Clayton's Fitting Farewell
Written by George Gorman, Monday 18th March 2019
After three and a half years at Cisswood, Clayton has left for his new home in Upper Lambourn with top young trainer Archie Watson. What a final race for owner Ashley Head it was though as he tracked the odds on favourite for most of the race before challenging two out under Niall Houlihan before hitting the front approaching the last and battling all the way up the run in to repel a rival much better treated at the weights. He's a horse who has been difficult to ride and to train at times but has become a well loved character to have around the yard. He'll be sorely missed and we wish his new yard all the luck in the world with him. Of our runners at Cheltenham, one of the best performances surely came from Knocknanuss, who ran valiantly to hang on for fifth place in the Grade One Arkle Novices Chase for owners, Hail, Sargent and Evans. Despite not being suited by the standing start and finding himself towards the rear early on, the son of Beneficial scythed through the field to take up his usual front running position after the fifth fence. His jumping was impeccable, his fall at Leopardstown seeming to have left no mark, and continued to box on well after he was headed three fences from home. Perhaps with a normal start and not having to make up so much ground early doors he may have even troubled the first three. Either way this was a huge performance and justified all the faith shown in him from those who have assisted his progress. Another who rose to the occasion spectacularly at Cheltenham was Not Another Muddle who, despite a couple of jumping errors, showed huge maturity after just four previous chasing starts to negotiate this big field handicap. Having settled in mid division he made smooth progress to go fifth with every chance at the third fence from home. From there he stayed on well to defend that position but it may be the case that he will eventually need more of a trip, however he's shown a huge level of ability at this trip for owners Saloop so that may not happen just yet.
With Cheltenham over for another year we return to our regularly scheduled programming, you guessed it, Monday at Plumpton! One horse there I think holds a great chance is Graasten for Galloping On The South Downs. Whilst he was beaten at 1/8 the last day, the horse that beat him was having it's first chasing start and we may well have been unlucky to run into one. What may also be in his favour is the step up to three miles. Whilst much of his family have run only on the flat, they have mostly excelled at middle distances and Graasten's Sire Sholokov has produced a Gold Cup winner in Don Cossack. as for the horse himself I believe he will enjoy going a stride slower and will be able to use his jumping to put pressure on his opponents. Either way I think his installation as the outsider of the field, despite achieving the highest rating, may prove to be a mistake by the bookmakers. On Friday Larry holds an entry in a Class Three Novices Handicap Chase at Newbury, where he will attempt to bounce back from his defeat at Leicester last time. Whilst he may have suffered from going up the weights nine pounds from his Sandown success, I think more of a factor was the good to firm ground. He's not the fastest horse in the world and we've seen jumping frailties from him when running over fences on ground good or firmer. It may be the case that the faster pace throughout these races has put pressure on his jumping as it's surely no coincidence that his only chasing victory was his only start on ground softer than good. The ground at Newbury is currently soft and he also steps up to nearly three miles on Friday, both of which I think wilo be a huge help for his jumping, plus he's never looked short of stamina. A third horse potentially competing for Galloping On The South Downs this week could be Traffic Fluide, who is entered over hurdles on Friday at Newbury. He may be slightly up against it here, giving eight pounds or more to every other runner but his hurdles mark remains twelve pounds lower than his chasing mark. At the end of the day the main hope is that he comes out of this safe and sound as he holds an entry in the Grand National and, on his first run since November he is entitled to need this run.
Cheltenham Festival - Day Three
Written by George Gorman, Friday 15th March 2019
After a blank Thursday, Cisswood Stables will attempt to end the most important week of the jump racing calendar with a bang as we field three runners on Gold Cup Day. The first of these is Betfair Hurdle fifth Ar Mest, a third runner for the week for owners Galloping On The South Downs and a second for his groom Louis. This very progressive son of Diamond Boy went to the rearranged Betfair Hurdle at Ascot seeking a three timer and ran a great race in defeat, jumping the last well in contention and wasn't beaten far at all. He has already gone up ten pounds for his exploits this season but he looks to be improving all the time and gets a great racing weight of ten stone. This is a horse that has always travelled very strongly and looks to have more than enough pace to win on the flat, so the frenetic gallop of a Cheltenham handicap should hold no fears for him and his sometimes unreliable jumping from last season seems to be a thing of the past. If the ground continues to dry out he could be a real player, but even if it does stay on the soft side, carrying a feather weight will surely help him through it.
In the former festival closer, the Grand Annual, we have two shots of ending the 2019 festival on a high with Diakali and Not Another Muddle. Diakali started the season in great style, routing two novice chase fields before rolling back the years with a nine length success over course and distance in October, earning himself a chase mark of 153. Now dropping back into handicap company a mark of 147 looks a very attractive prospect, having won off higher marks for Willie Mullins over hurdles. With him the real question is a matter of weighing up how much better he is over fences versus how much ability he's lost as he's got older. Either way the hustle and bustle of big handicaps if far from new to him and we hope he will run a big race for owner Nick Peacock and groom Rhys, so long as his two recent heavy defeats haven't left their mark.
Not Another Muddle comes to the festival in great heart, winning three of his four chasing starts, the only defeat coming off the back of a year long layoff. Many may have knew him at first as brother to internet sensation Mr Muddle (AKA 'Wocket Woy') but this horse has carved out a reputation all his own. Most recently he stylishly took apart a good field at Sandown, beating our own Darebin into second. He's gone up seven pounds for that success, but on just his third run back from that long layoff he may still be improving in terms of fitness and natural progression. He may not have seen a field of this size before but being such a powerful traveller, I find it hard to envisage him not being able to hold his position. This horse really could have an excellent chance of ending our festival in tremendous fashion, we just have to pray, along with owners Saloop, that he gets a clear run and this Muddle might just prove to be another 'Wocket' in the family.
Cheltenham Festival - Day Two
Written by George Gorman, Tuesday 12th March 2019
Champion Chase day is one that will forever have a special place in our hearts here at Cisswood as it brings us a yearly chance to remember Sire De Grugy's 2014 heroics. The ground could not be more different than it was on that happy occasion but that may be a very good thing for the first of our two runners tomorrow, Eragon De Chanay. The Coral Cup is a notoriously hard race to win at Cheltenham, with many horses coming to the race very well handicapped and a lot of luck in running required to thread your way through the 26 runner field. Having finished a repectable seventh in last year's Fred Winter, this son of Racinger is more than prepared for the hustle and bustle of a Cheltenham Festival handicap. What he may lack is leniency from the handicapper, having gone up nine pounds for his two wins this year and both of those were under a ten pound claimer. Whilst he may be handicapped to the hilt, he will be one of very few that is sure to be suited by the going at Pretsbury Park, with a record of four wins and three placings from his nine runs on going of soft or heavy. Joshua Moore, who went close in the 2016 renewal of this race on Ubak, will renew his partnership with this tough, consistent horse. Best of luck to owners Five Star Racing Group and his groom Chloe.
In the Fred Winter, perhaps the only race harder to win than the Coral Cup, we have what might be our best chance of the week, given a clear run. Beat The Judge performed to a very high level when winning at Kempton over Christmas, with the second performing consistently to a mark in the high 120s since. When returning to the track last month he made a great impression in the Grade Two Adonis Hurdle when finishing second to Fusil Raffles, who was well fancied for this race before his withdrawal. What caught my eye was how well he kept on that day, giving me a lot of hope that he will handle the Cheltenham hill. What might be a problem is the ground, as this son of Canford Cliffs has never run on worse than good to soft. On breeding and as a horse with plenty of speed, this ground may be the main negative against his name, although if the day's racing is indeed rescheduled for Friday, it may have dried out a bit by then. Either way we hope for the best and will be cheering him on along with owner Ed Babington and groom Phoebe.
Cheltenham Festival - Day One
Written by George Gorman, Monday 10th March 2019
We start off day one of Cheltenham with The Flying Sofa taking his chance in the curtain raiser for Galloping On The South Downs, the Grade One Supreme Novices Hurdle. As a maiden over hurdles, this will be a very tough ask for him but there are several things that may well be in his favour today. Some of his best efforts in bumpers last year were on a softer surface and, with heavy rain forecast most of Tuesday morning, Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse is predicting soft ground for the opening day of the festival. This may well be the answer to preventing the flat spot he's hit the last twice and allow his stamina to come into play without first getting outpaced. He's jumped very well the last twice which will play a vital role in staying competitive in a field of this size. Overall, he's a 150/1 shot and has yet to win a hurdle race, but he has shown a good level of form in defeat and we hope, with the ground on his side, he may be able to prove he deserves to be a tenth of that price.
Next we have another Grade One, as Knocknanuss takes on the Arkle Novices Chase. The form of his seventeen length Newbury demolition job alone demands that this horse be taken seriously but I would argue that his second at Plumpton, behind a horse that would likely have started favourite for this race, is equally important when weighing up his chances. It looked at Leopardstown that meeting a downhill fence so soon was this keen, front running horses downfall and hopefully he has learned his lesson in his schooling sessions since. It can often be the way that horses that go along at a pace like Knnocknanuss' tend to burn off all but the very best, often leaving them to finish second or third with the rest trailing in miles behind as a result of the frenetic early gallop. If he has learned his lesson in the jumping department I truly believe that this son of Beneficial can bring home some substantial place money for owners Hail, Sargent and Evans.
Our final runner on day one of the biggest week of jumps racing is another horse owned by Galloping On The South Downs with Dell Oro. Quite why he is a 40/1 shot is beyond me, a horse that finished just eight lengths behind Glen Forsa at Kempton on his second chasing start. Previous to that he put in a great effort to finish second to Chesterfield on his chasing debut despite needing the run. He was then given a mark of 139 for winning cosily at Huntingdon before being outclassed the next twice taking on the favourite and second favourite for the JLT followed by the favourite for the Arkle. Dell Oro has plenty of cruising speed, stays well and jumps well, plus he's a physically big horse who should be able to hold his ground in the melee of a Cheltenham handicap. Personally I think with a reasonable racing weight of 11-2 and a handy bit of large field experience from Kempton, this horse could definitely finish in the first three of four.
Gleno At The Double With Sandown Victory
Written by George Gorman, Monday 10th March 2019
As always, the week before the Cheltenham festival we were a bit light on runners so I thought it best to condense the last two weeks runners into one blog, along with the best of our chances away from the festival this week, as I will be doing daily posts about our festival runners throughout the biggest week in the jumps racing calendar. Of course, a real star turn of the past two weeks has been Gleno, who opened his hurdling account in devastating fashion nearly two weeks ago at Wincanton. Having been dropped in early by Josh Moore, he began to make smooth progress through the field to take up the lead from three out. From here he made short work of the fourteen-runner field as he sauntered to a seventeen-length success. However, his fortnight’s work was not yet done as he took on better horses on worse ground just nine days later at Sandown Park. Once again, he steadily crept into the race under Josh Moore to take up the lead from two out only to be challenged by the double seeking Duc De Beauchene approaching the last. In spite of his Wincanton exertions and a seven-pound penalty, the son of Ask continued to pull out more and eventually hit the line four lengths clear of the smart JP MacManus horse. This horse certainly looks like a nice future prospect for owners the Crystal Racing Syndicate, with potential to go chasing and step up in trip. For the rest of this season though we will have to wait and see if the handicapper chooses to add to the fifteen pounds the horse was already due to go up as a result of his Wincanton success. The other star of our pre-Cheltenham week was the loveable Waikiki Waves, who registered his second chasing success from just three attempts at Leicester on Friday. Having won a five-runner chase at Lingfield against four chasing maidens, the much larger fences and higher class of opposition made this a much tougher task for Heart Of The South’s tough son of Alexandros. Niall Houlihan ensured the gelding remained handy throughout and got him into a great jumping rhythm. Approaching two out he seemed to have been outpaced by the leader, however, under a calm but strong ride from Niall, stamina began to tell as he stayed on up the hill to claim the leader in the final strides and win by a length and three quarters. Whilst Niall's ten pound claim undoubtedly played a factor in this victory, this diminutive bay has shown great enthusiasm for the larger obstacles and we hope he can continue to improve and provide more days like this for his equally enthusiastic owners.
Of course it's not all about Cheltenham this week and we have many horses hoping to give their connections cause for celebration away from Pretsbury Park. One we will watch with great interest is Espion De Saflo who makes his debut for us in a very hot National Hunt Novices Hurdle at Plumpton on Monday. The son of Princeton will carry a penalty for his November victory at Nantes last time out, which will make life difficult against race fit rivals although many of them have penalties of their own to carry. Although he won by nearly ten lengths it's hard to evaluate what he achieved in winning last time in terms of form but we do know the soft ground at Plumpton shouldn't cause any problems as that victory came on heavy. It may be a bug ask for him to come out on top today but this horse could be one for the future for owners Avery, Hodges, Moorcroft, Collins, and Partner and we will all be watching with interest. Later the same afternoon, Chivers will look to put two placed efforts behind him as he attempts to replicate his Boxing Day Fontwell win down in Taunton. Even though he went up eleven pounds for that wide margin success, he's had excuses the last twice, looking unsuited by the longer trip and Lingfield and by more patient tactics at Fontwell last time. Although this does represent a drop in trip, Niall Houlihan's ten pound claim means he will now be running off essentially the same mark as he was on Boxing Day, giving him a fantastic chance of winning a second race this year for owner Daniel Steele. My final horse to watch away from Cheltenham this week is the ever consistent Clayton, who holds two entries at Fakenham on Friday. Despite not winning this year, he's shown great courage when hitting the crossbar the last twice and one would think that the seller would be a formality for a horse of his ability, particularly if the ground continues to soften. His other entry in the Silver Cup would represent a much tougher ask but this son of Peintre Celebre rarely runs a bad race and has acquitted himself well in races of that quality before. Either way he's a pleasure to have around the yard and we hope he runs well and comes home safe for owner Ashley Head.
Judge Justifies Cheltenham Entry With Adonis Second
Written by George Gorman, Monday 25th February 2019
He may not have won this weekend but Beat The Judge may have gone into a few notebooks for the festival after a staying on second behind Nicky Henderson's Fusil Raffles, a general 12/1 shot for the Fred Winter at the time of writing. If there were some who thought his 25/1 hurdling debut success over course an distance was a fluke, this will have given then cause to evaluate their opinion of this son of Canford Cliffs. Having started the race more than halfway down the betting, Josh Moore settled Ed Babington's gelding in mid division and began picking horses off from three out, only hitting a slight flat spot around two out preventing him from getting closer to the winner. This gives us options moving forward knowing that he may well stay further but it also gives us hope to think he may see out the same trip at Cheltenham in the Fred Winter. Obviously he may have to re-oppose the winner there but these juveniles are all improving at different rates, so there's no guarantee a rematch would yield the same result. Also running well last week was Thounder, who finished a length third at Huntingdon on Thursday under Niall Houlihan. Tony Head's charge travelled powerfully as always, but a couple of mistakes at crucial moments just cost him momentum and allowed the winner and the second to get first run on him. Added to that, the first and second horses look like they have a bit in hand over the handicapper, so I would say this son of Hurricane Cat will have plenty more chances this season to get amongst the winners.
Looking forward to Plumpton, Graasten has what is on paper a penalty kick in the novice chase, having been installed as 1/9 favourite. Having unseated last time out, this is a great chance to get his season back on track following his chasing debut success at Fontwell and subsequent third at Cheltenham. He will have to put that silly error last time behind him, although the likely slower pace this time will hopefully make a repeat of that less likely. Half an hour later, Galloping On The South Downs have another favourite by Sholokhov in the maiden hurdle with The Flying Sofa. Having been just touched off over course and distance by treble bumper winner Acey Milan twelve days ago, our now 126 rated hurdler seems to set the standard in this race. Acredible threat may come from Pentland Hills, who makes his hurdling debut for Nicky Henderson having been rated 73 on the flat, but one would hope that The Flying Sofa's hurdling experience may give him the edge on this occasion. Moving ahead to Wednesday I'd like to mention yet another Galloping On The South Downs horse as Bullfrog has the option to make the journey to Wincanton on Wednesday. Having won a bumper in November 2017, this mare has jumped soundly in her two hurdle starts to date finishing third and second, most recently at Fontwell on Valentines Day. Having had nearly 450 days off the track between her bumper and her two hurdles starts, it's reasonable to think that she will still be growing in race fitness and that the daughter of Jeremy could easily go one better this week, particularly in what could be a weaker race.
Rhys Proves He's Worth The Wait
Written by George Gorman, Monday 18th February 2019
We may have lost a good weekend's racing to the equine flu virus but when racing resumed on Wednesday, Cisswood wasted no time in getting amongst the winners, getting on the board four days in a row. The most emotionally charged of these must have been Clearence winning his second race in a row at Kempton and giving our apprentice Rhys Clutterbuck his first ever winner. Rhys has been with us a few years now, riding out during school holidays before he came to join us full time. It's been a pleasure to watch him grow in ability and confidence to the point where he is an integral member of staff and the work rider of BetVictor Chase winner Baron Alco. His keenness to learn and improve is largely to thank for this success as well as his composure on the several occasions he's hit the crossbar on the way to this win. There's much learning still to be done but I have every faith that with continued hard work, this will be the first of many successes for this young jockey. The very next day Le Capricieux was to get off the mark at the fourth time of asking over fences under a brilliant Jamie Moore ride at Fontwell. Having made all the running, this keen going son of Alberto Giacometti set a brisk pace and jumped very well in the most part before Jamie poured the pressure onto the chasing pack, killing any hope they had of bridging the gap to him. This left him to plug on up the home straight to a nine length success for owner Mr. A Foreman. The race also happened to be sponsored by some of our owners, Heart Of The South Racing, advertising shares for sale in Trafalgar Boy, a Mount Nelson gelding who will be making his racecourse debut soon for Cisswood. If anyone is interested in dipping their toe into racehorse ownership I couldn't recommend Heart Of The South more as they are a very friendly bunch of people, with full access to our yard (including an office on site) and have shares available for all budgets. As Saturday came aroung, the winners continued to flow as Eragon De Chanay claimed his second success of the season under the young jockey who has piloted him to them both Niall Houlihan. When winning on the son of Racinger at Sandown, on his very first ride in the UK, Niall showed great intelligence and tactical awareness to make all of the running. This time Niall proved he can do it all by showing strength and fitness to keep pushing away over the last four flights of hurdles, allowing the horses stamina to reel in the leader between three out and the last. These two seem to have struck up a great partnership thanks to owners Five Star Racing Group allowing Niall to take up the ride once more.
On to the week ahead we have Waikiki Waves, who returns to the scene of his chasing debut victory back in January. He seemed to relish the change of obstacles that day, jumping for fun and travelling much better than has often been the case over hurdles. He will have to prove he stays nearly three miles this time however and last time out he competed against a small field of horses who have been chasing maidens for a long while. Having said that, although the field size is larger this time, the competition doesn't look much stronger. His main obstacles will be the extra distance and quite a harsh four pound hike in the weights. On Thursday Thounder will head to Huntingdon in a bid to go one better than at Leicester last month. That day he seemed to have put his first time out unseat behind him as he jumped great right up until he seemed to flatten and make two mistakes during the uphill finish. With that in mind, Huntingdon may be a better track for this speedy son of Hurricane Cat as it must be the flattest, most speed dependent track in the country. With that in mind we're very hopeful of a good run. On Friday King Of The Sand is entered to make his hurdling debut at Warwick. He's from a family we know very well as we train his older brother Rydan and his younger brother Slade King. He reached a rating of 86 less than a year ago and although he is rated nearly a stone lower now, we believe he retains a lot of ability. It will be very interesting to see how he gets on as he will be the first of the family to run under National Hunt rules, who knows we might make a hurdler out of Rydan yet!
Cool Proves He's Still King At Kempton
Written by George Gorman, Monday 4th February 2019
The past week has been quiet enough in terms of runners for us, with a few meetings frozen off and a few of our Cheltenham hopes enjoying a slightly easier time of it. Regardless we were still able to get amongst the winners, with King Cool starting the week in style on Monday at Kempton. Dropped out last initially, he made easy progress through the field to take up the running from the second last. After that he was very much in a race of his own, eased down by Josh Moore to a facile six length victory. Hopefully the son of King's Theatre can go on to take advantage of this improved form and provide owner Mr P Mott with further success in the coming weeks. We had to switch codes to find a winner later in the week as, on a day where most turf racing was abandoned, Clearance added to our tally at Wolverhampton under an inspired ride from Hector Crouch. Despite the horse being a sixteen race maiden on the flat for two other stables, Crouch rode him with bags of confidence from the rear of the field, passing the entire field down the inside rail within the last furlong to come out the winner by a length. Hopefully this is a horse that will take some confidence from getting his head in front and could go on to win again this all weather season. One to watch for the coming weeks might be new acquisition Zamperini, who finished an eye-catching second on Saturday night at Kempton. He was formerly quite useful on the flat for Mike Murphy with a career high mark of 89. Doubtless he is not quite up to that level of form at seven years old but with his mark sliding to 59 now his fast finishing second on just his second start for us could be a sign that the change of scenery has reinvigorated this horse somewhat.
As for the runners for the week ahead, Crystal Lad makes the long journey to Market Rasen on Tuesday, where i think he can start to get his season going. He has run just once so far this season, when pulling up at Kempton on Boxing Day following a 252 day break. He shaped well for much of that race and, although he hasn't won in nearly two years, this is the time he's had a mark of less than 120 since then. With such a big gap between races it's possible he may need the run again but regardless I'm hoping he can run with some promise for owner Chris Stedman. Later in the week Thounder holds an entry at Kempton in a Conditional Jockey's race for owner Tony Head. Following a promising juvenile season, he was sidelined by injury for over a year and struggled to get back on track this season, pulling up and then unseating on his first two starts back. However, he showed he still has no shortage of ability last time when finishing second in a very competitive handicap hurdle at Leicester, where he just needed the run a bit more than the winner. Kempton is a track that will definitely suit this speedy son of Hurricane Cat and our conditional Niall Houlihan will doubtless be more than up to the task. King Cool also has an entry at Kempton on Friday, where he will look to follow up his recent course and distance win under a penalty. This is a slight step up for him as the handicap bracket of the race is 0-110 rather than 0-100 but given the easy nature of his previous win, one would has to say he has every chance of doubling up on that success.
Le Precieux, The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Written by George Gorman, Wednesday 9th January 2019
Apologies for the lack of a blog the last couple of weeks but I'll do my best to cover anything missed here. Sussex Ranger was undoubtedly the highlight of our Boxing Day runners, getting off the mark for the season after a couple of down the field efforts in some very hot contests. He was given a dynamic, front running ride by Jamie Moore, who forced the pace from the word go and despite coming under pressure early, Sussex Ranger as usual found plenty and was able to run out a four and a half length winner for The Tongdean Partnership. Hopefully getting his head in front will have revitalised this plucky little horse as we press on into the middle of the season and we should be able to target sone bigger prizes with him. Beat The Judge was to be our only winner of the two day Christmas meeting at Kempton and he showed a professional attitude to dismiss a pretty decent looking field in the juvenile hurdle on the 27th. The son of Canford Cliffs was held up by Joshua Moore before making smooth progress to lead approaching the last, running on well after the obstacle and leaving the impression that the Ed Babington owned gelding may have a couple more wins in the tank this season. However the star performer of the Christmas/New Year period was undoubtedly Le Precieux, who added two chase wins within a week of each other to his flat maiden victory on the 13th of December. For any chaser to win a 1 mile 5 furlong flat maiden is impressive, but to add back to back wins over fences within three weeks of this shows a constitution that 99% of horses do not possess. It really goes to show that patience is a virtue as Shark Bay Racing had owned him with us for a full, winless year before he ran this sequence up. Congratulations to them and massive thanks to everyone in the yard that have helped to get the horse to the point he's at today. What better way is there to welcome in 2019 than with a Saturday double? That's exactly what happened here at Cisswood as Darebin and Larry showed at Sandown Park that sometimes a new year can really mean a 'new me'. Darebin kicked off the proceedings with a battling attitude only matched by his rider Jamie Moore as he was headed after the last only to dig in and get his nose back in front in the shadow of the line. This was his highest winning mark in 15 months and a repeat of that effort may well be enough to see him win again for Chris Stedman and Mark Albon, the latter of which almost certainly has a bag of carrots waiting with Darebin's name on it! Larry had rather more to prove, having run with promise on his chase debut at Ascot in November, only to fall at Plumpton two weeks later. Two months later it was clear the memories of that fall were very much with him as he made a sprawling error at the first. However Jamie Moore was able to maintain the partnership and gently encouraged him into the next two, where Larry's uncertainty was seen as he continued to jump to his right. As the race went on, his jumping confidence grew to the point where, having progressed through the field, he was able to put the race to bed with a spring-heeled leap at the last. This was a truly exeptional afternoon for Jamie, who gave two totally different horses unquestionably brilliant rides. It was also fantastic to be able to get The Galloping On The South Downs Partnership's new year off to a great start after Ar Mest had closed off their 2018 with his great victory at Leicester on the 28th of December