There's a mounting pile of evidence to suggest that Gloucestershire trainers may hold their own at the two big racing festivals hoving into view despite the big money battalions of Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins (and let's not omit Gordon Elliott just for the moment).
Our county's trainers are showing the wellbeing of their yards in a steady stream of winners over the past few weeks, not all of it in weekday races that pass little muster in mainstream media.
Tom George enjoyed a fruitful weekend at a course where he's enjoyed continued success over the years. At Kempton on Saturday last, his two runners secured first and sixth place in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase, a Grade III handicap that has masqueraded under a string of titles since losing the support of the Racing Post over 10 years ago. Winner Clondaw Castle is likely to head to Aintree, whilst Double Shuffle has a variety of engagements , inclduing the Grand National where he would carry 10st 2lb presently.
Two other trainers along the Cotswold ridge between Bourton and Chipping Norton have also enjoyed success. Ben Pauling struck in a lowly bumper on Saturday and again today. Bitterley Point-to-Point bumper winner Quinta Do Mar scored his first win under Rules in a Novice Hurdle at Ludlow.
Meanwhile, further east, Charlie Longsdon enjoyed his first winner sicne the last fixture at Ludlow on February 21 when Thinque Tank justified favouritism in the Conditionals Handicap Hurdle. The horse finished lame however.
There has been a spate of hunter chases in recent days, to coincide with the closure of entries for the Cheltenham Foxhunter, sponsored by St James's Place. There's only one candidate from Gloucestershire, being Sarah Rippon's SonneofPresenting, winner of a Barbury Open in December '18. Sarah lives in Moreton-in-Marsh. However, the 100/1 about the horse against some fierce competition from Ireland and British stables is a reflection of his more recent Point-to-Point form. Don't rule out Monbeg Gold from Jackdaws Castle however. Beaten a neck in his only styart this season, he's trained by a team who know just how to prepare a horse to peak at the right time, and will benefit from the assistance of Jonjo Jnr in the saddle whilst the amateur ban remains in place. Closutton train the favourite in Billaway.
Good news however, is that when Pointing returns, albeit behind closed doors on March 29, amateurs will be allowed back in the saddle, and that includes the all-important Aintree fixture starting on April 8.