We were delighted to win our appeal against Protektorat’s demotion on New Year’s Day. We thought we had a strong case to put before the BHA inquiry panel. The appeals process worked.
We will move on now but, having won the appeal, Protektorat now gets a 5lb penalty, because it was a Class 1 race, which is going to make life harder at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day where he will run next.
You have to take your victories when you can. We were very happy to see him settle better and run a lot better over a bit of a trip.
We are involved at three meetings on Saturday. At Kempton we start off with Lonimoss Bareliere (12.20) in the juvenile hurdle.
To be honest, he has not looked good enough for a weight-for-age race so far. Perhaps he can figure in handicaps further down the line.
Bourbon Borderline (12.55) is trying three miles. He looked very good winning a point-to-point but we have struggled a little bit.
We are now trying him over the distance he won his point-to-point over but, though he does go well at home, it hasn’t been happening for him yet on the track. Hopefully the penny will drop at some point.
One For Billy (1.30) runs in the handicap chase. He ran all right for a long way at Chepstow the other day. This will be his second run off a long layoff though and, while he has stepped forward since, as ever I will have the possibility of a bounce factor in the back of my mind.
Born Survivor (2.05) goes in the Silviniaco Conti Chase. I am struggling to find places to run him. He likes a flat track and he ran well in the Peterborough Chase.
This is another hard race for him though. He is just below these horses and running off 150 in a handicap is no gift.
I was really happy with Gortroe Joe’s run there last time on Boxing Day when he travelled into the race well. The faster they go the better. The Lanzarote should be a fast run race so I think he has an each-way chance.
Northofthewall is a novice coming into this which means he is unexposed.
He won his last start and has some decent-looking form behind and around some good novices at Bangor and Fakenham, it is just how he copes with the hustle and bustle of a proper handicap. He doesn’t look unfavourably treated though.
At Warwick we have Elton Des Mottes (12.40) in the first race. I would give him a little chance. He has had plenty of time to mature.
He went back to the owners over the summer and autumn and has come back a stronger looking horse so hopefully he will have some sort of chance. He has worked nicely though.
Ashoka (1.15), who runs in the handicap chase, has been out of form but I am hoping he can rediscover that soon.
Ardlethan (1.50) runs in the novice chase. I have had this race in mind for him for a while.
He has some good form and hopefully he can win one of these graded contests. He won well at Chepstow first time and hasn’t been disgraced since. He has to be a player.
Shan Blue (2.25) tackles another race I have been targeting a long time. He was going really well at Newbury when he fell.
He put in a clear round at Southwell to get his confidence up. I think he is a player, although there is an Irish horse that could be hard to beat on ratings.
Captain Chaos (3.00) is in the Classic Chase. We know what he is like, if he puts his best foot forward he is dangerous in any of these staying chases.
It didn’t happen for him in the Welsh National. I was happy with him on the first circuit but then he just dropped himself out. We have the blinkers back on and if he is on song he will be a player too.
Diamede Des Mottes (3.35) is in the Pertemps qualifier. I would love to qualify him for the final which would give his syndicate a good day out.
He isn’t without a chance in this race because his form with Skandiburg at Aintree is good. Ignore his run at Haydock. It’s a funny track, all about speed, and it didn’t happen for him that day.
The Rosary Flyer (4.00) is a real nice young horse, a proper National Hunt type of horse, who runs in the bumper. We have given until he is five-years-old to run him and we are very happy with him.
At Wetherby we have Aheadfullofdreams (12.30) who hasn’t looked good enough so far in weight-for-age races. I would be surprised if he could figure.
Azzuri (2.15) ran okay for a long way at Wetherby after Christmas. He always runs in these races and hopefully it won’t be long before he wins again. Willie Marshall takes 7lb off, which is no bad thing.
Willie also rides West To The Bridge (2.50) who hates fences so we are back over hurdles. He would have a chance on old form but whether his confidence is there is up to him a little.
Cutting Sword (3.55) runs in the junior bumper for fillies, which is perfect for her. She has worked nicely at home.
She is a hardy mare and has been away for a racecourse gallop. She should just keep galloping and have a fair chance.
Hopefully we have a good day ahead. The horses have had all their flu vaccinations.
You don’t know how they all are until you run them and this is the first batch to run. It will be interesting to see how they get on, but I am happy with them.