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Although we did not have a lot of runners last week it was still a busy one for the stable, not least because we were racing at Waregem in Belgium on Tuesday where Van Gogh du Granit was contesting the Grand Steeplechase des Flandres (or the Belgian Grand National). Our well-travelled veteran ran his usual honest race to finish a good fourth, picking up some decent prize money, whilst on the home front the horses continued to run well with the successes of Miss Tynte, Stream Lady (pictured above) and Hot Ryan.


It has been many years since I was last in Belgium. When my father was training at Pond House we had a Belgian owner with several horses at the stable and thus we would make the occasional visit. Even so, it was my first trip to the track at Waregem where the Grand Steeplechase des Flandres is the centrepiece of their entire festival which lasts all week. In fact, National Day is the only time they host jump racing at the course all year long.

I was very surprised at just how hot it was out there, with temperatures peaking at 34°c. Despite the blazing temperatures around 40,000 people turned out to see the race and I was very pleased to be a part of it all and the hosts looked after us extremely well. Van Gogh du Granit (pictured right) is a seasoned veteran and a real pro and he took to the unique fences which comprised massive open ditches, Irish banks and yawning water jumps with aplomb. Racing prominently throughout, he stuck to his task very well under David Noonan despite the burden of top weight, keeping on for fourth place and earning almost £7,000 in prize money. He was back at Pond House the following morning (long before I was) without a bother on him, enjoying a very well deserved pick of grass in the paddocks at the yard.


Ambitious owner Fergus Wilson, buoyed by the performance of Van Gogh du Granit is now looking at a potential tilt at the Gran Premio Merano (the Italian Grand National) towards the end of next month. That is a conditions race rather than a handicap so there will be little weight difference between the runners and that should suit our fellow. He doesn’t know how to run a bad race so it would be no surprise to see him go well there, whilst a return trip to Belgium next year is a distinct possibility.


Back home, the horses continued in good form with Miss Tynte (pictured left) absolutely bolting up in the 2m4f mares’ handicap hurdle at Worcester on Wednesday evening. It was a miserable evening weather-wise, but that was in our favour as Miss Tynte loves some give in the ground and she handled the testing conditions much better than her rivals. She is a mare I have always liked, although she has been beset by niggling problems throughout her career to date. Thus, it was fantastic that she was able to reward the great patience of owner Nick Shutts.

She is due to go up 15lbs in the weights for this effort so she will most likely be turned out again at Uttoxeter on Wednesday where she will be able to compete under a penalty before the handicapper gets the opportunity to reassess her. Although it is not ideal to have to run a horse again so quickly, your hand is occasionally forced by the handicapper. She will obviously take plenty of beating if able to replicate her latest effort.

You may recall last week that we announced that stable sponsors W&S had extended their support of the Pond House team for another three years and I was delighted to train a winner for W&S founder, Geoff Thompson when Stream Lady recorded her first success over fences at Sedgefield on Thursday. Running in only her second race over regulation fences, she jumped extremely well under stable jockey Tom Scudamore and had the race in safe-keeping some way from home. She is an improving mare who already looks better over fences than hurdles.

Indeed, things were to get better still for Geoff when his Hot Ryan won the 2m7f mares’ handicap hurdle at Worcester on Sunday afternoon. She showed plenty of determination to get back to the front having been headed early in the straight to record her second course and distance success. She is clearly on the upgrade and relishes the prevailing sound surface so will be kept on the go for the meantime. She was bred by Geoff, whilst former jockey Chris Honour had her in her younger days when she was a point-to-point bumper winner.

I continue to be very pleased with the form of the stable and with 23 winners on the board already, we have enjoyed a very productive summer and are well-ahead of our schedule from last year. Now it is a case of keeping that momentum going.


This week is looking fairly quiet on the runners front; we have decided against making the long journey up to Hexham, whilst there are no jumps cards tomorrow (Tuesday). We do have a few engaged at Southwell on Wednesday, whilst the aforementioned Miss Tynte is an intended runner at Uttoxeter on Wednesday. Ourmullion, Airton and Timeforben complete our entries this weekend at Stratford and Fontwell respectively. As usual, you can keep up to date with all the latest running plans by reading Chester's Daily Chat or following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.


Congratulations to our young amateur rider Fergus Gillard who was delighted to pass his driving test last week at the first attempt. He is already beginning to feel the cold reality of his achievement however as he has been tapped-up by most of the staff wanting lifts somewhere or another!

We congratulated him with a pictorial sign on the office door. The photograph of Fergus was taken when he first started at Pond House and has since been used by several of the racecourses in their racecards. It just so happens that Fergus hates this picture, so I am pleased to include it here for your delectation and delight…you’re welcome!


Working with thoroughbred racehorses is a dangerous job, not just for the jockeys on the racecourse, but for the lads and lasses that spend most time with them at home, either on the gallops or in their stables.

This was illustrated again last week when the tragic news filtered through from Australia that a couple of young ladies, one a work rider, the other an apprentice jockey had been killed in separate incidents whilst riding.

The staff and jockeys risk their lives every time they get aboard one of these fine animals and that is often overlooked, especially by some punters who are quick to talk through their pockets. Sometimes, a little respect for the work and risks undertaken just to get a horse to the racecourse would be appreciated.

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