Victor Dartnall unveiled a strong team of horses,
including plenty of exciting future prospects, for the forthcoming winter jump
racing season at his annual owner's day on Sunday.
Dartnall endured a torrid time after the outbreak of
equine herpes virus at his Barnstaple yard last October that resulted in the
death of several horses. But wins from both Ambion Wood and Seebright in the
spring plus several decent placed horses signaled that the yard is back on song,
and about 35 horses will represent the trainer this autumn and winter.
"It was a very difficult time but I'm delighted to
say we are almost back to full strength, we have one or two super new owners,
and a particularly strong crop of young horses starting their careers in
bumpers and over hurdles," said Dartnall.
A new team of staff has also joined Higher
Shutscombe. Josh Guerriero, who is now assistant to Dan Skelton, has been
replaced by Matt Hampton who will ride for the yard in amateur races and Ray Crow, who was with Ferdy Murphy, replaces
head girl Rachel Robbins who is now training pointers. South African Gillian
Forbes brings a wealth of experience from her time with leading Flat trainer
Mark Johnston and also new are Leanne Buckingham and Ryan Timby who were both previously
with Alan King. They join Katie Essery, Flo Willis with Debbie Tucker keeping
everything shipshape in the office.
Yard stalwarts Mic's Delight, Shammick Boy, Richards
Sundance and Ace High all return to the fray with the latter expected to be
aimed at the big staying handicap chases.
"He's a very exciting chaser but he's had an
interrupted career to date. He's summered exceptionally well and we have high
hopes for him this season," said Dartnall.
Both Shammick Boy and Mic's Delight will be sent
handicap hurdling before being tried of fences, Richards Sundance will go
hunter chasing, Henry King will go chasing and Roudoudou Ville, a winner of
five races and anti-post favourite for the Byrne Group Plate until suffering an
injury, has been given 18 months to fully recover and will run in the top 2m6f
handicap chases as will consistent high class handicapper Tartak. The mud
loving top class staying chaser Giles Cross is expected to run after Christmas.
Former winning point-to-pointer Silver Commander is
very highly regarded and will be aimed at novice handicap chases along with
Regal Presence who finished a good third in a novice chase at Towcester in May,
and decent point-to-point winners Tresor De La Vie and Letmespeak will go chasing.
Know More Oats, Un Bleu A L'Aam and Rugged Jack look to be the pick among the
The bumper contingent are made up of Darloa, by the
French bred Darloa, Bindon Mill, a full brother to a multiple winner and by
Tamure, Dancing Shadow, Kilmarnock Lad, , Astre Rose, by the top French sire Al
Namix, and two unnamed three-year-olds by Kayf Tara and Tamure.
A shift in policy at Higher Shutscombe, where Irish
and French-bred youngsters are now being bought much younger and turned away at
Higher Shutscombe as stores for the future, meant a handful of unnamed two and
three-year-olds, were paraded which were sourced by renowned bloodstock agents
Brian Murphy and Richard Hobson.
means we have a constant source of exceptionally well bred two and three-year-olds
from both Ireland and France in the yard which we start from scratch," said
Dartnall who added: "The horses have been cantering and schooling and look very
well and we are expecting to get going again in late September, early October,
depending on the ground of course."
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