Cheltenham Festival 2020

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Entries & Recent Form


Comply Or Die - 2008 Grand National Winner
              (Photo: Bill Selwyn)

With this week supposed to be about the big build up to perhaps the greatest race in the world, the people’s race, the Grand National I thought it would be appropriate to look back at one of the winners of the great race from Pond House – Comply or Die. 

A 1999 born gelding, son of Old Vic and dam Madam Madcap, Comply came over from the Costello family in Ireland as an unraced, un-named three year old in May 2002.  Champion owner David Johnson used to recruit a lot of his horses from Mr Costello and many of his very good horses over the years came from this source.  He was in training the following season but never ran as he needed a bit more time to mature and we knew he was a special horse.

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                      Hopscotch
     (Picture Courtesy of Bernard Parkin)

Hopscotch was a little before my time at Pond House so not one I remember personally but she is a horse I have heard a fair bit about in my time at the yard.  We were contacted in recent days by Barry Males about her.  Barry was a member of our former racing club and he was involved in owning her when she won 11 races in a season.  Like all the members he had some fantastic times being involved with her and he has pictures hanging up in his house of him being presented the trophy at Cheltenham after one of her wins.  Some cherished memories that will never be forgotten.

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Well I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend all things considered?  We did have some racing from the US and at Sha Tin to watch and have a flutter if that is something you are interested in but today there really is nothing!  We have reduced our staff team to the minimum we can manage with, so everyone that is left are all in today riding out.  As I have mentioned before, we are keeping a small group of horses going in preparation for when/if racing resumes.  It is great that there is some proactive work going on behind the scenes to make a plan to get some sort of action back on as soon as we are allowed to.  While it is not necessarily looking like it will benefit the jumps trainers at this stage we have got to try and start somewhere as we realise things are not going to be 'normal' for some time yet.  When you read the newspapers or watch the News anything resembling normality in life in general certainly seems a long way off.

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                         Maximize 
           (Picture Courtesy of Bill Selwyn)

For day 2 of our looking back of some of our favourite moments, horses and people from Pond House I have chosen to write about one of my own special horses and memories.  I joined the Pond House office staff in December 2003.  Racing has always been a passion for all my family for many generations and lots of them have been involved through either riding as jockeys or training.  My father was a pretty good amateur jockey and rode many winners and together with my mum they have trained horses under permit for as long as I can remember.  They have been very successful for a little operation and their biggest claim to fame was giving A P McCoy his first ever winner in England – Chickabiddy at Exeter in September 1994.

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               Madison Du Berlais
        (Picture Courtesy of Bill Selwyn)

While everything is quiet in the racing world we thought it was time to delve into the archives and look back on some fond memories of key horses, people and moments from Pond House from over the years.  We asked for suggestions from readers yesterday and David Brooks was first to contact us with his fond memory of Madison Du Berlais winning the 2008 Hennessy.  He had backed him at 50/1!

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       Little Red Lion & Great Tempo
With the fact that we are only on day 4 of lock down the reality that this is going to be a tough few weeks is really hitting home.  While in our own little bubble here at Pond House and our working day is relatively 'normal' it is hard to get away from what is going on around the country.  The Chancellor's package for the self-employed was welcomed yesterday with it set to help many trainers, jockeys and self-employed people who work within the racing industry.  Like PAYE workers, self-employed workers are basically going to get the same support from the government.  The BHA is working closely with the government to come up with an industry plan which is good for everyone involved.

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It is with sadness that we heard last night that today's edition of the Racing Post with be the last for a while as it's publication has been temporarily suspended.  As we know sport pales into insignificance with what is going on in the world right now.  It is sad for racing that we don't have a newspaper to cover it but while there is no racing they will continue to bring us news and updates on their website and will return to print when the racing action returns.  Editor Tom Kerr has written a very good letter which is published online and he finishes it with the line, stay safe, stay healthy, stay home.  Sentiments I think we all echo at this difficult time.

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