HARRY WHITTINGTON BLOG: Harry Whittington, Grade One-winning trainer and ambassador for market-leading betting exchange BETDAQ, looks back on his runners from the last seven days and previews those he has entered during the festive period.
We had a bit of a slow start in the Autumn so we’re really looking to finish the season strongly. All the horses are fresh and well and because of the ground at the start of the season, none of them have been over-raced, which bodes well for the second half of the season.
If we’re able to pick up a Graded race again after Saint Calvados’ win in Ireland that would be fantastic and if we could get our hands on a Grade One that would be a dream come true.
We’ve got plenty of exciting horses in the yard, but if I had to mention one to follow it would be our four-year-old called Mister Coffey.
He’s been working with the older horses and the way he does his work suggests we’ve got a pretty decent one on our hands.
You’re likely to see him in a bumper around March and we’re very excited about him.
The festive period got off to a really encouraging start with Rouge Vif finishing second by two lengths in the novices’ hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
There were a number of really well regarded horses in the race and he’s run a monster effort considering he was giving 5lbs to the winner.
We always thought he was quite smart, but he keeps improving with every run and I’m pretty hopeful he could turn out to be a top-class novice.
He’s going to run in a novice contest under a penalty at the end of January before the Dovecote back at Kempton. He’ll then head to Aintree for the Grade One two miler.
He’s such a speedy horse, so we just think Cheltenham won’t play to his strengths quite as much the flatter tracks which is why we won’t take him there.
We couldn’t be more excited about him and I can’t wait to get him back out again.
Jammy George ran respectably at Chepstow and we’ll look to step him up in trip now. Gavin [Sheehan] thinks that will suit him much better.
He’s very much a chaser in the making, so this season is much more about him learning. If he wins over hurdles it will be a bonus, as he’ll make into a fabulous chaser in time.
We were a bit disappointed with Vinnie Lewis’ run later on the card. He didn’t seem up for it, so we’re going to go back over fences with him.
He’s only an eight-year-old, so there’s no harm in the change and many people forget that two starts ago over fences he won a Sussex National.
The horse has come out of that well and we’ll look for a race at Hereford at the end of the month as his next target.
Anemoi ran an absolute cracker at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
It was pretty obvious he didn’t stay, so we’ll revert back to two miles going forward. The race has given us plenty of information about the horse which we wouldn’t have necessarily got if we stayed over the minimum trip.
As for future plans, he’s entered in the Betfair Hurdle which wouldn’t be his main aim, but we think the track will suit so it’s under consideration at this stage.
His owners are keen to run him at Cheltenham, so we’ll definitely enter him in the Supreme. He handled the track which is always a big positive and we’re very much looking forward to the rest of the season.
Entries this week
We’ve got a couple entered this week with both Dara’s Present and Khage holding multiple entries.
Dara’s Present will drop back in trip as we just felt he was a bit gassy on his reappearance run at Warwick. That was off a long lay-off so we’re expecting him to be sharper this time around.
We’re hoping Khage will take another step forward from his run at Southwell. We think a fair amount of him and if he can improve again, I’m hopeful he’ll be there or thereabouts come the finish.
We’ve had a slight rethink with Saint Calvados and we’re going to stick to two miles with him this season.
He’s still a very young horse and we just think it would be advantageous at this stage of his career to stay over two miles. There’s no doubt he’ll stay further, but at the moment we are happy going down the shorter route so that’s what we are going to do.
He’ll be entered in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown as well as the Game Spirit at Newbury, before heading back to the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
I ride him every day and he’s bouncing at home and we’re looking forward to getting him out again soon.