TAGS:

With the glitz and glamour of Cheltenham and Aintree already a fading memory, focus can now switch back to grass-roots racing, through which we all hope to unearth a star of future Festivals.

Dare I say I have heard the odd rumour of people dusting off the picnic hamper, too, to fuel the weekend excitement.

It has been interesting watching a few hunter chases and point-to-points over the past fortnight in which a number of the Cheltenham Foxhunter participants have made reappearances.

In most cases, however, their performances have perhaps not matched their starting odds, leading to familiar post-race adages such as “ran flat” and “he left his race at Cheltenham”.

It must be remembered that most hunt racing horses have had hard races on testing ground this winter, so are those excuses valid? It is fair to say that the Foxhunter and razzmatazz associated with the occasion can inevitably leave its mark on a horse.

This can be disruptive, given the race takes place midway through the point-to-point season. It’s why I often urge caution on owners and trainers to factor in the bigger picture and consider the remainder of the season.

One of my favourite horses who did suffer from turning up at the Festival last year was Coombe Hill. At the grand old age of 13, he gave weight and a beating to plenty of younger rivals at Wincanton last week.

While “Charlie” did win a hunter chase after last year’s Foxhunter, the severity of the race on deep ground seemed to sap his sparkle for the rest of the 2012-13 season. With hindsight, I am sure it cost us victory in 2 or 3 more ordinary events elsewhere in the hunter chase calendar.

So I am pleased he bypassed the event this year. It will hopefully mean there is yet more winning in his ageing legs.