It's been a little while since the last post but with thirty-two runners at fourteen different racecourses in the last two weeks, we've had plenty keeping us busy. I was delighted with Solomn Grundy at Newbury as he won the Pertemps Qualifier in good style, settling much better than on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham. We were keen to run him as he was due to go up 5lbs and thankfully everything went to plan. He may run again over Christmas and he'll now be aimed at the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival providing he gets in. We were absolutely thrilled with yard favourite Carole's Destrier who ran a career-best in the Hennessy Gold Cup, storming up the run-in to only be beaten by half a length. Being such a competitive race, we didn't have too much pressure on our shoulders but we knew he was in good form at home in the run up to the race. It was tough to get so close to landing a big one without winning but we were immensely proud of him and most importantly he's come out of the race in super form. The Welsh National could be his next assignment.
Mrs Burbidge, who runs later today, brought up the sixty winner mark at Southwell, an achievement that the team and I are extremely proud of. We have already surpassed last year's total and there is still a few weeks before Christmas so we couldn't be happier. The goal is always to just keep improving and the ambitious one hundred winners mark is now something we firmly have our sights on for the rest of the season. John's Luck was number sixty-one and he was given an exceptional ride from our number one Noel Fehily. John wears blinkers as he can be a little lazy in his races but Noel certainly got a tune out of him and he flew home to get up in the shadow of the post at Ffos Las for his delighted owner John Hobbs.
Pilgrims Bay should really have won by a bit further on his stable/chasing debut at Sandown but seemed to think the job was done as soon as he hit the front. He can be a bit difficult to ride at home but he looked to have been produced perfectly by Noel, full of running after the last. In the end he had to be driven right out and survived a stewards enquiry, but he got the job done in the end. We learnt a lot about him and he has lots of ability so there were plenty of positives to take away and he's a nice horse to look forward to as he matures.
I thought The Young Master jumped very well until he made a tired-looking mistake two out. He should come on for the run both physically and mentally, as he would have learned a lot from jumping the National style fences and we are still very much on target to be back there for the big one in April. He has come out of his race in good form too. Doing Fine was our runner in the London National, a race we won in 2015 with Carole's Destrier and he ran a mighty race to finish a close second to the top-weight Rocky Creek. He was patiently ridden, lobbing along kindly in rear before being produced after the last. He looked to have every chance to go by and you can't take anything away from the winner who was very game in front. Another frustrating close second in a big Saturday handicap but at least that shows that the horses are continuing in good heart. I've made plenty of entries for the next few days including the potential debut of our first runner for leading owner J P McManus which we are very excited about. I've also given our Cheltenham Festival hero The Druids Nephew an entry for his reappearance at Ascot in a couple of weeks so it's an important period for us at Conkwell Grange.