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

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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With the mixed bag of weather it makes the job of placing the horses even more difficult than usual. Indeed, we endured 26mm of the wet stuff over the weekend at Pond House, while other places in the locality missed the rain altogether. Consequently we only had one runner last week, although it is looking considerably busier for the week ahead with plenty of runners tomorrow at Worcester as well as a couple of entries at Market Rasen at the weekend.

With six runners at Worcester tomorrow evening we are set to have more runners there than the last fortnight combined! Unfortunately the shortage of runners is just another upshot of the unpredictable weather and fragmented summer programme. I am certainly looking forward to being a bit busier with Magie du Ma, Gabrial The Great, Purple ‘N Gold, Lady Of Longstone, Kalifourchon and Juste Pour Nous all representing the stable on Tuesday.

Magie du Ma contests the beginners chase at 5.05pm. One of the best juvenile hurdlers in France, she ran creditably in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March but has taken a while to acclimatise to racing over here. She has schooled nicely over the fences and jumped well enough on her previous start over the larger obstacles. Obviously, it is tough with former World Hurdle winner Cole Harden in opposition, although his form over fences is yet to come close to that level. Only a four year old, Magie du Ma receives a sizeable age and sex allowance and Tom Scudamore is in the saddle.

I am double handed in the 2m handicap chase at 5.40pm with Gabrial The Great (Tom Scudamore) and Purple ‘N Gold (David Noonan) in what looks a trappy little race. Kalifourchon and Lady Of Longstone both contest the 2m7f handicap hurdle with the former a good runner-up at Market Rasen on his seasonal reappearance. Hopefully he can go well again, while Lady Of Longstone has a bit to find with Supreme Steel on their previous meeting and is partnered by David Noonan. Juste Pour Nous completes our sextet when he runs in the novices’ handicap hurdle and he has shown enough in his four runs over timber to suggest that something like this should be within his compass.

There were concerns last week when it was discovered that Moon Racer (pictured above) had suffered a bout of colic. Fortunately I have an excellent team on hand at Pond House and it was spotted at a very early stage. Our vet was with us quickly and he was referred to Langford where he was operated on. I am happy to report that he has made good progress since and pleased the vets and will be returning to the stable this week.

Hopefully he will continue to recover well, although clearly all plans for him are currently on hold. It is frustrating as he is such a talented horse and has endured such a stop-start career. When on song he has produced some fantastic performances, most notably when landing Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper and when beating subsequent Betfair Hurdle 1-2 Ballyandy and Movewiththetimes in the Supreme Trial.

I went to the T20 cricket in Taunton yesterday afternoon as Somerset took on Sussex and while the adverse weather curtailed the action, we still had a great time. The home team secured a comfortable victory and are now second in the table…well done to them and keep up the good work!

Finally, I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to young Jack Lander who today has finished the final leg of his walk in aid of the Injured Jockey‘s Fund and Racing Welfare. Eleven year old Jack has already completed one marathon walk in aid of the racing charities and on this occasion he was completing over 150 miles from Newmarket to Jack Berry House in Malton in little over a week. In the process he has raised many thousands of pounds and we applaud his amazing work.

I was able to have a chat with Jack last Friday, while my father spoke with him on Saturday as he was crossing the Humber Bridge towards the end of his journey. He truly is an inspirational young man and I know that everyone in racing is extremely proud of him and in awe of his fundraising exploits. He has an open invitation to visit us at Pond House and we very much look forward to meeting him in the future.

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