The horses are coming along nicely with just over a month to go before the start of the true national hunt season.

BANNISTER (FR) got off the mark for the Crossed Fingers Partnership in the 2m Juvenile Hurdle at Southwell last week. He struggled to settle on his two previous starts over hurdles so we decided to change tactics and let him make use of his pace out in front. He jumped and galloped the fight out of the opposition before keeping on well to win by a distance! He is sure to improve when he learns to distribute his energies more sensibly. He looks an ideal candidate for French conditions races and could be one our first runners venturing over the channel this season in search of a decent prize.

BALLON ONABUDGET (IRE) continued the good form of the yard to win the 3m2f Handicap Hurdle at Newton Abbot on Tuesday in the colours of yard sponsor Henry Birtles. Tom was a little concerned when Johnny suggested that riding Budgie to finish third could be key to getting his head in front but the plan paid dividends! He stayed on strongly up the straight and was in the perfect position to pounce after securing victory for the Little Faith Syndicate with a fantastic leap at the last. The longer trip looked to suit so he will now be aimed for the Pertemps Qualifiers at the Cheltenham October meeting.

SEDDON (IRE) finished a very close second in the 2m3f Novices Chase at Stratford last weekend. He was giving 6lb to the winner and the reduction in the race distance probably cost him.