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Aintree’s Grand National fixture certainly served up a treat for racing fans with three days of excellent action despite the ground remaining extremely testing owing to the persistent rain. It was a good week for the stable too, with three winners on the week, including the success of Mr Big Shot (pictured above) in the first race at Aintree on National day. I am pleased to report that all of our runners returned safe and sound and with plenty more decent opportunities coming over the last fortnight of the season, we will continue to press on.

Miss Tynte (pictured right) kicked off National week in the best possible fashion with a facile success in the mares’ handicap hurdle at Ludlow on Monday. Following promise in an Irish bumper, she had seemed a weak finisher over trips around the minimum distance, but this step-up to 2m5f certainly appeared to be the making of her. Travelling comfortably in behind, she was produced with a well-timed challenge at the last by David Noonan and won with any amount in hand. She is due a hefty rise in the handicap for this and is therefore highly likely to take up one of her forthcoming engagements later this week where she can run under a penalty.

Earlier on the card, Dauphine Ereine had made a most pleasing reappearance from an absence of almost 600 days in the staying handicap chase. Upped in trip, she jumped and travelled well under David Noonan and was only collared between the last two fences. She stayed on well for a clear second and will probably be suited by a better surface and would not be inconvenienced by dropping back in trip either. Hopefully she can build on this and go one better soon.

Timeforben (pictured left) completed an across-the-card double on the day when a brave winner of the mares’ handicap hurdle at Kempton. A former point-to-point winner in Ireland, she appreciated this first attempt at three miles under rules as she saw it out well in a close finish under a good ride from Daryl Jacob. She will certainly appreciate a better surface and hopefully we can find something similar for her.

Mr Big Shot was our third and final winner of the week when landing a fiercely competitive handicap hurdle at Aintree on Grand National day. It was a real thriller with him coming through to lead between the last two hurdles, only to be headed at the last. He battled back bravely though, to win a shade cosily by ¾ length from hat-trick seeking Now McGinty. Given that this was only his fifth ever start and his first attempt at the trip, I was delighted by the performance and it was clearly a very smart effort bearing in mind that the race was 0.8 seconds quicker than the Grade One Stayers’ Hurdle run over course and distance later in the day (albeit Mr Big Shot carried 2lbs less than Identity Thief). He has the build and pedigree of a staying chaser and that will probably be the direction we head with him next season – he is certainly some prospect.

Of our other runners last week, Rathlin Rose was running a creditable race in the Topham Chase, just moving into contention when he came to grief at the fourth last. I am pleased to report that he has come out of the race fine and has been confirmed for the Scottish National at Ayr at the latest stage, although his more likely objective is the Bet365 at his beloved Sandown on the final day of the season, so long as the ground remains suitable.

Also at Aintree, King’s Socks and Eamon An Cnoic failed to run their races. They have both been in training all season and it may be time for a holiday. Meanwhile, Vieux Lion Rouge ran his usual honest race in the Grand National to finish ninth. We held him up a bit more in the early part of the race this year in an effort to help him see out the trip better on the heavy ground. Unfortunately when you are held up in a race like the National though, you need plenty of luck in running and that did not go our way. Indeed, he was lucky not to be brought down at the Canal Turn on the first circuit, with Tom Scu doing well to keep the partnership intact. He did get into contention on the final circuit, but was always fighting a losing battle once that interference had occurred. He is a tremendous horse to have in the yard and his record in the National (7th, 6th and 9th) is an admirable one. He will be a force in staying handicaps again next season.

Talking of the Grand National, I overheard owner Trevor Hemmings comments about the reserves situation in the big race. It is something I have addressed before and something that I whole-heartedly agree with Trevor about. This year’s National did not contain a maximum field as two horses were withdrawn on the morning of the race. If we implemented the same system as the Irish, whereby reserves still get the opportunity to compete in the event of non-runners until 9am on the day of the race (rather than the current deadline of 1pm on Friday), then such situations could be averted. I am sure this would not take a great deal of implementing and am pleased to hear that the BHA are finally going to look into it.

Back to this week and there are no runners from Pond House today, while Skinflint will be our only runner at Exeter tomorrow. A little later in the week there is an excellent two day meeting at Cheltenham. Pertemps fourth Taj Badalandabad is an intended runner in the 3m handicap hurdle, while we have plenty of other entries across the two day, including Moon Racer, Ramses de Teillee and recent bumper runner-up Mechelen who is also a likely runner.

Daklondike is a possible runner in the Scottish National on Saturday. Our progressive six year old has been a real revelation this season, improving for the switch to fences and every step up in trip. Hopefully he will improve yet further for Ayr’s four mile marathon and he could be an Aintree type for next year. Warthog, Vaniteux, Ramses de Teillee, Moon Racer and Impulsive American are our other entries at the meeting.

Finally, a number of my staff are looking forward to the get together that Racing Welfare have kindly organised for stable staff in our area tomorrow night. There will be a quiz with racing rounds and probably a few ringers in the line-up. It should be an enjoyable evening and I would like to thank Racing Welfare for organising events such as these. I will let you know how the Pond House team gets on in the quiz, while for the remainder of the stable gossip, you can keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

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