I start off the year with four rides at Exeter on New Year’s Day. Cliffs Of Dover has top weight in the Thurlestone Hotel Handicap Hurdle, he has to give weight away to all his rivals, but he could be up to the task.
He ran a positive race last time in a handicap hurdle at Doncaster to finish a close third behind Equus Amadeus and Irish Roe, and he races off the same handicap mark now.
My main aim will be to try to get him into a nice racing rhythm, just get him settled wherever he is comfortable and not doing too much. This is a decent little race, Ebony Gale is progressive and Trans Express is in the form of his life, but if I can get my horse settled nicely then he should run his race.
I ride Greaneteen in the maiden hurdle. He has only run once for us since he has arrived from France, he finished sixth behind I Can’t Explain in a novices’ hurdle at Sandown in early December. He didn’t run badly that day, and I’m not sure how well the soft ground would have suited him.
He could do better now on better ground. He should be able to build on his last run. As long as I can keep him out of trouble and keep him going forward, hopefully he will have a good chance.
I ride Triple Chief for Dad in the handicap chase. I’d say that he is in the handicapper’s grip at the moment, but he does like Exeter.
He has been pulled up on his last two runs, but his last run wasn’t bad. He travelled well for the first mile.
I’d say he lost his confidence a bit at Wincanton in November, so it was nice that he was able to get a bit of confidence back last time at Exeter. He’s tiny, but he has plenty of heart. I fear that the handicapper has him at present, but hopefully he can run a race.
My last ride of the day is on Mister Timmytucks in the bumper. He hasn’t run yet, but he is a nice neat sort, and he is a full brother to Master Tommytucker, who won both his novice hurdles, both at Exeter.
It’s going to be interesting to see how he does now on his first run. It will be interesting to see if he has gears like his big brother. I’m looking forward to riding him, it will be nice to get him there and open him up, see who he is. You never know. It’s a big day for him, his first day at the races, and different horses cope with it differently. Hopefully he will enjoy it, and you know that, coming from Paul’s, he will be fit enough to do himself justice.
Christmas racing was great for the team, with Clan Des Obeaux winning the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, and then Quel Destin winning the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow the following day.
Winning the King George was magical. I did like Clan Des Obeaux’s run at Haydock, and there was every chance that he was going to build on that run. He is improving all the time and he was very good in the King George. The way that he travelled off a strong pace, and the way that he stayed on at the end. He is a young horse and he could improve again.
The banners were up for him and for Quel Destin when they came back into the yard. I love the way that Quel Destin goes about his business. He’s tough, he always gives his all, and he jumps like he has been jumping all his life. With juveniles, if you can jump and travel and battle as well as he does, you will always give yourself a chance.
Those two wins were the two highs of the week, the two Grade 1 wins, but there were others. Posh Trish won easily at Wincanton on Boxing Day, and she won again at Taunton on Sunday.
She’s a tough mare, and she’s strong. She looks like a gelding. I’d love to see her going over a fence. She could be awesome over a fence.
And Ask For Glory was very impressive in winning the bumper on Welsh Grand National day at Chepstow. He had won his point-to-point, but that was his first run on the track.
The way that he galloped, the way that he strode out, he was very good. He has always been highly regarded at home, and he was very professional in his first race. He stands tall too, he is built like a chaser. He is an exciting horse.