BATTLING THE STORMS
THIS WEEK The storms have continued to blister through the valley this week but nothing has managed to interfere with those all-important Cheltenham preparations. Another nice winner has helped to warm spirits, notching up the tally to a total of 27, level with our best season ever and we've not yet reached March. Let's keep kicking... REPORTS STICK WITH BILL Stick with Bill lined up in the EBF qualifier at Warwick on Friday. The track and trip were always going to be slightly sharp for him but he was in good form and we needed to get him qualified for the final at Sandown in 2 weeks time. He was out paced for much of the way which meant he was on his head a little bit with his jumping. He finished a game second however and he is now qualified, which was the main objective. He has come out of the race well and is in good form so will head to Sandown next Saturday for the final. BIGMARTRE Bigmartre lined up on the same card at Warwick last Friday for his first run back after a wind op. He had been in really good form at home so we were looking forward to getting him back on the track. He was running at Warwick for the first time which is a track we felt would suit him well. The race looked a good opportunity on paper but ground conditions weren’t so much in his favour. They went a furious gallop from the start which caught him on the back foot from the word go. His jumping kept him on the coat tails throughout the race, and turning to jump the five down the back he looked like he was just getting into contention. They were able to quicken up away from him however and he was then never able to land a blow, but he did stay on very well from the back of the last two fences to finish 4th . He will be freshened up now for better ground when it dries out. SHE'SONEOFOUROWN She’soneofourown lined up in the bumper at Newcastle later that day. Having run a cracker on debut to finish second we were hopeful of her chances, and the race looked a good opportunity for her on paper given the fact she was carrying just 10 stone. It turned out to be a very disappointing run however and we are yet to find a reason why. She is a very nice mare for the future who we feel has plenty of potential, so we will give her the time she needs before running her again. VINNIE LEWIS Later on Vinnie Lewis lined up in the Devon National, in conditions which we thought would have suited him well. The false start meant that we were further back than we had wanted to be, so we were always on the back foot from there on. He jumped and travelled well to a point, but once he had made a bad mistake Page decided to pull him up. It turned out the ground was drying so it wasn’t as soft as we would have liked for him, but otherwise a fairly disappointing performance. We will freshen him up now for a run again in 2 or 3 weeks time where hopefully he will get his soft conditions. HENRIETTA BELL On Sunday Henrietta Bell lined up in a jumpers' bumper at Wolverhampton, where due to ground conditions it made sense to give her a run. The race was fairly competitive but with the promise she showed in bumpers we felt she would run a nice race. She lost her position early on but settled nicely on the inside. As they turned for home she was out paced to start with but once she got rolling she finished strongly staying on for a good third. She will now be fit and ready for a run in a month’s time back over obstacles, when hopefully the ground will have dried out. LANTIERN Lantiern ran in another jumpers' bumper on the same card at Wolverhampton on Sunday, where again it made sense to run him due to the extreme ground conditions. He had already won on the all-weather before at Lingfield, so we felt that it was a good opportunity for him. The race was run at a strong gallop and Gavin settled him down the inside off the pace, where he was comfortable throughout. As they turned for home he didn’t pick up immediately but once he got rolling he just had too much speed for them. Gavin produced him through a gap and once he got his head in front the rest was history. He seems to enjoy a consistent surface and has plenty of speed, so this may open up further options for him going forwards. We will now freshen him up for either a race over obstacles or perhaps a maiden on the flat depending on when it dries out. ENTRIES THE KINGS BABY The Kings Baby has been declared to run in the 2m4f conditional jockeys handicap hurdle at Newbury later today. She is in good form at home and ran with credit on her first run after a wind op. We will ride her differently on this occasion, to give her a chance to finish off her race to give her the confidence that she needs off the back of the wind operation. We are looking forward to running her as she has been in good form at home. CATELINE Cateline is also heading to Newbury today to run in the mares' bumper. She was meant to run at Plumpton on Monday but the race was unfortunately abandoned. She has run with promise on her two starts in bumpers this season and hopefully she can take another step forward here. The track and conditions should suit her well and she will learn plenty, so we are looking forward to giving her another run. KHAGE Khage has been declared to run at Newbury tomorrow in the Mansion Bet Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles. He is in great form at home and has come out of his last race in good order, where he managed to bounce back to a good level of form. The race looks a good opportunity on paper and the track and conditions should suit him well. He has a big engine but his jumping can sometimes let him down so hopefully he can run a big race and take another step forward from his last run. SHANTOU VOW Shantou Vow holds an entry at Chepstow next week for his handicap debut over 2m3f. He is in good form at home, and having won a race earlier in the season the handicapper has given him a mark of 121 which we feel is a bit harsh. He should improve with a step up in trip however. We are looking forward to running him and the ground conditions should suit him well, so hopefully he can take another step forward. PAT KELLY Pat Kelly is in good form at home. He has had his 3 runs over hurdles this season and has been given an opening mark of 92, which we feel he should be competitive up in trip and in the right conditions on his handicap debut. He holds 3 entries in the coming weeks so we will assess the opposition before making a decision as to where to run.