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Winner at Newton Abbot


Its been another quiet week at Hill Barn which started with a flurry of snow and ended with bright sunshine!  We had an impressive winner in the form of Sir Sholokhov at Newton Abbot on Wednesday making it 2 from 2 over fences.  And although our National Hunt season is coming to a close we still have some nice horses with entries next week. 
Brave Kingdom (Front, ridden by Cozzie), Franigane (Middle, ridden by George) & Warranty (Back, ridden by Gemma) 
Sir Sholokhov looked to have a great chance of making it 2 from 2 over fences at Newton Abbot on Tuesday, going off odds-on in a three-runner affair.  Stepping back up in trip after scoring over 2 miles at Sedgefield on his chasing debut, he was content to track his two rivals, and despite jumping out to his right on occasions, came through to lead just after the third last.  The second favourite Go Long kept him honest, but Sir Sholokhov always appeared to have a bit in reserve and went to score driven out by 2¾ lengths.  Stiffer tests may be ahead but there is definitely further improvement to come, especially as his jumping gets slicker with experience.
There was a card restricted to fillies and mares at Cheltenham yesterday where we were doubly represented in the Grade 3 juvenile handicap hurdle with both Raffles Gitane and See The Eagle Fly aiming to collect some valuable black type, the latter being fitted with a first-time tongue tie after a recent wind operation.  The pair of them were held up in the early stages with See The Eagle Fly dropped out last and Raffles Gitane taken slightly wider to get a clear sight of her hurdles.  The race began to take shape from the second last and Raffles Gitane made promising headway to move into a challenging position on the approach to the final flight with See The Eagle Fly still towards the rear and struggling to quicken.  Third jumping the last, Raffles Gitane couldn’t quite sustain her effort up the hill but battled bravely to cling onto her bronze-medal position, gaining that all important black type, whilst See The Eagle Fly stuck to her task gamely to finish 5th, missing out on the placings by just ¾ length.
It is the Scottish National at Ayr this Sunday and we have one runner there today on the first day of their two-day meeting.  The horse in question being Torigni, a horse that has run well to finish 3rd on all three starts for the yard to date.  He is entered for the 2m handicap hurdle, and whilst he will have a big weight to carry, he should find the forecast good to soft ground very much to his liking.
Breaking Waves has a choice of entries in the coming days as he looks to build on his back-to-form 2nd at Uttoxeter.  A change of headgear and a switch to positive tactics were the catalysts for improvement on that occasion and we will look to pick the most suitable option from races at Wincanton (Sunday), Kempton or Market Rasen (both on Monday), the last-named giving us the chance to try him back over 3 miles.
Another possible for Wincanton on Sunday is Calidad who is set to have his second start of his career in another bumper.  He failed to meet expectations at Cheltenham in the autumn, having made eye-catching progress in the field he looked the winner at the top of the hill before he encountered issues with his wind.  This has now been corrected and he has also been given more time to fill into his frame.  He’s still a horse we hold in high regard and we look forward to running him again. He also has the option of similar events at Ludlow,  Warwick and Perth next week.
Juniper was a non-runner at Sedgefield last week as we felt the ground was just a shade too fast for her.  Hexham on Monday is her next viable alternative, although again we’ll have to wait and see what underfoot conditions are like.
Docpickedme could also make the journey to Hexham for a 2m4f handicap hurdle in a bid to follow up his maiden success at Southwell last month.  Open to further improvement, a mark of 119 does appear workable.
Fitz In completes our trio of potential runners at Hexham on Monday. Runner-up in a point at Alnwick in December, we sourced this half-brother to two winners at the Goffs UK Sale at Yorton just before Christmas and are looking forward to getting him started under Rules.
It hasn’t quite happened yet for Warranty over hurdles so we may go back on the Flat with him at Pontefract on Monday.  An impressive six-length winner for Mark Johnston on his last start in that sphere back in July, he is the type who could relish the step up to 2m5f in the ‘Marathon Handicap’.
Waterlefe Getaway showed she has the ability to win races when making the frame in both bumpers and maiden hurdles at the start of the season and can now target handicaps on her return from a winter break.  She has options at both Sedgefield and Taunton next week and should appreciate moving up in trip at either venue.
Until next week...