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Wed Aug 15
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Wed Aug 15
Thu Aug 16

Entries & Recent Form

Well, Cheltenham is done with for another year and while I was disappointed to leave empty-handed for only the third time since taking out my training licence in 2006, I was in pretty good company owing to the Irish carving up the majority of the races. Even so, many of the Pond House runners performed creditably and there were plenty of positives to take from this year’s Festival.

Unfortunately the torrential downpours and snow flurries meant that the ground was heavy on the opening day for the first time in 36 years and while all the horses had to go through it, it certainly did not suit many of the Pond House string. Indeed, further rain rather than the biting wind may have made the surface looser and easier to get through, rather than the gluey conditions that prevailed.

Even so, both runners on the first day; Ramses de Teillee and Eamon An Cnoic acquitted themselves well in the Ultima handicap chase. Ramses de Teillee finished seventh, while Eamon An Cnoic ran much better than his finishing position of ninth would suggest. Indeed, he travelled and jumped like the best horse in the race for some considerably way before tiring up the final punishing hill. As I have said before, such is the ultra-competitive nature of the Cheltenham Festival that at times you just have to run where you can rather than where you want. Eamon was such a case – ideally I would have liked to have run him in the 2m4f novices’ handicap chase but he was rated 1lb too low to make the cut and so we were forced to run in the Ultima over 3m1f. He certainly didn’t get the longer trip and the way he ran in the Ultima would suggest that he would have taken some pegging back in the Close Brothers. There will certainly be other days for him, especially over shorter.

Know The Score showed up prominently for a long way in what was a ferociously competitive Champion Bumper on Wednesday and he probably found this coming a bit too soon in his career on only his third start. This former Irish point winner is a smashing staying chaser in the making and is one with a big future.

On Thursday Taj Badalandabad ran an absolute corker in the Pertemps handicap hurdle Final to finish a close fourth and he will continue to be a force in these staying handicaps.

On Friday we had high hopes for King’s Socks in the Brown Advisory handicap chase and he ran a solid race to finish a close fifth, a mistake at the second last doing nothing to aid his chances. Although he handled soft ground in France, better ground would have helped him stay the trip although under those conditions it was just too far for him.  Moon Racer was another that was somewhat bogged down in the County hurdle, although he did stick to his task. He is another who wants better ground and would also appear to want a bit further these days.

Mr Big Shot was not at all discredited in the race named after my father on only his fourth career start. He still showed distinct signs of greenness on his first big test and the experience will not be lost on him. A giant of a horse, he remains a most exciting prospect. Our final runner of the Festival was Vaniteux in the Grand Annual and the ground went against him when the downpours came in the weeks leading up to Cheltenham. A line can safely be drawn through this run.

The big race of the week, the Cheltenham Gold Cup was won in tenacious fashion by the tough-as-teak Native River. I was delighted for his owners, Garth and Anne Broom who have been great patrons of Pond House for many years and a nicer couple you could not hope to meet – very well done indeed!

I was pleased to sign off the week with a winner at Kempton on Saturday when Abracadabra Sivola (pictured above) bounced back to form in the 3m handicap chase under an inspired ride from David Noonan. Our eight year old, who has been known to be a little clumsy at one or two of his fences in the past, put in a flawless round of jumping and kept responding valiantly when challenged in the straight. He is due a little rise in the weights for this and we will look for something similar for him in a few weeks’ time.

With the weather taking its toll on the racing calendar once again this week thanks to the ‘Mini beast from the East’ plans are very much up in the air. Wetherby have given their Tuesday fixture the go-ahead so we run Warthog in the 3m handicap hurdle tomorrow, having been balloted out of the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. He is a horse we have always thought a lot of, so hopefully he will be able to show it on the track. Beyond that, we are in the hands of the elements so we will keep an eye on the weather before deciding who goes where. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing

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