NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Tue Aug 14
Wed Aug 15
Newton Abbot, Worcester
Wed Aug 15

Entries & Recent Form

With Cheltenham now only a week away it is looking like a very low key build-up to the Festival as far as the Pond House team is concerned. Hardly surprising given the storms and snow blizzards of last week, but we did manage to have one runner on the all-weather, while this week is looking similarly quiet. Hopefully the ground will dry out sufficiently for there to be some jumps action at the weekend, with Sandown’s two day Imperial Cup fixture in particular being one that I always look forward to.

The combination of ‘The Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’ certainly made its mark with thick blankets of snow lining the ground, while the strong winds meant that the snow drifted to some quite incredible depths in places. Even so, thanks to a great effort from the team, many of whom managed to make their way in to the yard, it did not affect the horses’ exercise regime and no work was missed.

We managed to keep the all-weather gallops open thanks to the team covering them at night and being given a thorough working by the gallops man once uncovered the following morning. Meanwhile, our undercover canter proved invaluable also when the weather was at its worst, protecting both horse and rider from the elements.

These are the final nerve-racking days in the preparation of the horses. As we have seen time and again, anything can still happen. Indeed, Arkle hope Sceau Royal was only ruled out of the Festival this morning – a sad blow for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. I will not be taking anything for granted and our horses will not be doing anything too strenuous at this time – they will merely be kept ticking over between now and Tuesday week. Hopefully all will continue to go well, but until the tapes go up on the opening day I will be on tenterhooks!

Celestial Path was our only runner last week, contesting the 1m2f handicap at Lingfield. He travelled well for much of the way before weakening in the straight – it may be that he did not quite get the trip and could compete over seven furlongs or a mile next time. It does not help that he is still paying the price with the handicapper for his excellent performance in the Guineas all those years ago.

Looking to the coming days and as previously stated, it is looking like a very quiet week with Exeter abandoning their fixture ahead of tomorrow (Tuesday) and the first of any Pond House runners not coming before Sandown on Friday. I hope that the meeting gets the go ahead as we have plenty of entries with Skinflint, Delface, Miss Tynte, Martabot and Three Star General all engaged, while Rathlin Rose (pictured above) bids to complete a famous ‘double double’ when aiming to win the Grand Military Gold Cup once again under the amazing Captain Guy Disney.

Improving novice Friday Night Light is an intended runner in the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday and he will handle the prevailing testing conditions. He could well go to Cheltenham the following week but would need to win at Sandown to have a chance to get in one of the handicaps under a penalty. Meanwhile, exciting Uttoxeter bumper winner Queens Cave is likely to run in the Listed mares’ bumper on the same card, while Warthog and Miss Tynte are entered in the valuable EBF novices’ handicap hurdle final.

We have further entries at Market Rasen and Warwick on Sunday, but we will keep an eye on the weather before deciding who goes where.

Unfortunately with the abandonment of Exeter’s race meeting tomorrow, they have also cancelled their Cheltenham Festival preview in which I was due to be a panellist. It is a great shame as these evenings are always well attended and full of enthusiastic and knowledgeable racegoers. Even so, I will still be appearing on the panel at Taunton’s preview on Friday at 7pm and will look forward to it enormously. Furthermore, it benefits West Somerset and the Minehead Harriers and tickets are still available via Taunton racecourse’s website.

One more week and counting!…

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