Entries & Recent Form
Monday, 24 March 2014 16:13
The period between the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals is traditionally a quiet time for the stable with most of our higher profile horses either being saved for the Grand National meeting or going off on their holidays. As such it was no surprise that we only had a handful of runners over the past seven days and it looks like being a similar scenario this week as we build-up to Liverpool next week.
Despite not reaching the winners’ enclosure, the horses continue to run well and we were unfortunate not to collect on a couple of occasions with both Top Gamble and Count Danilo taking unlucky falls at the third last at Haydock last Wednesday with their races seemingly at their mercy. They were horrible looking falls but I am pleased to report that neither horse was seriously injured and hopefully they will be able to make amends in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, I thought that No Secrets ran a decent race to finish runner-up in the very competitive staying handicap chase at Newbury on Saturday. He showed good form to win a couple of times last term, although he had disappointed for no obvious reason on his latest outing at Taunton in December. Despite jumping out to his right a little, this was much better and he looks capable of winning something similar and a return to a right-handed track certainly wouldn’t do any harm.
Looking to the week ahead we have three runners this afternoon (Monday) split between Taunton and Towcester, while tomorrow we have one runner at Chepstow and Fontwell. Virtuel d’Oudon, a winner on his debut for the stable in a Plumpton bumper last time bids to enhance his 100% record for us when he has his first start over timber in the 2m6½f novices’ hurdle at Fontwell. He has schooled nicely at home (as you would expect from a winning pointer) and the step up in trip should also help him.
We are likely to have a runner or two at Exeter on Wednesday where we have Decoy, The Darling Boy, The Wealerdealer and Off The Wall engaged, while we also have a few entries including bumper performer Our Chief at Ffos Las on Thursday. Friday will be a blank day, while on Saturday recent Wincanton scorer Red Seventy is our only entry at Stratford on Saturday, although we will also have Shotavodka, Barton Stacey, Leader Of The Gang and Molo engaged at Uttoxeter on the same day. Rounding off the week, Sail By The Sea, Junior and Bygones Sovereign all have entries at Ascot on Sunday.
I should mention young French amateur jockey Thomas Viel, who is currently gaining experience with us for a few months. Thomas, who joined us in February went home at the weekend to ride for his father (the former trainer of Dell’ Arca) at Auteuil yesterday aboard Mick Passon in a decent chase at France’s premier track. Unfortunately for Thomas, having looked the likely winner he was collared close home to be beaten a neck. Matters took a turn for the worse for the young Frenchman when he arrived back in England only to discover that he had put unleaded petrol in his diesel car – all in all an expensive weekend.
It was a good weekend for my secretary Gail Harrison and her partner Raymond Alford (who often transports some of our runners to the races) as they had their first winner in a little while between the flags when Maidstone Mercury won the maiden point to point at Kilworthy. Furthermore, he was ridden by one of our amateur jockeys Ed Barrett, so very well done to the team at Straight Ash Farm.
Finally, it is difficult to believe the Grand National meeting is almost upon us and I am pleased to report that Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste (pictured right) is very well ahead of a possible engagement in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree next Thursday. He will also be entered at Punchestown at the end of April, although Liverpool is still the preferred option at present. One who will not be lining up at Aintree however is Midlands Grand National winner Goulanes who had an entry in the Grand National itself. He was fine after the race, but has now gone back to his owner’s for a holiday and appeals as a likely type for the race next season. That means that we will probably be three-handed in the National on Saturday week, with Our Father, The Package and old favourite Swing Bill likely to represent the Pond House team.
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