Cheltenham Festival 2020

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Entries & Recent Form

There was plenty to cheer about last week with jump racing returning from its enforced summer break with midweek meetings from Newton Abbot and Worcester last Wednesday whilst the action resumed in full force on Saturday afternoon. Even better, the stable was among the winners again with the success of Hot Ryan at Worcester on Wednesday evening taking our seasonal tally to 20, which puts us well ahead of last year’s schedule.

Despite the recent lack of racing, life at Pond House carries on very much as normal. The horses that were turned out for their summer breaks are all back in now and are being prepared for the core part of the jumps season which steps up a gear from the beginning of October onwards. Between now and then there are still plenty of opportunities for the horses that are fit and ready to run and after such a good start to the season we have a solid foundation on which to build.

Ryan Red Hot!

I was delighted to hit the mark at Worcester in the evening when Hot Ryan (pictured above) ran out a brave winner of the mares’ handicap hurdle under Tom Scudamore, especially so as she is owned by Geoff Thompson who generously sponsors the Pond House team through his W&S Recycling brand. Geoff is a tremendous supporter of racing in this country and his backing is enormously appreciated.

You will probably have noticed that the jockeys carry sponsorship logos on their colours, although by typical irony the badge sporting his company logo fell from Geoff’s silks mid-race. Not one to miss an opportunity to promote our sponsors, I thought that stable jockey Tom Scudamore conducted an excellent post-race interview pointing to the fact that logo had come off as he was “going so fast” before giving W&S a massive plug and thanking them for their continued support. Ourmullion, Max do Brazil and Stream Lady all reached the frame over the weekend.

Ourmullion ran a solid race in the 2m2½f handicap hurdle and was not beaten very far. He remains 9lbs above his last winning mark and could probably do with a little bit of that off his back. Max do Brazil bumped into a very well-treated rival at Perth and should continue to do well over fences, whilst Stream Lady made a very satisfactory chasing debut when just touched off at Southwell on Sunday. She should be going one better shortly, although she is likely to take a hike in the weights for this effort.

The Week Ahead

Looking to this week and progressive four year old Legal History is our only runner tomorrow (Tuesday) at our local track, Newton Abbot. He is best on a quick surface so we will be hoping that it continues to dry overnight.

Skinflint holds a couple of engagements at Worcester on Wednesday, whilst Mr Clarkson who is unbeaten in two starts this season for the Pipe’s Prospectors syndicate is entered in the 2m4f handicap hurdle. He was successful in a valuable race at Cartmel on his latest start and the plan for him since then has been to return to the Cumbria track on the Bank Holiday Monday at the end of the month. He will run wherever the ground is softest. El Terremoto is engaged in the 2m6½f handicap chase at Stratford on Thursday where he has won twice previously

Foreign Affairs

We will be heading overseas at the end of this week when Van Gogh du Granit sets out on his travels to Belgium for the Grand Steeplechase des Flandres which takes place at Waregem racecourse on Tuesday 27th August. The race, which is run over 2m7f and features some daunting fences and an Irish bank is also known as the Belgian Grand National and offers plenty of prizemoney.

By setting out early the horse will have the chance to rest and acclimatise to his new surroundings and also take a look at the fences prior to the race. The weights for the race were announced on Friday and whilst he is second top-weight, he will have only 10-4 or 10-5 to carry as he receives plenty of weight from previous winner Taupin Rochelais. I have not had runners in Belgium before, but it looks like an exciting opportunity and I am looking forward to being a part of it. Regular rider David Noonan will be in the saddle.

All In A Good Cause

I was recently approached by Tom Vickery from Exeter to help with his fundraising for the Adam Stansfield Foundation. Adam was a professional footballer for local sides Yeovil Town and Exeter City who was sadly diagnosed with and died from bowel cancer in 2010.

His family set up a charitable foundation in his memory to promote bowel cancer awareness and Tom has been key in raising thousands of pounds in support. As such, I was pleased to offer a behind the scenes tour of Pond House stables for two people and the opportunity to see the horses in action on the gallops. Tom is auctioning the tour in aid of the Adam Stansfield Foundation and you can bid on it via his Twitter page @TVickers1 (the auction closes on Tuesday so be quick!). We offer an enjoyable experience and it is in a very good cause, so please give generously.

Passing Of Dave Mitchell

Finally, I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of racing journalist Dave Mitchell on Saturday at the age of just 62. Dave, who lived near the yard at Ashbrittle had been fighting illness for some time but it did not diminish his love or enthusiasm for his racing and he would often visit us at Pond House and came racing to Newton Abbot with us as recently as last month. Dave had a huge following as the Daily Mirror’s resident tipster Value Scope and was a very shrewd judge. He was a tremendous character and a really nice man with an infectious sense of humour. He was never short of a story, joke or witty comment and always made time to speak. He will be greatly missed and our sincerest condolences go to his wife Jen and children Andrew and Becky.

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