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Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

It is very much a time of transition at Pond House at present with stable stalwart Dynaste retired earlier in the season and during the past couple of weeks we have called time on the careers of a few other notable campaigners who have been great servants to the team over the years. On Saturday Shotavodka (pictured above) was retired after the staying handicap chase at Newbury, while Gevrey Chambertin, Soll and Red Sherlock have also run their last races. It is sad to see these grand old campaigners retired but we have always tried to call it a day when the time was right for the horse and we have a proven track record of doing this as well as finding them loving and rewarding homes when their racing days are done.

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It is hard to believe that the Cheltenham Festival has been and gone for another year. There were plenty of thrills and spills and some amazing performances on the track, not least by our own Un Temps Pour Tout (pictured above) who became a back-to-back Festival winner by defying top weight in a thrilling finish to the Grade 3 Ultima handicap chase.

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With Cheltenham now less than 24 hours away I hope you will forgive me for something of an abridged blog – we are all declared for the first day, although we still have the remainder of the week to sort out. With a winner and four seconds from a limited number of runners last week, I am satisfied that the horses enter the most important week of our calendar in good heart.

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Perspicace was a nice winner of the seller at Taunton last week.  A spot of hunting in recent days sweetened our 6 year old up nicely and it was his third win of the season.  He was dropping in grade and won as he should on official ratings but you can never tell so it was nice to get his head in front again.  He enjoyed the better ground and it was a nice ride from Michael Heard. Read more...

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The stable continues in good form and the Sedgefield victory of Mr Clarkson took us on to the 52 winner mark for the campaign with the Cheltenham Festival now just a fortnight away. Meanwhile, high profile injuries to Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack and top jockey Barry Geraghty show what can happen to both horse and human in the lead-up to the big event and I am sure there will be more absentees yet. Until then, I will keep checking the days off my calendar and thanking my lucky stars for each passing day without incident.

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What an amazing week it has been! Although we were only represented by a handful of runners, a couple of high-profile winners certainly do no harm for morale. The Haydock Grand National Trial success of Vieux Lion Rouge means that we now have the ante-post favourite for the big one at Aintree in April, while Rathlin Rose’s Royal Artillery victory at Sandown under the amazing Captain Guy Disney was a poignant and emotional occasion and helps to bring a sense of perspective to everything.

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With only four weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival, the finishing touches to preparations are well underway. The entries for the championship races have closed and the handicaps close next week and I am sure there will be plenty of entries from the Pond House team. Great importance has always been placed on the Festival but now, more so than ever, success for a trainer is measured as much by the ability to turn out winners during these four days as at any other time during the season. Indeed, it is the pinnacle of our sport, the Olympics of racing if you like and the pressure to perform is immense.

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