Barnstaple trainer Victor Dartnall has amassed his best ever squad of young horses to campaign during the forthcoming winter jumps season.
The trainer unveiled an impressive cast of exceptionally well-bred youngsters at his recent owners’ day, some of which are home bred by long standing owners and others that have been carefully sourced in Ireland by renowned bloodstock agent Brian Murphy.
Victor said: “I don’t think we’ve ever had such an exciting crop of youngsters. They are from a system we introduced three seasons ago, where we buy in young stores from Ireland, turn them away here and then break them in as three year olds. We’re very lucky with our facilities that enable us to do this as we have plenty of ground and brilliant staff. I think it is starting to pay off as I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the youngsters are progressing.”
Newcomers include the stunning Oscars Cross, a four-year-old by Oscar and a half brother to Giles Cross who was second in two Welsh Nationals and won the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Hoopers Legend is a full brother to the gutsy Midnight Sapphire; Paddy Buck’s dam is a duel winner in France and his half brother is Bucks Lad who will also be seen this autumn.
Run To Milan is a full brother to hurdle winner City Supreme and Minnie Escape is from the same family as Irish National winner Ebony Jane.
The three-year-old filly Sweet Adare represents the upcoming sire Getaway and there’s an unnamed four-year-old closely related to The Adare Man and Williams Wishes. The stallion Mahler will also be represented, as will Black Sam Bellamy, Arvico and Arakan.
Bolving, who was so impressive in his first run at Kempton beating several progressive sorts, heads those making the switch from bumpers to hurdles. Admiral’s Secret, a fine looking five-year-old by Kayf Tara, was fourth on his debut run at Taunton in February; Heluvagood is a half brother to multiple winners and Cordey Warrior is progressing with every run. Sidbury Fair has strengthened up after her summer break and will be aimed at mares’ novice hurdles.
Fences beckon for Ambion Lane, a devout stayer who was placed three times from four starts last season. Mother Meldrum won two hurdle races with ease earlier this year and will be tried over the bigger obstacles.
Dancing Shadow is ultra consistent and staying chases at Exeter will be earmarked for him; there is improvement to come from Exmoor Mist; five-times winner Tolkeins Tango will continue to ply his trade over fences as will Ut Majeur Aulmes who is likely to find the going tough this season off his current mark.
Victor said: “We’re up to strength for the season ahead which I think will be particularly exciting with so many young horses. At this stage you never know quite what will happen, but there’s nothing to be disappointed about yet!”
Nick Scholfield, who is a regular schooling jockey at Hartnoll Hotel-sponsored Higher Shutscombe, will take the majority of the rides with stable jockey David Prichard also set to ride.
There’s also be a change around with staff and Victor’s son Patrick has joined the team as travelling head lad. “It will ease my time somewhat and take the pressure off with all the driving. He’s vastly experienced too so will be a great asset to the yard,” said Victor.