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above: Ramses de Teillee, one of two first day runners

I am sure that with the start of the Cheltenham Festival now less than 24 hours away, you will excuse me if this week’s offering is somewhat shorter than usual. Suffice to say there are many last minute logistics that need to be taken care of, while I will also be at Taunton this afternoon to saddle my runners there so it really is all go, go, go!

As we head into the four biggest racing days on the calendar I am pleased to report that the horses continue in good form, even though we have been enjoying a rather frustrating run of places. Indeed, looking back to last week I thought that Rathlin Rose ran another storming race in the Grand Military at Sandown on Friday as he attempted to land the ‘double double’ under Captain Guy Disney. Of course, it is a little vexing to finish second, but in conceding 5lbs to an improving youngster, he was probably running to at least the level of his three successes in the military races even though he would have preferred a stronger gallop. We have kept him in at the latest stage for the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

On the same card I thought that Three Star General ran another solid race when finishing third in the 2½ mile handicap hurdle and he may well benefit from stepping back up in trip. He will be winning again in turn.

On Saturday Friday Night Light proved a disappointment in the Imperial Cup. An improving novice prior to Saturday, his jumping lacked its usual fluency and he never really looked like winning. He is clearly better than this performance and a line can safely be drawn through this effort. A lightly raced youngster, he remains open to improvement and there will be other days for him.

I thought that Queen’s Cave ran a lovely race in the Listed mares’ bumper at Sandown in what looked a very hot race. Indeed, she looked the most likely winner for much of the straight and only went down narrowly to another promising type. A winner over three miles between the flags in Ireland, she will make a lovely staying chaser one day and remains a mare of considerable potential.

As I have already mentioned, there is a busy day in store with five runners this afternoon (Monday) at my local track, allowing for the defection of River Dun who does not contest the three mile handicap hurdle at 2.10pm. Miss Tynte, Delface, Martabot, Mrs Miggins and Mechelen represent the yard and it would be great if we could head into the Festival on a winning note.

Talking of the Festival, we kick off tomorrow with two runners in the Ultima handicap chase. It is a race the yard have won for the last two years with Un Temps Pour Tout and while he is not in the line-up this time around we have two solid chances with Ramses de Teillee and Eamon An Cnoic. Both are improving novices who have been in good form this season, winning two races apiece. They should handle the testing ground and will be partnered by Tom Scudamore and David Noonan respectively. Let’s hope we can make it three in a row!

We declared for Wednesday this morning and Know The Score will be our only runner then when he contests the Champion Bumper. A convincing winner of an Irish point-to-point and a bumper, he is another who should handle the ground and is fully deserving of his place in the line-up.

We will have more runners over the remaining days of the Festival, although where they go at this time is a little up in the air. Such is the competitive nature of the handicaps at Cheltenham, it is sometimes a case of running where you have the best chance of getting in rather than it being first preference!

Anyway, for all the latest news on runners from Pond House keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing

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