Looking Ahead …

October 6th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

I know I probably say this every year, but the autumn really is my favourite season – both in nature and the racing calendar.

It’s a time for both reflection and anticipation – reflections on the past few weeks of the Flat season and anticipation as the news filters through about the old favourites from the jumping world.

Of course the news is not always good. Dan Skelton, who is setting such a scorching pace at the head of the trainers’ table, announced this week that Captain Forez had died while Lucinda Russell reports that Grand National hero One For Arthur will miss the season. There will be other less-high profile horses that have also fallen by the wayside.

It is, though, a time of great optimism, with trainers keen to talk about their new recruits and hopes for their longer-serving inmates.

I have a few days to relax having filed my copy for the Dark Horses Jumps Guide earlier this week. The weather was glorious yesterday so I decided to pop a few miles down the road to see how Cartmel was looking. I am pleased to report it’s looking as good as ever, even out of season retaining all its magic.

The star of this year’s edition off the Dark Horses has to be my racing assistant Jodie Standing. She has developed into a very astute observer of the Irish point-to-point scene and I have never known her so enthusiastic about a crop of recruits as she has been this year.

In fact her enthusiasm was so compelling that we have devoted no fewer than the best part of 10,000 words on the subject, packed with her personal observations on how the 40 graduates ran and details about their new yards.

Her main hope is that none of them win before the book is published! That may be hard to avoid, but clients who order the book from us will receive a letter or email with a list of the featured horses, so nothing should be missed.

Moving to the Flat, the news that Harry Angel, Cracksman and possibly Enable may stay in training sets the scene for a vintage summer. Mind you if Cracksman and Enable do stick around it may not be the best season to be a middle-distance three-year-old!

Looking ahead to the jumps, the prospect of a clash between Altior and Douvan in the two-mile division is proving more of a talking point than the Gold Cup or Champion Hurdle. My view is that the two may never meet and that Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci may opt to step Douvan up in trip, perhaps even the Gold Cup.

Rich Ricci does not have another obvious candidate for the race at this stage other than Djakadam, who has been beaten in it three times. Ricci has intimated in the past that Douvan may be asked to tackle beyond two miles and his pedigree is quite supportive in that respect. One thing we know is that if he does run he won’t be the 12/1 you can get for him at the moment.

The news about Thistlecrack seems positive as it is for stable-companion Native River, who looks a serious challenger this year.

As for the Champion Hurdle it is dominated at the moment by Buveur D’Air, Defi Du Seuil and Faugheen. We need to see if Faugheen can get back to full fitness and, if so, whether he will stay at two miles or return to longer trips.

Before then we have some great weekends to look forward to this autumn, notably Champions’ Day at Ascot in a fortnight’s time.

Bye for now