NH Fixtures & Sales Dates

Wed Jun 28
Worcester
Fri Jun 30
Cartmel
Sun Jul 02
Cartmel, Uttoxeter

Cheltenham Festival 2018

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Entries & Recent Form

Despite the weather doing it’s best to interrupt; it has been a busy week nonetheless. Both myself and Gerry Supple had a great time at the Derby Awards and thanks go to our host Mike Vince for being brave enough to invite us back again.

I was surprised and pleased in equal measure to see Matt Chapman named as Broadcaster of the Year – Matt has often been accused of being loud and opinionated (not least by Chester – now there’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black if ever I have heard it!). Anyway, Matt has been a supporter of Pond House for many years and I was pleased to see his enthusiasm recognised.

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icy chartreux
Frost and snow has caused havoc with the racing calendar so Exeter deserve plenty of credit

It was good to get some National Hunt racing back on again yesterday at Exeter. The course and in particular Barry Johnson, the clerk of the course should be applauded for having the foresight to abandon Friday’s fixture at an early stage and rearrange it for Sunday. Unfortunately they weren’t rewarded with a huge turnout of racegoers who preferred instead to stay in the warmth of their homes, but such quick thinking is what we should be expecting from all of our racecourses.

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Just in case you hadn’t already noticed, it’s cold…really cold! Even so, Newbury racecourse did a great job for racing to go ahead last weekend and they should be applauded for their efforts in covering the entire track to protect the ground from the snow and frost. Not only were we able to enjoy a cracking race for the Hennessy, but they were also able to hold the Fighting Fifth hurdle after Newcastle were forced to abandon their fixture.

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Just as last week, I am pleased to kick off by saying how pleased we were to gain another big race success on a Saturday by winning the Listed “Fixed Brush” handicap hurdle at Haydock. Once again, the honours went to Grands Crus who followed-up his Cheltenham success in even more facile fashion under a 6lbs penalty.

I remember going travelling over to the French sales at Saint-Cloud a couple of years ago with Roger Stanley (part owner of Grands Crus) and he helped to pick out the grey son of Dom Alco as an unraced three year old.

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As usual, The Open Meeting at Cheltenham provided three days of top class racing and our horses ran very well.   Grands Crus was an impressive winner of the 2m5f Intermediate handicap hurdle on Sunday, while we also had a number of others finish in the frame including Swing Bill, Dynaste and Junior, while Peut Etre Sivola followed up last year’s success in Fontwell’s Southern National under Johnny Farrelly.

Grands Crus became the first Cheltenham winner for his owners Roger Stanley and Yvonne Reynolds and I couldn’t be happier for them. They have been tremendous supporters of the yard for many years now and they look to have another nice horse to look forward to. He is entered again at Haydock on Saturday and could well run there under a 6lbs penalty for his Cheltenham success. It is a valuable race, so we will see how he is over the next few days before deciding what to do with him.

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DEP__Comply

It’s been an exciting culmination to the flat season with the Breeder’s Cup taking place over in America, while on these shores we had a photo finish in the jockey’s title with Paul Hanagan just edging out Richard Hughes by 191-189. It is a shame that anybody had to lose the jockey’s championship – these guys have put in an awful lot of effort and it will have taken plenty out of them physically (especially Richard Hughes who has to waste a lot harder to do these weights owing to his height) as well as leaving them mentally exhausted.

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David_Halloween

It’s been a busy old week, and I was thrilled when Massini’s Maguire topped it all off with a fantastic performance to land the Listed United House Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot on Saturday. It was a really gutsy effort from him to rally on the run-in when joined, and he is a lovely horse to have in the yard and I must thank owner Alan Peterson for sending him to us. Alan enjoyed a day to remember as he completed an across the card double when his Fair Along scored at Wetherby.

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DEP_Aintree3

As Chester has already alluded to, I will be up at the Newmarket Horses In Training Sales all week looking for some potential jumps stars of the future.  It is a hectic time, with plenty of preparation to be done before the start of the auctions - going through the catalogues, looking up form, pedigrees etc for nearly 1600 horses in order to make an informed choice.  We purchased four horses at last year's sales and have so far been successful with three of those, so that is not a bad strike rate.  I will be at the sales every day, but am always available to speak with regard to prospective purchases.

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It was good to be back at Cheltenham for the new season with their Showcase Meeting on Friday and Saturday. We had a number of runners that performed with credit without quite getting their heads in front. Swing Bill (2nd in the handicap chase), Raslan and Battle Group (3rd & 4th in the handicap hurdle) all ran well to reach the frame.

On Sunday Woodlark Island scored his first chase success at Kempton with a well deserved and battling ¾ length victory over Cortinas. He showed a really willing attitude and has been a star for connections. Incidentally, it was the first time that that both William and Robert who form the Eminence Grise Partnership have both been to the races together in five years! They had quite a few guests with them and I believe the celebrations went on well into the night. If this is the result when they go racing together, I am going to have to arrange for it too happen a little more often!

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Above: Racing Post photographer Ed Whittaker gets in among the action on the gallops

Welcome to my second update to www.davidpipe.com.  I hope that you like what you have seen of the website so far, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write to us with your thoughts - I am pleased to say that the feedback seems to be resoundingly positive, as was the Racing Post review of the site on Sunday.

Talking of the Racing Post, we have had a few visits from their personnel recently - firstly, we were joined by their award-winning photographer Ed Whittaker...I have never seen anyone get so up-close and personal with their work (see the picture above if you don't believe me)!  I am of course only joking, Ed wasn't lying in the middle of the gallops with the horses running either side of him, this was a picture we "photoshopped" and presented to him on the day. 

Ben Newton has also been down with his huge binoculars (I think they are called "bins" as they are probably the same size as a couple of household dustbins) to conduct his annual stable tour which should be appearing in the Racing Post shortly.  Lucy joined him with her video camera, and hopefully we will be able to bring you the video tour in our media vault soon.

The National Hunt season stepped up a gear last weekend, and consequently the media interest in the yard has also stepped up a notch.  My weekly column with the Daily Mirror will begin again this weekend, so doubtless I will be speaking with that legendary wordsmith and literary laureate Dave Mitchell in the next few days with all the latest news from Pond House - you have been warned!

On the racing front we have had a few near misses over the last few days, with Armenian Boy, Jazz Age, Dynaste and Woodlark Island all running creditably to reach the frame without actually getting their heads in front.  Hopefully that will all change soon, and I am looking forward to the return of racing at Cheltenham this weekend for their "Showcase Meeting".

Finally, we are always pleased to hear how our old inmates are doing in their retirement, and I was delighted to learn that Fast Mix had made it through to the final twelve at the Horse of the Year show in the retraining of racehorses class.  I saw him at the Honiton show earlier in the year and he looked magnificent - he is a credit to his connections and it is good to see him enjoying life after racing.