It’s been a quieter week or so for the yard, as we can’t run many of our horses on the ground.

It’s been sunny, and we’ve had temperatures in excess of 20c over the Easter period, so while it’s lovely to be out enjoying the weather, it’s not ideal for running National Hunt horses.

The ground will certainly be to Just A Sting’s liking in the feature race at Sandown on Saturday, though. More on his chances later.

Summer runners

We took a big blow at Cheltenham’s April Meeting with Golden Birthday falling at the last and suffering a fatal injury in the 2m 4f handicap hurdle on the Wednesday.

It was a very heavy fall on good ground and he broke his shoulder. He got up and walked away but he got progressively lamer in the racecourse stables and further x-rays revealed the extent of the fracture.

Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to save him - it’s gutting. One second he was going to win the race and the next he’s not coming home. It can be a very tough game sometimes.

It was just the start of his season and he’s been a very good horse without being top class. We managed to win 10 races with him across every discipline.

He won a bumper over hurdles, on the flat and over fences. If they all did that we’d be laughing. He’ll be sorely missed.

We’ve still got a few that will be campaigned over the summer, including Black Mischief and Goodnitesweetheart, who will both start out over fences in the next couple of weeks.

We never have masses of runners at this time of year but there’s certainly a few nice ones to keep an eye on.

Just A Sting at Sandown

Just A Sting has had a good first season over fences and we’re hoping he can finish it in style in the feature race (15:35) on the final day of the season at Sandown on Saturday.

He’s won two of his four starts, was second in another, and ran well despite finishing 10th last time out in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.

The ground was softer than ideal that day and we were just pleased with the way he jumped and travelled.

The better underfoot conditions here will suit and we don’t think he’ll have any problems staying the trip.

He’s got a lovely racing weight off just 10st 2lbs and hopefully he can end the season on a high for us.

The fact he’s one of the more unexposed and hopefully progressive horses in the field is definitely in his favour.

If you look at the winner of the Irish National last week, he was a novice chaser making his handicap debut.

Sean Bowen, who rides him for the first time, came and schooled him in the week and was very happy with him.

As for the challengers, there’s been a lot of money for last year’s winner, Step Back, so we’re wary of him.

Talkischeap has a similar profile to us and he could be dangerous if he can continue on an upward curve, too.

Looking a bit further down the market, Rock The Kasbah is quite interesting.

He didn’t get that far in the National and could go well if freshened up for this.

It’s a fiercely competitive handicap for sure, but we couldn’t be happier with where our fella is.

It will be certainly be a stamina test, but we have no doubt about him staying.

They’ll go a good gallop and we’ll plan to keep a bit up our sleeve until the finish.

Celebration for Altior


There’s no reason to think that anyone can beat Altior in the Celebration Chase (15:00).

His record speaks for itself and he’s up there with the very best I’ve seen.

It’s a bit of a shame that Cyrname doesn’t race against him, but you can understand Paul Nicholls’ decision based on the horse not getting his preferred underfoot conditions.

Punchestown on the agenda

Hell’s Kitchen and Minella Awards are both entered for Grade 1s on Tuesday at Punchestown.

We’ll assess how the final fields might look before taking up those engagements as they have handicap options later in the week, too.

We’re very much looking forward to bringing Caribert back out again on Wednesday, while Unowhatimeanharry is set to run in the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday, the race he won two years ago.

Caribert has been held back since his second at Exeter last time out in January. We weren’t entirely happy with him after the race and we decided to wait for this.

The beauty of Punchestown this year is that it’s the week after Sandown, so if he were to go on and win, he’d remain a novice for the next 12 months in the UK.

It’s been a lucky meeting for us in the past, so hopefully we can keep that run going this year.

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