Tuesday 11 February
Handicap rating day - and this morning it was the first chance to see what the handicapper made of Benefit Cut's demolition job last week! I had been predicting a 12-14lb hike, and wasn't far out! he has been raised 13lb to a new mark of 135. This mark ensures that he will get a run in the Festival handicap, but he does need to run once more to qualify. As I have written on here - he is entered in Leicester on Thursday and will run off of a mark of 129, so is in effect 6lbs 'well in'. Yesterday morning I noticed that there were only 10 entries in a Novice Chase in Market Rasen on Sunday, and with a very dodgy forecast took the decision to pop him in that at the very last minute! That looks a decent race, but a mark of 135 would put him right in the mix, and at least if Leicester doesn't get the go ahead on Thursday we have a second (and final) chance to get that all important third run into him, if we think that Cheltenham is the right call. The team at Fences, and his owners Terence and Howard think that it is important to capitalise on his novice year, as this is the year that his brilliant jumping will give him the biggest advantage! He has schooled this morning and had a canter, and will not be asked to do too much this week - he is fit and well! Sam Twiston Davies will ride if we decide Leicester is the right course of action. Other mover and shakers this week are - Colebrooke down 3lbs to 117 - Getting There!!! and Silver Wren up 1lb to 109 - a bit harsh for finishing third - and yet to win a race! Smart Exit has been declared to run in Chepstow tomorrow - their ground is heavy, but they have a lot of rain forecast tomorrow morning, and are due to inspect first thing tomorrow! His other engagement in Fontwell on Thursday has already been lost to the weather, so he will today be entered in 2 races in Southwell next Monday. Hopefully tomorrows meeting survives as the stiff track would be more to his liking than the flat plains of Nottinghamshire!! UPDATE!! Chepstow now OFF - inspection brought forward and they are waterlogged!! Exits first option now Southwell next Monday!