It's a big week for Warren Greatrex as Cole Harden works at Newbury and Shantou Bob returns.
Shah Of Persia won well at the track last time and although this is a better race, he gets a lot of weight from the others and we have the benefit of experience. One or two of his rivals, especially Jonjo’s, had really good form over hurdles and if they translate that to fences then we’ll probably struggle but if there are any chinks in their armour we’re fit and ready to take advantage.
Via Volupta should probably have won over hurdles by now but she comes out well on ratings and she’s run well at the track before. I think she’s improved over the summer - she’s strengthened up physically and has grown up mentally too. She was a bit of a madam last year but she seems to have matured and I think she should run a big race.
Apache Pearl had one run in the spring but his wind wasn’t great and we’ve had that sorted now. He’ll be a better horse in time but we want to see if the wind op has worked and then we can build from there. This is a fact finding mission with him.
We won’t have any runners on Wednesday.
Knight Bachelor (Thursday - Market Rasen) has had a wind operation over the summer and I think he’s improved a lot since last season. He was running on ground softer than he would want and that was compounding his wind problem. He is working well now and although it’s not ideal he’s gone up the handicap without winning, I think he’s a better horse now and he should definitely be winning races this season.
Hannah's Princess (Thursday – Wincanton) needs it to dry up but I really want to run her as she’s been ready for a while. She’s not overly big but she has strengthened up since last season and she’s far better than we’ve seen so far. I’m confident that she can win a nice race this year at some point.
Shantou Bob is all set for Haydock on Saturday and he’s in great form at home. We decided not to go to Ireland and wait for this instead as the ratings suit him better and he’s fit as a fiddle at home. He’ll love the track and the ground and we will go there with a live chance.
It surprised me a touch that Channel 4 Racing made so much of my Twitter mention on Sunday about of the new $500,000 bonus to any horse that can win both the World Hurdle and the Iroquois Hurdle in the USA in May.
If Cole Harden were mine and he won the World Hurdle again, then I would be all over it, the money is huge, you would be pretty much winning half a million pounds in two runs. He would be taking on inferior horses in America and he would love the ground, but I haven’t even spoken to the owners about it yet and I really don’t know if it something that they would consider, so we are a long way off suggesting we’ll be going for this bonus.
Cole Harden is in great shape at home and he goes to Newbury on Tuesday morning for a racecourse gallop. That should put him spot on for a week on Saturday where he makes his seasonal return on Hennessy day. We’ll probably run him even if the ground is too soft as we don’t have many other options for him - he’s got to start somewhere and he’s ready to roll.
I’ll be back with a more in-depth look at my weekend plans on Friday.