Sleep Easy was given a nice confident ride by Harry who put his invaluable 7lbs claim to good use to win quite readily at Wincanton on Wednesday. He has an entry in the Martin Pipe Conditionals race on Gold Cup day and with the penalty for the win he may just sneak in with a low weight with a bit of luck. He's come out of his race fine and it's now just a case of waiting to see if he'll get a run at the Festival.
On Sunday we sent three up to Sedgefield and we were delighted to come back with two winners. Tikkanbar slogged it out best in the testing conditions giving weight away in the concluding bumper and he remains a horse with a nice future. We'll see how he is over the next few days before deciding where to go next with him. Meribel Millie was our other winner and we were happy to see her build on her improved run at Wincanton the last day to win nicely under the steer of Tom Scudamore. She was a decent bumper performer and has just taken her time to get her eye in over hurdles but you couldn't have been happier with the way she won. She seemed fresh and well in the paddock on Monday getting covered in mud in the process and it's now over to the handicapper to see what he makes of her victory. Bishops Court has been in terrific form all season and was bidding for his five-timer but ran without his usual spark so he'll have a well earned break now to freshen him up again. He has certainly paid for his keep over the winter and hopefully we haven't quite got to the bottom of his ability just yet.
Back to Wednesday where I was at the Cheltenham handicap weights lunch where, as ever, the facilities were terrific. I can have no complaints about how the handicapper has assessed our horses, and now we will be keeping our fingers crossed they can all make it there in one piece. The Ultima Handicap Chase is looking particularly competitive on the first day of the Festival, with some very good horses likely to struggle to get a run. It could be the best renewal of that race ever, and with The Druids Nephew winning it 2015, we are hopeful he can make his presence felt once again. Elsewhere, Southfield Royale is in good form at home and he will go for the Kim Muir, whilst Impulsive Star is also ticking along nicely as he builds up for his tilt at the Pertemps Final. I have been asked plenty of questions about Shantou Village over the last few days but we've decided that he just won't be ready in time to do himself justice so we are going to skip the festival this year and prepare him for Aintree or Ayr instead. It's a shame he won't get a run at Cheltenham but it may be a blessing in disguise as he'll be a fresher horse later on in the Spring.