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Windy way back from the gallops this morning

WE head to Doncaster on Tuesday in search of better ground for all three of our runners. We don’t have too many mudlarks in the yard at the moment so it’s going to be a fairly quiet time for us over the next few weeks. We’ll give the horses plenty of rest, time out in the fields and on the walker before getting them ready for some nice spring targets when the ground gets better.

First up is AAZZA (12.15) who is back over hurdles once more in a conditionals’ hands and heels race. We decided to send her back over the smaller obstacles at Newcastle in December for a confidence boost after three runs in chases earlier in the season and she ran a good race so we’ll stick to hurdling for now. We will absolutely go back to the likes of Hexham over fences when the ground is better, but she doesn’t want to be jumping around a big track at this stage.

It’s a big field, which is no surprise because this is about the only place you can get good ground at the moment. Hopefully she can build on the Newcastle run and maybe get another win over hurdles before we look at chasing again in the spring.

OKOVANGO DELTA (3.00) won over course and distance last time out so we will go back there hopeful of another good run. There wasn’t too much jumping that day because of low sun, but the forecast tomorrow suggests that won’t be a problem this time. We would have actually preferred more jumps for him last time because that’s one of his strengths - so it was encouraging he was able to win without them. We put cheekpieces on him for the first time that day and he responded well to them, so we retain them here.

He’s gone up 4lbs for the last day and this looks to be a stronger race on paper, but we think there’s still more to come so hopefully he runs well.

THE PLAYER QUEEN (3.00) runs in the same race and is still on a recovery mission after a poor effort at Sedgefield last time out. As we said before, she’s become a real puzzler because everything at home suggests she’s fine and we can’t get to the bottom of what’s causing her to run below the levels of what we know she’s capable of.

Last season when she won at Musselburgh she looked a real tough, progressive mare with a nice future, but since running on heavy ground at Cheltenham and turning her out again quickly to go to Newbury she’s not had the same sparkle. We just hope that hasn't played with her head a bit.

She has everything going for her this week - it’s decent ground, it’s a nice big track and Dylan Johnston is taking 10lbs off her as well. We are also putting cheekpieces on for the first time and hopefully that will bring her mojo back. She’s already down to a good mark before Dylan’s claim is deducted so if she doesn’t run well, we really will be left scratching our heads!

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