In the Winners Enclosure

Last week was definitely a week we had been looking forward to as regards horses we had to run and I think the results proved why. The long trip to Norfolk to drop a horse home near Fakenham and run Straits of Messina proved fruitful. We also went there in search of better ground. Sadly that was not to be but ‘Straits’ won in spite of the heavy going. He is a horse that we have all liked from his very early work but he also takes a lot of graft in addition to being quite mentally immature. I am delighted for his syndicate and to finally train a winner in Prince Buster’s colours. I hope forward momentum is maintained with this horse as although he showed signs of inexperience, he also showed great tenacity towards the finish.

Rain-sodden Huntingdon was the next port (or very nearly) of call and we were sure the testing ground would suit both our runners. Trojan Sun got into a great rhythm after being rather chancy at the first fence. He seems to like flat tracks like Huntingdon and it was great to see him win again after a horrible fall at Southwell last time. He is not an easy horse to keep together but we have had him from the very beginning (our first ever horse) so we like to think we know plenty about him. Mark has been instrumental in maintaining his wellbeing and letting me know when he is moving like a well-oiled machine. Well-oiled or not, the one attribute this horse has above all else is that he tries. In spite of his physical ailments, he would gallop through a brick wall for you. It was the turn of another home-bred in Theatrebar to further facilitate the feeling of success. To say the result left a hollow feeling but one that filled me with pride would be putting it mildly. For a horse having only his 5th career start to go out and give them all a lesson in jumping on his handicap debut was remarkable. Remarkable would also be the adjective chosen when describing the events at the crux of the bout and Theatrebar lost nothing in his ‘nostril’ defeat. In fact, he has merely fuelled the eagerly anticipated excitement in my mind of the unwritten steeple chasing chapter in his biography which he will hopefully start writing next season. . . I am just honoured to be the publisher.

The weekend saw a quiet one for us at Dason Court. However, while the ultra-impressive Annie Power put her rivals to the sword once again; The Giant Bolster returned to form and Big Buck’s lost nothing in defeat (a new word in the hurdling chapter of his book), Elsa and I made our first visit to Larkhill point-to-point course with his old associate Duc De Regniere. Larkhill is as impressive a course as I have ever seen and the competition likewise. The weather suddenly turned tumultuous but James’ mind remained confident and calm. He gave ‘Duc’ a very competent ride and was passed on the run-in by a race-fit rival to be beaten two lengths into second. In terms of point form I am not very clued up so I am not sure what he achieved but I was delighted with horse, who showed his trademark low head carriage and metronomic canter cadence, and jockey who showed good tactical nous. By the end of the day it felt like Kansas and, although I am not sure Aidan liked his part as Toto, we all maintained one Dorothy-esque theme; on returning home safe and sound there was certainly no place like it.