We need rain before Christmas and might just get it next week

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December 12

Both daytime temperatures and forecast rainfall are expected to take an upward surge after next week-end, which is encouraging news for Alan as he attempts to make his running plans for the Christmas period, with Edwardstone‘s possible target of the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27 foremost in his mind.

Arguably nobody knows Edwardstone better than Alan’s assistant trainer, Robin Smith, who rides out the recent Tingle Creek Chase winner every morning at Barbury.

Robin, who joined Alan as stable lad in 2014 and has worked his way up to be one of his trusted assistants, is the son of former jockey Craig Smith, who had such a great association with that wily old legend, former trainer Martin Tate (still going strong at the ripe old age of 98) in the 70’s and 80’s.

And, doubtless, Robin was brought up on bedtime stories of the best of his father’s 207 winners in the saddle.

Though not born until 1998, Robin, who will obviously hope to be at Cheltenham in March watching Edwardstone take on Irish hotpot Energemene in the Champion Chase, knows what it takes to be attached to an equine superstar, having led up Alan’s Primitivo for his King George V Handicap success at Royal Ascot in 2016.

However, inevitably with his family ties from the winter game, Robin’s first love is jump racing, and I have no doubt that it would top everything else that he has achieved in the sport if he could emulate his dad with a big winner at the Cheltenham Festival.

Craig, who rode Bawnogues to victory in the 1978 Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s November meeting, trumped that the following March when steering his Greenall Whitley Trophy hero Scot Lane to success in the NH Handicap Chase (now the Ultima) at the home of steeplechasing.

How Robin would love to follow in his father’s footsteps, but before our stable-star can be inked in for the Festival squad, Edwardstone first has two other ‘hurdles’ to overcome, the Desert Orchid and then the Game Spirit at Newbury in February.

We are still recovering from the driest summer on record, so here’s hoping that we get some proper winter weather this year. Edwardstone does not need testing ground – good to soft at Kempton would be perfect as far as Alan and Robin are concerned.