Entries & Recent Form

Whilst last week was a quiet one for the stable with just one runner over hurdles and a couple on the level, this week promises to be considerably busier with more National Hunt fixtures taking place despite today being a blank for fans of the jumps.

We will kick off with a pair of runners at Southwell’s additional fixture on Tuesday.  There we run Malangen and Collingwood Court.  Malangen takes his chance in the 2m4½f claiming hurdle at 6.00pm – he has done well for us, winning over hurdles and fences but needs to bounce back from a couple of disappointing efforts.

Collingwood Court goes in the 2m4½f maiden hurdle at 8pm.  A winner of an Irish point-to-point, he is certainly better than he has been able to show in two starts under rules to date.  Both he and Malangen will love the prevailing good ground.

We will have four runners at Newton Abbot on Wednesday with Highlander Madrik, Mrs Miggins, Percy Street and Teaser representing the Pond House team.

Highlander Madrik (pictured above) makes his debut for the stable in the 2m1f juvenile hurdle.  A winner on the flat in France, he jumps nicely at home and should give a good account of himself.

Mrs Miggins runs in the 2m5f novices’ handicap chase at 2.20pm.  She has the welter burden of 12-7 to carry but is a big, strong mare and has earned the weight, winning nicely over hurdles at Uttoxeter last season.  She has always looked the sort to develop into a nice chaser.

Percy Street and Teaser contest the 2m5½f handicap hurdle at 2.50pm.  They both have nice racing weights and will love the ground and whilst they need to improve on most recent efforts, it would be no surprise to see them go well.

On Friday we could make the journey up to Cartmel where we have a number of entries, including recent French purchase To Fly Free who could make her stable/hurdles debut in the juvenile contest.  She is not the biggest, but has schooled intensively at home and has delighted me with her jumping.  A useful performer and winner on the level, she is still looking for an owner and would be a great fun horse for someone for a relatively modest outlay.  More details can be found on my horses for sale page.  Le Grand Rocher, Huccaby and Airton are the others entered on the card.

Leoncavallo, an impressive winner for the stable at Stratford last time is engaged in the 2m novices’ chase at Uttoxeter on Saturday.  He has done nothing but please me since that success and the drop back in trip will hold no fears as he possesses plenty of speed.

Midnight Magic is entered in the 3m handicap chase on the same card – he was a good third over course and distance from this mark last time and there is no reason why he should not be bang there again.  Huccaby and Airton complete the entries at the Staffordshire track.  We will decide on their participation a little later in the week.

New Arrivals

I have been very happy to welcome some new members of staff over the past few weeks.  Young Irish amateur Sean O’Connor joined us a few weeks ago and is settling in well, whilst another amateur, Martin McIntyre has also joined the team.  Based with Harry Fry most recently, he has ridden plenty of winners in the point to point field and a few under rules as well.  Martin is just returning from injury but with Fergus Gillard turning conditional shortly, it is good to know that we will have two competent young amateur riders in the yard as well.  They are joined by Ed Partridge who started with us this week.  He is very experienced having previously been with Archie Watson.

Three More Years

I was thrilled to hear that a deal has been thrashed out for ITV to cover racing on terrestrial stations for another three years.  I think they have done a great job with their coverage since taking the reins, appealing to racing fans and newcomers alike.  It is no easy task providing the in-depth analysis that the former craves, whilst also managing to engage with new viewers without patronising them but they have achieved a good balance.  The renewal can only be considered good news for the prosperity of the sport.

Racegoers Trial On Hold

Following worrying signs that the Covid-19 pandemic could be about to spike again, the Prime Minister decided to cancel plans to ease the lockdown yet further.  Among the plans shelved at the eleventh hour was the initiative to allow 5,000 annual members to attend the final day of the Glorious Goodwood meeting last Saturday.  Whilst it is frustrating for the industry, I do think it was probably for the best.

The last thing that racing needs is to be made a scapegoat during these worrying times.  The sport came under intense scrutiny for allowing the Cheltenham Festival to take place in March despite subsequent studies showing that it had nothing to do with the consequent rise in cases in the area.  Whilst the sport needs to be a fore runner, it also has to do the right thing and certainly doesn’t need any negative publicity.

Passing of Stan Mellor

Finally, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Stan Mellor MBE at the weekend at the age of 83.  Stan was an amazing jockey and a pioneer for many of the riders that you see today.  Indeed, he was the first jump jockey to ride 1,000winners and was champion between 1960 and 1962.  He was a master tactician and one of the few riders to get the better of Arkle when landing the 1966 Hennessy aboard outsider Stalbridge Colonist.

Upon his retirement from the saddle, Stan went on to be a successful trainer, producing over 750 winners on the flat and over jumps, including four Cheltenham Festival victories.

He is survived by wife Elain (who rode the winner of a match with Stan for my father) and daughters Dana and Linz who also rode winners under rules…talk about a great family dynasty.  As much as anything, Stan was a lovely man and will be greatly missed by everyone in racing.

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