Entries & Recent Form

With another dry and mild spell, the ground at many of the tracks remains unsuitable for a lot of our winter horses, despite a number of courses taking the precaution of artificially watering.  Consequently, we only had a few runners last week, but there were some very good performances nonetheless with Leoncavallo in particular, excelling himself in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on Saturday.

Cavallo Runs A Cracker!

Our popular nine year old is the flagship horse of the Value Racing Club, an excellent syndicate run by James Couldwell and they can be well pleased with their gelding.  A versatile performer, he has won on the flat, over hurdles and fences and has taken them to all of the big festivals and run well at each one.  He didn’t let the side down at Ffos Las on Saturday on his seasonal reappearance.

Racing prominently throughout, he was sent on early in the straight and looked to have a good chance until ploughing through the penultimate hurdle.  He still led approaching the last and was only headed for second close home but this was another good effort nonetheless, conceding weight to the pair in front of him.  He continues to pay for his consistency with the handicapper who gives him little respite.  He certainly deserves to get his head in front in a nice race this season.

Umbrigado was in the process of staying on when a bad mistake at the third last did nothing for his chances.  A high-class horse, who took well to fences last season, he is entitled to improve for this first start since April and he could mix and match between hurdles and fences this season.

Earlier in the week, Ocean Heights confirmed the promise of his debut effort on the flat at Lingfield by finishing second over 1m3f at Kempton on Monday.  Making most of the running, he was only headed once drifting off the rail entering the straight, but he kept on in good style all the way to the line to chase home the odds-on favourite.  The last time the pair went through auction, Ocean Heights cost £399,000 less than the winner, so he is looking a good value buy on that basis!  A bumper winner for previous connections, he will mix hurdling with the flat and looks to be a nice dual-purpose prospect for connections.

The Week Ahead

I am very much looking forward to the season opener at Cheltenham which gets underway this Friday.  It is great to be back at the home of jump racing, although I am hoping the forecast rain materialises in the interim.

Before that though, we kick-off with a couple of runners at Exeter tomorrow (Tuesday) where the ground is currently good/firm.  Fortunately, our representatives, Oneonechop and Story Of Friends won’t mind that at all.  Oneonechop contests the amateur riders’ handicap hurdle.  He has filled the frame a number of times this term without managing to get his head in front but he has a nice racing weight and the assistance of Jo Supple in the saddle.

Story Of Friends runs in the staying handicap hurdle at 2.05pm.  A good second from a 5lbs higher mark on his seasonal debut, he has been a little disappointing since, but has the ability to get involved with Fergus Gillard taking 3lbs off his back.

On Wednesday we run Mr Tambourine Man and Nabvutika at Worcester.  Mr Tambourine Man contests the Fixed Brush hurdle series final.  It is a competitive race, but organisers have put up some excellent prize money for the grade, so it is well worth taking our chance.  Nabvutika runs in the mares’ novices’ hurdle on the same card, but would need to improve on her sole hurdle outing to date to figure.

We have plenty of entries at Newton Abbot on Thursday, including the likes of Paricolor who was five times a winner for us last season and our first winner of the current campaign.  Siruh du Lac, who was a non-runner at Wetherby on account of the unsuitable ground, is entered at the Devon track as well as at Cheltenham, whilst Dellaway, from the family of Dell’ Arca, could contest the bumper.

Gericault Roque and Elan de Balme hold entries at Cheltenham on Friday (along with Siruh du Lac), whilst Nordic Combined and Panic Attack are engaged at the Prestbury track on Saturday.

Julie’s Big Day!

On Sunday, popular veteran Dell’ Arca could bid for a repeat in the race he won at Aintree last season, whilst Gwencily Berbas is also entered there.  Grangeclare Glory, a winner last time out at Newton Abbot is entered at Wincanton where it will be a big day for groom/work rider, Julie Bellamy who will be competing in the charity race at the track at 11am.  Julie (pictured right, courtesy of Katie Macey) has worked at Pond House for 34 years and has looked after some smashing horses including Cyphrate and Vieux Lion Rouge.  She will be partnering the David Pipe Racing Club’s mare, Miss M in aid of Racing Welfare.  If you would like to help her with her fundraising, you can do so by donating to her Just Giving page, the link for which is below…


Fergus’ Horse To Follow

Finally, it is the turn of conditional jockey, Fergus Gillard to give us his horse to follow for the season ahead.  Broadcaster Mike Vince caught up with him for our popular section and spoke with him about his hopes for the season ahead.  You can view the video by clicking on the following image…

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