There was a real tragedy at Higham on Sunday as we sadly lost Harbour Court. He was going really well at the head of affairs before breaking a hind leg on the flat. It puts everything into perspective. The ground was perfect for him and it was just one of those freak things.
The horse has been an absolute pleasure to train. It’s not often a horse comes along who can win you two races at Cheltenham. He was always genuine. He may have had his issues but we thought we had him back to his best. It’s a huge loss to all of us at Woodway and the sport of Point-to-Pointing as a whole.
Broken Eagle won impressively on the bridle in the fastest time of the day. We’re really excited about him and he had now gone up to a rating of 10-8 in the loose leaf and 115 with David Coulton. He’s going to have an entry back at Higham on Sunday 21st February and the Novice Hunter Chase at Leicester three days before. Jake and I will look at both sets of entries and compare the ground before deciding where to go with him.
Start Royal was tough and terrier-like to beat his old rival It Was Me in the Ladies. He had to fight back after looking beaten four out. We gave him a wind op yesterday and he will go to the first meeting at Kingston Blount next. We’ve just done his soft palate again and a gap of six weeks between races will work out well.
Mr Cardle ran another good race to finish fourth in the stronger of the two divisions of the Maiden. It wouldn’t have been his course and will appreciate a stiffer test of stamina. However, he may still go to Cottenham next for more experience. It will be too sharp a track for him to put his best foot forward but he’ll enjoy the likely better ground.
Victoria had two good spins on According To Sarah and Minella Theatre, completing on both occasions. She gained more valuable experience ahead of Sunday, where hopefully she will ride her first winner on Pacha Du Polder at Milborne St Andrew. We’ll be in attendance as we’re running The Crumpet Mine and I think he’ll run alright. It’s the first time we’ve been training him without sore shins. He’s working and schooling brilliantly and I’d hope for a first four finish. Sharp Suit is in but I don’t think he’ll run.
It was disappointing Man of Steel didn’t win the Conditions race at Larkhill on Saturday. I thought he was beaten six out but he jumped up well and showed his speed. Unfortunately the horse jinked before unseating Joe after the last but Garstin would have probably got to us anyway. The ground was gluey and holding which wasn’t ideal for any horse on the day. I’m not making excuses but you may have seen a different result on a better surface.
Garstin looked to have absolutely no chance two out. He must have been any price in-running but the horse picked up and kept strongly. Joe said he thought we would have quickened again but it would have taken a fair bit of quickening as Garstin was really motoring. I watched the video replay this afternoon and Joe’s unseat looks horrific from the casual punters point of view as you can’t see the swerve. I was stood in the inside of the course and can assure you the horse swerved. Nevertheless, I still think Garstin would have beaten us.
One thing we learned from Saturday as that the horse has to be held up until after the last. He appears to be quirkier than last year. I still rate him as highly as Broken Eagle but you wouldn’t have thought that on the weekend’s evidence!
After what happened on Saturday with him, we remembered what he did at Mollington last year. Two out he looked like he was going to win by ten lengths and only just held on. I’m not sure if it’s dossing or if he doesn’t get the trip. I’d love to run him somewhere like Cottenham where you can sit, sit, sit. You jump the last and it’s still a hell of a run-in at Cottenham which would suit him. The only trouble is finding a race for him because I’ve got about three horses for the Open there!
We looked into going for the Novice Hunter Chase at Leicester with him but it appears to be the only race in the calendar apart from the John Corbet that you can’t run in if you’ve won a Bumper! You can win a Bumper and run in a Restricted but you can’t run in a Novice Hunter Chase! Very odd!