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Highs and Lows

RACING is a game of highs and lows - and didn’t we know it on Saturday!

We went to Kelso hoping for four good runs from our horses but got off to a bad start with Coole Hall. We tried to ride him handily but the plan just didn’t work, he had his head up in the air from the very start and the writing was on the wall from a long way out.

The ground wouldn’t have been soft enough for him - that was the same for the first three runners we had - but I don’t think you can get away from the fact he’s just a bit of a monkey. There’s no doubt he has the ability and if he was to put it all in he’d have a real chance of winning races. But the problems are in his head and we’ll have to work out a way to get the best out of him.

Hitman Fred is another who has the talent but while his effort looked a real disappointment again, Conor O’Farrell thinks it wasn’t as bad as it looked. He was flat out from the strong pace and when they quickened he just couldn’t go with them on the gallop to the line. He’s one I think will benefit from softer ground and I’d hope once we get the right conditions for him he’ll show us something better.

Bako De La Saulaie also didn’t run as well as we hoped. Having the last two fences taken out because of the low sun - something Kelso suffers from a lot - didn’t help because it means it’s a long way home up the straight. But it was the same for all of them and we expected him to finish better. We’ll have a think about what to do with him next time.

From going to the Borders with a lot of hope, it made the bumper a bit nervy. We have always thought plenty of Fete Champetre (pictured above) at home but there’s always the worry you won’t see what they show you on the gallops at the track.

Thankfully he did the business, improved the mood dramatically and made the drive home far more enjoyable than it could have been.

We bought him as a three-year-old with Gerry Hogan at the Goffs Landrover Sale and have had to be patient with him. He’s a big horse so has needed time to fill out his frame enough to handle racing properly. Thankfully he’s well on the way to doing that now and while he was pretty keen, Sean Quinlan gave him a great ride and felt he still had plenty left in the tank at the end. He could barely pull him up after the line - which is always lovely to see.

Plans for him are pretty fluid at the moment but we’re just glad to get confirmation he’s the lovely prospect we thought he was. We’ll have a look at other races for him in the next couple of weeks and just enjoy the happy ending to the weekend first!

It’s another busy week of jump racing in the north, with runners entered at Ayr and Sedgefield before Newcastle’s first National Hunt meeting of the season on Friday.

Last year’s Borders National winner Bigirononhiship is entered at Ayr, while Jack Devine’s in at Sedgefield.

At Newcastle we have seven entries, including a new recruit Okavango Delta in the bumper, so we’ll update on their prospects later in the week when we know what’s going.


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