In The News
As we near the Cheltenham Festival, it’s about time we shared some of our news with you. A mixed month in January with only one winner, our old boy Valadom, but plenty of horses running well in defeat and a couple narrowly denied victory, most notably Chic Name, who got done on the line in the Edinburgh National. February saw Echo Watt add two to his tally, while Lord Du Mesnil missed out narrowly against the bottom weight in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Horses have continued to run well though and we’re hoping to carry this form into the spring.
Speaking of the spring festivals, Lord Du Mesnil has received entries at both Cheltenham (RSA Chase and the National Hunt Chase and the Ultima Handicap Chase) and Aintree (Grand National). Whether he turns up there is another matter, as he’s still a young horse, but we like to keep our options open. Other entries include Chic Name in the Cross Country and Who’s My Jockey in both the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe. Whether any of them turn up will depend on ground conditions and getting into the race of course, but we’re happy to have the options.
Finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, do try to find Richard on This Racing Life on RacingTV, he was on a couple of weeks ago, but it should still be available to those who have a subscription.
Veteran Valadom appeared in three races since our last newsletter, starting at Wetherby on the 11th of January. Making most of the running as we are used to from him, he jumped well out in front. The ground was a bit tacky though and that tired him and caused him to hit five out. That kinda knocked the stuffing out of him and despite a game effort, he couldn’t get better than fourth. He got revenge eleven days later at Catterick though, again making the running and jumping superbly all the way around under Jonjo O’Neill jr. He stayed on strongly turning into the home straight and eventually coasted home by twenty-eight lengths. With a six lbs penalty, he went off to Musselburgh to follow up last weekend but fell just short. When he was headed four out, it looked like it was game over, but he battled like a tiger and stayed on gamely to snatch second less than a length behind the eventual winner. It’s great to see there’s plenty of life left in the old boy and we’re delighted he finally got his head in front again. The plan is for him to head to the conditional final at Newbury in March.
The other horse to run at Musselburgh was another of the yard’s favourites in Chic Name. Having made the long journey up to Musselburgh together with Vally, Chico ran a cracker and looked to have another big race at his mercy when he went over the last four lengths clear. He did everything right, but unfortunately, he got nailed on the line by the fast-finishing Bob Mahler. Obviously it was disappointing, but at the same time, you couldn’t fault his effort and he was just very unlucky. He has entries in both the Cross Country at Cheltenham and the Midlands National the Saturday following the Festival.
Lord Du Mesnil returned to Haydock, the scene of his last two victories and looked set for a hattrick at the track when jumping the last well in front of the pack. Alas, that’s discounting bottom-weight Smooth Stepper, who flew home late to just overhaul him on the run-in. The others were left far behind so it was another good performance and a fair bit more prize money to add to his earnings, just a shame the race didn’t finish a hundred yards earlier. He’s got entries at Cheltenham, but we’ll have to see where we go. He does need soft ground, so that’s something we’ll have to look out for.
Back on the 13th of January, Echo Watt suffered a similar fate, not always jumping fluently on his chasing debut, but going well enough to be in contention at the last. But, having been off the track for a year, he couldn’t quite see it out against a race-fit rival and eventually finished second, beaten just over two lengths. He took well to his fences and followed up by sluicing up in the mud at Uttoxeter and winning by the small margin of 22 lengths! He got a hefty rise in the weights for that, but with Will Kennedy on board once again, he followed up last week at Fontwell over a shorter trip, prevailing by just a neck. He’s in good form and loves the mud, so hopefully, the ground will hold for him.
Another to return after a long absence was Ramonex who ran at Market Rasen after a year and a half off the track. He jumped well and was in front for most of the race, before tiring and weakening. He took a tired fall at the last but fortunately was absolutely fine, even though it looked nasty at first. There was a twist in the tale though, as somehow, between the vets, the stewards and the BHA, he was announced as deceased on the BHA website and we couldn’t even enter him anywhere! Glad to say he is alive and well and we look forward to him completing his resurrection with a trip to the winner’s enclosure!
Allysson Monterg also returned from a lay-off at Ascot on the day of the Ascot Chase, but was sadly pulled up down the back straight having jumped fine up until then. Upon examination, he was found to be lame in his right fore. He’s a talented horse, but unfortunately, he’s had his share of injury problems. We’re hoping he can make a speedy recovery
Eureu Du Boulay ran at Fakenham on the 23rd of January, but having been hampered early had a tough time of things. He headed to Carlisle next on the 17th of February, but despite running well didn’t see out his race. He’s still struggling with the handicapper’s increase after he won over in France. Hopefully, they’ll show a bit of leniency to get him competitive again.
Similar comments could apply to Who’s My Jockey who ran at Huntingdon the following day. Having run well at Cheltenham on New Years Day, he couldn’t really get involved here and finished a well-beaten eleventh in the end. The handicapper is not really relenting yet, with only a three lbs drop, so it’s probably a waiting game for him.
Discko Des Plages was up at Doncaster on the same day and fared better, running well and leading for a long way before weakening into sixth after being headed two out. He shaped well, having returned to hurdles after unseating over fences the previous time. We’ll have to see where we go with him next, but it was an encouraging return.
Finally, Fanzio returned to make his chase debut at Carlisle this week, running a good second. He ran really well considering he’d had quite a bad fall back in France about three months ago and it was a very pleasing debut over fences. He followed that up with another second at Huntingdon last week, no match for the winner, but another solid performance. Hopefully we can find a nice race for him soon.
This Weeks Runners
A few entries in store for this week, starting with Ramonex at Doncaster, who is entered in a two and half mile chase. He ran pretty well last time out after his lay-off and has been eased a further three lbs in the handicap, so hopefully he can show up well. Paul O’Brien is set to take the ride claiming three.
On the same card, there’s an entry for Discko Des Plages in a two and half mile hurdles race. He ran well enough last time at the track and has also been dropped three lbs. He’ll also have the services of Paul O’Brien in the saddle.
Universal Mission is a new horse for us and has a couple of entries, first at Doncaster and Newbury on Saturday and also at Huntingdon on Sunday, all in bumpers. He is a bay gelding by Universal, out of Tabora. We’re keen to see what he can do on the track, the ground will dictates where he goes if at all.
Finally, Lord Du Mesnil has an entry up at Kelso on Saturday in their three mile listed chase. He’s got some stiff competition to face if he does show up, but the ground should be right for him, so we may take our chance.