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THIS WEEK So the wait is over and the Aintree Festival is finally under way today.  Special memories of this day last year still remain with us and we're delighted to be sending up a couple of strong recruits from HWR to represent us this year.  So as the team head north here's hoping the sun shines on us there again this year... REPORTS Peal of Bells made it 2 from 2 for The Harry Whittington Racing Club with a gutsy win at Huntingdon on Monday.  She made all the running under an excellent ride from jockey Harry Bannister, battling off the Richard Phillips trained Next Lot in the closing stages.  The pair finished 11 lengths clear of the rest of the field, so we may well look at getting her out again next week under a penalty before the handicapper has his say.   She is an unexposed, improving mare, with an excellent constitution.  She will hold 3 entries next week with Fontwell on Wednesday looking the most likely option. DSC_4207 Blandfords Gunner ran a solid race to finish 2nd at Fontwell on Friday.  It was only a small field and he tracked the leader under jockey Nico De Boinville.  His jumping was careful in the early stages, but he warmed up as the race developed.  Coming to 3 out he had every chance but wasn’t able to pick up quite as well as the long-time leader Bredon Hill Lad, eventually finishing 2nd.  He has come out of the race in good form and will run at either Towcester or Wetherby next Thursday. Flower Ball finished a well held 9th on handicap debut at Stratford on Saturday.  He was given a strong front running ride by David Bass and was quite happy bowling along in front for much of the contest.  He was headed coming to 2 out and didn’t go through with a finishing effort, eventually dropping into 9th.  Sadly the blinkers didn’t have the desired effect so he's now heading for a career as a point to pointer. Farbreaga was pulled up on his return from a break at Uttoxeter on Saturday.  He made the running under Nico De Boinville and jumped nicely for the first few obstacles.  He made a mistake at the 7th fence, which put him on the back foot and he was never able to recover, eventually pulling up.  His connections have decided to retire him after a very successful career, where he managed to get his head in front on 7 occasions. Benefit of Luck took a step forward, with a staying on 7th at Ascot on Sunday.  It was a competitive maiden hurdle and we switched tactics, dropping him in to help him travel.  He jumped and travelled far better than he did at Southwell last time out and enjoyed the better ground.  He turned into the straight in last but stayed on powerfully to grab 7th on the line.  It was an encouraging display from a horse who will continue to improve with his racing. ENTRIES Bigmartre is set to tackle 2 and a half miles for the first time at Aintree tomorrow.  He ran a good race to finish 6th in the Imperial Cup last time out and has improved at home for that run.  2m 4f could well unlock some more improvement from him and the return to a sounder surface will suit.  He ran a huge race at the meeting last year; let’s hope he does the same again. Emerging Force is set to step into handicap chase company for the first time at Aintree on Saturday.  He is 2/3 over fences this season and ran a huge race at Cheltenham under an 8lb penalty last time out.  His handicap mark of 142 looks very workable, the better ground should suit him and granted some luck in running he shouldn’t be far away. IMG_4577 Zephyros Bleu is set to make another appearance at Ffos Las on Sunday.  He went through the race in eye catching fashion last time out, before getting tired in the testing ground.  It was his first run for a while and he has come on for it.  He is a big horse who’s developing all of the time and there’s more to come from him off his current rating of 123.  The course really plays to his strengths. As mentioned already (above) Peal of Bells holds 3 entries next week with the likeliest of those being the Mares only at Fontwell on Wednesday. Regal Gait holds multiple entries over the next week, in a juvenile hurdle and various jumps and flat handicaps.  He has been very consistent over hurdles so far but hasn’t been able to get his head in front.  He is currently rated 107 hurdles and 63 on the flat.  He should be very competitive wherever he goes. Until next week... IMG_4569