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On paper, the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on Saturday was between two horses, Melodic Rendezvous and Ptit Zig. But we had to question whether Melodic Rendezvous had fully recovered from his muscle injury and I would have been quite happy if he had finished in the first two.
Turning in he was travelling the best, and Nick took a short pull after the third last. He flattened the hurdle two out, and came off the bridle , but then he picked up very nicely. The idea was that we didn’t want him to hit the front too soon so it worked out and it is nice to have him back on track.
He’s come out of the race very well so now we are considering our options. He seems to relish soft ground and we feel that while that type of ground prevails we might as well take advantage of it and run him sooner rather than later.
There’s a listed race at Sandown on February 1 or the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on the same day. Our other option is the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on February 15 which, timing wise, is perfect. But it will be a very competitive race with a lot of the big guns being aimed at it so we might dodge that in favour of one of the other options.
The jury is out on the Champion Hurdle at the moment, and after last year’s disappointment, we won’t be getting too excited about it. We’ll see how he comes out of his next run, and make a decision from there but our thoughts at the moment are that if the ground is very soft at Cheltenham we would seriously consider it, but if not there are options at Aintree and Punchestown.
Steve Croft, who looks after Melodic, also rode his first point-to-point winner at Black Forest Lodge last week on Honours Insight. Like Melodic, he’s also owned by the Cash For Honours Syndicate so the lads have been having a great time recently.
It’s been a very tough few weeks at the yard, mostly because of this incessant rain. It’s pretty awful riding out three or four lots in it, day after day, and Melodic’s win has proved a real pick-me-up. All the staff deserve a huge thank you. We’ve had a few injuries recently, so we’ve been short staffed, and we’ve been away a lot racing, but everyone has been really fantastic. It’s team work in the end that gets the job done.
We’re taking a pull with the horses this week and won’t have any runners. They’ll have their herpes jabs and we’ll just back off them a bit which will bring them back fresher. It will give us all time to have a breather before the last quarter of the jumps season swings into action.
We’re obviously thrilled that Melodic Rendezvous won today’s Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock. He’s back to where he should be now having recovered from a torn muscle in his hind quarters. Whether he’s good enough for the Champion Hurdle at the Festival remains to be seen as it looks very competitive. We’ll see how he comes out of this and play it day by day.
Gunna Be A Devil’s win in the 32Red On The App Store Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Warwick last week was very pleasing. He’d been off for two years after suffering a tendon injury following his win at Exeter Racecourse and it was lovely for his owners who are local to us and had done all the rehabilitation work with him at home.
Matt Griffiths gave him a brilliant ride and I think any of his doubters should watch the video as he is a very underrated jockey who doesn’t get the opportunities he deserves.
Gunna Be A Devil has gone up 8lb for the win and we could run at Sedgefield if its on as he won’t get a penalty as he won a conditional jockeys’ race.
But it’s a long way to go, and having had such a long time off, you’d be inclined to think he’d be better off carrying the 8lb. If it was a more local track we’d run, but Sedgefield is a very long way from Exmoor.
We run Moorlands Jack at Leicester today and the ground is heavier than he’s raced on before so we will wait and see. However, it should be a nice confidence-giving run and then he’ll have a break.
Dashaway is entered at Huntingdon, but I’m not totally convinced it is going to be on and I’m not sure whether its worth driving all the way there anyway. The problem is there are very few races for him in January, so we may have to wait for a race at Wincanton at the end of the month, or somewhere during the beginning of February.
Ballinahow Star ran a super race at Kempton to finish third in the William Hill Download the App Mares’ Handicap Hurdle and I was very pleased with Daveron at Taunton where he finished fourth at 100-1. He’s entered for Plumpton and he needs a couple more runs to get a handicap mark. I very much doubt he’ll win a novice but he went about his job in a professional manner at Taunton
I was also really pleased with Miner Distraction who found it all too much at Exeter recently. So we entered her in a listed race at Taunton, which I wouldn’t normally do, but it was a smaller field and she loved every minute of it. She’s now full of confidence and I’m looking forward to running her again.
Decimus ran too badly to be true at Taunton and he is now being thoroughly checked out as we think something may be amiss with him.
Melodic Rendezvous continues to progress nicely following his muscle injury which emerged following his run at Newcastle in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth where he was fifth to My Tent or Yours.
Obviously we were hugely disappointed following that run, but at least he did have an injury which he could have picked up in the Elite at Wincanton where he slipped, although we can’t be sure.
We’ll put an entry in Haydock on Saturday, January 18 for the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial although that will probably come too soon. We’ll also enter him in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday, February 8. He’s building up all the time, but the reality is that we won’t know if he has fully recovered until he has run. It’s only when horses are put under pressure that muscle injuries like that come to light. However, he’s doing everything well enough at the moment.
We had a good Christmas Day. All the staff came in, and we had champagne once we’d done the horses. Our head girl Laura Warren got engaged although I suspect its only because her boyfriend couldn’t think of anything else to give her so he bought her a ring!
We run Ballinahow Star at Kempton today in a very competitive looking mare’ race and she’d have to run a personal best to win it. If she got in the place money, she’d have run very well.
We ran a couple on Boxing Day – Duke’s Affair needs further and it wasn’t soft enough for Quaddick Lake.
Night of Passion won again at Bangor-On-Dee carrying a penalty, but I think she’ll go up less than 7lb so she’s unlikely to run at Exeter on Wednesday carrying another penalty. She’ll have to step up in grade now and eventually we’ll use Chris Meehan to take 7lb or 10lb off her and we’ll stick to tracks like Exeter as she’s does stay.
If you sat on her she’d quite happily finish last, but the more you ask, the more she’ll give you and that’s the sign of a good horse.
Kilmurvy ran another good race at Ascot where he was third in a handicap hurdle. He’s such a decent little horse. He needs every inch of three miles, and I think he was probably doing too much in front at Newbury where he was fifth in a Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, so Nick (Scholfield) was more conservative with him at Ascot over two miles five, but with hindsight he should have been ridden more aggressively so I think we got the tactics wrong. We haven’t found another race for him yet.
We’ll probably have some runners at Taunton on Monday. Daveron is new to the yard and we’re still finding out about him; Decimus is in at Taunton and Exeter and I haven’t worked out which is the better race for him and Dream Deal will run if he gets in.
Dashaway came out of his bumper run at Ffos Las very well. He has such a lovely temperament and will run again in mid January. He will have improved an awful lot for his run.
Empiracle will be ridden again over the next few weeks and the plan is to run him on good ground during the autumn 2014-2015 season, give him a break mid winter, and the run him again in the spring of 2015.
Melodic Rendezvous is back in full work and has recovered well from his muscle injury. It was frustrating watching the racing on Boxing Day, but the longer you give these injuries the better and we expect to run him again mid to end of January. There’s a race at Haydock which is a supreme hurdle trial, and another race at Newbury that is suitable at the beginning of February.