We welcome back Messire des Obeaux – yet again!

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January 5

It has been a relatively quiet week for Barbury what with many of the horses undergoing their flu-jabs and others unwinding after what was a busy Christmas on-track, though Mayfair Gold (Southwell) and Tying The Knot (Hereford) were both on the ball to top up the extended Hogmanay celebrations.

Reflecting on 2022, we can all look back on the last calendar year with plenty of satisfaction, having had 54 winners over jumps and 30 on the Flat, earning our owners around £2m in prize money.

Messire des Obeaux was not one of the contributors, having again missed a whole year of action, but, now an 11-year-old but plagued with injury problems which have restricted his appearances on the racecourse, he remains a huge favourite with everyone in the yard, especially Alan.

He said:”It will be lovely to get Messire des Obeaux back at Wincanton on Saturday. He has won twice over the two and a half miles there – he travels too well to stay further – and he even beat Protektorat over the course two years ago.

“Sadly, Messire des Obeaux had just the one run last season, finishing third to L’Homme Presse at Ascot before Christmas 2021. He had another setback after that, but he is a high-class horse over this trip, and he has done a lot of work at home and schooled well on Monday.

“We do have to mind him, but he has also won at Wincanton after more than 1000 days off, so we know he can still do it.”

Egbert was entered in the novice hurdle at Wincanton but Alan has opted instead to run him on Friday in the maiden hurdle at Ludlow.

He said:”Egbert is a fine, big horse who we like a lot. He has come forward from his last run at Newbury, where he got going too late. It was a strong race and the ground was a bit quick for him, but there is more rain forecast, which would enhance his chance.”

We also have Admiralty House (Juvenile Hurdle) and Allegro Forte (Mares Bumper) going to Ludlow.

Alan added:”Admiralty House has had a break since his good second at Huntingdon at the end of October, but he seems in good form and, though he has to carry a penalty for his Kempton win, he is worth his place in the field.

“We like Allegro Forte, who is a Highland Reel half-sister to Nicky Henderson’s smart mare Luccia and will be making her debut. It’s tough for four-year-olds taking on their elders at this stage of the season even with the weight they receive.

“But she needs to start somewhere and we lost the junior bumper at Newbury we were aiming at because of the weather.”

Our Flat team have already got on their scoresheet in 2023, and we are likely to be doubly-represented in the fast-track all-weather qualifier at Southwell on Sunday, courtesy of veteran Rainbow Dreamer and the classy Raymond Tusk.

Rainbow Dreamer celebrated his 10th birthday last Sunday, but Alan points out that he has been in terrific form.

He said:”He won at Kempton and then finished an excellent second in the London Stayers series final at the same course. He loves the all-weather – eight of his 10 wins on the Flat have come on an artificial surface – so, hopefully, he will run another good race.

“Raymond Tusk is stepping up in trip, but he gives us every indication that he might be suited by it. He is still rated 101, and if he stays this longer distance it would increase our options for the winter.”