Entries & Recent Form

Our racing week was curtailed somewhat when Fontwell was abandoned on Sunday due to heavy rain leaving the course waterlogged in places. That left us with just three runners during the course of the week and I was pleased to be on the board with the success of Taj Badalandabad (pictured above) at Huntingdon on Friday, while our other two runners both performed creditably to fill the runner-up position. With just six weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival I am pleased to see the horses in good order and going well on the track.

With Storm Georgia wreaking havoc with strong winds and torrential rain, some tracks abandoned their cards while others offered up bottomless ground. Fortunately, despite the inclement weather, our routine was unaffected thanks to our all-weather surfaces. At Pond House we have some of the finest facilities in the country, be it our famous woodchip gallop, state-of-the-art Wexford sand gallop or our covered ride, meaning that the horses get their required exercise come rain or shine. Indeed, the worst conditions they are ever likely to face are on the racecourses!

On the racecourse I thought that both Miss Tynte and Delface ran well at Wetherby and Leicester respectively on Tuesday. Miss Tynte was an unlucky faller at Plumpton on her previous start so it was good to get a completion from her. She would have finished closer but for a mistake at the last, but the winner Destrier, looks to be a horse of potential so this was a decent performance nonetheless and suggests that she should be more than capable of winning over timber sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Delface was a creditable runner-up in the 2m handicap hurdle at Leicester. He looked as though he may win approaching the last but a sloppy jump there did not aid his chances. Still, he was trying to concede 23lbs to the enterprisingly ridden winner on desperate ground so there are plenty of positives to be drawn. He is due to go up 3lbs in future handicaps.

I was thrilled by the performance of Taj Badalandabad in the Pertemps handicap hurdle qualifier at Haydock on Friday. He is a terrific horse to have in the yard – tough and genuine and is now the winner of 7 of his 15 starts since joining the Pond House team. He ran a nice race at Cheltenham on his return from a lay-off before disappointing on terrible ground at Wincanton last time. This was much more like it however and he skipped clear in the straight to win in good style from a mark of 130. He will obviously be going up in the weights for this; the question is whether it will be enough to get him into the final of the series at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He will most likely take his chance if he makes the cut.

There was a sad footnote to the race however when Jonjo O’Neill’s Cheltenham Festival winning chaser Taquin du Seuil took a fatal fall at the third last fence. A great pity for all connections.

Indeed, it was a very sad week for racing following the tragic loss of talented local trainer Richard Woolacott. Our deepest sympathies and well wishes go to his family and friends. I had known Richard for many years and competed against him race riding in point-to-points. I have plenty of cherished memories and our sport is much poorer for his passing.

Looking to this week and there will be no runners from Pond House today or tomorrow, while we will keep an eye on the official going reports for the meetings a little later in the week as the going at some venues is desperate. Delface could go back to Leicester on Wednesday, but the course is heavy at present and has suffered some waterlogging. Heavy ground is a recurring story for the remainder of our entries at Towcester on Thursday, Chepstow and Catterick on Friday, Sandown on Saturday and our local track, Taunton on Sunday.

Of those ready to go, I am looking forward to getting Remastered to the track. He boasted some very good form in bumpers in Ireland, should handle some cut in the ground and he looks to be an exciting recruit for owners Brocade Racing. Meanwhile, improving novice hurdler Friday Night Light holds an engagement at Taunton and he is one for whom the ground will hold no terrors following his brave success at Newbury last time.

Further ahead, the early closing races are coming thick and fast at present and tomorrow we will be making entries for the Aintree Grand National. A third crack at the race has been the plan for former Becher Chase winner Vieux Lion Rouge and he looks to be our main hope again this time around. We are fortunate to have some lovely young staying chasers such as Ramses de Teillee and Daklondike who could well feature among the entries in future years, although at the age of 6 they are too young to enter.

As usual you can keep up to date with all of the latest news from Pond House by reading Chester’s Daily Chat or by following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

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