Friday, 27 November 2015

Day two at Newbury

It looked a real slog at Newbury yesterday so be prepared for more of the same today.

There are also several non runners so please keep a check on those and any further rain.

Paul Nicholls
Newbury - Hurdle Course - Soft, heavy in places. Chase Course - Soft.
12.25 - Copain De Classe is said to be a grand, big strong chasing type very much in the mould of Saphir Du Rheu. He was bought in the summer after he won a bumper at Vichy in France in May where they use stalls for these types of races. He managed to win despite being very slowly away out of the stalls and running green and the form has since been franked by the runner up. The stable have since acquired the third horse home. He is not a Triumph Hurdle type horse, but as he is a three-year-old the stable think it makes sense to start him over hurdles here as he he is said to jump well. - Weakening when fell at the last - would not have been placed.

12.55 - Mon Successeur was previously trained by Guillame Macaire in France and won his only two starts over fences before joining Paul Nicholls. He is only a 4yo 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 last time 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 is a half brother to Easter Day and he has quite a tough task here in this conditional jockeys handicap chase being the only four-year-old in the field, but he should be that much fitter now. 2nd

1.30 - Easter Day is due a change of luck as he has suffered all sorts of problems over the last 12 months and he ran well enough back over hurdles at Cheltenham last time in order to bolster his confidence. Previously he was sensibly pulled up by Sam Twiston-Davies after three fences at Kempton when he was unsettled by jumping into the back of another horse at the first. He has had plenty of schooling, and is on a fair mark over hurdles and fences so the stable are looking for an improved run this time although this race will take some winning. The cheek pieces are left on to aid his concentration and he has been dropped 2lb since his last run. - Ran ok, threatened to get involved turning for home but folded tamely when the race developed in earnest.

2.05 - 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. Though this race is more competitive and he has a 7lb penalty the stable are hopeful he can take another step forward over two and a half miles which should suit him well in a race not short of talent. Brought Down

2.40 - Howlongisafoot ran seven times last season winning twice at Taunton and Plumpton off marks of 125 and 130 in small fields. Said to be suited by an easy three miles or stiff two and a half as well as decent ground he should be capable of progressing further having reportedly had a good summer. He finished 5th on his first start back recently and like quite a lot of his stablemates this season he improved a fair bit from his first run by winning handily at Taunton just over two weeks ago.
He is not the most straight-forward horse to ride as he has a habit of pulling himself up once he hits the front. He was ready early and is said to continue in form at home and should handle the softer ground here although I don't think he is one to put the mortgage on.

3.15 - Chartbreaker came from Germany in the summer of 2014 having shown useful form but he then took an age to get over a gelding operation. He started at Ascot four weeks ago where he was a bit careful at his hurdles early on but he has potential and obviously possesses a bit of speed and a touch of class. The stable are still learning about him but think he is crying out for a trip which he gets here, he will love the soft ground and should give a bold account.

Dan Skelton
12.25 - Kasakh Noir is said to be 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 maybe be best watched in what is a tricky race to work out. 1st

1.30 - Open Hearted Formerly with Nicky Henderson, for whom he won 6-14, was purchased cheaply at the Doncaster Spring Sale. He has since had two runs - a Class 3 Handicap Chase at Bangor over 2m 4f 72y on Good where he finished a one paced 2nd after running in snatches - wearing a tongue tie for the first time and when winning narrowly after a protracted battle with Knock House at Fakenham. Knock House franked the form by winning of a 2lb higher mark at Cheltenham recently.
He is a big chasing type from the family of Spanish Steps and hopefully top weight shouldn't be too much of a burden as he reverts back to hurdles over 3m against some proven rivals. Pulled Up - was off the pace and couldn't get back into it and made little impression.

2.05 - Three Musketeers ran to a good level of form last season and was given a light campaign and he seems set for more of the same this time around. He gets two and a half miles and will get three in time. He is said to be a very likeable horse with lots of ability that will hopefully make up into a top class novice destined for big prizes over fences.
His trainer was a little bit disappointed with him at Huntingdon as he didn't have him quite right on the day and he should improve a fair bit on that and a bold show can be expected in receipt of 7lb from Dell Arca and Sametegal. 1st - Always going well.

2.40 - Upepito came to the stable having run six times for Venetia Williams winning once at Warwick in a Class 3 Handicap Chase over 2m off a mark of 124. It was though that he didn't finish his races and has been operated on his wind over the summer. He is considered to be an ideal type to go two and a half miles and is on a workable mark of 128. He started the season in the Bobby Renton Handicap Chase at Wetherby over 2m 3 and half on good finishing 2nd to Village Vic(won again since) beaten a neck and that lack of race may have just cost him that day. He then unseated at Aintree when going well and the stable feel there is a good race to be won with him.He remains on 128c and Harry Skelton takes the ride this time.

3.45 - 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 he had ability before falling last time but he would need to have improved a fair bit to trouble the judge in this.

Doncaster - Good
1.20 - 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 has dropped 4lb since Aintree after pulling up in a decent race at Cheltenham last time. He should appreciate the good going and is a fair price judged on his win at Market Rasen in the same class in May

3.35 - Lynda's Boy is said to have shown a good attitude at home and has strengthened up over the summer and is one to watch on this debut.


Le Bacardy - 0.50 points ew at 16/1 with several bookmakers
Travelling well when brought down

Open Hearted - 0.50 points ew at 14/1 with Stan James
Pulled Up

Three Musketeers - 1 point win at 5/1 Stan James

Upepito - 1 point win at 4/1 generally

Chartbreaker - 0.50 ew at 20/1 at 888Sport and 32Red

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Newbury 3 day Meeting

It looks like the start of a great 3 days racing at Newbury.

Dan Skelton is now halfway to his target of 100 winners this season having chalked up win number 50 at Lingfield on Tuesday when Wilton Milan scrambled home.

There are plenty of runners for both stables today and they are listed below with up to date information on each :

Paul Nicholls
Newbury - The going is unchanged, with the hurdle course soft, heavy in places, while the chase course is good to soft, soft in places.
12.30 - Modus finished 2nd in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival behind Moon Racer. He then finished 3rd behind Bellshill and Disko at Punchestown. Since then he has changed hands for 190,000GBP and returned to the fray at Taunton to win a Class 3 novices hurdle readily. He is a potential top hurdler in the making and he should improve further as the season progresses and he learns to settle in his races. 
See The World could pose a threat in receipt of 8lb as he ran an extraordinary race on his only start last season and went into many peoples notebooks.He was well fancied for the Cheltenham bumper but didn't run and if he arrives on his "A" game it should be a good match and he has been nibbled at in the market.

1.00 - Wuff has his first start for Paul Nicholls having previously been with Tom George and he has come from the same source as The Ould Lad who ran disappointingly for the stable after being well backed at Wincanton. 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 returns here in a 3m 1f 214y amateur riders handicap chase off a mark of 130c and the excellent Will Biddick takes the ride, however Nicholls warns that he made need the run and the price is too short if that is the case.

1.35 - Amanto  has yet to win for the stable from 7 starts including 1 flat race when he was second to Lil Rockerfeller at Newbury. He is said to be a lazy sort who has been green and backward and he returned recently at Taunton where he finished 2nd in a Class 4 handicap beaten three quarters of a length. I thought he had a decent chance at the weights in that with Harry Cobden claiming 7lb as well but it wasn't to be and he has now gone up 7lb to 122h which probably leaves him to find a bit of improvement with some of the opposition. However, that said, Nicholls thinks that he has improved for the run and provided he copes with the soft going he should run well.

2.10 - Port Melon has had just the eight races under rules but apart from winning at Taunton he has always been campaigned at Grade 1 tracks. A bit headstrong he has always been a chaser in the making as he is another from the yard that is big and scopey and no doubt the stable hope he will be progressive in that sphere as he won two point to points. He had a breathing operation over the summer and he returned at Kempton with a win in a novices limited handicap chase over 3m on good off a mark of 132c winning by 2 lengths. He needed the run there and he will definitely come on a bit more. The stable have revised their plan though to run in another handicap and take their chance here, however this is a cracking novice chase that will have a bearing on the whole season. The cheek pieces are re employed and provided he copes with the softer going he should give a good account but will probably play second fiddle to some of the others.

2.45 - 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 but he starts off on top weight here in this limited handicap chase over 2m 6f and this looks an open race with most of the big yards represented and they go 6/1 and up the field and there is potential to seek out some decent odds if you a have a strong fancy in mind.

3.15 - 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 has gone up 12lb for that and the stable run him here off a 6lb penalty before his new mark kicks in. He drops back to 2m but Nicholls doesn't see that as a problem - the problems he will have will come from the opposition and Skelton's Ch'Tibello is not short in the speed department.

Taunton - Following a dry night the going remains good to soft, good in places.
1.10 - The Outlaw's dam is a half-sister to smart 2m-2m3f hurdle/chase winner Woolcombe Folly (by Presenting) from the family of high-class staying chaser Cahervillahow. He had bits and pieces of form last season when he was mentally a bit immature and tended to race too keenly and free. Nicholls still has faith in his ability and probably sees the potential from his breeding and after an operation in the summer to help his breathing he could improve significantly but he has a lot to do to beat Dan Skelton's Mister Miyagi.

2.20 - Saint Roque was useful over hurdles before a run of bad luck put him on the sidelines for almost two years being lucky to survive when he fractured two bones in his neck in a nasty fall at Kempton. He recovered well, came back into training last season and then cut his leg badly whilst schooling over fences. This is his first run for 570 days but Nicholls reports he has done loads of work at home, schools well and will appreciate the flat track at Taunton where better ground should suit. He's still a novice due to his time off and he starts here in a novices limited handicap chase off a mark of 130c and he has every chance of a bold show.

Dan Skelton
2.10 - Value At Risk was a high class hurdler and won on his first start for the stable here at Newbury beating the progressive Foryourinformation by 22 lengths. He then ran on bad ground on Cheltenham trials day in January when he was only just denied before running a respectable 5th in the Albert Bartlett over 3m having led turning for home. Plan "A" though has always been chasing as he is big and strong individual and he is potentially very exciting. The stable have been able to tailor his preparation this season as opposed to last when he arrived with them late on. The planned prep run at Bangor didn't come off because of the going but if he is as good as the stable think he is then that shouldn't pose a problem and he looks like taking high rank.

3.15 - Ch'Tibello novice status runs out on 1st November so they just scrape into this one. He put in a decent performance on the flat in France for this stable before winning his only Hurdle at Compeigne over 2m 1f on heavy. He jumps well and is not short of speed. He was beaten by the 135h rated Francis Of Assisi at Fakenham in a 3 runner bumper going down by a neck. He then came up against a decent field at Ascot and finished 2nd to Altior 147h, who has since won again at Cheltenham beating Maputo 147h. There was 20 lengths back to the 3rd Vancouverite 132h at Ascot and Ch'Tibello runs off 137h here so he looks to have a chance at the weights if he runs up to form or even improves further.
The main danger is probably Nicholls San Benedeto(see above) who went up 12lb for his last win and runs here with a 6lb penalty so is effectively 6lb well in.

1.45 - Mister Mayagi is ideally suited by a strong run race which he should get. He is genuine and a very good jumper and the stable think plenty of him and they hope that he can make up in to a decent 2m novice hurdler. He won a Class 3 maiden hurdle at Cheltenham on his first start back in a pleasing fashion. The going and distance should be perfect today as long as it doesn't get any softer as he was pulled out of a Grade 2 last weekend because of the going. He should go well with his 7lb penalty for winning last time out.

Suggested Bets

Amanto 0.50 points ew @ 12/1 with Coral and others

Value At Risk 1 point win @ 11/4 with Paddy Power and others

Ch'Tibello 1 point win @ 100/30 with William Hill and Bet365

Saint Roque 1 point win @ 100/30 Ladbrokes

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Is it Value!.....or not???

"Smad Place, fifth without the benefit of a prep run 12 months ago, was my initial fancy after a sparkling return at Kempton, but the value has been squeezed out of him over the last couple of weeks".
Those are the words of Paul Kealy, who is a great tipster, in today's Weekender. Because there is no value he has now changed his mind and has picked another two runners in this weekends Hennessy and they are If In Doubt(10/1) and Theatre Guide.
What does he actually mean by "there is no value" - surely if by his thought process he thought Smad Place(6/1) was going to win a few weeks ago then it's still going to win, isn't it??, Has the form changed??
If anyone knows what he actually means then please comment below.

Onto today and neither stable has any runners - Dan Skelton had 2 winners from 3 runners yesterday which was always a possibility as I wrote in yesterday's blog post.

There is a Class 2 Sprint Handicap at Kempton at 7.15 tonight which looks decent and Lancelot Du Lac looks a worthy fav. Of those at higher odds one at an interesting price on his debut on the All Weather at Kempton is Boy In The Bar who is now with Ian Williams having left Ed De Giles after just 3 runs. Prior to that, Also this year, he was with Richard Fahey for 4 runs and that is where his best form was shown in a couple of decent handicaps.
He was 2nd of 17 to Algar Lad at York in a Class 2 Handicap off a mark of 92 in May and then at Hamilton in July he was a running on 4th behind Poyle Vinnie, Tatlisu and Shared Equity in another Class 2 Handicap. Poyle Vinnie went on to finish 2nd in the Ayr Gold Cup off an 8lb higher mark, Tatlisu won the Ayr Silver Cup on the same mark and Shared Equity won the Coral Sprint Trophy off a 4lb higher mark - whilst Boy In The Bar has dropped 8lbs.
In addition the 5th and 6th Eccleston and Another Wise Kid both won.
I was at York when Boy In The Bar was second and remember him looking particularly well in the pre parade ring.
He could be capable of a good run for his new trainer on his first start at Kempton back at 6f, re united with his jockey at Hamilton Joe Fanning and on an 8lb lower mark.
The negatives are he is drawn 11 on the outside of the field and the fact that he doesn't wear blinkers - his best form has been with them on and those factors probably account for him drifting in the market but at 33/1 generally he looks worth a risk with a small ew at one fifth the odds on the first 3 home.

We will know whether he was value or not once they reach the finishing post!!

Good Luck.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Helter Skelter Skelton!

Dan Skelton runs 3 today at Lingfield and they are as follows :

Lingfield - Heavy, soft in places
2.00 - Master Jake seems to be a lover of heavy going and was purchased after showing a good level of form in Irish point to points. He had his first run for this stable at Hexham over 2m on heavy in a Class 4 novices hurdle which he duly won by an unchallenged 18 lengths. Today's conditions should be ideal once again and no doubt Harry Skelton will be keen to take advantage of that and the fact that he stays well and he has a fav's chance despite his 7lb penalty.

2.30 - Rock Of Leon ran three times over the jumps last season winning first time out at Fontwell when scraping home after idling having looked set to win by further. He was tried in a Grade 2 next time out at Haydock but he wasn't up to it. The stable think there is definitely more to come and he was pitched straight into a handicap hurdle off 124h first time out this season at Stratford when he finished 5th of 11 after being unable to quicken between the last two hurdles. On his next and last start he came here and ran in a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over 2m 3 1/2 f on soft and I must confess I didn't think he had a great chance but he won by three quarters of a length off a mark of 123h. He has gone up 6lb to 129 and Harry Skelton rides - hopefully he will be able to keep him up to his work as Rock Of Leon tends to idle when in front. 
It's not the greatest race so Rock Of Leon could well follow up his win LTO and the danger could be one time useful Lovcen on his first start for 544 days  - he may be worth a small ew at 8/1 as it's quarter odds a place on first two home.

3.00 - Wilton Milan ran eight times for Paul Nicholls last season winning just the once at Newbury in a Class 3 Conditional Jockeys Handicap Chase over 2m 2f 64y on going described as Soft when wearing first time cheek pieces. That was off a mark of 123 and he is currently rated 127c. He ran a reasonable race from 2lb out of the handicap on his return at Chepstow. He then stepped up to 3m 1f for the Listed Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton on Soft where he was pulled up before 3 out after a couple of jumping errors. His former trainer didn't think he properly stayed 3m and he was probably right...but not to be deterred the stable have another go at 2m 7f 110y on heavy going this time in a Class 3. He could run well but then he might also be pulled up.

No bets today as no value in prices available.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Banish those Monday morning blues!

Well we missed a winner on Saturday in Baradari. I simply didn't have enough spare time to devote to writing up the blog. One thing for sure is there was no attempt to preserve a handicap mark for Baradari he took up the lead and powered away on his favoured soft going to win by 7 lengths and 12 lengths in the very competitive Grade 3 - Class 1 Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle over 2m 7f. Only a 5yo he will make some chaser when he switches to the larger obstacles when the going gets tough.

Paul Nicholls didn't have the greatest of weekends with only Irving winning although Ptit Zig and Silvianaco Conti both fought as hard as they could in the face of difficult tasks. The stable seem to be having a short break now as they have nothing entered up until Thursday at Newbury and Taunton where they have a total of 17 entries.

Dan Skelton though has runners out at Kempton this afternoon which are reviewed below :

1.05 - Two Taffs Won a bumper at Market Rasen on his only start for the stable last March. Chasing is said to be his game as he is a very good jumper, although his dam was an unraced sister to the high class staying hurdler Teaatral, He returned to the fray in a Class 4 novices hurdle at Bangor over 2m finishing 3rd beaten two short heads to Lady Yeats and Dashing Oscar. Lady Yeats was comprehensively beaten by the stables Welsh Shadow at Haydock on Friday. There should be a stronger pace here so hopefully that will suit him better and he does have some speed at the finishing end too. That said he is up against some decent sorts here in Air Horse One and Brain Power both look to be exciting horses as they start their novice hurdling campaigns and this race could prove informative as it has been won by horses that have gone on to be top class in the past with Henderson winning it 4 times in the last 10 years.
Brain Power 1st 7/4F
Two Taffs 2nd 11/2
Air Horse One 7th

1.35 - Stephanie Frances finished 2nd to The New One on her return and then ironically fell, after jumping well, on her chasing debut, when clipping the heels of another horse when leaving the back straight. Hopefully none the worse for that experience she might be able to make use of her 7lb mares allowance against this much better than average field of runners. She has been pulled out when the going has turned soft and this may well be her last run until the spring. Vaniteux though could be top class over the larger obstacles and second place may be the best she can do. 
Vaniteux 1st 8/11F
Stephanie Frances Fell

2.10 - Fairytale Theatre seems to be a bit under the radar at Lodge Hill Stables as she is rarely mentioned by anyone even though she made the frame in Grade 2/Listed company last season. She returns here in this Listed hurdle over 3m 110y and Harry Skelton rides her for the first time but the whole field has a lot to find with Hendersons Polly Peachum who is 22lb higher on ratings than Fairytale Theatre but only concedes her 8lbs.
Fairytale Theatre 3rd 5/1
Polly Peachum 2nd 

3.15 - Walk On Al - It was thought that anything Walk On Al did over hurdles was a bonus as he is more of a chaser but he could only finish 3rd and 5th on his only two starts last season before picking up an injury. He returned at Wetherby in a Class 3 Handicap hurdle and finished 7th of 13 over a trip short of his best. The 3m here is more up his street and he has been dropped 4lbs to 120h and with the first run hopefully bringing him on he should give a good account. Monetary Fund seems to be on an attractive mark over hurdles and could be good for a place too.
Walk On Al
Monetary Fund 3rd 8/1

3.45 - Closest Friend  trotted up at Market Rasen winning by 17 lengths and as a result he was given a fair mark of 127, however the form didn't amount to much. Going right handed seems to suit him hence his race entries so far and he is a good jumper. He wasn't able to take advantage of bottom weight at Ascot when stepped up in the Class 1 Listed Handicap hurdle on his next start as he weakened rapidly before the last. He looks to have better prospects here off 125h back in this Class 3 Conditional Jockeys Handicap over 2m and he should be capable of further improvement and I expect a bold run on this easier track but may play second best to 3yo Paddys Runner who is rated 127h and carries 16lb less than Closest Friend with Tom Bellamy's 3lb claim.
Paddy's Runner 2nd
Closest Friend 5th


Closest Friend 0.50 points ew @ 14/1 with Stan James and Sporting bet - 12/1 elsewhere - Unfortunately jockey decided to give the entire field a head start and was always pushed to get back into it - one to write off!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Betfair Chase Day at Haydock

It's a busy Saturday for the stables that we are following with 8 runners or so each but because of time constraints I'm just going to cover Paul Nicholls at Ascot :

12.20 - Red Hanrahan was purchased at the Cheltenham April Sales for 150,000 having won his second Irish point at Durrow on heavy going impressively having fallen on his debut. He is a scopey gelding by what promises to be a top national hunt sire and he seems to possess plenty of stamina. Whether his price tag is justified remains to be seen. He returned at Wetherby on good to soft going in a national hunt novices hurdle over 2m 3f 154y where he fell 3 out when leading by 3 lengths and looking as though he would have won, he was going so well. He steps up a couple of furlongs now and he has a very good chance of recording a win. Neumond, American and Label Des Obeaux appear to be the main dangers in that order.

2.05 - Ptit Zig was a Grade 1 hurdle winner but chasing was always been the long term plan and he won 4 chases on the bounce between November and January last season. Consequently he started this season on a rating of 157 and he went over to Down Royal in the Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Chase over 2m 4f on yielding to soft. Paul Nicholls thinks he will stay 3m so the extra furlong, soft going and stiff right handed track will all help his cause here in this Grade 2. The initial plan for the first half of the season had been the King George but that appears to have been revised to the Peterborough Chase. He has a tendency to jump out to his right and his jumping was a bit sketchy at Down Royal but I would imagine he will have been heavily schooled since then but that said his jumping is probably the reason for not going for the King George. Even with race fitness on his side he is going to find it difficult to give 5lb to Vautour as Ptit Zig's handicap rating is 12lb inferior to Vautour's.

3.15 - Fago pulled up on his only appearance last season when he was top weight in a Chepstow handicap. An injury has prevented him from returning to the track since then. First time out in 2013 he was the stables entry in the Haldon Gold Cup and he was campaigned at Graded level so they obviously think he has the ability. He returned in a Listed handicap chase over 2m 3f at Wetherby on 30/10 off a rating of 145 and he ran an encouraging race to finish 2nd to Wakanda. He put in some great leaps there and he came up the straight on the bridle only to clout the last but I don't think he was pushed about on his first run back after his break and he will surely step up here and take all the beating. The 2m Class 2 handicap chase at Cheltenham in October saw a number of these come up against each other when Dan Skelton's Workbench finished 2nd to Boondooma with Dunraven Storm third and Turn Over Sivola 5th(NR). It's more likely than not that Workbench will again come out best of that trio.

3.50 - 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. Said to be big and backward the chances are he will need the run and he will do well if he gets close to Alan King's Criq Roq.

Toby Lerone and Fou Et Sage would be the most likely winners of the Dan Skelton's for me but a few others could run well too. At Haydock Silvianaco Conti, Irving and Alcala all look likely of bold shows for Paul Nicholls.

Alcala - 0.50 points ew at 10/1 with Paddy Power, Betfred and others
Fago - 0.50 points ew at 6/1 with Betfred and Totesport

Good Luck !!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Friday Again!!

I was pretty much bang on with my stable horse appraisals yesterday and there are 7 runners today to look at below :

Dan Skelton
Ascot - Soft, good to soft in places. There doesn't appear to be any further rain due.
1.30 - Bon Chic was due to run at Wincanton yesterday but was taken out because of the heavy going and presumably she doesn't want it overly soft and performs better on good so that is a big negative today. The stables early plan is to campaign her with the Listed mares novice chase final at Cheltenham in April in mind. Her jockey Robert Dunne only has a 3% strike rate this season and she is one for another day when the going is more in her favour.

2.40 - Squire Trelawney has been with the stable a while but his first win from 7 starts for them came last time out at Wincanton in a 6 runner Class 4 novices limited handicap chase over 2m 4f on good. He has been off for 557 days prior to that win so there may be a "bounce" factor to consider. He has gone up 6lb for that win and is on a workable mark of 114c which brings him into this Class 3 on bottom weight of 10-1 which is Ryan Mahon's lowest riding weight in last 12 months. The stable thought he would improve for the run pre race last time even though he had done a lot of work. He is a sound jumper who should appreciate the softer going, longer distance and stiffer track. Of his opponents Tenor Nivernais and Garrahalish are back down to their last winning marks,

Haydock - Soft, heavy in places. There are patches of rain in the area at present.
1.55 - Welsh Shadow is another from the stable that is highly thought of being related to Celestial Gold and he won his bumper by 7 lengths beating Duelling Banjo's who won the Class 4 novices hurdle at Kempton recently. He was comprehensively beaten by Champion Bumper 4th Yanworth, who has since won again, on his first run back at Exeter in a Class 3 2m1f novices hurdle on soft going. He remains at a similar distance in this Class 1 Listed race and the stable will be hoping of a better showing here on his second run back as I would imagine they have aspirations of the festival with this horse but odds on ain't for me.

3.05 - 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 failed to settle and pulled hard and it is hoped the first race has taken out some of the fizz and brought him on too.

Paul Nicholls
1.20 - Solar Impulse has won twice from 13 starts for Paul Nicholls so he doesn't win as regular as some in the stable. That said he is on a fairly stiff chase mark of 149c due to consistent form in good company running with smart novice form with Josses Hill, Three Kingdoms and Monetaire. The stable have chosen to go down the graduation chase route and that works in his favour today as he is favourably weighted with his two opponents - ie Doctor Phoenix would be 13lb better off in a handicap, however his trainer is excited by his potential and that's why he may be prepared to overlook the weight disadvantage. As Solar Impulse is still only 5 he is open to further improvement however Paul Nicholls was saying about 12 days ago that he was "a bit behind the others at present". He has had a breathing operation and will need the run and I personally think the stable are a bit confused as to what his ideal conditions are as he 's back over 2m here on soft against two horses that have a race fitness edge - the cheek pieces are also re employed. The Tizzard stable had the runaway winner in this race last season in Third Intention as I was there and I remember it being a particularly "bad day at the office"for Sam Twiston Davies - so Kings Lad could hand out some more punishment on going that he will like as Doctor Phoenix will try to make this a test.

1.55 - Marracudja had a breathing operation over the summer. After his run at Doncaster last December he was put away. He duly rewarded patience when he made a comfortable winning return at Wincanton on 25th October in a Class 4 national hunt novices hurdle. He then followed up that win at the same course in a Class 3 national hunt novices hurdle over 2m on soft winning by a comfortable 9 lengths He.jumps well, possesses speed and a flat track probably suits, that said he probably doesn't want it too soft so the going may be going against him. He is progressing well and the stable are looking forward to his 2m chasing career already. - NON RUNNER

2.30 - Silsol ran 4 times last season winning twice at Newbury and Ffos Las on soft and heavy so he should have no trouble with conditions here. He is the highest rated hurdler Nicholls has sent chasing this year and the stable think there is more scope for progress in this code, particularly on soft ground. There are no frills with this horse he is solid and dependable and jumps well and the plan has always been to campaign him in the north as the stable are high in the novice chase department. He won on his return at Carlisle beating a couple of good horses and he should have come on a bit for the run. However he faces two decent rivals here in Minella Rocco and Private Malone but Silsol's race fitness should give him the edge on going he likes.


Squire Trelawney 0.50 points ew @ 11/2 with Bet365, BetVictor and William Hill

Silsol 1 point win @ 7/4 with several bookmakers
Baratineur 0.50 points ew @ 7/1 with several bookmakers

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Thursday at Market Rasen and Wincanton

Dan Skelton
Market Rasen - Good to Soft(Soft in places) on the Hurdles track
12.30 - 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 should give a good account in this national hunt novices hurdle. He should like the cut in the going but some of the stable runners have just been needing a run to put them right
2.05 - Work In Progress looked a nice horse when winning at Kempton on his first start back and then under a penalty he was beaten by Nicky Hendersons useful looking Hunters Hoof at Aintree 1 week later when there was 12 lengths back to the third horse home - having made the running he was there to be shot at. He's gone up a further 8lb for that run to 135h and although he is a progressive sort any further softening of the going would be against him and another Henderson recruit Clondaw Banker(120h) could foil him again having won on soft last time out. 

Paul Nicholls

Wincanton - Soft(heavy in places) - plenty of rain about the area this am.
1.50 - San Benedeto has had 12 races under rules to date with 6 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 a speedy type. He missed a planned engagement at Chepstow before returning at Kempton in a Class 1 Listed novices hurdle over 2m when beaten by Maputo(138h) into 3rd and Nicholls was disappointed with that run and he steps him up in distance today in a Class 3 and the extra runners may help to settle him down. Maputo was half length 2nd to Altior(143h) on levels at Cheltenham. If San Benedeto improves for his outing and the step up in distance, which is likely, you would hope he would be up to running well in this at his local track off a rating of 130h. However the going has gone against him and that has led to him drifting in the betting.

3.30 - Present Man has had just the 4 races under rules having come from point to points. He is a chaser for the future but needs more experience. Weak last season he was put away after his run in February and had a breathing op over the summer, although the stable now reach for the first time tongue tie. He returned on 25/10 here in a Class 4 novices hurdle over 2m 5f finishing 2nd beaten 8 lengths and although he was said to have needed the run he seemed to lack tactical speed. The softer going may help his cause in this similar race. He is up against Harry Fry's 5 time point winner Whataknight and David Dennis's Final Nudge who are both being backed and should run well.

No Bets today

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Midweek at Warwick

Paul Nicholls
12.40 - Varom hasn't run for 663 days and wears a first time tongue tie on his return in this conditional jockeys handicap hurdle. He sustained an injury last season but that could have been a blessing in disguise as he was continuing to develop. His 17 year old jockey Harry Cobden should be full of confidence after his wins on the stables progressive hurdler Old Guard and if Varom has improved for his time off he is on an interesting mark of 109h. 

2.50 - Le Prezien ran a promising race at Strasbourg before being acquired by Anthony Bromley for the Million In Mind Partnership. Although he is unlikely to beat Yanworth he should give a good account and he will probably improve as the season progresses and the fences get bigger.

Dan Skelton
1.10 - Winterfell won in France over 2m 2f on soft when making most of the running before sprinting clear to win by 5 lengths at the end of September. Dan Skelton seems to think a lot of this horse and he looks capable of giving the fav a run for his money in this 3yo juvenile hurdle.

1.45 - 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 behind one of today's rivals Hollies Pearl whom she meets on 7lb better terms today. Although today's race is one a half furlongs further she will still jump 11 hurdles as at Chepstow and it's the jumping aspect that seems to have brought about her improvement but she should be thereabouts.

2.50 - Blue Prairie hasn't shown much to date and he drops back down in distance to 2m. Unless the penny suddenly drops he is set for minor honours at best.

3.20 - Arthamint won a maiden bumper at Ludlow last December but then never progressed from there in 3 runs. He returned at Ludlow after a breathing operation and finished 6th after pulling hard. Said to be more of a chasing prospect his next run came in a 4 runner novice handicap chase at Lingfield over 2m 4f on soft which he won by 2 lengths but was then subsequently disqualified - his jockey having weighed in light. He looks to be improved for tackling the larger obstacles and he runs here off a workable mark of 101c - plus the step up to 3m may bring further improvement and he holds a decent chance.

No bets today although Varom, Winterfell and Arthamint are all capable of winning.

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Open Meeting at Cheltenham

A mixed bag from yesterdays results for the Nicholls and Skelton stables.

Onto tomorrow :

Paul Nicholls
1.40 - As De Mee Ran 7 times last season winning three including the EBF Final at Sandown by 2 lengths from stablemate Great Try. Said to have matured and strengthened up over the summer - he looks to have a bright future ahead of him. Returned at Chepstow in a Class 2 novice chase finishing 2nd to the more chase experienced Cocktails At Dawn. He was said to have needed the run so that makes it that much better and also the fact that the third placed horse Native River easily won next time out in another Class 2 novice chase beating Abracadabra Sivola who had himself finished 2nd to Nicholls It's A Close Call also at Chepstow. The form seems to be stacking up and as this horse can only progress as the season goes on he should put up a bold run today.

2.15 - Alcala  - A bumper winner in France he was fourth of eight on his debut in this country in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in 2014 behind Activial(OR153), Commisioned(OR154) and stablemate Solar Impulse, He ran just the once last season in a Novice Hurdle and finished 6th of seventeen having choked. He was given a breathing operation thereafter but didn't reappear. He is said to have strengthened up having been given plenty of time and he returned to win in eyecatching style at Worcester in a maiden hurdle over 2m 4f. Paul Nicholls seems to be in an quandary as to where to run this horse as he keeps chopping and changing his plans - the fact is he is currently on a favourable handicap mark but how long that lasts may be decided by what he does today. However that said he is up against three talented individuals and this should be a fascinating race to watch as any of them have the potential to win. If Alcala runs well here he will probably turn out 
in  the Fixed Brush handicap hurdle at Haydock next weekend.

2.50 - Sire Collonges - I'm not overly fussed by these races other than at the festival, however I'm sure Sire Collonges will run his usual consistent race but whether that is good enough on his first run back is far from clear. An old Nicholls inmate Saint Are ran a great race in the Grand National to finish second to Many Clouds and his jockey Paddy Brennan knows his way round this course.

3.25 - Mon Successeur was previously trained by Guillame Macaire in France and won his only two starts over fences before joining Paul Nicholls. He is only a 4yo 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. He is switched here to a  novices handicap hurdle over 2m and the stable feel there is plenty of improvement to come albeit that may be on a right handed track but Harry Cobden takes off a useful 7lbs and he may be better off jumping hurdles at this stage.
4.00 - Minellahalfcentury ran 4 times for the stable last season winning once at Chepstow in a Class 3 novice handicap chase over 3m on good to soft. The welsh national looks to be his target and he will improve for today's run out.

Dan Skelton
1.05 - Le Bacardy returned at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase where he finished 6th after a couple of errors and he has been dropped 2lb by the handicapper. Although this is a Class 2 I'm not sure it's an easier race and his jumping will need to be up to scratch if he is to trouble the judge. He's a 9yo so he is unlikely to find any more improvement and he is considered to be a spring horse in any event so although he may run well I don't feel drawn to him.

3.25 - Benissimo

3.25 - Adrakhan Was given a light campaign last season running just three times. His best run came when he was 2nd in a Class 4 3yo Juvenile Hurdle at Warwick over 2m on Soft when he was beaten by Chatez who went on to win the Doncaster Spring Mile on the flat in March beating Buckstay.
Adrakhan progressed on his first two runs and the soft going put paid to his run at Musselburgh and he can be forgiven that. He started on a mark of 112h on his first race back in a Class 4 Maiden Hurdle at Market Rasen winning by half a length and this race was put up as his next target. Some of the stable runners have been improving for a run and he is probably capable of stepping up again even though he is up 6lb for his win.


As De Mee 1 point win @ 7/2 with several bookmakers
Adrakhan 0.50 points ew @ 16/1 Sportingbet, 14/1 elsewhere

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thursday at Ludlow and Taunton

I'm not going to write too much this am as I want to do a post for Cheltenham later on today as I will be away for the weekend and the next post after that will be on Tuesday.

Dan Skelton

1.30 - Fouburg is a full brother to Fou Et Sage who was disappointing on his first run for the stable recently. Fouburg has plenty of jumping experience from his time in France and is said not to be without pace but may have his work cut out to beat Alan Kings Who Dares Wins. Who Dares Wins beats Fouburg.

2.30 - Robin Of Locksley - a winning Irish pointer and second in a bumper he was then purchased by the stable at Cheltenham March sale. He is out of a half sister to the fairly useful 2m chaser Belstone Fox. A horse with ability, he ran with a lot of promise on his return at Cheltenham recently in a Class 2 novice hurdle over 2m 5f on good going. A big strong scopey looking individual he should be suited by the slightly easier going and with a run under his belt he has definite claims of winning this if he settles better. 2nd 11/4

3.40 - Pumped Up Kicks was a Listed winner in a mares novice chase at Cheltenham last spring and she also ran well in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen despite the going being a little faster than she cares for. She prefers good and the stable think that she is capable of picking up a nice race and she has reportedly done well this autumn. A very good jumper she may have a spring target in something like the Topham at Aintree. She finished 8th of 8 on her reappearance in the Listed Bet365 Handicap Chase at Wetherby over 2m three and a half furlongs off a mark of 132c when the going was softer than ideal and she may have needed the run to bring her on, but that said I think the stable were expecting a better showing than she gave. She has dropped a 1lb and Ian Popham takes the ride again. The going should be perfect and she drops back into Class 3 in which she won her last race although she is the only mare in the race. I think she will run a lot better than last time and she is worth an ew. PU

Paul Nicholls


2.40 - Modus was second in the champion bumper and will be very short in the betting. 1st 1/3 fav

3.10 - Amanto has yet to win for the stable from 6 starts including 1 flat race when he was second to Lil Rockerfeller at Newbury. He is said to be a lazy sort who has been green and backward and no doubt the stable will be hoping for a lot better from him today and with a rating of 115h and with Harry Cobden's 7lb claim he must have a chance of going close now that he has strengthened up. 2nd

3.40 - Howlongisafoot ran seven times last season winning twice at Taunton and Plumpton off marks of 125 and 130 in small fields. Said to be suited by an easy three miles or stiff two and a half as well as decent ground he should be capable of progressing further having reportedly had a good summer. He finished 5th on his first start back recently and although the choice of Sam Twiston Davies he is not one of the stable stars and although he will come on for that run I am not sure he is good enough to win this. 1st

3.40 - Black River ran three times for the stable last season winning on his first start at Taunton, beating Irish Cavalier but then failing to progress and finally succumbing to an injury. Overall he has been a bit disappointing but it is hoped he can step up this time around and the good going will be in his favour today. He has only had 9 races to date so is open to further improvement as the season progresses particularly as he's only 6yo. He wears a first time tongue tie and that may have some significance as he won when wearing first time cheek pieces so he may respond to that and 132c is a workable mark and he has prospects of running well against his stable companion. In addition he is one of just three horses to have beaten Vautour - albeit in 2013 in France. 3rd

4.10 - Rob Robin bled on his second start after showing some promise on his first at Ludlow last November. He's had a breathing operation over the summer to help his cause. The chances are he has improved further since then and although not a stable star he has prospects of being in the first three here.

1 point win Robin Of Locklsley @ 5/2 with Bet365 and Paddy Power - 2nd
0.50 point ew Pumped Up Kicks @ 8/1 with several firms - PU
0.50 point ew Black River @ 6/1 with Bet365, Willaim Hill and Paddy Power - 3rd
0.50 point ew Amanto @ 6/1 with Coral and William Hill - 2nd
0.50 point ew Rob Robin @ 10/1 with several firms 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Piling On The Pressure!

A very sad day for racing yesterday with the passing of Pat Eddery who wass one of the best jockeys that I have been fortunate to watch in my lifetime.
A strong jockey he was someone, as a punter, you could have every confidence in to deliver the goods and as a role model he was a racing icon you could aspire to be - he will be greatly missed by many.
He rode in some great races - not least the Bustino(Mercer) v Grundy(Eddery) match which is probably best remembered through the words of another legend Sir Peter O'Sullivan :
"As they race towards the furlong pole it's Bustino and Grundy together, then comes Dahlia and On My Way. Bustino on the far side, Grundy on the near side. The 3yo and the 4yo as they race into the final 150 yards and it's Grundy going on from Bustino and Dahlia and On My Way. Bustino is fighting his way back but Grundy is holding him and as they come to the line Grundy wins it!".

There was no change on the luck front yesterday - I ignored the two Skelton runners at Lingfield and they both won ! - albeit the second of those Arthamint was disqualified because David England, his jockey, weighed in 1.5lbs light. The explanation was that he had gone down to the start early and must have sweated it off - but that said he won well in this small field and he is a winner without a penalty.

Onto today and Bangor with just the two runners for Dan Skelton.
Paul Nicholls had several entered up at Exeter but they have presumably been taken out because of the heavy going.

Bangor - Soft, going stick 6.1 - will probably remain so as showers forecast in the area.
2.00 - What A Good Night would have won three on the trot last season but for falling when well clear at Southwell. His dam was an unraced half sister to 2003 Hennessy winner Strong Flow(OR140). He sounds a bit of a character that needs strong handling but  he is an improving sort. That said he's been let down by his jumping on occasions not least last time out when he fell at the last with the race at his mercy. He's gone up 7lb since that race and therefore he is now 16lb higher than his last win which seems a bit harsh. He also steps up two classes here to Class 2 which is the highest grade he has ever run in and that will no doubt put more pressure on his jumping ability. The stable are testing the water, it would seem, but he has race fitness on most of the the field which paid with the stables Rock Of Leon yesterday. His price is currently between 5/1 and 15/2 so there is a range of thought as to what his prospects are.
4.00 - Mister Kalanisi is returning from a long break and is probably best watched.

No Bets today