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Nordic Combined runs at Cheltenham on Wednesday for the David Pipe Racing Club
(picture courtesy of Kay Hornbrook)

What an exhilarating week of racing with the Aintree Grand National Festival producing some thrilling finishes and a historic winner of the big race on Saturday.  We only had four runners at the meeting and whilst we drew a blank, there were some good performances nonetheless.  With Liverpool now in the rear view mirror things will start to wind down as we head into the closing two weeks of the season.

All of last week’s runners came at Aintree and we kicked off with contenders in the first two Grade One races on the card.  Umbrigado eventually finished unplace in the Manifesto novices’ chase over 2m4f.  He jumped a little to the right throughout but was still well in touch (and upsides the winner) three out but couldn’t go with the leaders after a mistake at the penultimate fence.  He is a high-class and progressive novice who has had an excellent season and he will be an exciting one to look forward to next term and beyond.

Adagio ran another mighty race to finish second in the Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle following his Triumph Hurdle effort at the Cheltenham Festival.  He travelled menacingly into contention before making an absolute mess of the last.  The winner, Monmiral is clearly a very good horse and may well have won anyway, but we would certainly have been closer but for that mistake.  Even so, Adagio has had a tremendous first season over hurdles, winning a Grade One and finishing runner-up in two others.  Not bad when you consider he was contesting claimers on the flat as recently as August!

Leoncavallo ran another solid race when fourth in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle over two miles on Friday.  Prominent throughout, he held every chance but could not quicken in the closing stages.  A tough as teak nine year old, he gets little respite from the handicapper as he does not know how to run a bad race.  He doesn’t mind the prevailing quicker ground so there will be opportunities for him over hurdles or back on the flat over the coming months.

Vieux Lion Rouge was our final runner last week, contesting his fifth Grand National on Saturday.  He was in the process of running a lovely race under Conor O’Farrell when they took an uncharacteristic fall at the 20th fence.  It is a great shame as he was bang in touch and travelling nicely at the time and brings to an end his amazing record over these unique fences with 242 successfully negotiated without incident.  I am pleased to report that he has come back safe and sound which of course, is the most important thing.

Congratulations Rachael

It should not matter one jot if you are a man or woman in racing and Rachael Blackmore has hopefully put the myth that it does to bed once and for all with her season for the ages.  Leading jockey at Cheltenham last month, she put the icing on the cake with her remarkable success in the Grand National on Saturday aboard Minella Times, in the process becoming the first woman to ever win the great race in its 182 year history.

She has put proven that with hard work, dedication and talent anything is possible and has brought racing into the spotlight for all the right reasons and hopefully inspired a whole generation of youngsters looking to get into the sport.  Congratulations to her and the whole team associated with Minella Times on their fantastic success.

The Week Ahead

Looking at this week we will have a few runners, including two at Newton Abbot tomorrow.  Home Farm House, the winner of an Irish point-to-point showed promise in a jumpers bumper on the all-weather and can pick up races over timber.  She runs in the mares’ maiden hurdle whilst Shoot To Fame contests the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle later on the card.   She was not beaten at all far at Taunton last time and is another 3lbs lower tomorrow.

We run Nordic Combined (pictured above) for the David Pipe Racing Club at Cheltenham on Wednesday in the 2m1f conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle.  He ran a great race to finish second in the valuable two mile Challenger series final at Haydock last time and was in the process of running a big race at the track when badly hampered at the last in December.  He is sure to give the members plenty of excitement and it is great that a handful of them will be allowed back on the track.

Sexy Lot holds a couple of engagements on the mares’ card at Cheltenham on Thursday.  Our progressive five year old won the mares’ Challenger final at Haydock last time on good/soft ground and had earlier been winning in the mud.  The ground at Cheltenham is currently faster still so we will take a look at that before committing.  As usual, keep up-to-date with all the latest developments from the stable by visiting the daily news page of my website.

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