It was a fantastic week for the yard last week, with a treble on Monday at Plumpton the highlight of the season so far. We knew the three horses concerned were in great form, but for them all to go and do the business on the track was special. Everything went to plan which is rare in this sport, so it is important to enjoy the successful days. Tikkanbar was an excellent bumper horse for us last term and we were delighted with the way he won on hurdling debut. He’s still a big baby so we will be looking to get some more experience into him soon, but he jumped well at Plumpton and we hope he can build on that next time. He’s a horse we have had offers for but nothing that has convinced us to sell, and it is lovely to have a promising type in the yard owned by my Dad. Master Burbidge is a horse with a personality to say the least, but he keeps on doing his job, and won his 4th race this year in the 2m3f handicap chase. He was going well at Wincanton last time out when falling, but thankfully he jumped much better this time and it was fantastic to see him back in the winners’ enclosure. He runs again under a penalty tomorrow at Doncaster under top Irish amateur Jamie Codd. Dalaman made it two from two for the yard when winning the handicap hurdle on the card and in the end, it was a comfortable success. He came out of the race well and it made sense to turn him out quickly on Thursday at Wincanton, where he finished second in the novices’ handicap hurdle.
Aside from Plumpton on Monday, Shee’s Lucky ran a stormer up at Leicester to finish second in the fillies’ juvenile hurdle, and she is one we hope can continue to improve for her owners. Espoir De Teillee made his debut over hurdles at Catterick on Friday afternoon, and it proved to be the ideal starting point. He put in a lovely round of jumping which was particularly pleasing, and Noel was delighted with the horse.We will see how he comes out of the race but all being well we will look to step him up in class next time out, and for the time being we will keep him over the intermediate trip.
On Saturday, Cheeky Chica ran a cracker on debut to finish second at Huntingdon under James King, nicely clear of the third. She looked to learn plenty from the experience and we will look to find a similar race for her soon enough to try and go one better. Chirico Vallis was coming with his challenge when taking a nasty looking fall four out at Ludlow on Monday, but thankfully he is completely fine and seems none the worse for it. Meanwhile at Kempton, Bishops Court travelled powerfully into the race to finish a close third, though at one stage better looked likely. He can be a bit of a thinker but it was a very encouraging performance and hopefully he can build on that next time out.
Dieg Man made the trip up to Sedgefield worthwhile with a most promising victory on his stable debut. Harry knows the horse well having ridden him regularly at home and he grasped the opportunity with both hands in the famous green and gold silks. The horse won in the manner that we might have hoped; he looks to have a lot of potential going forward and we hope he can keep improving as we step him up in grade. Also on Tuesday we were happy with both our runners in the handicap hurdle at Lingfield. Molly Carew finished a close second which is always frustrating but she ran a lovely race while Kansas City Chief should hopefully come on for what was his first run in nearly six months on his first start for us.
Looking ahead, it's a big weekend in the jumps calendar as the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) will be contested at Newbury on Saturday. It's one of the most valuable chases of the season and we run three in the hope of picking up some prize money. Carole's Destrier will make his seasonal reappearance, as he was doing so last year when running a gallant second behind Native River, so we hope he can again run well fresh. Pilgrims Bay looks to have come on for his run in the Badger Ales and the ground should suit him better off bottom weight, though he will be played late as always by James Best who knows him well. Finally, Brendan Powell takes the ride on Southfield Royale who sports first time blinkers in the hope that he will show a bit more sparkle and he, like Pilgrims Bay runs off only ten stone. There are reasons to be optimistic about all three so we go there with high hopes and hopefully they can all run really well.