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AFTER a quiet week-and-a-bit, we’re finally heading back to the races today with two runners at Newcastle – FETE CHAMPETRE in the 1.40 and TROOPER TURNBULL in the 2.50.

Our last runner was Captain Quint at Newcastle’s last meeting nine days ago. Since then, there have only been fixtures in the north at Carlisle last Sunday and Catterick on Tuesday, so it’s a welcome relief to be back doing what we all put in the hard yards for.

Fete Champete and Trooper are two of our most exciting novice chasers, so a nail-biting day is in store for us all! That said, I’m very happy with both horses, they’re both in great order heading down the A1.

Trooper won in good style at Wetherby last month, albeit he did make a bad mistake three out and Conor O’Farrell had to sit tight. Hopefully, he’ll have learned from that and he doesn’t give us any frights like that later!

We’re keeping him at 2m for now. He will get further in time, but this race was quite tempting as it’s 0-120 novice handicap and, although he’s gone up 5lbs for Wetherby, he’s just able to squeeze into this off his revised mark of 122. It looks the right race to go for – hopefully we’re proved right!

Here he is in the field yesterday morning admiring one of the fabulous sunrises we’re often blessed with here at Hazelrigg.

Fete Champetre hasn’t won over fences yet. He was still going really well when he ran out into the wing at the final fence at Hexham on his debut. Then last time at Ayr it turned into a bit of a sprint up the straight and his jumping suffered a bit as a result. He made a couple of mistakes and Craig Nichol did well to stay on board.

He’s still a really exciting horse in my eyes and I’m hoping it will all come together for him today. The horse that beat him at Ayr, Dreams Of Home, is a progressive sort for Donald McCain who looks set to go off a short-price favourite for the opener at Haydock (12.20), so hopefully the Ayr form will have received a nice boost by the time our lad faces the starter!

Stepping up to 2m4f here I think will also suit him. He’s been quite a keen horse so far, hence why we’ve been running him at 2m. But he settled nicely at Ayr and then when it did develop into a sprint, he was flat to the boards. Going up in trip, I hope he settles as well through the early part of the race as he did at Ayr.

It’s really strange to think we’re only a week before Christmas and the ground down at Newcastle is good. It won’t inconvenience either of our two, as they both want decent ground ideally and have won on similar ground before. Here’s hoping...


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