Saturday, 30th January | Rain | 3°

Rain, rain go away, come again another day…

It’s been extremely wet all around the country over the past few days and we’re predicted more rain and potentially snow going into the weekend. The weather has led to many abandoned meetings, Cheltenham were forced to abandon their ‘Festival Trials’ fixture, usually a great day. We could have another soft/heavy ground festival, that’s been a running theme for a few years now.

I recall an interesting conversation with Mick who has worked in racing for many years. We were discussing how seasons used to be far more predictable, but over the past few years we’ve had extreme weather conditions. Last year was another very wet winter, but the season before was very dry. We barely saw soft ground that year!

Our gallop has been holding up ok, and there are definitely people in far worse positions than us. There are patches of standing water at the bottom of the hill. These all weather gallops are generally what they describe themselves as, but the weather in the past few weeks has been out of the ordinary.

One set of owners who will not mind a bit of rain are the Shaw Racing owners that own Exploiteur. He loves a testing surface and handles soft ground well, he’s a big, strong horse with a high knee action. A proper National Hunt type. Today he runs at Doncaster in the Grade 2 River Don hurdle, the ground there is currently good to soft.

We have two runners today, at Doncaster and Lingfield…


12:00 – Dawn Treader – Arrived in the yard fairly recently and has shown some encouraging form on the flat where he earned an initial mark of 79. However he’s been disappointing on the racecourse recently and it was hoped a change of scenery might spark some more enthusiasm into him. A bit of a learning curve today, he’s certainly capable but we will learn plenty about him. Laura Pearson rides him.


2:40 – Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) – Exploiteur – A big day for Exploiteur, his owners and Lilly today. ‘Dessie’ has been a superstar so far this winter, running four times on heavy and soft ground. His form reads 2,1,1,3 and he’s progressive, he’s earned a rating of 129 over hurdles. We’ve always thought of this horse as a future chaser and he is a very exciting prospect. When he first arrived at Martins Hill he had a big frame, but hasn’t filled into it. He ran last season as a weak horse and showed some promising form, but giving him another season over hurdles has been the making of him. These big framed horses need plenty of time. Today’s conditions should suit him, he will handle the ground and stay the trip. There is no denying that this is a very good race with plenty of progressive novices, but we hope ‘Dessie’ will run a good race. Best of luck to his Shaw Racing owners and Lilly Pinchin who rides him.

You can watch some footage of Exploiteur going up the gallop yesterday here…

To end, a look back to 2016 when our very own Ami Desbois finished 3rd in the River Don behind Barters Hill. He went off at 100/1. Only six headed to post on good ground. On paper, it would be a tough assignment, Barters Hill was unbeaten and a strong favourite for the Albert Bartlett at the festival. Both he and the Willie Mullins trained ‘Up For Review’ both had ratings of 150+ as novices. Ami Desbois ran a big race on ground that was probably a little quick for him, he’d go on to win six of his next ten starts. He also came 5th in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017 behind Penhill.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the racing and stay safe!