THE double green silks of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have become increasingly prominent in British and Irish racing over the last few seasons and have been carried to victory by a string of high-class individuals, including Cheltenham winner Footpad.
The likes of Bristol De Mai, We Have A Dream and Footpad landed Grade 1s for them last season and with the return of Cheltenham this weekend we can expect to see those colours increasingly in the months ahead.
We spoke to Anthony Bromley, racing manager to the owners, to get his thoughts the weekend and an update on some of the duo’s star names.
Cheltenham is back. Does it now feel like the jumps season is really ready to kick off?
Absolutely. In many ways it feels like the lull before the storm at the moment. All the trainers are itching to get going but we can’t until some proper rain comes. So while we’d normally be unleashing some big guns at Cheltenham this weekend and Wetherby next weekend, I’m wondering if we will actually see as many of them. We may have to wait until further until November.
Has it been frustrating having to hang fire with the horses when everyone is geared up to go?
No. You just have to remember it’s a long season ahead and a horse who gets jarred up now won’t have a long season ahead. You have to remind everyone of that and we all have to bide our time and be patient. The rain will come and the ground will come, but we have to be careful right now.
Calett Mad represents you in the 3m1f handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday (2.00). How are things with him?
He’s ready to have a run and he wants what I’d call nice ground; he’s a big horse so he doesn’t want it too quick. Hopefully he’ll put up a decent performance and we can go from there.
You have decided to skip Cheltenham this weekend with Triumph Hurdle winner We Have A Dream. What is the plan for him now?
We Have A Dream’s in good shape but we felt conditions weren’t right at Cheltenham. He’s unbeaten in England and we have to be careful not to chase things with him just because it looks a nice race. Everything has to be right. He also has the option of the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, albeit the ground is unlikely to be much better there, so we might end up waiting for a 2m4f conditions hurdle at Aintree on November 10. There’s no rush with him.
Presumably you are working back from the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with We Have A Dream?
Possibly. There’s good prize-money for ‘trials’ along the way so we’ll be looking to see what’s going on in them. I think it would be a tough ask for him to perform in a Championship race at the Festival in his first season after a juvenile. The trials will help us point the way.
If not this year, would you have a Champion Hurdle in mind for We Have A Dream in the long term?
We find with good juveniles that they tend to be stayers in the long term. The Triumph Hurdle horses win the good races as juveniles through stamina, not through speed. It’s very rare the Triumph Hurdle winner stays over two miles and excels. The only one who comes to mind in recent years is Katchit. The likes of Apple’s Jade have done better when going up in trip.
Footpad is a horse people are hugely excited about. How are things with him?
He’s going nicely at home but, again, there’s no rush to get him out yet. The Tingle Creek has not been ruled out for him, but at the same time it’s not been ruled in – if you see what I mean. I’d say it’s unlikely we’d see him in England before Christmas. Willie [Mullins] keeps all options open for his horses and we work with that. He’s likely to start somewhere in Ireland next month and then we’ll see where we go from there.
What did you make of his performances last season and where do you see him future?
It was a dream season. He won four Grade 1s and there weren’t many horses who did that last season. It was immense. It was great all the jockeys had a Grade 1 win on him – Ruby, Paul Townend and Daryl Jacob. I wouldn’t be surprised if his best trip was two-and-a-half miles. He doesn’t really look like a three-mile horse as over hurdles he didn’t quite stay that far. His perfect trip seems to be in between, but then so many talented two milers are like that. He’ll stay at two until we think otherwise.
Bristol De Mai produced some excellent performances for you last season. Where is he likely to begin his 2018-19 campaign?
He’ll get an entry in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby next weekend but unless there’s a deluge coming I can’t believe we’d risk him. As such he’d go straight for the Betfair Chase at Haydock without a prep run. That’s not ideal but it can be done. The Betfair Chase is his first ‘proper’ target.
Terrefort made great strides through last season too. What plans do you have in mind for him?
If we get rain then he’d go for the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown on November 11. If that all went well we’d then consider the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy, the old Hennessy Gold Cup, at Newbury for him. He wouldn’t be particularly well handicapped off his mark, but it’s a £250,000 race and it’s worth a punt.
And, finally, Ucello Conti was running a fine race in the Grand National before unseating. Do all roads lead back to Aintree for him?
No. He’s going to go hunter chasing this season in Ireland with the aim of him running in the three big races at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. He’s not won for four years but he’s a brave, consistent horse and his rating never really drops. He’ll run in point-to-points to get him qualified and then we’ll come back under rules. I love the thought of him at Aintree in the Foxhunters.