Entries & Recent Form

The excitement is mounting as the core part of the jumps season is now upon us. For me, growing up, the season proper would always get underway with Chepstow’s October meeting being the first one covered by the Beeb. Whilst the BBC no longer covers the fixture, it is good to see ITV picking up the baton by covering some of the meeting. The meeting at the Welsh track is always a high quality one and marks the point where the horses you will be watching throughout the winter begin to come out and I was delighted to be amongst the winners at the fixture.

Until this point, the dreams of owners and trainers have been nurtured - the anticipation of things to come during the season ahead. It is now that we will begin to find out if those dreams will be realised or not. Of course, it is all subjective and whilst some harbour ambitions of Gold Cup or Grand National glory, every winner counts. My goal remains constant – to provide each and every owner at Pond House with an enjoyable and immersive experience whilst getting the best out of each individual horse.

We have enjoyed a good summer with 26 winners on the board at the time of writing and that gives us a sound platform to build upon with the stable flagbearers now being unleashed.

Midnight Just Magic For Owner/Breeders

Looking back to last week and we were on the mark with the long awaited success of Midnight Magic (pictured left) at Wincanton on Wednesday. Our seven year old has always been something of an enigma – showing plenty at home, but not always delivering on that promise on the racecourse. Even so, he had been knocking on the door for some considerable time and his consistency was finally rewarded at the nineteenth time of asking with a ready success in the staying handicap chase.

I was especially pleased for his owners Brian & Sue Middleton and Alan & Gill Shire of Midd Shire Racing who have shown tremendous patience with him. There was even more cause for celebration as they were also the proud breeders. Hopefully, with this success under his belt, he will be able to go on and score again.

Lion Roars To Veterans Victory

Vieux Lion Rouge (pictured above) was able to bring a valuable success to the stable when victorious in the veteran’s handicap chase at Chepstow on Friday for owners Professor Caroline Tisdall and John Gent. Always travelling and jumping well in behind the leaders in the hands of Conor O’Farrell, who was deputising for the injured Tom Scudamore, he quickened up nicely on the run-in to score by a cosy neck.

A winner of three bumpers, three hurdles and six chases, Vieux Lion Rouge has been a tremendous stalwart of the yard and this proves that he is no back number despite now being a ten year old. He will continue to contest quality staying handicap chases such as the Becher Chase at Aintree that he has won and finished runner-up in in the past, whilst he will hopefully line-up for the final of the valuable veteran’s series at Sandown in January. These races are a tremendous initiative and give these popular older horses the opportunity to compete for a valuable prize without fear of an improving youngster at the bottom of the weights. This success was also particularly well deserved for Caroline Tisdall who kindly stepped in at the eleventh hour to sponsor the race.

Our final winner of the week came when Make Me A Believer (pictured right) ran out a most tenacious winner of the bumper at Chepstow on Saturday. Racing prominently in a slowly run race, run on very testing ground, he led in the straight and very gamely kept finding more when challenged on all sides in the closing stages. Falling when in contention on his only previous start in an Irish point-to-point, this was a most pleasing start to his career under rules. He can only learn for the experience and rates a lovely prospect for hurdles and eventually fences.

Of our other runners, Hot Ryan finished runner-up at Exeter on Thursday in the 2m5f novices’ handicap hurdle. She was still travelling strongly in front when landing awkwardly at the third last - an error that cost her plenty of momentum. She stuck on well again in the closing stages and is clearly still progressing and can win something similar.

Admirable four year old, Teaser was still travelling nicely in front when capsizing at the fourth last fence in the 2m3f handicap chase on the same card - he looked sure to be involved in the finish otherwise. Hopefully this will not have dented his confidence and he can continue to do well.

Percy Street was not beaten far into third place at Wincanton and will win something similar, whilst Queens Cave produced an excellent reappearance effort at Chepstow on Friday when finishing runner-up in a very competitive mares’ novices’ hurdle. She had been absent for 276 days after a disappointing effort at Ayr last season when she was found to have a fibrillating heart. She has been treated for this, given the necessary time to recuperate and been checked several times, so I was delighted to see her run with so much promise. I have always held her in very high regard and hopefully now she can build on this and go on to better things.

Rathlin's Czech Raid

I am pleased to report that gallant veteran Rathlin Rose is on his way home following a highly creditable sixth place finish in the famous Velka Pardubicka chase in the Czech Republic on Sunday. The race, a 4m2f cross-country contest is run over Pardubice racecourse as well as a number of ploughed fields and a variety of huge obstacles and whilst it has been altered through the years in the interest of safety, it still represents a massive test of horse and jockey. I was delighted with how well the old pro took to the course and he was given a tremendous ride by James Best. At the penultimate fence it looked as though he would be involved in the finish until his stamina ebbed away in the closing stages. Even so, he was beaten only 13 lengths and most importantly he is safe and well and will arrive back at Pond House to a hero’s welcome.

The Week Ahead

Looking to this week and it is a quiet start to proceedings with Paricolor our first possible runner in the novices’ hurdle at Wetherby on Wednesday, although he is also engaged at Uttoxeter on Friday and Kempton on Sunday. A decent winner on the flat in France, he has had a wind operation since his hurdling debut at Market Rasen in the summer and I am sure you will see an improved performance from him wherever he turns out.

Huccaby is engaged in the maiden hurdle at Wincanton on Thursday. Despite a couple of runs, he is still very inexperienced and a work in progress who will be seen to better effect when he has a handicap mark.

Poker Play, a convincing winner over hurdles at Uttoxeter last season is entered in the novices’ limited handicap chase at the Midlands track on Friday, whilst Daklondike, better known as a classy chaser, is engaged in the staying handicap hurdle. Exciting bumper winner First Lord de Cuet could make his hurdling debut on the card.

Our weekend entries at Ffos Las, Kempton and Sedgefield feature the likes of Kepagge, Induno, Fort Summer, Dell’ Arca and Malangen. We will wait to see what underfoot conditions and possible opposition look like before deciding who runs where.

A Real Thriller

We were pleased to welcome Felix Francis to Pond House last week. Felix, son of the late legendary jockey and writer Dick Francis is carrying on where his father left off with a string of successful novels. He dropped in as he was doing some research for his next book which we will all look forward to reading in due course.

Stable Tours

With the excitement ramping up over the jumps, it is an exhilarating time to be around the yard. We conduct exclusive tours for groups of no more than six people around the fabled Pond House training facility where you can see the horses in action on the gallops. I have a couple of dates available in November and would be delighted to welcome you. You can find out more by visiting the ‘tours’ section of my website.

And Finally...

It is that time of the year when all of the pundits are bringing out lists of their horses to follow for the season ahead so we thought that we would revive our popular series of video interviews with the Pond House team.  I will start the ball rolling this week, but keep checking back here or on Chester's Daily Chat for the latest videos.  Click on the image below to view my horse to follow for the season ahead...


Now for the views of stable jockey, Tom Scudamore...

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