Most of mine a couple of weeks away from being ready to run so it’s going to be a relatively low-key start to this season but I am looking forward to Chepstow on Saturday as we are hoping to get Shantou Bob’s season up and running in the totepool Silver Trophy, although we really need it to rain.Cole Harden is best odds 12-1 to retain his World Hurdle Crown - 1pt @ 12/1
He’s had another wind operation over the summer; he had one quick one in January, the same time as Cole Harden did, but we knew we had to give him another one so he had his one run at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett, where he finished 6th and ran a really good race, and then we did what we needed to do.
I just think that he was struggling with his wind so badly that to have still finished second in two Grade 2’s with a rating of 143 means he could easily now be favourably handicapped. He’s been away to Kempton and his work has been very good - he’s done plenty and he’s pleased - but the biggest thing for him is soft ground. Providing they get some rain, I would like to think he’ll run very well and we’ll make a plan after that. If he absolutely hoses up then we’ll have to think again but the thinking is to go novice chasing soon.
On Sunday I’ve got Chase The Wind entered at Chepstow. He’s won two novice hurdles and he’s run well in chases. He’s had his palate cauterized since he last ran but ideally he would want better ground so if it comes up soft he probably won't run.
I’ve got a runner at Worcester on Thursday, Morning Symphony. He’s only had one run for me but he improved to finish second to a horse called Tangolan who has won again and been placed twice since. I’m stepping him up in trip and I’ve had a look at the entries, he’s definitely got a really good chance – I’m pretty hopeful he'll win.
I’ve got around 80 horses for this season which I’m happy with, it’s a good number, and I’ve picked out a few for Oddschecker users to keep an eye out for:
Out Sam: Hasn’t run for me yet but I bought him at Doncaster in May out of Nicky Henderson’s yard. He’s had three runs over hurdles, won two (Newbury and Ascot) before being quietly fancied for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, in which he fell around halfway.
He is already rated 142 and the plan is to go novice chasing. He probably won’t be out until the end of the month but he’s a lovely horse, he does everything right at home and I would like to think he would be competing in some of the best novice chases towards the end of the season. He certainly looks an exciting horse.
Le Bague Au Roi: She’s a half-sister to a horse I’ve got called Kayserberg who is rated 140. She has only had one run, she won her bumper at Newton Abbot despite everything going against her that day. She whipped around at the start, she got stuck on the rail, but when she did get out she really picked up nicely and won well. The plan is to go for a mares’ bumper at Aintree later this month and then there is a Listed race at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting in November. I hold her in quite high regard, she’s got everything you are looking for – she’s a big filly with a high cruising speed, she covers a lot of ground and is really classy.
Warrantor: Rated 135 over hurdles and ended up running in the Neptune where he picked up a small injury which has been sorted. He is set to go novice chasing, he’s a really good jumper who will be a better chaser than he was hurdler. He’s got a really high cruising speed, he’s a very accurate jumper and he’ll go in any ground. He’ll get three miles but he doesn’t lack for pace. He’s quite exciting and a few shrewdies in the yard have him high up their list of horses to follow this season.
Chef D’Oeuvre: He is owned by the McNeill family who have had good horses like Walkon and Grumeti with Alan King. He ran in two points, finishing fourth in a slowly run race (stayed-on nicely) first time behind a horse called Born Survivor, who Dan Skelton has since paid £220,000gns for, before making all the running in his second Point. He’s still quite green but he’s doing everything right at home and he’ll probably be out in a bumper towards the end of the month before going hurdling. I know a few Irish Point to Point form students are raving about him, they think he’s definitely one to keep on the right side of and we think he could prove a bit of a bargain.
Cole Harden: I’ve had to tinker with his wind again, it’s not ideal but it’s something that I’ve had to work with. He’s a hard horse to get fit so what you don’t want to be doing is really grafting him and giving him a hard time when he’s struggling, so I’ve given him a bit longer this time. The bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby, a race he won by eight lengths last season, is the first target but we might not get there in time, in which case we will look at the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting. If it came up bottomless then I am conscious that I don’t want to keep going to the well too often. He had six runs last year and I want to try and keep it to four this time, just because of the way he runs. I want to try and keep him fresh for the spring, but before then we’ll definitely be looking at Leopardstown over Christmas as the ground normally doesn’t get that bad there.
Gavin [Sheehan] can’t wait for him to go chasing and we’ve popped him over a fences at home but it’s scary to watch as he is so exuberant. He’s a real ball of energy in everything that he does at home, he’s like a tank, so we can’t do a lot of schooling with him because the more he does the braver he gets, which isn’t easy to watch. He does jump well though and we will be thinking about fences next season.
I don’t think his World Hurdle success was a fluke and I believe he’s the one they haven’t beat back at Cheltenham in March, providing I can get him there in the same form.