After a quiet January we finally got going again this month enjoying a nice across the card double with Cervaro Mix and Manning Estate.

Both horses looked progressive and Cervaro was benefitting from a recent wind operation, he prefers decent ground and hopefully there might be a nice handicap in him once conditions (if ever) become dryer.

He will have an entry in The Coral Cup and The County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Manning Estate will remain over hurdles for the remainder of this season with the intention of sending him novice chasing again next autumn, the fact he got three miles so well on his first attempt at the trip opens up more possibilities for him, he is another that prefers good ground.

Last month I mentioned the youngsters we have ready to go when the rain ever stops and we managed to get one of them onto the course recently at Warwick.

Norley is a Yeats five year old owned by Trevor Hemmings and he ran better than the bare form suggests, he badly missed the break and then got into all sorts of traffic problems before staying on strongly at the end. It was an encouraging start and it now gives us a benchmark for our other babies when we begin working them again.

We will only have a couple of entries at Cheltenham this year, I’d love to have more runners but the novices I have are either not good enough to win or are not mentally ready for the challenge yet.

I have trained six Cheltenham Festival winners and I’m hungry to train more but I also realise there are decent races to be won with horses that may only finish fifth or sixth in the championship races.

I’m lucky to train for owners who want to win good races but it’s a case of finding the right ammunition.

I said I’d introduce you to some members of team Rhonehurst during the blogs and one of the most important people in the set up is Stefan Namesansky, my head lad since 2004.

He was born in Czechoslovakia and started riding out racehorses (in what had become Slovakia) aged 10. After completing his education, qualifying as a chef followed by a mandatory twelve month stint in the army (National Service) he moved to Europe to pursue his passion for horseracing. Stef began in Switzerland then Germany and ended up in England in 2001. He spent three years with Mark Pitman at Weathercock House before moving to Rhonehurst.

Stefan is a thorough professional who is always the first into the yard each morning and the last to leave, he knows every detail about all the horses in his care and he is a vital part of the team. With a wicked sense of humour he is well known for practical jokes, and it's not always easy to tell if he's being serious or not.

Stefan is married to Jana, and they have two daughters, Viky and Anastazia. With two teenage girls and a hectic job he doesn't have much time for hobbies but does enjoy boxing and he is due to have his first fight on March 28th in Swindon, it’s a charity evening and they are raising money for cancer research.

Team Rhonehurst will be there to support him and we wish him luck.

Finally we sadly lost Sammy Bill this month, he suffered a heart attack whilst doing routine exercise, he died instantly and thankfully his rider was not hurt. He was a horse with enormous potential who looked impressive in his first two chases this season especially when winning at Aintree.
It’s a course that is synonymous with his owner Trevor Hemmings and the cheer that went up from the crowd as he hit the front going to the last fence was unbelievable, it was an exhilarating performance.

Sammy Bill was not only a talent of the future he was also a genuinely lovely horse to deal with, kind and honest. He will be much missed.

by Oliver Sherwood at Rewards4Racing

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