3.35 Sandown – West Approach
He’s a solid, consistent performer. He was fifth in the Ladbroke Trophy and was second in a couple of the Stayers Hurdle trials. He schooled really well this week and he’s in good form. At this stage of the season when he’s been running in so many big races you never really know but he seems in good form. He is what he is, and one of these days he will win one of these. If he can run to his Ladbrokes Trophy form then he would have an each way chance in this.
If Tom Scudamore had been available he would have ridden him but he has to ride for David Pipe, so Jonjo O’Neill Junior rides him. Jonjo is riding very well, and riding winners for everyone and he’s ridden three winners for us. We are not hiding the fact that we are enjoying what we are seeing from his riding and he’s available so we are using him as often as we can.
4.40 Sandown – Molineaux
He is a good horse and two miles was probably too sharp for him at Aintree last time. We thought we might get away with it but he stayed on really well. He jumps nicely and he’s very consistent. I think this is his trip and he will bounce off the ground. I’m expecting a big run from him and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he jumped the second last bang there.
We will have three runners at Punchestown next week. Sizing Granite will run on Wednesday in the two and a half mile handicap, and he should be competitive in that based on his Ayr run. It will be a hot race but he’s in good nick.
We are going to run Vision Des Flos for the first time over three miles in the Ladbrokes International Hurdle on the Thursday. A lot of the jockeys have got off him saying that he’s a great traveller but that he doesn’t really pick up over two miles, does he want three? He won well over two and half miles beating If The Cap Fits at Fontwell. So we are going to give him a try over three miles, and we thought this was as good a time as any to try it as he will have some decent ground as well.
Reserve Tank runs in the two and a half mile novice hurdle on the Friday. He has come out of his Aintree Grade One win really well. He looks a million dollars. It would be a brave man to say that he’s improved again since then but he has improved all through the second half of the season. He looks superb.
Look back at the season
Numerically it has been a successful season, and we had a really good first two thirds of the campaign but it was a bit quiet around Cheltenham which takes the edge off it a bit. That doesn’t make it a bad season but made it all a bit flat for a while. Aintree was then great fun and we had two brilliant Grade One wins there but we just missed out on winners at Cheltenham.
We are not too far off two million pounds of prize money so we can’t complain. The Ladbrokes Trophy and Coral Welsh Grand National wins were massive days for us. They are two of the biggest handicaps in the season and our horses won them really well. It’s too easy to forget those big successes. If we’d had a couple of winners at Cheltenham we’d have probably said it’s our best season so far. We now put a lot of pressure on ourselves and once you’ve had a taste of the big wins, you want more and expect more.
The Summer ahead
There is a lot of shopping to be done over the coming weeks. We bought two lovely horses at Aintree, and its ongoing. The Store sales start soon and we’ll be at all of them, the Doncaster Sales, and then at the Land Rover sale in Ireland, and we’ll go over to France to Arcana this year. We’ll get the main yard empty for six weeks and completely disinfect it. The summer plan is to replace the woodchip on the hill gallop, and we are also putting in a new gallop and schooling strip in.
We will probably have around 20 horses to run over the summer so it won’t be particularly busy.
Battle of Ideas – Coral Champions Club horse
He is in good form and I’d imagine towards the end of May we’ll find a race for him. He’s back in and he looks well. We never heard a noise anyway at home, prior to his wind op, so it won’t be until we race him that we know if it’s worked or not. We think he will like good ground and he will be one of the horses we’ll run on a bit in the summer.