Friday, 4 May 2018

Boogie in the Morning!

Musselburgh stages a Class 4 5f Handicap at 2.40 today. The going is currently Good to Firm and a drying day ahead. There are 13 runners and the stalls will be on the stand side as usual.

There are a few in form horses here notably Lydiate Lady and Tanasoq but whether they can live with the pace of Fethiye Boy were he to return to his Class 3 winning Sandown form from last July is debatable. 

He's had a wind op and a change of stable since then and this is his second run since. This will be his 18th career start which leaves room for improvement and he is back on the same mark as that Sandown win where he beat a decent field which had Class 2 horses stepping down a grade rather than Class 5 stepping up. He showed blistering early pace in that and although he tired on the uphill finish he held on to win. He probably then came out to soon when running at Bath just 5 days later and he was last of eight on his next and last start the season.

He returned from a 220 day break at Wolverhampton on 24th March where he was quickly into a lead before understandably feeling the effects of his first run back. The stable have had 2 wins from their last 10 runners and it all looks set for a good show today.

Royal Brave won this race last season and has run well here on other occasions so should be in the mix under Daniel Tudhope. He has the plum draw but he will be dropped in rather than forcing the pace so it wont be of any benefit. Lydiate Lady has been on a steady upward curve since joining Eric Alston-she started her winning run off 48 in Class 6 and is now on a career high of 77 in Class 4 but on this quicker going the assured fast pace could well catch her out on this quick 5f track.

With Rapid Applause being a non runner we look at the second from that Beverley race that he won so convincingly and that is Tanasoq who came home two and a quater lengths in front of the third. Take the rejuvenated winner out of that race and he'd have looked impressive too. He's only up 2lb and is improving for his new trainer and is handily drawn in stall 12.

Fethiye Boy should give a good run for his odds of 12/1 and he is a value ew bet as he could well take higher rank than Class 4 as the season progresses.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Grand National Day 2018

I haven't got anything further to add than what I've already said in my previous posts below on the race in terms of selections.

The going is soft/heavy but nowhere near as heavy (when it should have been abandoned) when Red Marauder won. The race doesn't start until 5.15pm so the course will be drying up all day but it will still be on the softer side and those at the top of the handicap will find it tough carrying their bigger weights.

The fences may be softer but they still take some jumping and there are just as many fallers as there have always been so jumping ability is still a major priority. When the weights were published the first horse that came to my mind was Tiger Roll but he still jumps like a hurdler and although he has a lot of class it's not going to make him jump any better unless he has improved since the Cross Country chase which he won at the festival - he jumped through the last fence that day and he would'nt be able to do that here with something like The Chair if indeed he has survived that far.

There are so many views to take in and every 5 mins you hear something new that makes you think should I be backing that horse and you could go on and on and on and that is why you have to have a plan and stick to it come what may.

All that remains to say is have a good one and don't spend too much!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Aintree Festival Day 1

I haven't got too many thoughts about todays races but it's a fairly damp feeling day in the Liverpool area so the official going shouldn't be changing that much - although there is a chance of rain, in some form, from this afternoon right through until tomrorrow afternoon.

Nube Negra will carry my ew money in the 2.20 following his good run at Aintree as will Posh Trish in the bumper who likes soft and won here in October.

Onto my two main selections - Kings Socks in the 4.40 Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2m which should be perfect following his very encouraging run at Cheltenham for the Pipe team and they will have learnt a lot about him there. I feel there must be some improvement to come as they could have protected his handicap mark for one of the big chases back at Cheltenham Oct/Nov.

Over the National fences for the Foxhunters at 4.05 and 22 runners go to the post so they will be cutting up the surface for later in the week. My fancy here would be Wells De Lune and I marked him down for this race after he ran at Bangor over 2m 5f in February on his first run for Mickey Bowen. Cheltenham was too far for him after he won at Ffos Las. He jumps well and leads which are good attributes to have here and his jockey knows him well so I'm expecting him at least to be placed if not win. Grand Vision is the best horse in the race and some would say that he also has the best jockey in Mr J J Codd so I wouldn't put you off backing him at 4/1 and Sam Waley Cohen has a better record than the professionals at this track so he must be thereabouts on Wonderful Charm.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Grand National 2018

Earlier in the year in February I did a blog post about my fancies for the National and provided a shortlist as follows:
Using the staying factor criteria as a starting point the ones I'm going to look at in more depth for win purposes only are Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, Vyta Du Roc, Caroles Destrier, Abolitionist, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar who all have good staying form over the required 3m 2f or more in this class of race.
Most of the ones I've chosen haven't run in the National before which is an angle that I like as they wont have formed an opinion about the course in their own head yet and are therefore more likely to run true to form.

Since that date we have lost a few of those runners as they have been pulled out for various reasons and that now leaves us with Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar. Another qualifier has emerged though in Anibale Fly.

The qualifying criteria for me is;
  • That they have been placed in a decent chase over 3m 2f or more (by that I mean something like one of the nationals or top handicaps or a grade 1 etc 
  • They have not run in the Grand National before 
  • They are aged between 8 and 11.

Another criteria I'm going to add is - days since they last ran.
24 of the last 25 winners had all run within 55 days of the race and 19 of those had run within 34 days of the race so that rules out for these purposes Minella Rocco who hasn't run for 69 days - although he has had a wind op during that time which could make him more attractive to some.

As this week has gone on the weather has thrown up plenty of rain northwards - so we can assume it will at least be soft and there could also be some heavy patches by Saturday so we have to be looking at those horses that stay and jump well in these type of conditions. The going certainly won't be as testing as when Red Marauder won when there was literally standing water on many parts of the track and only 13 were still in the race going over the Melling Road on the first circuit.

A good jockey is fine to have on your side but your selection primarily has to stay the distance and jump well for the jockey to be of any benefit come the finish.

Chase The Spud ran 49 days ago so has a lesser chance than the others above for win purposes.
Horses that ran at the Cheltenham festival are very unlikely to win here so that rules out Annibal Fly,  Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll and Final Nudge-although they may well be placed.
Vicente could in any event take up the option of the Scottish National 7 days later in which he is on a hat trick of wins as he is unlikely to get his favoured spring ground here and he's very unlikely to run in both.

So that leaves us with a shortlist of Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know and Milansbar and we need to look at those in slightly more detail:
  • SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT - 3rd in the Scottish National behind Vicente in 2016 when beaten three lengths and he is slightly better off with that runner here. Hasn't had much racing since then because of a suspensory problem and subsequent wind op. He is the only Scottish trained runner in the race and because he hadn't run for a while there is the prospect of him bouncing after his run at Newbury on 24th March when he finished 3rd. He is10 years old and has recently been purchased by Mrs David Thompson to run in the race. He has fallen once in a point to point back in 2013. He might thrive on his first run here or the whole thing may be too much to take in with little recent race experience - but he has an excellent jockey in Brian Hughes.
  • I JUST KNOW - Won the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick over 3m 6f in January by 15 lengths putting in a relentless gallop from the front and won going away. He does just what he has to jumping wise so something unusual could catch him out but he could still be progressing. The stable have won this before with Aurora's Encore in 2013 at the rewarding odds of 66/1. I Just Know is 8 years old and is rated 145. He's been pulled up a few times but has never actually fallen.
  • MILANSBAR - He won the Betfred Classic Handicap chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on 13th January beating Cogry. An 11 years old he's run two more races since then when he was 5th in the Eider Chase over 4m and 2nd in the Midlands GrandNational over 4m 2f - so we know he stays very well. He has never fallen but has unseated once after being hampered in the Welsh National and he has pulled up a few times but not recently.
If I had to pick one of the three it would be I JUST KNOW. He could still be improving over staying distances, he's a young horse in terms of this race and his stable know what they need to win this. He was 50/1 back in February but is now only 25/1 - but that still represents great odds if he wins.

We need to keep an eye on the reserves too and they could be Road To Riches, Thunder And Roses, Delusionofgrandeur, Walk In The Mill or Vintage Clouds.
Road To Riches qualifies distance wise by his 3rd in the Gold Cup behind Coneygree in 2015 and is well handicapped off 142 here but he hasn't run for 62 days and has been out of sorts for a while it would seem.
Thunder And Roses won the Irish Grand National in 2015 and was 4th in 2017 race and has plenty of distance chase form but has fallen on his last two starts and has run in the National twice before.
Delusionofgrandeur has been 3rd in a Durham National at Sedgefield and 5th in Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and although he qualifies distance wise I'm not convinced they were good enough races to qualify on my criteria - plus he only ran 14 days ago.
Walk In The Mill hasn't run for 84 days and has not run over 3m 2f or more so fails on a couple of the criteria required by me for win purposes.
Vintage Clouds qualifies on the distance criteria by virtue of his 4th in the Welsh Grand National and he also has other big race form to his name over 3m 2f or more and he could be interesting if he were to get in the race.

Remember this is only my criteria for picking the winner you may have other thoughts or prefer to agree with someone else who has different views again. It's all a matter of opinion but generally I think things usually follow a pattern over time and that is what I am looking to do here.

I will be back on Friday afternoon with another blog post of my late thoughts for the big race.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 4

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
This is a race I've had quite good fortune in over the years but unfortunately I'm currently only in a position to be able to watch racing.
In years gone by there used to be a famous girl singing trio called the Andrews Sisters. In the racing world we have our own equivalent of the Andrews Sisters in the talented Bridget and Gina Andrews and this years County Hurdle went to Mohaayed ridden by Bridget. Trained by Dan Skelton it became his second winner of the race in the last 3 years.
The first 6 home pulled 7 lengths clear of Brelade and the rest as they came up the hill but Mohaayed was well on top at the line as he was pulling away from Remiluc and Whiskey Sour.
Behind the front three were Chesterfield, Lagostovegas and Spiritofthegames(another Skelton runner ridden by his brother Harry). The stable may have had suspicions about the going for the winner but there were none in the staying department.
Whiskey Sour and Spiritofthegames both came with strong runs from poor positions having jumped the second last and the latter probably had more traffic problems. Chesterfield had commenced his run earlier and was better positioned turning for home.
I think the first 6 home can all be followed as the going and the sterner test obviously had a bearing on the result as it did in all races at this years festival.
Gordon Elliott ran three here and the best of the result wise was Brelade who finished 7th - he lost his right hind shoe and would have preferred better going so perhaps he is another to keep onside. Duca De Thaix was reportedly the best of the Elliott three but weakened before the last and could only finish 19th – last of the finishers.
Tigris River and Le Richebourg also both lost shoes during the race.
Handicap Ratings Update
Mohaayed - Up from 139 to 146
Remiluc - Up from 144 to 148
Whiskey Sour - Up from 141 to 143
Chesterfield - Up from 140 to 141
Lagostovegas - Remained on 146
Spiritofthegames - Remained on 139
Brelade - Down from 141 to 140
Duca De Thaix - Down from 136 to 135

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Turning into the home straight Fabulous Saga was several lengths clear and you were thinking how far was he going to win by but he almost immediately fell into a hole and dropped away into 7th in a matter of strides-if the race had finished at the top of the straight he'd have been getting an 7lb rise in the weights but as it is he remains on the same mark – at least in the UK.
The winner Kilbricken Storm was handily placed as they went onto the second circuit and by Oscar out of a Supreme Leader mare he possessed the staying ability to pick up the lead and draw away on the run to the line. Staying on behind were the oldest horse in the race OK Corral, Santini, Ballyward and Tower Bridge with Santini and Ballyward coming from the rear on only their 3rd hurdle starts so room for further improvement over hurdles and fences.
Behind the 7th home there were 14 lengths back to the 8th so it's probably best that we concentrate on the first 7 home for future engagements and looming chasing careers.
Following the race, the Veterinary Officer reported that CHEF DES OBEAUX (FR), which was pulled up, and ENNISCOFFEY OSCAR (IRE), unplaced, both lost their right hind shoes and CHRIS'S DREAM (IRE), unplaced, MULCAHYS HILL (IRE), which was pulled up, and PAISLEY PARK (IRE), unplaced, all lost their left fore shoes.
Handicap Ratings Update
Kilbricken Storm – Up 143 to 149
OK Corral – Up 144 to 146
Santini – Remains on 150
Ballyward – Uo 142 to 143
Tower Bridge – Remains on 142
Robin Waters – Up 138 to 140
Fabulous Saga – Remains on 145

St James Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters Chase
I'm not particularly going to review this race but one interesting point concerned Foxrock who came to the attention of the stewards and their report is as follows:
The Veterinary Officer reported that a kit bag search of Alan Fleming, the trainer of FOXROCK (IRE), revealed possession of Pro-Dosa Boost Oral Paste, an electrolyte trace element replacer. The trainer, the Equine Welfare and Integrity Officer and the Veterinary Officer were interviewed. The explanation of the trainer that it was unopened and had not been used was noted. Being satisfied that the gelding had received only normal food and water by mouth on the day of racing, the Stewards allowed FOXROCK (IRE) to run and the gelding was routine tested. They further confiscated the substance, ordered that it be tested, and referred the matter to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority.
You may or may not remember that this Foxrock has previously courted his fair share of controversy in the past as once when in the care of Ted Walsh he lost his two front shoes at Punchestown in December 2014. This was subject to an enquiry that was later reopened and it was somewhat of a mystery as to when, where and how Foxrock had lost both his two front shoes. As a result of the enquiry Ted Walsh was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Referrals Committee.
Wells De Lune was probably over a trip too far this time having run well at Bangor earlier in the season and the Aintree foxhunter should suit him better being 5 furlongs shorter and a proper jumping test over the big obstacles. He was another to lose a shoe.

There have been more shoes lost at this years festival than at the blind mans ice rink!

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
This produced another winner for the “Gordon Elliott Cheltenham Winning Machine” that he has apparently invented back at his stables! This time it was BLOW BY BLOW, a previous Grade 1 winner, who led the field throughout at a steady pace and was able to hold them all up the straight to win by 5 lengths. He'd gone well in blinkers on his previous start and Elliott thought he'd be well suited to Cheltenham and would like the going. He looks to be a good staying chaser in the making as he just keeps grinding it out and he could be back for the 4 miler or even the Gold Cup in time.
Second home was DISCORAMA who ran an unusual race as he was still last three out and at the top of the hill. He made steady progress coming down the hill but having turned for home he was still in 14th position but managed to keep his run going towards the far side to get into second at the line. He'd beaten the winner in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse at the beginning of December when he was 66/1 but this was his first handicap and only his 6th start so he looks open to progress for a trainer who plots them up.
Third home was Early Doors who'd been near the front throughout and this too was his first handicap and he's been running in Grade 1 races.
Sire Du Berlais was 4th for Elliott and running on up the hill. He'd only had the one run this season and that was after a year out so he did well in the circumstances to be placed in such a competitive race.
Flawless Escape was considered by Elliott pre race to be developing into a very smart individual and went off fav but he hit a couple and weakened after two out. This was only his 5th rules race and 6th in total and he's been dropped 4lb for this run so is one to watch.
An enquiry was held by the stewards into the running and riding of Dream Berry who was held up before making progress from the rear up the straight. It was his first start for 321 days but he's been 3rd and 2nd at last seasons Aintree and Punchestown festivals so clearly has an engine.
Hendersons Diese Des Bieffes (5th) and Pipe's Mr Big Shot (10th) are others to keep on the right side of.
Melrose Boy was struck into.
Handicap Ratings Update
Blow By Blow – Up from 144 to 152
Discoramma – Up from 136 to 138
Early Doors – Up from 142 to 143
Sire Du Berlais – Down from 144 to 142
Diese Des Bieffes – Up from 137 to 138
Lough Derg Spirit – Remained at 137
Dream Berry – Down from 143 to 142

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Paul Nicholls saved the best for last by winning this handicap with Le Prezien having earlier in the afternoon won the Hunter Chase for the second year running with Pacha Du Polder.
I had Le Prezien on my radar when he ran well here back in November in the Bet Victor Gold Cup behind Splash Of Ginge as he made relentless progress on the leading pair. He didnt run so good the next time and foolishly I deserted him here - Needless to say the stewards enquired into his improved showing in this.
Gino Trail ran a cracker for Kerry Lee from the front jumping well and leading them a merry dance for his age and in third was Top Gamble in first time cheekpieces also for Kerry Lee who was a little unlucky as he didnt get the greatest passage through the race and when it mattered.
Fourth and fifth were Theinval and Three Stars and in 6th was Paul Henderson's only runner at the meeting Doitforthevillage who was given an exaggerated hold up ride and was virtually last at the top of the hill so did well to run on as he did.
Rock The World bled from the nose, Three Stars lost his left hind shoe so did well to finish 5th and Townshend lost his right fore shoe
Handicap Ratings Update
Le Prezien – Up from 150 to 157
Gino Trail – Up from 152 to 153
Top Gamble – Up from 149 to 150
Theinval – Remained on 141
Three Stars – Down from 144 to 141
Doitforthevillage – Remained on 139

So there we have it another Cheltenham Festival concluded and we now begin the long search for next years gems!

Good Luck!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Cheltenham Review Day 3

Cheltenham Festival Review Day 3

I'm sure you will have noticed by now that I'm missing out the championship races and just concentrating on Handicaps and larger field events that took place during the festival such as Novice Hurdles, Champion Bumper etc.

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
This went to a photo between, the only Novice in the field, Delta Work and Glenloe with the former just prevailing for Davy Russell in a driving finish to the line. Glenloe had been prominent throughout while Delta Work, a strong traveller, was a little further back. At the line they were two and three quarter lengths in front of the admirable Connetable who pushed the pace all the way and was still staying on at the end.
Gordon Elliott thought the winner would be well suited to Cheltenham and that Glenloe would really enjoy the going.
Taj Baddalandabad ran on well up the straight and had a little bit of traffic problems. Who Dares Wins did well to shoulder 11-6 into 5th and is due to be prepared for another crack at the Chester Cup in May.
A few others running on from the rear at the end were Prime Venture, The Mighty Don and A Great View and the latter made a juddering mistake two out and did well to keep in touch and then run on with great effect up the hill to just fail to get 5th.
Forza Milan, who pulled up, had bled from the nose and was found to be lame behind.
Hopefully it should pay to follow the highlighted horses during the remainder of the season and next.
Handicap Ratings Update
Delta Work – Up 139 to 145
Glenloe – Up 137 to 141
Connetable – Up 136 to 138
Taj Baddalanddabad – Remains on 138
Who Dares Wins – Remains on 149
Prime Venture – Down 141 to 140
The Mighty Don – Remains on 137
A Great View – Down 135 to 131

Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
The Storyteller did well to win from his weight of 11-4 here given his lack of experience as the 2nd to 9th inclusive were all weighted below 10-11 ie 8 of the bottom 9 in the handicap. He travelled well throughout and although wasn't great at the open ditches he got over them in one piece. He wandered to the right up the run in but once straightened he was well on top as they neared the line. Gordon Elliott was expecting a very good run and he got one.
The first 4 home were prominent throughout - Splash Of Ginge ran a gallant 2nd and both King's Oddysey, liked the going and the 11yo track lover Ballyalton, would have preferred better going, did well in 3rd and 4th. Ballyalton lost a shoe and he will turn 12 during next season so may be campaigned earlier.
Kings Socks was 5th home and turning for home it looked as though he could well win the manner in which he was travelling but he just failed to see out thr trip in the going. Only a 6yo it shouldn't be long before he wins for the Pipe stable as they will have learnt a bit more about him here and no doubt he will be back here in Oct/Nov next season especially if he remains on 140.
Guitar Pete stayed on tremendously well, whilst those in front were beginning to turn to jelly – as did Pougne Bobbi who liked the going and came from a good way back to finish a running on 7th.
Handicap Ratings Update
The Storyteller – Up 147 to 155
Splash Of Ginge – Up 137 to 141
King's Oddysey – Remains on 139
Ballyalton – Remains on 138
Kings Socks – Remains on 140
Guitar Pete – Remains on 139
Pougne Bobbi – Down 140 to 139

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Rideres Handicap
A decent field for this Amateur handicap chase with over two stone separating the field if you take into account West Wizards 3lb claimer. The first three home pulled 9 lengths clear of the fourth horse and up the hill it was a battle between Missed Approach and Mall Dini with the former gallantly prevailing after leading all the way. He'd had a wind operation, looked well handicapped and he was fancied to run well at the meeting having do so last year in the 4 miler. Mall Dini looked to be travelling ominously well as they turned in in first time blinkers and this habitual lover of this meeting was only just denied on this years pilgrimage to the promised land. He may now head to the Irish National in which he will have every chance. Third home was Squouateur for Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd who'd also had a wind op – the first two just outstayed him up the hill here. Back in 4th was Double Ross, 5th was Actinpieces, and running on in 6th was The Young Master under Sam Waley Cohen. Another who'd had a wind op and was coming into this favourably treated if he could find his old form but if he keeps dropping down the weights he will find it hard to get in the better races.
Further behind in 7th and 8th were two who stayed on from a long way back namely Prezzurize and West Wizard with their relatively inexperienced race jockeys compared to those who finished in front.
Marinero and Final Nudge both lost shoes during the race.
Dissapointing were Sugar Baron and Band Of Bood and Wild West Wind fell too early.
Handicap Ratings Update
Missed Approach – Up 138 to 146
Mall Dini – Up 143 to 150
Squouateur – Up 135 to 141
Double Ross – Down 143 to 139
Actinpieces – Down 145 to 143
The Young Master – Down 135 to 132
Pressurize – Down 133 to 131
West Wizard – Down 119 to 113

Friday, 23 March 2018



This was won in decisive style by SAMCRO who looks to have a bright future at this meeting in the coming years as does BLACK OP for Tom George who came here with the best British form.
NEXT DESTINATION, 4th in last seasons bumper, deserves plenty of credit and probably should have finished closer than he did as he was a bit too far off the pace when things quickened but he stayed on very well up the hill to finish 3rd and he looks set to be a top 3m chaser for the Mullins team.
There were 14 lengths back to the 7th and the 4th, 5th and 6th namely Scarpeta, Duc De Genievres and Vision Des Flos were right on the heels of Next Destination.
Gowiththeflow had led until just before the 2nd last and then faded into 8th and he needs to continue the improvement he has shown.
Vision Des Flos and Scarpeta were 1st and 2nd as they jumped the second last and both were expected to run big races but Samcro was looming ominously on their outside turning in and they were quickly outpaced by him.
To give you an idea of Samcro's domination Timeform reckon he could have carried 12-7 in the Coral Cup and still won that by a couple lengths according to their figures.
Oh and for good measure Samcro also lost his right fore shoe!!
The first 6 home should all be kept onside.

Handicap Ratings Update
Samcro – Up 155 to 158
Black Op – Up 150 to 152
Next Destination – Remains on 150
Scarpeta – Up 134 to 148
Duc De Genievres – Down 148 to 147
Vision Des Flos – Remains on 147

Always a very competitive handicap hurdle and the going made it more of test than in previous years. The winner BLEU BERRY was settled out the back for most of the contest and began his move coming down the hill. He was in 8th/9th turning for home and was disputing 3rd jumping the last before taking it up on the run in and duelling with TOPOFTHEGAME to the line – with BARRA a close third. The win was obviously expected as post race Mark Walsh said Willie Mullins had told him not to hit the front too soon. Expected to improve from his only run this season he came into the race as a bit of a dark horse.
William Henry, The Organist and Red Indian occupied the next 3 places.
Topofthegame, a 6yo, would probably have preferred further but stable hoped the testing going would offset that and it very nearly did. He'd gone up 8lb for his win last time out at Sandown and he looks to be a ready made top class 3m chaser for the Nicholls camp with this being only his 9th start under rules.
Barra had finished 2nd in last seasons Mares Hurdle and was expected to be placed in this by connections and did well considering she lost her left fore shoe. There seems to be have been more shoes lost on the sticky going than ever before.
Like Topofthegame William Henry in 4th did well with the weight concession to the winner on his 10th start and The Organist, 7th in last season's Mares Hurdle, could have been a little closer as he was pushed wide turning for home – he had tracked the winner down the hill.
Red Indian, a 6yo, stayed on well towards the finish to grab 6th spot – he'd run well here in November and this was his 9th start.

Handicap Ratings Update
Bleu Berry – Up 143 to 148
Topofthegame – Up 150 to 155
Barra – Up 137 to 140
William Henry – Up 151 to 154
The Organist – Up 139 to 140
Red Indian – Remains on 139

On form VENEER OF CHARM 11-0 was not entitled to win this, never mind in the manner in which he did and the stewards enquired into the improved form shown and Gordon Elliott could offer no explanation. He had come into this with the magic 3 runs and therefore first time in a handicap. He was a bit green in front when he got there but stayed on well to win. Mitchouka was the better fancied of the stables two runners as he had been working very well at home. He was well positioned going down the back but was badly hampered by the faller and lost ground. He didnt pick up coming down the hill and was pulled up after jumping two out and no doubt compensation awaits.
STYLE DE GARDE 11-8 was 2nd and NUBE NEGRA 11-6 3rd and both ran good races to be beaten by what looked to be a well handicapped winner and both should make decent chasers in time although Aintree could be very much on the cards for both first and both should be followed on home soil.
LOOK MY WAY 11-6 8th - lost left hind shoe and ERAGON DE CHANAY 10-11 7th - lost right hind shoe. Look My Way was badly hampered by the faller down the back straight but had was leading at 3rd last - whilst Eragon De Chanay who had won easily at Sandown just 4 days earlier and had a 5lb penalty so in the circumstances both of these did well to run on up the hill and finish where they did.

Handicap Ratings Update
Veneer Of Charm – Up 129 to 134
Style De Garde – Up 137 to 142
Nube Negra – Up 135 to 139
Look My Way – Remains on 135
Eragon De Chanay - Up 126 to 129

Debuchet, Claimantakinforgan, Next Destination and Western Ryder were 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in this last season and all have run well at this festival save that Next Destination has been the only one to place in first three finishing 3rd in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle.
The winners of a total of 36 races between them lined up here and the race was won by the unbeaten RELEGATE – although he was allowed to go off at 25/1. The time returned was 23.30 seconds outside standard and its a factor that you have to bear in mind in all races at this festival as horses were being asked to run for much longer than they would normally because of the conditions and plenty didnt stay the trip because of that.
CAREFULLY SELECTED set out to make all from the front and travelled well under Danny Mullins whereas at the top of the hill Relegate was still stone last of the 23 runners. Turning for home Carefully Selected continued to lead but Katie Walsh had conjured up a great run from the winner to take the lead in the final 100 yards, Carefully Selected on hearing the crowd hung over to the rail but seeing Relegate go by he picked up again and only a neck separated them at the line and both deserve plenty of credit.
Third home was TORNADO FLYER who was having only his second run and he ran on well having been taken wide as they turned for home and Acey Milan was 4th.
SEDDON travelled into the race nicely as they came down the hill and looked to be going well as they turned in but he wasn't given a hard race by his jockey and was allowed to come home in his own time.
DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO was my selection based on his wins on better going at Lingfield and Ascot – his time for 2m on the AW at Lingfield was 3m 29.00s whereas here the winner recorded 4m.4.30s and the duration of the race-coupled with the going was beyond him having been pushed very wide on the home bend and he remains an exciting prospect.
Gordon Elliott was expecting a big run from FELIX DESJY so the fact that he finished 6th bodes well for those who finished in front although he hadn't run for 131 days.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Review

The idea of this review is to try and look beyond the winner and placed horses and see if anyone had suffered interference, didn't handle the going/track, running on too late, needed further/shorter, lost a shoe etc etc.

The form of this worked out well and compared to the rest of the week this was run in a reasonable time and the pace in the conditions will have caught some out – notably Getabird and First Flow.
The first two home Summerville Boy and Kalashnikov look fine chasing prospects for next season as is the 3rd MENGLI KHAN who sported a first time tongue tie in this for Gordon Elliott. He thought Mengli Khan had a solid ew chance coming into the race even though he would have preferred good ground. He jumped the last in second place but nothing was going better than the winner. His form behind Getabird previously was obviously not his true form and it's onwards to Punchestown now and there's no doubt he will be back here next year.
Looking back the 5th CLAIMANTAKINFORGAN and 6th WESTERN RYDER ran on well.
Claimantatkinforgan was 14th as the field started down the hill, he was 13th jumping the 2nd last but was 6th jumping the last flight-just half a length behind Sharjah(didn't like going) who eventually finished 8th. He continued to stay on at the business end but couldn't gain any more places. He had stayed on well in a Grade 2 at Ascot when winning in December and he looks a good chasing prospect for Henderson. He had however won on soft and heavy so he was better able to handle the conditions than most although connections feel he is better on decent ground.
Western Ryder was at the back of the leading group in about 10th coming down the hill but was badly impeded jumping the 2nd last. He was pushed sideways and lost momentum at a critical point. Ok he wouldn't have won but he may well have finished 5th in front of Claimantakinforgan – the pair had finished 3rd and 5th in last seasons bumper.
LOSTINTRANSLATION is well regarded by the Tizzard team and finished 7th and will probably be much better when he tackles a fence over a longer distance.
The 2nd in last seasons bumper was DEBUCHET but this was only his second hurdle run so was in at the deep end here-however he didn't fare too badly being towards the head of affairs throughout. He was 4th turning for home but tired as they travelled towards the last and eventually finished 9th. He should improve from this and on better going could win before long.

Handicap Rating Update
Summerville Boy – Up from 150 to 156
Kalashnikov – Down 154 to 152
Mengli Khan – Up 148 to 150
Claimantakinforgan – Up 144 to 147
Western Ryder – Remains on 145
Lostintranslation – Up 134 to 144
Debuchet - 140

There wasn't much between the first two home here and Southport solicitor owned SHANTOU FLYER did well in the circumstances to finish a running on 2nd beaten a neck. Had he jumped the last with a bit more fluency he may well have been able to beat the progressive and well handicapped Coo Star Sivola in a race in which it paid to be close to the pace. The owner was keen on running in the Gold Cup as well but perhaps wisely they shelved that idea and he could be well in if taking his place in the Grand National.
The 3rd home was Vintage Clouds who was 6 lengths back- he was running off a 7lb higher mark this time so has improved albeit he would have been simarlarly placed last season but for falling at the last behind similar rated rivals.
Of those behind EAMON AN CNOIC wearing first time cheek pieces was lit up and in the lead at the fifteenth when according to David Pipe pre race he was to be held up and produced late. He made a mistake at the third last and faded into 9th and looks set to be returned to a shorter trip next time out.
BEWARE THE BEAR is by the sire Shantou like the 2nd. He stayed on very well to finish 4th – he was 14th at the top of the hill and he lost his right fore shoe during the race. He looks set to pick up a big staying handicap soon - particularly if there is further soft going to be had. He was running off his highest ever mark of 150 and this was only his 12th race under rules so he may be open to further improvement over extreme trips.
Gold Present was reported to have bled from the nose
Wakanda also lost a shoe.

Handicap Rating Update
Coo Star Sivola – Up 142 to 150
Shantou Flyer – Up 152 to 157
Eamon An Cnoic – Remains on 137
Beware The Bear – Down 150 to 149

I don't think it's a coincidence that the two oldest horses in the race finished first and third in this. We have seen time and time again that when you get long distance and heavy going then the strongest horses come to the fore and they are usually the oldest ones and in this case Rathvinden and Sizing Tennessee were both aged 10.
In the end there were only 6 finishers and the 7yo NO COMMENT on just his second chase start deserves plenty of credit and surely he will be back out again at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals.
The two Elliott runners JURY DUTY and MOSSBACK were well fancied and the former had beaten both Shattered Love and Presenting Percy at Punchestown over 2m 7f in November(who both won here) and was a worthy fav-however he just didn't stay the distance on the extreme going and remains a horse to keep on side. Mossback was still going well in 4th when coming down at the 18th of the 25 fences and unfortunately suffered a fatal injury.
It was a great staying performance by the first two home namely RATHVINDEN and MS PARFOIS(another 7yo) as they both pulled away up the hill in an exhilarating duel that quickly had them 20 lengths clear of the third home Sizing Tennessee(who'd lost his right hind shoe) and at the line only half a length separated them both. Rathvinden, who was suffering from exhaustion after the finish, had been held up throughout whereas Ms Parfois had been on the front end throughout. The winner had plenty of chasing experience compared to some of the others in the field and the second with her honest attitude looks set to be around for a while and she could be one of the best staying chasing mares we've seen for many a year.
IMPULSIVE STAR and PYLONTHEPRESSURE finished 4th and 5th and the latter had hit and made mistakes at well over half the jumps on the track and in doing so lost his right hind shoe which would not have helped matters. If the Mullins team can iron out the jumping errors they could have a good stayer in the making as he had never been anywhere near this distance previously. This was in fact the furthest he had been since being an impressive winner in a point to point over 3m back in 2014 and It was his only his 3rd chase start under rules. Prior to the race Mullins said “he looks tailor-made for the four mile trip. He jumps well but his lack of expereince could be his achilles heel”.
Impulsive Star hadn't really shown much form previously and the Muholland stable haven't been firing so it was a good performance in 4th from him under his very capable rider and considering he was running at level weights off his rating of 132.
This race has always thrown up good stayers in the past and from that point of view stamina was at a premium here so the first two home should continue to do well when the emphasis is on just that.

Handicap Rating Update
Rathvinden – Up 150 to 154
Ms Parfois – Remains on 146
Impulsive Star – Up 132 to 133
Pylonthepressure – Remains on 135
No Comment – Down from 145 to 139
Jury Duty – Remains on 148

Only 8lb separated the entire novice field in this handicap and when things are so close you need to look for the things that are going to give you that little bit more such as jumping ability, jockeyship and knowing whether a horse is well in or not.
Apart from all the horses that had departed the field was tightly grouped as they jumped the third last. Rocklander jumped the last in front having led throughout and jumping well and he was quickly challenged by the staying on Rather Be who was in turn challenged by the winner MISTER WHITTAKER and they both pulled away up the run in with Rather Be lugging right to be separated by just a head on the line.
The winner had course winning form and came into this on bottom weight and had the underated Northern jockey Brian Hughes in the saddle.
RATHER BE would have been the stable second string had Divine Spear not gone lame overnight and perhaps we should bear that in mind following this result. He lasted out the trip well and had the ground been good positions may have been reversed with the winner but both need to be followed. Mick Channon thinks the winner could be a Gold Cup horse one day.
ROCKLANDER was purposely not run too close to the festival in order to keep him fresh and he ran a cracker finishing 3rd three and a quarter lengths back. On better going on the Mildmay circuit he could run them ragged and dominate from the front.
Behind the front three there was not much else to get too excited about. De Plotting Shed was considered to be the best of the two Elliott runners but he faded out of it having lost his left fore shoe it would seem and he was pulled up before the second last.
Western Miller lost his left hind shoe.

Handicap Ratings Update
Mister Whittaker – Up 137 to 145
Rather Be – Up 143 to 149
Rocklander – Up 142 to 145

Divine Spear - 141

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Day 3 of the Festival!

A late post today due to things that have to be done!

Yesterday the times turned out slower as the horses found it more difficult to get through the ground that then resulted in races taking longer and some horses not being able to sustain their effort for the extra time involved which was the case with my selection in the bumper Didtheyleaveuoutto as well as many other. I still have great faith in that horse and hopefully he will be out at Aintree on much better going. The class horses continued to shine though and if your selection has the form in the book such as the likes of yesterday winners Samcro, Presenting Percy, Altior and Tiger Roll it's just another day at the office!

Certain jockeys continued to shine into day two notably Jack Kennedy, Davy Russell and Noel Fehily and their fancied horses need watching. Of the trainers it was another Willie Mullins show - he had 5 runners in the bumper yesterday and had 5 of the first 7 home! Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson, Tome George, Henry De Bromhead and Colin Tizzards horses are all performing well.

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 
Modus may have a problem with the going as will Bigmartre. The stable of Mullins, Elliott Henderson and Tizzard are well represented again and the best form on offer would appear to be that of Invitation Only although  the 5yo Terrefort will love the going so that's a big tick in his favour.
I think it's going to be another close finish as I don't think there is a stand out horse and the going could be the difference in this so it's Terrefort for me. 

2.10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
Just the 23 runners to worry about here and it's going to be a tough slog. There's a lot of weight between both ends of the handicap and it's a plus that Gordon Elliott has one down the bottom in Glenloe with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. The way people have been going on about Sort It Out over the last few weeks you would have thought Barry would have been on that for McManus but no he's on Glenloe so take the hint as he's 1-1 from on him previously. There's little mileage on the clock so he may be ahead of the handicapper, he likes the going and looks like he has been laid out for this but its all reflected in his price of 5/1.

2.50 Ryanair Chase
It would be bloody brilliant if Cue Card can win this and I'll be shouting myself hoarse if he's leading turning for home!

3.30 Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle
This is one for me to watch having had a share in Lil Rockerfeller when he was with Middleham Park Racing I feel some allegiance to him as he always gives everything and will no doubt do so again today on going he should have no problem with. He's up against it today though and may not make the frame this time around. It's never been a race that I've given much thought too-I don't know why I'm not a fan of this division but in all honesty I'm not bothered who wins.

4.10 Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
I wish someone else would sponsor this race as it's a right mouthful to get out.
I'm not sure why young Jonjo O'Neill has not been used much this week as he has a valuable claim and is a talented jockey. I'm going to stick with two of the stables who are doing well this week namely Henderson and Tizzard and their runners Viconte Du Noyer (40/1) whose had a wind op and could get back to old form and Pougne Bobbi(25/1) who should go well too.

4.50 Trull House Stud Mares Novices Hurdle
This is a Willie Mullins benefit race  and he''ll probably get the 1, 2, 3!

5.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
I've followed Sugar Baron all season so I won't be deserting him now and Katie Walsh knows her way up the straight so hopefully this will be his day.
One who may surprise is Young Hustler whose had a wind op and is dangerously well handicapped with crack amateur Sam Waley-Cohen in the saddle.
Very First Time is Tim Easterby's only runner at the meeting and could be thereabouts too.
Band Of Blood has looked well ahead of the handicapper and they may well have kept something back for this.
Wild West Wind had mastered Blaklion last time out at Haydock and looked like waltzing up until he hit a brick wall. He's got 2f less today but the hill to the finish won't be a welcome sight.