NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Wed Aug 21
Perth, Market Rasen
Wed Aug 21
Worcester
Thu Aug 22
Perth, Market Rasen

Cheltenham Festival 2020

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Entries & Recent Form

Grand National week is upon us once again and I am delighted to be heading into the Aintree Festival with the horses in very good form. Indeed, we enjoyed two winners and three places from our six runners over the sticks and enjoyed a wonderful weekend with an Ascot double on Sunday that included an amazing 1-2 in the veterans’ handicap chase. We will have a small but select team going to Liverpool, spearheaded by Ramses de Teillee and Vieux Lion Rouge in the big one and I am very much looking forward to it.

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Last week was a good one for the stable with four winners; although I would have been happier still if a few of those who finished placed had scored, but you can’t be too greedy! With the Grand National meeting less than a fortnight away, I am very pleased with the form of the yard and hopefully we will be sending a nice team to Merseyside. Aside from our four winners, we had five seconds, five thirds and a fourth from our 21 runners last week and we passed our seasonal total from last term. I hope to build on that momentum for the remainder of this season, whilst I have a team of very promising youngsters to look forward to next term and beyond.

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The Cheltenham Festival is over for another year and we were once again treated to an amazing spectacle full of top-class performances. We had a smaller team than in previous years with only three runners, but Eamon An Cnoic produced a cracking effort to finish a close fourth in the Brown Advisory Plate, whilst Warthog ran better than his finishing position would suggest in the four mile National Hunt Chase. I was pleased to round off the week with a winner at Uttoxeter’s Midlands National card which has been very kind to me down the years.

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With just 24 hours until the greatest show on turf gets underway, I hope you will forgive me if this week’s blog is perhaps a little shorter than usual. Although we will not have a big team going to Cheltenham this week, there is still plenty to do. Indeed, we have a few horses who are ‘on the cusp’ of getting in their preferred races and as such, there is plenty of homework to be done to find out if that will be the case or if alternative engagements need to be taken up. Couple that with the logistical arrangements of transporting the horses, whilst also scouring the sales catalogue for the Festival Sales and it is an exceptionally busy time for us.

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The horses continue to perform well but last week was certainly a frustrating one with ten of the eleven runners who completed reaching the frame without putting their heads in front. With the sad loss of Friday Night Light to a horrible fall at Newbury on Friday it was a week I would rather forget. To lose any horse remains the single worst part of my profession and it profoundly affects everyone in the yard as well as of course, the owner.

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There are just two weeks to go now until the Cheltenham Festival and while we will not be sending a huge team this year, it remains the fixture that everyone wants to win at and with that in mind I couldn’t be happier with the form of the stable at this time. Another three winners last week courtesy of Airton, Umbrigado and Eamon An Cnoic bears testament to this and we will do our utmost to ensure the momentum continues to the end of the season and beyond.

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Plenty has already been written about the recent equine influenza saga, including here last week so I do not need to elaborate any further, other than to say how pleased I was to see racing resume last Wednesday. I was even more pleased to be back among the winners on the first day of its resumption. Duc de Beauchene (pictured above) ran out a ready winner at Plumpton, whilst the remainder of the string continue in good form with the Cheltenham Festival now just three weeks away.

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     Ramses De Teille - National Entries

Well as I write we are all of course waiting for news of if racing will resume on Wednesday with an announcement expected to be made later this evening.  I was quite hopeful over the weekend with no new reports but with the breaking news overnight of four news cases at Simon Crisford’s Newmarket yard being confirmed this surely puts Wednesday’s re-start in doubt.

It seems that Pond House is one of the lucky yards.  I had no runners involved in any of the meetings from which trainers were placed in ‘lockdown’ although as Charlie Mann has said we are all effectively in this state with no racing taking place.  Fortunately we have not had to swab our horses and we are not in the long queue for results of tests and waiting to be cleared.  We have entries later in the week and we are all set to run should racing get the go ahead.  At the weekend I am very much looking forward to the Grand National trial at Haydock should racing be on.  This morning we have confirmed Daklondike, Ramses De Teille and Vieux Lion Rouge for the race.   

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The fixture list was once again affected by the severe weather during the course of last week. Indeed, temperatures at Pond House plummeted to -3°c during the daytime last Friday and we had 5 inches of snow descend upon us. Fortunately I have a dedicated team of staff who braved the elements to make it into work and look after and exercise their beloved charges…my grateful thanks to all of them for their efforts. With temperatures remaining low over the weekend the treacherous ice remained for a couple of days, whilst there is still a little snow on the surrounding hills now despite it being considerably milder.

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The weather was playing havoc with the fixture list again last week. Freezing temperatures meant that we were left with two days where there was no jump racing at all in this country and I see that there are weather warnings in place for the days ahead. Consequently we only had one runner last week, but he performed with credit and things are already looking busier for the week ahead (weather permitting!) with four runners at two meetings this afternoon (Monday).

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