NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Sat Feb 23
Chepstow, Kempton, Newcastle
Sun Feb 24
Carlisle, Fontwell
Mon Feb 25
Ayr, Plumpton

Cheltenham Festival 2019

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Entries & Recent Form

 


    Ramses De Teille Winner at Chepstow

I wrote last week’s offering on route to London for the Horse Writer’s Awards.  Gerry Supple and I had a very enjoyable afternoon as guests of Mike Vince and there were some very worthy winners. Our runners at Plumpton that day also kicked off what has been a good week for the stable. Dusky Hercules has improved with each of his three career starts and made an encouraging debut over hurdles to finish fourth. The penny is slowly dropping and he has shown enough that he is capable of winning races. Duc De Beauchene bounced back from a disappointing effort last time to finish a staying on fourth.  It was then great to be able to toast a winner from London. Eden Du Houx had won his sole start in an Irish point to point and put in a nice performance to win the bumper under Tom Scu.  He had been pleasing me at home and it was nice to see him do it on the track. I won this bumper a few years ago with Kings Palace and although a different type of horse I hope this horse has a very bright future also.

 

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Today I write en route to London for the Sports Writers Awards.  Myself and Gerry Supple make our annual pilgrimage to the capital as guests of Mike Vince.  A thoroughly enjoyable occasion do doubt awaits as we toast the success of all those who portray our sport in writing and in pictures.

Unfortunately with our runners last week it was the case of the one that perhaps got away.  I am referring to Extra Mag who jumped the last hurdle well in the lead up at Wetherby only to stumble and unship Tom Scu on the flat.  Who knows what might have been but he seemingly looked like the winner of what was a very warm race on paper and the race itself lived up to the billing.  There were some lovely novices in the line-up and one thing for sure is that we know our four year old is a very nice horse.  We have always liked him at home since he came over from France.  I bought him privately after seeing him over there but they have still got to go and do it on the track.  Thankfully he seems fine after the race which is the main thing.  We will now look for another low key novice or maiden hurdle before perhaps raising his sights slightly higher later down the line.

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I have always thought that the job of racecourse ground staff was a difficult task but the weather conditions have only heightened my admiration for the teams who work so hard to produce decent jumping ground. On the whole they do an outstanding job, although unfortunately with a mixed bag of weather across the country the ground continues to be very hit and miss from course to course. Indeed, some tracks are offering really testing, holding ground, whilst Leicester have already had to abandon one fixture due to the hard going and they currently describe their surface ahead of Sunday’s intended fixture as ‘firm’.

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Once again, the lack of any significant rain continues to frustrate and meant that we had comparatively few runners last week, primarily at Cheltenham’s November meeting where we have traditionally been so strong in the past. Of course, it is disappointing to leave that fixture without a winner but there were some decent performances, not least the impressive debut success of Umbrigado at Uttoxeter on Saturday afternoon.

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While the downpours of last week may not be to everyone’s taste, it is certainly welcome news for all fans of the jumps. With the ease in the going, there were more runners from the Pond House team than in recent weeks and I was pleased to be among the winners with the successes of Aldrin and Remastered, while there were a whole host of other good performances. This is the time of year when we traditionally get into top gear and with the Cheltenham Open fixture taking place this weekend; I am very pleased with the form of the stable.

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We were pleased to be among the winners courtesy of Jacbequick’s first hurdles success at Fakenham last Wednesday, whilst we picked up some exciting new prospects at the Newmarket Horses In Training Sales so all in all it has been a good week. With rain (apparently) on the way, we will begin to have more runners.

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The rain meant that we had a few more runners last week, although unfortunately there was not sufficient juice in the ground for a large raiding party at Cheltenham for their first meeting of the season. It is very difficult to predict the ground at this time of year and is very frustrating when you declare to run on one type of going and end up racing on a completely different surface. The rain at Cheltenham only arrived during racing on Saturday and quickly changed the watered good going to good/soft and the times would suggest that it became quite testing with some relatively slow times in the latter races.

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With all due respect to the meetings that have gone before, the jumps season ‘proper’ gets underway this weekend with the first fixture of the new season from Cheltenham almost upon us. It marks a significant change of pace around the yard and the anticipation is mounting with a hat full of entries at the jumps fixtures over the coming days, including some of our more exciting prospects for the core part of the jumps season.

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The rain finally arrived last week with a vengeance and with the downpours came an abundance of winter runners. Chepstow must have been pleased with their turn-out for their season opening meeting on Saturday and Sunday with the wet weather arriving just in time to give them the first ‘proper’ jumping ground of the new season. Although we were not on the mark last week, most of the horses ran well without quite getting their heads in front so I remain pleased with the form of the stable.

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Despite the promise of some rain last week, it never really materialised with just over 4mm falling at Pond House throughout the course of the entire weekend. It certainly wasn’t enough to save Exeter who were hoping to host their season opening meeting this coming Thursday. Unfortunately with the ground officially firm (hard in places) at the end of last week it is not really surprising that the fixture has had to be abandoned. Obviously the safety of the horses and jockeys are of paramount importance so the correct decision has been made, but it is a shame nonetheless.

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