Cheltenham Festival 2020

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Entries & Recent Form

It was great to be back racing at the headquarters of British jumping at the weekend. The first meeting of the season at Cheltenham took place on Saturday and Sunday and with the Tattersalls Horses In Training Sales and a busy entry book for the week ahead, this time of year certainly marks an upturn in pace at Pond House.

Although not able to return with a winner, the performances of Dell’ Arca in the Pertemps handicap hurdle qualifier and Vaniteux in the two mile handicap chase were not without promise. Dell’ Arca was a close fourth in the qualifier, staying on in game fashion after the last. This was yet another good effort from our consistent gelding – he hardly ever runs a bad race, but subsequently he remains at the mercy of the unrelenting handicapper. This result means that he is qualified for the final of the series at the Festival in March, although he will be kept busy between now and then.

Vaniteux was only 3 lengths off of the fourth home in the handicap chase and conceding weight to all of his rivals from his mark of 158, this was by no means a poor performance on his seasonal/stable debut. He looks as though he may appreciate a step-up in trip from this two miles and that is likely to happen on his next start.

Gerry Supple dusted off his breeches at the weekend to contest the charity race at Wincanton on Sunday and I have to say that he has lost none of his style(!). In fairness, Gerry and his mount Great Tempo (pictured above) performed very well to finish a close second in the 1m2f flat contest. Gerry also raised the second most money in the field for the Key4Life charity, with over £1,000 online as well as a further £400 in cash…a very good effort, although I don’t know if he plans to contest another any time soon!

We look likely to have plenty of runners during the week ahead. Saint John Henry makes his debut over fences at Chepstow tomorrow when he takes in the 3m2f novices’ limited handicap chase. He is only small in stature but he has done plenty of schooling at home and has pleased me in everything he has done. He was inclined to take the odd chance with his hurdles, but hopefully he will have a bit more respect for the bigger obstacles.He will enjoy the prevailing soft ground and is a strong stayer.  Also at Chepstow, Ramses de Teillee contests the confined handicap hurdle over 2m7½f at 2.50pm. He has been running well all season without quite getting his head in front and he richly deserves to win one. A winning point-to-pointer, he could well go chasing in the near future.

Bambi du Noyer and Purple ‘N Gold are possible runners in the hands & heels race at Taunton on Wednesday, while Lady Of Longstone could contest the concluding 3 mile handicap hurdle.

Starchitect, who ran good races in defeat at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals last season, makes his seasonal reappearance at Stratford on Thursday when he is an intended runner in the 2m3½f handicap chase. He has done well over the summer and I am looking forward to seeing how he progresses in his second season over fences.

We have plenty of entries later in the week, including at Uttoxeter on Friday, Wetherby on Saturday (where Vieux Lion Rouge is engaged in the Charlie Hall Chase) and Carlisle and Huntingdon on Sunday, so we will check out the weather and opposition before deciding who runs where.  As usual, you can keep up to date with the latest running plans on Chester’s Daily Chat.

It is the Tattersalls Horses In Training Sales at Newmarket this week and I will be there. There are plenty of attractive lots on offer, predominantly from the flat so most are fit and ready to go on with. I have been very busy working on the catalogue with my team trying to unearth any potential jumping stars so if you are interested in purchasing (or joining a syndicate), please do get in touch as I have a proven track record of finding the right horse for the right price.

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice in the latest Racing Calendar that there is a race of great note at Exeter on 26th November. It is the ‘Gail Harrison – A Lifetime In Racing handicap hurdle’ – named after my long suffering secretary (pictured right) who was also senior secretary to my father before me) as she has been recognised by Racing Welfare for her contribution to the sport. It is not even a claimer so I can’t get rid of her for £4,000 either! Of course, I am only joking…Gail has been at Pond House since March 1984 and has been of invaluable assistance to us all ever since.

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