Christmas Wishes from Pond House

It has been a frustrating week since last writing with the weather wiping out all the jumps racing and therefore any runners from Pond House. I read an article in the Racing Post with Gary Moore venting his frustrations on the jumps season so far, saying it has been one of the most difficult since he first took out his licence in 1993. They, like us are having a good season on the winner’s front but the weather is just making everything difficult. We have had such a dry winter so far and then the frost has caused so many abandoned fixtures it is difficult for everyone involved. The work continues at home but it has been very difficult to make too many plans with so many question marks caused by the weather.

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           Jilaijone Winner at Fontwell

It was a quiet week on the runner’s front due to the weather but I was delighted to get one winner from our runners since last writing. Jilaijone won on stable debut at Fontwell for owner Sam Sutton. Sam claimed his three year old after he finished third at Angouleme over hurdles on only his second race of his life and what a buy he was for 11,000 Euros!! He is not the biggest but I don’t mind that as he has plenty of ability and a good attitude. He settled in well since day one and had done everything we had asked of him but I have to admit I travelled to Fontwell last Tuesday thinking we had it all to do in a tough race but I hoped we would be placed. How wrong was I!! On paper it looked a good juvenile contest with our rivals having both a higher level of form and prices tags to varying degrees as well. The Philip Hobbs trained favourite Mombasa had listed form in France and came with a hefty price tag of 250,000 Euros. Our fella was the outsider of the field but he travelled and jumped very nicely in behind and was going best approaching two from home. When Tom Scu asked him for more he galloped on strongly up the hill and won nicely. There was no fluke about this victory and I am looking forward to getting him out again soon. He will get a handicap mark tomorrow and so there are plenty of options going’s forwards, we could try this route or stick to another juvenile contest with a penalty.

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It was a quiet start to last week on the runner’s front with our first runner not coming until Wincanton on Thursday. I, like many of you watching did not see much of the actual race our runner was in as the course was shrouded in dense fog and vision was limited. It looked a good mares contest on paper beforehand and so it proved. Tom Scu was happy enough with Micronormous on hurdling debut and there will be easier opportunities for our four year old.

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  Only the Bold - 50th Winner of the Season

It has been another super week on the winner’s front for the yard, indeed we not only equalled but have now surpassed last year’s total winners for the season. Last season we had 47 winners but on Saturday, Only the Bold was our 50th winner of the current campaign. I would like to take this opportunity to thank both my owners and staff for all their support and hard work. Without them, none of our achievements would be possible and we are going to keep kicking and try to get as many winners as possible.

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 Ramses De Teillee part of our Winning Week

We have had 5 winners from 12 runners in the last week moving our seasons tally to 46 winners and I am pleased the horses continue in good form as we have plenty more runners coming up this week and the big races are now coming up thick and fast.  Our winners also took us over the half a million pound mark for prize money for the season which is a good milestone to reach as well.

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     Shot Boii - 40th Winner of the Season

We have continued the good form of the yard with another couple of winners since last writing and in the last 14 days we are seven winners from 32 runners, a strike rate of 22%.  Shot Boii made a winning reappearance at Lingfield last Tuesday and he was our 40th winner of the campaign.  Bought as a store he slowly progressed throughout last season to win at Ffos Las before he went off the boil for his last couple of races.  He is a thorough stayer with a thoroughly likeable attitude.  Providing the handicapper doesn’t overreact I think he can continue to progress up the grades and he will be a lovely staying chaser one day as well.

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  Man At Work Winner on Debut at Aintree

It has been a great week for the yard on the racecourse with five winners since last writing which included Thursday and Saturday doubles.  American Sniper was our first winner of the week, winning at Chepstow on Wednesday.  He made all under an enterprising front running ride from Tom Scudamore.  They came to challenge him up the straight but he repelled the hot favourite from the last.  Bought from Doncaster Sales in May he finished second in two bumpers earlier in the summer before we gave him a little holiday.  He came back in but unfortunately got no further than the first flight on his hurdling debut at Newton Abbot after stumbling on landing and getting rid of Tom Scu!  Although a little green out in front at Chepstow he jumped well and showed a terrific attitude and I am sure he can progress and win another novice hurdle under a penalty.  He was a first winner for Nic, Amanda and Hope Jeal who are new to the ownership ranks so it was wonderful for them and we all hope it is the first of many.

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We said a fond farewell to Aintree legend, Vieux Lion Rouge last Friday.  The Old Red Lion was officially retired from racing back in December 2021 after contesting the aptly-named Last Fling handicap chase at Haydock, but has spent the last ten months with us at Pond House enjoying an active routine which saw him continue to be ridden out by his devoted groom, Julie Bellamy.

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  Thomas Mor wins at Worcester on rules debut
    Image courtesy of Nigel Kirby Photography

As a trainer, the hardest thing you ever have to deal with is the loss of one of the horses in your care.  It is something that you never get used to and it never gets any easier – no expectant head over the stable door, eagerly awaiting breakfast, lunch or dinner.  If The Cap Fits suffered a fatal fall at Aintree on Saturday, our second devastating loss following the passing of Adagio a couple of weeks ago.  Racing can provide some of the most amazing highs, but also some of the most awful lows and this was a cruel blow indeed.

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The first Cheltenham meeting of the new season is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing…it is stable tours time again!  Over the last few weeks, I have been busy conducting interviews and answering questions for various podcasts and publications with a view to the core part of the campaign, whilst we have been compiling our own popular series of horses to follow videos with some of the personalities at Pond House.

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