It's not very often that we have a runner over the jumps but now and again a horse will come along who strikes as as one who would benefit from a set of hurdles put in front of him. Although our National Hunt raids are few and far between, we have done well in the past with the likes of Night Orbit and No Such Number, the latter most memorably winning at 50/1 first time over hurdles.
We do school quite a few horses at home though as it definitely perks them up and can sweeten some horses who have got a bit sick of running around in circles all the time.
Although not the biggest, Oceanus is a horse who has always struck us as one who would adapt to hurdling well and, with his all-weather form not as good as his turf plus a group of enthusiastic owners, we always had it in mind to give him a try over obstacles.
His schooling at home has gone very smoothly with jockey Trevor Whelan very happy with him on Thursday morning and he is a 1m2f winner on the flat this summer so you would hope that he could stay the extended distance although the soft ground won't help at Fakenham on Monday.
Hopefully he can come back safe and sound no matter what the result and we can have a fun winter with him.
I never like to go racing when we have a runner over hurdles as my nerves can't take it and luckily I have a good excuse not to go to Fakenham as we also have two runners at Southwell that day.
Limerick Lord is a Southwell regular nowadays and that's because the frantic style of racing seems to suit him. He might be a bit ring-rusty after a break but he is very well handicapped now and will always run his race around here.
Gatillo was very disappointing last week at the course when favourite and finding very little in the finish. On the back of his previous third there, you would think he is much better than that so I've put a pair of cheekpieces on him just to help focus his mind. This really is one of the worst handicaps you will see so I'd be disappointed if he isn't in the placings.
On Tuesday, Sunset Bounty got balloted out of yet another race which is proving very frustrating for her and her owners. Opportunities for lowly-rated horses are very hard to find and are usually over-subscribed. In Dubai, horses who are balloted out three times in a row are guaranteed a run the next time so maybe something like this could be brought in to help give every horse a chance.
Anyway, we will be going to Wolverhampton that day with Pitch High. He finally got his head in front at Newcastle last time and he has been bouncing ever since. The 3lbs rise by the handicapper was fair and the extended trip should be no problem. Hopefully he can keep up the winning habit.
The group of horses we gave a summer holiday in readiness for a winter campaign are now in full work and the first of those to run will be Spirit Of Sarwan at Lingfield on Wednesday. He put in a career best when winning a class 3 handicap there last winter and is probably a horse who goes best fresh so hopefully he can hit the ground running. He struggled a bit in some tough handicaps when last seen on turf but I think the tighter style of racing on the all-weather will see him in a better light.
The latest edition of the our monthly newsletter the Harraton Herald was realeased this week and is free to view online at: issuu.com/juliafeildenracing/docs/december_2017_edition_20
FOUR TO FOLLOW LEADERBOARD (ends 31/12/17)
Julia Feilden 95
John Chalklin 94
Christine Sparham 91
Kevin Case 91
Colleen Pyrke 88
John Tucker 87
Paula Smith 87
Clare Peacock 87
Trevor Mather 86
George Evans 84
Martyn Clark 82