Entries & Recent Form

There was a near miss for returning owners Pete and Kim Masters when their horse Noel’s Boy (pictured above) made his debut for them and the Pond House team at Newton Abbot on Friday afternoon. Pete and Kim had horses in training with my father many years ago, so I was delighted when they approached me earlier this year with a view to getting back into the ranks of racehorse ownership and Noel’s Boy seemed like the ideal opportunity. Only a four year old, he was placed on his sole start in an Irish point-to-point, displaying considerable potential. He had pleased me in his work at home and confirmed that promise with a solid debut effort for us at Newton Abbot on Friday, finishing second in the bumper. 

Stable jockey Tom Scudamore set out to make all of the running and despite showing signs of inexperience, he was only headed in the closing stages but did well to hold on for second place behind a very promising and more experienced winner. He will have learned plenty for the experience and appeals as the type to do even better granted a stiffer test of stamina.

Although unable to add to our tally last week, the horses continued to run well with Van Gogh du Granit running a creditable fourth in the valuable Summer Cup at Uttoxeter. He is likely to now be aimed at the Summer Plate at Market Rasen later in the month and will no doubt be in with every chance once again.

Skinflint also ran a decent race to finish second at Worcester on Wednesday in the 2m4f conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle. He has finished second in both starts since switching back to racing under rules after a successful stint point-to-pointing for my assistant Gerry Supple. He has done more than enough to suggest that his turn in the winners’ enclosure is not far away, although it does look as though he will benefit from reverting to fences and a longer trip.

Looking to this week and it is likely to be a quiet one in terms of runners as there are relatively few meetings taking place. This is perhaps not a bad thing given the recent warm spell drying out the ground at the tracks.

Aldrin and Great Tempo, both of whom act on a sound surface, run at Worcester today (Monday). Aldrin will contest the 2m handicap hurdle, whilst Great Tempo will run in the 2m7f handicap hurdle; both will be ridden by Tom Scudamore.

Ourmullion and recent winner Mrs Miggins will run at Uttoxeter on Tuesday evening, whilst later in the week, Airton could run at Ffos Las on Friday. Picture Painter, Hot Ryan and Ekayburg are possibles for the next meeting at Newton Abbot on Saturday. Percy Street holds an entry in the 2m6½f handicap chase at Stratford on Sunday.

Newmarket Sales

Away from the racetrack, there is still plenty to be done however and there are important sales at Newmarket next week and I have been working through the catalogue looking to unearth the next equine jumps star. We have an excellent record of finding the right horse for the right sort of money and it needn’t cost the telephone numbers that you often hear about in the headlines. If you would be interested in getting involved with the ownership experience, be it with your own horse, or through one of our friendly and exclusive syndicates, please get in touch.

Hills In Hot Water

There was a worrying announcement last week when William Hill, one of Britain’s largest High Street bookmakers announced the imminent closure of 700 shops from its estate, putting 4,500 jobs at risk.

The news comes shortly after government legislation reducing the maximum spend on their roulette machines from £100 per spin to just £2 came into effect. Virtual gambling is becoming much more commonplace nowadays and is responsible for a sizeable percentage of bookmaker turnover. With this turnover figure dramatically reduced it is unsurprising that closures are on the horizon and I am certain other chains will follow suit.

Apart from the obvious implication of job losses, this is bad news for racing as the sport generates much of its prize money revenue from bookmakers’ contributions to the levy. With fewer shops to generate this levy, prize money will also suffer. This has been a burning issue for some considerable time now and a solution to funding that is not reliant on the bookmakers needs to be found.

Farewell To A Legend

Finally this week, I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of John ‘Big Mac’ McCririck. The loud-mouthed and often controversial television presenter passed away on Friday at the age of 79. Whilst he was undoubtedly one of the most polarising characters on television, there can be little doubt that he did plenty to raise racing’s profile through his work on ITV and Channel 4 and for that, we all owe him a great debt of thanks.

I can only speak as I find and his façade away from the cameras was very different to the often divisive one you would see on air which was very much an act. He was a kind and decent human being and the sport of racing is very much the poorer for his passing. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Jenny.

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