Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Haydock Goes Ahead!!!!

Paul Nicholls hit the bar a few times yesterday when having 4 seconds from 4 runners and he will be hoping to go one better today at Taunton.
Both trainers send runners for the 2.50 and with the entire field having won last time out it will make for interesting viewing.

Paul Nicholls
Taunton - Soft, heavy in places
1.45 - Modus finished 2nd in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival behind Moon Racer. He then finished 3rd behind Bellshill and Disko at Punchestown. He changed hands for 190,000GBP and returned to the fray at Taunton to win a Class 3 novices hurdle over 2m 3f on good going readily. He then went to Newbury and won another Class 3 novices hurdle at the shorter distance of 2m 69y and he looks a top prospect as you would expect. He probably would appreciate a faster run race on better going as he would be able to settle better but I would imagine this will be a muddling affair on this soft/heavy going - however the bigger field should help. He's back up in distance to 2m 3f 1y in this Class 4 event and he has to carry a 10lb penalty against the likes of Board Of Trade whom Alan King has previously described as exciting. 
Nicholls has said that Modus is a work in progress and that he won't get serious with his training until the New Year and whilst he will probably win I don't think he is a betting proposition at odds on. 
I would  much rather chance The Fresh Prince being placed at the long odds of 25/1 as I thought he looked like a horse that would appreciate a hurdle/fence when I saw him at Aintree in a bumper at the beginning of November and I would imagine he will have come on a fair bit for that.

2.50 - Lifeboat Mona was a winning Irish pointer - she contested 4 bumpers last season winning the first two at Warwick and Huntingdon with the latter being a listed event. She was then third at Sandown in another listed bumper before being over the top when running at Aintree. She has had problems with her wind and was therefore operated on over the summer. She is a nice exciting prospect that will appreciate jumping and the mares hurdles are an attractive proposition for her.
She was heavy odds on when she returned in a Class 4 mares maiden hurdle at her local track recently and duly obliged as expected. She ran there instead of a Listed Bumper at Huntingdon on the following Sunday for which she had been entered.
This listed mares novice hurdle however is far tougher with all seven runners having won last time out and Willie Mullins sends over the unbeaten Myska for this high profile looking race.
Given the Nicholls stable recent run of form and the fact that a lot of horses don't seem to be finishing their races off,  even in lesser events, you couldn't be confident about backing Lifeboat Mona today.

Dan Skelton
Haydock - Heavy

3.05 - Its' Afreebee had been progressive in Irish bumpers and was again when justifying favouritism by 8l at Bangor (2m, soft) seven weeks ago on his hurdling debut. He was then sold out of Mark Fahey´s for 55,000GBP two days later and has his first run for Dan Skelton today. He has a 7lb penalty for his win which is offset by Bridget Andrews 5lb claim. He seems to operate on soft and should appreciate the step up in distance.

Taunton - soft, heavy in places
2.50 - Girly Girl won an Irish point to point in February and had her first start for this stable on 1st April at Towcester in a Class 6 Bumper in which she was second to Nicky Henderson's Coole Charmer. She won on her return under Bridget Andrews in a bumper at Worcester over 2m on Good going and then ran in a Class 4  mares novices hurdle at Plumpton over 2m 4f  114y on good to soft which she won with Harry Skelton riding. She stays and jumps well and she could be a tough nut to crack as she has been ridden from the front for both her wins this season.
Whether she can step up again in this listed event remains to be seen against top opposition on much softer going and with only two places on offer in this 7 runner field for me it's not worth the risk.

No bets on the stables runners but The Fresh Prince is worth a small ew in the 1.45 at Taunton.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Racing Post finally wakes up !!

Hope you've all had a great few days holiday. I took a few days off from writing the blog which in the end wasn't too bad a thing, for me, as both stables failed to find a winner.
Paul Nicholls string hasn't been firing properly for a good few weeks now and he seems to be having a large number of runners being pulled up and the stables form has now been acknowledged by the stable and the racing press.
That said team Ditcheat are back out today with 4 runners at Newbury presumably in the hope that whatever is ailing the stable will work it's way out and they have some scope for finding the winners podium.

Paul Nicholls
Last winner - 19th December
Current form(last 16 runners) - U4336F24P37P3P662222
12.15 - Tommy Silver - Third foal; brother to French 2m1f and 2m2f (Listed) hurdle winner Cross In Hand; dam French 2m1f hurdle winner, half-sister to two French hurdle/chase winners up to 2m5f; 28-1, came from rear when third of ten on Flat at Clairefontaine (1m4f, good to soft) in June. - 2nd

2.00 - Politologue  is well bred out of a Grade 1 chase mare and is said to be capable of making up into a decent novice hurdler. He is a chaser for the future but has shown eye catching form in France and will be another exciting grey to add to the John Hales team. However he unseated his rider at Cheltenham on 11/12 in a Class 3 NH novices hurdle qualifier when yet to make his effort. This is a decent 3 runner race and although Politologue may turn out to be above average in time he may play second fiddle today given his stables current run of form. No headgear has been applied as a result of him running out so presumably that has been ironed out at home. - 2nd

2.35 - Stilletto is one of a number of horses sent to the stable over the summer by Roger Brookhouse this one having been with Philip Hobbs. He returned at Haydock when in need of the outing and finished 3rd behind Rock The Kasbah. He is a big horse not short of ability and he is reported to have needed plenty of work prior to his return. He was switched to the larger obstacles at Catterick last time out in a Class 4 Beginners chase over 2m 3f on good to soft going and he won the same by one and a quarter lengths from Amore Alato who next time out at Ascot had a Grade 2 novice chase at his mercy when falling at the last fence - the fortunate winner was Nicholls 142c rated Le Mercurey. Off a mark of 132c Stilletto is potentially ahead of the handicapper in this Class 3 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 92y on soft. If he settles better this time and improves further then he should have a good chance of extending his winning run and 11/4 is a fair price. - 2nd 

3.10 - San Benedeto has had 13 races under rules to date with 7 of those being over hurdles having started his career in France. He won twice last season at Wincanton and Stratford the latter of those coming in a Class 4 novices hurdle when he beat Set The Trend when wearing a hood for the first time due to running free in earlier races. He likes good ground and a flat track as he is said to be a speedy type. However that said he returned on heavy over 2m 4f at his local track Wincanton and after settling well he came through to win as he liked. He went up 12lb for that win and under a 6lb penalty he then contested the Gerry Fielden listed hurdle at Newbury on 26/11 over 2m 69y on soft and finished 5th of 7 behind Sternrubin where he weakened after two out which was put down to the race coming too soon. He is running off a mark of 140h today and Haary Cobden takes off a useful 7lb in this Class 2 handicap hurdle back over 2m 4f 118y on soft going. Having had 33 days off since Newbury he can hopefully put up a better performance and 7/1 at a quarter the odds for 1st and 2nd looks tempting. 2nd

Dan Skelton
Last winner - 19th December
Current form(last 13 runners) - P252P434P34F2394
12.35 - Chap is one to watch for now. He is from the same family as Marello; won only start in points and won well in a bumper at Aintree (good) in May; disappointing on stable debut in good Cheltenham bumper last month and goes hurdling now in this Class 4 NH novices hurdle over 2m 3f 120y. - 9th

12.15 - Kasakh Noir is a big rangy horse. He won a bumper in France at Argentan over 2m 2f on good going by 8 lengths - quickening up to score easily after kicking clear two out. He opened his account for this stable on his first start when winning a Class 3 juvenile hurdle at Newbury over 2m 69y on soft going. He was very impressive that day leading on the bit two out and cruising he was eased down to a 16 length success. He is a chaser in the making but continues his learning in another juvenile hurdle under a 10lb penalty - but the way he won last time he should take all the beating. - 3rd

3.45 - Oldgrangewood is said to be a big, strong future chaser having won a 4yo maiden point at Lingstown in Ireland in a good time and jumping well. He was subsequently purchased by Anthony Bromley at the Brightwells March Cheltenham festival sale for £70,000. The stable seem to like him and having progressed over the summer he gave a good account when finishing 2nd on his first run for the stable at Market Rasen in a Class 4 NH novices hurdle over 2m 2f 140y on good to soft. He took a keen hold there and although fairly well beaten he was the only one to give the winner a race and he looks open to improvement although this is probably a better race. - 4th


Stilletto - 1 point win at 11/4 generally

Friday, 18 December 2015

Fancy a Long Walk?

Saturday looks set to be a great days racing at Ascot, Haydock and Newcastle. There are early starts at the latter two with Newcastle staging their first race at 11.45am - "wakey wakey" !!

Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton both have a number of runners and as we know Nicholls continues in indifferent form with one winner yesterday coming more by good fortune.

Dan Skelton meanwhile is consistently firing in the odd winner or two and he sends a strong team up to Haydock. Harry Skelton takes the first 3 rides there before boarding a helicopter/plane down to Ascot to partner Zarib in the Ladbroke Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls
12.40 - Varom hadn't run for 663 days prior to running at Warwick on 18/11 where he wore a first time tongue tie. He was disappointing there finishing 10th of 15 having been well backed(11/4 into 6/4). He sustained an injury last season but that could have been a blessing in disguise as he was continuing to develop.  He is on an official handicap mark of 110h which is a very workable mark having finished 2nd at Wincanton on his second start on 03/12 in a Class 4 NH novices handicap hurdle over two miles five and a half furlongs on soft. On that occasion he was held up and stayed on to snatch second place in the dying strides. He steps up a bit further in distance today at 2m 7f and 118 yards in a Class 4 novices handicap hurdle and it is hoped he can stay on that bit more.

1.50 - Mon Succeseur was previously trained by Guillame Macaire in France and won his only two starts over fences before joining Paul Nicholls. He is a 4yo half brother to Easter Day and finished 2nd on his return in a novices limited handicap chase, over a Wetherby 2m, despite being in receipt of a 4yo weight allowance, however he was said to have needed the run that day and wasn't used to British fences as well as hanging a bit right.
He was given a spin over hurdles at Cheltenham as the stable thought it would open more options but he looked as though he would appreciate a bit further and finished 10/20 beaten 18 lengths. He then went to Newbury for a conditional jockeys handicap chase over two miles two and a half furlongs on soft and finished 2nd beaten three quarters of a length to Rouge Et Blanc.
His 4th start was at Exeter on 04/12 in a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m 3f on heavy going where although he was well in with the winner Otago Trail he was beaten into 2nd by half a length, the winner getting up late on.
It doesn't look any easier here and although he may run well you can see one just being too good again.

2.25 - Saphir Du Rheu - I will leave this race alone and just savour the moment.

3.00 - Virak is a lover of soft ground with all 8 of his wins coming with the words soft or heavy in the going description. His trainer thinks that he is too high in the handicap and he is probably right as he is now 14lb than his last win. That said he put in a good run in 2nd behind the improving Wakanda last time out at Newcastle in the Class 1 Rehearsal Chase beaten half a length with 7 lengths back to the third. Harry Cobden retains the ride and takes 7lb off the top weight.

3.00 - Unioniste ran in the National last spring and fell at the fifth. Prior to that he won a Class 2 handicap Chase at Sandown over 3m on soft off a rating of 148c. He then gave 5lb to Coneygree when beaten at Newbury in the Betfair Denman Chase. He starts this season on 158c and has been dropped to 155c following his run at Aintree in the Becher Chase where he finished 8th of 17. He is said to need a strong stamina test and his campaign will be geared once more to the big one in April. 
The tongue strap is off and the cheek pieces are back on and Nick Schofield retains the ride and he is dropping in the weights so should give a good account.

3.00 - Salubrious was a Grade 1 performer over hurdles and won the Martin Pipe at the festival in 2013 off a mark of 141h. That said Nicholls wasn't overly impressed with his initial handicap rating of 153c following his Fontwell win on his sole chase start prior to injury last season and that has now been reduced to 148c. He was said to be in good form prior to his first run for 402 days at Carlisle in a Class 2 Graduation chase over three miles and a half furlong on heavy which he won by a neck after leading on the bit at the last fence. He comes here with a great chance and Sam Twiston Davies retains the ride.

3.35 - Some Plan wore a hood and a tongue strap for the first time on his first start for Nicholls in a Class 1 Listed Hurdle over 2m on soft where he was 5th of 10 to Lil Rockerfeller when aftre going well he hit the second last and then found nothing. He is a big chasing type who won 2 from 4 last season for Tom George before finishing 10th of 12 in the Supreme novices hurdle at the festival. 
He should have improved for that run and Sam Twiston Davies retains the ride and both forms of head gear are on again. He's been dropped 2lb to 140h but given the stables current run of form you couldnt be confident about his chances in this very competitive handicap hurdle.

3.35 - Vicenzo Mio returned on the 8th of November having not run for 21 months after sustaining a leg injury. He is a big weighty horse who will have improved again for his second run when finishing 3rd behind Lil Rockerfeller last time out when Some Plan was 5th. Harry Cobden's 7lb claim will make things easier and he is an improving horse who could be in the shake up.

Dan Skelton
3.35 - Zarib was bought out of Mick Halford's yard and has run just the 5 times over hurdles to date so remains open to improvement. He led over the last in last seasons Fred Winter at Cheltenham before finishing 6th. He is said to travel and jump well and is regarded as one to follow. He returned at Wincanton in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle over 2m on soft where he finished a good 3rd to Irving and he has a good chance of being in the money tomorrow in what is a very competitive handicap hurdle.

3.35 - Hurricane Hollow ran well at Chepstow when 3rd of 17 in the Grade 3 Totepool Silver Trophy handicap hurdle over two miles three and a half furlongs on good. He was upsides at the last but hit the same and was unable to give any extra in the last 100 yards. He has gone up 3lbs for that but Rock The Kasbah who finished 2nd won off a 5lb higher mark at Haydock in a Class 2 and he has been put up another 8lb to 144h and overall the form of that race has worked out very well. Hurricane Hollow is ridden here under Bridget Andrews who will claim a valuable 5lbs and cheek pieces are on for the first time and it looks as though this has been the plan since Chepstow and a big run is expected on going which should suit over this trip.

11.55 - Baratineur was a dual bumper winner in France on soft and heavy going. He is said to have a shown a lot of speed and ability at home. Returned at Huntingdon in a Class 5 maiden hurdle over 2m on good going finishing 4th behind Great Hall. He then finished 2nd in the fixed brush hurdle at Haydock over 2m 3f on soft where he was beaten 9 lengths. He is back down in trip here and the going should be perfect with the stable expecting a big run with no excuses.

There are 4 others running at the meeting as listed below but due to time constraints I am unable to cover those races - however they all seem to go there in good form :

12.25 - Pain Au Chocolat

12.55 - Yes I Did

2.05 - Istimraar

2.40 - Wilton Milan


Hurricane Hollow - 0.50 points ew @ 16/1 - take care some bookmakers offer 5 places and others just 4.
Baratineur - 1 point win @ 7/2 with several bookmakers

Friday at Ascot

With the Nicholls stable slightly in the doldrums it's proving difficult to put up any selections from there at the moment.
If we look at previous seasons and take last year to begin with November was his best month numerically in terms of winners with 28 from 90 runners. This season he had a similar amount of runners 89 but 19 winners.
Ok that by itself isn't anything to write home about but if we move onto December he has so far had just 7 winners so he needs to pick up a bit if he wants to continue previous December form over the last few seasons of 20, 17, 20 and 19 winners.
We are now over halfway through the month and we have a couple of holiday days and plenty of good races to tackle over the holiday period.

Onto today then and we are at Ascot:

Paul Nicholls
Ascot - Soft, good to soft in places
12.50 - Semper Invicta is a new recruit from Ireland having run just the once in a point to point where he finished 2nd of 5 at Punchestown. He was purchased at the Brightwells Cheltenham festival sale for £90,000 in March. He is big and backward and the chances are he will have needed his first run of the season at Ascot when 4th of 10 in a Class 4 bumper on good to soft where he was outpaced from over two furlongs out. He now switches to hurdles and steps up 5f in trip so we should see him in a better light in this Class 3 maiden hurdle. The race isn't anything out of the ordinary so you would hope he would be capable of a place and there is a range of thought amongst the bookmakers as to what his chances actually are. 
Coral, Ladbrokes and Bet365 are paying quarter the odds a place 1,2,3 - whereas others offer one fifth and Coral are best priced 16/1.

1.55 - All Set To Go has a flat rating of 100 and competed in Group company in Ireland before being acquired. His dam is a half sister to the Chester cup winner Anak Pekan. He had a disappointing start to his hurdling career at Kempton in May when a well beaten 4th and since then he has had his wind sorted out. A lot better is expected from this horse and he appreciated the soft going and being fitted with a tongue tie for his second start over hurdles at Southwell in a Class 5 maiden hurdle over one mile seven and a half furlongs on soft going when easily winning by 6 lengths as he was entitled to do.
He faces a sterner test here up against the highly promising Yanworth who is the one to beat on what we have seen so far.

2.30 - Le Mercurey was purchased with a chasing career in mind and he got it off to a good start in a Class 3 novice chase at Plumpton on 16/11 when driven clear to win by 6 lengths. the second Violet Dancer has won again since and there was 25 lengths back to the third. Le Mercurey is said to have strengthened up over the summer and had the required Ditcheat wind operation and it is hoped that he can live up to his halo in the yard. Nicholls is confident that he will go to the top as a chaser and he will need to be on his "A" game today as he is up against Junction Fourteen and Thomas Brown who both put up top performances last time out.


Semper Invicta - 0.50 ew at 16/1 with Coral.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Try,Try and Try Again !!

Well there was an improved show from Paul Nicholls yesterday with two winners and a couple of good performances so hopefully things will begin to improve.

Dan Skelton also recorded a win and Kid Kalanisi came third at 100/1 - he had been 150/1 in the morning and on his form that was the sort of run he can do so it wasn't unexpected although I didn't back him myself.

Onto today

Paul Nicholls
Exeter - Heavy - slightly worse on the hurdles track
1.50 - Solar Impulse has won twice from 14 starts for Paul Nicholls so he doesn't win as regular as some in the stable. He is on a fairly stiff chase mark of 146c due to consistent form in good company with Josses Hill, Three Kingdoms and Monetaire.  He has had a breathing operation and the stable have chosen to go down the graduation chase route. Only a 5yo he is open to further improvement and Nicholls was saying prior to his seasonal debut that he was "a bit behind the others". That run was at Haydock over 2m 67 yards on soft in a Class 2 Graduation chase where he made a couple of errors, rallied towards the second last but finished 3rd of 3. He has been dropped 3lb's for that and although he makes jumping errors he will be in good company in this but not sure this heavy going will help his cause given his age and I'm not having a bet.

Dan Skelton
Towcester - Soft
12.20 - Toby Lerone was 2nd to Broadway Buffalo in last seasons Tommy Whittle at Haydock which takes place this Saturday and BB went on to finish 2nd to Cause Of Causes off an 8lb higher mark in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. Toby Lerone missed the cut in the Irish National. He is a lover of soft ground and staying is his forte and he seems to perform better at right handed tracks.
He returned this season in a 16 runner Class 4 novices hurdle here over 2m 5f on good. I thought he might be a little bit tapped for pace being by Old Vic but he proved me wrong and made all, although he was all out at the end up the punishing straight.
He then went to Haydock 16 days later for a Class 2 handicap chase over 3m on soft where he was pulled up at fence 13 of 18, which was a disappointing effort. He has had 26 day break this time and he's back in a novice at Towcester.
He has responded to some form of headgear in the past but he has yet to wear any this season. He has a 7lb penalty for his win but Bridget Andrews takes off 5lb, he stays very well and the soft going will suit, so all in all he could take the beating again in this novice company.
He is slightly on the drift in the betting and you can currently get 7/4 with a few bookmakers and if he were to go 2/1 or more then he'd be worth a 1 point win.

2.40 - Blue Prairie has shown little to date this season and has gone off at 100/1 on his last two starts but that was no barrier to Kid Kalanisi yesterday for the stable.
He has been slow to come to hand and his pedigree suggests that he may be a stayer and that is born out by the fact that he doesn't really have a change of gear.
His best run was on his debut in a bumper and he hasn't shown much in two decent Class 4 novice hurdles on his other two runs and now drops to Class 5 maiden company in the hope that his perceived staying ability may help on this stiff track - if it does then the likely long starting price odds may be worth a small ew as at least he has some race fitness on his side.

Bets - None today save see above.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Newbury and Ludlow

Paul Nicholls is not in the best form at the moment with just 4 winners from 52 runners in the last 14 days and 13 beaten favs - can he begin to pull it round as we head into the Christmas period ? - or could the slump get even worse ? He has runners at both Newbury and Ludlow today and the stable will be hoping for a massive change of fortune.

Dan Skelton is doing better he has had 7 winners from 24 runners over the last 14 days with two beaten favs. He also has runners at both national hunt meetings today and will be hoping for more of the same if not a little bit more.

Well although we didn't have the main selection winning yesterday we did manage to find the main danger in Hester Flemen to upset the fav Warrior's Tale at Catterick and those who took advantage, which didn't amount to many if any, would have been quids in !

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink"

Paul Nicholls
12.10 - Clan Des Obeaux is said to be big and athletic and a nice prospect for the season but as with most of Nicholls younger horses they will be better when they jump a big fence. He won on his only start in France over 1m 4f. He is probably a bit novicey and may need his first run in this juvenile hurdle and may be one to oppose with Ferguson's Jaleo who beat a Nicholls "hotpot" last time although he was favoured by the weights in that and he has to carry a penalty this time but I can't see Clan Des Obeaux being any better than Romain De Senam whom Jaleo beat at Catterick.  1st

12.40 - Wuff was previously with Tom George. He won three of his first four races, a bumper and two novice hurdles having previously won a point to point and then failed to win over fences in three runs. Tom George always considered him to be a 3m chaser in the making so it is probably hoped that the change of scenery will make a difference. He returned at here in a Class 3 3m 1f 214y amateur riders handicap chase off a mark of 130c under Will Biddick and finished 5th of 9. He was quite strong in the betting, 6/4 even though Nicholls had warned that he made need the run. During the race he jumped boldly and was still going very well when hampered at the sixteenth fence and thereafter he was unable to recover. This horse has little mileage on the clock, has dropped 3lb in the ratings to a workable 127c and today wears cheek pieces for the first time and he looks to have a good chance against Blameitalonmyroots. 2nd

2.25 - Arpege D'Alene has always been thought of as a chaser in the making and he is half brother to Hennessy winner Triolo D'Alene. He is a scopey horse who has the potential to go to the very top over the larger obstacles having matured that much more over the summer. He was no slouch over hurdles either beating Tea For Two rated 153 on level weights at Ascot. He had reportedly schooled well over fences before making his return at Wincanton over 2m 4f on soft going in the Grade 2 Rising Stars novices chase which Nicholls has a good record in. In that race he was comfortably held by Emma Lavelle's Junction Fourteen(OR142C) despite being in receipt of 6lb with his lack of experience being put forward as a factor in his defeat. That was 39 days ago so he should have come on a bit since then but he's up against a few more promising types in this intriguing Class 2 Graduation chase in which he receives weight all round and for which he wears a first time tongue strap. Given that this is his second run, he wears a tongue strap for the first time and he is in receipt of 11lb from his two main rivals 2/1 is a reasonable price in this 4 runner event. 

12.20 - Le Prezien ran a promising race at Strasbourg before being acquired by Anthony Bromley for the Million In Mind Partnership. He put up a good performance against one of the best novices we have seen this season in Yanworth at Warwick who has a hurdle rating of 145h. There doesn't appear to be anything of that calibre here but given the stables form of late you should be wary of backing this one at odds on given there are 15 other runners. 1st

12.55 - ForTwo missed last season with a tendon injury. He returned at Carlisle in a Class 3 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 4f on good finishing 5th of 7 where having travelled well he looked like he would be involved in the finish but he didn't find much which is a trait of his. Next time out in a similar race at Newbury on soft and just over 2m he was 6th of 10 where he was well beaten when making a mistake three fences out. He's dropped 6lb to 122c and he wears cheek pieces for the first time in an effort to try and spark him into a win but he's back up to 2m 4f and he may be found wanting again.

Dan Skelton
12.10 - Cobra De Mai is said to be an interesting prospect for the season and is a chaser for the future. He started his campaign for team Skelton at Warwick in a juvenile maiden hurdle over 2m on soft where he was said to have been too keen and fresh when 5th of 12. That was a slightly disappointing return and a better run will be expected today and 12/1 at one fifth the odds 1,2,3 is fair. 3rd 14/1

1.15 - Kid Kalanisi was third in a bumper last season at Chepstow when the Good going was said to be a bit quick for him. He fell on his return, again at Chepstow, when he got badly hampered at the third last and then lost his confidence and fell at the next. The stable think he will make a nice jumper in time and he showed that he had ability at Chepstow before falling. He was 10th of 12 on his next start here in a Class 3 national hunt maiden hurdle where he was held up in the rear and eventually tailed off. He is available at odds of 150/1 today and that basically sums up his chances. 3rd 100/1

2.40 - What A Warrior won his first two starts last season and he resumed on a mark of 140c in the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot which he had won 12 months earlier. He was said to be spot on for that according to his trainer and he finished 4th of 15 being headed after two out and one pace thereafter which may have been due to his ding dong battle up front. He needs good ground to show his best so that is a negative here but he should be able to dominate from the front on his second run back on this easier track.

3.10 - Rene's Girl ran in two bumpers last season finishing 6th and 4th and stable think she will have little trouble picking up races this season. She returned at Chepstow running a good race to finish 3rd to Hollies Pearl whom she then beat on her next start at Warwick when in receipt of 7lb. She has the 7lb penalty this time and I may be wrong but I think she will be placed but won't win and her odds are too short to do ew.


What A Warrior 1 point win @ 5/1
Wuff 1 point win @ 100/30 Bet365
Arpege D'Alene 1 point win @ 2/1 generally
Cobra De Nai 0.50 points ew @ 12/1 generally

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Ninety sleeps to go, ninety sleeps to Cheltenham!!

As we build up to Newbury tomorrow and Ascot and Haydock at the weekend we have a small meeting at Catterick today where Paul Nicholls has a few runners.

Catterick - Soft

1.15 - Warrior's Tale did very well over hurdles winning two for Nicky Richards last season. He was bought privately in the summer with chasing in mind being a big, scopey sort. He is horse the stable like and he started his season in a Class 3 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 6f at Newbury where he finished 2nd of 12 in a sprint finish being headed close home after leading 4 fences out. That race was run in a comparatively slower time compared to other races on the card that day. He is in a Class 3 Beginners chase today over 3m 1f and 54 yards and he meets the others on better terms than in a handicap so he has prospects of getting his head in front. However Nicky Richard's Hester Flemen may prove a difficult opponent to crack on her seasonal debut having arrived from Donald McCains. She is a massive mare that has the potential to go to the very top over the larger obstacles and she is the sort of horse this stable excels with. She also gets a 7lb allowance that she probably doesn't need. PU
As I thought Hester Flemen was just too good for these with Nicky Richards obviously knowing Warrior's Tale's weak points and it's an 11/2 winner for the blog if you opposed the odds on Nicholls runner.

1.45 - Rob Robin bled on his second start after showing some promise on his first at Ludlow last November. He had a breathing operation over the summer to help his cause and he returned in a Class 5 bumper at Taunton over 2m on good going where he finished 6th of 14 having no extra in the final furlong having been pushed along two out. He's up in distance today in a Class 4 novices hurdle over 2m 3f and 66 yards on softer going and he would only be interesting if he had a chance of winning but I'm not sure he has and he's too short in the betting for ew purposes. 8th

3.20 - Be Daring had just the one run last season after reportedly showing plenty of promise at home. That was at Wincanton in April where he finished 2nd of 9 to Star Trooper in a Class 6 bumper over 2m on going that was on the firm side of good where he ran on up the straight but made no impression on the winner. The winner finished 2nd to the very promising Mister Mayagi on his latest run this season. Be Daring has the potential to win this bumper in receipt of 7lb from High Bridge as he was being considered for the listed bumper at the Paddy Power meeting and the soft going should help his cause and there is room for improvement.

Be Daring - 1 point win @ 5/1 generally

Monday, 14 December 2015

Here we go again!

Well things went pretty much as expected on Saturday for the stables runners with all bar Old Guard not making the winners podium.

There were some great performances by other stables horses up and down the country and plenty of information to fill up your notebooks with.

Yesterday Dan Skelton had a winner from his only runner Robin Of Locksley. There was just the one Nicholls runner, which was odds on Hawkhurst, who seemingly just had to trot up to the winning post to collect but unfortunately he jinked slightly right and Sam Twiston Davies was unbalanced and fell from the horse.

There has been a bit of comment about this - Sam has reportedly been berated by disgruntled punters, but that is the kind of thing that can happen in a horse race and you have to take it on the chin if you risk betting on long odds on shots - there is absolutely no difference to the horse having fallen at the last which would have gone unquestioned by the betting public.

Sam felt the need to apologise after, which is fair enough, it's 50/50 whether it was something he could have coped with better than he did - but at the end of the day the horse had been perfect up to that point through the race and Sam was just caught unaware like many people would be in the same situation.

Anyway all of that is by the bye now and we have a couple of runners today for team Nicholls.

12.10 - Lac Leman ran just the once last season finishing 4th of 9 in a Claas 4 novice hurdle at Taunton on soft. He ran very free and pulled hard in that race and he has since had a breathing operation. He returned at Huntingdon 8 days ago finishing 5th of 15 in a Class 4 novices hurdle over 2m on good to soft going. He wore a hood for the first time there to try and settle him but he took a keen hold once again, he was outpaced between the last two flights and lost third place on the line. That to me seemed a better race than this one and if the hood has a better effect this time which it may do as he may have lost some of the first run fizz he could run better - however the most you could hope for is a place and he's not really at a place price at one fifth the odds.

1.20 - Baron De Ligniere has run just the twice so far in two bumpers finishing 5th and 6th. In the first of those he stayed on well in the closing stages to finish 5th but in the second in October he had nothing further to give up the straight over 2m so he needs to improve a fair bit over this longer distance of 2m 4f on his hurdling debut. He may well do so but he's unlikely to beat Sherwood's McKenzies Friend and like the last race Baron De Ligniere is just too short in the betting at one fifth the odds a place to risk any cash.

No bets today but hopefully there will some opportunities tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Day

The going changed to soft prior to racing at Cheltenham on Friday and this didn't suit a number of Paul Nicholls horses. He isn't overly confident about his Saturday chances for all of his runners and neither is Dan Skelton - both seem to think they are being held to ransom by the handicapper - but we will see if this is true come the end of racing. That said there has been no rain over night but there is 5/6mm forecast during the day.

Paul Nicholls
12.05 - Adrien Du Pont won on his debut for the stable after being awarded the race when a short head second to the useful Sceau Royal the pair being 16 lengths clear of Shy Lino and he faces both of them again today. Sceau Royal has had a couple more runs since so is that more experienced this time but Adrien Du Pont hasn't stood still according to Nicholls and he will love the going, which is more than can be said for a lot of the stables runners. He might have trouble settling as being just a 5 runner affair there may be a muddling pace from the start- however he has loads of ability and although he is a potential chaser of the future he should continue to run well over hurdles.

12.40 - Sametegal a former useful hurdler being placed in the Triumph and Greatwood hurdles won impressively at Huntingdon on his debut over fences under Nick Schofield after a long absence(599 days) with a leg injury. Paul Nicholls was thrilled to see him return in such sparkling form and loved his fluent jumping. He then contested a Grade 2 novice at Newbury where he unseated at the 11th fence after being hampered. He probably needs better ground and has his work cut out against More Of That.

1.15 - Ulck Du Lin returned to the fray at Ascot in a race he won 12 months earlier but this time he was 15lb higher and was consequently pulled up. He has been dropped a 1lb but Nicholls doesn't think he is well handicapped at the moment and in any event he doesn't act on soft going and in all probability wont run.

1.50 - Sound Investment just keeps on giving more and consequently the life is slowly being crushed out of him by the handicapper. His run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup off top weight was as good a run as we've seen from a Nicholls runner this season. He shoulders 11-12 again here and he may have to give second best to the Cheltenham hill although you wouldn't put it past him to improve further and be placed.

1.50 - Art Mauresque had smart Juvenile form in France before joining this stable. Ran 4 times winning 3 - albeit against small fields. His chase rating is now 147. He usually wears a tongue tie, jumps really well and is suited by better ground. He finished 3rd to Irish Cavalier at Newton Abbot on his first run back after 5 months and he was 6th in the Paddy Power were he had every chance approaching the last. The going may have gone against him here if he runs and he may fill a similar position as in the Paddy Power again.

3.00 - Old Guard goes for his third win at Cheltenham this season. He has progressed well and thus he is now into Graded class so he has it all to do on going that is softer than ideal for him. A horse with plenty of speed he should run well but it's a tricky race that I will be leaving alone.

12.55 - Bugsie Malone has been given plenty of time and is a chaser of the future but for now he goes in novice hurdles. He needs experience but won't be risked on bad ground and if he does run it's probably a watching brief.

2.40 - It's A Close Call graduated from point to points. He started the season at Chepstow in a novice chase which he duly won by 17 lengths from Abracadabra Sivola. That win was on good ground which he acts on and if the going gets any softer he will not be running. It was reported that he wasn't fully wound up at Chepstow so his win was a bonus but he took a while to recover too. He has little mileage on the clock, he is a sound jumper and there is plenty of improvement to come it would seem.

Dan Skelton
1.15 - Workbench's last two wins have come at Fontwell in the same race and he has never won in a field of more than 7 runners. He likes decent ground which he won't get here. He ran a very good race when 2nd to Boondooma at Cheltenham off a handicap mark of 137h and that rival could be the best horse in Pritchard's yard. Workbench was then a bit disappointing at Ascot where he faded out of contention before 2 out to finish 6th. He is off 141 here and given the soft going I think he will either not run or struggle on it.

12.20 - Le Bacardy  returned at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase where he finished 6th after a couple of errors. He's a 9yo so he is unlikely to find any more improvement and is considered to be a spring horse in any event. He has to be held up over this sort of distance and is best produced late. He was pulled up in a decent race at Cheltenham and was then brought down at Doncaster but he is steadily dropping down the handicap - but the question is, is it enough.

2.05 - Fouburg is a full brother to Fou Et Sage and he has plenty of jumping experience from his time in France and is said not to be without pace. Being inexperienced he was expected by me to come of second best to Who Dares Wins at Ludlow on his first start and he did, but only just as he was headed in the final 50 yards. It was a very promising debut and he looks to be an above average sort but he meets his Ludlow rival again and this is a potentially hot Grade 2 juvenile hurdle but he should improve a fair bit.

3.15 - Boss Des Mottes won a competitive Class 3 handicap hurdle at Fakenham in March off a mark of 114h. He is said to like a fast run race and he should get that here and he was a good 4th of 12 in the Free Handicap at Chepstow over 2m on good going. He's had excuses for some of his poorer runs in the past and he holds an ew chance.

No bets from me today but you can make your own judgement's from the information above.

Friday, 11 December 2015

A Cheltenham Friday

A lot to get through today on what promises to be a fascinating days racing.

Paul Nicholls
Cheltenham - Soft, Good to Soft in places
12.00 - Vincente is suited by going left handed and good ground. He is a winner of 3 chase races this season with the latest coming here on 14/11 and although he has to give weight away 13/2 is probably a fair price if he can stay error free as he is an improving horse. 4th

1.10 - Some Buckle is another to have come from the Roger Brookhouse exodus from Tom George and several of these have previously been needing their first run. He ran 5 times last season winning just the once at Southwell when beating Mad Jack Mytton. He is on a mark of 135 and he has always been thought of as a potential decent chaser so this may be a springboard to his first chase. NR

1.45 - Wonderful Charm often goes well fresh and after winning first time out last season at Newton Abbot he didn't win again although he ran some fair races. He needs a flat track and decent ground as he doesn't go on soft so things are slightly against him ground and track wise although he has run fairly well here previously. The Grand National is his long term target. A 7yo he has had problems with his breathing in the past and he remains on a career high chase rating of 159c. 2nd 15/2

2.20 - Sire Collonges - I'm not keen on the Cross Country races other than the festival. 2nd 7/1

2.55 - The Eaglehaslanded is versatille in the fact that he has won a point to point, bumper and two novice hurdles. He came up against the useful Sykes last time at Chepstow when beaten three quaters of a length in his first handicap off a mark of 121h. He has gone up 4lb for that but Sykes ran well off a 7lb higher mark at Newbury behind Missed Approach and Billy No Name. The going should be fine today, he stays well and he should be in the mix. 4th - Not sure from where the flood of money came for The Eaglehaslanded

3.25 - Politologue is well bred out of a Grade 1 chase mare and is said to be capable of making up into a decent novice hurdler. He is a chaser for the future but has shown eye catching form in France and will be another exciting grey to add to the John Hales team. However that said he has to overcome a 10lb penalty here against opposition that equally turn out to be as good as him in the long run. UR

Doncaster - Good to Soft, Good in places
3.00 - Katgary has always been highly tried by the stable at Grade 1 tracks(finished 2nd in the Fred Winter in 2014) and after losing his way last season (8066) he eventually came good in a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle at Newbury over 2m 4f 180y on Good to Soft in first time cheekpieces where he was prominent throughout. Having had the one disappointing run over fences as a Novice he returned to that sphere at Fakenham in a Class 3 over 2m 5f on good going and won. This is a better race than that and is probably best watched as he has to shoulder a 7lb penalty against a Henderson hotpot who is on a par with Vaniteux and he destroyed a decent bunch at Kempton on his return. 3rd of 3

3.30 - Abidjan is two from two in novices this term and now turns his attentions to handicapping. He was a French bumper winner and is said to be another chaser in the making at Ditcheat. He had been a little slow to mature but has shown improved form of late and hopefully he should be able to keep on the upward curve provided he gets the decent ground required like today and Harry Cobden takes off a handy 7lb. 5th

Dan Skelton
3.25 - North Hill Harvey was purchased for £100,000 at Cheltenhams April Sales after winning an English point to point with ease. He is another chaser of the furture but he should make his mark over hurdles too. He started the season finishing 2nd to Barters Hill at Huntingdon where after making a mistake two out he was allowed to come home in his own time there being 21 lengths back to the third horse home. He jumps well and the stable have been impressed with him so with improvement likely he should be capable of a bold show. 1st 4/1

2.05 - Heron's Heir won a 7 runner bumper in Ireland on his first run and on the back of that was thrown straight into a Listed bumper at Ascot finishing 7th of 9. His next and final run was in a novice hurdle at Newbury when he finished 5th behind Cole Harden but the trainer readily admitted that it was his fault that the horse didn't perform to his capabilities in either race. Dan Skelton has, a lot of time for this horse and although he'd been off for 664 days he ran an ok race at Huntingdon on his return and he should be all the better for that. He should give the fav a run for his money in receipt of 7lb on going that he will like. 3rd

12.10 - Mister Kalanisi returned from a very long break at Bangor last time when 3rd of 7 in a bumper when he faded towards the finish. He is said to have plenty of ability from what he's shown at home and he starts of a hurdles in a Class 5 maiden hurdle in which he could put up a bold show under David England if he has come on for that run after the long absence. 5th

1.20 - Benissimo ran in a Class 3 at Cheltenham last time after finishing 4th of 6 at Fontwell. At Cheltenham he was always in the rear and was tailed off come the end and that effort can be written off. He is another that will probably be seen in a better light when he goes over fences. He's down 8lb in the ratings (114h) since the start of the season and with the going and trip ok he has ew possibilities in this easier race if he can recapture last seasons form. 8th


There is a lot to get your head round today and there are a few above that are ew prices so a multiple bet of some kind may be in order on the likes of  Wonderful Charm 8/1,The Eaglehaslanded 11/1, Mister Kalanisi 10/1 and Benissimo 12/1.

Abidjan - 1 point win @ 3/1 generally

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Thursday 10th December

What a fantastic "winner" yesterday in Dan Skelton's Bekkensfirth at the rewarding odds of 12/1. The result never really looked in doubt as he was always going and jumping well and he looks set for a good run over fences.

Now just because I had a 12/1 yesterday it doesn't mean it's going to happen every day from now till Christmas!! - I could just as easily have a losing spell until then and that is one of the peril's of horse racing so always only spend what you can afford to lose and keep it as a hobby and not an obsession.

Three runners each for the stables we are following on Thursday and there are no clashes as they target different meetings.

Paul Nicholls
Taunton - Good to Soft, Soft in places. There is the prospect of further rain this am.
1.10 - Rock On Oscar was a point to point winner and ran just once for the stable last season when he ran too free to do himself justice. He is a big scopey individual that could be a work in progress as they teach him to settle and Nicholls sees him as a chaser in the making. 
He started the season over 2m 5f at Kempton on 02/11 were he took a keen hold and having come there to the win the race he was headed in the final strides by Duelling Banjos. Nicholls was surprised how well he ran as he thought he needed the race to put him right. If he can learn to relax he could be a fair type as he was also the stables only entry at the 5 day stage in the Grade 2 Class 1 novices hurdle at Cheltenham this Saturday.
The tongue tie is on again today and a first time hood is used to try and get him to settle a bit better on this his third start. He is up in distance and he should take the beating this time albeit he isnt going to be a betting price. - 2nd - Tanked along throughout and was perhaps going too well. Looked to be coming to win the race but found wanting when asked to go and win the race.

3.10 - Ceasar Milan was thought to be well handicapped, according to his trainer at the beginning of the season and there was a sort of thought in the yard it would seem to go for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham if all went to plan but he was pulled up on his return at Stratford in a Class 2 handicap chase after never travelling and that was disappointing. That was over 2m 5f on good and thereafter he went to Newbury for a Class 3 handicap chase over two miles six and a half furlongs on soft. This time he finished 9th of 16 where, after a blunder, he weakened quickly 3 out and was tailed off. He's dropped 3lb in the ratings to 135c and now tackles another Chass 3 over a half mile shorter trip. He needs soft ground so the going forecast is going the right way - however he needs to take a step forward from what he has shown so far this season but that said it looks a pretty open race and is worth an ew. 0 - Looked to be hard work to keep in the race and when the pace quickened he simply lacked any change of gear and it was a poor effort.

3.40 - Capitaine is said to be a big, strong and lovely individual who is well liked by Paul Nicholls. He is a half brother to a couple of winners in France and starts here in this Class 4 bumper over 2m 104 yards. He is in receipt of a 14lb 3yo weight allowance which he may be able to take advantage of given his size.

Dan Skelton
Warwick - Chase Course - Soft, Good to Soft in places. Hurdle Course Soft, Heavy in places. Further rain is forecast.
12.30 - Ashoka missed his planned engagement on 18/11 and is a horse that is said to jump well. He came form Mick Halford's stable in Ireland and he was placed in all 3 runs on the flat. The stables horses have been going well and a few have run well first time out but at the likely cramped odds it's one to just watch for a future time. - 1st 11/10f

1.00 - Notnowsam joined the yard earlier in the year from Noel Quinlan and was quickly off the mark at Warwick - being well placed to win a Class 4 Novice Handicap Chase over 2m on Good to Soft. He jumped well that day and won in a respectable time. With little miles on the clock and being a 4yo he is open to improvement. He returned over fences at Wetherby on 14/10 in a class 3 handicap finishing 2nd to Oliver's Gold where he was headed with a 150 yards to go. He then went to Huntingdon were he was 2nd again this time to Raven's Tower in a Class 3 novices handicap chase over two miles and a half furlong on soft where he made a mistake at the last fence and weakened. The cheekpieces are back on today and the easier going should suit but he is up against Kim Bailey's Red Spinner who is on a 4 timer. 2nd behind Red Spinner 9/4 - the CSF paid £5.88.

2.00 - Born Survivor was a highly rated point to point winner at Broughshane in Ireland last season where he quickened clear of a decent field to win comfortably. He joined the yard after being purchased at the Cheltenham April Sales for £220,000 and several of those who finished behind him in Ireland have also joined top stables in England. He is said to have size and scope and is very well regarded. If all went to plan he could go to the very top and he looks set to follow a similar route to the stables Three Musketeers and have a light campaign.
He starts here in a maiden hurdle over 2m 5f on soft which should be fine and I would imagine the stable would be extremely disappointed if he wasn't involved in the finish.
He has been well backed - Ladbrokes opened up at 5/2 yesterday and he's no 6/5 and 11/10 with most bookmakers. 1st - always travelling well and won with something in hand.

Ceasar Milan 0.50 ew at 7/1 with several bookmakers - one fifth the odds 1,2,3. 0 - Looked to be hard work to keep in the race and when the pace quickened he simply lacked any change of gear and it was a poor effort.