All the rain we’ve had over the last week means that conditions should be perfect at Chepstow on Friday. It’s a meeting I always like to target because for me it signals the start of the core jumps season.
We have more horses at Ditcheat than ever before this time. Most of them returned into training early in July, they look great in their coats, have done plenty and are ready to go.
A year ago after a quiet summer with less runners than usual we’d had only five winners by the start of October and lay 23rd in the trainers’ table. This time we’ve already managed 18 winners and are riding high in the list. Now we are ready to kick on starting with some really interesting runners over the next three days.
Well-handicapped 4yo set for a good run
14:10 – Thyme White
He is a nice horse who did well last season on flat tracks winning the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh in February and then wasn’t suited by the undulations at Cheltenham where he was a bit below par in the Boodles Hurdle. He is a much improved model of a horse this autumn after his summer holiday and given his mark of 132 I’d say he looks the best handicapped of our four-year-olds. Thyme White is very fit, has done lots of work and I’m hopeful of a good run, though he wouldn’t want it too soft at Chepstow.
Plenty of schooling experience and she should run well
14:45 – Kilmington Rose
She Is a very nice mare who had one run in a bumper last season on heavy ground at Taunton which definitely would not have suited her. Even so she made up a lot of ground and flew at the end to be second to a smart mare of Anthony Honeyball’s called Coquelicot. Kilmington Rose will have learned plenty from the experience, has a lovely pedigree, and jumps great as she has been schooling for two years. While I expect her to run well she will will improve for the race. I’d love her to do well this season as she is owned by Henry Pelham who I used to ride for in my days with Josh Gifford.
World Hurdle hopes down the line for McFabulous
15:15 – McFabulous
I had this race in mind for McFabulous once I knew that, because of Covid, the rules had been changed to allow novices who didn’t win before February 1 could remain novices until December 1. It is a golden gift for a horse of his class to be running in a Grade 2 event like this.
It is fair to say he took his time to get the hang of jumping hurdles early last season and he even fell once at home. He was beaten at Chepstow and hated the ground at Ascot where he wasn’t quite right. Then he turned a corner, won nicely at Market Rasen which qualified him for the EBF Final which he won in style where he jumped brilliantly.
He is a bigger, better, stronger horse now, has grown up and I’d like to think he is on the fringe of being a World Hurdle horse, as mentioned in my recent Stable Tour for Betfair. If he wins at Chepstow as I hope he’ll go next for the Grade 2 long distance hurdle at Newbury. If he is beaten then he’ll be off to Haydock for a £100,000 handicap hurdle.
Looks the one they have to beat
15:50 – Flic Ou Voyou
He was only just beaten in this race a year ago by a useful horse of Colin Tizzard’s and though I had high hopes for him afterwards he couldn’t quite manage to win a race which was disappointing. But to be fair he is a big horse who has needed time and we have also tinkered with his wind. He looks the one they have to beat at Chepstow before he goes chasing.
Looking fantastic and should run a tidy race
16:25 – Bravemansgame
He is a big, strong, staying type who won his only Point-to-Point in Ireland and would have preferred better ground than he encountered in two starts last winter. Even so there was plenty of promise in his two starts at Ascot in decent company. He needed a bit of time, we did his wind over the summer, he is still only five, looks fantastic, has done lots of schooling and I expect him to run tidily at Chepstow. Bravemansgame does want further than the two miles of his race but this is a good starting point and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t progress over the next few months.
More of a stepping stone to the Badger Ales Trophy
16:55 – Present Man
He is a dual winner of the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton but didn’t run his race back at the same course when he tried for the-trick last November. The deep ground was against him that day and for the rest of the winter which is why he wasn’t seen out again although he was ready to go again in the spring until racing was called off. I suspect Present Man wasn’t quite right last season but he is bouncing now, has done lots of work and running in Veterans races like this should be more his cup of tea, but his handicap mark of 144 Is high enough. The idea is to run here then head to Wincanton again for the Badger Ales Trophy.
Potential to be an exciter chaser for us
17:25 – Enrilo
He is a lovely horse who won twice last season including a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Sandown where he stayed on strongly. I ran him too soon next time and then the season was over. Enrilo is another of mine who has had a wind op over the summer and I’ve always thought he would make a smashing chaser. He is an athletic, exuberant horse horse who has the potential to be an exciting chaser.
We caught up with Paul for an exclusive start of season stable tour on the Racing…Only Bettor podcast. Listen here…