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The Brigadier

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The Brigadier last won the day on December 12 2022

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  1. The ITV cameras take us to Musselburgh today for three races and an additional five coming from the Dublin Racing Festival from Leopardstown. The ground is good to soft at both tracks and here’s my run down on the days racing:- Musselburgh 1.22 Musselburgh’s Cheltenham trials meeting kicks off with the Scottish Triumph Hurdle run over just short of two miles and we have a select field of six going to post. It looks to be between the front three in the betting with Paul Nicholls’ Afadil sure to have benefited from his hurdles debut at Taunton early last month when despite nearly crashing out at the first warmed to his task and came home with his head in his chest coasting home by a very comfortable two lengths. This is a much tougher assignment but he looks classy having been bought from France for 255,000 euros. Irish challenger Bringbackmemories is equally as promising as he showed when breaking his duck at the third time of asking over course and distance on New Years Day by 15L. He looks sure to be thereabouts. The third horse here with a good chance is Fergal O’Brien’s Fils De Roi, a Huntingdon winner prior to falling at last when weakening at Chepstow over Christmas. They may not be much between the trio but my preference is for Afadil who literally could be anything. AFADIL 1 point win @ 7/4 Coral Leopardstown 1.40 The 2m 5F Ladbroke Novice Chase has attracted a classy field of six. Gordon Elliot saddles the warm favourite in Mighty Potter who’s unbeaten in two starts over fences including the grade one Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse back in December. He was an impressive winner that day from Willie Mullin’s Gaillard Du Mesnil who’s franked the form by winning since and re-opposes here as the favoured mount of Paul Townend of the five Willie Mullins runners. James Du Berlais is ridden by Daryl Jacob as the retained jockey of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and shrugged off a 612 day absence when a 15L winner on his fencing debut at Fairyhouse on New Years Day. I fully expect Mighty Potter to win this with Gaillard Dy Mesnil once again chasing him home. MIGHTY POTTER 2 points win @ 5/4 Unibet Musselburgh 1.55 Eight line up for the two mile Scottish Champion Handicap Chase with £25,000 guaranteed purse money. Seven of the eight can be given a fair chance here with just the rank outsider Voix Du Reve hard to make a case for. Ex Paul Nicholls assistant Harry Durham has made a good start to his training career winning with 4 of his 15 runners and saddles an interesting runner in Fidelio Vallis who he’s acquired from his old boss Paul Nicholls but hasn’t been seen for 410 days. Nicholls himself has Friend Or Foe here heading the weights and is another with a chance. In a race where stakes should be kept small it maybe worth a small each way wager on Laura Morgan’s Hasankey who ran up a hat trick of handicap victories last season rising 16lb in the weights with young Lewis Dobb on board for all three wins. He’s not been disgraced in two decent handicaps this season and with Dobb knowing him so well and taking off a valuable 7lb can make his presence felt. HASANKEY 1/2 point each way 8/1 bet365 1/5th 123 Leopardstown 2.10 Blue Lord is a very short price for the grade one Ladbrokes Dublin Chase run over two miles and a furlong. Trained by Willie Mullins who’s won every renewal of this valuable contest with Min (twice) and Chacun Pour Soi (three times) he stands out and at prohibitive odds it’s just a watch and admire race. Stable mate Gentleman De Mee is second favourite here and he was beaten a comfortable four lengths behind Blue Lord last time and looks held. One of only three British raiders this weekend is Alan King’s Sceau Royal who will come home with some prize money so fair play to his connections on taking the plunge. Musselburgh 2.25 Only five have declared for the Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where we have a very warm favourite in the Paul Nicholls trained and Harry Cobden ridden Toothless who blew his field apart under Bryony Frost at Fakenham on his British debut coming home 35 lengths clear of his field. He’ll be hard to beat and has been priced accordingly. Sandy Thomson’s Carcaci Castle is chasing a hat trick of wins following wins at Kelso whilst Donald McCain’s General Officer is two from two here but has 13lb officially to find with the favourite Toothless and may have to play second fiddle to that one here. TOOTHLESS 2 points win 5/6 William Hill Leopardstown 2.40 A bumper field of twenty three go to post for the Grade A Bulmers Leopardstown Handicap Chase run over 2m 5F, a race in which you are going to need plenty of luck with such a big field. There are obviously plenty in with chances including Gordon Elliott’s Indigo Breeze who’s been novice chasing this season and is one of three Elliott runners. Willie Mullins also saddles three with possibly top weight Ciel De Neige the pick under 7lb claimer Kieran Callaghan. The horse I like however is the Henry De Bromhead trained mare Maskada who won the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase at Limerick over Christmas. That was only her third run for De Bromhead having joined from Stuart Edmunds and despite a 9lb rise in the handicap may still have a bit in hand of the official assessor. MASKADA 1 point each way @ 13/2 William Hill 1/5th 123456 Leopardstown 3.10 An intriguing renewal of the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle run over two miles and features Honeysuckle who’s won the last three renewals under her regular jockey Rachael Blackmore and who lost her unbeaten record of sixteen consecutive wins (including her point to point victory) when only third on her re-appearance at Fairyhouse in December behind subsequent easy winner Teahupoo. In hindsight maybe that wasn’t such a bad effort and I for one havn’t given up on her yet. She meets two Willie Mullins horses here who filled the front two places last time out in the Matheson Hurdle over course and distance over Christmas with State Man coming home 4 1/4L clear of Vauban who was making his re-appearance there. I expect the latter to get a bit closer but it’s State Man who holds the biggest threat to Honeysuckle and this for me is the clash of the weekend with slight preference for me with Henry De Bromhead’s Honeysuckle to beat the two youngsters. HONEYSUCKLE 2 points win @ 15/8 bet365 Leopardstown 3.40 Seven face the starter here for the two mile Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle. Willie Mullins has yet another hot favourite here in the unbeaten Facile Vega. The master of Closutton Mullins has farmed this race over the years winning it on 9 of the last 10 years. Facile Vega is unbeaten in six starts, four bumpers and two novice hurdles, and we’ll find out today how good he really is as this is a stronger contest than what he’s previously run in over timber. He’s also unbeaten in three starts at the track and will be hard to beat here.Mullins also runs a couple against his favourite in Il Etait Temps (behind Facile Vega last time) and the unbeaten promising Dark Raven. Gordon Elliott’s Irish Point has some smart novice hurdle form to hand and he maybe the one to take advantage if the favourite doesn’t perform and is worth a small wager. IRISH POINT 1 point win @ 12/1 bet365 All prices quoted were available at time of writing.
  2. A bumper afternoon’s racing from our pals at ITV with ten races coming at us from Sandown, Musslebugh, Wetherby and the Irish Gold Cup from Leopardstown. The ground is mostly good to soft at all meetings with both Leopardstown and Sandown actually watering earlier in the week. Here’s my thoughts :- Sandown 1.10 Today’s terrestrial coverage kicks off with a six runner novices’ handicap hurdle run over just short of 2m 4F. The only one of the sextet that holds any future Cheltenham novice hurdle entries is Milton Harris’s top weight and favourite here Twinjets. He’s looked a progressive sort in winning at Leicester and Plumpton this season to add to his two bumper wins and an Irish point to point victory. Harry Cobden has ridden him to both his hurdle victories and is again on board here. He’s the one to beat. The second favourite is Paul Nicholls’ Twin Power who actually finished runner up to Twinjets at Plumpton at the beginning of the month and re-opposes on 8lb better terms for a nine length beating. That should pull the pair closer together but Twinjets won quite cosily that day and can confirm the form. Five of the six are making their handicap debuts today and one who could have been let in lightly is Harry Fry’s Hot Rod Lincoln. His eight length Irish point to point win looks decent and although he pulled up at Hereford last time he could run well at a nice price if taking his earlier Chepstow 4th into account. He’s worth a small stakes bet. HOT ROD LINCOLN 1 point win @ 10/1 bet365 Musselburgh 1.28 Six face the starter for this 2M 4F 68yds novices’ handicap chase. Bar the rank outsider Diamond State, each of the other five have claims of sorts. Irish raider Drumbear trained by John C McConnell won on his fencing debut at Limerick over Christmas and with the runner up winning since should go well today. Laura Morgan’s Notlongtillmay is two from two over the bigger obstacles having won a handicap at Wetherby and over course and distance going up a stone in the handicap. Bear Ghylls is on a bit of a recovery mission having bombed out last time when his trainer thought the race came to soon to his re-appearance run. A tough race but I’ll take the lightly raced top weight Drumbear to plunder the prize for Ireland. He will be ridden by 5lb conditional jockey Ben Harvey who’s already ridden 25 winners in his native country. DRUMBEAR 1 point win @ 5/2 bet365 Sandown 1.45 The 1M 7F 99yds class 2 handicap chase is named after the three time winner of this eight runner contest Dolos. Paul Nicholl’s ten year old has won this three out of the last four years and was runner up in 2021. He still shows a decent level of ability and without doubt is the one they all have to beat today. A four length winner last year he’s now only 3lb higher in the handicap and can confirm that form with the runner up Frero Banbou who’s 5lb better off for last year’s defeat. Bottom weight Fast Buck maybe his biggest danger having won well at Lingfield last time but this can go to Dolos and he represents one of the better bets of the day under Harry Cobden who knows him so well. DOLOS 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365 Musselburgh 2.03 A highly competitive renewal of the Edinburgh National Handicap Chase run over a stamina sapping 3M 7F 108 yards. A decent sized field of thirteen have declared. Ben Pauling’s top weight Slipway looked a smart stayer when winning the Southern National at Fontwell back in November rising 7lb. He should relish this trip and run well with the longer trip likely to suit. Sandy Thomson runs three here with possibly Flower Of Scotland the best of the trio having won over this trip at Kelso in early December. His Doyen Breed has stamina to prove whilst The Ferry Master may not be up to this. Fergal O’Brien took the first prize last season with his Captain Cattistock in a less competitive contest but is unbeaten in two starts over this long trip of around four miles. If we can fancy him for this then surely the runner up from last year The Wolf must come into the equation. Trained by the very much in form Olly Murphy, who racked up his 50th winner of the season at Fakenham on Thursday, he went down by only 3/4L that day and can renew rivalry on 9lb better terms. That said he is quirky old thing but maybe the longer trip will bring out the best in him. Owned by the Macneill & Stone families and ridden by Paddy Brennan he’s worth chancing each way especially as he sports first time blinkers. THE WOLF 1 point each way @ 11/1 William Hill 1/5th 1234 Sandown 2.20 A small but select field of five line up for the class 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase run over 2M 4F. The race has been won by some smart novice chasers over the years and was won last year by L’Homme Presse. Gordon Elliott sends over Gerri Colombe from his County Meath base in Ireland and will be at short odds to take this. He’s unbeaten in seven (if counting his point to point win) career victories including two novice chases, the latest being in grade one company at Limerick. He could be anything and although he may prefer further he’s the one to beat. Jordan Gainford is over to ride him. Best of the British may be either Paul Nicholl’s Monmiral or Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock who met last time at Cheltenham in the Dipper Novices’ Chase on New Years Day when only a head split the pair. Nicky Henderson saddles Balco Coastal who put a poor chasing debut at Newbury behind him when bolting up at Kempton over Christmas in a handicap and as promising as he is will need to step up again. Not much of a price but I’ll stick with Gerri Colombe. GERRI COLOMBE 2 points win @ 6/5 William Hill Wetherby 2.40 A small field of just four assemble for the 3M grade 2 Townton Novices’ Chase. Warm favourite here is the Dan Skelton trained eight year old Ballygrifincottage who made a sparkling chasing debut when running away with a class 2 three runner novices’ chase at Haydock back in November. It’s a bit concerning that he sports a first time tongue tie and although he’s the most likely winner at his current odds of around 4/6 I’m happy to take him on with Nicky Henderson’s City Chief who will be ridden by James Bowen. He impressed when winning a three runner novices’ handicap chase at Hereford last time and is a progressive sort who only has seven pounds to find on official ratings. O’Toole is the other one with a chance having won a handicap chase at Newcastle on his fencing debut. CITY CHIEF 1 point win @ 4/1 William Hill Sandown 2.55 The feature race of the day at the Esher track is the 2M 7F 98 yds Virgin Bet Heroes Handicap Hurdle which has attracted a field of 15 and has a very open look about it. Top weight Flight Deck was last seen winning at Chepstow over Christmas but has been put up 7lb for that win and has to give weight all round here. Last year’s winner Green Book is back to defend his title from a 4lb higher mark and ran too bad to be true (easy to back) on his seasonal re-appearance in the Flight Deck race at Chepstow. He’s not without a chance today. The one I like though has to be the David Pipe trained Remastered who I believe is being trained for the Grand National. He reverts back to hurdles following two excellent runs over the bigger obstacles when runner up in the Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessy) and then taking a valuable handicap chase at Kempton over Christmas. That win was gained off of a chase handicap mark of 146 (he’s now on a mark of 152) but can race today off of a hurdles mark of 142, 4lb lower than his last win all be it over fences. Pipe has been amongst the winners this week and he looks a solid each way bet. REMASTERED 2 points each way @ 11/2 William Hill 1/5th 12345 Leopardstown 3.05 Seven go to face the starter in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup run over 3M on softish ground (the track has been watering throughout the week). We have a very short priced favourite in one of four Willie Mullins trained runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs. He’s four from five over fences (would of won the other start when falling at last in the Turners at the Cheltenham Festival last March) and was an impressive winner on his re-appearance in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown in December. He’s up against some rather exposed types now with the possible exception of his stable companion Stattler who was runner up on his re-appearance in the Savills New Years Day Chase on New Years Day. At the likely odds a no bet race but a contest to savour with the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite in action. Musselburgh 3.16 Ten have declared for the bet365 Scottish County Handicap Hurdle and I believe there’s a decent wager in this 1M 7F 124 yard class 2 contest. The Michael Scudamore trained eight year old Lebowski did us a favour when winning on his re-appearance at Wetherby and a 7lb rise may not be enough to stop him from scoring again. His under rated trainer thinks very highly of him. Paul Nicholls’ five year old mare Grivetana wasn’t suited by the tacky ground last time out at Newbury when bombing out and in her previous two efforts when runner up in decent Newbury handicaps should also run well whilst course winner Nayati trained by Donald McCain is another who should should be competitive but for me this is all about Lebowski. LEWBOWSKI 2 points win @ 4/1 bet365 Sandown 3.30 The day’s terrestrial action concludes with a competitive 3M class 2 Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase which we has attracted a strong field of 14. Many have chances with the likes of recent Cheltenham winners Rapper and Eva’s Oskar holding claims despite rising 6lb and 3lb for their two respective victories. Gary Moore saddles two with his son Jamie on board of Larry who has a good record here of two wins from four starts.I’m more interested however in his other runner propping up the handicap in nine year old Movethechains who will be ridden by the stable’s conditional jockey Niall Houlihan who still can claim a valuable 3lb. He was a progressive chaser last year winning four handicap chases rising some 37lb in the weights. He re-appeared when finishing a well beaten 5th in the Welsh Grand National and with a that run under his belt could be thereabouts. Ben Pauling’s Bangers And Cash is the other one I want on my side. He’s looked good winning at Exeter and Market Rasen this season and remains at the right end of the handicap despite a 16lb rise in the weights. I’ll split my stake on Bangers And Cash and Movethechains. BANGERS AND CASH 1 point win @ 6/1 bet365 MOVETHECHAINS 1/2 point each way @ 25/1 bet365 1/5th 1234 All odds quoted were available at time of writing.
  3. As long as Cheltenham passes it’s inspection we have some excellent National Hunt racing this afternoon with the ITV cameras showing 5 races from there with a further 3 coming from Doncaster. The ground at the latter will ride on the good side whilst it will race softer at Cheltenham with the official going description calling it soft. Here’s my thoughts on the eight races covered by ITV today : Cheltenham 1.20 Re-routed from the abandoned fixture at Ascot last Saturday, the Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase now has six runners as opposed to the three that stood their ground then. It does really looks a match between Willie Mullins’ Energumene and Alan King’s Edwardstone. The latter comes here following a fall at Kempton over Christmas and preference has to be for Energumene who won last years Champion Chase and can take this and put himself spot on for the defence of his title in March. He’s too skinny to back and this really is just a race to watch. Edwardstone can chase him home. Cheltenham 1.50 A maximum turnout of seventeen for this 2m 4F 127 yards handicap chase which on paper looks wide open. Richard Hobson’s Fugitif comes here on the back of an impressive victory at Chepstow over Christmas and a 10lb rise in the weights may not be enough to stop him following up here under Gavin Sheehan. Paul Nicholls’ Il Ridoto has finished 4th in two similar handicap here this season and with another one pound drop in the weights should also be thereabouts. Several others can be given chances but I’ll stick with Fugitif each way with the extra places the bookmakers will be offering. FUGITIF 2 points each way @ 9/2 Betfred 1/5 12345 Doncaster 2.05 This 2m 128 yards grade 2 mare’s hurdle looks there for the taking for Nicky Henderson’s consistent nine year old mare Epatante. She’ll be a very short price and the 2020 Champion Hurdle winner will have no Constitution Hill to worry about having chased him home on both her starts this season at Newcastle and Kempton. She’s officially got 12lb and upwards in hand of her rivals and with good ground suiting this slick jumper should be winning all be it at prohibitive odds. Cheltenham 2.25 Six runners go to post for the Paddy Power Cotswolds Chase run over 3m 1 1/2F. The form horse is The Skelton’s Protektorat who was very impressive in the Betfair Chase back in October. Given a ten week break he can take this en route to a bold bid to improve on his third place in last year’s Gold Cup. His main danger has to be the Irish trained runner Noble Yeats who has taken his form to a new level this season winning at Aintree in good fashion last time. There’s only officially 3lb between them but my preference is for Protektorat. PROTEKTORAT 3 points win @ 13/8 bet365 Doncaster 2.40 Ten go to post for the grade 2 3M 84 yards River Don Novices’ Hurdle which has been used in the past as a stepping stone to the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Irish raider Grand Soir is the highest rated and chasing a four timer so John C McConnell’s seven year old should be thereabouts. I like the Paul Nicholls trained Stay Away Fay who looked another good prospect from the Ditcheat stables of Paul Nicholls when winning on his hurdling debut at Newbury in November. His trainer spoke in good terms afterwards about this six year old and the step up to three miles looks certain to suit him. Lorcan Williams comes in for the ride with Harry Cobden riding at Cheltenham. STAY AWAY FAY 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365 Cheltenham 3.00 A small but select field of seven go to post for the Cleeve Hurdle run over just short of three miles. Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park has won the last three renewals and will be very hard to beat under his usual jockey Aidan Coleman. He’s now eleven years of age but is not showing any deterioration in his form having won at Kempton over Christmas. Dashel Drasher mixes hurdling with chasing and maybe his biggest danger with Paul Nicholls’ Gelino Bello reverting to hurdles now following a heavy fall at Kempton over fences at Christmas. This is all about the favourite Paisley Park though and I fully expect him to get the four timer in this race up. PAISLEY PARK 3 points win @ 11/8 BetVictor Doncaster 3.15 The feature race of the day at the Yorkshire track is the Skybet Chase formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase. Twelve have declared for the handicap run over three miles. Top weight and current favourite is Jamie Snowden’s Ga Law who hasn’t been seen since November when winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup. He’s up 8lb and is trying three miles for the first time. With a slight doubt over the trip he’s opposable at his current odds. Last year’s winner Windsor Castle is back to defend his title but comes back here in no form whatsoever having pulled up on four of his five starts since. Third last year was Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord who went on to win a valuable handicap chase at Kempton the following month and after some modest runs finds himself 2lb lower than that win here. I like the progressive Tea For Free who’s won all four of his chases in handicap company under Lily Pinchin who is in the saddle today and looks sure to give his trainer Charlie Longsdon a big run. He’s gone up 33lb for those four victories but may still have more to offer and with conditions to suit can give Pinchin her biggest win to date. TEA FOR FREE 2 points each way @ 11/2 Paddy Power 1/5 1234 Cheltenham 3.35 Eleven staying novice hurdles face the starter for this grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle run over 2m 4 1/2F. There’s many who can be fancied including Dan Skelton’s Pembroke and Paul Nicholls’ Henri The Second who both come here in fine form and it’s the latter that takes my eye. Nicholls has a fine team of novices this season and the six year old looked smart when winning the Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown in December. He’s penalised 5lb for that win but may be too good for his rivals under Harry Cobden. HENRI THE SECOND 2 points win @ 3/1 William Hill
  4. Hey @Caradoc73just spotted you're in the wrong days section. There's always a thread for each day and this is Friday's thread !!
  5. Welcome to the forum @Caradoc73, good luck with your selections - some solid picks there 👊
  6. With the abandonment of both Ascot and Taunton the ITV cameras will be showing eight races from Lingfield and Haydock although the latter will have to be pass an 8 am inspection. The ground is riding very testing at Haydock and here are my thoughts on those eight. Haydock 1.30 The grade two Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle is run over just short of two miles and has attracted seven runners. Dan Skelton has his Warwickshire based string in excellent shape now following a quiet start to the year and saddles the favourite in Pembroke who is the one they all have to beat. A winner at Wetherby and Ludlow this season, this does represent a step up in grade but the way he won last time at Ludlow (3rd winner since) suggests he can go close today. He’s got winning form in soft and heavy so the conditions will certainly hold no fear for the six year old. There’s nothing between War Soldier and Matata on their recent course and distance form but this is a further step up in grade and overall I can oppose the pair. Paul Nicholls has a glut of smart novices in his care down in Somerset and saddles Toothless who won a Mickey Mouse race at Fakenham with his head in his chest on his UK debut on New Year’s Day. He’s hard to evaluate but it was a shocker of a race he won. Olly Murphy may have the biggest threat to Pembroke in the unbeaten Chasing Fire who’s won a point to point, bumper and two novice hurdles all easily. He could be smart but my worry with him is he has never raced in ground this testing. Pembroke will do for me with the stable in such fine form and hopefully handling conditions better than Chasing Fire. PEMBROKE 1 point win @ 13/8 Paddy Power Lingfield 1.37 A dozen go to post for this class 4 10F 0-80 handicap which features many consistent handicappers. Ian William’s Dream Harder is unbeaten since being bought out of Jamie Osborne’s yard with two success’s at Wolverhampton and one at Newcastle rising some 17lb. He’s a player here with James Doyle booked though the only time he raced here he was well beaten so he has to prove his effectiveness at the track. Billy Loughnane is a young jockey going places and his 7lb claim is a gift. He’s on board Pistoletto for John Ryan and having fallen to below his latest winning mark can be competitive. The one I like though is the George Boughey trained Paris Lights who’s making his handicap debut and is to be ridden by Ryan Moore who’s here to ride three for Boughey and could quite easily come away with a treble. Paris Lights joined Boughey from Jessie Harrington in Ireland for 60,000 guineas and was immediately gelded. The gelding made his debut for the Newmarket trainer when beating the Gosden runner Lady Loulou over course and distance back in December and enters handicaps today off of what may well be a lenient mark of 80. With his course experience behind him and the positive jockey booking he’s the pick. PARIS LIGHTS 2 points win @ 3/1 BetVictor Haydock 2.05 The New One Unibet Hurdle is named after the Nigel Twiston-Davies hurdler who had such a fine record in this 1m 7 1/2F grade 2 hurdle and has been used in the past as a stepping stone to the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Six line up today and we have a stand out here in the shape of the Nicky Henderson trained Epatante who has had the misfortune to bump into her freakishly good stable companion Constitution Hill on her last two starts going down by 12L and 17L at Kempton and Newcastle. A winner of the Champion Hurdle herself back in in 2020 and placed in the last two renewals she’s the clear form pick and will be a tough nut to crack. Nigel Twiston-Davies will be keen to win the race named in honour of his The New One and may saddle the biggest threat to the favourite in the shape of I Like To Move It who looked a smart performer when blitzing his field in the Greatwood Hurdle on his re-appearance at Cheltenham but ran a bit flat when beaten 23L at the track seven weeks later over further. Maybe he didn’t stay that day and has only 6lb to find on official ratings so could give Epatante a race of sorts. Both Nells Son and Minella Drama have a bit to find and have been seen chasing recently whilst Jason The Militant (first run for Phil Kirby) and For Pleasure arrive here out of form. This really is Epatante’s to lose under regular rider Aidan Coleman but at the current odds is no value so a no bet race for me. Lingfield 2.12 A decent class 4 7F handicap is up next with a dozen declared. Stuart William’s Lord Rapscallion is chasing a hat trick of wins following two Chelmsford victories in December and should be thereabouts whilst Amy Murphy’s Dancinginthewoods comes here in good form having run credibly at Southwell at the turn of the year. Tony Carroll’s nine year old Poetic Force retains plenty of enthusiasm for the game on his 73rd career start and is just 2lb higher than when winning over course and distance a fortnight ago. If there is one horse here though that could be better than his handicap mark it has to be George Boughey’s All The King’s Men. Boughey is making a bit of a name for himself for improving other trainers cast offs and he has acquired this well bred Kingman gelding, who cost a mere 675,000 euros as a yearling, from Francois Chappet in France. A dual winner there Boughey has gelded him and booked Ryan Moore for his initial run in a handicap. It must of been difficult for the official handicapper to have allotted a mark to this relatively lightly raced (this will be his eleventh career start) five year old and he’s worth chancing here. ALL THE KING’S MEN 2 points win @ 7/2 Betfred Haydock 2.40 A very disappointing turnout for the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase with only six lining up. Run over 3M 1 1/2F on heavy ground it will take a real stayer to plunder the first prize. The horse that catches my eye is Nigel Twiston-Davies’s top weight Bristol De Mai who has such a good record at the Lancashire course. His record here reads 111121P14 including three Betfair Chases. He’s getting on a bit now having just turned twelve but appears to retain plenty of enthusiasm for the game and won the Grand National Trial here a year ago off of a handicap mark of 159 and can race today off of a 3lb lower mark. He loves the mud and with conditions very much in his favour can take this from Venetia William’s Fontaine Collonges, a course and distance winner back in November and now 5lb higher. I was a bit disappointed with his recent run when only 4th at Kempton and needs to bounce back here. Coopers Cross is progressive but is 6lb wrong at the weights whilst Sandy Thomson’s Empire Steel will need to have improved for his re-appearance run at Aintree in December to feature at the business end which is of course quite possible. I’ll take Bristol De Mai to take this for the Twiston Davies stable, Daryl Jacob and owners Munir and Souede in the famous double green colours. BRISTOL DE MAI 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365 Lingfield 2.47 The feature race of the day at Lingfield is the £100k guaranteed talkSPORT Winter Oaks, a class 2 handicap run over 10F. Simon and Ed Crisford’s Al Agaila’s latest win had to be seen to be believed as she coasted through what before hand looked a competitive handicap barely coming off of the bridle winning by an eased down 2 1/2L. The handicapper could of put her up any amount but decided on 11lb which my still be on the lenient side. This is of course much tougher but she is a confident selection with James Doyle taking over from Luke Morris. Back in second that day was Harry Eustace’s Makinmedoit with Tequilamockingbird a short head behind in third. They re-oppose on 10lb better terms but such was the superiority of Al Agaila that day it will be a shock if they were to turn the tables. William Haggas’s Morgan Fairy got up close home to win a class 3 handicap over a mile 30 days ago and should appreciate the extra 2f having been raised just 2lb for the win. Top weight Purple Ribbon out ran her odds when runner up in a 12F listed race at Kempton last time but the drop in trip and 12lb rise may be against her. Al Agaila is a confident selection and rates as the days best bet. AL AGAILA 4 points win @ 6/5 BetVictor Haydock 3.10 A class 3 3M 58 yard handicap hurdle which in testing ground will take plenty of getting. Ten have declared and there’s potentially a well handicapped horse lurking down the bottom of the handicap in Lucinda Russell’s De Legislator who appears to need a trip on very soft ground. He’s won a point to point and two novice hurdles at Hexham and Kelso and with Patrick Wadge riding claiming 7lb will be running loose off of ten stone 2lb. Itchy Feet and Alnadam have been running over fences recently and the biggest threat to De Legislator may come from Broadway Boy who despite taking a keen hold won a five runner Aintree handicap hurdle, only his third ever run, for the Twiston -Davies’s back in December with the runner up winning since. He should be thereabouts but preference has to be for the unbeaten Lucinda Russell trained bottom weight. DE LEGISLATOR 2 points win @ 5/2 bet365 Lingfield 3.22 Eight speedsters go to post for this class 3 0-95 handicap worth £35,000 guaranteed. Bar the out of form Embour a case can be made for each of the remaining seven with Karl Burke’s Silky Wilkie heading the market following a decent 1 1/4L second to Annaf here over a furlong further than today’s trip last time. That form was boosted by the winner going in again on Thursday evening and the drop in trip for Burke’s four year old shouldn’t hinder him. 7lb apprentice Sam Feilden is his regular rider and is in the hot seat once more. He looks the one they all have to beat. Alice Haynes is an under rated Newmarket based trainer and her Strong Power has an excellent record at the Surrey track winning three of his eight starts here and should be thereabouts although the handicapper may just about have him now. Top weight The Bell Conductor comes down from Yorkshire and should be all the better for his recent 5th of 7 at Southwell on New Years Day (his first for 108 days) and should be competitive. Lord Riddiford and Pop Dancer are others with claims but with his recent form working out well it has to be Silky Wilkie for me. SILKY WILKIE 2 points win @ 2/1 bet365 N.B All prices were available at time of uploading 16.48
  7. The fayre from the ITV today is seven live races from Kempton and Warwick with the two feature races coming in two open looking handicaps in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton and the Classic Handicap Chase from Warwick. Two good betting heats with extra places on offer from our bookmaker friends. The ground is likely to ride testing at both courses and here’s my thoughts on the seven races. Kempton 1.30 Only seven go to post for this three miles class 2 handicap chase with all having a chance of sorts. Top weight Enrilo was travelling well at the time when crashing out in the race won by Frodon at Wincanton ten weeks ago and if on song must go well for Messr’s Nicholls and Cobden although the ten week absence is a bit of a worry having taken such a pearler of a fall. Evan Williams’ Annsam was last seen when 6th in the Coral Gold Cup (Hennessy to us old boys!) and having been dropped a couple of pounds is another with a shout. Chris Honour is an under rated trainer based in the West Country and saddles Tile Tapper here who had one of today’s rivals Smarty Wild just behind over course and distance 18 days ago when runner up to Remastered. That was arguably a stronger race than this and he’s the play here for me. Kitty’s Light has fallen to a winning mark and shouldn’t be totally dismissed now that his trainer Christian Williams has found some winning form. Bottom weight Tile Tapper will do for me on ground that should suit with Bryan Carver taking the reigns. TILE TAPPER 2 points win @ 3/1 BetVictor Warwick 1.50 Only four got to post for this three mile grade 2 Novices’ Chase. Gordon Elliott is represented by The Goffer, a winner at Thurles in November who chased home the Willie Mullins trained Ha D’or a month later. Elliott is over here with three runners at this meeting and the trio have to be respected. Paul Nicholls saddles the favourite in Complete Unknown who looked one to follow when winning on his chase debut at Ffos Las in handicap company in December and Nicholls has won this race for the last two years. With Harry Cobden at Kempton Lorcan Williams comes in for this plum ride. Outsider Gentleman at Arms has it too do here despite his trainer Stuart Edmunds being in such good form. Dan Skelton’s seven year old mare (the only mare in the race) Galia Des Liteaux flopped when nicely backed at Kempton on Boxing Day in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase having clouted the second and if able to over look that effort can be a player here. Local handler Skelton is going through a rather quiet spell at the moment by his high standards with just the one winner in the his last 26 runners but I’ll take him to small stakes to defeat the favourite. GALIA DES LITEAUX 1 point win @ 5/2 William Hill Kempton 2.05 Pic D’Orhy is likely to be a warm order here for the 2m 4 1/2F grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase named after his old stable mate trained by Paul Nicholls. He may well win this but I don’t think he’s any value at the prices with the ground so soft and also carrying a 6lb penalty for his recent victory at Huntington, the Peterborough Chase. Official ratings don’t even have him top rated here with Paint The Dream holding that accolade. A very easy winner at Newbury in November he should be thereabouts today with his owners son Conor Brace riding. We also have a pair of smart re-appearing chasers in Angels Breath who’s now with Sam Thomas having left Nicky Henderson and being off for 1,121 days and Tom George’s Clondaw Castle who’s coming here on the back of a break of 420 days. It’s hard to fancy either after such a long lay off and are easily dismissed. Coole Cody beat the hard pulling Saint Calvados in a match at Ascot eight weeks ago and is now 2lb worse off for 10L. David Maxwell owns and rides the latter and was badly shown up on him in that race and it would be no surprise if that’s the case again here despite the horse wearing a first time hood. I want to be against Pic D’Orhy here although he may have to win by default! I’ll go with Paint The Dream and team Fergal O’Brien. PAINT THE DREAM 1 points win @ 5/2 bet365 Warwick 2.25 A decent renewal of the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, a grade two event run over 2m 5F. Stuart Edmunds’ Mexico has a bit to find with Ginny’s Destiny and is easy to dismiss but a fair chance can be given to each of the remaining six. Tom Lacey’s Ginnys Destiny is the highest rated of these and having won over course and distance back in November has to be a serious player here under Stan Sheppard. Gary Moore saddles his promising seven year old Givega who’s unbeaten having won a point to point and novice hurdles at Lingfield and Fontwell. This is a step up for him but he could be anything. Dan Skelton’s Grey Dawning did us a favour when winning at Kempton on Boxing Day in a handicap and will love the heavy ground. He should be thereabouts. Knowsley Road is chasing a hat trick of wins following victories at Chepstow at the back end of last year and Paul Nicholls’ six year old who has the assistance of Lorcan Williams is another with claims. A tough race to call but I’ll stick with Grey Dawning who is reportedly highly rated by the Skeltons. GREY DAWNING 1 point win @ 7/2 bet365 Kempton 2.40 A bumper maximum field of twenty hurdlers line up for the latest renewal of the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle run over 2m 5F of the Sunbury track. The two least exposed horses head the market in Paul Nicholls’ novice Outlaw Peter who’s making his handicap debut under Harry Cobden having won at Exeter last time by just under twenty lengths and Irish raider Green Glory trained by Charlie Byrnes who impressed when winning on his handicap debut at Leopardstown over Christmas but does have to race here off of a 16lb higher handicap mark. Last year’s winner Cobblers Dream is back to defend his title off of a 10lb higher mark having finished runner up in two novice handicap chases this season. Harry Fry’s Dubrovnik Harry is another who’s been chasing this season having finished third at Exeter in November. He’s lightly raced doesn’t look that badly treated on ground that will suit. Nicky Henderson has a good record in this race and saddles a brace of runners in Pentland Hills who’s also been chasing this season and Rathmacknee (presumably the pick of stable number one Nico De Boinville). Ben Pauling saddles Quinta Do Mar who’s Fontwell win in November has been boosted since by the dual win of the runner up Irish Saint since. He was third and 4L down when falling at the last in this race last year off of the same mark and could run well at big odds. A real minefield of a race but I’ll stick with the Charlie Byrnes runner Green Glory who has to be respected coming over from Ireland. GREEN GLORY 1 point each way @ 5/1 bet365 1/5th 123456 Warwick 3.00 A good turnout for the feature race of the day at Warwick with fourteen going to post for the Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase run over 3m 5F. At the head of the market is a rare Willie Mullins runner away from the big festivals in Mr Incredible. He is a bit quirky (has the Timeform squiggle) and has yet to race beyond three miles. Brian Hayes is over to ride him but if he wasn’t trained by Mr Mullins would be at least double his current odds. I’ll be taking him on. Top weight Threeunderthrufive trained by champion trainer Paul Nicholls who will be watching the race from his holiday destination in the Caribean, was last seen when unseating at the first in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in November and he like Mr Incredible has yet to race beyond three miles in a race which will surely be all about stamina on desperate ground. Sam Thomas’s Iwilldoit hasn’t been seen since winning the Welsh Grand National 383 days ago and although stamina is his game may just need this. Alan King’s Notachance won this event two years ago off of a handicap mark 9lb lower today. Under Tom Cannon he should be thereabouts with no question marks over stamina and ground. He was however behind my fancy on his latest start at Bangor in November when 11 1/4L away from Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil who went without his customary headgear that day and ran a blinder to get to within 4 3/4L of Le Milos who went to on top win the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury. He adores soft ground, stays well and is 3lb below his latest winning mark. An out and out stayer he looks a good each way bet to my eyes with a saver on Notachance. LORD DU MESNIL 1 point each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234 NOTACHANCE 1 point each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234 Warwick 3.35 The final race of the day from Ed Chamberlin and the gang is a nine runner 3M 1F class 2 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle, a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham in March. Two classy Irish stayers head the weights here in Gordon Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais and CIaran Murphy’s Ronald Pump. The former ran a 8 1/2L 4th in this last year and one would imagine it will be the same scenario again with his canny trainer hoping to get the English handicapper to drop him a pound or two with the final in mind. He’s not shown much in three starts in Ireland this season anyway. It’s been awhile since Ronald Pump visited the winners enclosure (November 2019 and 19 runs) and he too is overlooked. Nicky Henderson saddles a brace in On The Blind Side and The Bomber Liston. The most interesting of the pair is the latter who ran 4th to Grey Dawning at Kempton on Boxing Day and will appreciate stepping up an additional half a mile here. The problem with him is that he is running here from 5lb out of the handicap. Charlie Longsdon’s Glimpse Of Gala is a consistent mare who looked good when beating Coquelicot at Kempton over Christmas under 7lb conditional jockey Bradley Roberts. He’s in the saddle once more and should be thereabouts. The Skelton’s Ashton Lad bolted up last time in the Becher where he was always travelling like the winner and came home 2 1/4L ahead of his field. He reverts to hurdles now and appeals as the most likely winner here off of a 3lb lower handicap mark than last time. ASHTOWN LAD 2 points win @ 11/4 bet365 All odds accurate at the time of writing.
  8. 40/1 - wow well done ! surely a PL mug is a bit like the Blankety Blank cheque book and pen mind - priceless 😉
  9. just!! Chap in second had a 16/1 and 6/1 winner recently. Played it very safe tomorrow
  10. The ITV cameras are bringing us eight races today with five from Sandown including the feature race the Tolworth Hurdle and a valuable veterans handicap chase which has a wide open look to it. Wincanton is also featured with three handicaps from the Somerset track. Here’s my thoughts and betting plans - Sandown 1.15 Eight have declared for this 2M 4F class 3 handicap chase. The favourite here is the Venetia Williams trained Gemirande who made all and out battled the Skelton’s Our Jet when powering away on the run in to win by 7 1/2L at Southwell back in November. Our Jet has won since to frank the form and despite a hefty 10lb rise will be a tough nut to crack under Venetia’s stable jockey Charlie Deutsch. Henry Daly’s top weight Precious Eleanor maybe the one to chase him home with the Daly team in such fine form currently. Lydia Richards’ Certainly Red is dropping 6F in trip which may not be in his favour whilst Peejaybee fell last time out so has to prove he’s got over that accident. GEMIRANDE 1 points win @ 15/8 bet365 Wincanton 1.30 The first of three races from Wincanton is a class 2 2m 4F handicap chase which has attracted only six runners. All six can be given a chance of sorts with Philip Hobbs’ Celebre D’Allen currently heading the market. He must have claims having won his first three starts for Hobbs having previously been trained in France a year ago (twice over hurdles) and may has found the stamina test of three miles too much on his re-appearance at Warwick in November. He’s eleven now and it’s his fellow veteran that takes my eye. Messire Des Obeaux is two from two at the Somerset track including the re-routed Dipper Novices’ Chase of 2021 and is only 2lb higher than when winning a handicap chase over course and distance prior to that prestigious win. He is a horse that has been plagued with injuries throughout his career but this Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned eleven year old was given plenty of encouragement by his trainer Alan King in his weekly column in this week’s Weekender where he stated ‘he’s done a lot of work, schooled on Monday and seems to be in good form so I hope he’ll run well.’ That’s good enough for me and he’s the bet here. MESSIRE DES OBEAUX 2 points win @ 9/2 bet365 Sandown 1.50 A class 2 handicap chase run over two miles is up next with Scottish raider Corrigeen Rock pushing for favouritism. The six year old is bidding to follow up a course and distance victory gained five weeks ago when he jumped particularly well and readily went away from his field to win by a cosy seven lengths. The third that day has won since to give the form some credence and he looks sure to be thereabouts even though he has to overcome a 9lb rise in the weights. He may have to play second fiddle today mind to the Sam Thomas trained Grey Diamond who was well supported on his seasonal re-appearance when third ( beaten 3 1/4L) at Cheltenham to Amarillo Sky and Fugitif who have both won well since. That pair are now 11lb and 12lb respectively higher than the Cheltenham run so Grey Diamond looks a bet here off of just a 2lb higher mark. Sam Twiston-Davies takes the ride and I’m expecting a big run. Donald McCain’s Dreams Of Home’s latest win hasn’t worked out well and he’s easily over looked whilst Venetia William’s Frero Banbou was not disgraced in a decent Ascot handicap last time and should be thereabouts. A strong fancy here in Grey Diamond with his latest form already franked. GREY DIAMOND 3 points win @ 11/4 William Hill Wincanton 2.05 Only seven go to post for the class 3 handicap chase up next. Venetia William’s Desque De L’Isle looks the one they all have to beat following a brace of handicap chases victories at Ludlow under 3lb claimer Shane Quinlan this winter. He’s risen 9lb for those two success’s and may not have finished his winning spree yet. Another Crick won this very race last year off of a 3lb higher mark and also has to come into the equation for the Noel Williams stable after a couple of runs this season. Also in the mix is Newbury third Not Available who’s dropped to a winning mark and the lightly raced novice Intern De Sivola from the Jane Williams stable who trains locally. I’m going to take a flyer here with an outsider in Native Robin also trained locally by Jeremy Scott. He’s shown little in two starts this season dropping 7lb but loves this track winning four of his eight starts here including a trio of handicaps on the bounce here at this time last year. He’s now a pound lower than his last victory and if the track does rekindle his best form looks overpriced especially if able to play with a bookmaker paying three places in this seven runner contest (bet365, Betfred and William Hill). NATIVE ROBIN 1 point each way 20/1 bet365 1/5th 123 Sandown 2.25 The feature race of the day is the Unibet Tolworth Hurdle run over the minimum trip and won last year by the freak that is Constitution Hill. I’m not sure we’re likely to see anything of his standard but we have a very good clash to savour. The standard is set by Paul Nicholls’ Tahmuras who looked good when winning a listed novice hurdle at Haydock last time and is highly rated at Ditcheat who have a decent bunch of novice’s there this season. He looks sure to be thereabouts. The Irish bring over Arctic Bresil who is very hard to assess having won a twenty two runner Cork maiden hurdle easily from a Willie Mullins hurdling debutant who had smart bumper form. The third and fourth from that race have been well beaten since so it’s impossible to know how good a race it was. The one I like is Gary Moore’s Authorised Speed who was a useful bumper horse last season culminating in a decent 5th in the Cheltenham Bumper. A very easy winner of two novice hurdles on soft ground so far he has been well talked up by his shrewd trainer and apparently the softer the better for him. I expect the winner to come from one of that trio though an honourable mention must be made for Evan Williams’ L’Astroboy who’s unbeaten in two starts at Ffos Las including when defeating Tahmuras in a bumper there last season. Considering he’s eight times the price of that one he may well be worth a small each way saver. AUTHORISED SPEED 2 points win @ 9/4 William Hill L’ASTROBOY 1/2 point each way @ 12/1 bet365 1/5th 123 Sandown 3.00 The day’s most valuable race is not the Tolworth hurdle but this eighteen runner 3M veterans handicap chase. A final of the Veterans’ Chase Series for horses aged ten years and over. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but one things for sure we always get a decent sized field for the final. Plenty can be given chances on their back form and my pair against the field are last year’s winner Prime Venture who can race today off of the same mark of 130 as last year when clearing away over the last to win by 9L. He’s prepped for this with two runs over hurdles under a 7lb conditional jockey without his usual cheek pieces which are back on today and with regular jockey Adam Wedge back in the saddle looks worth a each way bet with the firms paying enhanced place terms (William Hill and Skybet are six places). Charlie Longsdon trains my other fancy in his grey Snow Leopardess who ran a lot better than her finishing position entails when 8th in the Becher at Aintree last time. She had won that event last year and will prefer the likely softer conditions at Sandown here. She should run well. Top weight Ramses De Teillee has been raised 6lb for his win in a qualifier for this 6 weeks ago and also makes some appeal but for me has to Prime Venture who looks to have been laid out for this again. PRIME VENTURE 2 points each way @ 13/2 bet365 1/5th 12345 SNOW LEOPARDESS 1/2 point each way @ 13/2 William Hill 1/5th 13456 Wincanton 3.15 Only five declared for this class 3 2m 5 1/2F handicap hurdle with one of them, Jubilee Express, also having a entry at Ludlow on Friday and was pulled out on Friday morning so that leaves just four. This looks a good spot for Kim Bailey’s handicap debutant Chianti Classico who looked a good prospect when defeating a well touted Nicky Henderson trained bumper winner at Market Rasen last time having previously taken the scalp of subsequent Winter Novices’ Hurdle winner Henri The Second. An initial handicap mark of 131 looks reasonable and with Sir Psycho and Longshanks coming here having flopped over fences it may not be very competitive. Currently around the 1/2 mark he should win this but is a no bet race due to the shortness of his price. Sandown 3.35 The last race of the eight covered by terrestrial television has attracted eleven runners. A class 2 handicap hurdle which could quite likely be run in a real mud bath so the ability to handle very bad ground is a must. Paul Nicholls’ Iceo makes his handicap debut and looks interesting although I’m always a bit wary of his horses around this time of the year as he invariably goes off the boil a bit due to the flu jabs he gives all his string after Christmas. He’s been off for 315 days so I can dismiss him. Venetia William’s Djelo looks a main protagonist here but is actually 10lb higher than when getting beat by Jungle Jack (beaten since) at Haydock last time. That doesn’t mean he can’t win but I prefer the chances of Harry Fry’s Lightly Squeeze who bolted up at Kempton last time and despite being bumped up 6lb may still be well handicapped. He’s actually a pound lower than when leading at the last in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury back in February 2020 and as his six hurdle victories have come on either soft or heavy he should be thereabouts. Bryan Carver takes the reigns and should be competitive today. LIGHTLY SQUEEZE 1 point win @ 4/1 Betfred Pease note - all prices quoted accurate as of time of uploading (Friday 9.12)
  11. absolutely - its 11.39 and i'm searching for Tuesdays already 👊
  12. Cheers Gazza, appreciate the kind words🤞
  13. Thanks Budgie - long way to go and sure to be a few twists and turns
  14. What better way to celebrate the New Year than with racing from the home of National Hunt racing Cheltenham. ITV have four races from the Cotswolds course including the highly competitive 1.55 which features seventeen runners. Musselburgh are also in on the action with a brace of class 2 handicaps. Here’s my thoughts on the six races. Cheltenham 1.20 Six go to post for the Dipper Novices’ Chase run over 2m 4 1/2F of the new course. The best in at the weights here is Olly Murphy’s Thunder Rock who comes here chasing a hat trick of wins over fences having previously scored in handicaps at Uttoxeter and Ascot under A P Heskin and he should be competitive although I just prefer Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral in a race that may well turn into a match between that pair. Monmiral is a smart hurdler rated just 2lb inferior to Thunder Rock who bumped into one on his chase debut when 7L second to the smart and subsequent winner Jonbon. Sure to be better for that spin over the big obstacles he can take this with Harry Cobden doing the steering. MONMIRAL 2 points win @ 5/4 bet365 Musselburgh 1.35 An open looking 2m 4 1/2F class 2 handicap chase is the first of two races at the Scottish course shown by the ITV cameras today. A case can be made for most of these with top weight Minella Drama trained by Donald McCain worth a small stakes investment. A smart novice last season winning twice including in grade two company at Haydock the seven year old has keep good company on both starts this season in non handicap company at Carlisle and Haydock. The last time we saw him in handicap company was on his fencing debut in October 2021 when an easy 8 1/2L winner at Uttoxeter and is only a couple of pounds higher here. Pay The Piper had Dubai Days (2 1/2L) and Cedar Hill (5 1/4L) behind him last time at Kelso and can confirm that form for the shrewd Ann Hamilton operation based in Northumberland. Down at the bottom of the handicap and a pound wrong is Iain Jardine’s Half Shot who’s chasing a three timer having won at Sedgefield in October and back over hurdles here a month later. He’s not without a chance as is Stuart Coltherd’s eight year old Coopers Cross who was third in a better handicap than this at Aintree last time. A tough race but it’s just Minella Drama for me. MINELLA DRAMA 1 point each way @ 4/1 William Hill 1/5th 123 Cheltenham 1.55 A maximum bumper field of seventeen will go to post for this premier handicap, the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase run over 2m 4F 127 yards of the new course. The race looks open with several holding good chances and you really will need some luck in running. The Paddy Power Gold Cup run over this trip but on the old course back in November featured several of these with the Skelton’s Midnight River finishing third, Il Ridoto 4th, Deyrann De Carjac 5th, Nassalam 6th, Simply The Bets 7th and Stolen Silver unseating his rider three out. The best of that group may well be Midnight River who appears to have as good a chance as any here. I’m prepared to take that form line on mind with my pair against the field Kim Bailey’s Happygolucky and Nicky Henderson’s mare Fantastic Lady. The former ran a cracking race on his seasonal re-appearance up at Newcastle when third in the Rehearsal Chase to L’Homme Presse and Into Overdrive. That form has been boosted since and although he’s dropping in trip today can run a big race. Henderson’s Fantastic Lady comprehensively beat Zambella (won twice since) last time in a mares only listed chase and like Happygolucky shouldn’t mind dropping half a mile in trip. With enhanced places I’ll play the pair. HAPPYGOLUCKY 1 point each way @ 9/1 William Hill 1/5th 123456 FANTASTIC LADY 1 point each way @ 14/1 bet365 /5th 12345 Cheltenham 2.30 The careers@dornangroup.com Relkeel Hurdle is a grade two contest run over 2m 4 1/2F of the new course and we have a nice sized field of nine going to post for this prestigious contest. The two best treated at today’s weights are Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm and Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher. They are the only two in the race not penalised and as both are the joint oldest in the field are worth taking on. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ I Like To Move It is three from five at Cheltenham and having spread eagled his field in the Greatwood Hurdle here back in November off of top weight is the the one to beat. Nicky Henderson’s First Street also won a good handicap off of a big weight last time and comes into the reckoning whilst Paul Nicholls’s Knappers Hill is a rapidly improving hurdler who’s chasing a five timer today. Henderson also runs his smart mare Marie’s Rock but she’s coming back from a 246 day absence. They all have claims but I’ll go with I Like To Move It with trainer’s son Sam Twiston Davies in the saddle. I LIKE TO MOVE IT 2 points win @ 4/1 BetVictor Musselburgh 2.45 Eleven have declared for the 1m 7 1/2F class 2 handicap hurdle. Musselburgh is a sharp flat track that suits the speedy flat types and Archie Watson’s Al Zaraqaan certainly falls into that bracket. Rated 102 on the all weather on the level he’s shown a real liking for timber winning four on the bounce (including one in Sweden!). He was very impressive when winning over course and distance at the beginning of last month and despite a 9lb rise is likely to be very competitive again under Sean Quinlan who takes over from regular rider Gavin Sheehan who’s required at Catterick today. The Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero trained Homme Public is maybe his biggest danger. His third behind Love Envoi last time at Sandown was boosted when the runner up that day Playful Saint bolted up in the week and off of the same mark and in first time cheek pieces should run well. Donald McCain’s Nayati was behind that day and looks held. Socialist Agenda was third to AL Zaraqaan last time beaten only three lengths and on 9lb better terms is another who can go close but the winner won easily that day and he’s the selection today. AL ZARAQAAN 2 points win @ 7/2 bet365 Cheltenham 3.05 Next up is a class 2 handicap hurdle run over just short of three miles with a field of eleven declared. Plenty are in with a chance including Nicky Henderson’s Call Me Lord who’s young jockey mistook the winning post at Sandown last time when going down by a nose to the re-appearing Dolphin Square. James Bowen takes over from the 7lb claiming Ben Bromley but I still favour the amateur ridden Dolphin Square to confirm the form. A consistent nine year old ridden and owned by David Maxwell was a credible runner up in this last year from a 4lb lower mark. Maxwell is not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s a trier and has won many races in his career. Back in third that day only a short hard behind the aforementioned pair was the Skelton’s Wilde About Oscar who also has claims. Warren Greatrex’s Abuffalosoldier has had his Newbury win boosted by the subsequent victory of the runner up Steal A March on Boxing Day at Wincanton whilst the Paul Nicholls trained Jet Of Magic may have more to offer. Another tough race but I’ll play Dolphin Square each way. DOLPHIN SQUARE 1 point each way @ 7/1 Betfred 1/5th 1234 Happy New Year everyone - here's to a healthy 2023 and lot of winners for us all !!
  15. Following a day’s break the ITV cameras are back for five races at Newbury with the feature race being the Challow Hurdle which Paul Nicholls is looking for his fifth success in the race, having previously won it with the likes of Denman, Bravemansgame and Stage Star. There’s also a brace of modest handicaps from Warwick and one on the all-weather at Lingfield. Eight in total and here are my early thoughts and selections for all eight. Newbury 1.15 Eleven chasers line up for this 2m 92 yard class 3 handicap chase. The most interesting horse by far is the Venetia Williams trained six year old Gamaret who hasn’t been seen on a racecourse since last February and is making his chasing and handicap debut. He could quite easily blow these all away or bomb out! Chris Gordon’s Only Money has claims although the handicapper appears to just about have his measure whilst a more interesting runner is last year’s winner Gallic Geordie who’s 9lb higher than that success and whilst he should run well for trainer Samuel Drinkwater he may need softer ground. No outsiders take my eye and I’ll take a chance on the aforementioned Gamaret for Venetia and Charlie Deutsch. GAMARET 2 points win @ 10/3 William Hill Warwick 1.35 Thirteen go to post for this class 4 3m 2F handicap hurdle which is not as competitive as the numbers would suggest. The likely favourite is the Philip Hobbs trained Langley Hundred who is chasing a hat trick following victories at Exeter and Ludlow under 10lb claiming conditional jockey Elizabeth Gale. The horse has only risen 6lb for that brace of wins and should be there at the finish today. He beat Dan Skelton’s Farmers Gamble 4 1/4L last time and on 4lb better terms should get closer today. Christian Williams’ Lord Snootie makes his handicap debut and is one to watch in the market but Williams is very much out of form at present and is passed over. Not a great race by ITV standards and I’ll stick with the proven form of Langley Hundred to small stakes. LANGLEY HUNDRED 1 point win @ 7/2 bet365 Newbury 1.50 Next up is a class 2 handicap hurdle which has attracted fourteen participants. The two most interesting runners are both making their handicap debuts. Harry Fry’s Lady Adare, who’s missed a couple of recent engagements down to the ground and is unbeaten in four starts, a bumper for Micky Hammond and three novice hurdles for Fry. She could be well treated off of 130. The other possible blot on the handicap is the Skelton’s Pikar who impressed when winning at Chepstow last time out in a novice hurdle and has been well backed since the 48 hour declarations were made. Lucy Wadham’s Martello Sky looks favourably handicapped and can’t be ruled out off of his last winning mark whilst top weight Soaring Glory is back over hurdles and not out of this either. There’s others with chances as well but I’ll take Lady Adare, who trainer Fry has spoken well off in a recent stable file, to take advantage of a possible lenient handicap mark. LADY ADARE 2 points each way @ 6/1 bet265 1/5th 1234 Warwick 2.10 Only nine go to post for this class 4 three mile conditional jockeys’ veterans’ handicap chase. Dan Skelton’s Go Steady heads the market following a solid success at Lingfield in a similar race at the beginning of the month under today’s pilot Tristan Durrell. He’s two from five at the track and with just a 4lb rise should be thereabouts although is scant value at around the 15/8 mark. Tom George’s Smuggler’s Blues would have probably finished runner up to the eventual winner Certainly Red at Wincanton last time but for crashing out at the second last and is another with claims despite a 3lb rise. Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero’s Midnight Moss is the one I like here mind. The ten year old is quite lightly raced for one so old ( he turns eleven next week) having run only 13 times and ran a fine race, his first since a wind operation and a 232 day break, when runner up to Rocky’s Treasure at Doncaster three weeks ago and with that run under his belt now can go one better in what looks a very winnable race. MIDNIGHT MOSS 1 point win @ 10/3 bet365 Newbury 2.25 The Coral Racing Club Mandarin Handicap Chase has a long tradition and has attracted a decent sized field of sixteen staying chasers this year. It has a real open look about it with certainly no stand out bets. Venetia Williams’s Laskalin is up 5lb for his Ludlow victory a month ago and is one for the short list along with Jamie Snowden’s Tallow For Coal who was last seen at Lingfield in November beating Pemberley 7 1/2L. The latter re-opposes on 5lb better terms and can get closer for the Emma Lavelle team. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ top weight Undersupervision will need to jump better than he did at Chepstow on his re-appearance but that is a distinct possibility. At a monster price I’m going to play Alex Hales’ Fagan. He’s very well handicapped on some of his back form at this Berkshire track. He flopped on his re-appearance in the Becher Chase but that course isn’t for everyone and after a years break it’s quite easy to forgive him that run. He’s in the veteran stage now and turns 13 years of age next week but with Hales having a couple of winners over Christmas plus the booking of Harry Cobden is worth a small stakes each way bet with enhanced place terms. FAGAN 1/2 point each way @ 66/1 BetVictor 1/5th 12345 Lingfield 2.40 ITV are showing this one mile class 3 fillies handicap which looks open enough with chances given to all six runners. Wadacre Grace comes into this in decent enough form having finished runner up on his last two starts at Kempton and Southwell and holds claims whilst fellow three year old Morgan Fairy is not without a shout. With stakes kept small it may be worth a small wager on Ed Walker’s top weight Sunset Bay. The four year old filly hasn’t been seen since September and is 0 from 2 on the all weather but she’s been running mostly in listed and group company this year since winning two handicaps on the turf in the Summer. Rob Hornby gets the call up and could be the answer to this tricky handicap. SUNSET BAY 1 point win @ 5/1 bet365 Newbury 3.00 The feature race of the days entertainment at Newbury is the Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle a grade one contest run over 2m 4 1/2F which has attracted its biggest field this century with fourteen going to post including two representatives from Ireland. A warm favourite is Paul Nicholls’ Hermes Allen who’s looked a smart prospect winning at Stratford and Cheltenham this winter. Nicholls likes to run his best novice hurdler here and saddles Her see Allen. He must have every chance with the only thing not to like is his price at around the 5/4 mark. There’s plenty of promising sorts in opposition here including Nicky Henderson’s Cheltenham winner Attacca and Fergal O’Briens’ Ascot winner Crambo. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Idalka Bihoue, who was a very easy winner at Worcester in October, falls into the ‘could be anything’ bracket and is a big priced possible. The horse I want to be with though is the Skelton’s Vicki Vale, one of two mares in the race. She coasted home at Hereford in November on her hurdling debut and although there was little depth to the contest it was the visual performance that stood out with her trainer stating afterwards that ‘she could be anything’ and ‘she looks very very good’. The owners Bullen-Smith and Faulks’ West Balboa was second in this race last year and they have a decent chance to take the first prize this year round. Make sure you find a firm that is paying the 4th place (William Hill, bet365, Skybet and Boylesports). VICKI VALE 1 1/2 points each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234 Newbury 3.35 Ten line up for this class 3 2m 6F 93 yards novices’ handicap chase. It’ll take a good one to take the first prize with five last time out winners starting. Tea For Free did us a favour last time at Uttoxeter under Lily Pinchin and has claims again despite a 6lb rise. Fergal O’Brien’s Nothin To Ask is chasing a hat trick following wins at Chepstow and Doncaster but has risen 16lb for that brace of wins. Malinello won after a long layoff and a wind operation at Newcastle last time for Ben Pauling and should be thereabouts. A wide open contest although anyone that saw Nicky Henderson’s top weight Bold Endeavour win at Leicester last time will want to be with him again despite a 9lb rise in the weights. That was his first run for the master of Seven Barrows having joined from Laura Morgan and although it was gained on a unseasonable good to firm terrain he has shown last season he copes with slow ground and he’s the selection under Nico De Boinville. BOLD ENDEAVOUR 2 points win @ 9/2 bet365
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