I was thrilled to see College Oak and Chapmanshype both win last week, in what was our first busy week on the track this summer. However, we had an emotional rollercoaster as Sovereign Duke looked likely to score when taking a crashing fall, and Donnie Azoff looked unfortunate on his 2nd career start.
College Oak put us back on the scoreboard and turned our recent run of 2nds into winners when he won a novice hurdle at Uttoxeter last Monday. He had won a bumper last season and was placed in two novice hurdle starts on really soft ground. The soft ground rather pulled him apart, and we gave him a break in order to come back in the spring. However, Covid put paid to that idea so we decided to get him ready for late summer/early autumn. He showed a great attitude at Uttoxeter and jumped superbly well. I’d like to think he can hold his own in handicap company now and keep progressing.
Our next runner was Chapmanshype, and having won four handicaps last summer, he had to keep improving this time around. He didn’t get a clear run on his seasonal debut, so we put a line through that, and he came out at Fontwell again last week and put in the most dominant and impressive display to win the feature Class 2 event with consummate ease. The handicapper has hit him with an 11lbs rise to a mark of 143, so it’ll be trickier to place him now. We’ll re-evaluate where we go now, but options could be Kelso in September, back at Fontwell in October, or the Grade 2 Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October.
With spirits high we went off to Newton Abbot on Friday with a couple of decent chances. Unfortunately, our luck escaped us here. Sovereign Duke was making his hurdling debut after having had a wind operation, and having shown ability on the flat. He jumped well throughout the race and with the leaders going off too fast he began to motor after three out, and had hit top gear and was flying when he took up the lead approaching the 2nd last flight of hurdles, only to hit the top bar and have a crashing fall. Thankfully both he and Gavin were just bruised……
Having finished 2nd on chasing debut over 2m, we were looking forward to seeing Pacify over 2m4, but he never jumped a fence, and looked like he had just lost his confidence. He made a mistake at the first two fences, and although his ability kept him in touch for most of the race, he never looked happy. We’ll give him a thorough MOT, and see where we are then.
Floral Bouquet had finished 2nd last month when a mistake at the last hurdle had cost her dearly and once again she made a horrific blunder a the 3rd last flight when mounting her challenge. We might send her back over fences now where she is off a lower mark, and I think she’ll respect a fence better now.
Over the weekend just gone, I thought Donnie Azoff would be hard to beat in the bumper at Uttoxeter. He had only just been beaten in a better race on debut when he looked very green. Unfortunately, he met all the trouble could in running, was forced wide around every turn and then was cut off by the eventual winner when he was coming with a run. He is undoubtedly better than this performance, and both Gavin and I are keen for him to show this when he next runs.