Activist - Twice a Winner Last Week

Activist won for the first time over hurdles at Plumpton on Monday and followed up with his second win at Taunton last Thursday!  He won nicely at the Sussex track and we didn’t have strong intentions of running him again quickly but declared him to run and thought we would see how he was.  My wife, Leanne rides him every day and after a day off on Tuesday she gave him a little canter on Wednesday and said he was ‘bouncing’!  The Taunton race had divided and we checked with the handicapper what he was doing with him for the win and he said he was putting him up six. 

We were running with a seven pound penalty so technically were one pound ‘wrong’ but sometimes you just have to listen to the horses and what they tell you.  He didn’t leave a nut and scrap of hay after Plumpton and so after discussing things with owner Lynne Maclennan we decided to let him run and good job we did!  The race looked winnable, he seemed so happy and the fact that Taunton is less than 30 mins down the road were all contributing factors towards our decision.  The race at Taunton was over slightly further than at Plumpton and because of this they went half a stride slower, he looked to be enjoying it and had the race in safe keeping a long way from home for a smooth and easy success.  He was home in his stable eating his tea by 5pm and again seems to have come out of the race in good form.  We have made further entries for him at Ayr and Exeter on Friday and we will again see how he is this week before deciding about running plans.  He will have to carry a double penalty this time around but with the handicapper going to put him up 18 pounds to a mark of 105, he will still be four pounds ‘well in’. 


Activist won the first division of the novices handicap hurdle at Taunton and we followed up in division two with Johannes who was winning for the first time over hurdles.  Our four year old was the winner of a French flat race but had been a little disappointing in three hurdle races so far.  This was his first try in a handicap over a slightly longer trip and he bounced right back to form.  Four year olds get a healthy weight allowance against their elders at this time of year and despite perhaps one moment of worry mid-way down the far side when he momentarily came off the bridle he put is a lovely display and won comfortably against a well touted rival.  He is going up six pounds for the win but we aren’t in any rush to run him again and he will improve further in time for a bit better ground.

In between Plumpton and Taunton we also had a nice winner at Wincanton thanks to Pachacuti winning for the first time over fences.  He was previously a good second at Ffos Las and that form has been working out well so it was brilliant for him to get his first win over the larger obstacles.  He is a horse that has always promised so much at home but he has taken a little while to grow into his nice big frame.  He jumps well and is still improving as a staying chaser.  We may well look at something like the West Wales National at Ffos Las at the end of the month for him.

As we know with horses there are always ups and downs and unfortunately Kingofthewest picked up a nasty injury at Taunton.  He fell rather uncharacteristically at the third fence and then continued to go with the horses in the race all the way round and jump most of the fences.  He initially seemed to be fine but was then found to be very lame in the racecourse stables a little later in the afternoon.  Subsequent investigations found him to have fractured his knee.  He is home and on box rest and fingers crossed he will make a fully recovery.

This Week

The weather continues to be very wet and despite entries early this week we now do not have any runners until Fontwell on Wednesday.  Worldwide Fury will make his stable debut in the bumper on the card having won an Irish point to point before we got him.  He was due to run at Ffos Las last week but that got abandoned and fingers crossed racing at Fontwell with go ahead.  Things get a little busier towards the end of the week with entries at Carlisle and Wincanton on Thursday and three meeting on Friday at Ayr, Exeter and Leicester.  At the weekend we also have entries at Ayr, Hereford and Warwick so keeping checking the Daily News for the latest information on the stable runners.

February Weather Watch

So I mentioned the weather last week but now that we are in March I can conclude that with just over 205mm of rain falling in the 29 days on February that does officially make it the wettest February of March we have ever recorded!  We did have 192mm at Pond House back in February 2014 but even that was pretty high compared to most years!  I make it the second wettest month on our records behind November of 2022 when 211mm fell but they are the only months to have passed the 200mm barrier in over 20 years of records.  March has started wet but I do believe that it is supposed to be a little drier in the coming days so fingers crossed!

Upcoming Funerals

It has been sad times of late in the racing world and also with more local connections to Pond House.  The funeral of young jockey and Paul Nicholls employee Keagan Kirkby takes place on Tuesday 5th March and the funeral procession will be headed by his favourite horse, Highland Hunter.  While no longer trained at Ditcheat, the horse won at Newbury on Saturday and it was a poignant success for everyone involved. 

Next Monday 11th March is the funeral of Liz Allsop, who passed away very suddenly recently at the age of just 45.  Liz was long term partner of Merv Woodward who rides out at Pond House and the funeral will be at Kentisbeare church at 1pm and if attending, people are asked to please wear bright colours.

I also have sad news regarding a neighbour of Pond House, a young girl named Harper who passed away last week following a long battle will illness.  For those of you that visited the yard for either our Owners Day, Racing Club Day or indeed the National Racehorse Week open morning last September, you may remember that we raised money through raffles to support Harper’s fight against a brain tumour.  Our thoughts are with Harper’s family at this sad time.

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is just over a week away and while we are likely to just have a couple of runners this year, I shall be at Prestbury Park every day as we host guests every day in our marquee.  We do have a few spaces and tickets still available on the Thursday and Friday so if you have any interest in joining us please do get in touch with the office – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.