A sceptic might say that you can get statistics to say whatever you want them to, but whichever way you look at the numbers this is fast becoming Paul Henderson Racing's most successful year.
Before the weekend Paul still needed to deliver £15k in prize money to deliver his biggest earnings total ever, and with just over a month to go before the close of the season, he was quietly confident it could be done.
With the yard in some decent form this season, especially over the past few months, there was an excitement about the yard at the thought of the weekend lineup. It was a mix of yard superstars, such as Doitforthevillage (who, up until this weekend, has already delivered 4 wins and a place since December), and consistent improvers like Easter In Paris, who has been edging closer and closer to being a horse in form since she arrived in October. The stage was set for a big weekend. The only question was whether Paul and the team could deliver.
First up was the aforementioned Doitforthevillage, who has been in great form this year with 3 wins in 5 starts. He went to Newbury on Saturday in the Doom Bar Handicap Chase, with Paddy Brennan on board. In a hotly contested race, Doit kept his pace well and challenged hard in the home straight, but couldn't quite take the win. However, a solid 2nd place finish to start the weekend off.
On Mothering Sunday it was off to Hereford races for the first time in 5 seasons with Easter in Paris, again with Paddy Brennan on board. At the front the whole way round, the mare was barely troubled and won in some style. Maybe we shouldn't leave it as long to make a return to Hereford next time!
The earnings record was suddenly very much in sight. £6k in the next month would do it.
And so to Plumpton Races on Monday. It has always been a successful course for the yard and this would prove to be no exception. Turban and Thepartysover were both on show. Turban was up first - he's a horse who has needed some time to bed into life in Whitsbury - but he showed no sign of that as he cruised round the Plumpton course. Out front and jumping well, he stepped up the pace two from home and was in command from then on, giving Paddy Brennan his 2nd win for the yard in two days.
It was a short wait then to Thepartysover. The 12-year-old grey is a huge favourite at the yard; a real honest horse and hopes were high that his home form would come to fruition and he'd pick up his first win since December 2015, completing the double. And he did not disappoint. With Tom O'Brien on board, he managed the race perfectly and was contesting the lead when he was left clear 2 out. He never looked back, the double was done.
So the weekend treble and a 2nd place to boot saw the earnings top a yard record £120k for the season with a month left to go! And 13 wins in 104 races mean Paul is now just three wins off his highest ever number of wins for the season, while still maintaining his joint best-ever win percentage (13%), a win percentage which has seen every one of his jumps owners have at least one winner each this season!
One month of the season to go, and whichever way you look at it, with these stats it's going to be an exciting month...
It's been a quiet week post Cheltenham, but we are back racing again this weekend and we have an exciting line up! And there's a lot to play for as Paul aims for his highest ever haul of prize money in a season. Paul has surpassed £100k in prize money already this season and he's now only £11k off his all time record of £116k (which he achieved in 2013-14 season), but this year he has achieved it with 86 fewer runners. From his 100 runners so far this season, he's picked up 10 winners (including one at the opening meeting at Cheltenham) and nearly half have finished in the top 4. Which is a remarkable achievement for a yard with 18 horses in training.
A horse who has been very much been a part of this year's success so far is Doitforthevillage and he returns, a month after his last race and with 4 wins in his last 8 races. He pairs up again with Paddy Brennan, and this time they head to Newbury looking for their third success together this year.
Then on Sunday Paddy Brennan joins us again, this time at Hereford. Easter in Paris has had a positive start to life in Whitsbury and it will be good to see her build on that at a course where we haven't raced for 5 seasons, but at which Paul currently has a 33% strike rate.
In contrast on Monday, it's back to an old haunt as we take Turban and Thepartysover to Plumpton. We've raced there 21 times this season, making it second only to Fontwell in terms of number of visits. Paul's current strike rate at Plumpton is 14% this season, so it really is a yard favourite.
With all this action and more to come we're all hoping there's still time to make this season Paul Henderson Racing's most successful yet!
It was a disappointing end to a great day at the Cheltenham Festival, but Un Beau Roman is back home having a well-earned rest and he'll be back to fight another day.
Paul Henderson & Jane Patten