Lady Balko Hereford Winner

Lady Balko was an impressive winner at Hereford on Valentine ’s Day for her owners the Micro Managers and she runs again at Taunton on Tuesday.  She has improved with her two runs in handicap company and was a good second on her penultimate start to an improving rival at Leicester and it was nice she got her first win last week.  She won by 19 lengths and we know the handicapper is going to put her up by more than seven pounds which is why we are running her quite quickly again with a penalty.  She steps up in trip slightly tomorrow to 2m7f which will not inconvenience her, having won an Irish point to point earlier in her career.  She faces four rivals and I hope she will win again.

Our runners last week resulted in three second places as well with Kingofthewest, Activist and Royal Mer all running well and filling the runner up spot.  The weather continues to play its part and the rain continues to fall!  We have had over 135mm here at Pond House so far in February and although today is dry and a little sunny there looks to be a fair amount of rain forecast later in the week!  Would you believe, last February we only had 14.5mm of rain!  January 2023 was wet but February was dry and this time it has literally be quite wet since September of last year,  with over 100mm rain each month since then and so no wonder the ground is so saturated. 

This Week

The week ahead looks fairly quiet on the runner’s front with a lot of the horses wanting a bit better ground than what most places are predicting.  It is even heavy at Taunton where the going is usually better than most places!  I was planning to have more runners than I have at the meeting but when it came to declaration time then I change my mind because of the ground.  There are no runners for the stable of Wednesday but Moodofthemoment could got to Lingfield on Thursday, he will not mind the testing conditions.  We have a few entries at Exeter on Friday but keep checking the Daily News for the latest information on the stable runners.

Sidi Ismael has an entry in the Devon National at Exeter on Friday but we have also confirmed him for the Eider Chase at Newcastle on Saturday.  I will keep an eye on what the weather does and have a chat to his owners before deciding whether to travel up North!  Thanksforthehelp will hopefully have his first run on the season at Chepstow on Saturday.  He is entered in the Pertemps handicap hurdle, the race which he won last season.  We have had a few little niggles with him which is why he has not run yet this season but he is now in good form and while the original plane was to go chasing, that has been postponed until next autumn so hopefully he can run well in this race again.

Jamie Moore Retirement

We of course all heard the news last week that Jamie Moore was retiring from the saddle on medical grounds.  He was a great jockey and he started off his career at Pond House, beginning work in September 2002 as a young, fresh faced 17 year old.  He was a huge part of our team for the 2½ years he was with us and it was a pleasure to have him in the yard.  He was always early to work and a very conscientious hard worker.  He was a great asset on the gallops, schooling and race riding.  He was an extremely well-mannered young man who was a great credit to his family back then and despite all is own achievements he was most proud when sister Hayley rode her first winner!  He was a great character at home and had a wicked sense of humour and his riding record then speaks for itself.  He was champion conditional in 2004 and won his first Graded race aboard Well Chief in the Elite hurdle at Wincanton for dad and his first Grade 1 winner was It Takes Time who he rode to victory in the Ascot Chase in February 2005.  He most successful season winners wise was while he was at Pond House in the 2021/22 season when he rode 80 winners.  He had some pretty bad injuries when back with us which included breaking his back in a fall at Newton Abbot.  I know he is a little gutted not to have reached 1000 career winners but he finished on 968 which is still an incredible achievement and he bows out in one piece after a 23 year career the most important thing.  I am sure we will be seeing him still heavily involved in racing for many years to come and I would like to wish him all the best for the future.

             A Young Jamie Moore!  

Merv Woodward – Sad News

Many local people who read my column will know of Merv Woodward who rides out for us every day and has been for several years.  Merv sadly lost is wife Liz on Saturday unexpectedly and she was very well known in the area teaching many of the young kids to ride.  Our thoughts and best wishes are with Merv and their young son Oliver at this time as we do everything we can to support them.