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Well, Christmas is almost upon us once again and I am looking forward to enjoying the festivities with Leanne and the children. As is traditional, we will be joined for lunch by a few of the lads and lasses who won’t be going home for Christmas. I won’t be able to spend too much time relaxing however as the horses don’t know it is Christmas and still need to be fed and exercised. Then it is on to Boxing Day and I will be looking forward to getting back to the track. 

Christmas Crackers!

Last week was another good one for the stable with wins coming courtesy of Eden du Houx and Daklondike, while there were several other good efforts besides.

Little Red Lion produced a good debut effort when runner-up at Ffos Las in a newcomers’ bumper on Monday. It is always difficult to know what to make of these races as there is no form to go on, but the market had it right with the favourite beating the second favourite. Always prominent, Little Red Lion stuck to his task well to finish a creditable second and he will certainly improve for this experience. Nordic Combined ran yet another fine race when runner-up in the maiden hurdle at Newbury on Wednesday. Staying on in good style in the closing stages, he kept the promising looking winner Rathill up to his work. A useful performer on the level, he looks like making up into an even better hurdler and it is surely only a matter of time before he is winning over timber.

Martabot and Delface both performed well at Exeter and Uttoxeter on Thursday, finishing second and third in their respective races and they should also be capable of winning something similar before too long.

It was the weekend that brought the highlights however. Eden du Houx (pictured right) ran out a good winner of the Listed bumper at Ascot on Friday. Given a well-judged ride from the front by Tom Scudamore, he kept finding more when challenged in the straight and was pulling away again in the closing stages. He won at Plumpton on his debut for the stable in the race in which I introduced Kings Palace. Kings Palace went on to finish second in the Ascot race and I would be thrilled if Eden du Houx were to achieve anything like his level of form.

Thrilled as I was by Eden’s success, I was over the moon to see Daklondike (pictured top) return to winning ways in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised by how well he travelled in the first time visor over the 2m7f trip, which would have been plenty short enough for him. He looked set to win nicely as he took over at the third last but was headed approaching the final fence by Ballyarthur. I was stood alongside Nigel Twiston-Davies (trainer of Ballyarthur) at Ascot and had just congratulated him on beating us as Daklondike found his second wind and finishing with a rare rattle, he got back up to win a shade cosily by a length. A progressive novice chaser last season, it was good to see him recapture that here. He jumps and stays well and could end up being a National candidate, although he does have a distinct preference for testing ground.

Party Time

We were able to celebrate those successes at the staff Christmas party on Saturday night at the Beambridge Inn near the yard. The staff enjoyed drinks and a sit down meal, while there were some interesting shapes being made on the dance floor. It was great fun and I would like to extend our grateful thanks to the owners who contributed to this most enjoyable occasion for our hard working and deserving staff.

Finley’s Festive Foray

It was good to see flat apprentice jockey Finley Marsh (pictured below aboard Martabot) again as he joined us this morning to ride out a few. Not one to be idle, Finley has kindly joined us on a couple of occasions when he has had time off to help with the riding out. You may recall that he was successful on the level for us aboard Jacbequick in the summer and I hope to be putting him up on a few more in the future.


Boxing Day Runners

When racing resumes on Wednesday we will have runners at Wincanton and Kempton. Mr Clarkson makes his long awaited return to the track in the Pertemps qualifier handicap hurdle at Wincanton. Owned by the Pipe’s Prospectors syndicate, he will have a good following at the track. He has been in good form at home and seems to retain all of his enthusiasm and ability, although he is entitled to improve for this first start for over 600 days.

Over at Kempton, Warthog will contest the 2m4½ f novices’ handicap chase. He put up a very good effort on his chasing debut when successful at Sandown after an exemplary round of jumping. He is 12lbs higher now which will obviously make things much tougher, but his jumping will stand him in good stead.

Welsh National Day

It is Welsh National day at Chepstow and the plan is to run both Vieux Lion Rouge and Ramses de Teillee in the feature. Vieux Lion Rouge ran a cracker in the Beecher Chase, staying on very well in the closing stages to finish runner-up and he will be sporting a set of blinkers for only the third time in his career in a bid to keep him a little closer during the early stages. Tom Scudamore will be aboard him.

That means that David Noonan will come in for the exciting mount aboard our other runner, Ramses de Teillee, as he did when they won the Trial at the track 19 days earlier. He clearly loves Chepstow and the prevailing heavy ground. He does have a slight query over stamina, but if he gets the trip he looks sure to run another good race.

Also on the card, Jasmin des Bordes is a likely runner in the 2m3½f maiden hurdle. An encouraging second on his rules debut in an Exeter bumper, he had previously finished runner-up in an Irish point-to-point so conditions should hold no terrors for him.

We have engagements at Kempton and Leicester for later in the week although plans for those fixtures are still fluid at this stage. Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with all the news from the yard by reading Chester’s Daily Chat or by following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very happy Christmas.

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