Friday February 3

It’s been a mixture of good and bad news this week, and it also looks a relatively quiet week-end for us, with just the two runners on Saturday, Fidux heading off to Musselburgh for the Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial and Coeur de Lyon taking on older horses in the opening novice hurdle at Sandown.

The downer was Yanworth having to miss his scheduled prep for the Champion Hurdle on the Esher course tomorrow in the Contenders Hurdle – “he pulled a muscle and, while Kelso next Saturday is an option, the Kingwell at Wincanton looks the more likely as it would give us an extra week and is a lot closer to home,” reasoned Alan, who also has Sceau Royal (in different ownership) going for that February 18 trial.

Non-stop rain was also a pain this week, causing havoc with plans as racecourses were close to unplayable, but the positives were Ziga Boy, last Saturday’s impressive Sky Bet Chase hero, getting a 10lb hike in the ratings, and his new mark of 147 gives him a real chance of making the Grand National field at Aintree on April 8.

Alan may well give Ziga Boy another run beforehand, but it won’t be until after the weights are released in London on Tuesday week.

The other positive was the excellent one-two at Wincanton yesterday, with Sir Antony Browne beating stablemate Midnight Maestro on his first run since having a tie-back operation, and Alan was justifiably delighted with both horses.

Looking ahead 24 hours, Scottish-born Alan said:”Fidux will be my first runner at Musselburgh, but they are putting up excellent prize money and deserve to get the support. I’m glad that I did not run Fidux on that bad ground at Cheltenham last week, but the going north of the border is looking a lot more favourable and he is 2-2 so far and has earned his chance.

“Coeur de Lyon is a progressive young horse, and, having bumped into Triumph favourite Defi du Seuil at Cheltenham, he then came across another smart horse in Don Bersy, who has since won again at Warwick, so our fellow’s form is standing up well.

“We did declare Master Blueyes for Taunton on Sunday in the hope that the race might divide. He has been keeping the best of company and running well – Charlie Parcs, Cliffs of Dover and, more recently, Divin Bere – but we have always felt that he would be better still on better ground, and, though they have had plenty of rain down there this week, things are improving and, hopefully, it won’t be much worse than good to soft if we make the cut.”