Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

The stable continues in good form and the Sedgefield victory of Mr Clarkson took us on to the 52 winner mark for the campaign with the Cheltenham Festival now just a fortnight away. Meanwhile, high profile injuries to Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack and top jockey Barry Geraghty show what can happen to both horse and human in the lead-up to the big event and I am sure there will be more absentees yet. Until then, I will keep checking the days off my calendar and thanking my lucky stars for each passing day without incident.

One of the things that I find most rewarding about training racehorses is bringing the thrill of ownership to ordinary folks. Normally owning horses can be an expensive pastime but for the lucky owners of Mr Clarkson, the “Pipe’s Prospector’s” sixteen lucky syndicate members have been able to enjoy considerable success for an affordable outlay. Mr Clarkson was winning his third race of the season when running out a game winner of Sedgefield’s novices’ hurdle under David Noonan. Indeed, his sole defeat since joining us at Pond House came at Exeter on his penultimate start when the bit came through his mouth and I was pleased that he was able to show that form to be all wrong. He is a very likeable individual with a lovely attitude to his racing - he is now qualified to run in the final of this series at the end of March.

The remainder of our runners last week ran well without quite getting their heads in front. Martabot was running a big race when slipping on a loose patch of ground on the home turn at Lingfield on Monday – it was a horrible incident, these falls happen quickly and without any notice so I am relieved to report that both he and jockey David Noonan are none the worse. Martabot showed more than enough promise on this occasion to suggest that something similar should be within his compass so long as his confidence is not affected.

Citrus ran better than his finishing position of fifth would suggest at Wetherby in the 2m3½f handicap hurdle on Tuesday, looking a big danger to the winner turning in before not seeming to quite get home over this longer trip. He travelled much more keenly in the blinkers and can pick up another race based on this evidence.

Shaama Grise was just denied at Exeter on Thursday, going down by only ½ length while trying to concede 11lbs to a horse who was completing a hat-trick. She shapes as though she will get further and is a promising mare to have in the stable. On the same card Herbert Park put up an improved showing over fences to finish second, while Obistar was far from disgraced in the handicap hurdle finishing fourth on ground that had dried out far more than he would have appreciated.

Looking ahead to this week, the stable will have no runners today (Monday) or Tuesday, although ex-French hurdle winner Instagram is an intended runner at Wincanton on Wednesday, while we also have entries at Ffos Las on the same afternoon and Ludlow and Taunton on Thursday. Taws is an intended runner in the Listed mares’ hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday, while Shotavodka (pictured right) will run at Newbury in the veteran’s chase that he won last year – he is another year older but retains all of his enthusiasm and is a great favourite at Pond House. As usual, you can keep up to date with all the latest news on stable runners by visiting Chester’s Daily Chat or following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

With only two weeks to go until Cheltenham the finishing touches are underway but as was illustrated last week so much can happen in the lead-up to the Festival. Poor Barry Geraghty will miss the Festival after breaking ribs and puncturing a lung in a fall on Saturday – although he is due to be a guest on ITV, I am sure he is absolutely gutted. Meanwhile, stable jockey Tom Scudamore was dealt a blow when Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack, Tom’s regular mount was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a tendon injury. I am very sorry for Tom, the Tizzards and of course the Snooks.

Talking of the Tizzards, it hasn’t been the best of weeks for them, with former jockey and assistant Joe fined at Lingfield on Monday for waving his arms behind one of their runners at the start in an attempt to encourage their representative to jump off with the remainder of the field. I have broached this subject before and it seems ridiculous that someone can get into trouble for waving their arms! Surely it is in everyone’s best interests that all of the runners start? What about on the flat where there are stalls handlers who assist the runners into the stalls (even fitting some of them with blindfolds)? Surely there should be parity between the codes – it is an embarrassment to the sport and about time that common sense prevailed.

Finally, a shameless plug for one of my staff Vicky Wade who has embarked on her own business ‘Fine Furnishing by Victoria’. She specialises in designing and making bespoke curtains and can be contacted via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – we wish he luck with her new venture, I am sure she will be blinding!

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