NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Wed Feb 20
Doncaster, Ludlow
Thu Feb 21
Huntingdon, Sedgefield
Fri Feb 22
Exeter, Warwick

Cheltenham Festival 2019

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Entries & Recent Form

Unfortunately last week was a story of ‘what ifs’. Whilst the horses continued to perform well, we endured a somewhat frustrating run with a number of runners reaching the frame without quite getting their heads in front. 

Placed Again

Nordic Combined finished runner-up for the third time in four starts since switching to hurdles at Ffos Las last Monday. He didn’t travel as sweetly as he had done in a deeper race at Newbury on his penultimate start, racing a little in snatches. He kept on well in the straight without quite getting on terms with the useful winner. There is clearly a race of this nature in him. He holds an entry in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury at the beginning of February, although he could go for a 2m3f handicap hurdle at Ascot the following week. The longer trip and likely strong pace should suit him well.

Three Star General produced another sound effort when runner-up at Plumpton on Wednesday in the stayers’ handicap hurdle. The race was between him and the winner from quite some way out and he stuck to his task well over the stamina sapping 3m1f trip. He is another who looks more than capable of winning something similar before too long.

Friday Night Light looked a likely winner at Market Rasen on Thursday when breezing into the lead of the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle in the straight. He walked through the penultimate flight however, and was collared shortly after. He stuck on well to finish a creditable second and this was a step back in the right direction. We will ride him with a little more restraint last time.

There were other creditable performances too, with Percy Street, Jasmin des Bordes and Aurillac all finishing fourth. I was particularly pleased with Aurillac who took a big step forward when finishing with a flourish in a decent novices’ chase. He has had a whole catalogue of problems so it was very encouraging to see him finish his race off so well. He could take a step-up in distance next time.

Better Luck Next Time

The most frustrating part of last week was Daklondike’s early departure from the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock on Saturday. Tom Scudamore had little chance of staying in the plate when he received a significant bump at the fifth fence. I can only surmise where Daklondike may have finished, but given the proximity of Ballyarthur (who we beat last time) in fourth and the fact that we were favoured by the weights, I am sure he would have gone well. The good news is that he is perfectly okay and has been out hunting today. Hopefully he will get a deserved rub of the green next time.

The Week Ahead

Looking to this week and it is going to be a quiet one. There are no runners from Pond House until Thursday at the earliest when the very promising bumper and maiden hurdle winner Umbrigado (pictured above) is engaged in the novices’ hurdle at Wetherby on Thursday. He is a horse I like very much and given that the runner-up from his Southwell success has subsequently won very easily, he is a most exciting prospect.

Another exciting youngster; Extra Mag is entered for the novices’ hurdle at Huntingdon on Friday, whilst Delface holds an engagement in the two mile conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter on Saturday. He bolted up over course and distance last time.

Little Red Lion, New Age Dawning and Mrs Miggins round off our entries for the week at Fontwell on Sunday.

Queens Cave Latest

Queens Cave had a visit from the heart specialist last week and she will need a rest. We will have to draw a line under this season but there is every reason to believe that she will return as good as new and hopefully deliver on the undoubted promise she had previously shown. As usual, don’t forget to keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing