After his first ever Cheltenham Festival winner last year, Harry Whittington is hoping for another season of dining at the Grade 1 table. Get the latest on his hopes for the season ahead.
Saint Calvados is going to have entries over 2m4f and 3m. He obviously improved to go 2m4f last winter, which was fantastic and ended up splitting Min and A Plus Tard in the Ryanair which was a monster of a run. He's gone up to 167 which blows handicaps out of the water. He's very good over 2m4f, he might even improve to go 3m, so it's a good problem to have but those are the sort of trips that he'll be running over this season. He'll have all those entries again like the King George, the Ryanair, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and we'll just take it race by race really.
Rouge Vif was very impressive winning a handicap at Cheltenham off 156 and blew them out the water. That's terribly exciting and he's got an entry in the Shloer next. He's very dangerous on good ground and I think the undulations of Cheltenham suit him. He's put the doubters quiet and showed that Cheltenham is no problem for him. We felt that the run would tell us to go up in trip or stay at two miles, but I think it's very much told us to stay at two miles. He's got a high cruising speed and he stays so well, which is what you need for a Championship two miler, so the Shloer and the Champion Chase would be the long-term target and in between then we'd probably just try and pick and choose better ground. Something like the Desert Orchid at Christmas time maybe.
Simply The Betts
Obviously winning at Cheltenham in the Brown Advisory is unbelievable. It was the first Cheltenham Festival winner for the yard and the owners, Andrew and Kate Brooks, an it was a wonderful day. He's gone up to 157 from 149 for that performance and it gives him a chance in another handicap. He'd have to probably win another handicap and then go into graded company. Off 157 he's going to have to carry more weight in something like a Paddy Power, but it's his target and we look forward to running him.
He's been dropping down the handicap and he's now rated 137. His last win was at 140 so we'll continue to run in the 2m4f - 2m6f round sharp tracks. If he wins one then that puts him back into the mid 140s and then he normally ends up running in some of the bigger races. He has run in the Topham before and it's something we may do later in the season if he wins his handicap.
I was delighted with his run in the novices' handicap chase at Uttoxeter where he finished third. The ground probably wasn't soft enough for him but he did that off 133 and they've given him an opening mark of 134. I'm really looking forward to running him again on very soft ground over 3m. He's just a big, quality, rangy, athletic chasing type and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do in the novice chasing department over 3m this season. I would think he'll be even better next year because he's always been such an enormous horse and I still feel that he's tomorrow's horse. He's got a big future over fences, for sure.
He was very impressive at Sedgefield the other day, winning like he did. I don't think we expected him to win quite like that so it was a nice surprise. He was very good on the sharp end, galloped with his head in his chest and what was so impressive is when he went clear he showed no sign of greenness and galloped all the way to the line. He jumped so well and he's been very impressive so we'll just crack on over hurdles. He's one we're very excited about. I think he'll start off over 2m in a novice hurdle but he will be better over 2m4f. For the second half of the season I can see him running in some decent races over 2m4f.
He's a lovely French type that arrived with us in the spring. He's a 4yo by Martaline so has a very good pedigree. He's an awesome jumper - he's done so much in France because they start them so early. He's unraced but we'll start him off over hurdles because he's been in training in France for quite a while. Andrew Brooks was keen to give him the time. So he's exciting and I'd imagine we'll probably start him off on a flat track, somewhere like Newbury first time. He's a lovely horse to look forward to.
Calidad ran in a bumper at Cheltenham and had them all at it at the top of the hill. It was very impressive the way he went through his race and when he got to the bottom of the hill he was just going easily and his palete just found him out and so we'll have to get that tweaked, but he's a very, very classy type. We'll probably go novice hurdling next season. If we just tweak his win, he's ready to go and win his bumper.