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.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Don't be left Out - Festival Day 2

Well the going maybe didn't have as much effect on the runners as we thought yesterday with some of the times, namely the Grade 1's over 2m, being slow by between 10.40 to 14.00s and a check on the time of the first race will show where we are at.

By the end of yesterday the going had changed to soft, heavy in places and Simon Claisse thinks it will be soft all over by the time of the first race and it will continue drying throughout the afternoon as no more rain is expected to this evening which will then more than likely put heavy back in the description.  

When the going gets tough the old ones get going and we had evidence of that again yesterday when the oldest horse in the race won the 4m National Hunt Chase, namely Rathvinden aged 10 at 9/2. Rocklander was the oldest in the Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase 40 mins later and he finished 3rd at 25/1.

My own bets didn't get off to a good start yesterday but I had ew singles on Melon, Impulsive Star and Rocklander as the afternoon went on.

Trainerwise Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Tom George, Henry De Bromhead and Neil Mulholland had at least 2 horses running well so keep an eye out for their runners today.
Jockeywise Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell, Noel Fehily and Jack Kennedy all had two or more in the frame.

Onto the racing

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Everyone would have you believe that this is a penalty kick for Samcro but the same was thought about Apple's Jade on Day 1 and things don't always pan out how we expect. Mullins runs four all together and all look good and the strongest stayer of the bunch may well be Brahma Bull who is unbeaten in 4 races to date and who won easily over nearly 3m last time out on yielding going and if I can get 33/1 I'll take a chance on him ew at small stakes. Black Op is the best of the British hopefuls but I think this is one for the Irish.

2.10 RSA Insurance Novices Chase
This looks a very good race to me and I'm hoping Elegant Escape can do it for the home time but it's not a race I will be having a bet on.

2.50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
27 runners go to post so there should be plenty of divots to fill after this for the groundstaff. At the bottom of the handicap Mischevious Max has crept in via J. P. McManus taking out Project Bluebook which I find interesting. Mischevious Max was an eyecatcher for me when he was 2nd over the course and distance in November when he made rapid progress from the rear on the wide outside to be beaten three lengths by Coole Cody.
Aidan Coleman probably wouldn't put his rides at the festival at the top of his CV but he may have found an opportunity through Le Breuil. Ben Pauling seems quite confident that he will go well saying "he is in fantastic form, very well handicapped on his best form and goes there as good as we can get him"and that is good enough for me.

2.50 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
I'm sitting this one out, making a cup of tea and just watching the sparks fly!

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase
Hopefully I won't fall asleep during this one!

4.50 Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
You can't overlook Paul Nicholls in this with 3 wins and 6 places from his 17 runners in the last 10 years and no other trainer comes near that and Grand Sancy is well worth an ew bet at 20/1 if still available. Others to look out for are The King Of May, Solo Saxaphone and Lisp.

5.30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper
The going for this race should be the best of the week by the sounds of things and may even be approaching good to soft by racetime. If that is so then the stand out horse for me has to be DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO who has a superior turn of foot to anything else in the race. He showed that turn of foot in great style at Lingfield first time out and then followed that up in a Listed bumper at Ascot which contained no less than 9 previous winners. He did that without really being asked a question up the home straight and with Barry Geraghty giving him a nudge to power away to win well. This is a serious horse who I believe will win at future festivals and Barry Geraghty will surely be thinking this am that he has got off the winner. Now that the going is drying out it may well end up similar surface to his Ascot race which he coped with well and he is my bet of the day at 16/1.
Others in the race to watch are THEBANNERKINGREBEL who could be underrated THE BIG BITE and ACEY MILAN and I think this will be a win for the home team.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Cheltenham Day 1

Well Cheltenham has finally arrived for another year and how tickled I am!

This time around we have the word heavy appearing in the going description for the first time in many a year. This word has struck fear into the stats men up and down the country who have no recent festival stats to compare with and their predictions may be sunk before we even start!

One things for sure we are about to witness some strange results and probably some big prices too. Horses that have only shown glimmers of form in the past are right back in the mix for this unique test.

Lets get started then:

1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle - 2m 87y
The best way forward in this has usually been to shortlist the last time out winners and in this case that would be First Flow, Getabird, Kalashnikov and Summerville Boy. The weakest of those for me would be Summerville Boy who has finished 2nd and 3rd at the track this season and then beat Kalashnikov in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown when there were just the 5 runners.
Getabird is unbeaten when completing and will have no trouble staying in this going but having watched his races I can't say I was bowled over by the way he won - but I may be wrong and he may be a world beater.
I've followed Kalashnikov all season and he was particularly impressive in the Betfair Hurdle last time out after looking beat going down the back straight - but his jockey kept at him and didn't give up and he was rewarded when Kalashnikov was not stopping come the finish.
First Flow the outsider of the 4 but he gets his ground here with his last two wins coming on heavy going and he's well worth an ew having won the Supreme Trial at Haydock by 10 lengths and you could win more money for him being placed than Getabird winning.

2.10 Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase
A small field and it looks as though Footpad will justify favouritism although I can't say I've got a definite opinion on this race and I would have preferred more runners.

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase

Just the 18 runners in this with the maximum being 24. This will be a gruelling test over 3m 1f and the one I'm drawn to is Cogry down the bottom of the weights. He's pretty consistent when he finishes a race and he's won his last two races here. Jamie Bargary takes off a valuable 3lb to 10-6 and he won't have any trouble if it gets into a war of attrition. I'm not saying he's going to win but at 18/1ish he's worth an ew. I think the two David Pipe runners are also worth a check in the market.

3.30 Unibet Champion Hurdle
I'm not convinced anything can beat the fav here and therefore it's ew bets again. It's not a race that is grabbing my attention that much though and there are plenty of "has beens" in the line up so I'm giving it a miss.

4.10 OLBG Mares Hurdle
A smallish field with just the 9 runners and it's another one for the favs it would seem with Apple's Jade looking likely to prevail. Jer's Girl hasn't been that far behind on a few occasions so could be one for the ew money.

4.50 National Hunt Challenge Cup
Probably one of the highlights of day one for me. I've been banging on about No Comment for a good while(16/1) so I will stick with him as my main selection. He's only run the once this season in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown but that was too short and he's best judged on his 2nd's at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals last season over 3m - but he's a tad short in the betting now if you haven't already backed him. More often than not this race is down to jockeyship as much as anything and he has a top one in Derek O'Connor. No Comment was J P McManus only entry in this race and he's had 6 winners of it in the past whilst Jonjo O'Neill, whose also had 6 winners of this, and who is closely linked to JP didn't even bother entering one which leads me to believe No Comment should go well.

5.30 Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase
The only race of the day to have maximum runners which when you look back at the initial declarations it's hard to believe. It also looks to be one of the most competitive with several in very good form. De Plotting Shed has been put up as a horse laid out for this race and he doesn't look as though he will have any problem with the conditions. I have it on good authority that Divine Spear is the best of the Nicky Henderson duo and his race last time out wasn't run to suit so can be written off. He jumps well out of soft ground and looks to be still improving but it's whether he is good enough to beat the likes of De Plotting Shed, Barney Dwan and Testify amongst Others.

Lets hope the day is not too discomknockerating!!