This weather is still causing hassle, but the racecourses have all done a super job in keeping the sport going.
Kempton ran another jumpers’ bumpers card on Sunday, which is a good chance to get horses out for a run, but you won’t learn much from the races as a punter.
It’s a worthwhile initiative, but they can be tricky to ride in, it’s fine if you have a good position, but when there are 16 horses all jostling to be in the same place, there’s a lot of squealing.
My Tent Or Yours was the highlight — Nicky Henderson didn’t want to run him on the heavy ground and risk damaging him, so it’s great that you can give the horses a blow out and not compromise on welfare.
There have been some decent Festival trials recently.
Zarkandar ran well at Wincanton to finish second to Melodic Rendezvous, but the ground was bottomless. He put in a good effort and he’ll be stepped up in trip now and heading for the World Hurdle.
Melodic Rendezvous is an improving horse and I don’t think he’s had the credit he’s due. He’s won six races from the past seven. He’s not flashy and hasn’t won by miles, but he’s taken them cosily enough and there’s more to come.
Another of my favourites from the yard, Celestial Halo, ran at Haydock. I thought he ran well, but he just got a bit tired and finished third. Sam [Twiston-Davies] looked after him and he travelled nicely, so hopefully he’ll also be set for the World Hurdle now too.
Dodging Bullets ran a great trial at Newbury the week before. The ground was too soft for him but he jumped great, he just tired. We were beaten by Module, a very good horse. He’ll now head to the Arkle with all guns blazing.
It was fantastic to see Denman looking so well at Newbury. It was his first outing since his life-threatening illness last year and he looked in fine form.
He paraded and then had a gallop up the track and certainly had all the enthusiasm of the old days — I think he thought he was going to race and he definitely looked well enough to.
It’s always great to see all the old heroes back and loving life.
Denman was clearly having a great time hunting last season and it’s lovely that horses like Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges [who I won the Grand National on] can enjoy a second career in dressage.
There’s going to be a Retraining of Racehorses [RoR] parade at the Cheltenham Festival, which is a great idea as the true jumps fans love to see the former stars looking happy and well.
That’s one of the best things about National Hunt racing; there are some real characters that come back year on year — they really are the stars of the sport.
The Grand National weights were announced last week, and Tidal Bay has top weight. However, the handicappers have been generous to him. He’s 13 but it’s great for him to have a chance to run in the big race.
Long Run is also another big name in there. It’s good news for the sport to have such well-known quality horses in the race. The better horses that run, the better — and safer — the race.
And talking of safety, the fact that there are some really class horses entered shows that owners and trainers are happy the new-style fences are an improvement.
There’s been a bit of talk of me not having all the top rides at Ditcheat. But when you’ve got more than 100 horses in a yard, you need more than one jockey.
Noel Fehily keeps the ride on Silviniaco Conti, as he’s won on him and picked up the ride when I was at another meeting. It’s the same with Irving, whom Nick Scholfield’s won on three times.
I still have plenty of nice rides and I can’t be everywhere.