The Road to Cheltenham starts here!
After trying for 36 years, unfortunately the wait for that coveted Cheltenham Festival winner continues and the road back to Prestbury Park starts (again) right here!
All was not lost, however, and Stolen Silver, in the Potter Group silks ran an absolute stormer to finish fourth in the ultra competitive Festival Plate after a slightly below par performance at Wincanton in January.
Sam Thomas has his string in flying form and we know how much effort he and all the staff at home have put into getting Silver to switch off, relax and enjoy his racing. Sam rides him most days and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to getting the best out of the horses under his care and the way Stolen Silver ran is testament to his excellent training skills. The dashing grey is now finished for the term and the aim is to try and find a valuable race to kick off next season as a fresh horse which is when he seems to perform to his best. He’s only seven so still has plenty of miles on the clock and wasn’t out of the places in all five runs this season – in fact he accumulated over £30,400 in prize money this season alone which is definitely not to be grumbled at!
Our Power put up another brave show in the Ultima Chase and picked up fifth spot under Charlie Deutsch who enjoyed his own festival success with L’Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. He was running only 18 days after a tremendous performance in a big Handicap Chase at Kempton so may have been feeling the affects of that, but still produced a very credible effort and we are extremely proud of his achievements so far. Bar a blip at Doncaster when falling at the first fence, the son of Royal Ascot Coventry hero Power, has amassed over £36,000 in prize money since joining Sam Thomas’s yard at the start of the campaign and deserves to bag a big one.
Future plans remain fluid but there is the possibility he’ll be out again this spring where there are some decent pots to have a crack at.
Weather for Ducks
Despite the weather being simply stunning on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the Weather Gods clearly had an off day on Wednesday and decided to drench us all – from 10am until 7pm which meant we were left with no option but to withdraw Before Midnight from the Grand Annual. It was a real shame because this race had been the aim for quite some time, and he’d been in top form at home, but unfortunately we cannot control the weather and there is the £100,000 G3 Red Rum Chase at Aintree to consider or even the G1 Marsh Melling Chase over 2m4f but, as always, we’ll leave any decision making to his trainer. The son of Midnight Legend has already collected over £87,000 this term alone so owes us nothing and he’s proven a real star for us all the way through.
Mister Fisher, who carries the silks of James and Jean Potter Ltd was unsurprisingly taken out of the G1 Ryanair Chase due to the amount of rain that had fallen the day before and while it was another frustrating scenario, it made no sense to run him against the likes of Allaho, who would’ve been practically impossible to beat anyway, on ground which was much, much too soft.
Again, Aintree would seem the most logical place to go now and we’ve no doubt Nicky Henderson will source out the most suitable contest. Jezza, as he’s more affectionately known, has been knocking at the door in big races throughout his whole career but for one reason or another, he’s never quite managed to land a Grade One prize but we’re not giving up and are hopeful that his time will come, when and where, who knows – it could even be in the American Grand National!..
Out of Luck
Vienna Court took her chance in the Mares’ Chase on the final day of the Festival and we quite fancied her to run a big race back at the track she had already won twice at this season. However, Lady Luck wasn’t on our side and, as with the rest of the domestic squad, we were forced to succumb to the luck of the Irish and she came home in sixth. It was not the result we’d hoped for, but we can’t complain, she’s back safe and sound and lives to fight another day which is THE most important thing. A year ago if you’d had told us she’d win two races at Cheltenham and end up running in the Mares’ Chase we’d have sent you off to the men in white coats so we aren’t downhearted one iota. The daughter of Mahler is likely to head back to Prestbury Park where the £70,000 Silver Trophy, over 2m4f+, would seem ideal – she is still a novice but unfortunately not eligible for the EBF Mares’ Novice Final because she hasn’t competed (or been placed up to eighth) in any of the EBF Qualifiers this season.
Many Cheltenham hangovers still lingered at Uttoxeter on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough to stop us heading to the East Midlands track to see Mario De Pail take his chance in the feature Novices H’cap Chase. He had been away to jumping school at former headmistress Henrietta Knight’s base in Wantage and we were hopeful the education would pay off, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be and despite travelling well and, in the main, jumping well, when the race started to heat up, poor old Mario was quickly out of his comfort zone and ended up hitting the deck at the penultimate fence, which if proof were needed, told us that Chasing is unfortunately not to his liking and he will now switch back to hurdles and maybe even drop back slightly in distance.
He’s always threatened to be a good horse, and we still maintain that he is, but things haven’t gone his way, so with a bit of luck the return to timber will aid his confidence and he can end the campaign on a high.
Looking ahead to the next few days or so and we have entries up and down the country.
JAMES AND JEAN POTTER LTD
EGBERT has been training very well according to Alan King and may take up an engagement at Hereford on Friday. He’s the most handsome son of Yorton Stud Sire Pethers Moon who was given lots of early education at Tom Gretton’s yard, and a summer on his back at home with us, before going to Barbary Castle.
POTTERMAN has the Bet365 Gold Cup as his main aim, but he’s entered in a valuable H’cap Chase at Kelso on Saturday, where he’d be set to carry top weight. There are only seven entries so it’s just possible he might make the journey up.
PATROCLUS is entered at Ascot on Sunday and Ludlow on Monday and it’s anyones guess as to where Mr Henderson decides to go!
MOT A MOT is now based with Sam Thomas and is doing really well since rejoining the team in Cardiff. He’s had a small wind op and been doing plenty of slow steady work to build up his back muscles and Sam is very happy with his condition. There are a couple of possible races at Newbury on 1st/2nd of April so he could make a reappearance there.