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Let’s get cracking.


    Finally it's time to get back up and running.  After a couple of quieter weeks while the horses were given their vaccinations which is part of our New Year routine here at Hill Barn, we are looking forward to having runners again next week.  Whilst we remain at the mercy of the weather Gods, having had a couple of race meetings cancelled recently, fingers crossed conditions improve moving forwards. 
    Saint Calvados & Cozzie 
    The string getting ready to go out on the gallops. 
    New member of the team -  Alan Doyle riding Dargiannini
    Our sole runner in the past week was Numberoneson, who returned to the Flat on the all-weather at Chelmsford last night having failed to make an impact over hurdles this winter.  Sent off the 40/1 outsider in a competitive field, he needed to be bustled along leaving the stalls by jockey Luke Morris but was soon able to adopt a handy position in a race run at a good gallop courtesy of the favourite Arij.  However, when asked to quicken he was unable to go with the leaders, dropping away turning for home and being eased down inside the final furlong.  This was another disappointing effort and it is back to the drawing board with him.
    Black Abbey has a choice of entries in the early part of next week in handicap hurdles.  He is entered over 2m3½f at Lingfield and over 2m1f at Exeter, the former being a race for conditional jockeys’ and amateur riders.  Twice runner-up as a juvenile hurdler, he has now dropped into handicaps this season.  He took a step back in the right direction when 4th at Plumpton at the beginning of the month, rallying up the home straight, and should be suited by the greater emphasis on stamina that either test will provide next week.
    Having been thwarted by the weather of late, Sergeant O’Leary is another who holds multiple entries next week where he looks to make his long-awaited hurdling debut.  A horse with just the one racecourse outing under his belt, a 5th-place finish in a bumper at Exeter back in November 2019, he shows us ability and has been schooling well at home.  He is likely to need this first experience over hurdles, whether that be back at Exeter on Tuesday or at Chepstow the following day.
    Give Us A Swig has been handed an opening mark of 111 following a couple of encouraging runs in novice hurdles and may make the quick switch to handicaps at Exeter on Tuesday.  The winner of his sole start in British points last January, he has been a little keen in his races to date but should be suited by the slightly longer trip.  This promising youngster certainly doesn’t appear to have been overburdened by the handicapper’s initial assessment and we look forward to running him.
    Wednesday could potentially be a busy day for the yard, as alongside Chepstow and Newcastle, we also have a couple of possible runners at Newbury, with Caught Inthe Slips in line to make her second career start in the mares’ novices’ hurdle.  A late-maturing type, this seven-year-old finished in mid-division, shaping nicely in a similar race at Lingfield on her recent racecourse debut and is likely to need another couple of runs before she fully learns her job.
    Breaking Waves is our other entry at Newbury on Wednesday in the 3m handicap chase.  A winner at Exeter in this month last year for Noel Williams, he was unfortunate to slip up in the early stages on his debut for us at the Ladbrokes Trophy meeting before running 4th when turned out a week later at Wetherby.  Although beaten 52 lengths that day, the winner has since followed up, and we hope he can prove capable of building on that if taking his chance.
    Having been unlucky to be carried out at Kempton over Christmas, Warranty was a good 3rd at Sandown last time and could be given the opportunity to continue his hurdling education up at Newcastle on Wednesday.  The fitting of blinkers was the catalyst to an improved display at Sandown, with his jumping generally a lot slicker, and a repeat of that performance should see him hold leading claims.
    We have a trio of entries at Ludlow on Thursday, headed by Qualismart in the opening novices’ hurdle.  An impressive winner on debut at Market Rasen in November, he finish 3rd in a messy race at Haydock last time out, racing freely over the first couple of flights and struggling to jump out of the heavy ground.  He has been freshened up since and we are looking to get him back on some better ground now.  He remains a horse with plenty of potential, and his Market Rasen form has been franked when the second came out and won at Doncaster next time.
    Another one of our exciting young horses who may take his chance at Ludlow next week is Sir Sholokhov.  Successful on his only start in Irish points, he ran extremely well on debut for us when 3rd in a traditionally hot maiden hurdle at Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy meeting.  On that occasion finishing 3½ lengths behind the winner My Drogo who has since gone on to win a Grade 2 at Ascot.  He is expected to be suited by stepping up in trip and we eagerly await his next run.
    Shambra is our third and final entry at Ludlow in the 3m mares’ handicap hurdle.  Tried over fences on her first two starts for the yard, she hasn’t really taken to the larger obstacles so we are aiming to go back over hurdles now in an attempt to restore some confidence.  The main aim will be to get her back on track, she is a talented mare when on song and is now 2lb below her last winning mark.
    Torigni is a possible to head to Wincanton on Thursday.  Having finished a creditable 3rd in a well-contested handicap hurdle at Kempton’s King George meeting.  The flat right-handed track will be in his favour, though we will have to keep an eye on the weather as he wouldn't want the ground too testing.
    STAFF INTERVIEW - Alan Doyle
    Staff Interview with Alan Doyle
    Until next week...