NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Sat Feb 24
Chepstow, Kempton, Newcastle
Sun Feb 25
Fontwell, Southwell
Mon Feb 26
Ayr, Plumpton

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

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Chester Cup winner Mamlook will miss the Ces

It was the first forfeit stage today (Tuesday) for next month's Cesarewitch at Newmarket and unfortunately we have had to scratch Mamlook.  The seven year old son of Key Of Luck went for a racecourse gallop last week and came back with a bit of heat in a fore leg and the vet has confirmed that he is going to need some time off.  Mamlook has twice finished in the frame in the Cesarewitch (third behind Caracciola in 2008, and second behind Darley Sun in 2009), as well as landing the fiercely competitive Chester Cup in 2010, four hurdle races (including the Grade 2 Victor Chandler Handicap Hurdle at Ascot) and a couple of chases.  He has been a wonderful servant and this setback is a blow to everyone concerned, but he will be given everything he needs to assist his recuperation and get him back onto the racecourse.  His absence means that we now have three remaining in next month's Cesarewitch - Big Occasion, Beyond and Tasheba.

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It’s been a week of rather mixed fortunes with American Art’s success at Huntingdon last Monday being the obvious highlight.  Conor O’Farrell gave him a very confident ride and he clearly gets a good tune out of him as he is now unbeaten in two starts on the gelding.  An official rating of 113 means that he is going to continue to struggle in handicap company, but he is in good form and will continue to pay his way in this type of race.

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Once again, it seems to me that the powers that be are trying their best to shoot racing in the foot with the latest debacle surrounding the fixture list as Britain’s newest racecourse; Ffos Las in South Wales faces the prospect of losing nearly half of its fixtures.  Is this really how the BHA supports new racecourses?  If so, it is hardly surprising that Ffos Las is only the second racecourse to open in the last 84 years (the other, Great Leighs went to the wall shortly after it was opened in 2008).

Dai Walters, owner of Ffos Las is a great supporter of racing in Britain – not only was the racecourse his brainchild, he is also a prominent racehorse owner and he supports a number of trainers up and down the country.  Dai has warned that if the track loses these fixtures then he will have no option other than to close the track and will be so disenchanted with racing that he will sell his substantial string of horses.  Such a loss will have wide reaching consequences, not least at the grass roots of our sport where job losses among stable staff are likely to result.

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How time flies…I was reminded only yesterday that it was the anniversary of my first winner as a jockey under rules.  It was an amateur rider’s handicap hurdle at Hereford and I was aboard a horse trained by my father and owned by the Martin Pipe Racing Club called Passed Pawn.  He was a cracking little horse in the right grade and he looked after me to oblige by a comfortable four lengths at odds of 2/1.  That was NINETEEN(!) years ago and digging through the Pond House archives I found a black and white article from the now defunct Sporting Life newspaper commemorating the achievement.  There is a picture of us in the winners’ enclosure with Chester (no more fashion sense then than now!) on one side and my father (holding a “mobile” phone the size of a brick) on the other.

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We opened the doors to Pond House again yesterday for the second and final Garden Party of 2011 for owners and friends of the yard.  Around 150 people joined us for an informal tour of the establishment where they could catch up with old friends human and equine before enjoying drinks and a bite to eat.  Fortunately the weather was kind to us and we experienced a warm, sunny summer afternoon.

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Thankfully the weather held fairly fine on Sunday as owners and friends gathered at Pond House for the first of our garden parties. It was great to catch up with new and old acquaintances with a chance for them to have a look at the horses and around the yard and enjoy a spot of lunch. We had a couple of heavy showers but we had the tour of the yard done and were back in the dry before the heavens opened! For those of you who saw the Racing Post yesterday you will have seen myself and Tom Scu pictured alongside Grands Grus. Its great to have him back in from his holiday and we are very excited to be planning a Novice chase campaign with him for this season. Due to his trip to France he had a slightly later holiday than some of the others and has only just come in the last few days and we will be aiming to start him off over the larger obstacles sometime in November.

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We had an enjoyable trip across to Ireland last week for the third day of the Galway Festival. The Irish really know how to look after their guests and we had a great time despite coming back empty handed (unlike Dermot Weld, who had an incredible week with no less than seventeen winners!).

I thought that Matuhi was in the process of running an excellent race in the Galway Plate when he was brought down at the final fence. I must disagree with the Racing Post race analysts who thought that he was a beaten sixth at the time of his departure – personally I don’t think that Hadden had gone for everything and I would not have been at all surprised to see him reach one of the minor placings.

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