Autumn Winter 22/23
The mid-October meeting at Chepstow is billed as the season opener nowadays and Knappers Hill was ready to take the Silver Trophy for Paul Nicholls which incidentally was downgraded from a Grade 3 for the first time. He went on to take the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle in November and the Grade 2 Select Hurdle at Sandown in April capping a busy season. Unfortunately by June of 2023 his part-owner Paul Barber had passed away and he leaves a lasting legacy at Ditcheat. The two-day meeting is also the venue for the Tom Malone Bloodstock sponsored Novices’ Chase which we have finished second in for the past three years albeit with horses that went on to do very well for themselves that season!
The Charlie Hall Chase has an illustrious list of chasers on it’s roll of honour and this year’s was no exception. Bravemansgame coasted home in the Grade 2 event before going straight to the King George on Boxing Day where he improved again to win the Grade 1 by 14 lengths. He occupied the runner-up position in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and after a change of ownership in April, he attempted to make-all in the Punchestown Gold Cup but a slight mistake at the last cost him. He still ended the season as the highest earning British trained steeplechaser.
In November Envoi Allen continued his fine record at the two-day Down Royal Autumn meeting by winning for the fourth year running. This time it was the Grade 1 Champion Chase and he looked to benefit from the step up to 3 miles for the first time. After a lacklustre performance in Kempton over Christmas he bounced back to take the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, the 8th Grade 1 of his career.
Coole Cody won the Grade 2 ‘1965 Chase’ at Ascot for Evan Williams and Wayne Clifford at the age of 11 and has since retired. The son of Dubai Destination was bought for £5,200 at Ascot in 2016 having won a 5yo maiden point from three starts. He ended his career with 9 wins under rules and £344k, four of which were at Cheltenham. He holds the accolade of winning the middle-distance feature chase at the November/December festivals and The Festival Plate in March.
The Aintree national fences was the scene for our next big winner. The Grade 3 Becher Chase worth £84k to the winner was won by Ashtown Lad trained by Dan Skelton. Harry Skelton was in the plate and we witnessed the ‘Skelebration’ for the first time!
A 5yo that stamped himself as a horse to follow in the Spring was Rubaud. A son of Air Chief Marshall, he had won over 15 furlongs on the flat in France before we bought him. Patience was rewarded when he won the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle and then the Scottish Champion Hurdle. He remains unexposed and a Novice Chase campaign beckons.
Delta Work has run at The Cheltenham Festival five times now, winning thrice and being beaten less than 6 lengths in two Grade 1’s. This was his second win in the Cross-Country for Gordon Elliott, he’s won five Grade 1’s over fences and been place in an Aintree Grand National. Hopefully he can a crack at equalling Tiger Roll’s three wins in the race as an 11yo.
The Thursday began with Stage Star winning the Grade 1 Golden Miller Novices’ Chase following up from his win in the trail at the same track in January, the first half of a double for Paul Nicholls at the meeting.
Our fourth winner of the week was on Friday in the Grade 1 Spa Novices’ Hurdle over 3 miles. Stay Away Fay was making only his fourth appearance in public (including his point-to-point) and given he disputed the lead for the 3 mile trip and fought off all challengers who subsequently franked the form, he is one to be very excited about.
Another Aintree Festival winner followed when West Balboa added the premier handicap hurdle to her victory in the Lanzarote hurdle three months prior. Never out the first two in seven runs, the daughter of Yeats is another unexposed type who has lots to look forward to before going to the paddocks. The Ayr Scottish National Festival follows in April where the Future Champions Novices’ Chase went to Datsalrightgino. He had run a number of promising races this season including runner-up to Stage Star on one occasion but he loved the drying ground here. He is another that was bought as a store at either the Land Rover or Derby Sales.
A list of newcomers remain 1 from 1 in bumpers, Farnoge, Idy Wood, Marvellous Mick, Tarras Wood, Thames Water, whilst Inthewaterside is 2 from 2 and Captain Teague was placed in the Cheltenham bumper so there are a number talented and unexposed horses to look forward to.