NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Fri Feb 23
Exeter, Warwick
Sat Feb 24
Chepstow, Kempton, Newcastle
Sun Feb 25
Fontwell, Southwell

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

   Pain?  What pain?  Chester prepares for his flu jab

We had a nurse in the yard yesterday to administer complimentary flu jabs to any of the staff that wanted one.  Now, as you regular readers will testify, I have never been one to be frightened of a little pain(!) and so I was right at the front of the queue to have my injection.  As you can see from the picture, I toughed it out and was by far the bravest of those jabbed, although for some reason the person directly following me did looks a little apprehensive!


It is a very exciting day for Mr K Edgar who is having his first ever ride under rules this afternoon at Exeter.  Kieron is a young Scottish lad who has been competing in pony races back home and he makes his debut in the Devon track's first race aboard MCP's own Sarah's Boy...I wonder how many times he had to clean his car to get the ride?!  Anyway, I am sure that the whole yard will be watching closely and cheering for Kieron, and I am sure that you will join me in wishing the young Scot luck.

When I came past Exeter racecourse on the way to the yard this morning it was absolutely pouring with rain so at least the going should be perfect jumping ground.  With the exception of the beginners chases, it looks to be a very competitive card and I am looking forward to seeing the action.


I thought that it was a good, game performance from Woodlark Island to score at Kempton yesterday.  Our four year old made most of the running and stayed on gallantly to see off Cortinas by 3/4length in the handicap chase.  I was watching the racing on television yesterday when I fell asleep in my armchair, I awoke just as Woodlark Island reached the start - it was like some kind of good omen, so I had to have a little flutter.  It reminds me a bit of a story about Michael Dickinson and the Newmarket Sales.  He had an owner who would fall asleep and then buy whatever was in the ring when he woke up - he finished up buying Captain John...who needs form books?!


Taking a look at the week ahead, if you are planning to take a trip to Kempton this afternoon, it would be well worth having a look at Robert Thornton's race riding master class and book signing.  On Tuesday Exeter play host to their Haldon Gold Cup fixture which is almost certain to attract a good field - I was amazed to think that it is ten years since Best Mate won the race.  More recently we landed the contest with Pablo du Charmil in 2007.

Don't forget that David's stable tour will appear in tomorrow's edition of the Racing Post.  I always enjoy keeping the stable tours from the various yards and looking back at the end of the season to see how accurate the trainers comments are.  There is normally a horse to follow, and a dark horse so it should certainly be worth a good read.


The stable runners again performed creditably yesterday on the opening day of Cheltenham's new season.  Raslan ran a cracker in the competitive handicap hurdle to be beaten just under three lengths under Danny Cook.  I get the impression that the handicapper might just have him in his grip from a mark of 142, even so, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him stick another few pounds on his back after this performance.  Battle Group (the 6/1 joint favourite) finished just behind him and is another to have performed well without looking like he is obviously well-treated by the official assessor.

In the amateur riders' handicap chase, Swing Bill once again ran a solid race to finish second under Tom Weston (who I have to say, looked very professional).  This was possibly his best run so far and he could be up to winning again before too long.



Tough as teak hurdler Lough Derg is in action this afternoon at Cheltenham
Cheltenham plays host to it's first meeting of the new season this afternoon, and we are represented by no fewer than six runners.  Among them is ever popular hurdler Lough Derg who has to shoulder top weight in the competitive handicap.  He has won over an amazing £360,000 during his career, and his popularity is largely due to his never-say-die and granite constitution - he is a real trier and unsurprisingly Tom Scudamore's favourite.  You may recall that Tom burst into tears after the pair had won their first National Spirit hurdle at Fontwell - I have cried over a few horses myself in the past, but it is normally when they have been beaten!


I see that Ladbrokes have already paid out on Paul Hanagan to be the champion flat jockey for this year.  Apparently they have paid out about £150,000, although maybe they will be wishing they hadn't after his nearest rival Richard Hughes rode a treble to reduce the gap to seven.  I suppose Hughes' upcoming seven day suspension and his trip to ride in the Breeders' Cup in America on the last two days of the season have something to do with their decision to pay out early.  I wonder what would happen if there was only a couple of winners in it with a few days to go - would Richard cancel his trip to the States to challenge for the title?  I was also puzzled as to what Ladbrokes get out of paying punters early?...publicity I suppose.