Thyme Hill and Defi Du Seuil lead the way for consistent and classy yard
Making bold long-range predictions has become a hazardous business in the Brexit age, but there is something calmly reassuring about the consistency that has long been the hallmark of Philip Hobbs’s training operation.
We can fairly safely say that six months down the line he will have sent out 100 winners and cracked the £1 million prize-money barrier. And if that is the case, it will be the sixth time in seven years the trainer has fulfilled his twin ambitions.
Thirteen winners in October has set things up nicely for his winter campaign; one of them could help fulfil yet another personal ambition, to see a new hurdling star emerge at Sandhill Stables.
Thyme Hill looked the real deal when powering home in the Persian War at Chepstow, looking for the world like a Grade 1 winner in waiting. He will take the next step at Cheltenham’s November meeting, which is where stable flagbearer Defi Du Seuil will get his season under way in the Shloer Chase. As for where he’ll end up in March, there are as yet no long-range predictions on that score.
Yard Sandhill Racing Stables
Where Bilbrook, near Minehead, Somerset
Assistant trainer Johnson White
Second assistant trainer Darren O’Dwyer
Travelling head lad Sean Mulcaire
Travelling head lasses Laura Parker, Izzy Stadden, Zoe Moore-Williams
Head girls Carol Burnett, Lisa Jackson
Jockeys Richard Johnson, Tom O’Brien, Michael Nolan, James Best
Conditionals Sean Houlihan, Ben Jones
Amateurs David Maxwell, Tom Doggrell, Jack Martin, Isaac Buncle, Louisa Zeale, Tom Dixon
Secretary Jo Cody-Boutcher
Assistant secretary Diana Hobbs
Started training 1985
Horses in yard 111
Members of staff 37
Stable sponsor MS Amlin
Winners in Britain
Profit/loss to £1 stake
At Its Own Expense
Five-year-old gelding Arakan (sire) – Blow A Gasket (dam)
Owner: South Meadow Racing 1
Form figures: 33313-2
Racing Post Rating: 127 (hurdles) Official rating 128 (hurdles)
Ran well on his comeback in a handicap hurdle and we’ll be chasing before too long. The plan is to go to Sandown on Sunday for either another handicap hurdle or a novice handicap chase.
8g Enrique – Orphee De Vonnas
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 147c OR 135c
Like with a lot of the owner’s horses, the plan is to go handicap chasing in the first half of the season, then hunter chasing in the new year – he won two hunter chases last spring. He’s such a lovely individual who tries so hard, and is well capable of contributing to David Maxwell’s bid to retain his amateur crown. David has eight with us this season and I applaud what he has done; he’s the first amateur to use his own horses to become champion since George Sloan back in the 1970s.
Beau Du Brizais
7g Kapgarde – Belle Du Brizais
Mrs Roger Skan
RPR 140c OR 135c
He’s tough, like a lot of Kapgardes, and a very genuine chaser. He ran two really good races in October, narrowly beaten each time, and it wasn’t for lack of trying as he’s dead genuine. Loves a real test of stamina and is better on decent ground, so with all the rain we’ve had I’m probably going to have to run him on ground a bit softer than ideal. Provided I don’t think the race comes too soon, he could be out again in the Badger Beers Silver Trophy at Wincanton on Saturday. He can operate left-handed, but it’s significant he has only won on right-handed tracks.
5g Vinnie Roe – Castlelost
Mrs C Walsh and Eden Valley Chancers
RPR 124h OR –
That was a fantastic effort to win at Worcester last month, all the more so as it wasn’t anticipated. He’d been schooling very well at home but ran so green that he was novicey at his obstacles. There’s lots of room for improvement, he stays well and has a great attitude, so I hope he has a real future.
10g Kayf Tara – Neltina
RPR 144c OR 132c
Came back in the spring after a long spell off with a tendon problem. Despite his age he’s lightly raced over fences and as he’s shaped as if 3m might suit nowadays I’m hoping stepping him up in trip could see him improve a few pounds. Could go to Newbury on Thursday or for a veterans’ chase at Sandown on Sunday provided the ground’s not too soft.
7g Presenting – Millesimee
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 135c OR 130c
Like Ballotin, I hope he can win a handicap chase in the first half of the season before going hunter chasing in the second half. He and David Maxwell had an unfortunate experience last season. They went to Auteuil in May for an important amateurs’ chase, but David had unknowingly broken some ribs the day before and it wasn’t until they got down to the start that he realised how sore he was, but it was too late by then. They got no further than the fourth and he sustained further injuries when parting company.
6g Stowaway – Rosies All The Way
Daphne Du Pre
RPR 116c OR 140c
He can be a bit keen and that’s a slight concern now he’s gone novice chasing as you want them to back off their fence. His schooling at home has been fine and he’ll improve on Sunday’s Huntingdon debut. All his four wins have been on good or good to firm, so ground conditions are important to him.
6g Arcadio – Ballcrina Girl
Andy Tilley and Phil Prior
RPR 137h OR 134h
Showed progressive form over hurdles in the spring before the handicapper got a hold on him. Ran well on his return from a break at Chepstow. He was unlucky to be left by himself on the inside and was looking around for company; when he found some after the last he ran on again. I suspect the next time we see him may be over fences.
Defi Du Seuil
6g Voix Du Nord – Quarvine Du Seuil
RPR 164c OR 162c
He’s been fantastic for us. You’d think looking at his JLT win that 2m4f was his best distance, but then we took him to Punchestown and he ran just as well back at 2m, so trip-wise this season we have loads of options: he’s effective at 2m, stays 2m4f and I’m sure he’ll get 3m, as most Triumph Hurdle winners end up staying really well. And I have this theory that the more classy a chaser is – here I’m thinking Kauto Star and Desert Orchid – the more versatile they can be trip-wise. I’m not saying ‘Defi’ is in their class but I think he’ll prove flexible like them. He’s a very stuffy individual who needs plenty of work and isn’t the easiest to get fit, and bearing in mind he disappointed first time out last season, to avoid the possibility of a repeat we’ve taken him away for two racecourse gallops in the last fortnight. This is something I hardly ever do but with him I’ve had to. We thought about starting him at Exeter today in the Haldon Gold Cup but have decided he’ll reappear at Cheltenham on Sunday week in the Shloer Chase. Right now he’s our only proven Grade 1 performer in the yard, although I hope one or two others may appear during the course of the season.
6g Mahler – Kit Massini
RPR 132h OR 135h
Looked really good on his first run for us at Chepstow last season, but you have to say his subsequent three runs have been something of an anti-climax. He’s always been a nervy, green individual, so I had hoped once he got over that there would be a fair bit of improvement. But he was very disappointing the other day at Aintree, where he looked promising turning in but he just fizzled out, and I don’t know why.
6g Noroit – None De Sivola
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 141c OR 134c
Has shown improved form since being stepped up in trip to around 3m and I’m hopeful he’s still going the right way. We’ll see if he’s progressed further when he reappears in the amateur riders’ handicap chase at Cheltenham on Friday week.
5g Shantou – Carrig Eden Lass
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 135h OR 131h
His latest hurdle win at Wincanton came just days before his novice status ran out. His owner is now three from five on him and while the races weren’t special that doesn’t matter at all to David, who just wants as many winners as possible to retain his amateur title. I suspect he’ll be novice handicap chasing pretty soon, then hunter chasing in the spring; he originally joined us from the Irish pointing field and 3m will be his job over fences.
6g Coastal Path – Quiphile
RPR 128h OR 125h
Has taken time to learn his job; it was all too much for him this time last year and he lost it when favourite for a novice handicap hurdle at Cheltenham. He just couldn’t cope with loads of runners around him. But he did better later on, as an Exeter victory confirmed, and he’s the type who should improve – in handicap hurdles to start with – now he’s mentally stronger.
Ecu De La Noverie
5g Linda’s Lad – Quat’Sous D’Or
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 137c OR 132c
Gave himself a nasty knock at Ascot in January and had his first run since when making a really pleasing return at Wetherby last month. 2m handicap chases will be ideal for now, followed by hunter chases up to 2m4f in the spring.
4g Presenting – Cent Prime
Lovely individual who has pleased me since day one, so it wasn’t a surprise he ran so well on his debut at Chepstow in what often turns out to be quite a good bumper. Could now go for the Listed bumper at Cheltenham’s Open meeting, and later on he’s in the valuable Goffs Sale Bumper at Newbury in March, so I hope he’ll be good enough to run in that.
Feuille De Chêne
4f Montmartre – Haldiana
Potentially a very nice filly. She’s been here since August and has done everything very easily so far. In between her two bumper wins in the French provinces she finished second in a Grade 3 bumper, behind a horse who won a Grade 1 next time, so without knowing too much about the form over there it looks okay. She’ll be out in the next few weeks and I hope she could be a high-class prospect for mares’ novice hurdles.
5g Fame And Glory – Princesse Supreme
RPR 113h OR 115h
Was beaten a long way in an Irish point and on his first run for us, when I ran him over too far and on heavy ground, but was much better at Taunton next time before a Warwick third qualified him for handicaps.
4g Day Flight – Jubilee
David Maxwell Racing
He’s unbeaten in two minor events in France, one on the Flat, the other over hurdles, but they were in the provinces so don’t ask me what the form amounted to, I haven’t a clue. When he arrived in July he was very light in condition so he had an easy time to start with and we’re just beginning to build him up. Looks a lot better now and should be ready in December.
9g Flemensfirth – Nuit Des Chartreux
Robert and Janet Gibbs
RPR 153c OR 148c
He’s going particularly well at present. He came back in the spring having had a long time off with a leg problem, but his legs are fine right now. I thought about entering him for the BetVictor Gold Cup, but realistically couldn’t see him being competitive against those improving second-season novices, so hopefully a more realistic target is a £50,000 2m4f handicap chase at Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy meeting. He loves the track and, as I say, he’s in great nick at the moment.
Garde La Victoire
10g Kapgarde – Next Victory
RPR 162c OR 147c
After his Chepstow fourth a year ago he missed the rest of the season with a leg problem. He wasn’t quite up to Graded level over fences and became increasingly difficult to place off his rating, but the handicapper has given him a chance now so I hope he can be competitive again. He’s certainly in fine form at home and there won’t be any lack of enthusiasm on his part.
3f Spanish Moon – Troika
Really nice prospect for juvenile hurdles, when her fillies’ allowance will come in handy. She ran in a couple of AQPS Flat races in France in the spring, winning the second of them at Vichy. She’s been here several months and has been schooling away nicely. A stocky individual, she’s taken all the work we’ve thrown at her and gives every indication of being tough, which is just the sort of juvenile we like. Should be out some time this month.
Gelboe De Chanay
3f Rail Link – Rose Celebre
RPR 122h OR –
I hope she could be quite exciting. Looked impressive on her hurdling debut at Auteuil in a Listed 50,000 euro newcomers’ race. I’m told nothing has come out and advertised the form, so she’s hard to assess after one run, but she did the job very easily. Although that race was in April – last season by UK standards – under the rules nowadays she remains a juvenile for the whole of our season. She’ll be out sometime this month and looks a lovely prospect.
5g Gold Well – Fugal Maid
RPR 119h OR 119h
Looked to have progressed when narrowly beaten in a handicap hurdle at Exeter last month and the key to that improvement was the trip – he was up to 2m7f for the first time. The ground was good that day and he’ll be better on softer as he stays so well, so I see him as a likely winner soon.
6g Presenting – Fair Choice
The Grocer Syndicate
RPR 128h OR 132h
Began last season in promising style when third in the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow but came back with a touch of a tendon problem. He’s back cantering and his legs are fine at present, so hopefully he’ll be back around Christmas. He’s obviously quite good.
5g No Risk At All – Good Time Girl
RPR 144h OR 139h
Has flown the flag for us on the Flat with three wins this year and had showed he retains all his hurdling ability when third in the Listed handicap at Market Rasen. As he likes good ground I tried – unsuccessfully – to persuade the owner not to run on good to soft at Ascot on Saturday, but I was delighted with the result. His handicap mark had been far too high after running second in the Grade 1 Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree a couple of years ago but it has come down to a realistic level and he has taken advantage. He’ll run again somewhere this autumn and we’ll give the Greatwood Hurdle serious consideration if ground conditions are favourable.
8g Presenting – Penneyrose Bay
Sir Christopher and Lady Wates
RPR 152c OR 148c
Has developed into a useful summer performer but there aren’t many opportunities at that time of year for horses with his sort of rating. Reappeared in the Listed handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday where the trip of 2m1f might have been on the short side and he was going well when coming down. He’s absolutely fine so we’ll try again on November 23 in the valuable Hurst Park Handicap Chase over the same course and distance.
5g Linda’s Lad – Jaune De Beaufai
David Maxwell Racing
RPR 135h OR 137h
He’s now 4-4 since joining us from France, having squeezed in two more novice hurdle wins this autumn – the latest carrying three penalties – before his novice status ran out at the end of October. His next target is the 2m5f intermediate handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open meeting, then I suspect we’ll switch to fences. He was a winner of a chase at Pau before he came here, as well as finishing second in a Listed chase in France.
7g Jeremy – get A Few Bob Back
RPR 152c OR 147c
I think there’s a decent handicap to be won with him this season. He’s already a very useful chaser and has the potential to improve further. He’s best going right-handed and doesn’t want to go as far as nearly 4m like he did at the festival; anything between 2m4f and 3m might prove best. Will be out soon but there isn’t a definite plan for him yet.
5g Martaline – Karuma
Showed enough in his bumpers to suggest he can win over hurdles and is due to start at Warwick on Friday.
8g Kayf Tara – My Adventure
RPR 142c OR 136c
Back problems restricted him to two outings last season, when he never got his ideal ground – basically he wants it bottomless. He’s in very good form and could return at Newbury this week; I’ve half got it in mind to then take him to Aintree next month for the Grand Sefton, but we’ll see how he gets on Thursday first.
6g Mahler – Kayles Castle
Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club
Would have won a novice hurdle at Haydock last season but the race was voided. He jumped awful at Wetherby the other day; we got him back and had him looked over but found nothing. Hopefully we can get him back on track.
5g Scorpion – Supreme Touch
Andy Bell and Fergus Lyons
Big, strong chasing type from the Irish pointing field. Looks okay and will be ready to start in novice hurdles very shortly.
6g Kayf Tara – Follow My Leader
The Englands and Heywoods
RPR 135h OR 136h
That was a right result in the Fixed Brush Final at Worcester the other day, a really nice prize [£19,000] to win. He’s been second more times than he’s won but I put that down to greenness more than anything else, so it’ll be ironed out with time. He’s a chaser to look at and I suspect we might switch to fences before long but he’ll run in at least one more handicap hurdle first.
6g Getaway – Katies Pet
Tim Syder and Dominic Burke
RPR 130h OR 128h
Very disappointing first time back at Uttoxeter last month; we’re not sure what went wrong and he’s been fine since. So we’ll find another 3m handicap hurdle and try again.
5g Sholokhov – Yorkshire Girl
Owners For Owners: Melekhov
RPR 128h OR 127h
I’ll forgive him a defeat on his latest start as he found the track at Plumpton too tight and it was probably that fact that caused his jumping to get sloppy. Reappears at Sandown on Sunday and he should be competitive in handicap hurdles.
6g Getaway – Inghwung
RPR 129h OR 131h
Having had a great time with him over hurdles in the spring, we went chasing with him at Plumpton last month and he was disappointing. He’s obviously going to take a bit of time to adapt to jumping fences but he’s fine at home so I hope he’ll get there. We shouldn’t lose faith.
8g Kayf Tara – Dizzy Frizzy
RPR 137c OR 137c
Sustained a nasty injury below the knee in the Kim Muir, where the skin had been peeled off from his knee down to his fetlock joint. He’s fine now but it’s one of several issues that have contributed to his being lightly raced over fences. We can go down the novice or the handicap route, but plans have yet to be sorted out.
6g Oscar – Tirolean Dance
RPR 135h OR 132h
Suffered an injury to his fetlock joint when winning at Kempton in January and missed the rest of the season. Looked in trouble at the second-last on his return at Cheltenham the other day but then ran on again. Should do okay in handicap hurdles and is likely to stick to 2m as he has plenty of speed, although he’ll get further.
Off The Planet
4g Presenting – Kings Diva
Paul and Clare Rooney
Bought at the Derby Sale in Ireland last year, he was here in the spring working nicely, before enjoying a summer break at Jason Maguire’s. I was pleased with his first run at Worcester last month and he’s definitely up to winning a bumper.
5g Yeats – Heath Haven
Tim Syder and Martin St Quinton
I like him. Looked good winning his Exeter bumper and the form has been well boosted. Sustained a minor injury to his hind leg about a month ago and is fine again now, but it means he won’t be out until the end of November. One to look out for in novice hurdles over 2m4f.
6g Yeats – Moricana
RPR 147c OR 135c
Genuine handicap chaser, with age on his side and I think he can improve further. Ran okay on his return at Exeter but just wasn’t good enough; last season he was very impressive when winning at Wincanton and would then have won the Mandarin had Newbury been the other way round – he needs to go right-handed. He’s being aimed at a 3m handicap chase at Ascot later this month; my only concern is the trip may be a fraction on short side.
Rock The Kasbah
9g Shirocco – Impudent
RPR 158c OR 150c
Needs good or good to soft so I’m struggling to find a race for him at the moment. The Badger Ales at Wincanton on Saturday might suit. Once you are up to his sort of rating you are never going to be that easy to place in handicaps. We always had the Grand National in the back of our minds last season and although he didn’t really take to the fences he was beginning to warm to the task when getting brought down, so while I don’t rule out a return bid, it wouldn’t be a priority.
8g Indian River – Easter Saturday
Daphne Du Pre
RPR 149c OR 140c
His consistency means his handicap mark doesn’t drop much and this doesn’t make life easy, so we’re going to try the cross-country race at the next Cheltenham meeting. He jumps and he stays, so those contests might suit.
6g Poliglote – Girelle
Robert and Janet Gibbs
RPR 137h OR 136h
Improved quickly over hurdles in the spring. He’s hard to get fit and could possibly could have one run in a handicap hurdle, which would help bring him on before he goes chasing. Will want soft ground.
4f Midnight Legend – Kim Tian Road
There was definite promise in her debut in a Cheltenham bumper and she didn’t run at all badly in what may turn out to be quite a good race at Worcester last month. She starts over hurdles in a mares’ novice at Exeter next Wednesday.
5g Fair Mix – Blaeberry
Mike and Norma Tuckey
RPR 131h OR 130h
I’ve no idea why he ran so badly at Cheltenham the other day – we had him scoped but nothing came to light; he’s still relatively green so perhaps he just couldn’t cope with all those runners. He’ll run again reasonably soon and I’ll be expecting much better.
4g Getaway – Wild Spell
He was bought for JP at the Cheltenham Festival Sale after winning his maiden point-to-point days earlier. He’s a decent prospect for novice hurdles, I don’t know whether he’ll run in a bumper first.
7g Gamut – Sprightly Gal
RPR 150c OR 138c
His one victory over fences last season came at Sandown when everything was ideal; it was 2m4f going right-handed in soft ground. He was winning first time out for the second season in a row so he obviously goes well fresh. He was a bit below that form, though not disgraced, when racing the other way round at Cheltenham, when fifth to A Plus Tard. Might have just needed the run when fading over 3m on his reappearance at Ascot on Saturday. If it came up very soft at Cheltenham in 12 days’ time, the BetVictor Gold Cup might be a possibility, otherwise we’ll stick to 3m next time.
7g Craigsteel – Blond’s Addition
Step By Step
RPR 153c OR 150c
I hope he’s an improver, but perhaps he’ll have to be because I keep looking at his handicap mark and I wouldn’t call 150 generous. A few health issues have meant he’s lightly raced over fences and he’ll benefit from further experience, so we’re going to Sandown on Sunday for the Future Stars Intermediate Chase, for which there’s bound to be a small field. As he stays so well I imagine we’d then go straight to the Welsh National; three of his four career wins have come round Chepstow.
5g Kayf Tara – Rosita Bay
Tony and Beth England & Adrian and Andrew Heywood
RPR 143h OR –
At the start of the season I said I hoped he was among our best novice hurdle prospects; after Chepstow I can safely say he is our best novice hurdle prospect. To win the Grade 2 Persian War on your hurdling debut was a great start. Interestingly, we did the same with Fingal Bay and he ended up winning at the Cheltenham Festival. Could Thyme Hill do the same? I certainly hope he’ll be good enough to try. His Champion Bumper third was another fantastic piece of form. He’s in great nick and the obvious next race for him is the Grade 2 2m5f novice hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open meeting. But this is not a horse you want to be running every two or three weeks. Last season he ran up a bit lean and light in condition, which is why we gave him a four-month winter break. He’s still inclined to be like that, although it’s not as pronounced this season. And although you’d think he’ll improve masses after one run over hurdles, he knew his job so well first time out, he might not step up markedly next time. Then again, he might not need to. If pressed to say where he might end up, I’d say it would be the Albert Bartlett rather than the shorter Ballymore.
6g Black Sam Bellamy – Mrs Philip
RPR 133c OR 137c
Shaped with a lot of promise on his chasing debut at Ffos Las and that run told me he should be winning races over fences; at what level I don’t know yet. Over hurdles last season he threw in the odd below-par effort and overall he didn’t improve quite as much as I’d anticipated, so let’s hope it will be a different story over fences.
5g Kalanisi – Lady Knightess
Lovely individual and I’m very hopeful he has a decent future. He’d been working fantastic in the spring but was giving the odd cough so he never got to the track. Judged on what I saw on his debut in a Warwick bumper he’s well capable of winning novice hurdles. I thought he was a shade unlucky not to win as he got stuck on the inside and ran green.
5g Balko – Marie Royale
Grahame Whateley, Tim Syder and Martin St Quinton
RPR 137h OR 128h
Very disappointing at Market Rasen last month but could still be all right. He’s thoroughly likeable and looked a promising individual last season, it’s just taken time for the penny to drop over hurdles. Could try again in a handicap hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.
10g Kayf Tara – Come The Dawn
Tony and Beth England & Adrian and Andrew Heywood
RPR 150c OR 138c
Had a highly unusual season last winter, in that he started by winning a valuable chase at Aintree very easily, but ran moderately afterwards and we never got to the bottom of it. His work at home this autumn has been A1, so we’ll take him back to Aintree and see if he can win that same race again on Saturday.
8g Westerner – Sarahall
Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club
RPR 138c OR 135c
Had a problem with his pelvis last season but is fine again now. Would have needed his first run back in what was his second run over fences and he got a bit tired, so I forecast we’ll see improvement when he reappears.
5g Arcadio – What A Bleu
Louisville Syndicate Elite
RPR 137h OR 136h
He’s confusing me. I don’t know what to think about him – he’s basically inconsistent. There was no obvious excuse why he ran badly in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow last month; last season the flu jab business was used as a reason for his running poorly at Ascot but we can’t keep making excuses. He’s working well enough at home so I hope he’ll perform better in the lads’ handicap hurdle at Newbury on Thursday.
3g Zoffany – Mount Crystal
RPR 91f OR 85f
Joined us in mid-September from Tom Dascombe to go juvenile hurdling, having performed consistently on the Flat this summer. Took a bit of time to settle in here and won’t be ready for another month but is looking promising now.
Race in focus
Gala Ball loves Newbury and the £50,000 2m4f handicap chase at the Ladbrokes Trophy meeting looks ideal for him.
Two for the tracker
Pileon is a horse I’ve always liked and his Exeter bumper has produced plenty of subsequent winners. We’ve had any number of horses who have looked fantastic at home but not done it on the track, but I hope Truckers Pass will repeat what I have seen in the morning when he next appears in public.
No doubt about the stable star here. Defi Du Seuil developed into one of the leading novice chasers in Britain and Ireland last season and, after a weekend when his JLT form was franked by victories for runner-up Lostintranslation, fifth Vinndication and sixth Real Steel, the sky’s the limit. The possibility of him being stepped up in trip is an exciting development. I’ve always seen him as a speed horse and wouldn’t be as sure as the trainer about him staying three miles but, if he does get further, there is every chance he could develop into a Gold Cup horse.
Thyme Hill is the big up-and-comer for the yard following his victory in the Persian War on his reappearance at Chepstow. His jumping wasn’t always fluent that day so there is room for improvement in that department and runners from this yard often progress with experience. Last year’s Champion Bumper form looks red-hot and he is probably the most exciting novice hurdler in Britain at this early stage of the season.
David Maxwell has brought in some fascinating French imports and the amateur rider has a 29 per cent strike-rate (22-75) for the yard, for a £1 level-stake profit of £30.27. Among the eight Maxwell-owned horses are some smart types, including four-time novice hurdle winner Jatiluwih. He has solid form over fences in France and could make a smart chaser.
Ben Jones showcased his talent when making all on Gumball at Ascot on Saturday and that was a well-judged ride for a conditional in a competitive handicap. Some of Britain’s best riders have cut their teeth at Hobbs’s yard and it’s worth keeping an eye on Jones when he is booked in big handicaps, where his claim (currently 5lb) could be a huge weapon.
Samburu Shujaa looks a National horse of the future and appears at his best in testing ground when the emphasis is on stamina. He took time to come to hand last season so it’s no surprise Hobbs says he is hard to get fit, but you can expect him to rack up a sequence when sent over fences in midwinter. The switch to chasing should unlock further progress.