As we start to approach the half way point of the National Hunt season it’s fair to say things have gone pretty well for horses representing Potter Group and James and Jean Potter Ltd with Vienna Court and Before Midnight both winning major races at the likes of Ascot and Cheltenham, and with lots of the season remaining, hopefully there should still be plenty more winning opportunities.
We popped down to Nigel Twiston-Davies’s yard last week to check in on Vienna Court after her second victory at Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day and it was fantastic to chat to her devoted rider and groom Craig Gilbey who absolutely dotes on the daughter of Mahler. In fact he’s looked after and ridden her since the day she arrived at Grange Hill Farm and it’s fair to say the affection and bond they have for one another is wonderful to see and it’s people like Craig, and all of the other stable staff around the country, who should be commended for their excellent efforts when it comes to looking after our horses and turning them out so well every single day. Harriet, as Vienna Court is more affectionately known, can be a little bit of a handful to ride and sometimes gives Craig a full workout trying to pull up at the top of the gallop, but that’s part and parcel of her character and her rider says he’d be worried if it was any other way. Craig, like most other riders and grooms, know their horses inside out and it’s they who can tell when the equine athletes under their care may not be 100% or not moving quite as well as usual, so their input and know how is vital to the success of any yard and we are so pleased that all of our horses are looked after and cared for by a team of wonderful staff at each stable they are housed at. In fact, if you’ve not yet seen it, there’s a great interview with Craig on @JandJPotterltd Twitter and Instagram –https://twitter.com/jandjpotte... definitely worth 2m20s of your time!
On the subject of Vienna Court; there’s a Mares Listed race, worth £75,000, at Huntington on January 28th (over 2m4f) which looks a suitable target along with the G3 2m4f Handicap at Cheltenham on 29th, so we aren’t short of options.
Nigel also trains her half brother, a son of Fame And Glory, who is doing well and should be out soon. Spring Meadow is the horse in question, so keep an eye out for him!
Galileo Silver is absolutely flying at present and heads to Sedgefield on Friday to contest the Vickers Bet Handicap Chase at 2:20. He’s won his last two starts and has now risen to a mark of 124, a career high rating, so the son of a Galileo has to continue improving but he’s won over hurdles at the track and won’t have any issues with the ground.
It all ended very quickly for Our Power at Doncaster on Tuesday when he took an unfortunate fall at the first fence, but thankfully Sam Twiston-Davies was able to keep hold to stop him galloping loose around the course which means he can now take up an engagement in the 2:00 at Huntington tomorrow. Luckily he was absolutely fine after the fall, and suffered no ill effects, and schooled well this morning so will head along the A14 and hopefully come back a winner!
After his very encouraging run in the G1 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, Mister Fisher returns to Kempton on Saturday to tackle the G2 Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at 2:05 which is live on ITV Racing and Racing TV. The son of Jeremy has been a tremendous servant to James and Jean Potter LTD and he appears to have been handed a very good opportunity to regain the winning thread. The step back down in trip won’t be an issue and he should strip much fitter for his first run of the season. There are only four runners and while there’s not much between them on ratings, the ground should be fine and hopefully ’Jezza’ can do the business.
Stolen Silver, who carries the silks of Potter Group and Walters Plant Hire, was a little disappointing at Wincanton on Saturday but after a couple of hard races, notably when a gallant second at Cheltenham and then fourth in the G1 Henry VIII Chase at Sandown, Sam Thomas thinks those races may just have caught up with him so the likeable grey will be given a few weeks of R&R before coming back in the spring where there are lots of nice races and the ground should hopefully be much nicer as well.
Mot A Mot took his chance in the Listed Ballymore Trial at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and unfortunately failed to land a blow, but James Bowen reported he struggled with his breathing so the son of Martalline has already undergone a wind operation which will hopefully eradicate the problem and he’s now back on the mend. He’s a fine big horse with plenty of scope and will definitely make a smart chaser.
We really thought Patroclus would go well on his Chase debut at Newbury last month but, alas, it wasn’t to be and Nico de Boinville, quite rightly, pulled him up before jumping the last.
After plenty of rain the day before, followed by a dry, sunny, breezy afternoon, by the time it got to the last race the ground was very tacky and holding and de Boinville said Patroclus was never really happy and unable to ‘bounce’ off the ground. That’s the thing when it’s wet, they get through it, but once it starts to dry out and the sun begins to dry it out, the going can become very much like treacle and it’s hard for some horses to get into a rhythm, which is what happened here. He’ll be back though, and we certainly aren’t losing faith after just one run over the big ones. Patroclus is the most handsome -looking individual who wouldn’t look out of place in the show ring, but there’s plenty of unfinished business over fences to do beforehand and hopefully he’ll get his career back on track in due course.
Exelerator Express enjoyed an early season break after Chepstow in October but has now returned to Neil Mulholland’s stable much to the delight of his number one fan and rider/groom Georgie Murgatroyd!