I remain pleased with the horses this week, with several good runs for places. We’ve got a busy weekend coming up, with runners at Cheltenham and Doncaster on both Friday and Saturday. With any luck, there’ll be more success on the cards from a few of them.
Beat The Bat runs in the first, the 2m1f novices’ hurdle, at Cheltenham (12:05). It’s a slight drop in trip for him from last time at Ascot but it’s on the New Course, where there is a greater emphasis on stamina. We thought it would be the ideal stepping stone for him. It’s a very competitive race on paper, with lots of last-time-out winners in there and lots of potential. We’re testing him here, against some other nice horses, but he’s in really good form at home and hopefully he can run a big race.
Also on Friday is Ree Okka in the novices’ handicap chase at Doncaster (14:15). This race should suit him much better as it was just too sharp for him around Plumpton the last day over two and half miles so the step up in trip will be a plus. He’s run well at this distance before and this is a more galloping track so, with a few more boxes ticked in his favour, I hope that he will be competitive.
First of all is In Excelsis Deo, who goes back to Cheltenham, where he ran for third in October, for the 2m½f handicap chase (13:15). The form from his last race has worked out well and he ought to be able to go very close indeed over a similar distance. He stayed on late last time, so the New Course should suit him really well.
Following that is Carrigmoorna Rowan in the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over three miles (14:40). We’re putting him in at the deep end here, but we’ve given him a bit of time since his reappearance as he’s not the sort of horse you can run many times in a season. Initially, I put the entry in just to see how the race would end up because, at the time, there weren’t many entries, but we have ultimately decided to let him take his chance. The step up in trip will be a positive as he was staying on well at Worcester. If he can finish in the first four, then we’ll be delighted.
Finishing off the day is Martha Divine in the mares’ handicap hurdle (15:35). She makes her debut for us here. I had thought that we’d be going straight over fences with her, as she’s been going so nicely at home, but this race was in the right place and we thought ‘why not?’, so we’re starting her off at Cheltenham. It’s a dream for so many owners to have a runner at Cheltenham, and it’ll be especially enjoyable for this mare’s connections as her first run for them will be at the home of National Hunt racing. We’re learning about her all the time, but we know that she can stay further than this and handle the ground, so we hope that she can be competitive off her current mark.
Deeper Blue is first to run at Doncaster in the novices’ handicap chase over 2m3f (14:05). Not dissimilarly to Ree Okka, he just found Plumpton a touch sharp the last day but was doing all of his best work right at the end and was only just denied. He finished very strongly. The more galloping track at Doncaster will work in his favour, so he should be able to run a big race for what is quite a nice prize for a novices’ handicap chase.
Next is Gin Coco in the 2m½f handicap hurdle (14:40). He was last seen winning at Ascot and, while we had the option to go back there next weekend, he prefers better conditions and – realistically – he wasn’t likely to get them there.
With the conditions definitely more suitable for him at Doncaster, we thought it looked to be the ideal race. Ben Bromley takes off five pounds, which is exactly how much Gin Coco has crept up in the weights by for winning last time, which is very handy. We’d like to see him hold his own once again, having got his head in front the last day.