I'M delighted to be bringing you my thoughts regularly in my new RaceBets blog and will be aiming to offer you plenty of insight into our runners and what life is like here at Bankhouse.
This weekend always feels like a big step up in the jumps season with Cheltenham taking place along with Sunday's Old Roan Chase meeting at Aintree, and in general I feel our team is in good shape.
The jumps programme in the north of England is so bad that I didn't plan on having them ready before late October anyway. We're happy with them and happy to get going with them. What we need now is the ground to run them.
I always think when a horse has it's first run of the season it's about getting it in and getting them going rather than being too specific about where it is. You can pick and choose your races later on.
Early doors I'd hope, and expect, them to run well and get placed and then go on from there when there are more options for them with the ground and the races that are around.
Dear Sire – 2.35 Cheltenham, Friday
He's done well in novice chases this summer and while we're stepping up in terms of track, the majority of his rivals are the horses we've been taking on over the last few months. Now, Diakali might be a bit different and we'll have to see what he can do against him. However, Dear Sire's been running well summer and has big track and big race experience as well so that's to our advantage. I don't see why he can't run well and I'm looking forward to it.
Good Tradition – 3.10 Cheltenham, Friday
Very sadly the owner died recently. Harry Stock, Chris's son, rides and the family are Cheltenham people, so it's great to be having a runner at the course in Chris's colours. It's going to be an emotional day for them and it's the main reason why we're going. I'm sure he'll give it his best and afterwards he'll have a holiday.
Noah And The Ark – 5.30 Cheltenham, Friday
It's been a bit of a shock the amount of improvement he's shown. I'm not sure if we've just been beating trees in the north – and that's a distinct possibility – but while he's on a sensible mark we thought we'd have a punt at something a bit better with him. Do I think he's up to winning a race like this? I'm not convinced. But we're going to give it a try and see how he gets on. It still annoys me that I was fined and jockey Will Kennedy and the horse were banned for his run at Bangor under the ‘schooling in public' rule. I don't cheat or hide how good my horses are. My job as a trainer is to find a way to get a horse to run well and that's what we did at Bangor. People may look at him winning his next two and put two and two together, but all we've done with him since is what we did at Bangor because we stumbled across the way to ride him to allow him to show his best.
Lofgren – 3.00 Kelso, Saturday
The ground is plenty quick enough at Kelso and that is just what he wants. He's going up in the handicap as he's running well, but a small field race like this on nice ground is what he needs to show his best. He's won at Kelso too, so I'd be optimistic of a good showing from him.
Val Mome – 3.35 Kelso, Saturday
I'm not sure he's too well handicapped this horse, but he should be capable of running well of this mark. This is his handicap debut after running in novice hurdles, so it's a different challenge, but it doesn't look the strongest of races. I'd expect a solid run and then we can go on from that.
Middlebrow – 4.10 Kelso, Saturday
He's not really run that well at Kelso before but it's a weak enough race to have another go there and see if he can do better. He wasn't beaten too far when third at Carlisle last week and we've just stuck on a pair of cheekpieces to give him a bit of extra help.
Handy Hollow – 5.15 Kelso, Saturday
He's been running very respectably recently and has been getting these extended trips well. The ground should help him, and while he's only a pony and has plenty of weight to carry, he's tough enough and he's hardy. It's not much of a race.
Cloudy Dream – 3.00 Aintree, Sunday
We're very happy with him and he's ready to run. He's got form in the race already and on paper it doesn't look as strong a race as it did last year when he was second to Smad Place. He's a new horse to me and until I start running him and seeing what he does on the course for us I'm not going to be able to learn more about him. He's a high-class horse for sure, and Brian Hughes knows him well so that's going to be extremely helpful at Aintree and in terms of making plans for the future too.
Whiteoak Fleur – 4.10 Aintree, Sunday
She's run two good races in bumpers so far and the form of those races has stood up well. I think she'll be suited by Aintree and having another run in a bumper. We want to put her over hurdles soon, but she was quite wild last season so we feel another run before we put her over any obstacles is the right way to go with her.
Original source: https://blog.racebets.com/donald-mccain-racebets-blog