Four of Gloucestershire's trainers have been making the most of the very limited opportunities available at this time of year over the past few days. Just four fixtures have taken place since this time last week.
The Fergal O'Brien stable continues to make the most of its opportunities, with a winner yesterday at Uttoxeter, another today at Southwell and a brace of seconds to accompany them. Best finish of the week has to have been the bet365 Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter on Sunday, in which French-bred Bathiva held on gamely by a short head from Brian Ellison's Ballyvic Boru, with the third placed horse a neck apart again. Today's distance win in a match mares races at Southwell did rather more to calm the heart rate.
Kim Bailey, not generally a big fan of summer jumping, was also on the scoresheet at Uttoxeter, winning his fourth of the season with Peaked Too Soon in the opening novices hurdle by a neck. Again, let's hope he doesn't live up to his name.
A Monday card at Southwell is never enough to raise the blood pressure, but Jonjo O'Neill Snr and son Jnr teamed up for a 6.1 double in the two opening races with Knight Destroyer and The Composeur. The latter won his maiden Point-to-Point for Phil Rowley in March 2019 before being sold into Jackdaws Castle.
And not to be outdone, flavour of the month, Martin Keighley, kept up his excellent strike rate again today with Dreamsundermyfeet, winning his second steeplechase within a week. Winning unchallenged today, he may yet have to come out again shortly to capitalize on his run of form before the handicapper gives him a higher rating.
The sport's most valuable race this past weekend (and by some distance its largest crowd) took place on the other side of the Atlantic, at Percy Warner Park, Nashville, in Tennessee. The Iroquois Hurdle is a 2m 6f Conditions race that has attracted horses in the 140s range, who need to feel their hooves rattle. With prizes like this, it's no surprise to see the likes of Jamie Bargary and Tom Garner with mounts in the race. A summer or early autumn in the USA can be highly lucrative. The winner however, was a homebred - Snap Decision, trained by Jack Fisher for Bruton Street US.
Looks like the Yanks at least are forcing the pace on Covid roll-back.
Going for Sunday April 3 - Good (Thursday)
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)