NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Tue Feb 20
Taunton, Wetherby
Wed Feb 21
Doncaster, Ludlow
Thu Feb 22
Huntingdon, Sedgefield

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

It is time to adjust to the loss of one of Pond House’s brightest stars after the awful events of the weekend at Cheltenham racecourse and this week’s blog has been an extremely difficult and emotional one to write. On Sunday it was very hard feeding up with Starchitect's stable being empty. I have been around the sport long enough to deal with the exultant highs and inevitable, crushing lows that the sport of horseracing can bring, but this one has bought unparalleled sadness not just to me, but to the whole team at the yard and no doubt, Paul and Clare Rooney.

Our heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences must go to owners Paul and Clare, who adored Starchitect, as well as racing manager Jason Maguire who would have him during the summer holidays. Starchitect was a real character - he could be a little grumpy but his doting lass, Susie Crockett understood him and tending to him on a daily basis, she knew when he wanted attention and when he wanted to be left alone. She will feel his loss more than most, as will conditional jockey Michael Heard who would ride him on the gallops at home almost every day.

Despite being only a six year old, Starchitect had for so long plied his trade at the top table – second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, runner-up in the BetVictor Gold Cup at this year’s November meeting, unlucky in running when fifth in the County Hurdle and Brown Advisory Chase at the last two Cheltenham Festivals. This was finally to be his day, the big prize that he had so long been deserving of. Jumping like a gazelle and travelling well throughout, he surged clear at the third last in a display of power that is rarely seen against top notch opposition in these ultra-competitive handicaps. Straightening up for home in glorious isolation, he was in the process of delivering the performance of his career – one that I had long known him to be capable of, but fate was cruelly to deny him of his finest moment. The rest as they say, is history…

Some people take exception when you compare equine traits to humans, but the horses in our care are more than just animals. After years of seeing them on a daily basis, they are more akin to pets or an extended part of the family and you quickly become extremely attached to each individual personality. To lose any horse is most distressing, but to lose one with the talent and potential of Starchitect is devastating.

I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who has taken the time to contact me over the past few days. I have been overwhelmed by the messages of condolence and support at this sad time. I thought the ITV racing team were excellent, covering the race with dignity and sensitivity while winning jockey Ryan Day spoke with grace and compassion on his biggest day and is a real credit to the sport. Winning owners George and Pat Sloan, who I have never even spoken to somehow managed to find my number to extend their sympathies – an extremely generous gesture, especially as the events conspired to deny them the share of the limelight they so richly deserved for the success of Guitar Pete.

Thank you also to the racecourse veterinary team at Cheltenham who were on sight very quickly to ensure that Starchitect was tended to quickly and humanely.

As always in this sport, you have to keep looking forward and we are fortunate to have some very nice horses to look forward to at Pond House and some extremely loyal owners to whom I remain indebted for their support. We have runners this afternoon (Monday) at Ffos Las with I’m Always Trying and Ilovemints contesting the novices’ hurdle.

We have no runners tomorrow, although It’s Obvious and Warthog are likely runners at Newbury on Wednesday and could be joined by dual winning chaser Daklondike. Shaama Grise is an intended runner in the mares’ novices’ chase at Exeter on Thursday, where Max do Brazil, Delface and Red Square Revival also hold entries.

Exciting recent recruit Queens Cave is engaged in the mares’ bumper at Towcester on Thursday, while Broadway Buffalo and recent Haydock winner Eamon An Cnoic hold entries at Haydock on Saturday.

Finally, if you were in any doubt just what the horses mean to the staff at Pond House, I will leave you with the words of lass Susie Crockett with her 'Ode to Starchitect (Sparkle)' who brightened up her days:

Not everyone's cup of tea
But he liked me, and was my friend
So much promise, but in the end
There is no more Sparkle

As usual, you can keep up to date with all the latest news from Pond House by visiting Chester’s Daily Chat or by following us on Twitter @DavidPipeRacing Here’s hoping for some better times ahead…

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