EXETER WINNER EPATANTE SHAPING UP WELL FOR CHELTENHAM
Looking back on last week, without doubt the highlight was winning on the Nicky Henderson-trained EPATANTE at Exeter.
I was very impressed with her. She jumped really well, taking a good step forward in that regard from her first start for Nicky, and was very professional. She was a bit keen early on, but it was her first run for three months and I’d say a lot of that keenness was just her being fresh.
That run should help knock the freshness out of her for the next day. It was only a canter around for her really and I think she’ll be better in a better race where they are going a stride faster and can tow her along for longer.
I believe the plan is for her to run in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and she is shaping up well for that.
At Kempton on Saturday I rode the Paul Nicholls-trained MODUS in the featured 888Sport Handicap Chase. He wasn’t good enough on the day and I wouldn’t be inclined to blame the longer trip for it. He is just a hard horse to catch on a going day.
In the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle I rode I K BRUNEL for Olly Murphy. He’s a nice type, but it just happened a bit quick for him around the track. A stronger test will suit him better.
Regarding Angels Breath, it was a bit disappointing to see him being beaten, but he should come forward from the run and the experience. You’d also think Cheltenham would play to his strengths a lot more than Kempton did.
You’d rather for him to have won of course, but I wouldn’t be giving up on him and things could be very different in a fortnight.
Earlier on that card Fusil Raffles was impressive in the 888Sport Take ‘Em On Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.
Crossing the line, I thought he looked a real Triumph Hurdle contender, but he has obviously since been ruled out by a cut that he picked up at the final flight. Hopefully he’ll be back on track soon and you’d imagine he’ll be a big player at Aintree if he is back in time for it.
Looking even further back, Laurina finished up her preparation for the Champion Hurdle by winning a Listed mares’ hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday. She got the job done and only did what she had to do.
She remains the unknown quantity in the Champion Hurdle, but I wouldn’t be swapping Buveur D’Air for her!
Finally, it was a real pity to hear the news about Le Richebourg being ruled out for the season yesterday. He has taken so well to fences and was shaping up very well for the Arkle.
It’s a real disappointment for all involved that he won’t make it there, but hopefully he’ll make a good recovery and be back again next season.