the ratings of the two horses after the Challow may support my view that Bravemansgame is every bit as good at this stage of his career. Bravemansgame is now 150, Denman was 152 after he won the Challow! Now he has to continue to progress and fulfil the promise he shows at the moment.
Earlier at Newbury on Tuesday our recent French three year old recruit Good Ball initiated a treble for the yard with a spectacular winning debut in a decent maiden hurdle. He is a big horse already with bags of scope, looks every inch a chaser and after taking a blow two out finished full of running.
It is not normally my style to run newcomers so quickly after they arrive but Good Ball had been pleasing at home and could be anything given a bit of time.
Today (Monday) we will be giving 75% of our string of horses their usual mid winter flu jabs. That leaves about thirty horses to run over the next couple of weeks before they too are innoculated.
So we have a big weekend ahead with runners at Kempton, Chepstow and Wincanton on Saturday. Full marks to the BHA and the Chepstow executive for re-arranging the Coral Welsh Grand National meeting for Saturday. That is good news for Yala Enki and Truckers Lodge who both ran so well in the National a year ago.
Our runners at Kempton will include McFabulous in the Relkeel Hurdle which was transferred from Cheltenham when their card on New Year’s Day also fell foul of the weather. That is a definitely a bonus for our horse who is at his best on decent ground, while our team at Wincanton will include the exciting five year old Hitman in the re-scheduled Grade 2 Paddy Power Dipper Novices’ Chase.
For all the latest news on my Saturday runners please be sure to check out my Betfair column which goes live late on Friday afternoon.