Entries & Recent Form

Although last week promised to be a busy one, we were thrown a bit of a ‘curve ball’ by the drying ground.  Although winnerless, there were some decent performances nonetheless, not least from Leoncavallo who ran a very good race in the ultra-competitive Cesarewitch handicap on the flat at Newmarket on Saturday.

Following heavy downpours at the beginning of last week, the second half was much less unsettled and with sunny spells it meant that the prevailing ground at some courses was much quicker than originally anticipated, none more so than at Chepstow’s season opener.  It is amazing how quickly the ground can alter and with the current 48 hour declarations, the going on Saturday was very different compared to when the trainers declared on Thursday morning which obviously led to a raft of non-runners.

Fact For Ffos Las

I had considered running Main Fact in the Silver Trophy handicap hurdle at Chepstow but decided to sidestep the race.  He revels in testing conditions and the ground was just too quick for his liking so he will run in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on Sunday where conditions should be ideal for him.  He was a revelation last season, winning his last five races for me and was most impressive at Uttoxeter on his final start.  I am hoping that he can continue to progress this season.

Cavallo Runs A Cracker

Conditions were more testing at Newmarket where the ground was officially soft for the Cesarewitch handicap.  Leoncavallo performed with great credit to finish sixth of the 34 runners.  He was prominent throughout and only weakened close home.  He probably did a little too much for his own good in the early stages in order to obtain a prominent position from his outside draw.  Even so, he ran extremely well and I will be looking forward to sending him back over obstacles.  He will have a little break now following his exertions and will be back later in the season.

The Week Ahead

There is a blank day for jumping today, although we are back tomorrow with three runners; two at Huntingdon and another at Hereford.  Panic Attack makes her hurdles/seasonal debut in the mares’ maiden hurdle at Huntingdon at 12.30pm.  She looked a most exciting prospect last season when winning at Market Rasen on her debut and is certainly better than she was able to show last time in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. 

Nobel Joshua is our other runner at Huntingdon when he contests the 3m1f handicap hurdle.  We purchased him after winning at Clonmel recently and he should go well with Fergus Gillard claiming a handy 7lbs off his back.

Collingwood Court contests the 2m5½f handicap hurdle at Hereford at 1.15pm.  He was in the process of running a better race when coming to grief at the last at Newton Abbot on his most recent outing.  This is his first run in a handicap and that should help, although he doesn’t appeal as especially well-treat.  The step-up in trip should suit and I hope he can improve for his owners, City AM.

Martinhal, who was the winner of his only start for the team when easily landing a Huntingdon bumper last season runs at Wetherby in the 2m3½f novices’ hurdle on Wednesday.  He has pleased me at home with his schooling and he should give a good account.  He is likely to want further in future, but this looks like a good starting point.

We have plenty of entries later in the week at Wincanton on Thursday and Uttoxeter on Friday, including exciting prospects Remastered and Eden du Houx, whilst as I have already alluded to, Main Fact is an intended runner at Ffos Las on Sunday.

French Entries

Talking of the weekend, we also have a couple of entries in France.  Ramses de Teillee (pictured above) has been entered in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (the French Champion Hurdle) at Auteuil on Saturday, whilst Poker Play holds an entry on Sunday.  Ramses enjoyed a great campaign last season winning three times over hurdles, including two Grade 2 contests.

The French Champion Hurdle is very different to our own as it is run over 3m1½f and the obstacles are more like mini fences.  The going is likely to be pretty testing out there which will (pardon the pun) suit him down to the ground and we will decide midweek whether he runs or not.  We won the race in 2015 with Un Temps Pour Tout and I would dearly love to win it again!

He could be joined by Poker Play who is entered on Sunday in a 2m3½f handicap hurdle.  Conditions should suit him well, although he can’t have the ground soft enough.  There is likely to be plenty of opposition with 90 horses entered.  Like Ramses, we will decide a little later in the week if he takes his chance.

Ali G

This week’s horse to follow is brought to you by Ali Galliers-Pratt.  Ali is in her fourth year as an assistant at Pond House.  Click on the image below to watch her interview.  She did get rather excitable when talking about her nominated horse for the season ahead…you have been warned!

If you have been following our series of horses to follow, you will have seen bloodstock agent Tom Malone select Maggies Mogul.  Maggies finished fourth on her debut in a bumper at Ffos Las last week, running with considerable promise, even if she did not win.  In all likelihood, we probably just made a bit too much use of her and after making the running, they got racing from an early stage on very heavy ground.  I think she will prove better than this bare form and there are similar contests to be won with her.

Ron Atkins MBE

Finally, there have been many worthy recipients of honours in the Queen’s Birthday List, but I would like to make special reference to Ron Atkins who was awarded an MBE last week.  Ron rode for my father for several years in the early days of the stable.  He was an excellent horseman and became vice president of the Jockeys’ Associated and instigated the Jockeys’ Pension Fund.  Moreover, Ron is a thoroughly nice man and still pops into our Cheltenham Festival marquee every year to say hello.  Congratulations Ron, we are all thrilled for you!

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