The Last Samuri bows out

The Last Samuri didn’t run his race at Newbury last Saturday and having assessed him at home we found nothing untoward, so the decision was made to retire him.

It was a very easy decision for owners Paul and Clare Rooney to make, along with their racing manager Jason Maguire.

The horse has been a great servant to them and it was all but certain that this would be his last season in training.

He’s been gifted to Kim Bailey’s daughter, Pandora, so he’ll have a very nice home and I’d imagine he’ll be spoilt rotten.

The search for our first Grand National runner goes on. American is in the race but we need to get a run into him first before deciding whether to go for it or not.

Winners in the week

Though Captain Drake seemed fortunate in winning his hurdle race at Southwell on Monday, with his main rival in the race unseating at the last, Noel Fehily was pretty confident that he would have come out on top anyway.

It was pleasing to see him step up on his previous wins and he’s now three from five for us.                                                                                                              

The race was a qualifier for the Challenger Stayers’ Hurdle Finale at Haydock on Easter Saturday, so that’s where we’re hoping to go with him next.

We ummed and ahhed about whether to let him and Winningiseverything take their chance, as they both want a bit of cut in the ground, and it was pretty quick at Southwell.

Captain Drake obviously coped with it, though we’d want a bit of rain at Haydock before that next race, while it was definitely too lively for Winningiseverything, who ran under a penalty in the bumper.

Noel said that he travelled well, but when they quickened up the straight he knew that he wasn’t enjoying the ground and didn’t go too hard on him as a result.

There’s no doubt that the extra weight made things harder, but he’s more than capable of winning under a penalty if he gets his conditions.

The going was pretty testing at Exeter on Tuesday, where Rosemary Russet finished fourth in the mares' handicap hurdle.

She’s run six times this season without winning and is still on the same mark, so it’s fair to say she needs some help from the handicapper.

The 2m7f trip on soft ground maybe stretched her a little and she may be better over a slightly shorter distance.

We were then absolutely delighted with Green Dolphin at Wincanton on Thursday.

We were a little bit disappointed when he was only third on debut at Warwick, but he was very green that day. Noel said not to worry and that he was definitely a nice horse in the making.

Despite still showing signs of inexperience, he got the job done nicely and certainly enjoyed the soft ground.

I don’t think we’ll go to Aintree with him. It’s more likely we’ll aim for another bumper under a penalty.

We’ve got a good bunch of bumper horses at the moment, and he’s not far away from the very best of them.


Mob-handed in Sandown mares’ bumper

I think Saturday may be the first time that I’ve ever fielded three runners in one race.

Whitehotchillifili, Misty Whisky and Eleanorofaquitaine all go for the Listed mares’ bumper (15:00).

Whitehotchillifili ran a fortnight ago on good ground under a penalty at Warwick.

She ran a good race, but the ground was too quick for her and she’ll really appreciate the slower conditions here.

She goes there in great order. Noel Fehily takes over from Mike Legg, who doesn’t get to use his claim in Listed company.

I think she has a massive chance.

Sean Bowen keeps the ride on Misty Whisky, having been in the saddle on her two previous starts.

She won nicely at Ludlow last time out and this has been the plan ever since.

The slower ground won’t be a problem for her either so she has a very solid chance.

There’s actually not a lot between the two and I’d be delighted if one of them could win.

Eleanorofaquitaine is our third runner. She finished sixth in a Listed bumper at Huntingdon, but needs to step up on that to get involved.

Unlike my other two, the ground is probably slightly against her, but you never know.

Sunday at Warwick

Dalila Du Seuil goes in the mares’ novices’ chase (14:50) at Warwick.

She was all set to run at Sandown in the rearranged Kingmaker Novices’ Chase back in February, but was found to have blood in her nostril at the start.

The vets scoped her immediately afterwards and it was determined that it was just a bleed in the nose. There was nothing coming from her airways.

She has showed no signs of any issues at home since and seems in good order.

We are well in at the weights and look like the one they all have to beat, so fingers crossed for a good, clear round of jumping.

Cheltenham update

With Cheltenham just around the corner, we’re hoping all our preparations between now and then go to plan and we get our horses there safe and sound.

Obviously Joseph O’Brien had a minor setback with Sir Erec in the week and it just goes to show that anything can happen when you’re dealing with these animals.

They can tread on a stone or spread a shoe quite easily, so you just have to hope that luck is on your side.

I’ve got a handful of hopes at Cheltenham next week and they’re all looking in good order.

Just A Sting (Ultima Handicap Chase, ), Momella (Mares' hurdle, ) and Black Mischief (Coral Cup, ) are in particularly good form.

Those three did a really good piece of work on Thursday and none of the riders could pull them up at the top of the gallop, which is slightly scary.

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