Ballywood leaves the Highclere team smiling

 In Latest News

October 10

With Alan joining the general cry that the jumps season proper starts at Chepstow tomorrow, there was a spring in his step as he hosted a small squad from Highclere Thoroughbreds at second lot at Barbury yesterday.

The recent rain meant that horses were able to work on the summer grass gallop the previous day, but back on the uphill all-weather strip there were still plenty of positives, not least Ballywood, whose exercise with three stablemates led Alan to turn to Highclere boss Alex Smith and declare “that was good work and you’d have to be happy with that”.

Ballywood’s rating rose 17lb last season when he won three races, but the handicapper dropped this French recruit 3lb after his final run at Ayr in April, where he was too keen in a slow-run affair.

Alan said:”We have pencilled in a two-mile Listed handicap chase at Ascot on November 2 for Ballywood’s return. Remember, he is still only five and, while good ground suits him, he is now that bit stronger and would be able to cope with soft, though I would be reluctant to run him on heavy.”

Good news for jumping fans emerged when Alan confirmed that he has again signed up to be the Racing Post Weekender’s regular columnist through the winter, and the excellent David Carr will be down at Barbury next week to devise what is bound to be an informative Stable File in readiness for publication at the end of the month.

Doubtless, one of the high-profile horses in that piece will be Sceau Royal, who enjoyed a brilliant spring revival, running two superb races against Altior at Cheltenham and Sandown.

Sceau Royal got a length closer to the brilliant two-mile champion on the Esher slopes than he had done in the Queen Mother, looked in fine fettle as he breezed by, and Alan is contemplating bringing him back at Cheltenham’s November meeting for the race which he won last year.

However, we still tick along on the Flat – Cambridgeshire runner-up Beringer might have one more run on the level before he has his winter break – he has even been given an entry to the inaugural running of the Bahrain Trophy in Bahrain on November 22 – and we have a runner this evening with the in-form Chicago Doll going for a fillies handicap at Kempton.

Equally effective on the all-weather as she is on the turf, Chicago Doll produced a career-best performance on Wolverhampton’s tapeta surface last time, and even off a 6lb higher mark she would look to have a solid chance of supplementing that success on the switch back to polytrack.