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   Vieux Lion Rouge - Becher Chase Winner

We of course have to start with the fantastic win of Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday.  Our evergreen eleven year old seems to come alive when he steps off the lorry in Liverpool and absolutely loves the unique challenge of the Grand National Fences.  When the decision was made in the early part of last week to run both horses in the Becher, Tom Scu chose to ride the more fancied Ramses De Teillee and the hunt was on for a jockey for our ‘red lion’.  While I am pretty sure the phone would not stop ringing and jockeys would actually pay us to ride this star of Aintree if we had made this news public, we did not have to look too far to book Conor O’Farrell for the ride.

Conor was of course based with us at Pond House for many years before he made the move to be based up in the North a few years ago.  He is currently having a fantastic season himself and it is great to be able to call on his services when we need a jockey.  He actually rode three winners for us last season and one of those was on board our chestnut gelding for his last win at Chepstow and when I approached him about riding he did not hesitate to accept!

What can we say about our equine hero?  Bought from France as an unraced three year old he has now won 13 races in his career from 36 start so has a very impressive win to run ratio.  He won the first three runs of his life in bumpers and after finishing midfield in the 2013 Champion bumper he returned the following season to win his first three starts over hurdles.   He also won his first three starts over fences in 2015 and lined up in the Grand National the following April to tackle the fences for the first time as a novice, running well to finish seventh.  Following a summer break his first run back the following season was in the Becher Chase over the National fences and he won beating Highland Lodge by a short head in a thrilling finish.  It was clear from his first ever run over these larger obstacles that he was a natural and seemed to love jumping them better than regular chase fences in fact.  He has now run over them nine times and completed on every occasion, jumping 223 fences in the process – more than any other horse in history.  In the Grand National, where the trip perhaps stretches his stamina to the limit he has run four times and his form figures read 7690 while in the Becher Chase he has run five times, with form figures of 17291.

There were emotional scenes from everyone who watched the race at Pond House as he holds a special place in all our hearts.  There is no greater feeling than these household names returning to the track year on year to contest these great races.  It is a feat in itself to run in a race five years in a row, let alone win it a couple of times as well!  The best news is that both he and Ramses De Teillee have come out of the race fine.  Ramses never really got into a rhythm over the fences which always makes things harder.  I actually think he did well to still be in with a shout when they turned for home but in the end the mistakes took their toll and Tom Scu looked after him when his chance of winning had gone.  Both horses are still in the Welsh Grand National at Christmas time and we will just see how they are in the next couple of weeks before making any decisions.  Vieux Lion Rouge is qualified for the Veterans chase final at Sandown in January and that could be an option for him and I would not rule out a return to Aintree for the big one in April.

Our first win of last week was courtesy of Little Red Lion ridden by Fergus Gillard at Lingfield on Tuesday.  He didn’t have the nicest of introductions to chasing when brought down on debut at Ffos Las last time but thankfully he showed no ill-effects from that experience and jumped well to win.  He is probably never going to be one of those who wins a race by very far but stamina is his forte and I can see more improvement coming this season.  He has only had eight runs in his life and I can seeing him running well in some of the staying nationals this winter.  It was another fabulous win for the members of the David Pipe Racing Club.  A membership joining the club is a great present idea if anyone is struggling for Christmas gifts!  Click on the following link for more details:

https://www.davidpipe.com/horses-for-sale/david-pipe-racing-club


                  Little Red Lion

We didn’t have many runners last week and What a Moment fared best of the rest as he ran his best race for a while to finish third at Wincanton on Thursday.  The blinkers seemed to sharpen him up a little and it was nice to see him return to form and on this evidence his he can be found a winning opportunity soon. 

Week Ahead

We have a busy day ahead on Tuesday with five runners at Fontwell and one at Uttoxeter.  Umbrigado makes his chasing debut at Uttoxeter with Tom Scudamore on board.  He made a pleasing return to action at Haydock last time over hurdles and has schooled well at home.  While it is only a small field it is a very competitive but I am hopeful of a good run.  Things maybe a little tougher for our runners at Fontwell.  Both Ranco and Sans Logique have got to improve on what they have shown so far over hurdles to figure.  Both are winners on the flat in France and while they do have ability we have perhaps not yet found the key to them over jumps.  Shoot to Fame and Meep Meep Mag run in the mare’s novice’s hurdle.  Shoot to Fame has to improve on what she has done so far this season while I am just delighted to get Meep Meep Mag back on the track.  She is having her first run since winning a bumper on Boxing Day last year and while she may improve for the outing she is a mare a like a lot.  Orchard Thieves completes the team line-up at Fontwell.  He has proved very fragile over the years and has not had many runs in his life.  He made and okay debut over fences at the track last time and he dropped a few pounds which will help but I hope that he can improve on what he did last time to win.

On Wednesday we have declared Paricolor and Sexy Lot to run at Leicester but the track does have to pass an inspection on Tuesday morning for racing to go ahead due to waterlogging.  Fingers crossed things do improve as I hope both horses have good chances.  Paricolor returns to handicap company after two selling wins.  He seems to love the track and fingers crossed he should go well.  Sexy Lot has won her last two races impressively but has gone up in the weights accordingly so things will be a little tougher off her new rating but she has done nothing but improve and the track and going will suit.  Fergus Gillard rides both horses.

Looking further ahead in the week we have entries at Taunton on Thursday, Bangor, Cheltenham and Doncaster on Friday.  At the weekend Adagio is entered at both Cheltenham on Doncaster and we will decided where he goes after having a look at the entries.  We have a few entries at Hereford on Saturday and then at both Carlisle and Southwell on Sunday.  Keep checking the daily blog for news of the daily runners. 

Baby News

We were delighted to hear that Ed and Lizzie Partridge have welcomed their new-born son into their family.  Hugo Philip Partridge was born on Saturday 28th November and weighed in 6.7lb.  Ed is married to former top jockey Lizzie Kelly and started working at Pond House this summer so was wonderful to hear of their news.  Ed is spending a little time at home before returning to work shortly.