Entries & Recent Form

We signed off the 2011/12 campaign with the likes of Dan Breen and Arab League running respectably at Sandown on Saturday, but it was Diamond’s Return who provided our 101st winner of the season when completing a quick-fire double the day before at Plumpton on Friday 27th April.  He had won in fine style at Wincanton the previous Sunday and followed-up with the minimum of fuss under Conor O’Farrell.  I am sure he will hold a fond place in Conor’s heart for some time as he was his last winner as a conditional jockey and his first as a fully-fledged professional.

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Roi De Rose Enjoying Victory Apples!

What a great weekend as we reached 100 winners for the season on Sunday courtesy of Diamonds Return winning at Wincanton on Sunday. Conor O’Farrell was riding the eight year old who is owned by his father and it was a momentous occasion as this was Conor’s 75th career winner which means he has ridden out his claim and is now a fully fledged professional jockey! Conor has been a great asset to the yard over the past two seasons, claiming a handy few pounds off several horses in different races with some notable winners. It is always difficult for jockeys once they have lost their claim but I am sure he will continue to great success in the future as he is a very talented rider who will continue to ride many horses at Pond House. We had started the weekend on the 97 winner mark and we nearly made it 98 with the first runner of the day on Saturday, Enfant De Lune in the opening race at Ayr. Frank Hayes gave our recent Ffos Las winner a great ride and in a driving finish in what has a hands and heels only race,we were just beaten into second by a neck.  

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It was nice to have a few more winners last week and I have been particularly pleased with the way in which the horses have held their form this season, producing a steady stream of winners.  As I write, our seasonal tally stands at 96 with another eleven days of the current campaign remaining.

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I guess this is the calm before the storm…there is no jumping this afternoon or tomorrow, before Aintree’s Grand National meeting kicks off the National Hunt action again on Thursday.  We will have a small but select team heading up to Liverpool that will include the likes of Battle Group who was successful at the meeting twelve months ago, dual Cheltenham Festival hero Buena Vista, the highly promising Our Father, Big Occasion and Matuhi who will run in the Topham Chase as well as our Grand National runners Junior and Swing Bill.

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With just under four weeks of the season remaining, we find ourself on the 91 winner mark thanks to the successes of Arab League, Weekend Millionair and Roi de Rose last week.    As I stated then, I would be very satisfied if we could reach 100 winners for the campaign, especially when you consider just how competitive the sport is these days.  It is entirely conceivable that there could be six trainers who send out a hundred winners this season, and I certainly don’t recall the last time that happened!

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Although we had a few runners, last week seemed rather surreal following the chaos that is the Cheltenham Festival!  It certainly wasn’t as busy, with runners at only Exeter and Newbury but I am pleased that it proved to be a productive one with another four winners to add to the tally.

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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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