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Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

We began last week with a winner amid chaotic circumstances at Plumpton which provided a welcome first winner for a high-profile sportsman on our owner’s portfolio. Meanwhile, back at Pond House there was plenty of weather with Storm Angus battering the UK with torrential rain, sleet and even some snow. I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned the driest October in 15 years – the 40mm of rain we endured on Saturday was more than the previous month combined!

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As it is a meeting where the stable has traditionally been very strong, I have to admit that there is often a little extra pressure to perform at Cheltenham’s Open meeting in November than at other fixtures on the calendar. Although we sent a smaller raiding party than in previous years, I was still very pleased to come away from the BetVictor fixture with a couple of nice winners. Furthermore, with a winner at Exeter and a couple of nice new arrivals from the sales, all in all it was a very good week.

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This is the time of year that the Pond House string normally gets into full-stride with the Open meeting from Cheltenham at the end of the week, it is always a date that is circled on my calendar. Sadly we were dealt a blow earlier in the week when one of our hopes, King’s Socks was ruled out of the BetVictor Gold Cup. It is disappointing but we should still be well represented at Prestbury Park this weekend. Meanwhile, a high profile success at Aintree at the weekend once again illustrated the highs and lows of our sport.

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It seems hard to believe that the first Cheltenham fixture has been and gone, the clocks have gone back, it is Halloween and tomorrow marks the first day of November. Consequently the racing has really stepped up a notch and most of the Pond House team are now ready to hit the track, although the unseasonably dry conditions means that plenty of the courses are providing ground that is quicker than ideal for some of the winter jumpers.

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      Unanimite - Winner at Plumpton

Last week started well with a winner on Monday at Plumpton courtesy of Unanimite and Daryl Jacob.  It was great to get his head in front as it was his first win in just over two years.  He has contested some top races in the meantime, finishing a very close second in a hot handicap at Ascot as well as running okay in the Ladbroke and Holloway’s hurdles at the Berkshire track lasts season.  He had a few setbacks after he ran well at Musselburgh in February so I was delighted to get him back to winning ways the other day.  I am sure it will do his confidence to world of good, he goes on any ground and he is still only a five year old so hopefully there will be a bit more to come.  

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Cheltenham is just around the corner! You know that the jumps season is in full swing when you can say that and I am looking forward to their first meeting of the season on Friday and Saturday. It barely seems five minutes ago that we were all embroiled in the build-up and participation in the Cheltenham Festival in March...where on earth have the last seven months gone?! While it is their Open fixture in November where we traditionally click into top gear, I am hoping to have a few runners over the course of the two day fixture.

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It is good to have the jump racing starting in earnest now and as soon as we have a bit of rain, we will have the winter horses for the forthcoming season ready to go. The trouble, as has been the case many times of late is that October is turning into an increasingly dry month. With the changing profile of the type of horse in training at Pond House over the years we are now reliant on a bit of rain to soften the ground. I may sound like a bit of a killjoy but I for one certainly wouldn’t mind the heavens opening for a day or two!

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