Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

Busy as it is around Pound House at this time of year, it is not all work, work, you know. Indeed, midweek myself, Leanne, Jack and Sophie  jetted off to Finland to see if we could find Father Christmas and his helpers in Lapland! Back at home we still had eight runners through the course of the week and the racing diary is looking busy once again over the coming week.

Lapland was a real treat and just what the doctor ordered – a few days of fun and excitement with the family away from the hustle and bustle of a busy racing yard. Along the way we saw reindeer, drove sleds led by teams of huskies and tried snow mobiling before the children met St Nick. Despite plenty of the white stuff, it really didn’t seem that much colder than when we left the UK! Of course, the kids had a fabulous time and this trip will keep them believing for another twelve months at least.

On the racing front we have had runners today (Monday) at Plumpton where Shaama Grise makes her chasing debut and Tigger Two contests the bumper. Ffos Las winner Delface runs in the 2m3½f handicap hurdle at Lingfield tomorrow, while we could have runners at Haydock and Ludlow on Wednesday.

Daklondike, an impressive chase winner at Wetherby on his penultimate start is an intended runner at Wincanton on Thursday in the staying handicap chase, along with Shell Crystal who is likely to run in the closing bumper.

I have plenty of entries at Exeter on Friday and exciting hurdling prospect Warthog is likely to make his seasonal debut in the 2m1f NH novices’ hurdle. A point-to-point winner in Ireland last season, he has the make of a smashing chaser for the future, but there are races to be won with him over timber first. Also on the card, Max do Brazil takes in the 2m5½f handicap hurdle. He proved disappointing last year having shown fair form in France and is clearly better than he has achieved thus far. You Say What, a recent winner at the Devon track is a likely runner in the 3m6½f handicap chase and while it will be tougher under a 7lbs penalty, he is 3lbs ahead of the handicapper.

On Saturday at Aintree Vieux Lion Rouge (pictured right) will bid to follow-up his fantastic Becher Chase success of 12 months ago over 3m2f of the Grand National fences. He is in good order following his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and he has pleased me at home since. For whatever reason, he seems to jump the Aintree fences particularly well and we will be hoping for the best. Obviously it is a tough ask from a 10lbs higher mark than last year, but he will be still be going when others have cried enough. Later in the day, dual Sandown military scorer Rathlin Rose could also contest the shorter chase over the National fences in the Grand Sefton.

We have plenty of other entries over the weekend with engagements at Chepstow and Wetherby on Saturday as well as Huntingdon and Kelso on Sunday. As usual, for all the latest on the runners from Pond House, do keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing

Finally I am in London today for the annual Horse Race Writers Awards at the Lancaster Hotel. Legendary broadcaster Mike Vince kindly invites me every year and it is a date circled on my calendar many months in advance and one that I look forward to enormously. Thanks to Mike for once again looking after myself and accomplice Gerry Supple so well – it is greatly appreciated.

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