WE were delighted with the way both Okovango Delta and Vintage Glen ran at Kelso on Saturday. As we feared, Nells Son was just too strong for our lad in the maiden hurdle but he’s a pretty smart one, so for us to give him the race we did was very exciting and bodes well for the future. He was still a bit babyish but he hurdled well so there will be more improvement in him, especially when we step him up to two and a half miles.
As for Vintage, Craig Nichol felt he was going to win until he flattened out after the last, so we’re pleased with his performance and hopefully he can kick on again next time. He had a good blow afterwards so will come on for it and there’s a race at Newcastle we’ll aim him at next. It is all starting to come together with him, we’ve had to be really patient but he’s travelling much better and jumping well. He’s starting to look the part so we’d like to think there will be a win just around the corner. His owners Ronnie Jacobs and Ian Macconnachie were both there to see him so it was good he ran so well with them in attendance.
Focus shifts to Ayr now, where we will have three runners at their opening jumps meeting of the season. THE PLAYER QUEEN (1.20) is first up in a mares’ maiden hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. She was very impressive winning her bumper at Cheltenham back in April so was popular at the sales, but thankfully we were able to get her. She’s a lovely mare who has nice form in the book and her point-to-point win was good as well. Yeats is a sire we like, he’s doing very well and she definitely catches the eye when you see her in the flesh.
She should run very well but we are up against one of Chris Grant’s who won a bumper at Hexham just a couple of weeks ago so will have fitness on her side. But we hope she ought to be good enough to get off to a nice start for Dad.
GENTLEMAN DE MAI (1.55) is next up and we are looking forward to getting going with this lad. He is a lovely horse, beautifully bred being a three-parts brother to Bristol De Mai and he’s got some very solid point-to-point form in the book as well. He was second that day but the winner has come out and looked very good since, so hopefully time will show that was a hot race.
He’s a very big horse so we wanted to take him to Ayr because of the galloping nature of the track. He was a bit weak when he came over to us from Ireland but he’s strengthened up now and even though he’s still got a bit more filling out to do, he’s getting there. I suspect you’ll see him in better light on softer ground and over more of a trip, but we wanted to come here for his first race so we targeted this one a while back. He’s a long-term chasing prospect, really.
We might well find he’s stepping up in trip straight away after this because he’s not got the speed for two miles, but we’ll get him on the track and see how he goes. As long as it’s safe he’ll run.
PERMISSION GRANTED (3.05) makes up the trio of our runners. He ran a blinder at Perth last month but the one negative for him this week is going left-handed because he’s more effective going the other way round. Ayr is a big track and he’s getting his ground, so he might get away with it. If he reproduces his Perth run and takes to the track then he could run another big race.
The two action photos are of our three runners having a pipe-opener on Sunday morning, with young Jake Dickson (red jacket) on board Permission Granted - who is part-owned by his grandfather Johnny.