Entries & Recent Form

Breaking news folks…there are only 358 days left until the Cheltenham Festival!  Seriously though, it is hard to believe that the 2012 Festival has been and gone and we have some good performances to look back on, as well as a Cheltenham winner that takes my overall Festival tally to eight.  Salut Flo was of course the highlight of the week for us when landing the Byrne Group Chase in good style – fortunately he also helped with my credibility as he was considered my “banker” of the meeting (if there can ever be such a thing as a banker at the pinnacle of jumps racing!).

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Well, the waiting is nearly over and the 2012 Cheltenham Festival is now less than 24 hours away.  One of the questions that has been on everyone’s lips, is which race does Grands Crus go for?  Well, I am pleased to announce that after weeks of careful deliberation and consultation with his owner, he will go for the RSA Novices’ Chase on the Wednesday.

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We are down to the last week before the Cheltenham Festival and the winners continue to flow from the yard and I was thrilled with the victories of Poole Master and Balgarry last week.  Both could be lively contenders at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

Poole Master stretched his unbeaten run this season to three with an impressive success under a double penalty at Newbury on Friday in the hands of regular rider Chris Honour.  The step up in trip certainly seemed to suit him well and he will run next at the Cheltenham Festival where he has multiple engagements, although the Coral Cup is looking most likely at this stage.

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How much excitement can one man take?  I don’t mind telling you my nerves are just about shot and I’m not sleeping very much either!  Not only is it only a fortnight to Cheltenham, but today is D-day, or to put it another way - the due date of my second child.  Leanne is calm and relaxed about the whole thing as ever, so why am I the one having the sleepless nights?!  I will of course let you know what we have after we have greeted the new arrival to our family.

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Looking back, it was another good week with a handful of winners and many other notable performances.  I was given the best possible Valentine’s present when The Tracey Shuffle bolted up at Ayr on Tuesday making the long trip up to Scotland worthwhile.  Sadly I was not able to witness it first hand as I was at the Grand National weights luncheon, although I understand Racegoers were treated to a demonstration of the Tracey Shuffle by winning owner Sean Tracey.  I am sure that it would have been worth the cost of admission alone and it could become one of those dance crazes like the moonwalk!

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Unfortunately it has been a quiet week on the racing front and there seemed to be more poignant news than usual, notably the sad passing of legendary Grand National winning trainer Josh Gifford as well as our own inmate, Bobby Ewing.

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                       Junior 

Well thankfully temperatures have risen markedly at Pond House over the weekend and I hope we get a clear run of things with the racing this week.  Having said that Sedgefield and Market Rasen are off tomorrow and we are waiting to hear about Carlisle on Wednesday.  I do think at least our closest track, Taunton will go ahead on Thursday which will be good.  It was minus 8c at 7.30am on Friday morning, the coldest of the winter so far.  It did snow on Saturday morning but then things warmed up fairly quickly and we had rain in the afternoon.  I would just like to pay a special mention to the whole team at Pond House for all their hard work, particularly over the last few days.  Although we are quite lucky compared to several places the weather does make things extra hard work.  All the normal jobs still have to be done but extra things like water buckets being topped up and ice free need to be done as the drinkers are frozen and have to be taken care of.  Thanks to everyone's efforts the gallops were kept open and the horses did not miss out on any work.

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Winner 67 of the season - Quinte Du Chatelet

Notus De La Tour returned home from Ireland in the early hours of the morning and I am pleased to report he seems fine and was in good form when I fed him his breakfast!  He ran another fine race in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown yesterday and Robbie Power gave him another great ride but we (an the rest of the field) were no match for the very impressive winner, Flemenstar.  It is reported the winner will not be heading to Cheltenham in March but wherever he does turn out it will take a very good horse to beat him.  The ultra consistent Notus De La Tour will now head straight to the Festival but is exact target has yet to be decided it maybe either the Jewson novice’s chase or the Byrne Group chase.  I would once again like to express our sincere thanks to Leopardstown racecourse for looking after our owners and staff so well once again as everyone enjoyed a brilliant day.  We picked up a nice little bit of prize money for finishing third and I am sure we will be travelling back across the Irish sea again very soon.

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After speaking with the owners, we have decided not to run Grands Crus at Cheltenham on Saturday.  We didn’t want to give him a hard race with March just around the corner.  He may run at Newbury in a three mile novices’ chase on 11th February or could go straight to the Festival.  A decision on which race he will take in at the Cheltenham Festival is still to be decided and will not be made until much nearer the time.

Exciting hurdler Dynaste runs in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham this Saturday.

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Kazlian_Leicester_100112webI was very pleased with the success of Kazlian (pictured above) at Leicester last Tuesday afternoon when easily landing the novices’ hurdle under a penalty.  Tom Scu sent our four year old on at the penultimate hurdle and he won as he pleased from High On A Hill.  The bare form of the race is difficult to assess – the runner-up, while useful on the flat had run poorly on his only previous start over timber, while second favourite Tuscan Gold was clearly below form.  Even so, he was very impressive and his jumping has improved with each start – he is clearly on the upgrade and his next target will be governed by what the handicapper decides to do with him, although I would imagine that he will eventually be contesting one of the novices’ hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

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