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Near misses and next week's plans

SOME REIGN is a horse who has spent a fair amount of time frustrating Dobbs and I over the last year or so. But he was as quiet as a lamb heading to post at Kelso last weekend and ran a cracker to finish third in what was a pretty decent novice handicap.

People have asked what we did to get him to agree to race so readily, and Dobbs did make sure he was kept close behind the others coming out, but to be perfectly honest you’d need a horse shrink to have any clue about what goes on in his head!

The shorter chute at Kelso was better for him than Doncaster’s long one, where he felt a bit uneasy and claustrophobic, so that’s something we’ll keep in mind when choosing targets for him in future. Whatever it was, mentally this will have done him the world of good and hopefully we’ve seen the end of the histrionics.

He’s a horse with plenty of ability and although it was frustrating not to win when he looked like he had every chance at the last, his performance was still one we’ve taken plenty of encouragement from.The handicapper kept him on the same rating after the race, so we have plenty of options to get looking at for the months ahead.

Le Cheval Noir has also run a very good race at Wetherby. We went there thinking we could win but he got done for a bit of toe. The main thing for us is that all of our horses are running all the way to the line again and that’s what we have been wanting to see. Smugglers Stash was certainly one of those, outrunning his odds to finish second in a 3m handicap chase.

I was happy and frustrated with the way Coole Hall ran at Catterick. We felt he ought to have been able to win that race but he has this funny head carriage late in his races where he wants to look everywhere else but straight ahead towards the line. The track would have been sharp enough for him and there is a race at Wetherby we are looking at in a few weeks’ time. I think that will suit him far better.

SLANELOUGH is entered at Stratford but he is unlikely to go because the ground there sounds like it’s pretty heavy at the moment. We will just have to wait and see, although it looks like he will probably have to be rerouted to Haydock the following week instead.

CLASSICAL SOUND will head to Hexham for a 3m handicap chase. He’s had two runs this season, performing very well on his comeback before running below par next time out at Ayr. Plenty of ours were the same around the turn of the year so I’d be confident he’ll run far better this time around. This will be his first chase but he has schooled well and has enjoyed it.

ESPOIR MORIVIERE will also join him in the box heading to Hexham and he’s another I’d be encouraged about. He’s run his best races there over the last few years and will be right down at the bottom of the handicap, so is another one we are hopeful about. Last time at Ayr he blew up a bit before running on again, but back in surroundings he likes I can see him getting back to the form he’s showed there before.

With Cheltenham just around the corner Dobbs is off to a preview night at Ayr this evening. He’s been busy studying the form for it but the problem is I can’t read his writing so there’s no way I’ll ever know how many winners he’s tipped - or not!


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