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Stable Talk with Gloucestershire trainer Sophie Leech

By The Citizen  |  Posted: December 20, 2013

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We have had four runners in the last week with varying results, the highlight being Rolling Dough’s narrow victory at Ludlow on Wednesday.

She is a great example of the patience sometimes needed with horses, because she ran with a modicum of promise in two bumpers before running very poorly in two novice hurdles, the last of which was at Bangor in October.

The latter run was so bad that we seriously contemplated finding her a different career, as she was not showing enough on the track to suggest she could be competitive in any grade.

However, she had always shown some promise at home and therefore we dramatically stepped up her work and on better ground she showed much improved form last time.

On Wednesday at Ludlow she was given an ultra confident ride by amateur rider Hannah Watson and led 50 yards from the line to win a shade cosily, despite only being a neck in front of the second.

Although aged five, she is still a complete baby who was only broken in last year, but she handled the preliminaries much better this time so the penny is finally starting to drop.

She won off a handicap mark of just 79 at Ludlow so is operating at a fairly lowly grade.

However, there is lots of scope for her to improve and as she matures she looks sure to win more races.

A mention must go to Ludlow for offering such fantastic prize money, because she won over £4,300 which for a handicap hurdle for horses rated 0-105 is excellent.

Our relationship with Hannah goes back some time and that was her fourth win for us so that was an added bonus – she is an excellent amateur.

We started the week’s runners off with Owen Glendower on the first day of the big International meeting at Cheltenham last Friday and we expected him to run very well.

He travelled and jumped well early before getting slightly outpaced, and he made a bad mistake three fences and was unable to get involved after. His jockey Harry Derham was quite easy on him after the mistake so he did not have to have a hard race.

Therefore very unusually for us we ran him again quickly at Ludlow and despite running a lot better he was only able to finish fifth, albeit closer to the winner than he had finished at Cheltenham last week.

He will now be given a break before coming back in the spring on his favoured better ground.

We certainly have not lost faith in him and he is very much one to keep an eye out for.

Takeroc had been running well but was a disappointment the same day, pulling up in the two-mile chase.

He didn’t seem to enjoy the ground and therefore, like Owen, he will be rested until early spring when he may well go hunter chasing as he will find this much easier.

Our upcoming runners include Radmores Revenge, who will probably go to Haydock tomorrow where the ground is likely to be much more suitable than it was at Sandown a couple of weeks ago.

It looks a very hot contest for the grade but there is nothing suitable coming up in the short term and we would expect him to run well.

We will be very busy on Boxing Day with four runners at Towcester and one at Ffos Las planned at this stage.

Anteros and Nicene Creed form part of this quintet and with identical form figures of 432 each, we are naturally hoping they will be able to break their ducks for the season as their consistency deserves to be rewarded.

It is always a time for reflection as the year draws to an end and for us it has been a successful year with 18 winners to date, which is our best-ever annual tally in the six years we have been training.

We have generally been consistent throughout with the only blank months being January and June.

What has been most pleasing is that we have had six winners since October during the core winter jumping period, which was our main focus.

There is still much work to be done to achieve our objectives but we are headed in the right direction, thanks to the efforts of our team and owners.

All that remains is for us to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year. Our one perennial wish is that all our horses remain healthy, happy and injury free in the coming year.

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