A big day for us at Sandown Park yesterday, with Ackertac making his eagerly awaited debut for us, Elsafeer out for the first time in public over fences and Hawkhill bidding to bounce back from a couple of below-par efforts.
I was very satisfied with Elsafeer’s chasing debut on what was his second start since his comeback from over a year on the sidelines. Jumping fluently in front, he was unable to match some smart rivals up the home straight, but it was a very promising fencing bow and I hope there could be a nice novice handicap in him this term.
Ackertac was a smart performer for his previous connections last season, finishing runner-up in the Listed novice handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival before winning at the April meeting.
Making his debut for us and for his new owners The Mount Fawcus Partnership, he jumped and travelled well and, despite getting a little tired in the closing stages, he held on to finish a good second. I was very pleasedwith the run and I would hope there is a lot more to come from him.
We have him in the Hennessy, but if he does run at Newbury it would more likely be in the 2m4f handicap chase on the Friday. The Grand Sefton, a race we won with Stewarts House in 2011, is also very much under consideration.
Our final runner of the day, Hawkhill, had followed a promising reappearance at Stratford in September with two modest efforts so it was hard to be confident about his chances in the £20,000, 2m handicap hurdle. However, Richard Johnson was able to gain a lead of a few lengths at the start and, jumping fluently and enjoying things out in front, the partnership never looked in any danger, scoring by six lengths for his sixth win from 17 starts for the yard.