Having not written this blog for a couple of weeks I can only start with the amazing buzz that Fact of the Matter gave us all when he won the Glenfarclas Cross Country chase at Cheltenham’s December meeting. Having been 2nd there in the November meeting, he really took to the unique fences there and improved to win off a 5lbs higher mark and in turn the handicapper put him on a mark of 140. Gavin gave him the most wonderful ride, and Fact of the Matter was so game and fought to the line to win by a neck. He will have a break now through the depth of the winter and after we’ve tightened up his wind again, he’ll go back to the Festival in March. We’ll also give him a Grand National entry too. The dream is alive…..
Fact of the Matter winning the Glenfarclas Cross Country at Cheltenham
Talking of dreams, I have always liked Midnight Chill but he’d struggled to get his head in front until we did his wind over the summer and he’s not looked back since. He got his confidence back when winning a Charity race and then he won on chase debut at Sedgefield last month. He followed up at Catterick just before Christmas in the style of a progressive youngster.
Midnight Chill wins his second Novice Chase.
Another progressive horse is Thistle Do Nicely who won his two novice hurdles pretty impressively this autumn, so we ran him in the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novice Hurdle at Ascot on Friday. He ran well to be 4th despite everything going against him as he hated the ground; they omitted 4 flights of hurdles; and the sedate early fractions didn’t help him settle. So, all things considered it was a cracking effort, and Aidan Coleman suggested we aim him for the Dovecote in February, and then the Supreme at the Festival! We ran Chapmanshype in the Listed Bumper at Ascot on Friday too, but he couldn’t handle the heavy going. He works like a good horse at home, so we’ll look after him through the depth of the winter and wait for the spring with him.
We had a touch of seconditis on Boxing Day as Lostnfound, Coole Well and Monbeg Theatre all hit the crossbar. Lostnfound ran well on her first start back after a wind operation, and just bumped into a well handicapped horse. Coole Well went down fighting under his penalty, but ran to a decent level of form and should be capable of defying that penalty in another novice hurdle; whilst Monbeg Theatre ran a career best off a mark of 143 to be 2nd in a Pertemps Qualifier at Wincanton. He will have a mini break now and another wind operation before coming back fresh for the Festival in March. He might go for the Coral Cup there, but will have an entry in the Pertemps Final as well. That race is certainly the plan for Dans Le Vent who was a decent 4th at Cheltenham’s December meeting, and might head back there on New Years Day too.
Meanwhile, Kalahari Queen ran another great race to be 2nd at Exeter over fences just before Christmas, where a mistake at the last cost her dearly, but she’ll surely gain compensation before too long.
I was delighted to be able to secure another smart recruit to our team when we bought Minella Beat at the Cheltenham sales. He is a 5-year-old gelding by Beat Hollow (the sire of Wicklow Brave and Cinders and Ashes among other Graded winners) and is out of a dual bumper winning Beneficial mare. He is from the family of the Grade 1 winners Joncol and On His Own (who was 2nd in the Gold Cup) as well as the smart mare Redhotfillypeppers. Minella Beat bolted up on his sole Irish Point-to-point at Lismore on heavy ground in March, before being 3rd in a bumper at Tipperary where the 4th horse home was Thomas Macdonagh – who was 2nd on debut for us in a competitive Ffos Las bumper. Minella Beat was then put away for the summer and came back at Punchestown late in November where he was 2nd in a bumper to the highly touted Battleoverdoyen, who bolted up at Navan last week. Minella Beat is a progressive individual, who is certainly a staying chaser in the making. He is a strapping 16”3 gelding, who could be very smart indeed.