Entries & Recent Form

It is a shame that we couldn’t add to our tally in this year’s Grand National, but as always in the great event you need a little luck in running and that was not with us on this occasion. However, I am pleased to report that all of our team from Aintree including Grand National runners Ramses de Teillee and Vieux Lion Rouge have returned home safe and sound and that is by far and away the most important thing.

It was a quiet start to the week with no runners last Monday and no jumps racing on Tuesdsay, but Percy Street performed with credit once again to finish a close fourth in the 2m5½f handicap hurdle at Wincanton on Thursday. He keeps reaching the frame without getting his head in front but as such he gets little respite from the handicapper and is still 3lbs higher than when he arrived at Pond House. He may try his hand over the larger obstacles come the new season.

West Wins Again

Eur Gone West (pictured above) maintained his recent improvement with another bloodless victory in the 3m handicap hurdle at Taunton on Thursday to supplement his recent Exeter success. Making all of the running, he wound the pace up on the final circuit and was soon clear off the home turn under David Noonan, coming home 26 lengths clear of the remainder. He was 7lbs ahead of the handicapper under his 7lbs penalty and looks sure to take another hike in the weights for this success. The better ground certainly seems to have helped him and we may look for another race for him shortly.

Eamon An Cnoic disappointed in the 2m handicap chase at Aintree having run a mighty race at the Cheltenham Festival and whilst he has been below-par there before, I am unwilling to blame a dislike of the track. He had a hard race at Cheltenham and it is conceivable that his exertions there may just have taken the edge off of him. He has been in good form again this season and is surely deserving of a nice prize.

Despite the persistent rain on day one of the National meeting, amazingly the ground on the good side by Saturday and was far too quick for Poker Play’s liking in the staying handicap hurdle on Friday. An easy winner of his previous start at Uttoxeter; a line can safely be drawn through this and he will be seen to much better effect when the mud is flying.

Up in class on only his fourth start under rules, Umbrigado was beaten less than ten lengths in the Grade One Mersey novices’ hurdle over 2m4f. He stuck to his task in the straight, passing a few and this experience will certainly not be lost on him. I hold him in high regard and he can only continue to improve and remains a smashing prospect for next season and beyond.

The Grand National on Saturday was once again an incredible event and both Vieux Lion Rouge and Ramses de Teillee completed the course (although the media incorrectly reported that Ramses did not get round). Vieux Lion Rouge gave Tom Scudamore another great ride in the race and was right up there for most of the trip before weakening close home – he has now successfully negotiated an incredible 181 Aintree fences.

Ramses Gets Round

Ramses de Teillee had just moved into a nice position under David Noonan when he made a bad mistake at the Canal Turn on the final circuit. His reins went over his head and through his legs, snapping the left rein. It is quite remarkable that he still managed to jump around and complete the course with only the right rein – there will be plenty of other days for him. He is only seven years old and has had a very good season.

Congratulations to my great friend Gordon Elliott and his team on producing Tiger Roll to land a second successive Grand National. I came close when Comply Or Die finished runner-up in 2009 after winning in 2008, but to complete the double is a tremendous achievement. The party will probably carry on until the end of the season! I can’t believe that connections would not consider trying to win an unprecedented third consecutive National next season – it will certainly take a good one to stop him.

Sadly there was one equine fatality in the race this year (the first since 2012) and our heartfelt sympathies go out to owners Graham and Andrea Wylie as well as Willie Mullins’ team. It is a great shame and of course, the last thing that any of us who love and adore these wonderful animals want to see.

Consequently there have been the usual calls to ban the great race again and I was appalled that Channel 5 should jump on the bandwagon with a ridiculously unbalanced piece. Indeed, I was in complete agreement with broadcaster Alex Steedman’s comments relating to the studio panel that were asked their opinion on the matter. They were a comedian, a Dancing On Ice judge and a television personality who did not have her own opinion at all. I am all for a fair, reasonable and balanced debate but where was the balance? There was not a horseman in sight, although in fairness the comedian had done a bit of homework as his mother was a riding instructor.

Aintree and the BHA have worked very hard to minimise the risks to any runners in the Grand National and have on the whole done a very good job and I am sure they will continue to do so. The fences have been altered many times through the years to make them safer, whilst veterinary checks are made on all the runners before the race and cooling facilities to care for the horses afterwards are also a welcome recent addition. By its nature racing of any description can never be made 100% safe, but any horseman will tell you that the most dangerous and worrying time for any horse is when they are turned out in a field for their summer holidays.

The Week Ahead

Looking to this week and there are no runners from Pond House today (Monday), although tomorrow will be busy with five runners at Exeter. Legal History, who was so impressive when bolting up at Ascot last time out will contest the 2m1f handicap hurdle – he is due a 13lbs rise in the handicap so is theoretically well-treated here...I hope that proves to be accurate! Dream Free, Hot Ryan, Mrs Miggins and Midnight Magic are our other runners at the Devon track.

Buster Edwards and Three Star General are engaged at Warwick on Wednesday and Wetherby on Thursday, whilst Van Gogh du Granite is entered in the staying handicap chase at the latter fixture. He ran a good second in the veteran’s handicap at Ascot last time and has already proven to be a good buy.

Scottish National

Legal History holds a further entry at Ayr on Friday, whilst we have confirmed both Rathlin Rose and Van Gogh du Granit for the Scottish National on Saturday at the latest stage. Rathlin Rose is an intended runner there, whilst Van Gogh still needs a few to come out above him.

Buster Edwards and Malangen complete the entries for the week at Bangor on Sunday.

With just under three weeks of the season remaining we will keep on kicking and see where we end up. As usual for all the latest gossip from around the yard and news on stable runners, keep up to date with Chester’s daily chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

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