What a great afternoon of racing we had during Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day on Saturday, 25 January. It is a day that never disappoints and I am sure we saw some horses who will be winning again at Cheltenham in March.
Paisley Park was brilliant in the Cleeve Hurdle. He could turn out to be one of the greatest hurdlers of our era and he looks unbeatable in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival. He is not one for the faint-hearted racing fans because he always hits a flat spot two hurdles out, but then the fire kicks in and he ends up winning with his ears pricked.
It is brilliant for his trainer Emma Lavelle and her team — they are doing a fantastic job with Paisley Park.
Santini won the Cotswold Chase with a dour staying performance, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on in the Gold Cup in March; although I suspect he may be slightly outpaced on what is likely to be better ground.
On the home front, our yard’s Imperial Aura ran a cracker to finish runner-up in Cheltenham’s novices’ handicap chase. He will learn an awful lot from the experience. We hope to head back to Prestbury Park in March with a big chance.
It has been a very frustrating month for us and, although we had a Grade Two winner with Two For Gold at Warwick recently, we have struggled to get the horses right. Their blood tests haven’t been returning as we would like and this has been reflected in their performances.
However, we hope that Saturday’s run by Imperial Aura has been a turning point because we have plenty of horses left to run.
An entries guessing game
It is a very exciting time of year for racegoers because most of the Cheltenham Festival trials are over and all thoughts turn to the big meeting in March. The downside is that with many horses having multiple entries, it is a guessing game as to who is going to turn up where.
As a trainer, we like to leave decisions as late as possible, so we have a complete overview of conditions on the day. Having a winner at the Festival is such a massive achievement in racing, so we don’t want to be getting things wrong. It can be frustrating for punters when they don’t know until the last minute which race a horse is likely to run in, but we have to do right by our horses and their owners.
Away from Cheltenham, there is still plenty of good racing to come with meetings at Sandown Park, Newbury and Ascot over the next three weekends.
Hopefully we can get a few more winners on the board before I write here again next month. Fingers crossed.
Ref Horse & Hound; 30 January 2020