We’ve been in lockdown for a full week, having only been told on Thursday that the restrictions were being lifted.

The BHA had to prioritise samples from trainers with entries in order to get racing underway as soon as possible and we were maybe slightly further down the pile.

We’ve then had to deal with the new six-month vaccination ruling, which thankfully hasn’t affected us too much as most of ours were done in September.

There are a few that have had to have their jabs renewed, though, including If The Cap Fits, who will hopefully be good to go for next Sunday’s National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.

Anyway, we’re back up and running and the horses certainly don’t know they’ve been in lockdown. We’ve been exercising them as normal and are looking forward to a few big Saturday runners.

Runners at Ascot and Wincanton

Air Horse One  runs in the 2m3f handicap hurdle Ascot (13:00), which was actually the last race he won two years ago.

It’s been frustrating because he’s run some career bests since without winning.

He’s not had much help form the handicapper, but is now off 140, which is the lowest he’s been in a long time.

Kieron Edgar, who knows the horse well, takes a valuable 3lbs off.

He showed a return to form when finishing second at Taunton last time out.

Topweight Ballyandy is maybe the main danger, as he was well-fancied for the big handicap hurdle of the day before being switched to this race.

Deadringerforlove  runs in the mares’ bumper (17:00), which looks a fiercely competitive race.

She was a little disappointing when not building on her debut last time out at Wetherby back in November.

In hindsight, the race probably came a little too soon for her, having only made her racecourse debut three weeks before.

We’ve given her plenty of time to freshen up and we're hoping she can now step forward on her previous two runs.

One thing to note is that she wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much, while she is a half-sister to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John and will get further in time.

Fellow Betway ambassador Dickie Johnson is in the saddle and we’ve got quite a good strike rate.

However, we’re up against some very smart looking mares, including the horse that beat us on debut at Chepstow, Silver Forever.

She went on to be placed in a Listed contest and poses a big threat, while it looks as though Kim Bailey has a nice mare in the shape of Subway Surf.


Jolly’s Cracked It  goes for the Grade 2 Betway Kingwell Hurdle over at Wincanton (15:00).

He had an option to run in the handicaps at Ascot, but we just felt that we should take our chance in a small-field conditions race rather than lump around a big weight in the handicap.

He obviously won very nicely on his return after two years off the track, but then it didn’t really happen for him the last day at Ascot in December.

We’ve given him a bit of time to freshen up and he seems really well.

He won a bumper at Wincanton on his first start for us so the track holds no fears.

Vision Des Flos and Sceau Royal present tough opposition but it’s probably not the strongest renewal of the race as a few horses couldn’t take their place due to the new vaccination rules.

Jonathan Burke will be dashing to Wincanton after the opening race at Ascot to take his first ride for us, so hopefully he doesn’t meet any traffic problems along the way!

Yard updates

Noel Fehily was down at the yard riding out and schooling earlier in the week.

It sounds as though he’s been doing some fairly intensive work at Oaksey House and he seems raring to go again for a full comeback since having appendicitis.

Fingers crossed he’ll be back riding with us next week, where we’ve got the likes of Bags Groove going for the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton and If The Cap Fits at Fontwell.

The Last Samuri, who had entries in the Grand National Trial at Haydock as well as next weekend’s Eider Chase at Newcastle, will actually now go for the Veterans’ Chase at Newbury in a fortnight’s time, while we’re still waiting for the soft ground to turn up for American.

Cheltenham plans are shaping up nicely, with the likelihood being that Just A Sting, who already holds an entry in the four-mile National Chase, will be entered for the Ultima and the Kim Muir.

Black Mischief  is also on course for the Festival with the Pertemps Final in his sights, while Winston C could go for the County Hurdle.

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