Wednesday September 28
We have enjoyed better weather in September than we did in June – crazy, isn’t it – and you would never have known on the Barbury gallops this morning that we are officially at the start of autumn .
Having celebrated 26 winners with his small team of summer jumpers and a best-ever season on the Flat, the sun-loving Alan, who does not appreciate it when Jack Frost bites to signal the arrival of winter, was in top form as the horses showed their well-being coming up the all-weather.
And he’ll have no complaints if the weather holds for a little bit longer as we have three entries still very much on the table for the Betfred Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday week.
He said:”Oceane found the ground too loose after overnight rain when disappointing in the Ces trial recently, but if the going is suitable he could still go there, while Grumeti will try and repeat last year’s success provided he makes the cut and First Mohican represents Henry Ponsonby’s syndicates rather than Who Dares Wins, who could revert to jumping at Chepstow the same week-end.
Winter Escape led second lot up the hill, looking a million dollars after his summer holiday at Martinstown, home of his owner, JP McManus, and Alan is contemplating a tilt at the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November with a horse who looked very exciting last season, being unbeaten in three races over hurdles, two at Doncaster and a Grade 2 at Kempton in February.
Alan reports his talented novice Yanworth to be “in top order” and he’s also delighted to have Uxizandre back at Barbury – he was off all last season, having previously provided AP McCoy with his last Cheltenham Festival winner in the Ryanair Chase – he returned later than the six other horses that JP has with Alan, so, consequently, he will be brought along slowly and is unlikely to make his long-awaited reappearance until after Christmas.
Alan was also chuffed to reveal that Paul and Clare Rooney have sent him three horses, and the first of them, three-year-old Lord Huntingdon, might well be launched at Huntingdon on Sunday.
He said:”Huntingdon has been a happy hunting ground for us over the years, and we’ll run three or four there this week-end. It’s terrific to have the Rooneys on board – Jason Maguire rang me up and asked if I’d be interested in taking a few horses and I didn’t need a second invitation – and Lord Huntingdon could kick-start the relationship in the Juvenile Hurdle on Sunday.
“Lord Huntingdon had some decent form on the Flat for Andrew Balding, winning on the fibresand at Southwell and also finishing second at Newbury, Chepstow and Lingfield, so he looks a useful acquisition for us.”
It was impossible not to spot Smad Place at the other end of the gallop – he is even whiter than last season – and of his programme Alan said:”It’s going to be tough as he just falls short of being a championship horse, but we’ll start him off in either the Old Roan Chase at Aintree or the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and then aim at the Hennessy again.”
One who won’t be going jumping this winter is William Hunter, who has been a revelation on the Flat this season. Alan added:”He did not seem to handle the ridges at Newmarket the other day, and, while we haven’t ruled out a tilt at the November Handicap at Doncaster, we might well rough him off and keep him for the Flat next year. He has been busy enough as he started on the bumper circuit before starting his winning spree, so he deserves a holiday.”