2017-18 Season Preview by The Trainer

What's in store...... writes Donald Whillans

It's mid September and I can't help feeling enthused each evening as I walk through the yard, feeling the legs of each horse, looking him or her in the eye, and filling up their feed.
That rush of adrenalin, that this year seems higher then ever.
I know that this will be the same in each and every National Hunt yard in the UK & Eire, as head lads and trainers conduct evening stables and look forward to the next seven months.
Sure, there will be ups and downs, elations and disappointments, successes and injuries.

But for sheer excitement, unadulterated thrills, nothing matches jump racing. Debut bumper runs filled with anticipation, progressive novice hurdlers, battle-hardened handicap hurdlers, spectacular chasers..................

I'm often minded of that passage by Kipling...
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same

With dreams in check, thoughts realistic, I've provided a short preview below of what's in store at Dodlands Steading this season.

I hope you all enjoy the season as much as we will here at Dodlands Steading. We've the nicest bunch of horses that we've ever had, a fantastic support team in place and well established loyal owners.
I know from the regular emails received by our web-team that quite a few of the racing public like to follow our horses on the track, and enjoy the regular updates from the stable, gossip, tittle-tattle, etcetera, etcetera.
So, do feel free to keep in touch via this web-site.

Our web team are at your service!


There are several youngsters at Dodlands Steading that will be lovely 'chasers in a couple of season's time, but will develop and gain experience over hurdles initially.
Probably the only one of the string who will be aimed at novice chases this season is the useful hurdler Shades of Midnight. The gelded son of Midnight Legend (sire of '17 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John) ran several fine races over hurdles last season without managing to win, although he is a 5 time winner thus far.
He was actually popped over fences last year, and will be schooled again prior to being aimed at northern novice chases in late Autumn. He could be very exciting!

Shady and Kerr
Keyboard Gangster (far side) working upsides Shades of Midnight

Handicap Hurdlers

Old favourites Hartforth and Tomahawk Wood head up our group who will be running in handicap hurdles in season 2017-18. Both geldings have their quirks, but on their day, with the right conditions, they can be very competitive. Hartforth is the more exposed of the pair, and will be aimed at one of the races of the Northern Lights Jumps Series Final at Carlisle in December, which features five £25,000 final races as part of a card worth more than £150,000
Albeit with less concrete plans, The Team remain convinced that there is a lot more to come from Tomahawk Wood and hope that a staying handicap hurdle may again be within his grasp.

A couple of second season hurdlers make up the batch that will start off the season in handicap hurdles. Both were placed, and both went very close last season (a common euphemism for 'should have won') - the mares Baby Ticker and Paper Roses. One slight concern is that they're both quite high in the handicap for maidens - OR99 and OR112 respectively - so the mares may need a couple of runs under their belt to hit top form. Of course the option of mares' novice/maiden hurdles remains open to this pair.

The Sisters
The Gamut Sisters : Paper Roses and Paper Promise

Novice hurdlers

Although most of the bumper horses listed below would be expected to progress into novice hurdling during the course of the season, there's just a couple of horses starting the season for us as novice hurdlers - Side of the Road and Night Comes In. Both of these 5 year olds have run just once over hurdles - at Perth's April meeting - over 2 miles and 2m 4f respectively.
Side of the Road is a racemare with an ever improving pedigree - black type performers Monbeg Rose, De Plotting Shed and A Hare Breath are all close up in her page, as well as recent sales topper Global Citizen. Love to win a small race with her, possibly a staying handicap hurdle.
Night Comes In finished 5th in that debut race at Perth, and he is an excellent jumper. He's looking in great fettle at this stage of the season (September), but we'll take things steadily with this gelding, aiming for staying novice hurdles.


These horses will start off in Bumpers (National Hunt Flat races) but we'd be looking to progress onto hurdling fairly quickly come the turn of the year.
Dali Mail, Keyboard Gangster, Big Bad Dream and Paper Promise have all shown promising form last season - again without winning - and will start the season again in the bumper sphere.
And you know, one of them might just go on to nick a race!

Dodlands Gallop
Nice prospects for 2017-18 : Night Comes In and Dali Mail

Unraced to date

There are several 4 and 5 year olds in this category. For some this will be their 3rd season in the yard but have suffered interrupted campaigns and remain unraced.
'Sid' and 'Spud' fall into this category so we brought this duo back into the yard in early August. Both are quite backward, and it looks as if it'll be after New Year before they see a racecourse.
There are three 4 year olds being aimed at bumpers in the autumn. Eternally Yours, 'Sting' and 'Reeva' are working steadily at present, and we'll gauge their individual development over the next month or two and start planning from there.

There's also a trio of 3 year olds who are very much at the start of their careers. Each will be handled as individuals, start off with gentle canters with the string in the morning, but we'll back off after several weeks and let them mature, particularly during the winter months. So look out for our Shirocco filly, the Getaway filly and the Arakan gelding in the spring of 2018.

View from gallops

   © DonaldWhillansRacing.com 2012  all rights reserved  |   Web Design : Viewforth Consultants Ltd.