Finally spring is here and although the weather has gone remarkably cold for this time of year there are clear signs the path forward is blooming good!
It looks like the jumps trainers championships between Paul and Willie will go right down to the wire and no doubt will be won at Sandown similar to the other most recent occasion between Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls in 2004/5 Pipe won the title on the final day of the season at Sandown. This was thanks to winning with Well Chief over Azertyuiop in the Celebration Chase, a nine-runner race that was made up of five Pipe-trained horses and four Nicholls-trained horses – I guess they both really wanted it. That’s no bad thing though and Paul for sure is very competitive.
Nicholls memories of the 2011/12 campaign will be much fonder, the championship had looked set to go down to the last days of the season between him and Nicky Henderson, however the victory of Neptune Collonges in the Grand National brought an early end to the contest, Paul famously quoted “It’s blown Nicky Henderson out the water, that’s put that game over for another season.”
Paul wants to win, he makes no apologies for it. Yet although Mullins is so close this year it really is more of a factor that Paul’s yard has been in a transition phase. While Mullins continues to have success with his stars.
Paul has only picked up a couple of grade 1s this season and is about 1 million in prize money lower than last year. This is simply because despite a trip to France last year with connections to secure some of the top novice horses. The plan changed to a longer term outlook with many horses needing time to mature. This should see Paul reaping the rewards as early as next year.
Although some of the types they have bought in may not start to show their best until the season after. They could well have another couple of gold cup winners in the team only time will tell.
On to us – Much of the same this week. We missed out by a neck on landing a huge bet that would have seen us more than double our yearly total. No point crying over spilt milk though it would have been a welcome bonus yet we will land one before long. We are about to hit our best months of the year as the flat settles down and things become a little easier to predict.
We have had a really good winter though and are far beyond where we were at this stage last year. That puts us well on target to make 500 points this year and to mainly 1 point level stakes it would be a very impressive total.
Next week we will share our Royal Ascot thoughts with you and there will be a few horses for the notebook.
Two horses to take out of the last week would be FIRE AND PASSION – gradual improvement from this horse a close 2nd at 8/1 when we backed him and connections will place him in a race he can win.
TUPI – for the Hannon team – this horse was 10/1 when we backed him and just missed out by a neck in a competitive race. That neck cost us a lot of money yet we don’t blame the horse. We had a whisper the horse was super fit and well and should really be winning some decent races this year.
Matt – Unity Racing Club