As the first big meetings of the winter season approach we are finalising plans for several of our exciting prospects for the months ahead, the details of which I look forward to unveiling on this blog!

Having spoken to David Fox yesterday we have now decided on targets for Saint Are, the winner of the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting last year, and Our Island, a dual winner over hurdles last year who ran a terrific race to finish 7th in the Albert Bartlett last season.

Saint Are (pictured above in winning action!) will be aimed at the Matalan Novices’ Chase over 2m4f at Aintree on Sunday 23rd October. A race with a rich history, it has provided two subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners from the last five runnings and given the potential of Saint Are over the larger obstacles it looks a sensible starting point for what could be a very exciting season.

Our Island (pictured left, middle of trio under Richie Killoran) looked a young stayer of some potential last season and I am sure he will be seen at his best when going chasing, as he has schooled very well and being out of a half-sister to Gunther McBride he is bred for the job.

However, we have yet to decide whether to head straight over fences with him or try and win a handicap hurdle before switching codes, so we have two options in mind for him at Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting in a fortnight’s time, with the 3m novice chase and the 3m Pertemps handicap hurdle both under consideration – he would most likely get in with a lovely racing weight in the latter. That said, his participation would very much be ground dependent and we would want to see plenty of rain for him to take his chance.