The spring equinox might have passed but no sign of spring- cold, wild, windy and snowing this morning, plenty of weather about to keep us on our toes this week. A great day at the Duke of Buccleuch point-to-point on Sunday with Crawford enjoying his first winner on Rossini’s Dancer, who retained the Duchess of Gloucester Cup on what was his 83rd start.
This win meant a lot on a number of levels; for Crawford who has become such an important member of team, for the horse, and in winning this historic trophy for the 2nd time; first presented in 1949 it reads like a history of Northern jump racing and delighted to see my Father’s Zebo on it in 1971. Doesn’t time fly.
Later in the afternoon Royal Chatelier ran up to his best to be 3rd at a track that doesn’t really suit and the day before at Newcastle Titian Boy put up a career best effort to finish a close 2nd, rallying strongly in the closing stages he is a lovely chaser to look forward to next season, he will only improve for another summer on his back. Back down the M6 to Haydock tomorrow where we run Clan Legend in the 3.10 on what I hope will be wet, heavy ground.
He steps up to 2m 4f which I think will suit him though all his form to date is at 2m, only 5 run but most of them are potentially progressive and the favourite is 4lb ahead of the handicapper, he should run well if it doesn’t come too soon after Kelso and best of all Lucy is back in the saddle riding him. Time to reflect on what was another enthralling Cheltenham Festival, so much exciting racing but it does seem to be becoming ever more difficult for the “ordinary man” to win. The way in which half a dozen extremely wealthy owners have driven up the prices of horses has led to the best bloodstock being concentrated in very few hands which takes a bit of colour away from the game especially.
Interesting to note that Willie Mullins attributes the relative success of the Irish horses to a race programme that encourages their long term development compared with our bookmaker led, handicap obsessed structure – he makes a very valid point. The North of course hardly had a look in, the only class act really being the wonderful Cloudy Dream; that is hardly surprising with the whole of the UK only managing 9 winners and our Champion trainer with his choice of 175 expensively sourced horses only managing to win the Foxhunters, traditionally the preserve of the amateurs. I am sure he will be back but for the vast majority the prospect of Festival success seems more remote than ever, we won’t stop trying but nor will we fret about, better to enjoy the excellent sport that we have.