I was delighted with No Ordinary Joe who finished third in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday. He was a little bit keen, and locked on a bit with Nico, but it didn’t seem to make any difference because he was still there at the end and took a little bit of a blow at the last, which he was entitled to do, and I thought he ran a great race. He’s clearly progressive so he’ll most likely head to Ascot on December 18th for a crack at their big £105k G3 Handicap Hurdle.
We took a handful of horses to Newbury for their annual gallops morning this week and I was very happy with all of our squad. We had two sort of separate gallops which amalgamated into one whereby Brave Eagle and On The Blind Side went together up front followed by Mister Coffey and Epatante who stalked in behind before they joined up and they went together in two pairs. Not surprisingly Mister Coffey and Epatante were two quick for the other two but that was exactly what we expected and everything went according to plan and it would have done them all the world of good. They all worked very, very well.
Brave Eagle is very much the interesting one of the party and while he’s going to be a long shot for the Ladbrokes Trophy I certainly don’t think he’s any back number because he had a long time off after he fractured a bone in his hock (when he fell in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle) but his form up to that had been pretty smart and I thought he ran very well at Chepstow on his first run back, of which I can see that putting him right there at Newbury. It is a slightly ambitious aim, I admit, but he’s a very capable horse and while I’m not a betting man, I wouldn’t put anyone off having a £1 each way on him at what will probably be big odds.
Jonbon had a solo spin over a mile and a half and was very relaxed which puts him spot on for his hurdles debut at the same track a week on Friday.
On The Blind Side will run in the G2 Long Distance Hurdle and there’s a lovely 2m Novices’ Handicap Chase for Mister Coffey on the same day.
12:20 Novices’ Hurdle
Go Sacre Go (Nico De Boinville)
He’s a big baby of a horse by Network who is a fine, beautiful looking individual and I think he could be very smart. We’ll find out a lot more about him on Saturday but I hope he will run a very nice race. He wears a hood at home so we’re keeping it on here, mainly just for the sake of it because he’s not a runaway by any means. It’s all about education with him and he’ll learn plenty from this but his work has been very good and I hope he’ll run a very respectable race, in fact, I think he will.
14:05 G2 Chase
Pistol Whipped (Nico De Boinville)
This is obviously a very good race, as it stands at the moment, but ground is key to a lot of the runners, and if the rain stays away I can see it cutting up a bit which will, of course, help us out enormously. He likes small fields and good ground so that is in his favour and off his current rating there aren’t too many options so we’re giving it a go.
14:40 G2 Ascot Hurdle
Buzz (Nico De Boinville)
This is the important one for us but it is important that the ground is safe (for him). He won the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Good ground, which was as fast as I’d liked to have run him, and if they’re calling it Good (Good to Soft) at Ascot, we should be ok, but it wouldn’t want to get any firmer because then we could be in trouble. Anyway – excuses out of the way! He’s come out of the Cesarewitch in spectacular form and this race has been the plan for a very long time. We’re going up to 2m4f, which is as far as he’s been over hurdles, but this race will tell us a lot more about what we do for the rest of the season and if we have to look at three miles. This is a good stepping stone for doing something like that and this race has always seemed the obvious way to get there.
12:48 Mares’ Chase
Barbados Blue (James Bowen)
She did well at Fakenham to win on her Chase debut and this looks another very realistic opportunity for her to continue improving. I’ve been happy with her at home and she goes there with an obvious chance.