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What a wonderful week of racing we enjoyed throughout Royal Ascot. There were some fantastic performances especially from the milers – Canford Cliffs was magnificent while Goldikova was as brave and gutsy as ever and while we may not have seen the best of Frankel, his unbeaten run now stretches to seven. It would be marvellous if we were treated to a showdown between Canford Cliffs and Frankel in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Junior was the sole representative from Pond House when he competed in the Ascot Stakes (a race that he won in decisive fashion in 2010). Sadly he wasn’t able to follow-up that success, coming home ninth under former champion jockey Ryan Moore. A combination of a 10lbs rise in the weights, not being allowed an uncontested lead and the rain softened ground all played their part. Even so, he has had an amazing twelve months, culminating in Cheltenham Festival success and he will very soon be enjoying a thoroughly well-earned rest.

I am pleased to inform you that our two runners in France on Saturday have both returned home safe and well following their exertions. While a winner sixteen times at Auteuil, Or Noir de Somoza never really looked that happy over these unique fences and it was always going to be a tough task switching from Aintree’s Grand National fences to the park fences of Fairyhouse for the Irish National and then onto Auteuil’s cross-country style fences. He remains a high class horse and I am sure there will be other days for him.

Grands Crus took in the feature race of the day (the French Champion Hurdle) and he finished sixth under Tony McCoy behind Irish challenger Thousand Stars. The race wasn’t run to suit our six year old with the early pace being extremely pedestrian and I think that Grands Crus pulled the hardest that I have ever seen him, running with the choke out for the whole contest. He cut through the pack to hold every chance turning in before his challenge flattened out approaching the last. He is another that will be enjoying a nice rest during the coming months – let’s just hope that he gets to enjoy a bit of sunshine!

It is worth reiterating the point about prize money in France compared to England. When Grands Crus made his seasonal debut when bolting up in an intermediate handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting in November he picked up just over £12,500. Compare that with the racing at Auteuil on Saturday and he won connections over £11,000 for finishing sixth! Frankly there is no comparison, and I am sure that there will be many more British trainers looking further afield in the near future unless something is done to improve funding on these shores.

Bold_Perk_500th_winnerWe finished the week on a high note and a milestone personal achievement for me when Bold Perk (pictured right with myself and winning owner Eddie Rice) won the handicap chase at Hereford on Sunday. This marked my 500th winner under rules (that is including my Punchestown winner Street Entertainer) and I am delighted to have reached this landmark after only five full seasons with a training licence. I have beaten my father to that mark by nine years and will take great pleasure in reminding him! Bold Perk won in great style on his debut for the yard and I envisage him turning out again shortly (probably at Uttoxeter on Sunday before a possible trip to Perth) in a bid to follow-up before the handicapper can have his say.

While it is looking like a quiet week on the runners’ front, (although we could be represented on the course at Worcester on Wednesday and Ffos Las on Thursday), there is plenty of good sporting action …weather permitting of course! I always like to keep an eye on the cricket and we have the concluding test match between England and Sri Lanka, while Wimbledon also gets underway this week. With the Glastonbury Festival also taking place you can almost guarantee that it is going to be a wet week!

Next week I will be travelling back across the Channel again in order to attend the Saint Cloud sales. It was here that we bought Grands Crus as an unraced three year old and I will be hoping to pick-up more stars of the future then…if you would be interested in purchasing a horse, please feel free to contact me for a no-obligation chat about your requirements.