Dina takes centre stage at Newbury
Docte Dina takes her chance in the G2 BetVictor National Hunt Novices’ Mares’ Final at Newbury on Saturday which is live on ITV Racing and Racing TV at 3:25 and we can’t wait to see her strut her stuff. We were over the moon with her effort at Doncaster last time when she finished 2nd to stablemate Fantastic Lady and she seems to come alive on quicker ground. We’ve always held her in quite high regard and bar a blip on bottomless ground at Ludlow in December, when she may as well have stayed at home, her form is pretty smart and while this is an extremely competitive race, she’s a real tough nut who jumps well and has a great attitude so we’re really hopeful of a very bold show under James Bowen who retains the ride. These are obviously extremely good prizes to win from a racing and prize money point of view but it is also important that these races are staged from a commercial angle to help the breeding industry and for Docte Dina’s own future as a broodmare and the BHA should be commended for putting a series like this together which has resulted in a quality line up.
Vienna Court has also been declared in the Handicap Chase at 5:10 and we are rather hoping the easier ground may see her in a better light. She’s got some solid form to her name and is right up there on ratings so with a bit of luck she can run a nice race under Sam Twiston Davies.
Oh! And just a quick mention for Jonbon who makes his eagerly awaited debut for new connections in the Bumper at 5:45. He was sold at the Goffs UK Point to Point sale at Yorton Farm in November for a record breaking £570,000 so fingers crossed he goes some way to recouping that hefty price tag on Saturday!
Wheesht the Winner!
Speaking of mares owned by James and Jean Potter Ltd, we were delighted to see Wheesht get her head back in front at Plumpton on Monday under a great ride from Johnny Burke. She’s always been a very good horse and Alistair Ralph and his team at Bind Farm have done a great job getting her career back on track after things went wrong at Doncaster last time. Her half brother is Billingsley, who is a three time winner over fences, and there’s no doubt this daughter of Scorpion will be more than capable of jumping the larger obstacles next season. She is a magnificent looking animal who has lots of size and scope and will obviously make a very good broodmare when the time comes.
So, how was it for you? Assuming you were cheering for a UK winner it probably wasn’t the best week at Cheltenham where the Irish were truly dominant and absolutely walloped the domestic assault. The questions the quarrelling the quizzing the quandaries and the queries made all us Brits quite queasy and quaking in our boots, but there were no excuses and hopefully this was just another thing to add to the ‘this is an unprecedented year’ category and we can move on. Obviously there are issues, and there’s no doubt the BHA will look into why the Irish wiped the floor with us. Is prize money to blame, is it because the British programme book needs tweaking, or what about the fact Cheltenham has been the sole focus for so many local trainers that our horses perhaps aren’t primed and ready for action? Instead they’ve been mopping up and taking it easy in small three and four runner Grade Ones and Twos without really coming off the bridle and having a ‘race’. They just don’t appear to have THAT kick that most of the Irish horses do. Racheal Blackmore was undoubtedly the star of the whole show and with an air of confidence, even to some degree sheer arrogance, she was able to make mincemeat of her rivals and outride many of her weighing room colleagues simply by displaying proper guts, determination and knowing when the right time was to press the button and kick for home. She was brilliant, and yes you have to be on the best horses but it’s having the know how and ability to not panic when you might not be in the place you want to be or you get shuffled back so have to sit and suffer and wait for the gaps to unfold. She was a joy to watch throughout the week and it’s been fantastic seeing all the plaudits and appreciation come her way over the past week. Indeed as I was enjoying my porridge with treacle last Saturday morning she popped up on BBC Breakfast which can only be a good thing for our industry.
Nico De Boinville is another rider who should be given credit. Yes he may have been a fortunate winner on Chantry House but jumping is the name of the game and Seven Barrows’s stable jockey didn’t get carried away and still allowed his mount to take his time and sleek into a silky rhythm. He gave Shishkin an excellent ride in the Arkle when he could’ve panicked after Allmankind and Captain Guinness went clear but he sat and waited and waited because he had the confidence and knew the talent of the horse he had underneath him. It’s easy to sit on the sofa and think it’s easy just steering these good horses around a field, but it’s not quite that straightforward; you have to make sure you’re in the right place more often then you’re not because everything happens so fast and you only have a second between making the right or wrong decision, so I feel it’s fair we should give credit where it’s due and commend the jockey who lets his riding do the talking and it’s pretty clear his way of chatting seems to be doing the trick.
Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan for Mister Fisher in what was an extremely competitive and wide open Ryanair Chase. As expected they went very, very quick and on the whole our son of Jeremy jumped very well but one mistake at the ninth fence put him on the back foot and as the runners quickened and quickened again sadly Mister Fisher began to feel the pinch and continued to make a few more unfortunate errors and rather than push and shove in vain, De Boinville quite rightly pulled him up two out when he knew his winning chance had gone. Another of example of what a fine horseman he is and we are thankful he looked after him and was able to save him for another day. He trotted up fine the next day which is the most important thing and we are looking forward to seeing him get his head back in front again; where it will be we’ll leave that to a certain Mr Henderson. Aintree may come a little too soon, but who knows? and there is the option of Ayr a week later where the likely juicy spring ground will be right up his street, so maybe a trip to Scotland could be on the agenda! Nico did suggest now is the time to step him up to three miles but there’s an attractive looking 2m4 ½f Listed Handicap Chase worth £30,000 which would be very nice to win en route 😉.
On the comeback
We are also pleased to report that Potterman has been back at Alan King’s for quite a while after a short mid season break and there are a couple of options for the homebred son of Polly Potter. We all know how much Mr King enjoys a jaunt back up to his homeland so there is the possibility he could run in the Scottish Grand National but in all probability he’ll head to Esher to tackle the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown a week earlier. Obviously his well-being is our priority and the ground will play a big part to, but everything appears to be going well and it will be lovely to see him back on track again. In fact, by then it will be lovely to actually see him in person on a race track because it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do that as owners!
The Wild Wild Sea is in excellent shape following her very encouraging racecourse debut when second in a hot bumper at Newbury last month and her trainer reports her to have strengthened up considerably. Oliver Greenall is particularly good at keeping owners updated and it was great to see her moving nicely on his circular gallop this week. She is from a good family who we obviously know very well indeed and it will be fantastic to see her win a Bumper before going novice hurdling next season. There’s an all Mares card at Cheltenham on the 15th of April and a very valuable National Hunt Flat race which is likely to be her next target.
Of our runners over the last week, Jack Sharp ran another very good race at Doncaster when, in all fairness, we probably thought he’d win, but the ground was plenty quick enough and he still displayed quite a lot of signs of greenness in the final couple of furlongs which ultimately was perhaps the difference in winning and losing. But he is clearly learning all the time and has already shown an immense amount of talent so we look forward to seeing his progression.
Excelerator Express put up another exceptional performance when narrowly going down, by just a neck, in the Novice Handicap Chase at Market Rasen on Wednesday. It was only a four runner affair but nevertheless a pretty competitive race and a bad mistake three from home didn’t help his chance, but Neil Mulholland’s inmate has a great attitude and really battled bravely under an inspired ride by Sam Twiston Davies who galvanised the son of Poliglote to stay on and finish second. Hopefully the handicapper won’t overreact because his current mark looks about fair. He’s a Novice until October so could be seen a couple more times over the next month or so before enjoying a well earned break.