Stable Talk with Martin Keighley
I was absolutely delighted to get Benbane Head back to winning ways yesterday at Towcester under a never-say-die ride from Robert 'Choc' Thornton.
Benny has always been a huge favourite of mine but has suffered from problem after problem – you just couldn't make up the different problems he's had.
His confidence jumping fences has suffered and so I hoped a drop back to hurdles would help. However, he didn't give Choc much help but Choc never gave up on him and went wide, as I'd instructed, for better ground.
I'm delighted to supply Choc with a winner as we've known each other for a long time and it would be fantastic if Benny could now build on this win.
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I took the family down to Taunton to visit injured stable jockey Ian Popham last weekend and we were all delighted to see him in such good form.
Although he's still broken his pelvis in four places, the injury isn't as bad as it was when he broke it a year ago and that was very evident as this time he was up and about and even able to come out for a walk with us, albeit using crutches.
My boys Freddie and Harry were very excited to be allowed on Ian's mechanical horse 'Woody' which was stabled opposite the house.
This machine was so vital in helping Ian return to peak race fitness after his last injury.
Freddie, four, wouldn't let younger brother Harry, two, on it for long.
Freddie will certainly have to tame down his use of the stick if he is to become a jockey as this poor mechanical horse got quite a beating!
I've made the disappointing but sensible decision to scratch both Champion Court and Havingotascoobydo from the Paddy Power Gold Cup next Saturday.
Champion Court had a small setback a few weeks ago and, although he seems in good form and looks fantastic, I felt next Saturday would just come a week too soon.
He therefore heads to Ascot the following weekend.
I've been following the horses he ran against last season and couldn't be happier with how the form of his races is working out.
Silviniaco Conti, who he finished second to at Aintree, won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in impressive style on Saturday.
For Non Stop, who was nine lengths behind him in third when Champ was second in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Festival, was equally as impressive winning a Grade Two Chase at Aintree the weekend before.
Havingotascoobydo also misses the Paddy Power Gold Cup and will head for a race at Ascot on the following Friday.
He has a couple of options there and I felt that for his confidence it was the right thing to not run him in such a competitive and fiercely-run race as he would find at Cheltenham.
I'm not sure what other horses I'll be running next Saturday or Sunday at Cheltenham but one I'm hoping to run on the Friday is a nice horse called Faultless Feelings.
It will be my first runner for Liz Prowting, who provided me with my first winner as a jockey, so to have a runner for her at Cheltenham will be quite special and even better if he ran a good race too.
It is in a conditional jockeys' race so Danny Hiskett (inset), my conditional, will be having his second ride at Cheltenham for me after finishing fourth on Creepy at the Showcase meeting.
After a taste of riding into the famous winners enclosure there, Danny is hungry for more success and understandably can't wait for his first Cheltenham winner.
We had our first runner on the Flat on Wednesday at Kempton Park's twilight meeting under the floodlights.
I chose to run Tower there who has won over course and distance before he came to me.
He is a quirky type and I thought a run on the Flat wouldn't do him any harm.
It was no fairytale ending though as he was very reluctant to go into the stalls and then made up ground all too late to finish unplaced.
The rain just doesn't seem to be stopping at the moment but it doesn't stop us turning all our horses out after they've been ridden out.
They all go into individual paddocks and don't come back in again until evening stables.
As long as they are well rugged up – ours even have hoods on that cover most of their face, their ears and their necks – they prefer to be out in all weathers.
The hoods are not only to help them keep warm but primarily to help them keep clean as the horses love nothing more than trying to get as muddy as possible.
We find that turning them out helps with not only their well-being, but also helps them chill out and relax and they thoroughly enjoy themselves too.