Cheltenham is just a couple of weeks away now and even for a compact team like mine there’s unquestionably a degree of pressure and excitement building.
Our stable star, the amazingly gutsy and consistent mare Happy Diva, holds an entry in the valuable Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at 4.10pm on the Thursday.
Worth a chunky £61,897 to the winner, it’s a prize we’d love to have a crack at if all goes smoothly between now and then.
The welfare of the horses in my care comes before anything, but a close second to that is making sure the owners are happy and in on the plan. The Roseff family whose colours ‘Diva’ runs in are not only massive supporters of my yard, but also of the sport in general and love a good day out.
It’s a double whammy if I can get her there in peak condition on a day when they can attend and cheer her on.
The whole family were there in November when she famously won the prestigious BetVictor Gold Cup, a satisfying win which was due reward for horse who is very rarely not involved at the business end of some red-hot contests.
That victory also meant further confirmation of her affinity and suitability for the demanding nature of Cheltenham races, a track which not only takes some jumping in what are usually big fields, but also features a gruelling uphill finish.
In her last three runs at Prestbury Park she’s been second, second and first, plus she’s pretty versatile in terms of underfoot conditions.
Any race at the Festival is a massive ask, but it’s exciting for stable of our size to be making plans to try and strike gold on the biggest stage of all.
My Dad, former trainer Richard, was no stranger to Festival success, saddling both Space Fair and Super Coin to win races there in the 90’s, as well as seeing Miss Nero finish a gallant second in the Stayers’.
It was him who unearthed the diamond which became Happy Diva from Ireland, so it’s also pleasing to see a vein of continuity running through our operation.
Elsewhere, the spell between 10th-13th March isn’t just about the Cheltenham Festival and we daren’t take our eye off the ball!
There are opportunities to win races at other tracks throughout that week, and I have plenty of names pencilled in to try and exploit openings at other venues.
More of that to come in next week’s update, though for now it’s back to the hard work and build up in weather which hasn’t been kind of late.
Fingers crossed for continued success and happy, healthy horses.