NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Sun Feb 26
Fontwell, Southwell
Mon Feb 27
Ayr, Plumpton
Tue Feb 28
Catterick, Leicester

Cheltenham Festival 2017

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Entries & Recent Form

With only four weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival, the finishing touches to preparations are well underway. The entries for the championship races have closed and the handicaps close next week and I am sure there will be plenty of entries from the Pond House team. Great importance has always been placed on the Festival but now, more so than ever, success for a trainer is measured as much by the ability to turn out winners during these four days as at any other time during the season. Indeed, it is the pinnacle of our sport, the Olympics of racing if you like and the pressure to perform is immense.

In the coming days and weeks some of the team will be having a last run before the Festival while others will just be kept ticking over. As we have seen over the last few weeks and countless times over the years, anything can happen in the lead-up to Cheltenham so I will be relieved when the action gets underway.

In the meantime, there is plenty to keep me occupied and plenty of opportunities between now and then. There is also the small matter of Cheltenham Preview Evenings and once again this year I will be appearing on the panel at Exeter Racecourse on 7th March alongside Philip Hobbs and Luke Harvey – it should be an enjoyable and informative evening and tickets can be purchased via their website.

Talking of Cheltenham Festival Previews, I should also mention that the course hosts its own official Preview night on Sunday the 12th of March. The event will be streamed live by Mares sponsors OLBG.com and shown on: https://cheltenham.olbg.com/ Racing fans will be able to hear from the likes of Sir AP McCoy, Joe Tizzard, and bloodstock agent Tom Malone (who I am sure will have plenty to say for himself as usual!). The evening will also be raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Back to last week and we had a few near misses with the likes of Ramses de Teille, Gevrey Chambertin and Taws all running well to finish second. Hopefully we won’t be kept waiting long for our next winner as it would be nice to get the half century on the board!

Ramses de Teille showed that his turn should not be far away when finishing a very good second in Doncaster’s National Hunt novices’ hurdle. Given that he was a winner of an Irish point-to-point over three miles, he should certainly benefit from a greater test although he is by no means short of speed.

Former Fixed Brush hurdle winner Gevrey Chambertin has never been short of talent, but he is not the easiest of individuals to predict. Even so, he was on his best behaviour on Friday at Kempton where it looked as though he may prevail in their staying handicap chase until collared on the run-in. At Pond House we try to keep the horses interested, motivated and enjoying their work and this can mean varying their routines. As you can see from the picture below, ‘Geoffrey’ has enjoyed himself out hunting over the past few weeks and certainly seems to have found his mojo again, posting a solid effort at Kempton. The only trouble is that the handicapper is sure to put him up for not winning, thus making life harder once again.

 

Taws showed marked improvement for her first experience over hurdles when chasing home hot favourite Finian’s Oscar in the Listed novices’ hurdle at Exeter on Sunday. Although unable to get on terms with the high-class winner, she came well clear of the remainder and should have little trouble opening her account over timber – she is not going to bump into a Finian’s Oscar everyday. Even so, our home bred mare will have done her paddock value absolutely no harm at all, picking up some black type for this effort.

On the same card Mr Clarkson met with his first defeat when pulling up in the novices’ hurdle. An early mistake led to the bit going through his mouth and the tack getting wrapped around his head. This is a most unusual occurrence and he was always on the back foot thereafter and this run is safely ignored. Hopefully he can resume winning ways for the Pipe’s Prospectors in the near future.

Looking to this week we will have no runners tomorrow (Tuesday), although we could well be on our travels on Wednesday with Bella a likely runner in the mares’ handicap hurdle at Newcastle, while Sweettoothtommy is an intended runner in the staying handicap chase at Towcester. We also have entries at Kelso, Leicester, Fakenham and Sandown during the week, with Rathlin Rose an intended runner in the Royal Artillery at Sandown on Friday with the inspiring Guy Disney in the saddle (the pair pictured right, earlier this week).

The Grand National Trial at Haydock takes place on Saturday and we have confirmed both Vieux Lion Rouge (pictured top of page) and Doctor Harper for the 3½ mile contest at the latest stage. As usual, for all of the latest news on our runners, you can keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

Talking of the Grand National I will be off to London for the launch of the Grand National weights in London tomorrow evening and will bring you news of the marks allotted to my six entries; Vieux Lion Rouge, Doctor Harper, La Vaticane, Ballynagour, Father Edward and Gone Too Far.

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