It was great to sponsor the card at Ffos Las on Sunday where the Potter Group Welsh Champion Hurdle was the highlight on an excellent day of jump racing. Some great horses have won the two mile contest down the years, from Persian War in 1969, Bula two years later, Night Nurse, Sea Pigeon, more recently Potentate, who won it three times for Martin Pipe, Dai Walters’ Oscar Whiskey and then of course The New One in 2017 so it’s definitely a race to take very seriously.
Unfortunately it was staged behind closed doors but all owners that attended were well looked after and Phil Bell and his team at the course did a great job trying to keep everyone happy and they should be commended for their efforts in achieving the best possible care and attention in particularly difficult circumstances.
Anyway – let’s focus on the actual horse racing and there was no doubt the cap definitely fit Daryl Jacob in the Canter Carpet By Potter Group Novices’ Chase as If The Cap Fits made a winning Chase debut in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and Harry Fry’s inmate looks a top prospect going forward. Class also prevailed in the main event when Sceau Royal, last seen running in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, showed his 11 rivals a clean pair of hooves to score in impressive style under Daryl Jacob with our runner, Mario De Pail putting up a huge performance to finish an eyecatching fifth on ground that would have been quicker than ideal and his trainer Sam Thomas says he’ll come on plenty for the run, so we were delighted with the effort and there is undoubtedly improvement to come once stepped up in trip and with a bit more give in the ground.
Back to the winner, and Sceau Royal, reverting to timber, has always been a top class horse and in hindsight there was only going to be one winner on a weekend when his trainer, Alan King notched up a treble across three meetings – one at Ffos Las, one at Market Rasen and the small matter of victory at Ascot on British Champions Day
Funnily enough if you go back to the early 90s, you’d probably find a young Alan King following his mentor, the late, great David Nicholson around the race tracks of Great Britain learning his trade from the Cotswold maestro before setting up in his own right a few years later, and it’s far to say ‘The Duke’ would be extremely proud of his one time protégé who enjoyed another weekend to remember. Despite being pidgeonholed as a jumps trainer Kingy is, and has been for a long time, a widely respected and shrewd flat handler and the victory of Trueshan in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day is testament to his ability as arguably the most outstanding modern day dual purpose trainer. Yes you need the horses, but a fair amount of know how and meticulous race planning are quite possibly the biggest requirements to be successful in this game and the Scotsman has that in abundance. I worked for Alan about 15 years ago (Probably a few more, actually, but we’ll go with that as it’s a nice round number 😉) when the likes of Fork Lightning were around, in fact he’s my claim to fame because I often boast that I rode Alan King’s first Cheltenham Festival winner, it might not have actually been AT Prestbury Park but riding him on the gallops at home is just the same isn’t it?... I digress. Even at that time the ‘Guvnor’ was already a force to be reckoned with on the level. Trouble At Bay (Newbury and Ascot flat scorer) – remember him? Howle Hill (three time flat winner) and Salsalino (Salisbury Maiden winner and third in the 2003 Ebor) were the trend setters and the rest, as they say is history.
We have several entries next weekend including at Cheltenham who get their season off to a start on Friday. Sir Valentine has been given an engagement in the Novice Chase at 4:45 which could be a very competitive race if all the entries stand their ground. Nigel Twiston-Davies is keen to get him started over fences so he could take his chance but everything depends on the conditions, competition and most importantly, the horse’s well being. Our Power will be going chasing in the future but Nigel has also put him in a couple of hurdle races at Cheltenham and Aintree and depending on what else is declared, off 136, he could end up quite close to the top of the weights at Prestbury Park so we’ll wait and see come declaration time. It’s a similar story for Exelerator Express who has been entered in a Novice Handicap Chase at Wincanton on Sunday where there’s only one above him in the ratings. But Neil Mulholland reports him in great shape and I must admit he looked absolutely magnificent when I popped into the yard last week.
Speaking of magnificent looking things, we’ve just added a load more content to our website, Potters.co.uk, where every horse in Potter Group ownership has their own designated profile with videos, form and trainer comments so be sure to have a glance if you get the time. Don’t forget we’re also constantly updating @PotterGRacing on twitter and @Pottergroupracing on Instagram with all the latest news and updates on our horses, therefore you’d be mad not to give us a follow!