Entries & Recent Form

It was good to be amongst the winners again last week, especially as we only had limited opportunities.  Indeed, with the current racing calendar most accurately described as patchy at best as far as jump racing is concerned, that trend is likely to continue into this week as well.  With only a midweek National Hunt meeting from Kelso before the weekend action, it is going to be a quiet start.

Just Magic At Abbot

Our only runners last week came at Newton Abbot on Tuesday and after near misses with Percy Street and Story Of Friends we were in the winners’ enclosure when Midnight Magic (pictured above) prevailed in a close finish to the conditional jockeys’ staying handicap chase under a very accomplished ride from the excellent Jack Tudor.

Always prominent, he led after the penultimate fence and battled on well despite the runner-up veering in his direction in the closing stages.  I was delighted for his owners Brian & Sue Middleton and Alan & Gill Shire who have shown tremendous patience with him.  He had taken quite a long time to break his duck, but has been tremendously consistent since switching to fences.  So long as he doesn’t go up too much in the weights for this, he should remain competitive.  There is a similar race closing at Newton Abbot today for Saturday so we shall take a look at that for him.

Percy Street had earlier finished runner-up in a decent looking selling hurdle on the same card, running creditably once again.  He is a little exasperating as he doesn’t win as often as perhaps he should do, but he will certainly be winning again when things fall his way.

Story Of Friends was an unlucky loser in the staying handicap hurdle.  Travelling comfortably throughout, he kicked clear in the straight and looked all over the winner until an awful blunder at the last halted his momentum altogether, handing the advantage to Ballon Onabudget.  The run-in at Newton Abbot is so short after the last hurdle that he never had time to recover.  He is progressing well over staying trips, but looks likely to go up again for this effort and that will certainly make things tougher.  Broughtons Admiral did not shape without promise in the same race on his first start in 220 days.

The Week Ahead

Onto this week, and as I have already mentioned, it is looking like a quiet one on the racing front.  We will not be venturing to Kelso on Wednesday, whilst on Saturday Midnight Magic is our sole entry in the 3m2f handicap chase at Newton Abbot.  Stubborn Logic, a new arrival at Pond House could make his debut for the stable at Plumpton on Sunday.  He is another nice addition to the string from owners, the in-form Value Racing Club who are enjoying a tremendous run of success.

Away from the races, I will be attending the Doncaster Sales tomorrow.  There is a strong catalogue on offer and I have picked out a number of horses and will view them tomorrow.  We are always keen to strengthen our squad and if you are interested in joining the Pond House team as an owner, please do get in touch with my office.  I have a good record of finding the right horse for the right sort of money including multiple winner Main Fact, who I purchased at Doncaster for just £6,000.

Disaster For Doncaster

There was some great flat action from Doncaster last week for their St Leger meeting.  It is just a huge pity that racegoers were prevented from attending after the opening day.  Of course, I fully understand the reasoning behind this with the government tightening guidelines around social distancing once again.  There are plans to host another trial with up to 1,000 spectators present at the end of the month so let’s hope that is able to take place.

The courses are reliant on spectators attending the races and without them, the current situation of racing behind closed doors will become unsustainable.  Racing must do the right thing to keep everyone safe, but at some point the time will come when a ‘happy medium’ must be found.

Farewell Mr Cool

We reported last week that week that one of Pond House’s old favourites, Mr Cool had passed away at the age of 26 following a long and happy retirement.  He was a terrific horse who was home-bred by Nick and Sue Mills, along with a number of other good horses.  A dual Grade 2 winner, he was successful 14 times during a notable career and produced perhaps his most memorable performance in defeat when narrowly failing to beat staying superstar Baracouda at Ascot in 2002.  He will be very fondly remembered.

Golf Day

Several members of staff enjoyed the excellent weather and a nice afternoon of golf at Wincanton racecourse yesterday.  In fact, twelve of them formed three teams of four in a Stapleford competition (whereby competitors score points based on their handicap marks) with my secretary Gemma, head lad Oliver, assistant Martin Ayliffe and school master Ashley Farrant emerging victorious.  I am told that there are a few bandits among them with some very lenient handicaps, although others have suggested that the winning team was the only one not drinking!  Thank you very much indeed to Huw Williams for organising this for us.

Jockey Jobs

The whole team needs to muck in in order to complete all the jobs required in the day-to-day running of a busy racing yard and from time to time we actually manage to obtain proof.  You will see pictured below, jockeys Kieron Edgar, Fergus Gillard and Martin McIntyre sweeping the yard, although you will also notice that Fergus isn’t doing much in the way of sweeping!

Talking of Fergus, I am pleased to announce that he has turned professional and is now eligible for conditional jockeys’ races.  The promising young rider enjoyed a successful season as an amateur last term, riding 13 winners from 59 rides at a very healthy 22% strike-rate.  I am sure you will hearing much more about him.

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