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About Dan:

Dan has worked with horses for his whole life and spent nine years as Assistant Trainer to Champion National Hunt Trainer Paul Nicholls. With that invaluable experience under his belt, he has embarked on his own training career and now has almost 200 winners under his belt, including Willow’s Saviour’s memorable victory in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot. Dan will be providing a unique insight into his horses and their chances exclusively for Coral.

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StableTalk: “He’s won at the track, won’t mind the ground and has a handy 5lbs off.”

1.20 Newbury – Meet The Legend

We have Meet The Legend in the first at Newbury. We really like him and he jumped very well on his hurdling debut in a really deep race at Kempton on Boxing Day. I feel going left handed will suit him a little better. He is taking on hot opposition once again, particularly Paul Nicholls’ horse, Emerging Talent. I don’t know how he will handle the ground, but he’s a very genuine horse and he’s stoutly bred so hopefully it won’t be too much of a problem. I’m hoping this will prove a stepping stone to bigger things in his career. We do like him a lot, and whatever he does in this race, he will definitely prove even better in time.

3.35 Newbury – Zarib

Zarib runs in the Betfair Hurdle. We are trying a few different things with him this time. Given the ground looks likely to be extremely testing we thought taking 5lbs off his back with Bridget Andrews would be a real help to him. He goes in the ground and he’s won at the track. We are putting cheekpieces on him just to sharpen him up a bit. We just felt at Ascot he wasn’t quite as committed mid-race as he could have been. I think he’ll be competitive in this.

Going into the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot I was probably a little too bullish, because he’d run so well at Wincanton. I still think he’ll win a good handicap and he’s off a decent mark. The track is in his favour, he’s got 5lbs off his back and cheekpieces on; he will go on the ground, there are a lot of positives. I think he’ll be competitive but I don’t want to bang the drum too loudly as I did that before the Ladbroke and whilst he ran well he didn’t finish in the places where I’d hoped he would.

Zarib

It’s a good ride for Bridget Andrews but she’s a claiming professional jockey so it’s another day at work for her. Of course it’s a big race, but she’s got a really good attitude and the pressure won’t get to her.

Willow’s Saviour

Willow’s Saviour will now go to Fakenham next week. I didn’t want to take on the likes of Dodging Bullets and L’Ami Serge at Newbury or Fox Norton at Warwick, and the Fakenham option looks preferable. If the forecast for next week had been bad, I’d have been forced to run at Newbury or Warwick, but it’s not so Fakenham it is.

Cheltenham Plans

In terms of some of our intended Cheltenham Festival runners, Sir Mangan, Superb Story and Three Musketeers will all go straight to Cheltenham. It looks like we’ll run North Hill Harvey in the Supreme, where Mister Miyagi will also run. I’m not sure which race Its’afreebee will go to. It will probably be the Supreme, Neptune or the Conditional Hurdle. Al Ferof goes straight to the Ryanair.

Al Ferof

Pain Au Chocolat is stuck between a rock and a hard place as there are two novice chases he can run in. One is up at Ayr where he’d carry a double penalty and another is at Fontwell which wouldn’t suit him. There is a shortage of options for him so I’m going to run him over hurdles again, and there’s a race for him next week at Kelso or alternatively at Wincanton in the Kingwell. Then he’ll go back over fences at Aintree. Stephanie Frances goes straight to the Mares race at Cheltenham.

The Novices Handicap Chase will probably be the target for Willow’s Saviour depending on how he goes next week. The JLT will be the target for Three Musketeers and The Pertemps for Sir Mangan. In the Coral Cup there will be a bundle of entries.

Kasakh Noir will run in the Fred Winter and could be joined by Ashoka. We’ll see what the handicapper does. Superb Story is definitely going for the County Hurdle and Churchtown Champ will go for the Albert Bartlett. We’ll have a few in the Conditional Jockeys’ race and Workbench is being aimed at The Grand Annual.

Value At Risk who ran a nice second on Thursday will be an entry in both the Coral Cup and the Conditional Hurdle. Savello, Zarib, Long House Hall, Work In Progress, are all others that will have entries.

I’m really happy with how everything is going. We’ve had a few winners in February, and three seconds on Thursday, so really happy with the horses and how they’re running. And I know they’re going to get better, and run better, as the ground gets better. It looks like after this weekend we are going to get much improved weather. That will be much more to everyone’s liking not just mine.
I was patient over January but there were still plenty I shouldn’t have run, and next year I’ll alter my plans completely. I’m going to change my approach to the whole landscape of the season, and do things a bit differently so that it suits the horses a bit better. The winter is getting highly unpredictable with the ground so we’ve got to make sure we do what’s right for the horses.

Dan