Entries & Recent Form

Last week was a busy one for the stable, especially the weekend where we had fourteen runners across the four jumps meetings and it was good to be back among the winners with three successes courtesy of Gwencily Berbas, Sidi Ismael and Brinkley taking our seasonal tally to 17.  With plenty of other notable efforts, the horses continue to go well and I hope to be able to build on this momentum going forward.

There was a quiet start to the week, with our first racecourse runners not coming until Thursday, but they came thick and fast after that.  D’Jango made a satisfactory first start for the yard when finishing fourth in the 3m1f handicap chase at Wincanton.  A former French Grand National winner, he was a little sketchy at a few of his fences, but will certainly be wiser for the experience.  He kept up to his task well on ground that was faster than ideal for him.

Bashful Boy was another to run a promising first race for the stable when third in the 1m7f handicap hurdle on the same card.  In a race where few ever managed to get into things, he kept on in determined fashion and was unlucky to be denied second in the dying strides.  He looks more than capable of winning something similar.

Gwencily Great

Gwencily Berbas rolled back the years in the 3m6f handicap chase at Exeter on Friday.  Our ten year old had run well to fill the places on his three starts since joining the Pond House team and fully deserved to get his head in front again.  This was his first try at this sort of trip and in a race run at a fast pace, he saw it out very well under a very cool ride from Tom Scudamore.  This was a much improved effort and we will have to find similar races for him where stamina is at a premium.

Onto Saturday, where we had a bevy of runners (fourteen to be precise) at all of the jumps meetings.  The logistics in getting all of those horses to the races would certainly raise an eyebrow and I have my excellent team to thank for that.

Sidi Follows-Up

Sidi Ismael ran out a ready winner of the novices’ handicap chase at Wetherby on his first start over fences under a good ride from Charlie Hammond.  We purchased him from the Doncaster Sales in May and he is looking terrific value having taken his record for the stable to two wins from two runs.  Clearly on an upward curve, he has the build of a chaser and I hope he can continue to progress.

Grangeclare Glory ran better than the bare result would suggest in the 3m handicap hurdle at Aintree.  He travelled like the best horse for much of the race until clearly not getting home on the rain-softened ground.  His previous form at Ascot had been franked in no uncertain terms and we will look to drop him back in trip next time.  You may have noticed that he ran in the colours of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as he has generously been leased to the Friends Of Ebony Horse Club by Professor Caroline Tisdall to encourage people from inner city underprivileged backgrounds into the sport.

Dell’ Arca ran another cracking race to finish second in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Chepstow, just being worn down by an improving type close home.  It is hard to believe that our evergreen veteran turns a teenager in a few weeks’ time, he certainly does not act like it and there are more races to be won with him based on this evidence.

Gericault Roque was only narrowly beaten in the novices’ limited handicap chase at Chepstow on his first try at 2m7½f.  Doing all of his best work in the closing stages, the line came just a bit too soon for him as he finished runner-up, beaten only ½ length.  Even so, this was a good effort in only his second start over fences and only a five year old; he remains a staying chaser of considerable potential.

Seventeen O Four ran a massive race on his hurdling debut in the novices’ contest at Chepstow, finishing fourth behind some useful types.  A dual winner on the flat last season, I was mystified by his performance on the level at Newbury in October, but this was much more like it.  With this experience under his belt, he should have little problem winning over timber.  Pachacuti was another to run with promise on the card, shaping well in fourth in the bumper, a race that looks sure to produce plenty of winners.  This was his first racecourse appearance, he will have learned a great deal for the experience and we will go hurdling with him now.

We were out of luck in the Becher Chase.  El Paso Wood got no further than the second, whilst Via Dolorosa was left with nowhere to go when one fell in front of him at the twelfth fence, hampering him and unseating David Noonan.  He had gone well until that point.  The same fate unfortunately befell Vieux Lion Rouge, although I am pleased to report that all of the horses returned safe and sound.

Brilliant Brinkley

Our final runner of the week was Brinkley, who made a successful chasing debut at Huntingdon on Sunday.  Although there was only a small field, there were some decent types in opposition, but Brinkley saw them off in tenacious fashion.  They did get racing a long way out and having made most of the running, I was a little worried when he was headed three from home.  He fought back bravely however and was soon back in control and always doing enough to hold off the runner-up.  His jumping was very good on the whole for his first start over fences.  He will be even better suited to a more galloping track and softer ground, so this rates a very promising performance from this exciting prospect.

The Week Ahead

Looking to this week and we have four runners at Uttoxeter tomorrow.  Miss M represents the David Pipe Racing Club in the mares’ handicap hurdle, whilst ex-French winner Kalzari runs in the 2m handicap hurdle.  Red Lion Lad, a former winning Irish point-to-pointer tackles a longer trip and fences for the first time in the 2m6½f handicap chase.  A nice, big chasing type, I am looking forward to seeing how he gets on over the larger obstacles.  Highlander Madrik makes his return from a lay-off in the maiden hurdle.

Induno runs in the 2m3½f handicap hurdle at Lingfield on Wednesday.  He ran well on his first start for a year at Chepstow last month and should go well once again, especially on the forecast softer ground.

We have plenty of entries at Warwick and Taunton on Thursday with Itacare and Do Ya Feel Lucky among the likely runners at our local track.

Friday could be another busy one with entries at Bangor, Doncaster and Cheltenham, whilst on Saturday, useful flat performers Kolisi and Titian are entered in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham (as well as the Grade 2 at Doncaster).  Siruh du Lac is a likely runner in the Racing Post Gold Cup and Adagio (pictured top) is engaged in the International Hurdle and the plan is for him to run there.

Horserace Writers Awards

Finally, I am at Horserace Writers Awards in London today with Gerry Supple and I must thank our host, Mike Vince for inviting us along once again.  It is a great event and a date that is long circled in the calendar.

Talking of awards, I am off to another bash on Thursday, this time organised by the Racehorse Owners Association.  I am honoured to have a couple of nominations as both Vieux Lion Rouge and Main Fact are nominated in the Special Achievement category…fingers crossed!

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