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FESTIVAL FEVER

14-02-2020

THIS WEEK January is behind us and as we continue to kick on through the season the Cheltenham Festival begins to settle on the horizon.  After a brief pause in our weekly updates we are all systems go again, and we're delighted to report another couple of nice Saturday winners in a row.  These include another victory at Cheltenham, the yards first winner at Sandown and an impressive Grade 2 success.  Plenty to get excited about with festival fever in the air... REPORTS SIMPLY THE BETTS Simply the Betts won the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase over 2m4f at Cheltenham on 25th January.  This was a competitive race but we were confident of his chances when going back left handed and having spent some time with Laura Collett brushing up on his jumping.  This seemed to work so well for his confidence over an obstacle that he even went there on the morning of the race on the way to the track.  There was plenty of pace but he settled into a very handy position the whole way round, jumping from fence to fence.  On the home turn when one horse went on Gavin used the opportunity to fill him up, before coming with a late run showing a good turn of foot to win very easily. He has since gone up 9 pounds which leaves the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate along with the Marsh and the RSA as his 3 festival options.  We will keep all options open until much closer to the time. STICK WITH BILL Stick with Bill won a competitive novices' handicap hurdle over 2m3f at Sandown on 1st February.  He had been in good form and having run with promise in a Grade 1 previously, we felt he would have a good chance when being dropped back into a handicap.  We also knew the conditions would suit him very well.  There was no pace so we had to go on, making our own running, where he raced in a very lazy manner.  However when Gavin went to wake him up at 2 out he picked up well up the hill to win nicely carrying a lot of weight on his back.He has come out of the race well and he will most likely run in an EBF qualifier next Friday at Warwick, where we hope to get him qualified for the final back at Sandown on the 9th March.   ROUGE VIF Rouge Vif was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices' Chase over 2 miles last Saturday at Warwick.  Having run an absolute cracker to just get beaten a length in another Grade 2 at Kempton last time out, we were hopeful of his chances.  He had been in great form at home coming into the race and as usual he'd schooled very well.  We put a tongue-tie on him for the first time as we felt that it might help improve him a few pounds, which indeed it did.  This was a competitive race on paper but we knew the track, trip and the jumping test was always going to suit him.  He took a lead and got into a lovely rhythm all the way round.  When the leader made a bad mistake at the first of the 5 jumps in the back straight he ended up upsides in front, so at that point Gavin pressed on to make it a test.  From then on the further he went the better he jumped, going away from the rest of the field to win by an impressive 7 lengths. All roads for him now lead towards the Arkle, which is a wide open race this year where you could make a case for a few of them in the line up.  Hopefully he has as good a chance as any, and we're looking forward to it very much. ENTRIES YOUNG BULL Young Bull has 2 options on the card at Haydock tomorrow, as yet we have not decided which he will go for.  He is on a roll having won his last 3 races, the ground conditions should suit him very well and he should be competitive wherever he lines up. CATELINE Cateline holds an entry in the mares' bumper at Ascot tomorrow however she is likely to miss this opportunity for another entry in just over a weeks time. SHAFFIRE Shaffire has been declared to run on the all-weather at Lingfield tomorrow in a handicap over 1 mile.  This looks a good opportunity on paper.  She has been in good form around the track having finished second on 2 of her last 3 races there, the last by a very small margin.  She has a good opportunity to run well again tomorrow and we are hopeful of her chances.  Hopefully she can get her head in front on this occasion. DESIGNER DESTINY Designer Destiny holds a couple of entries next week at Taunton and Doncaster.  She has been in good form at home and also on the track but hasn't managed to get her head in front just yet.  She has the experience under her belt now and has also had a bit of a break so is freshened up nicely.  Hopefully she can run a big race in one of these 2 EBF mares' novice hurdle qualifiers before heading to the final at the end of March. NEVERBEEN TO PARIS Neverbeen to Paris holds an entry next week at Doncaster in a handicap hurdle over 3 miles, along with an entry on the all-weather later in the week.  The later option at Lingfield is currently Plan A as he will not want the ground to be too soft but seeing as Doncaster has the best ground in the country we have left him in there as an option