Friday, 29 January 2016

It's very windy out there !



A busy start to the weekend for the stables we are following and particularly Dan Skelton who sends out nine runners across the two NH meetings on today although they seem to be more his "B" team save for Minella Experience. In some races he doubles up so take care on those.

It's very windy outside in the North of the UK - I'm not sure what it's like in other parts. I know that the wind will make it very testing for the horses at Doncaster as they are not that well protected coming up the straight and you may see some challenges coming late as the jockeys seek to get cover from the wind. One good thing is that the better going here has brought out plenty of runners and with the strong winds it should dry out even more.

Just to remind you that the blog normally covers sprint races - hence the title but this year during the winter I have decided to follow a couple stables and come the end of March I will be reverting back to the sprint calendar.
You also have to remember, when reading the blog, that I am not a tipster and I have no connection to either yard - I am basically putting together information, readily available, from what connections have previously said and looking at the form of each particular horse to try and make it easier to work out what is going to happen in the races based on a lifetimes experience. It may well be that, sometimes, I will select a winner or it may well be that you will see it differently to me and follow your own thoughts.

Paul Nicholls

Doncaster - Good to Soft, Good in places
1.25 Moabit has done all his racing in France to date and won his last two races over 1m 5f in comfortable fashion. He's been gelded, has a tongue tie on for the first time and gets a handy 4yo weight allowance in this Class 4 novices hurdle. He should get plenty of cover in this big field and you would hope that he will be able to Goabit and close to winning this. His price of 7/2 probably reflects the indifferent form that the stable are in but the going has been put up for a lot of excuses so far and there shouldn't be a problem with that today.

3.05 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. He's still a novice due to his time off and he returned in a Class 3 novices limited handicap chase off a mark of 130c over 2m 7f on good to soft which he duly won after jumping well. That was his first run for 570 days but it was said that he had done loads of work at home. The better ground will suit as will the flat track and he should improve for that first run back against this stiffer opposition. The runners will have to tough it out up the straight here as there will be no cover and his age should help in that regard. Odds available 11/4.

3.40 Rainy City has his first run in over a year as he's needed to strengthen up. He has had a breathing operation in the meantime. He won a bumper here with little fuss so we know he can operate on the track and there's a good chance he will progress further for his colourful owners but Big Chief Benny and See The World look to be formidable opponents. Odds available 10/1.

Dan Skelton
Doncaster
1.25 Levelling didn´t race on Flat for John Gosden (unruly at the start once last winter) but decent pedigree (one half-brother won a bumper) and with another good yard after 6,000gns sale in October. Probably the stable first string today on jockey bookings but is one to watch for the future. Odds available range from 16/1 to 40/1 with Ladbrokes.

1.25 Lynda's Boy finished 9th of 9 on his debut for the stable 63 days ago at this track in a Class 6 bumper and he will need to have improved a fair bit here to figure it would seem and I think we can just watch him today - odds available are various and is 80/1 with Skybet.

3.40 Tipperairy should improve for his run at Ascot last time but he's up against it here and is probably best watched on this occasion. Odds available 33/1.


Huntingdon - Good to Soft, soft in places Hurdles and Soft, Good to Soft in places on the chase course.
1.00 Blue Prairie has been poor to date and I can't see things getting any better here so I am happy to ignore for today's post.

1.35 Dragon De La Tour is the mount of Bridget Andrews so presumably is the second string in this and for that purpose I will ignore today and have a watching brief.

1.35 Minella Experience is ridden by Harry Skelton on his debut for the stable. He is said to be a big strong chasing type that has needed a little bit of time hence his time off. His last run was in an Irish point in March when he finished 2nd and following that he was sold to connections at the Cheltenham sales for 55,000. He is a full brother to the stables What A Good Night who was running well in the Betfred Classic at Warwick before suffering interference and trying to read between the lines this horse could have more ability - so the 20/1 on offer here is definitely worth a look. Odds available 16/1 various.

3.15 At The Top returned at Southwell in a Class 4 national hunt novices hurdle on 09/11 to finish 4th. She then filled that position again at the same track over the same course and distance and on both occasions she's lacked a bit of pace. The stable think she has a bright future if she can get it together on the track. There's no mares allowance here on her first start in a novices chase and she has to give weight to all the boys but she is out of a half sister to Azertyuiop so something may click in a line up that is limited on any chase experience. Odds available 6/4.

3.50 Abricot De L'Oasis is said to prefer decent ground and has his first run here since 21/11 when finishing 3rd of 6 in a Class 3 2m handicap hurdle on good to soft off a mark of 123h. That day he tried to make all the running under his jockey Miss G Andrews but faded towards the finish and he's been dropped 3lb to 120h. Bridget Andrews takes over today and she can claim 5lb's an extra two compared to LTO. He won two handicap chases last term for his previous trainer Donald McCain and he returned with a win for this stable at Aintree over 2m 4f in October. Hopefully he will have improved for his little break and the step back up in distance should also help. Odds available 100/30.

4.20 Al Reesha is a filly from a flat bred family so we may see some improvement on the better going here. She started her career at Warwick in a Class 6 bumper over 2m on good to soft in which she finished 6th of the 17 runners where she weakened towards the finish having been held up in the early part of the race and consequently she is dropped down in distance today. It's 86 days since she ran but that is probably down to the consistently heavy going that we have endured of late. There's probably a number of unexposed types in this but she should be capable of being there or thereabouts but whether that is good enough who knows. It's a question of whether you want to take the chance of her being placed at the 40/1 available.

Bets
Minella Experience 0.50 points ew at 16/1
Moabit 1 point win at 7/2
Saint Roque 1 point win at 11/4

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Immortal Mullins !!



I don't know about you but I've been watching Immortal Egypt on BBC2 with Joann Fletcher for the last few weeks and it's been a great historical series full of insight as to what it was like to live in those ancient times and well worth a view on Catch up tv if you like that sort of programme.
We know that right through time people have always strived to be better than others whether it be the tombs of the ancient Egyptian kings, the gardens of the European palaces, the motor cars of the rich and famous today or just your own neighbours.
Likewise the stories in racing are dominated by who is going to be the best, who is going to be champion trainer or have the most winners at Cheltenham, Aintree or Punchestown.
This year the form of the Willie Mullins stable is so good that it's looking like being a "Walk Over".
In fact the bookies are now betting on whether Paul Nicholls will have any winners at all at Cheltenham - which seems a bit harsh - although it's been a tough season so far with so few of his horses running up to expectations.
For me I hope it's not all one way traffic at Cheltenham and the winners are spread right across the board and everyone has a share of the pie.

Looking ahead to this weekend we have a favourite race of mine in the Sky Bet Chase up at Doncaster. The going there is currently good to soft although I expect at the end of storm Jonas things could be a whole lot different and heavy could be on the agenda again !
The field at the 5 day stage has been reduced by 24 with significant non participants being Drop Out Joe, Sego Success and Tenor Nivernais. The latter is trained by Venetia Williams who also has Aachen and Renard in the lineup and she is getting her usual amount of success in these 3m+ chases this season. They are aged 11 and 12 but we have seen over the last few months that older age is a positive in these attritional conditions that we are having.
The chances are that Aachen, along with Buywise, will be joint top weight on a rating of 151c and we have seen in the last 3 running's of the race the top rated Medermit finish 6th off a mark of 154c, Unioniste finish 3rd off 153c and Calgary Bay win off 151c. Whoever is at the top of the handicap I can see the weights going up 6lb at least and that would put Renard, who finished 4th in the race last season off a mark of 141c. bang on 10-0 as he has dropped 14lb in the ratings to 127c. He ran a bit better last time out at Wincanton and he has always run well at this track in the past. I don't think he will win but he is the outsider of the field at 33/1 so place money could be on and I've already invested a few quid.
Of the others Alan Kings Ziga Boy strikes me as the likely winner having won easily at the track during Christmas week and although up 15lb for that he is still a 7yo on a mark of 132c and Tom Bellamy who claims 3lb is already down to ride. If the weights do go up he would be on about 10-2/10-4 which is a handy weight to have in this race for an improver. Doing Fine, Black Thunder, Le Mercurey, Coologue and Dolatulo should make it an intriguing contest.

Onto today - Paul Nicholls runners at the weekend didn't actually run that badly albeit he only had 1 winner from 9 runners as he had 3 good seconds in Le Prezien, Connetable and Virak, however he has none out today, Dan Skelton picked up a winner on Friday, Saturday and Monday so he remains in reasonable form and he just has the one out today.

Dan Skelton

Leicester - Heavy, soft in places on the hurdles track
3.00 Knochgraffon has run just four times, three times for this stable finishing 221. He's a 3 mile chaser in the making and he's well up there in the rankings at the stable it would seem. He has been beaten by two Philip Hobbs horses in Kayf Adventure and Perform whom both have a lot of ability and Knockgraffon then went on to win at this track in a Class 4 novices hurdle on good to soft over 2m 4f 110y. He idled a bit there and how he'll cope on this heavier going is an unknown as he didn't do too well on it in a bumper at Warwick last season. Although he may win at the likely short odds I'm not putting him up as a bet.

On the current heavy going crisis, which will probably only get worse as the years go on, - perhaps we should be re visiting all weather National Hunt racing. 
We have seen at Kempton and Musselburgh an all weather surface being mixed with the turf track without too much trouble on the flat so why can't we have a purpose built NH track like this with the jumps being positioned on turf sections to prevent any jumping injuries as happened with the last trials on a purely artificial surface. 
These turf sections could be covered/protected with little effort to prevent them being waterlogged/frozen etc and therefore ease the burden of constant abandonments on the racing calendar. 
Anyone with any thoughts on this subject, including any jockeys or trainers who may be reading the blog, then please comment below.

No bets today

Saturday, 23 January 2016

It's just "Heavy" man !!



I spoke to soon yesterday about the word good being in the going report at Market Rasen as another deluge of rain soon got it back to heavy.

I'm afraid there is more of it on Saturday too at Haydock.

Dan Skelton's runners ran reasonably well on Friday so hopefully he will be able to pick up a few wins over the weekend.

Paul Nicholls didn't have any runners on Friday but runs a whole draft on Saturday when it is hoped he can regain winning ways but we have to take a slight leap of faith to hope he does so.

Dan Skelton
Haydock - Heavy
2.05 Its'afreebee won at Haydock last time over further but it will be a real test of stamina here. He’s said to be in very good form at home and he has Le Prezien and Vieux Lille to get the better of which may be beyond him today.

2.40 Fou Et Sage was a top class 4yo horse in France. He is said to have a lot of speed but the stable must be disappointed with what he has done so far in his two races in this country as he's finished last both times. That said the stable think he ran a lot better last time at Haydock. He’s fresh and well but he’s got a bit to find with The New One and Melodic Rendezvouz and his price probably reflects his chance on what we have seen to date..

4.20 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 then returned to this track last time out and ran well in a handicap to finish a short head second. He’s got a 6lb pull with Vintage Clouds so there’s not much between them on the book and he has a chance of winning.

Ascot
1.50 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 returned in a Listed hurdle over 3m 110y at Kempton and finished 3rd of 5. She then went to Sandown on 02/01 and finished 3rd to Polly Peachum in a Listed mares hurdle over 2m 4f on heavy.
She is almost certainly biting off more than she can chew here.

2.25 Value At Risk was a high class hurdler and won on his first start for the stable 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 he returned at Newbury for the Grade 2 Bet365 novices chase over 2m 7f 86y on going given as good to soft. Unfortunately he only got as far as the second fence when falling after jumping the first well. He was reportedly a bit sore afterwards and he then went to Huntingdon were the same thing happened again.
Chasing has now been put on hold for now but he’s said to be in great form at home and hopefully there will be no falls here back over hurdles. His handicap mark of 142 is not a stumbling block and the stable expect to get a good run out of him here.

Taunton
3.55 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 133c. 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 but he was able to get his neck in front at Lingfield over the distance at the end of November of 127c. He then went to Haydock for the Tommy Whittle off a 6lb higher mark but he was never a threat and finished 6th of the 10 runners. Bridget Andrews rides him for the first time here and takes off a valuable 5lbs on this switch back to hurdles over a shorter distance and with cheek pieces back on for the first time this season they should get his mind on the job.

Paul Nicholls
Haydock
2.05 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 and that one now has a hurdle rating of 148h. Next time out at Ludlow Le Prezien was a comfortable winner from Hobbs Casper King. He won as expected at Doncaster a fortnight ago and he should go close here as he continues to progress.

3.15 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 at present and he is probably right as he is now 15lb higher than his last win. That said he put in a good run in 2nd behind the improving Wakanda at Newcastle in the Class 1 Rehearsal Chase beaten half a length with 7 lengths back to the third and he was then 2nd again to the same horse at Ascot.
Harry Cobden retains the ride as he gets on well with the horse and takes 7lb off the top weight and as a bonus Virak has won twice here before. The stable have kept him fresh since Ascot when he stayed on well and he looks to have a decent chance.

Ascot
12.40 Connetable had some quite smart juvenile form in France before a setback in the autumn when he threw a splint. He is expected to improve for the run.

2.25 Monsieur Gibraltar Joined the stable in February 2015 after running several races in France of which he won two. Ran just once for the stable last season when winning at Newton Abbot by 9 lengths in a Class 4 Novice Hurdle for which he carried a double penalty. Looks to be another top recruit to the stable and is one of Paul Nicholls five to follow.
Nicholls was pleased with the way he ran at Kempton over Xmas under top weight when he loomed up looking a big threat between the last two flights before tiring in the closing stages.
He'd had an operation to sort out his wind before that race and he is said to be a lot sharper now and the trip should be fine so a big run is expected if he handles the soft conditions.

3.00 Vibrato Valtat  is one of the stable stars and a top class chaser. He was targeted at the Haldon Gold Cup which he won in fine style from Third Intention despite having to take up the running sooner than ideal and hitting the last. Although he had a breathing op the summer before last he still continues to wear a tongue tie. He kept improving last season and he's still a 7yo but that bit stronger now and more the completed article. He travels well and usually appreciates a lead into the race.
Produced a career best last time at Kempton behind Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy and needs to improve to win here but Nicholls is hopeful he can run well on the stiffer track and softer going and if the top two have a match Vibrato Valtat could benefit.

3.35 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 was reduced. 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 then went to Ascot and finished 6th behind Wakanda in the Class 1 Sodexo Silver Cup handicap chase off a mark of  148c. He travelled well there but didn't get home over three miles. This is said to be a much more suitable trip for Salubrious who has been ticking over nicely at home and should run a big race.

Taunton 
1.35 Mr Mix had just the one run in France at Auteuil when third beaten 9 lengths in the 3yo Listed Prix Finot hurdle over 2m 2f on going described as very soft. Should be capable of a bold show and can follow in the footsteps of Irish Saint(1st), Ptit Zig(9th) and Saphir Du Rheu(3rd)who also ran in the Prix Finot. One of Paul Nicholls five to follow for the season he has been given plenty of time to mature and develop as he's had a few temperamental issues. He started this season in a Class 3 NH Novices Hurdle over 2m at Stratford on soft going finishing 3rd of 11 to Charbel. He probably needed the run that day but that said he has run fairly well on both starts in finishing 3rd, with the second of those coming at Exeter behind Vieux Lille who runs in the Supreme trial at Haydock.

2.10 Clic Work is said to have had a little setback after joining the stable from France where he was narrowly beaten on his second start over hurdles at Nancy in May.
Those connected with the stable think he is a nice horse but he is expected to improve for the run and will probably need better ground in time.

3.20 Some Buckle came from the Roger Brookhouse exodus from Tom George. 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 he should be up to running well here in his first chase having run very well over hurdles at Cheltenham last time on his first start for the stable. He is said to be a lot sharper now and jumps fences well at home.

Bets
Some Buckle - 1 point win @ 9/4 with sporting odds - 2/1 elsewhere
Salubrious - 1 point win @ 5/1 with several bookmakers
Vibrato Valtat - 0.50 points ew @ 12/1 with several bookmakers
Baratineur - 1 point win @ 100/30 with several bookmakers

Friday, 22 January 2016

The word "Good" mentioned in Going description !!



Market Rasen have no problems with staging their meeting today and to see the word good in the going description is a very welcome sight.

Paul Nicholls continued his dismal run of form yesterday with no wins from 4 runners.

Dan Skelton comes back on the scene today with 5 runners as follows :

Market Rasen - Good to soft, soft in places on the hurdles course and soft, good to soft in places on the chase course. 

1.15 The Last Bar has his second run for the stable having finished 6th of 10 in a Class 4 Mares NH novices hurdle over 2m 3f 120y on good going at Doncaster on 28/11 where she was returning from a 9 month break. She didn't show much there and hopefully she will have come on a bit for that and if so she has place prospects - but we will know more after today - 33/1 in places.


1.50  Herons 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 prior to his break 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 seems to have 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. He then went to Bangor on 11/12 to contest a Class 4 NH novices hurdle over 2m 145y on soft where he finished 3rd of 8 finishing tamely.
He is now in his first handicap and has been allocated a mark of 106 which seems fair as he's done nothing to write home about since returning. The stable now reach for the first time tongue tie in the hope that he produces what he shows at home and perhaps the better going will help also but he really needs to produce it here.

2.55 Thinger Licht had a productive May to July when winning three times from lowly marks on joining the stable. The stable feel that there is further improvement to come off his rating of just 102c and he returns to chasing today and the scene of his last win which was in a Class 4 Conditional jockeys handicap hurdle over 2m 4f 139y on good going. Harry Skelton takes over the reins and there's every chance he could run a big race.

3.30 Great Link has been with a number of trainers over the years but he won for this stable at Market Rasen in June. He likes a bit of cut in the going and the stable think he is capable of winning more races off his handicap mark of 115h. He's ran in two Class 3 handicap chases this season over 2m 4f at Aintree and Leicester and although 2nd at Aintree he hasn't really got home on both occasions. He's back in a hurdle today for the first time since May 2014 and he is on going that is slightly better so the stable will be hoping he can perform and Harry Skelton has chosen him over Captain Kelly who returns from a lengthy break under Bridget Andrews.

Bets
Thinger Licht - 0.50 points ew at 6/1 with William Hill and Stan James
Great Linl - 0.50 points ew at 9/1 with several bookmakers

Thursday, 21 January 2016

God Bless Wincanton !!



Great news this morning when Wincanton passed their 8.00am inspection and got the go ahead but it was not so lucky for Ludlow who lost their meeting today.

It's an interesting card at Wincanton and Paul Nichols saddles four runners as follows :

Wincanton - Soft, heavy in places

1.35 Present Man has had just 5 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, 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. His next run was also here in another Class 4 novices hurdle over the same distance where he led briefly after two out and he seemed to find little when put under pressure. However, that said, he finished 2nd and 7 lengths in front of Harry Fry's 5 time point winner Whataknight who has since franked the form. He wore a first time tongue strap there and it remains on today on his handicap debut for which he has been allocated an official rating of 116h which is workable for this stable. He should have improved a bit more for his last run and he seems to have no problem with heavy going and should give a good account in this 19 runner field.

2.10 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.
He returned at Newbury 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.
He then returned to Newbury 3 weeks later in a Class 3 Novices limited handicap chase over 2m 7f 86y where he finished a 13 length second to Local Show. He wore first time cheek pieces then and they are back on today in this Class 3 handicap chase - this time over 2m 4f 35y.
It's the second time he's been right handed and this is possibly one of the easiest tracks he has tackled to date under rules.
There is still some decent opposition though and its interesting that Renard has taken this option as opposed to his entry in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster a week on Saturday. That is a course where he has put up some very good placed efforts in Class 1 chases off a 14lb higher mark than today. This race aside - if he took his chance in the Sky Bet he would be 1lb out of the handicap so I don't see any advantage in running here to get a penalty for that. Also if the stable thought he was badly off at the weights today or at Doncaster they could have used Charlie Deutsch's 5lb claim - he rides Wadswick Court in this for Neil Mulholland on his 2nd ride for that stable.
Back to Wuff he has little mileage on the clock and remains on the workable mark of 127c but there are a number of horses in this race that could turn it on today.

3.20 All Set To Go had 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 then went for the Grade 2 Supreme trial novices hurdle at Ascot where he faced a much sterner test against the highly promising Yanworth and others and he finished 4th beaten 16 lengths. Being flat bred he would have struggled at that stiff track on soft going against NH types and on heavy today he could face similar problems at the business end. 
David Pipe's Kalifourchon is by proven NH sire Martaline, drops back in trip and wears a hood for the first time. He is 2lb down in the handicap and is also helped by the competent David Noonan's 5lb claim which gives him a chance to resume winning ways.

4.25 Beau Phil has his third run for the stable today having come from France a year ago where he finished 3rd on his only start in an all weather bumper at Pau in an AQPS race(see below).
He was said not to be suited by the very soft going at Kempton when making his debut for the stable so on that score things don't look bright for his prospects today.
He was then a promising 2nd of 6 at Taunton in a Class 5 bumper on good going in April. He should improve for jumping a fence/hurdle but on this going you would have to think that Leg Lock Luke or Casper King would be the better proposition.

No bets today

Notes
AQPS - Autre Que Pur Sang, which, translated, means Non Thoroughbred - a fine example is Sprinter Sacre - although he is said to be only less than 1% non thoroughbred.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Betfred Classic Chase Day at Warwick



Holidaying Paul Nicholls saddles just the two weekend runners at Warwick on Saturday whereas Dan Skelton sends three to Warwick and one up to Wetherby.

Paul Nicholls
Warwick
1.50 Silsol ran 4 times last season winning twice at Newbury and Ffos Las on soft and heavy so has no trouble with these conditions however his bid for a hat trick of wins in 4 weeks came unstuck when he was easily brushed aside by Seeyouatmidnight at Kelso in December when conceding that rival 10lbs. That horse then went on to confirm the form when beating a good field in the Grade 2 Dipper novices chase at Cheltenham on New Years Day.
Silsol is the highest rated hurdler Nicholls has sent chasing this season and he is a solid, dependable chaser that jumps well. He takes on a small but select field here in the Listed contest, however it is hard to see him getting the better of Black Hercules given that the Mullins yard are in much better form than those at Ditcheat.

3.35 Vivaldi Collonges is said to stay forever but he came back with a bang over 2m 7f 96y at Kelso when easily winning a Class 2 handicap chase off a mark of 134c on his return. Prior to that he hadn't been seen since picking up a slight injury and pulling up in the National Hunt Chase over 4m at the festival and with only 10 races under rules to date there is room for further improvement from this 7yo. 
He went up 8lb in the handicap for that win at Kelso and he has 11-7 on his back now but hopefully the 3m 5f trip will be right up his street - that said this is a tough assignment and other runners chances are discussed below.

Dan Skelton
Warwick
1.15 Le Bacardy returned at Aintree in the Old Roan Chase where he finished 6th after a couple of errors. He's a 10yo so he is unlikely to find any more improvement and is considered to be a spring horse in any event. He is usually held up and is best produced late.
He was pulled up in a decent race at Cheltenham and was then brought down at Doncaster before being a well beaten 7th back at that track but he is steadily dropping down the handicap - 10lb since Aintree and now on 132c ie 3lb below his last win mark of 135c.
He's back over 2m which I think seems to suit him better so hopefully, all being well, he can get his act back together and get a win on the board.

3.00 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 and some have franked the form. 
He is said to have size and scope and is very well regarded. If all goes 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 started this season in a maiden hurdle over 2m 5f on soft and for which was well backed and duly won with something in hand after always travelling well and the plan was always to come back here for this race which the stables Three Musketeers won last season and he must have a big chance of emulating him.
However this looks to be a better field than last season and the race should prove informative in any event as it will give us some clear connections to Irish form through the Willie Mullins two runners.

3.35 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 at Stratford first time out when he fell at the last with the race at his mercy.
He then went to Bangor and got the better of Algernon Pazham after a ding dong battle up the home straight after which Dan Skelton suggested that the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby would be his next port of call.
Unfortunately, although declared, he didn't run there but the stable thought he had a big chance nevertheless. They had been very happy with his progress since his Bangor win and they were very positive about his chances even though he was a couple of pounds out of the handicap.
He is 4lb worse off with Algernon Pazham for this event - if you take into account Ryan Hatch's 3lb claim.
This race will be a gruelling test of stamina for all concerned and the King pair will be tough to keep out of the fist three home and only time will tell if Houblon Des Obeaux is well handicapped or not. He is 11lb lower on 146c than when 2nd to Many Clouds in the 2014 running of the Hennessy after which Venetia Williams said  "He has a bit to find with the Gold Cup horses, but he´ll be going up for this and if it was soft ground in March it could be a different story. If it´s a stamina test you would have to be optimistic". 
With those comments in mind and if on his "A" game you would have to think he has a great chance.

Bets
Born Survivor - 1 point win @ 5/2

Nothing Doing !



Another quiet day for the blog selection wise as neither stable we are following has a runner. 

Dan Skelton had Master Jake entered at Sedgefield but that meeting has been lost to the weather - like many others. 

Paul Nicholls had entered a few at Huntingdon namely Adrien Du Pont and Connetable in the Class 2 Juvenile Hurdle and Katgary in the Class 3 novices limited handicap chase but none of those take their chance. In the juvenile Adrien Du Pont had already come up against Sceau Royal twice this season and probably didn't want another re match whilst Connetable is unraced for the yard.

Both Warwick and Wetherby look like being on tomorrow - unless there's significant snowfall !! and both Skelton and Nicholls have horses entered.

On a completely different note Chester  racecourse has announced that it will be paying £400.00 appearance money to connections of each horse that runs at any of their meetings which, according to the RP, could cost the course a quarter of a million next season. The clerk of the course isn't really sure what the true cost will be but it seems that the racecourse hierarchy are just happy that it will be beneficial to the connections of all those that do choose to run.
Surely though there is more to it than that - what's in it for the racecourse ? Well they have had their own tote system "ChesterBet" since 2012 and perhaps this is a way of increasing the pools throughout the year so that it is more attractive for punters to attend the track - thus increasing the pools further and so on and so on !. What do they say "You have to speculate to accumulate".

I will do my post for tomorrow's racing later this afternoon after 5.00pm.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Absolute Beginners!



This week has seen the passing of a great idol of mine in David Bowie and the world will be a smaller place without him. Artists of that age and talent are slowly starting to leave us after being with us through the ups and downs of our hectic and mundane lives. Technology, whilst good, has also robbed us of raw musical talent - which has largely disappeared from popular music. For instance I was looking at the cover notes for Jeff Lynne's (ELO) "Alone In The Universe" CD and I was very surprised to see that he did not only the lead and background vocals but also the guitars, piano, bass, drums, keyboards and vibes - what more can I say.

Back to the racing and today both Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls have a runner or two at Taunton which has somehow managed to survive the biblical rain that we have been having lately and although 4.2 on the going stick it's still on.

Dan Skelton has his first runner for a week with his last Value At Risk falling at the 2nd fence that day.

Paul Nicholls is PUU13 since his treble at Doncaster but the jockey and trainer have a 44% strike rate when teaming up here - I thought that both Nicholls runners in the Welsh National ran well considering the conditions and I will be keeping an eye out for them on less testing going. Harry Cobden on Black Thunder fell off at the 13th fence having nearly fell off at the 12th - it certainly wasn't unseated rider, but there's nothing else they can put down.

Just on the Welsh National it was a great performance by the winner who showed age was no barrier to a good run in the race. It is often wise to look at the older brigade when the going is attritional because they are stronger than the younger horses as we have often seen in the Grand National. 

Paul Nicholls
Taunton - Heavy
2.40 Easter Day has suffered all sorts of problems over the last year or so and he ran well enough back over hurdles at Cheltenham on 14/11 when 6th of 16. 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 fence. He is said to be on a fair mark over both hurdles and fences(138c) and he resumes his chasing career here in a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m 7f  3y in a field of 8 runners. He has not worn cheek pieces in a chase before so the stable will be hoping they will help as he has not won a race for over 2 years now. Last time at Newbury was disappointing as he dropped away tamely after 3 out and the jury is out as to whether he will stay this far on this heavy going - but he certainly has the talent within as he beat O'Faolains Boy in 2013 when conceding 4lb and he's now rated 156c and that has got bookmakers at odds with each other over what price he should be.

3.10 The Brock Again hasn't run for 418 days and he returns here in the Bathwick Tyres Class 3 handicap hurdle having dropped 4lbs to 123h. The reason for his absence has been a combination of wind issues and a leg injury which are now all clear. He should have no problem with the going as both his wins in France on the flat came in similar conditions and the 12lb he receives from the fav Pull The Chord should be a big help. He's generally available at 7/2 which is fair if he shows improvement for his time off.

Dan Skelton
Taunton
1.10 Churchtown Champ has his second run for the stable having fell at the 4th fence on his debut at Leicester having made the running to that point. If he is none the worse for that he could go reasonably well as the stable do well with horses from other yards.

The Hunter Chase season is back ! -  they are often races in which you can pick up some easy cash as half the field are usually hopeless whether it be the jockey or the horse !....however today's event seems to be a fair race of it's type although the official ratings go between 88 and 139. The two on 139 Chance Du Roy and Join Together look to be favourably weighted and that is why they are at the head of the market along with the proven 13yo Pearlysteps.
Of the jockeys Will Biddick must be worth an ew punt on Viking Blond at odds of 28/1 and drifting.

Bets
The Brock Again - 1 point win at 7/2


Friday, 8 January 2016

Welsh Grand National



Paul Nicholls had said earlier in the week that all his horses were 100% and so it proved on Friday with 3 winners from 3 runners at Doncaster.
Nicholls is often criticised for building up his horses up too much and then they they don't run up to his aspirations - but as a trainer you have to keep all the owners happy and on board and with so many horses in the stable I would imagine it's very difficult to keep all the owners optimistic for the whole season.
Nick Schofield and Harry Cobden go to Chepstow whilst Sam Twiston Davies seeks some further winners at Kempton - however I'm just concerning myself with Chepstow.

Like Nicholls, Dan Skelton has been having a lean time of late and he takes the weekend off and has his next entries on Tuesday.

Chepstow
1.45 Coral Welsh Grand National

Black Thunder was a consistent performer in top company last season but he falls just below the very top. He picked up a hairline fracture of his hind cannonbone at the festival last March and he returned at Cheltenham on 14/11 in the Grade 3 Murphy Group handicap chase over 3m 3f 71y where he finished 12th of 17 behind Sausalito Sunrise. Now in his third season over the larger obstacles staying trips look to be his forte as is soft going and he will be a familiar name in the Nationals this season. However Nicholls thinks that he is presently too high in the handicap on a rating of 152c but that is dealt with by Harry Cobden's 7lb claim and you could say he is effectively on 145 here and that is 4lb below his rating when he was half length second in the Grade 3 United House Gold Cup at Ascot last season so he has every chance and 16/1 price is too big to ignore.

Benvolio was beaten the narrowest of short heads in last seasons Welsh National and that is his target again. He needs soft going to show his best as he stays longer than the mother in law so he's back in his element here. He is on the same mark as last year of 139c so there's every chance of another bold run with the stables runners looking as though they might be returning to normal service. He is also a 20/1 shot so he's worth an ew punt too in what is an open race.

2.20 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. He is a potential chaser of the future however he should keep on improving over hurdles. On his last run he met Sceau Royal again and that time he was unable to get the win. He should run well and may be up to winning.

Bets
Black Thunder 0.50 points ew at 16/1
Benvolio 0.50 points ew at 20/1


Donny Donny Donny !



It seems an age since we had a going description that didn't have the word heavy in it !! I'm not sure Paul Nicholls will be thrilled with it as he takes 3 runners up to Doncaster the only NH meeting on today.

Paul Nicholls
Doncaster - Soft, heavy in places
12.45 - Bouvreuil was 2nd to Qualando in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham festival and he was expected to improve for the run when returning at Cheltenham in mid November. He  was then given a very tough assignment at Sandown in the Grade 1 Racing Post Henry VIII novices chase in which he was poor 5th and last of the finishers behind the useful Ar Mad.
He drops to a more realistic level today and he likes it as soft as possible so conditions should be perfect and he gets a handy weight pull with Vyta Du Roc - although he reached a high rating of 150 over hurdles but only scraped home on his run at Bangor. Bouvreuil probably represents the best value of the Nicholls runners today but I won't be taking any risks. 1st - 7/2

1.50 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 and that one now has a hurdle rating of 148h. Next time out at Ludlow Le Prezien was a comfortable winner from Hobbs Casper King. He had 5 entries this week and the stable have chosen to come here in what appears to be an easy opportunity to keep the wins going - it being mooted by his owners that he would get an entry in the Tolworth. However Unbuckled could make a race of it in receipt of 7lb for the Neil King yard if the early pace is slow in what is now a 7 runner field. 1st 1/4F

3.00 Baoulet Delaroque was purchased by Anthony Bromley and he thinks this might be a dark horse to keep on the right side of. He ran an eye catching race at Enghien in April even though he was still babyish and immature. He was said to have come on a fair bit over the summer and he started reasonably for this stable at Chepstow when 4th in a Class 5 maiden hurdle 65 days ago and he should have come on for that. The conditions are similar today and he looks to have it all to do to beat Divine Spear who is a smart sort. 1st 15/8

No bets today

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Value or Risk ?



A couple of weeks ago when the new 5.15 start time for the grand National was announced I looked into the future to see what may become of the great race :

Looking into the future the commentary may eventually go like this "as we are about to go out onto the second circuit we are going for a short commercial break but you can vote now to save who you want to keep in the race by dialing any of the telephone numbers printed on your racecard. We will be back shortly to reveal the result and see which horses, you have decided, can carry on with the race and be in with a chance of winning the Grand National"!!

Now that the broadcasting of the race from 2017 onwards is a done deal with ITV perhaps it's not as far fetched as I think ??!!


Seriously though I don't think its a bad move for racing as it will be something fresh and hopefully the programmes will be more entertaining for the general public and be a draw for them to be more involved in racing in some capacity.
I think Channel 4 had gone a bit stale and with the broadcaster purchasing the rights to Grand Prix racing we were faced with the prospect of a watered down version in any event and some of the meetings may have been moved onto lesser channels much like ITV will do with ITV4.
As for the "Morning Line and the big race days" there was no real draw to watch for the general tv audience as the production company chosen by C4 permed any 4 or 5 from the 20 or more presenters/pundits to present the show and therefore there was no real "connection" with the tv audience as nobody knew who would be presenting on any particular day. In addition the content of the programmes was all very bland and based on facts and figures - a turn off for anyone except the hardened racegoer.
The previous production employed had adopted a more light hearted approach with a regular core of presenters that appealed to a wider spectrum of people and in my opinion it was a short sighted move when they were dropped.

With the Paul Nicholls yard slowing down for a few weeks, after some welcome winners, we just have the one runner from the Dan Skelton team today at Huntingdon in the 2.10 where the going is soft, heavy in places.

Value At Risk was a high class hurdler and won on his first start for the stable 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 he returned at Newbury for the Grade 2 Bet365 novices chase over 2m 7f 86y on going given as good to soft. Unfortunately he only got as far as the second fence when falling after jumping the first well. He was reportedly a bit sore afterwards and he returns here after a 41 day break. This is a much easier race and provided he stands up he should take a deal of beating in this 5 runner field as he could take high rank in the chasing game. However he is not the morning fav - that is Harry Fry's Fletchers Flyer who finished 3rd of 6 to Blaklion at Cheltenham who followed up with a second to Seeyouatmidnight on New Years Day also at Cheltenham.

11/8 to is the best you can currently get for Value At Risk so he's not a blog betting proposition.