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We had our second runner of the year when SPIRITUALLYran at Kempton on Monday in a 5 furlong novice event. She jumped very awkwardly out of the stalls and managed to get quite a nasty cut on her leg, although I don’t know if that was self-inflicted or whether something jumped into her. She didn’t really like the track at Kempton, which was riding on the slow side. There was a lot of kickback and, when she was in behind, she was struggling to get her action. She had run a much better race on a sounder surface at Chelmsford on her previous start and I think that is where we need to be with her.

Later in the week, PENTLAND HILLS, a former inmate, won the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham for his new connections, following in the footsteps of another former inmate, Mysilv, who did exactly the same thing back in 1994. Pentland Hills was a bit of a character but a nice horse, and it was lovely to see that he has gone on to do something. He was a horse we always held in a bit of regard. He wasn’t fully developed as a three-year-old and wanted a bit of cut in the ground, which was a problem for much of last year, but he progressed well, winning twice and finishing in the places four times. 

With the new season just around the corner, work is stepping up. We started doing some half speeds and getting on a bit with a group of horses. I would have thought that we are likely to have our first runners on the turf during Craven week in the middle of April. Horses like HAN SOLO BERGERICE LORDBLACK LOTUS and FOLLOW INTELLOare all horses that appreciate a bit of juice in the ground and seem to be fairly forward, so they are obvious ones to push on with. There are also a few unraced three-year-olds that we are moving on a bit at the moment as we would like to get a run or two into them, get some experience and allow us to learn a bit about them as soon as we can. These include CARLEENWALK IT TALK ITCAPLA HUNTRESS and SMART SAMBA, although the latter probably doesn’t want the ground too soft. We are all looking forward to getting going soon.