by Max Lindley (Assistant Racing Secretary)

After fantastic action at Cheltenham and Aintree last weekend it was intriguing to see a few of our stable stars return to the track and run with credit, where there looks to be plenty to look forward to this season. It’s also great to see our horses in tremendous form which has now been the case for the past few months, so hopefully our good fortune carries on through to the start of the jump season. Things are really gearing up in the yard with the majority of our jump horses in full work therefore we should be having plenty of runners in the next few weeks.

We didn’t have any runners on Monday however Tuesday proved very successful toting up 2 winners and 2 seconds from 5 runners. Laser Light was our sole runner on the card at Chepstow making a successful hurdling debut. It looked a tough task before hand as there looked to be one or two talented rivals in opposition, who brought valuable hurdling experience, but he jumped and travelled through the race well and found plenty for pressure between the last two hurdles. Alan has always held him in high regard so hopefully he will keep progressing and live up to his expectations. Keep in Line won readily making it two from two over hurdles in the opener at Bangor. He looks a natural over hurdles and his turn of foot has proved crucial for his last two victories. Hopefully he can work his way up the ladder and win a few valuable races through the season. Wishing and Hoping put up a very good show first time over fences to finish second jumping fast and accurate throughout. He lost nothing in defeat as there was no shame in being a length behind Value at Risk (Grade 2 winner over hurdles) where that rival had previous chase experience also. He will benefit for the outing and should have no trouble in winning over the larger obstacles in the near future. Royal Plaza also finished second in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle pulling 16 lengths clear of the third, that’s now the eighth time he has been placed this year so hopefully he can get a much deserved win on his next start. It’s been quiet towards the end of the week with a handful of flat runners.

Coeur De Lion finished a pleasing second to only be beaten 3 lengths by the hot favourite (who was very impressive the previous week at Newbury); he battled on well to hold on for second place and continues to progress where he may benefit further for a step up in trip. We had a handful of runners on Friday with one or two looking to have respectable chances. The first of the runners was Cajun Fiddle who ran a super race on her comeback to finish second after around 5 months off the track. She only found a previous listed bumper scorer too good and finished 6 lengths clear of a 97 rated flat recruit. She should build on that considerably and will be wiser next time. The juvenile listed hurdle looked very interesting beforehand but the end result was slightly disappointing. We had high hopes for the very talented Master Blueyes who was making his hurdling debut but unfortunately didn’t run as we hoped. The winner set a very high standard and produced arguably the best juvenile performance of the season. It’s now likely Alan will lower his sights with a view to gaining some confidence before hopefully stepping back up in class.

Rainbow Dreamer ran very well finishing around 2 lengths clear of Master Blueyes in third, travelling and jumping effectively throughout. If reproducing that effort next time should have no trouble winning a slightly less competitive race. Grumeti was the last of our runners on Friday finishing a good fourth. He made his challenge entering the final 2, striking the front but was unable to sustain his effort; it was still a good run nonetheless.

On Saturday we sent two progressive horses to Wetherby where Miss Crick was making the step up to listed company finishing a creditable third to only be beaten half a length. It’s possible she might have gone close to winning had she winged the last. It was pleasing to see her hold her own in this company so let’s hope she can pick one up at this level before the end of the season. It was encouraging to see Zipple Back finish a pleasing second after several months off. He was keen early however made up a lot of ground in the straight where he will have learned plenty for the experience. He’s an exciting horse looking ahead to the season. Jim Dandy was our sole runner on Sunday at Huntingdon in the juvenile hurdle finishing third, the winner is potentially smart (rated 82 on the flat) so the form may turn out to be okay, he continues to perform consistently.

It’s encouraging to see the horses running consistently well and that’s evident with our last seven runners finishing placed.