Wyck Hill helping Bridgwater to new season’s best

Wyck Hill - on the up, like his trainer

Wyck Hill – on the up, like his trainer

A trainer whose best total is 13 winners in a season tends not to register very highly in the minds of people. That many do recognise the name of David Bridgwater is largely down to the success he has had with one horse, the Giant Bolster, and in particular from his second place in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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It is as certain as anything in racing that Bridgwater will beat last season’s score of 13. He can reasonably feel more frustrated than most trainers by the current abandonments, as he has been stuck on 12 winners for the past month now. His last winner, Wyck Hill, is a horse to keep a look out for. He took the three-mile Class 1 Champagne Bollinger Silver Cup Chase at Ascot just before Christmas; his fourth win from six runs over fences, and his second win this season. It was a performance that confirmed Bridgwater’s high opinion of the nine year old.

He said, “He is a lot stronger and better than he was last year. It sounds stupid, but we all thought he was better than The Giant bolster. When you work him at home ‘The Bolster’ can’t get anywhere near him. I’m not saying he is better than The Bolster, that would be ridiculous.”

I’m not going to challenge that view, but that win over Katenko, who subsequently went on to an easy success in a Sandown handicap, was enough to earn Wyck Hill an entry into the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The handicapper has raised the rating for both horses, with Katenko now on 147 and Wyck Hill on 140.

Bridgwater’s view on that was succinct. He said, “We’ve been put up to 140 but I know ours is a better horse.” With Venetia Williams entering Katenko at Cheltenham, Bridgwater thought it sensible to put Wyck Hill in as well.

Wyck Hill was due to go for the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday, but was withdrawn yesterday, with the trainer deciding to wait until the National weights come out before running him again. He’s clearly aiming high, and rightly proud of what Wyck Hill has already achieved. “We’ve always thought he was a good horse and he proved that at Ascot. People thought I was mad running him 6lb out of the handicap, but he won a 40-grand race. For a yard like ours to have two horses in the Gold Cup that we’ve brought up from scratch is amazing, but we don’t seem to get any credit because we aren’t fashionable.”

Carry on as you are Bridgie, and you won’t be unfashionable for much longer.

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