NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Sat Jul 21
Cartmel, Market Rasen
Sun Jul 22
Newton Abbot, Stratford
Mon Jul 23

Entries & Recent Form

Wow! Following a soggy start to the month, we have now gone over a week without any rainfall at all. With temperatures also reaching in excess of 30°c, the ground is drying out quickly and despite the best attempts of the ground staff and their artificial watering techniques the going is unsurprisingly on the lively side at most tracks. Consequently we only had a handful of runners last week, although a yield of 2 winners from 6 runners is not a bad return.

Three Star General (pictured right) posted a good performance when taking the 2m4f fixed brush maiden hurdle at Worcester on Wednesday. Having taken up the running down the back straight, he looked booked for second place when the odds-on favourite breezed past him and went five lengths clear entering the straight. Tom Scudamore never gave up on him though and his perseverance paid off when the leader started to wander approaching the last and Three Star General’s proven stamina began to tell. Staying on in good style, he picked the leader off again close home and went on to score a shade cosily. This was the fastest ground he has encountered over timber and he handled it well, while he will also likely stay further. He appears to be on the upgrade and can certainly win again over timber before too long.

The good form continued with the success of ever popular Purple ‘N Gold at Fontwell on Thursday afternoon in the 2m1½f handicap chase. Given a good, sensible ride from the front by David Noonan he had the race in safe keeping from some way out despite idling close home. The change of tactics and application of a first time tongue-tie did indeed seem to have a galvanising effect. He is certainly a special horse – he provided David Noonan with his first winner under rules back in 2014, while he gave me my 1,000th winner last season. He is also fast closing in on £100,000 in prize money – not bad when you consider that he was picked up from a claimer for only £8,000 and has given his owners and everyone associated with the stable an enormous amount of enjoyment.

Also on Thursday Aldrin posted a good first effort over timber when third in the novices’ hurdle at Uttoxeter. His jumping was not as good as he had shown us at home, but he still travelled well for the majority of the race and was not beaten at all far. He will be given more practice over his hurdles at home and as he has only had four career starts, he is certainly entitled to progress further with this experience under his belt. He certainly appears to have the latent ability to win over hurdles this summer for his owners The Value Racing Club.

The weekend marked the end of the point-to-point season with the final fixture at Umberleigh on Saturday. Although empty-handed on the day, our amateur jockey Rex Dingle was still crowned champion novice rider for the Devon & Cornwall area…congratulations on an excellent achievement. I am sure it is only a matter of time before he is booting home the winners under rules.

As alluded to last week, I will be dusting off the topper to make the trip to Ascot for the start of the Royal meeting tomorrow (Tuesday). We will have one runner; Iniciar (pictured above) who is top weight in the Ascot Stakes at 5pm, while he is also engaged later in the week in the Queen Alexandra. The 2m4f handicap is a race that has been kind to us at Pond House – my father won it several times, while I was also successful in 2010 with Junior. Iniciar has won a couple of times over hurdles and was a high class flat performer in France and Germany in his younger days. He is talented but quirky in equal measure and while this represents a significant step-up in trip, who is to say that he will not relish it? Dougie Costello takes the ride.

With no jumps fixtures on Monday or Saturday and the prevailing ground, the opportunities for the National Hunt horses are few and far between this week. Former flat performer Juste Pour Nous will contest the 2m handicap hurdle at Stratford tomorrow, while Lady Of Longstone and Bambi du Noyer hold engagements at Ffos Las on Thursday evening. On Sunday Saint John Henry is entered in the 2m7f novices’ chase at Worcester – he is only small but has pleased me with his schooling at home. We will keep an eye on the ground before committing to anything later in the week so for the very latest news on runners from the yard, keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat or follow us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing.

Enjoy the sunshine…it is bound to be raining again before you know it!

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