Well, what a week for the team here, as You Wear It Well gave us our second Cheltenham Festival winner, when winning the Grade 2 Mares novice hurdle, and Ga Law ran a career best to be 5th in the Grade 1, Ryanair, over a trip short of his best. Whilst, another three winners around the country takes our seasonal tally to 41, and over £650,000 in prize money.
It is nine years ago that we broke our Cheltenham Festival duck with just our third ever runner at the track. We didn’t realise quite how tricky it is to win at the Festival, and so we thoroughly appreciated You Wear It Well winning last week. The fact it was the ‘Jack de Bromhead’ race, it was very poignant to see our three children picking up the trophy! Gavin gave the mare a wonderful ride to lead from start to finish, and she was tough and galloped on strongly up the hill to win well. She won the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Novice at Sandown last time out over 2m4, and was 2nd in the 2m4 Grade 1 Challow hurdle, so she did well to win dropped back to 2m, and carrying a penalty in this Grade 2 contest. It was lovely that Chips could be there to celebrate with us, as nine years ago he wasn’t able to be at Cheltenham when Present View won.
Having won the fiercely competitive valuable Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, Ga Law took a nasty fall when coming to win the 3m Skybet Chase at Doncaster last time out. However, he stepped forward again when staying on really well to be 5th the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase. It was a lovely run on the back of a fall, and on his first try in open Grade 1 company. We might think about running him over 3m at Aintree next time out, but he could be one we aim for next years Grand National.
Having been 2nd on Cheltenham Trials Day to the Grade 1 Turners Novice chase winner, Stage Star, Datsalrightgino started favourite for the Plate, but regrettably he didn’t appreciate the rain softened ground. He’ll be seen to better effect back in novice company.
Away from Cheltenham, I was delighted to see Milldam winning a novice hurdle at Huntingdon last week. He was running at the Cheltenham Festival last season, but things hadn’t really gone to plan this season, however he benefitted from a recent wind operation and won well at Huntingdon. I’d like to think he can really progress through handicaps now.
Meanwhile, Gavin gave Spitfire Girl the most wonderful ride to win at Taunton yesterday to get up in the shadows of the post. She had just been touched off on her handicap debut, but improved here when stepped up to 3m. She’ll jump a fence next season and should continue to improve.
It’s always tricky to defy a penalty in a bumper but that is what Roger Pol did earlier this month. He looked outpaced for most of the way, but Gavin never stopped kicking, and he won pretty comfortably in the end. He will be an exciting novice hurdler next season.
Another useful bumper performer this season has been Doc McCoy who was 2nd at Wetherby today. He stepped forward from his two third placed finishes this season, and will be a lovely horse to go novice hurdling with after a summer on his back.
Colonel Harry was entered for the Supreme at the Festival, but we diverted him to Kelso instead for the Grade 2 novice hurdle there, and he ran a belter to be 2nd. The extended 2m2 trip may have just stretched his stamina, and we may look at the Grade 1 novice at Aintree next month, providing it is softer ground there.
Of our other recent runners, Soldier of Destiny was 2nd back over hurdles, as was Donnie Azoff, and Tallow For Coal ran well to be 3rd in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown. Whilst, Jack Sprat showed improved form to be 3rd in a novice hurdle, and Super Survivor was also 3rd in a valuable Class 2 Novice Chase.
With the horses in top form, I am delighted that we have today passed through £650,000 in prize money – a record for the team. Congratulations, let’s now push on with just 5 weeks of the season left.