We took three horses to Barbury Castle on Sunday and despite not leaving with a trophy, I was delighted with how each of them ran.
Harbour Court was beaten by Ghizao in the Mens Open. We knew before the race Jack Barber (who had a treble) had Ghizao fit and we had to give him 7lbs, which was always going to be a tall order. However, there were pluses and minuses to take out of the performance. He jumped and travelled very well on the whole and was quick away from his fences. Unfortunately we were a sitting target for Ghizao because of the style of both horses. James Tudor feels that with the cheekpieces and the front-running tactics, the horse has been rejuvenated so that’s what we did.
We were beaten but it was the best he’s ever run first time out. He had ridden sharper at home and looked just that on the track. He’s coming of age. We were very pleased and there’s one day I want to get right in March. We went there a little bit short but we were desperate to get a run in before Christmas to structure his season, having him peaking for the Foxhunters. We’ve run right up to our mark and we’re going into a new era with a new jockey. Joe did nothing wrong in the riding of the horse but he’ll learn a lot.
At the moment we’re looking at Ampton next, which is a stayer’s course. That will give him downhill fences to jump and we took Bon Accord there the year he was second in the Foxhunters. We’ll be taking on Moroman (the Horse and Hound Cup winner) off level weights and if we can’t go and beat him, do we need to worry about going to Cheltenham? We want to run him a minimum of seven weeks before Cheltenham and Rodney and Joe are in agreement Ampton is the best option.
We’re up and running now and we haven’t got to rush and do something silly. We’re over the moon that we took the opportunity to run.
I was really pleased with Alpha Native in the Novice Riders, which was typically competitive. Susannah jumped out in front, as instructed, and got a soft lead. He jumped and galloped before getting a bit tired four out. They came to him but he ran on again two out and was only beaten ten lengths. It was his best run ever under Susannah.
He jumped brilliantly and is clearly in very good form but our main problem now is going to be finding ground because he likes it on top. Joe thinks he should go to Cottenham next but I’m not sure it’ll be the right course for him. We’ll see what the weather does. He gets into novice riders races without penalties so I’d imagine we’ll stick to that type of race.
It was another good step forward for Victoria on According To Sarah in the Ladies Open. She jumped well and enjoyed being prominent. She was in the thick of the action and gave Victoria good race riding experience. I may have just left the mare a little bit short and it was slightly disappointing she didn’t finish but Victoria very wisely pulled the horse up when beaten.
Alan King said that she didn’t look out of place and she surprised a few with how good she looked over a fence. It’s a mighty big project we’ve taken on to get her to Cheltenham in March but it’s coming together well.
Mr Cardle, who came to us from Oliver Sherwood, will be our only runner at Larkhill this Sunday. This weekend we are putting an important brick in the wall. The ground should be perfect and it’s a nice, easy track for a horse to cope with. The aim is very much to work on his confidence.
Man Of Steel was entered in the Mens Open but it looks a big boys race with Rumbavu, Join Together and Benedictus so I think we’ll find an easier option for his first run in that grade.
Looking ahead, Broken Eagle will go to Cottenham for the Conditions race on January 3rd. Jake and I had a look the other day and I think three miles round there will suit him. Joining him may be Utmost Zeal, who could go in the Restricted. Consigliere loved the course the other day so will go back for the Mens. According To Sarah or Alpha Native will go in the Novice Riders and Sharp Suit will run in the Ladies. We’re also looking at taking Cara Carlotta and Velvet Cognac for the Maidens.
Before that though, we’ve got half an eye on sending Brians Well to Chaddesley Corbett on December 28th as there’s a Conditions race that favours him.