Totting up the miles this week there’s been plenty of time to reflect on the latest happenings in the ever-changing world of horse racing, a fast forward few days which has seen representatives from my stable travel far and wide to tracks such as Kempton Park, Fakenham, Southwell, Market Rasen, Newcastle and Huntingdon.
Managing those logistics as well as keeping the pot boiling back at Southgate Stables can be a bit of a juggling act at times, but I have an excellent team behind me and I certainly wouldn’t change it.
Prior to heading off to Market Rasen on Thursday we had the pleasure of giving Kalashnikov his latest schooling session over the practice fences. As ever, Jack Quinlan was on hand to maintain their partnership, and we’re thoroughly looking forward to his next target at Plumpton on December 3rd.
The horse himself has been in electric form since Warwick, regularly threatening to send me into orbit when I ride him most days, and generally looking on good terms with the world.
If all goes to plan at Plumpton we can enjoy looking ahead to the new year and bigger targets in 2019, a campaign which perhaps will see us come up against Lalor.
A super winner at Cheltenham first time over fences on Sunday, I really enjoyed seeing the way he went about his task, you’d have to say he was highly impressive and the way he quickened was perhaps the most eye-catching factor for me.
It can only be good for the game to have talent like him emerging, and I hope FansBet are right to have both him and Kalashnikov towards the front of their Arkle prices.
Speaking of watching Cheltenham, maybe the thing I enjoyed most of all over the three days came on Saturday afternoon, when Coneygree showed his class on his long-awaited comeback in the 3m 3f staying handicap chase.
What struck me is the way he got everything behind him jumping out of their comfort zone, a sure sign of class and a fabulous performance after a long time off the track from the 2015 Gold Cup winner.
To be third in a good race like that when he’s so high in the handicap was quite an achievement, so well done to his connections for nursing him back.
On the subject of connections, one name who won’t be gracing the race card any longer is that of my old boss, Newmarket legend Luca Cumani.
Mr Cumani was at the top of his profession for a massive 43 years, and his final Group 1 win with God Given at Capannelle in Italy just a few days ago was a perfect send off.
I wish him a long and happy retirement, but I know for certain he’ll still be doing plenty at his stud and with his homebreds.
Another name to salute is that of Monet’s Garden, an iconic chaser when I was growing up who has just passed away aged 20 after a wonderful life.
A winner of 17 of his 32 races including three Grade 1’s, he certainly captured the public’s imagination and I think it’s fair to say everyone had a soft spot for him.
From looking back to looking ahead, I’ll sign off this week with my thoughts on Saturday’s feature race, the much-anticipated Lancashire Chase at Haydock Park (3.00pm).
It looks extremely exciting on paper, plus it isn’t going to be your typical running of this contest as it won’t be run on winter ground. Of the five declarations I’d have to be with favourite Might Bite.
His proven ability to win first time out, plus his liking for a flat track and decent ground might be just enough to tip the scales in his favour and help him take revenge on Native River, who of course memorably got the better of him in a proper battle up the Cheltenham in the Gold Cup back in March.
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