Still in its embryonic stage, the Jumps season is set for another ‘change of gear’ on Friday when Cheltenham Racecourse host their first meeting of the new season.
Known to National Hunt fans as the Home of Jump racing, Prestbury Park’s ‘Showcase’ event is staged over two days. Sure to attract leading owners and trainers, it will inevitably uncover several quality horses destined to take high order through the coming winter months.
However, before the Cotswolds get their opportunity to host Nicholls, Henderson and co, it’s the turn of West Sussex that today welcomes a number of high profile connections, when Fontwell stage their third meeting of October. At last year’s corresponding event Alan King bagged a double, though the star of the show was probably the Paul Nicholls chaser Virak, who defeated Deputy Dan in a tasty beginners’ chase.
Nicholls is set to play a lead role once again, though it is one Ditcheat’s key owners who may well have the broadest smile come the end of the day.
Ian Fogg became an owner after moving to Ditcheat with wife Wendy in 2010. He is the Managing Director of a pharmaceutical and health care recruitment company. Part of the pharmaceutical industry since the 1970’s, Fogg has been an MD since the 80’s when he established his own company, Network Selection Limited. He was later the founder and owner of Rapid Deployment Ltd, a company that in eight years grew from Zero employees to a staff of 650.
His involvement with Paul Nicholls and Team Ditcheat continues to grow. Calipto is arguably his highest profile runner, in which he shares ownership with Chris Giles, better known as owner of Silviniaco Conti. Calipto is scheduled to get his chasing career underway at Fontwell today, having failed to hit the winners’ enclosure last season over hurdles. He’s always looked a chaser and certainly has a touch of class, as he showed during his juvenile hurdling campaign when finishing fourth in the Triumph at Cheltenham.
Fogg also shares ownership of Mr Mix, this time with Potensis Bloodstock Limited. The young French import will also open his campaign at Fontwell when running in the opening novice hurdle. Third in his only previous start at Auteuil, he could prove a really interesting addition to the yard. He is the son of Al Namix, the sire responsible for one of the stable stars, Saphir Du Rheu.
These two may be opening their campaign in relatively inauspicious surroundings, but Ian Fogg will be more than hopeful of a successful winter with these and other exciting youngsters carrying his colours.
Half-brothers Urbain De Sivola and Alibi De Sivola are a promising pair that also reside at Ditcheat. The latter spent most of last year on the side-lines, but is primed for a novice hurdle campaign. Urbain has also spent time on the injured list, but returns for a winter over fences. He should make a lovely staying chaser.
Another novice chaser, who looks likely to run at Cheltenham this weekend in Vicente. This son of Dom Alco is part-owned alongside familiar Ditcheat stalwart John Hales. He’s been running well over the summer and appears to have improved for a sounder surface. He has several strong pieces of form on his CV and is certainly capable of winning a decent prize during the winter.
The likes of Barber, Hales and Giles have become common place in winners’ enclosures alongside the champion trainer. Expect Mr Ian Fogg to join those ranks over the coming months and years.