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Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

Well, I did say that we might have a surprise or two in store for you following the Grand National entries, and I can reveal that rather than the original five entries, we now have six of the best for the world’s most spectacular horserace. I am very grateful to the new Swiss owners of Or Noir de Somoza for sending him to me to prepare for Aintree’s great race. The nine year old gelding is a winner of sixteen of his thirty six races (including three Grade One’s) and well over £1 million in win and place prize money. We have had Or Noir de Somoza in the yard before and he finished fourth in Ascot’s Victor Chandler Chase behind Master Minded. He stays very well and I have always thought that he looked like an ideal Grand National candidate. I am delighted to have him and he is a very exciting addition to our team of entries for the big race that consists of I’msingingtheblues, Comply Or Die, Piraya, Faasel, and Junior.

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Grands_Crus_Cheltenham1                         Grands Crus returns to the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham on Saturday

Just one word to sum up the weekend - Wow!

I have been waxing lyrical about the potential of Grands Crus for sometime now and while he bolted up in two valuable and competitive handicaps at Cheltenham and Haydock within the space of a week in November, it was his performance in Saturday’s Cleeve Hurdle that announced his arrival on centre stage to those in attendance.

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It’s been another busy week and I am pleased to say that the horses are still running well and we are still among the winners.

On Monday, Mamlook our Chester Cup winner made a smooth transition to fences when scoring on his chase debut at Fakenham under champion jockey A P McCoy. It was only a three runner race, but I was delighted by the way that he jumped and he quickened up well in the straight to win the race. Despite the ground probably being softer than ideal, the experience will have done him good and he looks sure to go on to better things over fences.

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Well, what an exciting week, culminating in a fantastic card at Kempton on Saturday which featured the rescheduled Christmas Hurdle and King George VI Chase. We kicked off the meeting with a winner when Kazzene made a successful hurdling debut for the yard in the opening juvenile hurdle. Beforehand the race had looked quite a decent contest on paper with the ante-post favourite for the Triumph Hurdle in the line-up, and despite the analysts casting doubt over the form, I have no doubt that Kazzene is a nice prospect.

I see that many bookmakers have already installed him prominently for the Triumph Hurdle ante-post markets and he will certainly be out again before that race in order to gain further experience. The hustle and bustle and likely fast pace of the race should suit him, although he will also likely be given an entry in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

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Following a fall from the Charlie Longsdon trained Far More Serious at Sandown on Saturday, sadly stable jockey Tom Scudamore is facing a short spell on the sidelines. Tom took a good kicking from his mount, including to the kidneys and he is now likely to be out of action for around two weeks, which rules him out of the ride aboard Madison du Berlais in the rescheduled King George VI Chase at Kempton on Saturday. Riding arrangements for last year’s runner-up are yet to be finalised and will not be decided until one of the owner’s returns from holiday later in the week.

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Well I would just like to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and I do hope you have all enjoyed the Festive season.  What a week it has been.  Thankfully all the snow had disappeared at Pond House by 28th December and we saw some jumping action make a welcome return to Newbury on the 29th December.  Well I say we ‘saw’ some racing at Newbury, in fact we didn’t see very much as the course was shrouded in thick fog!  I have to say well done to the commentators for the part they played as they did very well considering we couldn’t see anything and they even made the races sound quite exciting!  What was particularly pleasing about the day was the return to form of a Pond House favourite, Lough Derg.  He had been struggling to find is form of late and to be honest as we glimpsed the runners leaving the back straight and Tom Scu was already cajoling Douglas along I did fear the worst.  What was brilliant to see was all the grit and determination he is so well known for return and he stuck with the fantastic Big Bucks all the way up the straight.  Although the favourite won comfortably in the end I was delighted in our old boy finishing second, although for that effort the handicapper has raised him eight pounds, back to a mark of 148 which will once again make things a little more difficult for him in the future.

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I would like to start off by offering my heartfelt congratulations to Mary Bromiley for being awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours List for services to equine sport.  Mary pioneered the transference of human physiotherapy methods to horses many years ago and set up the country's only specialist horse and human rehabilitation centre at Down's House, as well as founding the "Flying Physios" who tend to injured jockey's at the race.  Mary has tended to the horses at Pond House for many years and I have been privileged to see the amazing work that she has done first hand - not only does she care for the equine inmates, but such is her kind and caring nature, she has also helped numerous employees.  I am sure that everyone in racing will join me in congratulating Mary on this award, it is a thoroughly deserved recognition of her talents.

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