With next to no dabbling in summer jumping this year it was a quiet few months down Ditcheat way. “I even heard some of the press muttering something must be wrong,” laughs Paul Nicholls. But during that time he told anyone within earshot he planned to roar back into action come the two-day meeting at Chepstow in October and the ten-time champion was true to his word. He sent out four winners at what used to be regarded as the start of the winter season.
A healthy flow of winners since then points to another golden November, which is traditionally the stable’s strongest time of year. His winning tally for that month in the last five seasons reads: 17-24-19-28-20. That averages out at two winners every three days during each November day since 2013, and the trainer is hopeful of maintaining the sequence “provided we get plenty of rain soon”.
The yard was dealt a “massive blow” last week with the news that Master Tommytucker, rated by his trainer “one of the most talented horses we’ve had here since the days of Kauto Star”, is out for the season after sustaining a couple of hairline fractures to his off-fore knee in a fall at Chepstow.
Nicholls still looks strong in the novice chase department, with the likes of Captain Cattistock, Djingle, Dynamite Dollars, Envoye Special, Mont Des Avaloirs, Movewiththetimes, Topofthegame and Secret Investor all possessing the potential to be competitive at Graded level.
Yard Manor Farm Stables
Where Ditcheat, Somerset
Second yard Highbridge Farm, Alhampton, Somerset
Started training October 19, 1991
Horses in yard 128
Members of staff 50
Head lad Clifford Baker
Assistant trainer Harry Derham
Assistant head lad David Rochestera
Pupil assistant trainer Natalie Parker
Assistant head lass Rose Loxton
Travelling head lass Kate Nutt
Assistant travelling head lass Trudie Smith
Jockeys Harry Cobden, Sam Twiston-Davies, Sean Bowen, Nick Scholfield
Conditionals Bryony Frost, Lorcan Williams, Alex Thorne
Amateurs Will Biddick, Bryan Carver, Matt Hampton, Natalie Parker, Harriet Tucker
PA Hannah Roche, Sarah West
Finance Lina Chadburn
Stable sponsor Morson Group
WINNERS IN BRITAIN
PROFIT/LOSS TO £1 STAKE
Pedigree: six-year-old gelding
Califet (sire) – Santariyka (dam)
Owner: Mrs Johnny de la Hey
Form figures: 13232F-
Racing Post Rating: 148 chase; Official rating 144 chase
Ran to a consistent level of form last season without adding to his Fontwell win, but the small-field novice chases he was contesting didn’t play to his strengths, as he can be quite keen in his races and wasn’t getting enough cover. I hope he’ll be better suited by fast-run handicaps where they go a good gallop, you can drop him in and then creep into the race. He’ll be entered for all the decent handicaps from 2m4f upwards, starting at Ascot next month when we’ll try him over 3m. Probably doesn’t want the ground too soft.
6g Azamour – Umthoulah
RPR 139c OR 137c
Decent fun horse. Had a busy old time of it last season but held his form well over hurdles before switching to fences in May, when he was a bit nervous early on at Kempton but did the job nicely in the end. Returned from a well-earned break in a novices’ handicap at Ludlow last week and jumped well before coming home alone. He should win more of that type of race.
8g Policy Maker – Modeva
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 159c OR 148c
Being handicapped right up to his best has left him increasingly hard to place in the last two seasons, but he showed he’s a smart chaser with cracking runs behind Waiting Patiently at Kempton and Top Notch at Sandown. He disappointed me at Chepstow the other day when I thought he’d go well, after which we made a plea to the handicapper, asking him to give the horse a chance as he hasn’t won for two years. And what happened? They dropped him one pound! I was bitterly disappointed, to put it mildly. What good will that do? Horses should be handicapped to allow them the opportunity to win races. He’s best fresh, wants quick ground, is better on a flat track and when he gets the right conditions deserves to win a nice prize.
If I could sum up last season in one word . . .
4g Redoute’s Choice – Ashalanda
0/51-325 (Flat form)
RPR 99 Flat
A recent arrival, he was a winner on the Flat in France for the Aga Khan. I hope he’s a decent prospect for novice hurdles later in the season.
4g Fame And Glory – Ask Helen
Colm Donlon & Paul Barber
1 (point-to-point form)
RPR 94 (point)
Exciting prospect but very much a chaser of the future. The impressive winner of his only start in a maiden point-to-point in Ireland, he was very lean and light – quite sick actually – when he arrived here. But after a summer in Mr Barber’s field in front of his house he looks fantastic and is doing nothing but please me. We’re not rushing him, so he won’t be out in novice hurdles until after Christmas.
3g Footstepsinthesand – Valamareha
935135 (Flat form)
RPR 93 (Flat)
Consistent on the Flat for Richard Hannon. We started schooling him and found he was making a noise, so he’s been off for a wind op and been gelded. He’ll be juvenile hurdling after Christmas.
4g Sir Prancealot – Cute
RPR 99 Flat
Potentially a very interesting novice hurdler. We got him from John Oxx a year ago and he has since run three good races on the Flat. Likes a bit of cut and the ground was plenty quick enough when he was beaten at Haydock last time. We recently had his palate re-cauterised and he’s the type to go well in a big handicap on the Flat, so we’re aiming him at the November Handicap before going jumping. He’s a great work horse and I can’t wait to see him go hurdling.
7g Laverock – Pour Le Meilleur
The Brooks, Stewart families & Jeremy Kyle
RPR 160c OR 153c
How can I describe him? He was amazing last season, a revelation. I wonder how many horses win eight times in their first season over fences. Arguably he was a bit unlucky not to have made it ten. When it came to the festival he made the running in the RSA and all that did was set things up for the others. So we deliberately changed tactics at Aintree and, although that was one run too many, it showed he can be ridden from off the pace. That’s just as well, because his first big target is the Ladbrokes Trophy, or the old Hennessy, and it would be no good thinking you could win there from the front. For his first run we have three options: the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday if it’s on the quick side, the Champion Chase at Down Royal or the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown. We are under no illusions he has to improve, as it’s going to be tougher this season, but he’s in great shape.
5g Oscar – My Name’s Not Bin
Owners Group 026
6/1- (pointing form)
RPR 91 (point)
Joined us in December having won an Irish point-to-point in impressive style. He was in training in the spring before we turned him away for the summer. Goes novice hurdling and looks as if he’ll stay well.
8g Kayf Tara – Blue Ride
Angela & Bill Tincknell
RPR 142h OR 143h
Came good over hurdles in the spring before having one run too many at the backend. Goes chasing now but needs cut in the ground, so is waiting for rain. Should provide his owners with plenty of fun round the smaller tracks.
7g Epalo – Hot D’Or
Corsellis & Seyfried
RPR 144c OR 135c
Tough and consistent handicap chaser who has officially improved the best part of 30lb in the first year he’s been with us. We upped him in grade in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and he ran a blinder off a feather weight, after which he suffered a setback that kept him off four months. Since having a wind op over the summer he’s been hard to get fit, as per usual, and I knew he’d need the run at Cheltenham on Saturday. On decent ground he should do okay in staying handicaps at his own level.
7g Crillon – Las De La Croix
RPR 145h, 124c OR 132h, 130c
Bit frustrating as he should have won over fences by now but things didn’t happen for him last season. His work suggests he wants 3m but his form says he wants shorter. Ought to be winning novice chases.
7g Dom Alco – Cadoulie Wood
The Gi Gi Syndicate
RPR 128c OR 145c
I was really looking forward to seeing how far he could go as a novice chaser but he suffered a tendon injury after making a winning debut at Carlisle. Has just started cantering and will be ready after Christmas, when we’ll find a graduation chase somewhere for a bit more experience. Hopefully he can progress from there. Isn’t the easiest to get fit.
6g Poliglote – Neiland
RPR 129c OR 127c
Went chasing over the summer and is up to winning over fences before having a winter break.
6g Montmartre – Patte De Velour
Martin Broughton & Friends 2
RPR 156c, 142h OR 149c, 134h
He looked such an exciting prospect at Market Rasen last autumn, but after a fall in the Henry VIII he completely lost his confidence. Back problems plagued him from then on and he had surgery a few months ago for kissing spines. We’ve done plenty of dressage to build up his strength again and he’s definitely on the way back. I’ve got my eye on a fifty-grand 2m graduation chase at Carlisle next month. His chase handicap mark looks stiff but he’s attractively weighted over hurdles.
6g Buck’s Boum – Ombre Jaune
Donlon & Doyle
RPR 132c OR 124c
His race record tells the story – he’s been frustrating. A couple of times he has looked like winning but he’s gone and idled in front. Although we’ve run him on soft I think he wants better ground. Was a bit unlucky in running at Wincanton the other day and should win small races.
5g Black Sam Bellamy – Pearl Buttons
RPR 143h OR 138h
Lovely prospect for novice chases. He’s won three times over hurdles – unlucky not to make it four – and ran a tidy race at Chepstow this month on ground that was too lively; the rain came a day too late for him. Jumps fences well – he won a point-to-point for Jack Barber in his younger days – but before going chasing I want to run him in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock. Those brushes obstacles and the likely soft ground will suit him.
Race in focus
I’m in a dilemma whether to stay over hurdles a bit longer with Captain Cattistock or go over fences. The Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock on November 24 offers the ideal solution. He’ll love those brush obstacles and the likely soft ground, so that’s where we’ll head with him.
6g Voix Du Nord – Quaska D’Airy
Ged Mason & Sir Alex Ferguson
RPR 112h OR –
The story so far has been one of frustration and heartbreak for his connections. He came over from France two years ago having shown a lot of promise, but twice succumbed to the same tendon injury and has missed two seasons. He’s obviously very fragile, but if we can keep him right and get him on the track – the signs are looking good at the moment – he’s well up to winning races over hurdles on soft ground. He has bags of ability.
5g Laveron – Chamanka
Done, Ferguson, Fogg & Mason
RPR 135c OR 145c
Bit of a dark horse, but don’t write him off. Came from France with an impossibly high handicap mark two years ago and as he’s been so big and backward we have just bided our time with him. A few niggling problems restricted him to one run last season and so we left off him. Has done well physically for the break and would have been second at Chepstow this month but for falling. He’ll be okay.
6g Kapgarde – Nausicaa Des Obeaux
Mr & Mrs Paul Barber, Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson
RPR 164c OR 157c
I hope he’ll be a star for us this season. Provided there’s cut in the ground, it has always been our plan to start off in the Charlie Hall on Saturday, as he hasn’t won a Grade 1 so gets in with no penalties. Alternatively, he’s in the Champion Chase at Down Royal the same day, or we could go straight to the Betfair Chase at Haydock. Last season he’d thrown a splint after Christmas, causing him to miss Cheltenham, and considering he went to Aintree off the back of a rushed preparation he ran a blinder to be third to Might Bite in the Grade 1 Bowl. On that form he has 10lb to make up on Might Bite, but that’s not so much when you consider he wasn’t as fit as we would have liked. It’s easy to forget he’s still only six, with few miles on the clock, and he remains an exciting prospect. Doing very well physically.
5g Canford Cliffs – Basanti
Mr & Mrs John Cotton
RPR 138h OR 140h
He’s been a legend for us, over hurdles and on the Flat. Came back late last season when returning from injury and in hindsight it was a waste of time running in the Kingwell Hurdle as the ground was much too soft. So we kept him for the Flat and he’s won three times. His mark shot up after he bolted in by 12 lengths at Haydock, but he has continued to run well since. We’ll switch back to jumping now and start by looking at the Greatwood, but he must have decent ground. Off 140 he looks attractively handicapped.
6g Enrique – Toque Rouge
Kyle, Stewart, Vogt & Wylie
RPR 145c OR 130c
I’ve always thought a lot of him but he was frustrating last season, when he’d travel well but not find a great deal. We found he had an entrapped epiglottis, which basically meant he couldn’t breathe, so he’s had surgery and delighted me at Kempton eight days ago, where he jumped brilliant and galloped all the way to the line. Could reappear in the Listed 2m4f handicap at Wetherby on Friday, after which we’ll consider the BetVictor Gold Cup. His promising career is now firmly back on track.
6g Buck’s Boum – Castagnette
RPR 133h OR 134h
Likes good ground and showed winning form over hurdles when we took him up to Musselburgh in search of livelier conditions. Had a minor setback three weeks ago but is fine now and goes chasing round the smaller tracks, where distances around 2m4f should suit.
6g Nickname – Narquille
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 162c OR 150c
I love him and he’s one of my favourites. This time last year I was tearing my hair out as he was so keen, both at home and on the track. He was almost unrideable. But I kept on saying to the owner, “I promise you he’s potentially a smart horse”. And then we put him over fences and the penny finally dropped. He bolted up on his debut, having settled nicely, and hasn’t looked back. He won two Grade 2s, wasn’t beaten far in a Grade 1 and is a different animal – a proper horse now. He’s slightly better right-handed and could reappear on Saturday in the intermediate chase at Down Royal that we won about seven years on the trot, or the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle. After that, those Graded chases at Ascot and Huntingdon might suit.
6g Dansant – Aahsaypasty
Mr & Mrs Paul Barber, D Bennett & D Martin
RPR 126h OR 132h
Picked up a small injury in January, which was a pity as he was just starting to get the hang of things in the jumping department. He’d been a slow learner but two Taunton novice hurdle wins showed he was going the right way. Only came back into training in September and won’t be out until after Christmas, when we’ll go chasing. He won three point-to-points despite some novicey jumping.
5g Scorpion – Sainte Baronne
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 108 bumper
Was impressive on his first two starts, in an Irish point and a bumper at Kempton. Clifford [Baker] and I were in two minds whether to run him again and I’m still kicking myself for taking him up to Aintree. He looked so light when I saw him in the paddock I knew it was a big mistake and he ran no sort of race. We have to put a line through that and he remains a high-class prospect for novice hurdles. Did really well for a summer break – he must have come back 50kg heavier – but he’s a big individual who still needs to fill into his frame, so we need to mind him. Should be ready in about a month’s time.
5g Getaway – Lakil Princess
P1- (point form)
RPR 89 (point)
Old-fashioned chasing type, bought by Tom Malone at the Punchestown sales in April having won a point-to-point days earlier. Has a tough and athletic way about him and is up to winning a 3m maiden hurdle before coming into his own over fences in a year’s time.
5m Dansant – Screen Idol
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Danse Idol
Another exciting mare for Highclere, she hasn’t done much wrong and looks a smart novice hurdle prospect. After winning her maiden point she had the misfortune to run up against the subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Relegate in a Punchestown bumper.
3f Frankel – Hurry Home Hillary
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
Won twice on the Flat in France before making a successful hurdling debut at Bordeaux in September for Guillaume Macaire. Hasn’t been here long but looks a nice filly.
3g Mastercraftsman – Bernie’s Moon
We bought him after he’d made a winning hurdling debut at Vichy in France in September. He looks a big, chasing type but will be juvenile hurdling this season.
5g Flemensfirth – Denwoman
Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson & Mr & Mrs Paul Barber
As his name suggests he’s from the family of Denman and patience is the name of the game with this one. Since day one he’s been a big, backward individual who has needed plenty of time. We hadn’t been hard on him at home before he got a bit tired on his first run in a bumper. I should probably have put him away after that but we ran him again when he was too free. Goes novice hurdling and will improve for his first run.
Rival to watch
Simple, it has to be Nicky Henderson, because he has the best team of horses.
6g Ballingarry – Daramour
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 164c OR 157c
Smart chaser who possesses loads of pace. He suffered a career-threatening injury in the autumn but made it back and put up easily his best performance when winning the Grade 1 2m novice chase at Aintree. The Haldon Gold Cup a week tomorrow has always been our first target and then he’ll hopefully work his way up through the top handicaps. Loves to be fresh.
5g Della Francesca – Mofa Bere
RPR 146h OR 138h
Was struggling with his breathing last season, so had a soft-palate operation and showed the benefit when winning on the Flat this month. Although not the biggest in the world we’re going over fences with him; before that I’ll look for a decent handicap hurdle somewhere. Needs good ground.
5g Voix Du Nord – Jourie
RPR 136h OR –
Came from France with decent form at Auteuil but he arrived looking lean and light and when we took him to Exeter for a Listed novice hurdle I said to the owner, “He’ll either win or be pulled up”. I wasn’t far wrong, as he beat one home. That so often happens with horses who come from France later in the season; they simply don’t acclimatise and you might just as well leave them alone. Looks a different animal now, though is still a bit fresh and keen in his work, and we’ll look for a novice chase in a week or so. I like him.
5g Kapgarde – Redowa
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 155c OR 152c
Struggled a bit on the soft ground last winter, but showed good placed form in decent company. As he’s won just the once over fences he’s eligible for graduation/intermediate chases and went for one at Newton Abbot this month, where he ran close to a career-best on ground that turned against him, behind a winner who received a brilliant tactical ride. He’s tough and genuine and will definitely pay his way.
4g Jeremy – Guydus
Million In Mind Racing Partnership
Landed his bumper for Stuart Crawford in gutsy fashion. Didn’t beat a great deal when making a winning debut over hurdles last week but got the job done nicely and should give the Million In Mind syndicate plenty of fun through the season.
5g Buck’s Boum – Macadoun
RPR 146c OR 146c
I always rated him a lovely prospect for novice chases and he was awesome on his debut at Market Rasen this month – I was thrilled with him. He’d held his form well in his novice hurdle season despite racing on unsuitably soft ground, as ideally he wants it decent, but always looked the sort to leave his rating well behind once going over fences. Although he’ll get further than 2m, we might now have a look at the Grade 2 Arkle trial at Cheltenham’s November meeting.
4g Al Namix – Quarline De L’Ecu
A lot of our youngsters failed to make it to the track for one reason or another in the spring; this one did and he showed promise in a bumper despite running too free. The winner has since boosted the form. Goes novice hurdling in the next month.
4g Muhtathir – Royale The Best
The Brooks, Stewart families & Jeremy Kyle
RPR 91 (point)
By the same sire as Pacha Du Polder, he won a couple of Irish maiden point-to-points in May before we bought him at the Tatts Ireland Cheltenham May sale. He’s done everything nicely and is ready to run, but we need some rain first. Like a lot of the youngsters, he’ll improve for a run.
3g Maxios – Enjoy The Life
46160 (Flat form)
RPR 98 Flat
I find it harder and harder nowadays to get hold of potentially decent juvenile hurdlers but I hope we might have found one here. He arrived at the end of August, having shown decent form on the Flat in Germany. After running away with his maiden, he ran well in a Group 2, on the back of which he started fourth favourite for their Derby, where he ran down the field. He’s just been gelded and we’re still learning about him, but he’s clearly an exciting prospect for juvenile hurdles in the new year.
7g Milan – Bonnie Parker
Colm Donlon, Barry Fulton, Chris Giles
RPR 143c OR 141c
I really like this one. Won his only start over fences the May before last but came back a bit jarred up and had the rest of the season off. Obviously lacks experience but I think he could be quite nicely handicapped, so the plan is to start off in the Badger Ales Chase, although we desperately need rain. I think really highly of this horse and he’ll be entered for good staying chases like the Ladbrokes Trophy.
4g Buck’s Boum – Rock Treasure
Martin Broughton & Friends 4
Cost a fair bit but has a nice pedigree. Overcame greenness when making a winning debut in a Worcester bumper last week. He’s still a big baby who will improve a lot from that, but we’ll mind him this season.
4g Coastal Path – Santa Bamba
Stewart, Brooks, Kyle & Mason
RPR 127c OR –
Came over from France in the spring and we’re really beginning to like him. He’d been second on both chase starts in France, after running too free each time and being the best part of 20 lengths clear at one stage. Keen and light when he first arrived, he looks twice the size now. He has a great pedigree, being a half-brother to French champion hurdler De Bon Coeur, and is a lovely prospect. Still needs to settle a bit better to fulfil his potential and, having recently had his palate re-cauterised, he won’t be ready for another month or so.
4g Martaline – Sauves La Reine
We bought him after he won an all-weather bumper in the west of France in July. He had six weeks out in the field after he arrived and came back in a bit later than the others. Looks a fine future chasing prospect but will be novice hurdling this season.
6g Buck’s Boum – Sangrilla
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 135c OR 131c
Has been frustrating in that he’s never really translated his smart French form to this country, but at long last he seems to be getting there. For whatever reason it hasn’t happened for him, it may be that he’s been just slow to mature. Wins at Kempton and Fontwell suggest the penny is starting to drop and I hope he can continue to improve at his own level. He wants decent ground and a trip and doesn’t want to be running round the big tracks. Working very nicely at present.
4g Kapgarde – Hillflower
I’ve always liked him but I was disappointed by his only bumper run as he’d been working well at home. I’d been struggling to put my finger on why he ran so moderately and then he made a noise at home, so he’s had a breathing operation over the summer. I hope he can now show his ability in novice hurdles.
3g Walk In The Park – Mandchou
Gordon and Su Hall
Showed ability in both his outings over hurdles in the French provinces this summer and joins our juvenile squad. He’s just started cantering after a month out in the field and still looks quite big and backward, so I’m in no rush with him.
6g Nickname – Miss Country
RPR 173c OR 158c
For winning a whole heap of races two seasons ago, this tough individual found himself handicapped to the hilt last winter. He’s not quite Grade 1 standard but still showed he’s very smart on his day and returned to put up a career-best effort when winning the Old Roan at Aintree yesterday. I was thrilled with that and despite all the racing he’s had he’s clearly still improving.
5g Getaway – Acinorev
Owners Group 023
Joined us midway through last season after winning an Irish point. He pulled much too hard on his first run for us at Kempton, getting a bit tired having looked like winning turning in, and then it was a waste of time running him on the heavy ground at Wincanton. Goes novice hurdling.
8g Presenting – Copper Supreme
Done, Ferguson, Kyle, Mason & Wood
RPR 144c OR 146c
I love this horse to bits. He came back a bit jarred up after his win over fences at Kempton last autumn, so we were forced to draw stumps. We’ve played a patient game with him all along but I hope it will be rewarded as he’s a huge talent who can win a big one somewhere down the line. Will be ready sometime after Christmas, when the Cotswold Chase would be a possibility. Despite his lack of chasing experience he’ll probably get a Grand National entry.
4g Diamond Boy – La Courtille
Martin Broughton Racing Partners
RPR 129h OR 130h
Travelled well in his races last season but didn’t get home. As so often happens in those circumstances we discovered he had a breathing problem, so we got that sorted. Has looked much more relaxed this season and after winning at Chepstow I may have run him again a bit quick at Kempton, although time may tell he ran into a good one. Should definitely win again.
4g Great Pretender – Manson Teene
Came over from France more than a year ago having shown a lot of promise in a race that worked out well. He suffered a small tendon injury, so we put him away for a year. He’s on the way back and I’m looking forward to seeing him in a maiden hurdle.
5g Turgeon – Bella Eria
The Stewart family
Won a point-to-point for Rose Loxton in April, although the form was probably nothing to write home about. Following a run at Kempton the other day we need to get him handicapped and then go chasing.
7g Blue Bresil – Dona Du Rheu
John and Lisa Hales
RPR 150c OR 139c
It’s amazing to think he’s been chasing for two years but has yet to win over fences. He’s been placed stacks of times and it’s just a matter of time before he clicks. He came back in late and then had various little problems last season, so we never got a clear run with him and things didn’t go to plan. This time he’s come back earlier and as per usual he’s proving quite hard to get fit. We’ll find a beginners’ chase somewhere and work our way up from there, and I’m confident there’s more to come from him.
6m Mahler – De Lissa
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing If You Say Run
RPR 132h OR 131h
Another exciting mare for Highclere. She held her form well as a novice hurdler and you can forget her last run as she was over the top. We’ve recently had her palate re-cauterised and I’m looking at two options: a mares’ novice chase at Fontwell a week on Friday or a valuable mares’ handicap hurdle at Wincanton the following day.
5g Kapgarde – Angesse
RPR 131c, 110h OR 128c, 123h
Was big and backward when joining us from France, and although I liked him from day one he ran just okay over hurdles, still too green to do himself justice. We switched him to fences at Bangor in April just for a bit of experience and his victory took us by surprise. He’ll be ready any day now and we have the option of switching back to hurdles.
7g Blue Bresil – Abu Dhabi
RPR 161c, 152h OR 156c, 152h
Following a couple of near-misses in the autumn he came good in the Grand Annual, where a fast-run race over 2m obviously suited him. I still think he’s every bit as effective over 2m4f. He starts the season on a career-high and life won’t be so easy from now on, so we went back over hurdles for his first run and he ran a tidy race at Ffos Las. He’ll get entries in all the big handicap chases.
3f Cokoriko – Mona Vassy
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 88 Flat
She’d won her first two starts on the Flat in the south of France before finishing third in a Listed fillies’ event at Saint-Cloud. As she’s not the biggest in the world we wanted to make sure she could jump, so Harry Cobden went over to France one morning to school her before we bought her. She’s really quick at her obstacles and ready to roll.
4g Saint Des Saints – Magic Poline
Mr and Mrs John Cotton
RPR 134c OR 145c
Very interesting arrival from France. Only four, he’s already won four times at Auteuil, twice over hurdles and twice over fences, and we’re lucky to have him. He reminds me of Unioniste, who had very good form over fences as a four-year-old. Chasers of that age still have a useful allowance in handicaps this side of Christmas and we’ll do our best to take advantage of that. I’ll enter him for the BetVictor Gold Cup and hope we might sneak in off a low weight. I’m still getting to know him but everything I’ve seen suggests he’s a really nice prospect. I suspect he’ll want some cut and he should stay well.
6g Martaline – Noche
Brooks, Felton, Stewart & Vogt
RPR 126h, OR 126h
Patience has been the name of the game with this one. He’d been off the track the best part of two years before winning a handicap hurdle at Fontwell in March, and then he got injured again. The frustrating thing is they’ve all been niggling problems, nothing major. After the latest setback he had surgery on his off-hind hock in the summer; now we have to keep him in one piece and hope he has a clear run when going novice chasing once there’s cut in the ground.
4f Martaline – Clarte D’Or
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 131h OR 141h
Tough individual with loads of ability. As a three-time juvenile winner over hurdles she had quite a hard season but has come back having done really well for a break. We plan to take her to Auteuil on November 11 for the Prix Renaud du Vivier, worth an awful lot of money and a race we won five years ago with Ptit Zig. Then she’ll go chasing. Being a four-year-old filly she’ll get all the allowances over fences and we hope to put them to good use.
4g Milan – Rossavon
Comes from a good family, as he’s a half-brother to Waiting Patiently. I’ve always liked him and he could be smart. Ran a bit green on his bumper debut at Chepstow this month but when Harry [Cobden] gave him a couple of smacks he took off. We haven’t decided yet as a team where to go next. We might look at the bumper at Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting, and depending on what happened there he could stay down that route all season, or we could go novice hurdling.
3g Teofilo – Gearanai
0-31026 (Flat form)
RPR 84 Flat
A winner on the Flat for Jim Bolger, we bought him at Goffs in September and he’ll be a dual-purpose horse for us. He’s just been gelded, so he’ll be out after Christmas.
6g Azamour – Moonlight Danceuse
Owners Group 014
RPR 140h, 118c OR 134h, 125c
So tough and versatile, he’s now won nine times for us on the Flat and over hurdles. When he returns sometime next month we have the option of going hurdling or chasing and he’s likely to mix and match. Must have soft ground nowadays.
8g Motivator – Alessandra
RPR 156c OR 146c
Smart chaser, for whom decent ground is pretty much essential. Won three chases in his first season over fences but struggled in the conditions at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals. Back on a livelier surface I knew there would be a nice prize in him and he duly bagged one on Saturday. He’ll be entered in all the valuable handicaps but there are no specific targets.
5g Blue Bresil – Abu Dhabi
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 140c OR –
Brother to Le Prezien but has much more physical scope than him. Did well as a novice hurdler considering we had babyish issues with him and he’s still got a lot of growing up to do. Bumped into an impressive winner on his chasing debut at Newton Abbot, a track that didn’t suit him, but didn’t jump with fluency and we need to work on that. We also need to nurture him and give him time to fulfil his undoubted potential.
7g Presenting – Dare To Venture
RPR 145c OR 140c
I still don’t quite understand why he failed to win over fences last winter, although he was placed in smart company and is at least a novice for this season. We aimed him at one of the handicaps at the festival but he didn’t jump particularly well. We’ll start low down in a beginners’ chase somewhere and gradually build up his confidence. He’s working very well and I can see him progressing through the season.
4g Martaline – Royale Majesty
McNeill family and Chris Giles
RPR 122h 141c OR –
Really exciting newcomer from France. Although still a maiden after six starts, all at Auteuil, he has some smart form over hurdles and fences. On his last two starts he was racing against the best chasers of his age group in France and his five-length second to the brilliant Whetstone, conceding the winner 9lb, was made to look even better when Whetsone went on to become the champion four-year-old chaser. He reminds me very much of Noland and Al Ferof, not electric at home but a real galloper who jumps great. He’ll stick to hurdling this season, starting low down, but I’d like to think we could end up at Cheltenham come the spring.
7g Notnowcato – Dolma
The Brooks, Stewart families & Jeremy Kyle
RPR 159h OR 153h
Has been an amazing servant over the years and we love him to bits. Has been slower than usual to come to hand this autumn and his decent run at Kempton the other day will have sharpened him up nicely for his first real target, the 3m Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday. Later on he’ll go for similar races to last season, although we could try chasing. He didn’t seem to enjoy the experience two years ago but we might explore that option again.
7g Westerner – Love Train
RPR 133c OR 126c
Sustained a minor fracture the season before last, so he came back in late this time last year and we only got two runs into him over fences. Caught us unawares when running too free and enthusiastically at Newton Abbot and Wincanton. A horse who takes a lot of getting fit, he’s back in earlier this time and we took him to Worcester last week where he pulled himself up. Should win round the smaller tracks.
11g Muhtathir – Ambri Piotta
The Stewart family
RPR 154c OR 139c
Our team of hunter chasers comprises Binge Drinker, Southfield Vic, Unioniste, Wonderful Charm, Emerging Talent, Silsol and the star of the show, Pacha Du Polder. He’s been a real legend and is such a favourite with everyone in the yard. His victory under Harriet Tucker in the Foxhunter was a special day for all of us, and after a nice long holiday he’s in work again and all roads will lead back to Cheltenham to see if he can win it for a third time, on the back of one prep run beforehand. After the festival he’ll be retired. Harriet hopes to be fit again to ride, having had surgery on her shoulder over the summer.
6g Authorized – Bayourida
Mr & Mrs Mark Woodhouse
RPR 129h OR 130h
It was a shame he sustained a small injury last autumn after his huge effort in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, a race that worked out amazingly well. He’s on the way back but won’t be ready until around Christmas, so it might be sensible to stick to hurdling this winter and follow the sort of route Topofthegame took last season. He’s definitely handicapped to win races.
6g Rail Link – Posteritas
Martin Broughton & Friends 3
RPR 133h OR 132h
We were getting him ready for a crack at the Cesarewitch 12 months ago when a warning light started flashing, so we left off him for the winter. He’d been busy for a couple of seasons, on the Flat and over hurdles, so the break will have done him good. He’s ready to run and will have one or two outings over hurdles and then go novice chasing. I don’t suppose too many Rail Links have jumped fences, so let’s hope that’s not an issue.
7g Poliglote – Scarlet Row
John and Lisa Hales
RPR 173c OR 168c
Undoubtedly our star of last season, when his four victories included two Grade 1s. When he gave us our tenth victory in the Tingle Creek, that was a very special day. He ran a bit below his best in the Champion Chase, travelling so well before fading. For some reason Cheltenham doesn’t bring out the best in him and he has yet to win there. So we stepped him up in trip to 2m4f in the Melling, put the tongue-tie on and bingo! We’ve always thought of him as a stayer and I’m dying to up him further in trip. We’re open-minded as to his first run; he could step up to 3m in the Betfair Chase, but if all the top chasers ended up at Haydock and the ground was heavy, we might be better off going to Ascot the same day for their valuable 2m5f chase. We’ll then take a view about the King George. I think he’ll get 3m but if he doesn’t there are stacks of good middle-distance chases he can go for. He had a slight setback soon after returning when having to have a fractured tooth removed, but he’s fine now and couldn’t be in better order.
5m Stowaway – Moscow Demon
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Posh Trish
RPR 119h OR 122h
Lovely filly who got her hurdling career off to a perfect start at Chepstow this month. She’ll now go for a valuable mares’ novice hurdle at Newbury on November 8 and if she were to win there I wouldn’t be afraid to take on the boys in something like the Challow Hurdle.
8g Presenting – Glen’s Gale
Mr and Mrs Mark Woodhouse
RPR 152c OR 144c
He was bought by Mark and Tessa Woodhouse specifically to win the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton last November and the dream came true. Job done! Most of the rest of the season was a waste of time on unsuitable soft ground, but he was close to his best when third in the big chase at Sandown on the last day. He’ll start by trying to win the Badger again, and then I’d love to run him over the big fences at Aintree, in either the Becher or the Grand Sefton.
3g Muhtathir – High Destiny
Martin Broughton & Friends
RPR 132h OR –
Successful in a juvenile hurdle at Auteuil in May, he improved from his first run for us to his second, jumping more slickly and mentally sharper at Kempton. We’ll now step up in grade in the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby on Friday and see where we stand. Somewhere down the line we may look to exploit an attractive Flat rating of 66.
3g Lethal Force – Dusty Red
Done, Ferguson, Mason
331119 (Flat form)
RPR 92 Flat
Won three on the Flat for Tom Dascombe this summer. Has taken to jumping straight away and as he doesn’t need gelding he should be out in around a month’s time.
5g Norse Dancer – Fascinatin Rhythm
In all the years I’ve been training I’ve never known a season like the last one. The ground was heavy for much of the time, and then within the space of a week it turned firm. Soft ground didn’t suit this one at all, but when conditions came right in the spring he made all in a bumper. Ran as green as anything on his hurdling debut at Wincanton on Sunday and we can put a line through that effort.
7g Tobougg – Running For Annie
RPR 139c OR 137c
Started well over fences before sustaining a minor pelvic injury when disappointing at Newbury in December; that was enough to keep him off the rest of the season. He’s quite fragile and not the easiest to train, but he’s in good order at the moment and ran a tidy race at Wincanton on Sunday. Should win a race or two.
4g No Risk At All – Rolie De Vindecy
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 119c OR 129c
Decent fun horse. Didn’t appreciate the quick ground on his chasing debut at Newton Abbot. Clearly not top class but will win over fences, on softer ground round the smaller tracks.
6g Saint Des Saints – Salvatrixe
Chris Giles & Dan McDonald
RPR 150c OR 138c
Decent chaser but the key to this horse is he must have decent ground and it was frustrating that we took him three times to Cheltenham last season and on each occasion it came up soft. Possibly better going left-handed on a flat track and should get 3m this season. Had his palate re-cauterised over the summer and ran okay on his return when he might have needed the run more than I thought. There’s a decent race in him somewhere.
4g Saint Des Saints – Ty Mat
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
Something of a dark one, he was very green when making his bumper debut at Wincanton in April. Like with a lot of the youngsters, I’m expecting a lot of improvement from him when he goes novice hurdling.
5g Diamond Green – Matakana
Kathy Stuart & Terry Warner
RPR 123h OR 127h
Had a bit of heat in his leg after his one and only run for us nearly two years ago and has been off since. Formerly big and backward, he’s done well physically for the time out and looks the part now, so we’ll see how he gets on novice chasing. Ready to run and may start in a handicap hurdle first.
7g Layman – Cinco Baidy
RPR 165c OR 155c
After his amazing season the year before last, he was always going to be harder to place last winter and so it proved, although second places in the Haldon Gold Cup and Sandown’s Grade 1 on the final day meant he more than paid for his training fees. Once again he starts on a career-high mark, so we’ll have to place him carefully, bearing in mind bad winter ground doesn’t suit him. Jumped the hurdles like fences when disappointing in the Listed hurdle at Kempton the other day, but that was just a prep for the Haldon Gold Cup in eight days’ time. He’s a bit unpredictable and may have his own ideas about the game nowadays.
7g Milan – Longueville Quest
The Manor Syndicate
RPR 129h OR 125h
He’s had nothing but bad luck in the last 18 months. First he injured a hind fetlock joint at Haydock in May last year, then when he came back from a year off he suffered another setback when making his chasing debut in May. Not being rushed back and when he’s ready he’ll have a run in a handicap hurdle to sharpen him up and then go chasing.
4g Great Pretender – Miss Country
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
RPR 126h OR 124h
I was never completely happy with Frodon’s half-brother last season and he probably wants better ground. He’s been a nightmare as he’s too keen. He’s not unlike Cyrname, who used to pull far too hard, and we’re training him in the same way. He only ever works up our hill; if you let him loose on the flat gallop, you wouldn’t stop him. Scott [Sainsbury], who played a big part in getting Cyrname to settle, now rides Sao every day. One day the penny will drop, and when it does he should step up considerably. He’ll start in a handicap hurdle and then switch to fences.
6g Kayf Tara – Silver Charmer
Hills of Ledbury (Aga)
RPR 146h OR 143h
Having had his palate re-cauterised in the summer, I thought he’d just need the run in the Persian War at Chepstow but he cruised in. I was thrilled with that, and now I can’t wait to see him over fences. He doesn’t want it too soft and performed below par over hurdles a couple of times on unsuitable ground last winter, but when it dried out, bingo – he came good in the spring. I’m sure chasing will be the making of him and we’ll look at the Rising Stars Novice Chase at Wincanton.
4f Jeremy – Silver Prayer
1 (pointing form)
RPR 85 (point)
Lovely prospect and I’m thrilled with her. She couldn’t have landed her mares’ maiden point-to-point in Ireland any easier; you’d have to go a long way to find a more impressive winner. She has really thrived since she came into work and we have the option of going for a mares’ bumper or going straight novice hurdling. She’ll want some cut in the ground.
5g Beat Hollow – Miss Denman
Grech & Parkin
Bit too keen on his debut and then although only fifth at Cheltenham it turned out to be one of the hottest maiden hurdles of the season, as in front of him were Lalor, who went on to win the 2m Grade 1 at Aintree, and Summerville Boy, subsequent winner of the Supreme Novices’. A slight injury kept him off afterwards, but that might be the best thing that could have happened as a nice break has seen him mature physically. Has just had a wind op, so won’t be ready to run in a novice hurdle until around Christmas.
4g Kayf Tara – Chamoss Royale
He’s a half-brother to Southfield Theatre, Southfield Vic and others, and as a physical model Clifford [Baker] and I both agree this one is the nicest of the lot. Did his pre-training in the spring and we really like him, but he’s going to want time to fulfil his potential. His aim is the Wincanton bumper on Boxing Day.
5g Fair Mix – Laureldean Belle
Angela Hart & Angela Yeoman
We took him to Exeter for a bumper in February as part of his education and he showed definite signs of ability. Has done lots of schooling as part of his preparation for a novice hurdle campaign, but he needs rain first.
4g Yeats – Cool Rua
Barry Fulton & Peter Hart
3- (pointing form)
RPR 86 (point)
Really caught my eye when finishing third in an Irish point-to-point. The form was probably nothing to write home about and he didn’t jump at all well but I thought if we could improve him in that department he’d be interesting. When we first schooled him he was novicey to begin with, but in no time he was much better and that augurs well. He’s ready to start in novice hurdles.
5g Turgeon – Trumpet Davis
D & M McDonald & M & M McPherson
RPR 113h OR 125h
He’s a typical Turgeon in that he’s taking an age to mature. Surprised us when winning a novice hurdle at Wincanton in May, and I was even more surprised when he was given a handicap mark of 130. The form was ordinary and his rating was so ludicrous I complained to the handicapper and got his mark reduced 5lb to 125. He should have been assessed strictly on an eight-length beating of Ringa Ding Ding, who is rated 115, at level weights. How he got an original mark of 130 I’ll never know. He’ll need to drop a few more pounds before he can even begin to be competitive in handicaps, and after Sunday’s effort at Wincanton I hope the handicapper will do something.
5g Getaway – Loreley
John and Lisa Hales
RPR 124h OR 122h
He wasn’t quite finishing his races last season and has since had a breathing operation. Capable of winning handicap hurdles off his mark before going chasing. We haven’t seen the best of him yet.
6g Silver Cross – Sainte Mante
Done, Ferguson, Mason & Wood
RPR 150c OR 136c
After running consistently well in the first half of last season his form went downhill quite badly and I could never put my finger on the reason why. He tends to back off his fences a bit and what I worry about is whether he truly has the bottle for chasing, whether he’s tough enough to cope with fences in a bigger field. After running just okay at Cheltenham on Saturday, a graduation chase might give him more experience and help build his confidence up because for the moment there is a question mark.
4f Nathaniel – Retake
Showed useful Flat form for Jamie Osborne at up to 1m4f. Was ready to run for us last season, but the ground was a bit soft and then she got a small problem, so we drew stumps and sent her home. Came up against a good mare on her hurdling debut and should soon go one better.
6g Flemensfirth – Derry Vale
Chris Giles and Mr & Mrs Paul Barber
RPR 155h OR 154h
Went chasing last autumn but fell at Newbury’s cross fence on his debut and sustained a slight injury, so we decided to keep him as a novice for this season. Back over hurdles, he showed high-class form, winning a hundred-grand handicap at Sandown and just pipped in the Coral Cup. Provided he gets his jumping together second time round, he should be a smart novice chaser. As big a horse as you’ll see, he’ll go into a fence long, but when he needs to use his brain and shorten up he can get in too tight. With the ground here at home still like a road I can’t school him on grass yet, but I’ve got it in mind to take him back to Newbury for a novice chase at the end of November.
7g Presenting – Bay Pearl
RPR 131c OR 127c
Has been a slow maturer, but just when the penny finally seemed have dropped last winter he suffered a season-ending injury at Kempton over Christmas. He was always too keen over hurdles, but the signs are that fences are helping him settle better, so I hope there’s more to come from him. Should be ready in about a month’s time.
5g Oscar – Present Venture
1- (pointing form)
An expensive purchase at the Cheltenham sales, having created a very good impression in his maiden point-to-point in Ireland. All these winning Irish pointers seem to be expensive nowadays, but you’ve little idea what the the form amounts to. We haven’t started pressing too many buttons with him yet, and until we do so we’re in the dark. But just remember when Denman came here from the Irish pointing field no-one knew he would turn out to be a superstar. With these winning pointers you just hope one will develop into a gem. We could have run this one in the spring but he was big and backward, the sort to need time. Anything he achieves this season over hurdles will be a bonus, as he’s a lovely long-term chasing prospect. He’ll start as soon as we get some rain.
6g Westerner – Galeacord
Gordon & Su Hall
RPR 125h OR 122h
Has come from Tom George. I gather he had a few niggly problems before coming good in the spring. As he din’t win before May he’s a novice for the entire season which is a big plus. Bit disappointing on his first outing for us but I had to get a run into him to qualify for a valuable handicap at Worcester last week. Ran a lot better there, shaping as if 3m will suit.
9g Dom Alco – Ireland
RPR 159c OR 149c
His brave attempt to win an amazing third Scottish National ended with a blunder four out; even then he was only beaten 13 lengths. He’s never been successful off a mark higher than 146 – that was 18 months ago when he won his second Scottish National – so he’s obviously handicapped to the hilt nowadays and won’t be easy to place. I had it in mind to take him to Kelso on Saturday, but he wasn’t quite ready, so we’ll probably wait for the long-distance handicap chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting, in which he finished a really good second 12 months ago. After that, the Becher Chase would be a possibility.
9g Midnight Legend – Samandara
RPR 154c OR 149c
It was so frustrating he didn’t win last season; twice he was denied a valuable pot by a whisker. Despite the fact 3m2f is just about as far as he wants to go, especially on soft ground, we had a crack at the National, which Trevor Hemmings likes to go for, but the ground conditions were all against him. Still, he jumped the big fences well and so after a prep run somewhere I’d love to take him back to Aintree this autumn for one of the shorter races, either the Grand Sefton or the Becher. Hopefully the ground will be a bit better.
10g Poliglote – Victoria Royale
Robin Geffen, Sir J Ritblat & Robert Waley-Cohen
RPR 165c OR 128c
Didn’t quite match the form of his 2017 Foxhunter second but still ran well in hunter chases last season. Happiest on decent ground and runs his best races fresh.
5g Beneficial – Muckle Flugga
RPR 118h OR –
I’m looking forward to the day this one goes chasing. For now he should be up to winning a staying novice hurdle judged on his third at Bangor in April.
6g Authorized – Zaziyra
RPR 147h OR 133h
Since falling in the Elite Hurdle two years ago he hasn’t really enjoyed jumping. It’s fair to say he is probably more of a Flat horse than a hurdler nowadays and I know he’s on a long losing sequence over hurdles but I’m still adamant he can win again – he’s definitely on an attractive mark. We had his palate re-cauterised over the summer.
4g Martaline – Temptation
Mrs Johnny de la Hey
He was one of a number of our bumper horses who weren’t as well forward as we wanted them to be in the spring. The ground was so heavy all the time, they weren’t able to do much on grass and I wasn’t able to take them for a racecourse gallop like I normally do. This one did nothing great on his debut but is sure to improve massively.