Cheltenham Festival 2020

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   Great Tempo & Little Red Lion at Grass

I have just completed two weeks in self-isolation after Leanne had shown some symptoms of the Coronavirus.  Thankfully she is completely fine again now and enjoying teaching the kids at home!!  It was my first morning back on the yard and it felt good to have a certain sense of normality even though things are far from ‘normal’ at the moment. 

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With the country now fully in the grip of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the BHA took the decision last week to suspend all British race meetings with immediate effect from Wednesday 18th March until the end of April at the very earliest.  The final meetings to take place on these shores were at Taunton and Wetherby on Tuesday, cards which took place behind closed doors.

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Obviously last week was a hugely important one with the Cheltenham Festival taking centre stage.  There is always a huge build up to this event and then it is all over in a flash!  Whilst we didn’t have a winner at the Festival, Night Edition was a close second and we bookended the week with winners at Taunton on Monday and Uttoxeter on Saturday.

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The waiting is nearly over for another year with the Cheltenham Festival getting underway tomorrow.  Amazingly, given the amount of rain to have fallen in recent months, the ground is likely to ride only soft tomorrow and with a drying forecast, it could be considerably quicker come day four.  With a winner last week taking our seasonal tally to 62, we go there with the horses in good order and high hopes.

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Although opportunities were limited during the early part of the week with the enduring inclement weather, we certainly made up for it during the second-half!  The good form of the yard continued courtesy of the successes of Brinkley at Newbury on Friday, Kepagge at Doncaster on Saturday and Little Red Lion and Martinhal at Huntingdon on Sunday, whilst the victory of Main Fact at Wetherby this afternoon brought our tally to 62 winners for the season.

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Despite the loss of another host of fixtures due to the adverse weather conditions last week, we did manage to hit the mark with the cosy success of Night Edition.  With Cheltenham now only a fortnight away, the string continues in good form and we are currently on the 57 winner mark for the season.

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   Ramses De Teillee - Winner at Haydock
Unfortunately as with Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis is playing havoc with the racing calendar but Ascot and Haydock both survived the storms onslaught on Saturday.  Ramses De Teillee travelled to Haydock and put in another fine display to win the Grade 2 Prestige novices hurdle under David Noonan.  Given a sensible ride in conditions he led at a nice pace and the race turned into a duel between the market principles as they turned for home.  The second favourite, Kalooki looked to be travelling slightly the best and in fact hit the front at the last but Ramses responded willingly to the jockey’s urgings close home and asserted inside the final furlong to win by four lengths going away at the line.  The runner up is held in high regard by the Hobbs team and Ramses was giving his rival 5 pounds which makes it an even finer performance. 

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There seems to have been an abundance of bad news of late and sadly that trend continued last week as the racing industry lamented the loss of two notable characters. Gold Cup winning trainer Robert Alner passed away at the age of 76, whilst former jockey James Banks was just 36 years old.

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The good form of the stable continued last week with the successes of Main Fact (pictured above) and Eden du Houx taking our tally to 55 winners for the season which is comfortably more than our total for all of last term.  We have also surpassed last season’s prize money haul and our strike rate is also considerably higher, which means we have already achieved the three main targets I set for myself at the start of the season and that is with three months of the current campaign still remaining.

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It was a real rollercoaster of a week for the stable with some fantastic highs and a couple of the most dreadful lows.  We did enjoy three winners over jumps, marking our first victories of the New Year.  Main Fact (pictured above) was a real hero, winning twice within the space of three days, whilst Ramses de Teillee produced a fantastic performance to land the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday.  There were however some crushing lows to deal with as we lost Eur Gone West to a fall at Huntingdon on Friday and Warthog who was pulled up having gone wrong at Cheltenham on Saturday.

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