Colder today and frost on its way, a fantastic start to the New Year with our first runner Jet Master getting up to win the valuable staying handicap hurdle at Musselburgh under another power-packed drive from Lucy. His 9th and I think most valuable win on his 13th birthday, quite remarkable and I cannot overstate my admiration for this honest, brave and talented horse – he gives so much and asks for so little, I just feel very lucky to have had him in my care and I have to thank Harry Turcan and Simon Dunning for entrusting him to me.
Later on the card Ballynanty ran an excellent race having taken a little time to warm up jumping wise, he finished a close 3rd and should continue to improve over hurdles. Off to Ayr tomorrow where the ground is soft, they have an 8am inspection for frost and I am delighted that they have gone to the huge effort of covering the entire track in fleeces to give us every chance to race – it is so important to keep the show on the road for the Owners that invest so much in our sport.
It’s competitive stuff all afternoon and we start with Manetti in the 12.30, Lucy rides and 11 run, he’s run well in his two hurdles so far and whilst this looks a bit tougher we may change the tactics with him as he is better than he ran last time.
We then have two runners in the 1pm – Craiganboy (Grant) and Marlee Massie (Lucy); Craiganboy won well over course and distance last time and it will be interesting to see how that form translates in handicap company, I hope he is well-treated but he will need to be to make the frame. Marlee Massie is still on the comeback trail after a long spell on the sidelines, I hope he will improve on his Wetherby return last month but probably won’t be quite back to his very best yet, 9 run.
Then we run Not the Chablis in the 1.35, I was delighted with this horse’s hurdling debut and he should improve on that but he does face some tough opposition, 12 run and Lucy rides.
A short interlude prior to recent course winner Road to Gold running in the 2.40, he disappointed after that down at Haydock; I have 3 or 4 theories as to why he ran badly that day and at the very least I will be able to rule out a few of them tomorrow!
Hopefully he will bounce back to form in which case he should be in the mix, Lucy rides and 8 run. Left Back runs in the 3.10, he is a very big long-striding horse that wasn’t suited at all by Musselburgh last time and should be much better round Ayr, he’s slipped down the weights a bit and could run a decent race so long as the ground isn’t tacky which it tends to be post frost covers, Lucy rides and 8 run.
Finally we run Arnica in the bumper at 3.45, an interesting one, very well bred Juddmonte horse who was too big and backward to run on the flat, having just turned 6 he is still big and backward but his sire is notorious for producing late developing horses and hence latterly in his career was switched from Juddmonte’s flat operation to Coolmore’s NH empire.
This horse is for sale and I’ve resisted selling him so far because I find him very hard to value, he will value himself tomorrow and whilst I’m not expecting anything earth shattering he will hopefully run well enough to suggest he can win races, then perhaps someone would like to buy him! 10 run and Lucy rides. Couple of days at the yard after that prior to Newcastle on Saturday, Alnwick on Sunday, Musselburgh on Monday and Ayr again on Tuesday – fingers crossed that the weather cooperates!