We are sending four to Cottenham on Saturday. Consigliere goes in the Open. I’ve just got back from a race planning meeting with Minty and he tells me Now Ben runs, so we’ll be trying to turn the tables with him. Andrew Barlow tells me Brackloon High definitely runs too so it’ll be a good little Open. I imagine they will make Now Ben hot favourite as he still gets a 7lb pull on us and he trounced us by ten lengths at the last meeting. Brackloon High won last time and had a real tussle with Harbour Court there last year and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the outsider of three in the market.
I wouldn’t say he’s in the form of his life but I want to run him now because I want to go to Kingston Blount with him. We know there were problems last time as he came home with pulled back muscles but we think he’s over them now. I think we’ll ride him differently on Saturday. Joe got such a great feel off him on the first day of the season on faster ground but the other day I think Joe was too protective. This time we’ll sit a bit handier and try and serve it up. We’ve got to go more ‘gloves-off’, more like when he beat Brackloon High at Kimble last year. He certainly runs his better races when he’s able to dictate over the last mile.
According To Sarah will run in the Ladies Open for Victoria. We’re going to put cheekpieces on her and hopefully she’ll like the ground. It will be another valuable ride for Victoria in her campaign because it’s going to be a hot Ladies race. She’ll be up against Cottage Oak, Can Mestret, It Was Me and Sagalyrique. We’ve got no chance of winning but it’ll be a fast, competitive race and will give her a feel like she’ll get at Cheltenham. It will do her the world of good to ride in this quicker races. If she jumps off in the first four and goes on to be beaten 30 lengths, we’ll be delighted.
The rumour seems to be they’ll divide the Maiden. Cara Carlotta will run if it doesn’t pour with rain. Lucy is coming in to school her tomorrow and we’re going to pop a tongue-tie on. I think we’re back to the drawing board of the first day of the season in that we’ll try and creep round and finish in the four.
Velvet Cognac, on his hurdling form, ought to win but will need to wake up on how he’s been at home. He schools OK but he’s looked average on the gallops. We’ll put a tongue-tie on him and I think it’s going to be a case of Joe bouncing him out in front and making his experience tell. He’s a 115 hurdler and if he shows that form he should win but I’ve been very disappointed with him at home. We’ll have to see what happens on Saturday. He’s run his best races over two and a half miles at places like Wincanton and Cottenham, being an easy three miles, ticks the boxes.
Chaddesley is off on Sunday so Victoria will ride at Barbury in the novice riders. If the ground stays good, she’ll ride Working Title again. He hated the ground last week and pulled himself up in it. Sam has quite kindly said she could ride him but if it’s wet, she’ll ride Supreme Danehill. It’s very important to get her out on the track again and she should be competitive on either horse.
I go to Charing on Sunday with two interesting ones. Hunters Lodge runs for the first time since joining us. Gareth Henderson, a very enthusiastic owner/rider, will ride him over 3m 4f. He’s been here since Christmas time.
I have bought Alf Wright for Susannah Gill to ride as Alpha Native has suffered a setback this season. He’s a buzzy little horse and has come from Tracey Bailey. Nick Sutton, who previously owned him, had picked out this race at the start of the season for him and we’ve carried out their idea by entering him in it. He’s keen at home but I think he’ll settle on a racecourse. We’ve only had him since Monday but he’s fit and ready to go. He ran a good race at Uttoxeter in October and I think 2m 4f round Charing will be perfect for him.
People keep asking me ‘where are all the Open horses’ so it was interesting to see 45 horses entered in one at Barbury on Sunday! I think Cottenham will be good racing, with a very hot Intermediate, and we’re spoiled for choice on Sunday.