NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Thu Aug 24
Fontwell, Stratford
Sat Aug 26
Cartmel
Mon Aug 28
Cartmel

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

Although the winners are proving somewhat elusive at present, it is good to see the horses continue to run well and through the first few weeks of the new jumps season, over half of all of our runners have reached the frame. Of course, summer is traditionally our quietest time of the year and with the ground very fast up until the weekend’s downpours we have had relatively few runners. Even so, there is plenty going on away from the track and I was at the sales again last week securing some nice new recruits to bolster our string ahead of the core campaign.

At the recent Cheltenham Sales I was pleased to purchase a couple of nice ex-Irish point-to-pointers. We have enjoyed a good deal of success from these sources in recent years, including most recently with the likes of last season’s winners Champers On Ice, Rathlin Rose and Mr Clarkson and I hope that our latest intake; Aero Majestic and Buster Edwards will continue this tradition. They both have good recent form having filled the frame at the end of last month and are fit and ready to run. They are fine specimens who could start in bumpers and will jump hurdles and fences in time – both are looking for owners and further details can be found shortly on our ‘For Sale’ page. We have a lovely selection of promising young horses available at present including Keating (pictured above), a fine looking son of the mighty King’s Theatre whom I acquired at Doncaster the previous week - all are realistically priced and should provide plenty of enjoyment for the season ahead.

I was also very pleased to purchase once raced Irish pointer Eur Gone West for Jane Gerard-Pearse as a replacement for her recently retired popular chaser Shotavodka. If he works out anywhere near as good as him I think we will all be extremely happy.

As previously mentioned, the horses continue to go well and last week Rod’s Dream produced a satisfactory racecourse debut when third in Newton Abbot’s bumper on Tuesday. He will have learned plenty for the experience and will make a nice hurdler in time.

Tobacco Road was only narrowly beaten on the all-weather at Chelmsford City on Thursday, finishing runner-up in the 1m2f flat handicap under Tom Marquand. He will stick to the flat for now, although he will likely try his hand again over timber before too long.

Dell’ Arca ran another solid race when a close fourth under top weight in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at Worcester on Saturday. He was trying to concede lumps of weight to the three in front of him and he should continue to run well, the trouble is that he is handicapped up to his very best at present. Races for horses with a mark of 140 are thin on the ground at this time of year so you have to run where you can – ideally he would be suited by a bit further.

We have runners at Newton Abbot today and Fontwell tomorrow, while we have a few entries at Uttoxeter on Wednesday and Bangor on Thursday and Stratford on Saturday evening. As usual, for all the latest news on our runners keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

I mentioned last week that former Cheltenham Festival winner Ballynagour had been retired last week and we bade him a fond farewell when he left the yard for the last time on Saturday. We overcame a whole catalogue of problems with him to score at the Festival and Auteuil’s Prix la Barka as well as finish a narrow runner-up in the Grade One Betfred Bowl at Aintree. A top-class horse on his day, we hope he enjoys a very long and happy retirement.

I am sure many of you will already have read the sad news about the passing of Well Chief last week, reported her first in Chester’s column so I will keep this brief. Suffice to say he was a magnificent servant to all of us. He certainly put us through the mill – he was the most fragile horse I have ever had to deal with, but what talent he possessed. It was unfortunate for him that he was around in a golden age for two mile chasers, but his performances were right out of the top drawer nonetheless – an Arkle success and a Victor Chandler handicap chase (from a mark of 176) were but two of his greatest efforts, while his second in the Champion Chase after the second of his long lay-offs saw him receive a round of applause at the Cheltenham Festival normally reserved only for most popular of winners. I doubt very much whether I will ever train another one like him…

Finally, I was saddened also to hear of the passing of top northern trainer David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls over the weekend at the age of just 61. A good jockey in his time and a better trainer (particularly of sprinters); we used to have some great fun with him at the sales at Newmarket. A real character, he will be very much missed.

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