NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Sun Mar 24
Carlisle, Exeter
Mon Mar 25
Wincanton
Tue Mar 26
Hereford, Hexham

The Grand National 2019

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Entries & Recent Form

With just 24 hours until the greatest show on turf gets underway, I hope you will forgive me if this week’s blog is perhaps a little shorter than usual. Although we will not have a big team going to Cheltenham this week, there is still plenty to do. Indeed, we have a few horses who are ‘on the cusp’ of getting in their preferred races and as such, there is plenty of homework to be done to find out if that will be the case or if alternative engagements need to be taken up. Couple that with the logistical arrangements of transporting the horses, whilst also scouring the sales catalogue for the Festival Sales and it is an exceptionally busy time for us.

Duc Bumps Into One

There were only handful of runners last week and whilst we did not hit the mark, Duc de Beauchene continued his progress with a highly creditable second in the 2m4f novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown on Friday. He travelled nicely for most of the way and stuck to his task well under Barry Geraghty to finish a clear runner-up behind a well-treated rival. This was another improved performance and being a big, raw type there is better yet to come and chasing will eventually be his game.

Earlier in the day Nordic Combined had suffered an unlucky fall when still in with every chance in the 2m4f handicap hurdle. He jumped the hurdle too well if anything, stumbling on landing and coming down at the fourth last. I am pleased to report that he is fine in himself and there will be other days for him.

An Exciting Week Ahead

There is a busy day ahead with runners at Taunton and Stratford this afternoon (Monday). Little Red Lion, Stream Lady and Ourmullion contest the maiden hurdle at Taunton at 3pm, Queen Adelaide makes her debut for the stable in the mares’ handicap hurdle at 3.30pm, whilst Eur Gone West runs in the 2m3f handicap hurdle at 4.30pm. At Stratford Ekayburg contests the 2m handicap hurdle at 3.40pm and I am hopeful that he can begin to translate some of his good AQPS form in France to hurdles.

That takes us to the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and we will have one runner on day one when Warthog lines-up in the four mile National Hunt Chase for amateur riders. Richie Deegan takes the ride and I can see our grey gelding outrunning his odds. He put up a good performance when successful over 2m4f at Sandown on his chasing debut and whilst this trip is a step into the unknown, he is a strong traveller and exuberant jumper and will certainly give Richie an exciting ride.

Unfortunately French import Van Gogh du Granit did not quite make the line-up for the Cross Country Chase – he missed out by one, so we will try to get him in the Kim Muir instead.

On Thursday Eamon An Cnoic (pictured above) could contest the Plate over 2m5f, although he also holds an engagement in the Grand Annual on the final day so we will have to see where he gets in. Champers On Ice needs a couple to come out of the Pertemps on Thursday to be assured of a run, if he misses out he is also in the Martin Pipe.

Mag Misses Out

Extra Mag had to miss his intended run in the Imperial Cup on Saturday at Sandown after he knocked a joint and he will consequently miss the Cheltenham Festival. It is a pity, but he is a very promising young horse who we hold in high regard so there will be plenty of other big days for him.

On Saturday, the big race of the day is the Midlands National at Uttoxeter – a race that I have won on four successive occasions in the past. We have confirmed just one of our entries at the latest stage; Dell’ Arca in our bid to enhance our record in the contest.

I Have My Reservations

I have expressed my concerns about our reserve system in the past and I have similar reservations about this year’s Cheltenham system for the handicaps. As things stand, we declare Cheltenham Festival runners 48 hours in advance whereby the first two horses to ‘miss the cut’ become reserves. They remain reserves until 1pm the day prior to the race, after which the final field is set. However, racecourse vets examine runners on the morning of their intended engagements at the track and have the power to deem any of those non-runners. That leads me to ask the question, why not extend the deadline for reserves until after the vets have assessed the runners? Every owner wants their horse to run at the Festival and extending the deadline would mean a better chance of maximum fields at the Festival…I don’t see the downside.

Anyway, do keep up to date with all the latest news from the stable by reading Chester’s Daily Chat or by following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

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