Midnight Conquers Cheltenham

We’re back!

Potter Group and Walters Plant Hire have enjoyed a splendid start to the 2021/22 National Hunt season and after the facile success of Before Midnight in the 888Sport Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last week we appear to have already set the bar very high!

Owners are back, crowds are back, and it was a real thrill to be on course at Cheltenham to witness Before Midnight absolutely trounce his rivals, which included two previous festival winners, by six lengths in course record time and there is now a tinge of excitement as to how far up the ladder he can go.

The valuable prize, worth £31,000 to the winner, had been the plan for quite some time and his trainer Sam Thomas has done a tremendous job with the son of Midnight Legend who is a model of consistency.

Before Midnight looking stunning ahead of victory at Cheltenham
Before Midnight looking stunning ahead of victory at Cheltenham

His jumping was absolutely spectacular, flawless, exemplary, under Sam Twiston-Davies who said he got such a buzz riding him that he’d even give up his riding fee… 😉

Everyone loves backing a winning favourite and it was wonderful to see him romp home up the hill in splendid isolation to the roars and cheers of the large crowd on course. It’s a sound like no other, especially when you’re the lucky owner! As for us, it was such a thrill to watch and times like this have to be appreciated so much because one winner at a place like Prestbury Park, or live on terrestrial TV, make up for all the disappointing days.

As for the horse, it was by far a career best and the Handicapper raised him 8lbs to 144 which is about fair, I suppose. There’s a valuable Handicap Chase at Ascot on November 20th which looks very suitable so there’s a possibility he could go there next. The Grand Annual is the ultimate target so his path back to Cheltenham will have to be carefully plotted by his astute trainer, of which we are sure he’ll choose the right one.

Stolen Silver gained a confidence boosting victory at Market Rasen

Sticking with the winners and Stolen Silver, who has returned to Sam Thomas’, was back over fences at Market Rasen the week before and made every post a winning one to score by a whopping 11 lengths in the hands of Charlie Deutsch. Admittedly it may not have been the biggest field or strongest race but he has an immense amount of talent and with that confidence boosting win under his belt, we expect him to continue on an upward curve. Afterall, he’s only had 14 starts so you’d like to think there’s plenty more to come and the Handicapper only raised him 4lbs (to 140). There’s a nice little two mile Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in two weeks time so he could head there.

Potter Group at Ffos Las

There was an enthusiastic crowd at Ffos Las on October 16th where we sponsored the feature race, the Potter Group Welsh Champion Hurdle, which, as usual, was a typically competitive affair and ended up going the way of the Tom Lacey-trained Glory And Fortune who backed up his previous Plumpton win with a comfortable four lengths success ahead of Dans Le Vent. The six year old son of Fame And Glory has always been a talented performer and we notice he’s been given an entry in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in two weeks so it would be fantastic if he could follow up at Prestbury Park.

Mario De Pail made his chasing debut on the same card and we were extremely pleased with his second place behind the 2020 Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D’orhy. Under Jordan Nailor, the son of Blue Bresil warmed up nicely to his task after a slightly rusty start over the first few fences but got himself into a beautiful rhythm about half way and then really began to enjoy himself. The ground was definitely on the quick side for his liking so he’ll be much happier when there’s ‘Soft’ in the description and, like many of us after a summer holiday, there was a little bit of belly to work off too so he should strip fitter next time! He’s always been highly regarded by the excellent team down in Cardiff and patience has been nicely rewarded because we now have a nice fresh horse full of potential who could hopefully take high rank among this season’s novice chasers.

Silver Goes For Gold

Galileo Silver is set to face ten rivals in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Chase at Chepstow on Wednesday and the step back up in trip is hopefully a positive at a track where he was narrowly denied (over hurdles) over this trip last October. Sam Thomas has been extremely pleased with his schooling of late and said: ‘he’s been schooling absolutely unbelievable and taken a real liking to it, more so than he has even done before’. With the drying ground in his favour, he goes there with a rock solid chance under Jordan Nailor who obviously knows the horse very well.

Galileo Silver in action at Chepstow on Wednesday

There’s so much to look forward to over the months ahead including seeing the likes of Mister Fisher and Potterman make their seasonal returns for James and Jean Potter Ltd while Mot A Mot, Patroclus, Jack Sharp and Wheesht are also doing well. We also have some lovely youngsters who were in training last season for education but are now ready to go so with a clean run and a sprinkle of luck hopefully the winners will continue to flow.