The Wednesday of Cheltenham began with a runner in the first race- The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in which we had Seddon.
Seddon had come into the 2m5f on the back of a very good season in which he had gained a lot of experience.
He won his seasonal reappearance/ hurdling debut well at Stratford which led him to higher caliber races at Cheltenham and Ascot.
He ran well in the following three starts, finishing third in each of them.
Seddon has had a tendency to race keenly, which is still surprising as he is the most laid back horse at home.
We tried running Seddon in a ring bit at Cheltenham but felt like he sulked with the stronger bit so we removed it.
Unfortunately, in the Ballymore Seddon was once again, too free early on which he paid the price for over the final few furlongs.
Noel Fehily was still full of admiration for Seddon and commented on how much speed he possesses.
We’re still pleased that the McNeill family have such a fun and consistent horse which bags of potential.
Our second runner on the day was also owned by the McNeill family, The Worlds End who lined up in the RSA Novices’ Chase.
Worldie had begun his chasing career with a bang and set his season off in the best way possible, with a win.
He followed up his emphatic chasing debut win at Chepstow with another resounding win at Cheltenham where he finished 26 lengths in front of the nearest pursuer.
A disappointing run followed in the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day where Worldie was never able to get into a rhythm.
Despite this run, Worldie had still, very much earned his place in the RSA starting line-up.
Worldie was running a lovely race, bowling along in front in a lovely rhythm and jumping well.
He rapidly lost places coming down the final hill before swinging into the home straight.
Paddy Brennan then pulled him up, feeling there was something amiss.
He came back to the stable yard lame and was examined by the vets on numerous occasions as they monitored his lameness.
Fortunately, it appeared that Worldie simply gave himself a bang on the leg during the race which caused him to go temporarily lame.
He very quickly recovered and is at home, ready to go again.
The third runner of the day was old favourite, God’s Own in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Now an 11-year-old, God’s Own, or Basil as he is affectionately known, is showing just as much zest for life as a 3 year-old colt.
Basil had had a fine season in the build up to Cheltenham, winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter to a subsequent Cheltenham winner.
Basil then ran a further cracking race in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon to finish second to the very talented, Charbel.
We couldn’t have been happier with how Basil was going at home; bouncing and squealing on the gallops and working fantastically.
We knew the Champion Chase would be a hard task as Altior looked the banker of the whole festival however, Basil had always run consistently around Cheltenham in the Championship races and we couldn’t see why it would be any different this time.
As predicted, Basil was running his usual great race and was still in fourth, vying for the places two out until Paddy felt something go amiss.
Paddy quickly pulled Basil up as a precaution as he felt the horse take a false step.
The vets were quick to check the horse over and luckily there was no lasting damage.
Basil had simply taken a false step that led to him going lame for a few strides.
Again, he was checked over a number of times by the vets back in the stable yard who monitored him closely and luckily, he was fine.
Basil is back at home and is back to full health ready to go again for his owners, the Crossed Fingers Partnership.
Our final runner of the day was Fanfan Du Seuil, also owned by the Crossed Fingers Partnership, in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle.
Fanfan came to our yard in the summer following a nice win in France over hurdles at Fontainebleau as a 3 year-old.
A fine stamp of a horse, you would be hard pushed to find many better and more impressive looking juveniles in training.
Fanfan has always looked to be a chaser in the making from his grand stature and neat jumping.
His first start for us didn’t go as planned when Fanfan was running a nice race at Chepstow only to fall two out.
He took a crashing fall that day which we were scared might have an impact on him next time out.
Luckily, Fanfan showed no ill effects of the fall and won easily next time out at Cheltenham beating subsequent winner and promising type, Our Power into second.
Fanfan went on to line up in the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham in December where he looked the winner until just getting collared in the final strides by a more experienced horse.
We felt that the Fred Winter would be a more suitable option for Fanfan to run in at the festival rather than the Triumph Hurdle.
Fanfan jumped superbly and accurately during the Fred Winter and was right there turning into the home straight.
He managed to weave his way through horses up the hill to finish fifth, a great result.
Paddy was very pleased with him commenting that he’ll learn even more again from the run and that he has shown a lot of talent to finish as close as he did to the winner.
We’re very pleased for the Crossed Fingers Partnership as they look to have an exciting, young prospect on their hands.