THE PACKAGE: He’s had a tendon injury and has had time off, his last run was in the Grand National. He’s nine-years-old now and hasn’t been back with us long but he’s been doing things well. The plan is to go straight to Cheltenham and run him in the JLT Speciality Chase, a race that he finished second in two years ago when beaten a head by Chief Dan George.
He’s an old-fashioned Irish store horse who after Cheltenham will hopefully go to the National. His time off hasn’t done him any harm, he seems as well as ever at home showing his old sparkle and he won’t mind whatever conditions are at Cheltenham. He could be at the right end of the weights and he’s one we’re looking forward to.
BUENA VISTA: He is quite special to Pond House as he’s been to the last seven Cheltenham Festivals and we’re hoping to make it eight. He’s now 11-years-old but he’s not showing his age. He’s won the last two Pertemps, he was second the year before, was placed in a Supreme Novices’, he’s run in an Arkle, he’s done more than most of us.
He’s been out of sorts so far this season, but ran a decent race at Wincanton three runs ago when he looked as if he was coming back to himself. He went to Kempton two runs ago and ran a shocker so we were slightly worried but he ran a lot better at Newbury last week.
He’s a lot better on better ground and the ground has come right for him in the last two seasons and he rises to the occasion. He’s won off 133 and 138 and he’s rated 140 now so it’s not going to be easy and he’s not going to be improving at the age of 11 but he deserves to take his chance and he owes nobody anything.
He’s in cracking form at home and even off a mark of 140 if the ground comes right for him he’s not without a sqeak. He’ll be ridden by one of our claimers in the yard which has yet to be decided – Hadden Frost won on him claiming five and Connor O’Farrell won on him claiming three, he definitely helped their careers and hopefully he can help someone else along the way.
SALUT FLO: He ran at the Cheltenham December meeting and was travelling nicely when making a terrible mistake four out. He did well to stand up really. He’s taken a while to come out of that race, hence he hasn’t been on the track since and then we got to the stage where I said to the owner can we save him for the Festival and he was keen on that idea. He’s a good chance whatever race he runs in and he’s entered in everything over hurdles and over fences.
He’s not over big and he has a French style of jumping fences. He’s only had three runs in this country – he won first time out at Doncaster a few years ago, he was favourite for the Grand Annual before being balloted out. He went to Haydock next time and finished a good second and then was in the process of running a good race at Cheltenham before his mistake.
He’s versatile in trip, we’ve saved him for the Festival and he’s one we’re looking forward to. He handles soft ground but I think he’ll be fine on better ground as well. He’s had a nice break since December and we’re just building him up now for 21 days’ time.
GREAT ENDEAVOUR: He had a busy first half to the season and since then has had a nice break. He was very impressive when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November and then went to the Hennessy where he didn’t quite see out the trip. He went back to Cheltenham for the December meeting and it was probably one race too many, his third in five weeks. He made a bad mistake also that day which didn’t help and he’s usually a very good jumper.
He’s a horse we’ve always thought a lot of, he’s won at one Cheltenham Festival already and we’re hoping he can make it a second. Since December he’s been freshened up, he’s best fresh and we did the same thing with him last year. He went for the three-mile handicap chase and unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan, he got left at the start and it was a complete write off.
He’d be better on better ground. He’s in the Ryanair and he’ll be entered in the Byrne Group Plate as well. He’s sort of in between, he’ll either have to carry top weight in the Byrne or he has a few pounds to find with Riverside Theatre in the Ryanair. Riverside Theatre’s 165 and we’re 157. He’s a decent horse and if we can get him A1 on the day he’ll run a decent race whichever one he turns up in.
OUR FATHER: He’s a big horse who will make a smashing chaser next year and hopefully he can do a bit more this year. He’s a real old-fashioned steeplechaser and had a god season last year, strengthened up during the summer and put up a good performance at Ascot.
The form has been franked since, he took a little while to get over that so we thought we’d go straight to Cheltenham. He obviously showed he can win first-time out when winning at Ascot, he came from a long way back that day but did it nicely. Unfortunately he won off 129 that day and he’s up to 148 now which will make life a lot harder.
He’s got the size to carry the weight and he’s entered in the Coral Cup, the Pertemps and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. He’s more likely to go for one of the handicaps and we’ll decide closer to the time. He hasn’t raced over three miles yet but I’m sure he’ll stay, yet he’s got the pace for two-and-a-half miles.
DYNASTE: We paraded him here last year and we were hoping to run him in my father’s race off 138 but unfortunately collateral form put him up to 141 so he was just out of it. Ironically my father’s race’s rating band is now 0-145 so he would’ve got in this year. The year before that we had Grands Crus in my father’s race and that got balloted out so I might be destined not to win it!
Going back to Dynaste he’s had a great season so far, winning very impressively at Haydock and then we tried to make all at Ascot and run the finish out of Big Buck’s which didn’t work. We’ve tried numerous things with greys against Big Buck’s but it hasn’t worked so far and unfortunately I see no reason why it should work in the future but it won’t stop us from trying.
We changed tactics at Cheltenham last time and held onto him a bit longer. He ran a much better race when finishing second to Big Buck’s, a long way clear of Mourad who came out and franked the form at the weekend. All roads lead to the World Hurdle, we’ve freshened him up and he’s full of beans at present.
He won’t mind what the ground is though he’ll prefer some cut. It’s pretty much impossible to beat Big Buck’s but if he can finish in the first three it will be a great run. He has a good each-way chance and hopefully he’ll be a smart novice chaser for the RSA next year.
JUNIOR: Junior ran well over hurdles the other day at Newbury, he got tired up the home straight and obviously everything leads to the Grand National. We’re hoping to run him before and that will be in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster or the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase or the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Obviously the Gold Cup has been a good trial for National horses and there’s another week between Cheltenham and Aintree this year. He was very impressive when winning the Kim Muir at the Festival last year, he went up a lot for that and is now rated 153 but he’s a real character and takes a bit of encouraging at times but he’s done extremely well on the Flat, over hurdles and over fences and that run will have blown the cobwebs away and hopefully we can take him to Cheltenham for one of those two races.
He’ll obviously be a big price in the Gold Cup but he stays all day and you have to stay well in that race and they will go a good pace. Lots of Grand National horses, including Minnehoma, have run in the Gold Cup before Aintree. He loves Cheltenham, handles soft ground but is better on better ground.
KAZLIAN: We haven’t got many in the juvenile category this year so at Cheltenham we rely on Kazilian. He’s a big, strapping four-year-old who had some decent form in France. He was rated 95 over there and has only had the three runs in this country. He finished second first time out at Market Rasen, we were a little bit disappointed that day – the winner was very impressive but he hasn’t been out since so we don’t know how good the form is.
Since then he’s had two easy runs at Ffos Las and Leicester where he beat nothing but did it very well. He’s rated 130, is in the Fred Winter, the Triumph and my father’s race. We decided to keep him fresh for the Festival after those runs, he jumps well, is a good traveller, he stays well, handles soft ground but will be fine on better ground and he looks a classy horse.
We like him. He’s a good work horse at home, we bought him from France and we’ve liked him from day one. He’s the only four-year-old we’ll have at the Festival this year unfortunately but he’s a good one to have and he won’t mind the conditions.
FIULIN: It was his first run for us up at Market Rasen where he won. He was rated 126 and we’re waiting for the handicapper to reassess him as to whether we can get into one of the handicaps at Cheltenham. He was a very good horse on the Flat, not as good over hurdles as yet but we’re working on that. He battled on well at Market Rasen over 2m5f, he’s a horse that likes decent ground and he’s entered in my father’s race, the Coral Cup and the Neptune which we have if he doesn’t get into the handicaps.
I wanted to run him in a smaller race to get a win under his belt to get his confidence sky high for Cheltenham. He battled well at Market Rasen, it was a solid race and I’m sure he can go on from there. He’s got the speed for two-and-a-half miles but he’ll stay three. He was a good stayer on the Flat, rated 100+ and though he hasn’t quite transferred that to hurdles yet we’re working on it.
GRANDS CRUS: We would have liked to have gone to Newbury. That was the plan but unfortunately it was the only race they didn’t save. Saying that he’s got plenty of experience, he’s had three runs. I wanted to get those runs into him early because you never knows what happens with weather, well-being of the horses etc… so he’s got the three runs under his belt and he’s made one mistake in those runs.
He’s laidback here at home but not in his races. He jumps very well, he’s jumped round Cheltenham, Newbury, Kempton, flat tracks, galloping tracks and he’s obviously very exciting. I think it shows you how good he is by how close he finished to Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle last year. I thought it was a fantastic race, Tom Scudamore gave our fellow a cracking ride and we nearly pulled it off but Big Buck’s had something to say.
He was always going to be a very exciting chaser and we won’t decide which race he goes for until closer to the time. We have to see what’s left in, what the weather is doing and what may make an impact on the race’s that he’s in. We’ll see how he is in himself, his wellbeing and decide with the owners what is best. It’s a nice position to be in.
He’s keen on the gallops, we’re keeping him fit at home and he’s very supple. We worked him this morning, he worked well and we’re going to try and keep him like that for another three weeks.
NOTUS DE LA TOUR: He’s in the Jewson, the Grand Annual and the Byrne Group Plate. He’ll go for one of those and he’s done well this season. He’s just that little bit below top class, he’s 144 now over fences and he can stay two-and-a-half miles no problem. He’s picked up good prize money in Ireland and he loves it soft so a little bit of cut would be ideal for him.