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The Brigadier

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Everything posted by The Brigadier

  1. 3 winners with a profit of 5.75 points on the day. What a race the Clarence House was - I though Nico was superb on the winner. Sundays thoughts are now on line. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
  2. Heavy ground is likely for Day three of Lingfield’s Winter Millions meeting and heres mt thoughts on the five ITV races plus a brace from Thurles. Lingfield 1.20 A £30k guaranteed 2m 7F novices’ hurdle with the stand out competitors the front two in the market in Dan Skelton’s Ballygrifincottage and Irish raider Fameaftertheglory trained by Gavin Cromwell. Preference is for the former who was a decent performer between the flags in Ireland winning three times. He showed plenty of promise on his hurdling debut for the Skelton’s when third to Blazing Khal, who was ante post favourite for the Albert Bartlett until his unfortunate injury on Friday, at Cheltenham in December and has a major chance today. BALLYGRIFINCOTTAGE 2 points win @ 2/1 Boylesports Lingfield 1.50 Only five go to post for this two mile class 2 novice chase with all bar total rag Richdish holding a chance. There’s only 5lb between the main quartet and it maybe worth giving Paul Nicholl’s Il Ridoto one more chance. he was as easy a winner of a handicap as I’ve seen all season at Newbury in November and was thrown into the deep end the following weekend when bombing out at at Sandown in grade one company when well backed, maybe that came too soon after his easy win seven day previous and is worth another chance to prove his ability today. Faivoir, War Lord and Shakem UpArry all have chances and will no doubt will have their supporters. IL RIDOTO 1 point win @ 3/1 William Hill Lingfield 2.25 A small turnout of only three go to post for this £100k guaranteed hurdle run over 2m 3 1/2F with the late defections of Lucky Max and Miranda. Brewin’upastorm and Darver Star are the two to concentrate on here and with just 4lb officially between them (in favour of the former) can fight out the finish. Preference is for Olly Murphy’s 9 year old Brewin’upastorm who impressed at Aintree on his re-appearance and was coming to win his race I felt when crashing out at the last in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Years Day. Goshen is the third member of the field but although the ground will suit is out of sorts. BREWIN’UPASTORM 1 point win @ 6/4 Bet365 Thurles 2.40 Seven Irish novices go to post for this 2m 4 1/2F grade 2 mares only novices chase. A stand out bet for me is the Henry De Bromhead trained Minella Melody who makes her chasing debut today. Her hurdle form which included runner up efforts in grade 2 and grade 1 company is far superior to anything her rivals have achieved and if she can jump can take care of her six rivals the best of which may well be Jeremys Flame a winner at Naas at the beginning of the month. MINELLA MELODY 2 points win 11/4 Bet365 Lingfield 3.00 The inaugural running of the Fleur De Lys Chase, a class 2 chase run over 2m 6F with a guaranteed purse of £150k. If Fanion D’Estruval was re-routed here from Ascot on Saturday he would be the one to be with but in his absence it may fall to Dashel Drasher who certainly comes here in better form having won over hurdles last time out than main rival Bristol De Mai who’s pulled up on his last two racecourse appearances. Both will love the testing conditions. DASHEL DRASHER 1 POINT WIN @ 11/4 Thurles 3.15 Only four assemble for the 2m 4 1/2F Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase which sees the smart Allaho bidding to follow up last years success in the race. He went on from there to win the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and he’s already a warm favourite to strike in that contest again. He should have a straight forward enough task here although second favourite Fakir D’oudairies is no mug himself but is rated 9lb inferior. A no bet race for me but I do expect them to come home in betting order. Lingfield 3.35 Easily the most competitive race on the Lingfield card is the fifteen runner Surrey National run over 3m 5F which on heavy ground will take some getting. Local trainer Chris Gordon’s Go Whatever landed a gamble in decent style in similar conditions at Plumpton in the Sussex National at the beginning of the month and although he’s been raised 7lb should run well here and is the selection. There’s plenty of others with chances including Little Red Lion from the David Pipe team who must be better than his last run and can outrun his big odds. GO WHATEVER 1 point each way @ 9/2 William Hill 1/5th 12345
  3. Eight on ITV Saturday with the finale the clash between Shishkin and Eneregumene. Heres my thoughts:- Haydock 1.25 This grade 2 SkyBet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle is all about the odds on favourite Jonbon. A full brother to the smart Douvan he’s unbeaten in an Irish point to point, Newbury bumper and novice hurdles at Newbury and Ascot all in emphatic style. He’s only run on good to soft ground so todays surface may well be the most taxing he’s raced on but he looks top class and it will be a shock to all at Seven Barrows if Nicky Henderson’s six year old doesn’t take this en route to taking on stable mate Constitution Hill and the Willie Mullins contingent at Cheltenham in the opener on Tuesday. He’s obviously unbackable at his current odds but I do like Scottish challenger Donny Boy trained at Kinneston by Nick Alexander. He too is un-beaten in an Irish point, bumper at Kelso and novice hurdle at Newcastle with his shrewd trainer saying some very nice things about him after his win and he can be backed in the ‘without Jonbon’ market. DONNY BOY 1 point win (without Jonbon) 7/1 William Hill Ascot 1.45 A competitive eleven runner 2m 3 1/2F handicap hurdle next up with all bar possibly the total rag Skandiburg having claims. Top weight Garry Clermont, trained by legendary trainer Jonjo O’Neill has as good a chance as any and is the selection. He’s been placed in two top handicap hurdles at the minimum trip this winter and the step up in trip looks likely to suit having won over this trip at Warwick last May. Philip Hobb’s Stellar Magic ran a blinder on his handicap debut at Haydock last month and is another for the short list whilst the Skelton’s Unexpected Party can’t be ruled out following a silver medal run at Wetherby on Boxing Day. A tough race so keep stakes small with preference just for Garry Clermont. GARRY CLERMONT 1 point win @ 7/1 Bet365 Haydock 2.00 A rather disappointing turn out here of only six for the New One Unibet Hurdle. A warm favourite is Ann Hamilton’s stable star Tommy’s Oscar who is 11lb and upwards superior to his five rivals here on official ratings. If he brings his A game he should really be winning this and complete a four timer in the process. Navajo Pass upset Bueveur D’Air in this contest last year when making all and in first time blinkers it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks were he to attempt the same tactics under champion jockey elect Brian Hughes and looks the best outsider here although from a punting view I’m happy to watch. Ascot 2.20 Run over just short of three miles this grade 2 mares hurdle has attracted a small but select field of six this year. Western Victory has joined the Emma Lavelle stable from the Irish yard of Declan Queally for a rather cheap looking £80k and is a player here with conditions to suit. Willie Mullins sends over My Sister Sarah , an easy winner at Kempton in November but was a tad disappointing at Leopardstown over Christmas, all be it in better company. She too has an obvious chance along with Dan Skelton’s Molly Olly’s Wishes who looked good winning at Wetherby over 2m back in October but bombed out here the following month. She’s stepping up to three miles now which looks a good move as she won over this trip at Kempton a year ago on her only try at three miles. In a tight contest between the front three she may just have the call with Harry Skelton taking over from Bridget Andrews. MOLLY OLLYS WISHES 1 point win @ 9/4 Bet365 Haydock 2.35 Royal Pagaille took this race, the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase run over 3m 1 1/2F, apart last year when winning by 16L and despite being 7lb higher and having to give weight all round looks to have an outstanding chance at a track where he’s won two of his three starts and will be ridden today by stable jockey Charlie Deutsch. Remastered races off of the same handicap mark that he fell off when going well four out in the Ladbroke Handicap Chase at Newbury in November and was runner up to Enqarde in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase over course and distance the following month. He looked a bit pace less at the end of that contest and a bigger threat to Royal Pagaille may come from the Sandy Thomson trained Empire Steel who was going well when crashing out in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. He should run well but I expect class to reign here with Royal Pagaille taking this for the second year in succession for the in form trainer Venetia Williams. ROYAL PAGAILLE 2 points win @ 5/2 William Hill Ascot 2.55 A competitive class 2 2m 5F handicap chase where all eight runner have a chance of sorts. Top weight Fanion D’Estruval was an easy winner at Newbury last time out and although he has been raised 8lb that is reduced by Lucy Turners 7lb claim here. She takes over from Charlie Deutsch who’s at Haydock to ride the stables star chaser Royal Pagaille. He has every chance today. Jonjo O’Neill’s Palmers Hill has every chance also chasing a hat trick of wins the latest of which came here over a two furlong shorter trip. He has however been raised 8lb for that win. Both Amour De Nuit and Killer Clown come here on the back of wins but again both have been shunted up 7lb for their respective victories. Others also have chances but my selection is top weight Fanion D’Estruval which hopefully could top a great day for trainer Venetia Williams. FANION D’ESTRUVAL 1 point win @ 5/1 Bet365 Taunton 3.15 The 3m 4 1/2F Portman Cup, a race for chasers that haven’t won a grade 1 or 2 chase since 2020 has been won in the last two years by the Paul Nicholls 12 year old Yala Enki and if we can get Evens or just under looks a ranking good bet to win it for the third time. He comes into this in excellent form having won a handicap at Cheltenham 10 weeks ago and despite having to shoulder a 4lb penalty today is still officially 5lb superior to her nearest rival, the out of form Elegant Escape who hasn’t shown anything like his old form in his last four starts spanning over two years. The next two in the betting Full Back and Ramses De Teillee have 16lb and 11lb to find and with Yala Enki’s usual partner Bryony Frost likely to get him out in front popping away will be very hard to beat. YALA ENKI 3 points win @ 5/6 Bet365 Ascot 3.35 We’ll save the best for last! This years 2m 1F grade 1 Clarence House Chase features the first (hopefully of many) match up’s of the two best two mile chasers in training. Shishkin has only ever been beaten once under rules and that was when falling at the 2nd on his hurdles debut. He’s six from six over over fences including last years Arkle Chase and showed his well being with an emphatic victory on his re-appearance at Kempton over Christmas from this year’s Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen. His big rival today is the Willie Mullins trained Energumene who’s unbeaten in five starts over fences, impressing with his style of victory on each occasion. The latest coming when easily dispatching of his four rivals at Cork early in December. The tactics will be very interesting as Energumene appears to like to bowl along at the front of things whilst Shishkin, like so many of Nicky Henderson’s superstars, can hit a flat spot but has never been stronger than at the finish. Last years winner First Flow looks a tasty price for one that won so well then and comes here on the back of a comfortable Peterborough Chase victory in December with Amoola Gold making up the numbers and this looks a race to savour. It’s hard to split the two big guns with only officially one pound between then (in Shishkin’s favour) but at the prices l’ll just be with the Irish challenger Energumene who might just run the race out of Henderson’s superstar Shishkin. ENERGUMENE 1 point win 7/4 Bet365
  4. The ITV team bring us eight races on Friday to our screens with four from Lingfield for the first of their Winter Millions meeting and as an added bonus four races from Market Rasen. Here’s a quick run through the eight. Market Rasen 1.30 An ordinary eleven runner class 4 2m 7F handicap hurdle starts todays proceedings with the top weight Weebill having won a seller last time! The race is likely to be run at a strong pace as there are at least four habitual front runners in the contest. The least exposed runner is the Emma Lavelle trained Minella Buster who bolted up in a poor Plumpton maiden hurdle when last seen in December of last year winning by 24L. That was over 2m 4F but as a 3 mile Irish point winner should have no difficulty stepping up in trip today. He looks the most likely winner although respect is given to the Ben Pauling runner Le Grand Lion, a winner at Huntingdon over todays trip on Boxing Day. MINELLA BUSTER 1 point win @ 11/4 Bet365 Lingfield 1.50 This two mile handicap chase was nominated as his next target when Dan Skelton’s Eclair D’Ainay won the Castleford Handicap Chase at Wetherby over Christmas by 6L in good fashion and despite a 7lb hike in the weights looks sure to be thereabouts. Slight preference however is the Venetia Williams trained Frero Banbou who’s run well in all three two mile handicap chases he’s contested this season and off of the same mark as last time when a good third at Cheltenham may prove to be too good for the aforementioned Eclair D’Ainay. FRERO BANBOU 1 point win @ 10/3 Bet365 Market Rasen 2.05 Like the 1.30 this is a modest enough handicap hurdle this time run over 2m 125yds. Two horses here are well in according to the handicapper are Ravenscar who goes up 4lb in future handicaps for his neck second at Sedgefield last week whilst Angels Landing will be 3lb higher when re-assessed on the back of 4 1/4L second to Dr T J Eckleburg at Ludlow. It’s the latter I feel has a golden opportunity here. Regular readers will know how much I love a four year old in a handicap at this time of the year as they receive such a healthy age allowance (13lb currently). This will be Ian William’s filly’s first start in a handicap and even looks leniently treated on her flat form before we take into account her age allowance here. She has a major chance. One horse to keep a close eye on is the David Pipe handicap debutant Ladykiller. This is only his third run over hurdles and was a Group 3 and listed winner on the flat in Germany. He looks well treated although the Pipe yard aren’t really firing at present. ANGELS LANDING 2 points win @ 10/3 Bet365 LADYKILLER 1 point win @ 6/1 William Hills Lingfield 2.25 The 2m 7F Cazoo Hurdle is run over a furlong short of three miles and has attracted a rather disappointing turn out of only five. On official ratings one of those quintet Dan McGrue is impossible to fancy making it realistically a four runner race. The best in at the weights, but only by 3lb is Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side and he may well win this but do you really want to take around 6/4 about a horse that pulled up last time out? (all be it in better company). Emitom stays well and was actually fourth in the 2020 Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle. He’s mixed fences with hurdles since and Warren Greatrex’s 8 year old gets the call here on a point of value with stable jockey Gavin Sheehan in the saddle. EMITOM 1 point win @ 3/1 Bet365 Market Rasen 2.40 Eleven mares assemble for this 2m 1/2F listed national hunt flat race that was won last year by the smart Eileendover. Two horses head the market who were visually very impressive when winning last time. Nell’s Bells trained by Donald McCain and racing in Tim Leslie’s wife’s name bolted up at Carlisle last month and could be anything as could the Fergal O’Brien trained Hidden Beauty who came from a mile back to win on her debut at Ffos Las with the third winning since. Preference is just for the latter here. HIDDEN BEAUTY 2 points win @ 11/4 Bet365 Lingfield 3.00 A £50k guaranteed purse for the inaugural running of the 2m 7F 119yfs novice chase which features seven staying chasers. The most interesting runner here is the ex Stuart Edmunds smart hurdling mare Queenohearts who is making her chasing debut for her new trainer Kim Bailey and receives all the allowances. We haven’t seen her for over a year mind so is probably best watched today. On official ratings there is only 6lb between the seven runners with my slight preference for the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner Fantastikas who has the highest rating here and has kept good novice company on his last two starts at Doncaster and Cheltenham. FANTASTIKAS 1 point win @ 7/2 Bet365 Market Rasen 3.15 A three mile handicap chase that may go the way of the Fergal O’Brien trained eight year old Hunny Moon who’s only been raised 3lb for her course and distance victory two weeks ago. That was only her second ever race over fences and there could easily be more improvement to come with stable jockey Paddy Brennan in the saddle. There are many dangers however including the Skelton runner Flegmatic and Oliver Sherwood’s Cilaos Glace. HUNNY MOON 1 point win @ 7/2 Bet365 Lingfield 3.35 The biggest field of the day and the biggest prize of £100k guaranteed assemble for the two mile handicap hurdle. It does have a distinctly open feel about it although it may pay to keep a close eye on the three Irish runners - two trained by the shrewd Emmet Mullins. Paul Townend is over to ride his Carrarea and he’s the pick. He’s yet to encounter ground as soft as this but Mullins would have known when shipping him over what the conditions would likely be so I’ll take a chance on him. Mullins also saddles Sevenna Star but jockey bookings would suggest he’s the second string. Sean Thomas Doyle brings over Lucky Max who’s chasing a four timer following three handicap hurdle victories in the Emerald Isle on bad ground and has to be on the short list also. The best of the home team maybe Metier who will appreciate the very soft ground. CARRAREA 2 points win @ 4/1 BetVictor
  5. Yes apologies technical issues this afternoon
  6. A profit of 10.75 points on the day - hope everyone had a good day and found a winner or two
  7. A feast of racing for the armchair watchers on Saturday with nine races on ITV from Warwick and Kempton where both tracks are reporting soft ground although with little rain around it would be no shock to see either or both tracks tighten up a bit and come back to good to soft. Here’s my thoughts on them :- Warwick 1.18 A disappointing turn out of four for this 2 mile handicap chase. The one they all have to beat is Venetia William’s Brave Seasca who’s chasing his third win on the bounce following an easy course and distance win and a cosy victory at Ascot both in December. On the negative side he has risen 16lb for those two victories and is short enough today at around 5/4. Last years winner Sky Pirate (12lb higher today) went on to win the Grand Annual Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and is no doubt been trained for the same race. That said he’s not been disgraced in all three of his starts this season including when a 13L 3rd to Shiskin last time out. He should be competitive under his regular rider Nick Schofield. Matt Sheppard’s Not Available is like the favourite here chasing a hat trick of wins following success’s at Newbury and Ludlow rising only 6lb and has yet to be out of the frame in 12 career starts. A model of consistency he may well be the value today. NOT AVAILABLE 1 point win @ 11/4 Bet365 Kempton 1.32 Seven go to post for this 2m 4F 110yds handicap chase. Jeremy Scott has his team in fine shape and saddles one of the front market leaders here in Champagne Court who won a handicap hurdle last time and is reverting back to the larger obstacles now. He has claims but hardly represents value at around 11/4. The other market larder is Kap Auteuil who also comes into the race in good form having won 5 of his last 6 starts for up and coming trainer Toby Lawes. I’ll stick with him as the most likely winner here but only to small stakes. KAP AUTEUIL 1 point win @ 4/1 Bet365 Warwick 1.50 Another small field of five here for the 3 mile Grade 2 Hampton Novices’ Chase. A skinny favourite in the Paul Nicholls trained Threeunderthrufive who should really be beating these despite a 5lb penalty. Nicholls won this last year with Next Destination and this McNeill Family owned 7 year old has won his last three starts all at this trip and in good style. He’s too short to back so it’ll be a watching race for me. Mint Condition did it well at Haydock last time and can chase the jolly home. Kempton 2.05 A disappointing turn out for this £80,000 guaranteed prize. The grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase is run over 2m 4F 110yds and only four have declared. Each one of the quartet have questions to answer now with the outsider Defi Du Seuil having not shown any form now since the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and is over looked. Paul Nicholls’ Rouge Vif comes into it IF he stays (this is his first run at 2m 4F) whilst Eldorado Allen has probably the least doubts of the quartet and should run well. Mister Fisher though has a touch of class about him and on his Peterborough Chase win in December 2020 (run at Cheltenham that year) and his bet365 Chase second at Sandown in April last year efforts will be hard to beat. He was flying high on his re-appearance when most likely not staying in the King George on Boxing Day and at a track where he’s won two of his three starts can bounce back to form under James Bowen. MISTER FISHER 1 point win @ 7/4 Bet365 Warwick 2.25 Seven novice’s assemble for the latest renewal of the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, a grade 2 contest run over 2m 5F. Nicky Henderson is having a stellar season with his two mile novices and the likes of Constitution Hill and Jonbon and may take this with his Surrey Quest who is much more of a staying type. He impressed when winning at Doncaster over Christmas under 7lb conditional Nathan Brennan who stated afterwards that he ‘is still a big baby and is going to come on a ton for this’. Aidan Coleman takes over here and a big run is expected. His biggest danger may well be Stag Horn, a 103 rated flat horse who won at Hereford on his hurdling debut back in early December from subsequent winner World Of Dreams. This represents a big step up in class but he was smart on the level and it would be no shock were he to run well. SURREY QUEST 2 points win 9/4 William Hill Kempton 2.40 An excellent turn out for the feature hurdle race of the day the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle, a listed race run over 2m 5F. A case can be made for plenty with the Paul Nicholls trained novice ( who takes up this engagement rather than the easier novice hurdle race at Warwick) Gelino Bello high on my shortlist. He’s bumped into Albert Bartlett favourite Blazing Khal at Cheltenham on his last two starts and a mark of 138 may underestimate his ability. Nicky Henderson has a good record in the race and the preferred of his trio has to be Marie’s Rock who bounced back to form for the step up in trip over course and distance three weeks ago for which she’s been pushed up 9lb in the handicap. Green Book is chasing a hat trick with conditional jockey Ned Fox who claims 10lb on board - a big day for that young man. Dans Le Vent is one I like a fair bit here. He’s done little wrong this season in winning a a valuable 3 mile handicap hurdle at Haydock in November before an excellent 4th in the Relkeel Hurdle where his usual rider Isobel Williams, daughter of trainer Evan, was unable to claim her 5lb. Only beaten 7 1/4L he has surprisingly been untouched by the handicapper and can run well. Ben Case is having a good season and his Cobblers Dream impressed me when winning last time out at Doncaster and a rise of only 6lb maybe lenient. I’ll take him and Dans Le Vent against the field each way with enhanced places. The best total outsider may well be the Jonjo O’Neill trained Carys’ Commodity who’s wearing a tongue tie for the first time and is better than his recent efforts. DANS LE VENT 1 point each way @ 12/1 1/5th 123456 Paddy Power COBBLERS DREAM 1 point each way @ 14/1 1/5th 123456 William Hill Warwick 3.00 15 staying chasers go to post for the Classic Handicap Chase run over a stamina sapping 3m 5F. Lucinda Russell’s top weight Corach Rambler is chasing a hat trick of wins following success’s at Aintree and Cheltenham taking a 15lb rise for those two wins and looks a player stepping up in trip. Another horse who should relish going up in distance is the David Pipe trained Gericault Roque who pulled well clear of his field when chasing home the improver Saint Palais at Newbury in the Mandarin last time out. He’s been put up 6lb for that effort but remains one to follow and has a big chance today. Last years winner Notachance has had excuses for his defeats since and in a first time visor and back on the same handicap mark as he won off of last year has to be given respect but it’s the Pipe runner Gericault Roque that I like here. GERICAULT ROQUE 2 points win @ 4/1 Bet365 Kempton 3.15 Hopefully all eight will run in this 3 mile handicap chase allowing an each way bet with three places. Top weight Caribean Boy holds claims but for me has been rather disappointing since winning over a year ago at Newbury and at the prices can be taken on. Christian Williams saddles two from Wales in Kitty’s Light and Strictlyadancer and both have chances. The one I like here though is the 12 year old Double Shuffle who is tongue tied for the first time. Tom George’s gelding has a liking for this flat track with career form figures at the Sunbury On Thames track reading 122527316. He won this race last year off of 140 and can race today off of only a one pound higher mark (he’s actually won here in the past off of 143). He has to put two average runs this season behind him but that will reflect in his price and it would not shock me were he to run well at a price. DOUBLE SHIFFLE 1 point each way @ 11/1 1/5th 123 Warwick 3.35 Only seven go to post for this Pertemps handicap hurdle - a qualifier for the final at Cheltenham in March. Bar possibly the rank outsider Keeper Hill a case can be made for all seven runners. Fergal O’Brien saddles an interesting handicap debutant in Alaphilippe although he has a 302 day absence to overcome. There’s two Irish runners in the shape of Gordon Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais carrying top weight and a previous winner of the final although you would think a ‘quiet’ run here would help his handicap mark come the Festival and Ronan McNally’s The Jam Man. The form horse’s are Riggs who ran really well at Haydock last time for the Skelton’s and looks sure to run well and Philip Hobb’s Sporting John who was impressive on his re-appearance at Cheltenham but a tad disappointing back there the following month when only 4th. It’s a hard race to call but off of bottom weight I’ll go with Riggs who comes here on the back of a career best run last time. RIGGS 1 point win @ 11/4 BetVictor
  8. Eight races on ITV today from Sandown and Wincanton and although one of the lesser terrestrial TV days there’s still eight winner to be found!. The ground at both fixtures is likely to ride soft or even heavy with a band if wet weather predicted. Here’s my thought on the. :- Wincanton 1.30 A competitive start to the ITV racing today but possibly a contender for one of the worst races shown by them! Thirteen go to post for this 1m 7F 50yds class 5 handicap hurdle. It may be poor pickings but there’s still a winner to be found and Planned Paradise has to be on the shortlist following a much improved effort when winning on his handicap debut at Newcastle in December. He’s up 11lb for that however and the ground will be significantly different today. Pittsburg landed a monumental gamble last time under Miss Alice Stevens at Catterick when defying his previous form figures of P00PP0P to win and has been raised 6lb. Pilsdon Pen is an interesting runner making his handicap debut for the in form Jeremy Scott stable who’s shown very little so far but any market support for him would be interesting. Top weight Coupdebol is also making his handicap debut and wasn’t disgraced in a Newbury novice won by I Am Maximus last time beaten 15L and can be competitive. I love a four year old in a handicap at this time of the of year as they receive a whopping 13lb age allowance and Nigel Hawke’s Inferno Sacree falls into that category so has to be part of my staking plan with top weight Coupdebol the main bet. COUPDEBOL 1 point each way @ 10/1 1/5 12345 Betfred INFERNO SACREE 1/2 point each way @ 18/1 1/5th 1234 Bet365 Sandown 1.50 Favourite Gunsight Ridge bumped into one last time at Exeter when chasing home L’Homme Presse who’s won twice since including the Dipper Novices Chase at Cheltenham and is now some 26lb higher. Olly Murphy’s charge is without the doubt the one they all have to beat but has been priced accordingly and as a horse who’s actually only won one of his eight starts I’m happy to look elsewhere for some value. That may come from the top weight Moonlighter who ran better than his finishing position suggested last time out at Cheltenham and has dropped to a mark 3lb lower than when winning a similar contest over course and distance last February. Harry Cobden takes over from Tom Scudamore who remains faithful to Heather Main’s Numitor whom he usually rides. MOONLIGHTER 2 points win @ 13/2 Bet365 Wincanton 2.05 Run over just short of two miles this class 3 handicap chase sees ten going to post. Anthony Honeyball’s Belle De Manech has to be on the short list following his easy win here on Boxing Day bringing his course record to two wins from three starts but this represents a stiffer test dropping in trip and having been raised 10lb. He has to give weight all round but top weight Grey Diamond trained by Sam Thomas looks likely to give his running and appeals as each way value. This represents a drop in class for the eight year old as he has shown up well in grade 1 and class 2 handicaps this season and can race today off of a handicap mark only 3lb higher than when winning at Sandown in March. He won’t mind the likely soft ground and is worth a small stakes each way bet with Jack Tudor who still claims 3lb doing the steering for the first time. GREY DIAMOND 2 points win @ 7/2 Bet365 Sandown 2.25 Six smart novices go to post for this years renewal of the 2 mile Tolworth Novices Hurdle and I’ll be shocked if Nicked Henderson’s Constitution Hill can’t win this. He was super impressive when quickening away on the run in in excellent fashion over course and distance a month ago and will be at prohibitive odds. A no bet race for me but let’s hope he’s as good as he looked last time. Gary Moore’s Shallwehaveonemore can chase him home. Wincanton 2.40 A bakers dozen go to post for this class 3 handicap hurdle and there is one horse here who could be thrown in. Philip Hobbs saddles his handicap debutant Crossing The Bar who was rated 83 on the flat when trained by Sir Michael Stoute and was sold out of his Newmarket stable for 60,000 guineas at the August horse in training sales at Newmarket. He’s shown promise in his two novice hurdles at Lingfield and Ffos Las with his third at the latter in December already been boosted by the horse that was 18L behind him in fourth Pageant Material winning a novice hurdle since at Ffos Las. An initial mark of 108 compared to his flat mark suggest the handicapper has erred on the side of caution and with stable jockey Tom O’Brien in the saddle can take what looks to be a winnable handicap. Nicky Henderson’s handicap debutant Blairgowrie has to be respected along with the well handicapped Apple Rock. CROSSING THE BAR 2 points each way @ 9/2 1/5 1234 Bet365 Sandown 3.00 Run over three miles, thirteen chasers have assembled for this veterans handicap chase and although I’m loathe to be tipping favourites in this style of event I do think that the top weight Aso, trained by Venetia Williams will be hard to beat. Runner up in the 2019 Ryanair Chase he got up to the dizzy heights of being officially rated 168 and races here today off of a mark 21lb lower than his pomp. He showed last time that he retains plenty of ability as he chased home Blaklion at Haydock and that one has come out since and bolted up again. Charlie Deutsch rides and he looks worth a bet today. Fergal O’Brien’s 13 year old Final Nudge and Philip Hobb’s Rolling Dylan look likely dangers. ASO 3 points win @ 3/1 Bet365 Wincanton 3.15 Only six run in this 2m 4F handicap chase in which top weight Stolen Silver looks the most likely winner. Sam Thomas and Jack Tudor who have a solid chance with Grey Diamond in the 2.05 has to give weight all round but if he can replicate either his Market Rasen win in October or his runners up effort at Cheltenham in November will be hard to beat. He’s obviously highly thought of by his shrewd trainer as he ran him in the grade one Henry VIII novices chase at Sandown last time out where he appeared to be out of his depth against the likes of Edwardstone. Slate House is a very interesting runner for the Tizzards. He’s dropped a stone since we last saw him over fences and wears blinkers for the first time today. He’s not been running well over timber mind but it would be no shock were he to run well here but for me it has to be Stolen Silver. STOLEN SILVER 2 points win @ 9/4 Bet365 Sandown 3.35 Jane Williams won this handicap with a similar sort in Monsieur Lecoq back in 2019 and can take this eight runner handicap hurdle once more with her lightly raced five year old Hermes Boy who is making his handicap debut today. He got off the mark at the fourth time of asking at Exeter a month ago when winning a novice hurdle that has worked out well (the third Dubrovnik Harry has bolted up since) and with no doubt more improvement to come can take this from some more experienced and exposed handicappers the best of whom may well be Mack The Man who will love the soggy conditions. HERMES BOY 2 points win @ 11/4 Bet365
  9. A decent afternoon’s racing with the ITV cameras at Cheltenham where the ground is soft and Musselburgh where the conditions are slightly better with good to soft the call. There’s also the Al Boum Photo romp at Tramore to look forward to. Here’s my thoughts on the eight races. Cheltenham 1.25 A decent renewal of the 2m 4 1/2F Dipper Novices’ Chase. Favourite is L’Homme Presse of Venetia Williams who was impressive when winning at Ascot when well backed a fortnight ago. He’s sure to be hard to beat although at the prices I just prefer Alan King’s mare The Glancing Queen who’s looked very smart in winning both her runs over fences under Tom Cannon in listed company at Bangor and Warwick against her own sex but looks well worth a try against the males here. Alex Hale’s Millers Bank is also in with a shout but it’s the mare to trump the colts for me here. THE GLANCING QUEEN 2 points win @ 7/2 Bet365 Musselburgh 1.40 Donald McCain had three winners on this card last year and he looks to have decent prospects of another good day. He can take the 2m 4F handicap hurdle with his 6 year old Geromino who’s winning sequence was halted by the progressive Tommy’s Oscar (runs in the 2.10) at Doncaster last time out. He stays the extra trip well and with champion jockey elect Brian Hughes in the saddle can take this. Olly Murphy is not in as good a form as he was earlier in the season but his challenger here Strong Glance has claims on his latest second although he’s not a horse to trust implicitly and he’s worth taking on. Ashington is maybe a bigger threat having had a recent pipe opener on the level in preparation for this race. GEROMINO 2 points win @ 10/3 William Hill Cheltenham 2.00 The feature race of the day is the 16 runner Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase run over 2m 4F 127yds of the new course. The most important piece of form comes from the Racing Post Gold Cup run over course and distance three weeks ago when Coole Cody beat Zanza 2L (Deyrann De Carjac 13L back in 5th). They’re weighted to dead heat today and both have claims in a wide open handicap. Venetia Williams won this event back in 2021 with top weight Aso and attempts to repeat that feat with Funambule Sivola who was runner up in the Peterborough Chase on his re-appearance and should run well here even if he does have his stamina to prove. Others with chances include Paddy Power Gold Cup 5th Galahad Quest (fallen at Aintree since), Vienna Court who was a very impressive winner here at the last meeting over course and distance but has been shunted up 12lb and the Dan Skelton trained Alnadam a dual winner at Sandown last season and probably needed his first start of the season when last of four beaten 24L to the smart Bravemansgame at Haydock. It’s a tough race but I do like the top weight Funambule Sivola even though he does have to prove he stays 2m 4F. FUNAMBULE SIVOLA 2 points each way @ 7/1 1/5th 12345 Bet365 Musselburgh 2.10 7 go to post for this handicap hurdle run over 1m 7F 124yds. Tommy’s Oscar is on a good roll currently for trainer Ann Hamilton chasing a hat trick following success’s at Haydock and Doncaster rising 12lb for those wins with 7lb conditional Tom Midgley taking over from Brian Hughes today. He looks sure to go well although at a bigger price it’s that irresistible team of Donald McCain and Brian Hughes that catch my eye here with Fiveandtwenty who racked up a treble over course and distance last season. Things haven’t gone right for him in three starts since but he has dropped slightly in the weights and perhaps most importantly has had a wind operation since we last saw him. Irish challenger Anna Bunina is respected although hasn’t been seen for 258 days and it’s Fiveandtwenty for me today. FIVEANDTWENTY 2 points win @ 8/1 Coral/Ladbroke Tramore 2.20 Only 6 got to post for this grade 3 New Years Day Chase run over 2m 6F and features the return of dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo who’s started his campaign in this race for the least three years winning easily on each occasion. His trainer Willie Mullins saddles 5 of the 6 runners and he should have little trouble winning this for the fourth consecutive year en route to another tilt at the Gold Cup in March. He’ll be at prohibitive odds so it’s just a sit back and enjoy race. Cheltenham 2.35 A cracking 14 runner 3 mile handicap hurdle up next. The two favourites both have solid chances with Olly Murphy’s Tamar Bridge stepping up in trip here following a battling win over 2m 4F at Aintree and a rise in the weights of 6lb. The runner up that day (pair pulled clear) was soundly beaten the other day so has a few questions to answer now. Art Approval hasn’t been seen since landing a touch here at the Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting in November and he too has to prove his stamina with a 8lb hike in the weights. Pileon won well at Sandown and stays well so even with a rise of 6lb can go well today (he’s still 1lb lower than when just touched off in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at the 2020 Festival here). Others with chances include Stoney Mountain who stays well and the David Maxwell ridden Dolphin Square from the same yard as Pileon’s. A tough race with possible stamina doubts over the front pair so it’s Pileon for me each way. PILEON 1 point each way @ 6/1 1/5th 1234 BetVictor Musselburgh 2.50 A small turnout of only five go to post for this 2m 4 1/2F handicap chase and can go to those men Brian Hughes and Donald McCain again with their 8 year old top weight Gaelic Coast. He’s already shown his liking for this specialist track by winning two of his three starts here and had an excuse for his poor effort last time out at Newbury as he slipped on the approach to the first fence and was never travelling from there onwards. Third in that contest was the Paul Nicholls trained Amour De Nuit who, under Bryony Frost is the danger here today. GAELIC COAST 2 point win 4/1 Bet365 GEROMINO/FIVEANDTWENTY/GAELIC COAST 1/4 point win trixie. Cheltenham 3.10 The Relkeel Hurdle is run over 2m 4F and has a warm favourite in Brewin’upastorm who was very impressive when winning at Aintree back in November. Conditions look ideal for him today and he’s the one to beat under Aidan Coleman. Only 3lb behind him on official ratings is the Paul Nicholls trained McFabulous who was actually beaten 5 1/2L by Brewin’upastorm in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February but is 6lb better off now. He’s a horse I’ve always liked and despite an absence of 268 days does go well fresh and re-appears here having had the obligatory Nicholls wind operation since last seen. At the prices I’ll take him to beat the favourite. McFABULOUS 2 points win @ 11/4 Bet365
  10. Some decent racing on ITV today coming from three meetings at Newbury, Doncaster and Leopardstown with the ground riding soft at all three meetings. Here’s my thoughts on the days racing. Newbury 1.25 A tricky looking 2 mile handicap chase which may fall to the very much in form Samuel Drinkwater trained Gallic Geordie. Drinkwater’s last eight runners have finished 32F11113 and his Geordieland gelding is chasing a hat trick following success’s at Lingfield this winter over today’s trip. He has to shoulder a 7lb penalty for his latest win and this is a step up in grade but he’s very much on the upgrade and with his stable in such excellent form is the selection here on ground that will suit. GALLIC GEORDIE 2 points win 5/2 Bet365 Leopardstown 1.45 Eight runners for the grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase run over three miles. Willie Mullins has his team in fine shape and saddles a brace here in Bacardys and Ontheropes with the latter under Paul Townend holding a big chance following his 4th in the Ladbroke Trophy dropping back into novice company. Last year’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle winner Vanillier bolted up at Punchestown and conditions look ideal for him today whilst the other main protagonist is Run Wild Fred trained by Gordon Elliott who was an impressive winner of the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan in November. I fully expect the winner to come from one of this trio and although a hard call I just favour Gavin Crowmell’s Vanillier. VANILLIER 1 point win @ 3/1 Bet365 Newbury 2.00 A 12 runner 2m 4 1/2F handicap hurdle which has an open look about it. Nicky Henderson saddles a brace of runners in Monte Cristo and Dickie Diver both of whom are at the front of the market. Preference is for the latter who has always been held in high esteem at Seven Barrows but was disappointing over fences last season and reverts back to hurdles here. He had six entries over the festive period. The ground can’t be soft enough for top weight Dashel Drasher and he’s also reverting back to the smaller obstacles on a handicap mark that is 10lb lower than his chase one. He’s not out of this. Masters Legacy has to be on the short list following a decent course and distance run last time (raised 3lb for that) behind Earlofthecotswolds. However in a tricky race it maybe Tom Lacey’s Pounding Poet that gets his head in front. He may well have bumped into a well handicapped Olly Murphy handicap debutant in Tamar Bridge at Aintree last time and despite a 5lb rise is worth an interest today. POUNDING POET 1 point each way @ 11/2 1/5th 1234 William Hill Leopardstown 2.20 The Matheson Hurdle is run over 2 miles and this grade 1 event has been won by Willie Mullins’ Sharjah for the last three years. He’s back to hopefully win four on the bounce which is one more than the great Hurricane Fly from the same stable did. He’s very hard to oppose coming here on the back of an authoritative victory in the Morigana Hurdle at Punchestown where he had today’s second favourite Zanahiyr and stable companion Echoes In Rain back in 2nd and 3rd and comfortably beaten off. He should be winning this and though I wouldn’t usually play at odds on I do think that he should be much shorter than his current odds. SHARJAH 4 points win @ 4/5 Bet365 Newbury 2.35 A good turn out for the Mandarin Handicap Chase with 14 staying chasers going to post for this 3m 2F contest. Despite the numbers one horse stands out here for me in the David Pipe trained Gericault Roque for whom it can’t be soft enough. Placed in handicaps at Wetherby and Chepstow on his two fencing starts there surely is more to come from this likeable five year old and he looks poised to run a big race under stable jockey Tom Scudamore. Richard Bandey’s Saint Palais looks a threat chasing a hat trick of wins this season though he has risen 17lb in the process so will have to improve again. GERICAULT ROQUE 2 points each way @ 5/1 1/5th 1234 Betfred Doncaster 2.50 8 go to post for this 3 mile handicap chase which has an open feel about it. Oscar Robertson heads the market following his facile Wetherby win in November for Tom George and is a big player here along with Neil Mulholland’s JP McManus owned Chirico Vallis, a Chepstow winner in October but I’m going take a swing on the total outsider of the field in the Milton Harris trained Danny Whizzbang. Formerly a smart chaser when trained by Paul Nicholls at Ditcheat when rated as high as 147 he has cut no ice in two starts for his new trainer who’s done so well this season but was out of his depth in the Ladbroke Trophy and badly wrong at the weights at Ascot (also lost two shoes). He’s been dropped 7lb for those two runs and can race off of a mark of 128 here some 19lb lower than his best ever mark. I’ll play each way hoping that all eight run. DANNY WHIZZBANG 1 point each way @ 22/1 1/5th 123 Newbury 3.05 A decent renewal of the 2m 4 1/2F Challow Hurdle where I think the bookmakers have the wrong favourite here in Stage Star. As promising as the Paul Nicholls trained five year old, who’s won both his novice hurdles in decent style, is he has not achieved anywhere near as much as chief threat Lossiemouth has. Tom Lacey’s six year old is unbeaten in three hurdle races, two handicap hurdles and the 2m 4F Ballymore Winter Novices Hurdle at Sandown earlier in the month when spread eagling a decent field coming home a eased down 14L winner. If he can reproduce that effort today he will be very hard to beat. Gordon Elliott sends over Gringo D’aubrelle who will be ridden by Dennis O’Regan but he will need to be better than he’s shown so far to take a hand here and looks under priced. LOSSIEMOUTH 3 points win @ 7/2 Coral/Ladbrokes Doncaster 3.20 This listed mares chase appears to be a match between the penalised Zambella and Venetia William’s Kapga De Lilly. On official ratings at these weights there’s only 2lb between the pair in favour of the former and she may take this following on from a decent victory in a similar contest at Aintree earlier in the month. ZAMBELLA 2 points win @ 6/5 Bet365 Newbury 3.35 Only eight go to post for this 2m 6 1/2F novices’ handicap chase. The only one here who has yet to jump a fence in public is the Nicky Henderson runner Patroclus who races from 3lb out of the handicap and is an interesting runner. Paul Nicholl’s top weight Flash Collonges was no doubt out of his depth here on his fencing debut when never landing a blow against the smart Ahoy Senor in November and will appreciate dropping back into calmer waters. He’s worth a small interest to prove that run all wrong especially dropping back in trip which should suit and a drop of 3lb by the handicapper. FLASH COLLONGES 1 point win @ 4/1 Bet365
  11. Eight terrestrial TV races to get stuck into on Monday with the ground likely to ride testing at both Kempton and Chepstow. Chepstow 1.05 Venetia Williams has an outstanding record in this race winning the contest on a staggering 6 times out of the last 9 years and despite the fact that the favourite of Jonjo O’Neill’s When You’re Ready will be hard to beat it maybe worth sticking with the Williams runner Pink Legend. Williams had three in this race at the first entry stage and relies upon her 7 year old mare who’s latest poor effort at Aintree can be excused as she was badly hampered at the start. If she’s back to the form she showed previously when winning at Ascot she can run a big race. PINK LEGEND 2 points each way @ 8/1 Paddy Power 1/5th 1234 Kempton 1.20 This looks poised to go to Barbary Castle trainer Alan King’s Edwardstone who will be at skinny odds to take this. His main threat today in the betting is Do Your Job who who fell last time in the Henry VIII Stakes won by Edwardstone at the 8th fence. Despite a 5lb penalty this would go the favourite but from a punting view is too short to back. Chepstow 1.40 A dozen juvenile hurdlers go to post for this year’s renewal of the Finale Juvenile Hurdle run over 2 miles and a recognised Triumph Hurdle trial. Harry Fry saddles his progressive Forever Blessed who’s looked good in winning at Ffos Las and Sandown and looks sure to be competitive. Skycutter is two from two over hurdles and takes a step up in grade here. Porticello and Magistrato are two others who come here with decent enough claims but I’m be sticking with the Fry runner who’s impressed me this season and has conditions to suit. FOREVER BLESSED 2 points win @ 7/2 Bet Victor Kempton 1.55 The 3 mile mares handicap hurdle won by Tequila Blaze 37 days ago is the key form race to evaluate here with none other than five of todays seven runners taking part. Fergal O’Brien’s 7 year old was ridden out to win by 4 1/2L with Coded Message (7lb better here for a beating of 5 1/4L) back in 4th, Go Millie Go (7lb better for 5 3/4L) 5th, Martha Brae who went off favourite 7 1/2L back in 6th with Paul Nicholls’ Get The Appeal 7th. I don’t see any real reason why Tequia Blaze can’t confirm that form on softer ground here and she’s the one they all have to beat. TEQUILA BLAZE 2 points win @ 11/4 William Hill Chepstow 2.10 A small field of only seven go to post here with favourite Take Your Time the one to beat following wins at Ffos Las and over course and distance and with only a 5lb rise looks sure to be involved in the finish. His biggest danger may well come from Kateson who has a good record here (2 wins from 3 starts) and ran well last time. TAKE YOUR TIME 2 points win @ 9/4 William Hill Kempton 2.30 All eyes in the Desert Orchid Chase run over 2 miles will be on the re-appearing Shishkin who looked very special last season when winning all 5 of his chase starts in his novice season culminating in wins at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals. He’s not been seen since April and has had his wind done since. He has a big danger danger here in Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen but receives 3lb from his rival today and can take this in his stride. Again like Edwardstone he’ll be too short to really back although maybe a double the pair maybe the way to go. Chepstow 2.50 The feature race of the day is the Coral Welsh Grand National run over a stamina sapping 3m 6F 130yds which on soft ground will take some getting. Last year’s winner Secret Reprieve won like a horse that had just jumped into the race two from home but has had issues since and hasn’t been seen since. He is only 6lb higher mind and with Native River running he keeps the weights down for Evan William’s 7 year old who if straight enough is without doubt the one they all have to beat. 2019 winner Potters Corner is also running and holds each way claims along with plenty of others. Iwilldoit won the Welsh National trial over the course but 6F shorter but he wasn’t stopping and he should run well also. But in a wide open handicap if Secret Reprieve is anywhere near the horse he was this time last year he wins this. SECRET REPRIEVE 2 points each way @ 9/2 1/5th 1234567 IWILLDOIT 1 point each way @ 12/1 1/5th 123456 Kempton 3.10 Eleven go to post for this 3 miles class 2 handicap chase where I think there is a decent bet here. Welsh trainer Christian Williams saddles three runners in top weight Kitty’s Light who flopped last time out in the Ladbroke Trophy, Five Star Getaway and last years runner up Cap Du Nord. It’s the latter that really takes my eye under 7lb conditional jockey Ellis Collier who’s struck up such a good partnership with Uno Mas this season winning four times. Collier looks excellent value for his claim and has won 5 races from just 18 starts. Ap Du Nord was beaten 3 1/4L into second place in this contest last year by Royal Pagaille which was an excellent effort when you consider that winner is now rated 23lb higher and is ranked as one of the best staying chasers in training. It was 19L back to the third that day and Double Shuffle who is only a pound better off here. Christin William’s charge can race today off of the same handicap mark (4lb lower if taking Collier’s claim into account) and if in the same form looks a good bet today. CAP DU NORD 3 points each way @ 4/1 1/5th 1234 William Hill
  12. I just wanted to wish all forumites a very Merry Christmas and most importantly a healthy New Year. I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings this year and lets hope we can all find a winner or three over the Festive season. My Boxing Day thoughts are already up and my horse racing tips (available on the 'Racing Tips' link above are available daily from 6PM onwards normally (Boxing Day's will be up tomorrow). The Brigadier
  13. Five quality contests on ITV on Boxing Day with the centre piece the King George V Chase. The ground is currently on the slow side of good with a mixed forecast so the ground maybe heading towards soft. Kempton 1.20 A competitive looking 2m 4F 110yds novices’ handicap chase has attracted 8 runners. Nicky Henderson saddles a brace of runners here with slight preference for Bothwell Bridge ahead of Mister Coffey who both should have a future at the game over the bigger obstacles. Bottom weight Killer Kane hails from the Colin Tizzard camp and is not out of this as he is still lightly raced and has been dropped a further coupe of pounds for his Exeter effort but the horse I like here is the Paul Nicholls trained Danny Kirwan who put some disappointing hurdle runs behind him when finally getting his chance to jump a fence at Cheltenham in October. He did a few things wrong then but still finished off his race well to chase down Annual Invictus to be beaten 3L. The form has been boosted since and off of the same handicap mark can take this contest with Harry Cobden riding for his boss on what the stable are hoping will be a memorable day for them. DANNY KIRWAN 2 points win @ 7/2 Ladbrokes/Coral Kempton 1.55 Only 4 go to post for this year’s renewal of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and it looks a match to me between Lucinda Russell’s promising Ahoy Senor and Paul Nicholl’s Bravemansgame. Official ratings have the latter 3lb superior to the Somerset challenger with Ahoy Senor having taken his scalp at Aintree in the Spring over hurdles although that maybe mis-leading as Nicholl’s charge looks a much better chaser than hurdler. No novice has impressed me more than Bravemansgame’s two fencing victory’s this season at Newton Abbot and Haydock where he impressed with his fluent jumping in dispatching decent yardsticks in Fusil Raffles and Itchy Feet comfortably. It may well come down to jumping and jockeyship and for those reasons I’m firmly with Bravemansgame against Ahoy Senor. BRAVEMANSGAME 4 points win @ 5/6 William Hill Wetherby 2.10 The Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase is run over three miles of the Yorkshire track and this year we have a field of 10 runners. Favourite Silver Hallmark was pulled out in the morning of the Racing Post Gold cup due to the ground not being soft enough and conditions should suit a lot better here. He has a massive chance although there are others with coins including 2018 winner Lake View Lad and 2019 winner Top Ville Ben. The biggest danger however to my selection is the Sandy Thomson trained Empire Steel who wasn’t disgraced first time up at Haydock in November when chasing home Strictlyadancer. SILVER HALLMARK 2 points win @ 10/3 Bet365 Kempton 2.30 Only 5 go to post for the Christmas Hurdle including 2019 winner Epatante who got turned over in this last year when a 1/5 chance by Silver Streak who unfortunately lost his life last week. Nicky Henderson’s 7 year old mare,who won the Champion Hurdle in 2020, dead heated on her re-appearance at Newcastle with Not So Sleepy in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Hughie Morrison’s 9 year old takes her on again today on the same terms. There really shouldn’t be much between them but at the odds the play has to be Not So Sleepy with Jonathan Burke retaining the ride. Tritonic is out quickly following a good victory at Ascot a week ago but does have 13lb to find with the two principals whilst Soaring Glory may not be suited by a small field as proved when beaten last time out at a shade of odds on at Newbury. NOT SO SLEEPY 2 points win @ 3/1 Betfred Kempton 3.05 A stellar renewal of the King George VI Chase run over three miles of the Sunbury course. Somerset trainer Paul Nicholls has a terrific record in the race winning it an amazing 12 times with the great Kauto Star winning five if those. He saddles three this year in last years winner Frodo’s who may have got an easy lead then, outsider and 4th last year Saint Calvados who’s debuting for the Nicholls team and the 2018 and 2019 winner Clan Des Obeaux who ran a bit flat last season. The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner from March Minella Indo trained by Henry De Bromhead is also here and although 5L behind Frodon at Down Royal on his re-appearance can now be expected to turn the tables with that run behind him. Nicky Henderson runs Chantry House a novice winner at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals last season to add further spice to an excellent renewal. Willie Mullins sends over Asterion Forlonge who has stamina to prove but I have to stick with King George maestro Paul Nicholls and go with Clan Des Obeaux. CLAN DES OBEAUX 2 points win @ 3/1 Bet365
  14. The ITV cameras are at Ascot and Haydock for six races on Saturday with the normal testing ground at Haydock and drying dead ground at Ascot (officially good to soft). Here’s my thoughts on those six races :- Ascot 1.50 Eleven go to post for this 2m 3F handicap chase which has a very open look about it. Likely favourite is the Jonjo O’Neill trained Palmers Hill who is owned by legendary owner JP McManus. He impressed on only his second chase start when winning at Wetherby last month and has to race here off of only a 4lb higher handicap mark. Plenty of others appeal including Guy who is 3lb higher than his good 2nd place to Pink Legend here last month. Kerry Lee saddles an interesting runner in Financier but he has a 280 day absence to overcome. Dan Skelton saddles his 8 year old Knight In Dubai and he might worth a small each way bet. He showed promise on his re-appearance at Aintree last month when 5th under David England and has been dropped a couple of pounds for that effort. The trainers brother and stable jockey Harry takes over now and a bold bid looks likely. KNIGHT IN DUBAI 1 point each way @ 11/2 1/5th 1234 William Hill Haydock 2.05 A 9 runner handicap hurdle run over 2m 3F where four of the runners come here on the back of a significant lay off making the race rather tricky. Philip Hobbs’ Stellar Magic is arguably the most interesting having won two novice hurdles in good style last season before flopping when favourite at Warwick in February. Not seen since and in a handicap for the first time he could run well. Olly Murphy is having a great season and his Mackelduff brings the best recent form to the table here having followed up a brace of wins with a good third at Cheltenham behind Gowel Road. He too can be competitive. It’s a race without market clues to play to small stakes in my opinion and I’ll back Mackelduff who will be ridden by David England today. MACKELDUFF 1 point win @ 5/2 Bet365 Ascot 2.25 A strong field of eight assemble for the grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle over 3m 97 yds which unfortunately doesn’t feature the ante post favourite Buzz who fractured his pelvis on the gallops on Friday morning. Nicky Henderson does however saddle two in On The Blind Side and Champ who’s reverting to hurdles following his stint over fences and could be a player here.Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park has won this race for the last two years but doesn’t appear to be the same horse this season. Thyme Hill is a strong stayer trained by Philip Hobbs who went off favourite for the Stayers Hurdle last season when finishing third he has to put a disappointing effort behind him in France last month. Hobbs horses aren’t really flying either with just 2 winners from his last 50 runners but is the one to beat. The Irish raider Ronald Pump also comes into the reckoning and in a trappy looking affair it maybe Champ who can bounce back to form over hurdles. CHAMP 1 point win @ 6/1 Bet365 Haydock 2.40 A bumper field of 16 have declared for this year’s renewal of the 3m 1 1/2F Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase to be run on heavy ground. The favourite Remastered looks a decent bet here having been tanking along when crashing out four from home in the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury three weeks ago. He can race off of the same handicap mark and with Tom Scudamore taking over from 3lb conditional jockey Fergus Gillard looks sure to be involved as long as the fall hasn’t left him with any mental scars. Sam’s Adventure won this two years ago whilst Potters Legend was runner up 12 months ago and whilst there are plenty of others with each way chances on their best form the one horse who could be way ahead of his mark is the David Pipe trained favourite and he has to be the bet. REMASTERED 3 points win @ 11/4 Bet365 Ascot 3.00 A good turnout of 13 for this 3 mile Silver Cup Handicap Chase. Plenty can be give chances with the weights headed by last season’s Ladbroke Trophy winner Cloth Cap. JP McManus has three runners here in course specialist Regal Encore, Phoenix Way and Jerrysback with all three holding each way chances. The horse I like here is the Venetia William’s trained Belami Des Pictons who for a horse once rated as high as 148 looks well treated here off of 135. His re-appearance run when 4th beaten 6L to subsequent Aintree winner Snow Leopardess was a decent one with the 5th Blaklion also boosting the firm since by winning a veterans handicap chase at Haydock. In an open handicap I’ll be backing him. BELAMI DES PICTONS 2 points win 9/2 Bet365 Ascot 3.35 A cracker of a handicap to finish the card at Ascot with 14 going to post. The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham form is well represented here by winner West Cork and third No Ordinary Joe and both have solid claims especially the latter if he can settle better than he did that day. Tritonic was back in 5th that day and is no forlorn shot here either. Goshen heads the weights although I do feel that he needs very deep ground which with a drying forecast he’s unlikely to get here. The same comment may apply to Harry Fry’s Metier who also has a poor run here a fortnight ago to put behind him. Onemorefortheroad is trained by Neil King and will have appreciated the dry week more than most. On a four timer today he stepped his form up when winning the Gerry Feilden Handicap Hurdle at Newbury on Ladbroke Trophy day when winning a four runner event from the front. That’s twice now he’s made all to win although listening to his trainer after that win he actually feels he could be better getting a lead. Only raised 3lb for that win and with Bryony Frost booked he could be the value each way bet in this competitive contest. I can’t resist a small each way saver on the Philip Hobbs novice Luttrell Lad who’s mark of 135 could be workable. His recent 1/2L second behind Jpr One has been boosted since not only by the winners second in a Cheltenham novice hurdle won by Datsalrightgino but also by the third I Am Maximus who impressed when winning at Newbury in the week. Luttrell Lad was giving I Am Maximus 7lb that day and one would feel that if that one was in this race off of 10 stone he would be pushing for favouritism. ONEMOREFORTHEROAD 2 points each way @ 8/1 1/5th 12345 William Hill LUTTRELL LAD 1 point each way @ 12/1 1/5th 1234 Bet365
  15. Seven races form the basis of the ITV coverage on Saturday afternoon with the ground maybe not as soft as expected at both Cheltenham and Doncaster. The official going at the former is good (good to soft in places) and good to soft (good in places) at Doncaster. Here’s my thoughts :- Cheltenham 1.50 The days feature race is the 15 runner newly sponsored Racing Post Gold Cup run over 2m 4F 127yds. Plenty are in with chances with the key piece of form being the Paddy Power Gold Cup run over course and distance four weeks ago. Midnight Shadow came out on top that day from Protektorat (good winner since) with Lalor in 3rd, Dostal Phil in 4th, Zanza in 6th, Deyrann De Carjac 11th and Coole Cody bang in contention when falling two from home. You could feasibly make a case for all of those in one form or other especially with the race been run on the new stiffer track but it’s a seasonal debutant that catches my eye although I must admit I’m a bit perplexed by the jockey booking! Farinet hasn’t been seen since winning a decent 20F novices handicap chase at Sandown on only his second British start for his trainer Venetia Williams last March and creeps in to the handicap here off of a mark of 133 on 10 stone 2lb. He may have plenty of improvement to come and can run a big race from the foot of the weights with the recent rain a bonus. The only niggling thing is the fact that stable jockey Charlie Deutsch (who can do a low weight) is on top weight Cepage for Williams and not on my selection although Rachael Blackmore is an excellent substitute. He’s the one I want to be with each way especially with the firms paying the extra places. FARINET 1 1/2 points each way @ 17/2 1/5th 12345 William Hill Doncaster 2.05 A competitive 9 runner handicap hurdle run over 2m 128yds. It’s actually hard to dismiss any of the runners with the outsider only being a 14/1 chance. Paul Nicholls saddles Sonigino who is the most interesting runner in the race as he is having his handicap debut here and will be ridden by Bryony Frost who’s been in the news all week. Top weight Tommy’s Oscar will be ridden by champion jockey elect Brian Hughes and was highly impressive when winning at Haydock last month by 10L and despite the rise of 9lb may be good enough to give weight all round today. To small stakes he’s the selection. TOMMYS OSCAR 1 point each way @ 9/2 1/5th 1234 William Hill Cheltenham 2.25 A small but select field of six go to post for this 3 mile grade 2 novice hurdle. The key piece of form came at the last meeting when Charlie Byrne’s Blazing Khal beat Paul Nicholl’s Gelino Bello by 2 1/2L with Current Mood 5L further back in third place. That race was run over 3F shorter than todays and Gelino Bello & Current Mood will be 5lb better off here which should in theory pull them closer together. Irish trainer Byrnes stated in the week that his Blazing Khal was the best he had ever trained and I’ll take him to confirm the form over the extra distance as he did seem to be the strongest on the finisher after the last to my eyes. Olly Murphy’s Barony Legends is an interesting runner as he absolutely sluiced up at Lingfield in October in bad ground against modest opposition but should relish this trip as a former Irish point runner up ( he was beaten 4L by Donny Boy that day and that one has come out and won two novice hurdles for Nick Alexander this season) but I’m sticking with the penalised Blazing Khal to confirm the recent form with Gelino Bello. BLAZING KHAL 2 points win @ 11/10 Bet365 Doncaster 2.40 The grade 2 listed bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle is run over the minimum trip of 2 mikes and has attracted 8 runners this year. Likely favourite is the Gary Moore trained Porticello who impressed when winning the Wensleydale at Wetherby on his British debut when well backed and is the one they all have to beat although he has been priced accordingly at around the 2/1 mark. Cheltenham winner Knight Salute like Porticello has a 5lb penalty today but isn’t a certainly to confirm October Kempton form with the Munir and Souede runner Impulsive One trained at Seven Barrows by Nicky Henderson. Impulsive One is now 12lb better off for a 2L beating and has been given a wind operation since. That may be enough to turn the tables on Milton Harris’s Knight Salute and with hopefully the dead eight running appeals as an each way bet here. Paul Nicholls saddles Magistrato who definitely comes into the reckoning here with Bryony Frost in the saddle but I’ll take a chance on the Henderson runner each way. IMPULSIVE ONE 1 point each way @ 8/1 1/5th 123 Bet365 Cheltenham 3.00 A sub standard International Hurdle run over 2m 1F with seven hurdlers going to post for this Unibet sponsored contest. Alan King’s Sceau Royal has arguably the best form here and with the ground apparently riding just on the slow side looks the pick here. He’s a horse that doesn’t want the ground too soft. Last years winner Song For Someone ran respectively on his re-appearance at Ascot behind the smart Buzz and should be involved in the finish one would think. Ireland sends over a brace of runners in the Henry De Bromhead trained Ballyadam and the Paul Hennessy trained Heaven Help Us. The former has been novice chasing this season with no success whilst the latter, who won the Coral Cup this year has to prove his effectiveness back at 2 miles. This isn’t race I have a strong opinion on so will keep stakes small and play Sceau Royal who comes here in fine form. SCEAU ROYAL 1 point win @ 5/2 Bet365 Doncaster 3.15 Only 7 go to post for this 3 mile handicap chase with Olly Murphy saddling a couple in The Wolf and Jett who are both having their first run of the season today with the latter formerly trained by Jessie Harrington. Top weight Two For Gold looks the most likely winner here with his excellent record fresh of 1412. He’s trained but Kim Bailey who has his Gloucestershire team in such fine form and a bold effort is fully expected with David Bass doing the steering. TWO FOR GOLD 2 points win @ 2/1 Boyles Cheltenham 3.35 A mares handicap hurdle run over 2m 4 1/2F which has a competitive look about it with Paul Webber’s smart mare Indefatigable heading the weights here. She certainly wouldn’t be out of things despite the steadier of 11-12. Martello Sky was well backed last time at Aintree but was a tad disappointing although actually did have a tough task at the weights that day and Lucy Wadham’s mare is also a player. It’s the lightly raced Jonjo O’Neill trained Trapista that catches my eye however, only a 4 year old she was an impressive winner at Huntingdon on her British debut having joined the Jackdaws Castle maestro from N Clement in France for £22k to legendary owner JP McManus. That already looks a bargain following the Huntingdon win and it must of been very hard for the handicapper to have allotted her a mark with such little form to go on. There’s mixed messages from that win with the 2nd and 3rd beaten since but the 4th and 5th winning next time out. With trainers son Jonjo Junior in the saddle I’m willing to take her as my bet here. TRAPISTA 2 points win @ 7/2 Bet365
  16. Here’s my thoughts on the 4 Cheltenham ITV races Friday where the ground is currently good to soft but rain is forecast so could soften up. Cheltenham 1.50 An intriguing 11 runners mares handicap chase run over 2m 4F 127yds with likely favourite Fontaine Collonges the most likely winner as the betting suggests. Venetia Williams’s 6 year old is 7lb higher than when winning at Warwick in November when beating the re-opposing Princess Eleanor by 2 3/4L. The latter is now 4lb better off and there shouldn’t be much between them if the both run up to their form. Colin Tizzard saddles the most interesting runner in the contest in the chasing debutant Rose Of Arcadia who’s wearing a first time hood today. I think that the Fergal O’Brien runner Timeless Beauty maybe the one who’s slightly overpriced and represents some value. She made her chasing debut for her new stable having previously been trained by Warren Greatrex for the same owners when winning a 6 runner handicap chase at Lingfield last month and although it wasn’t all plain sailing she got the job done and despite a 6lb rise in the weights should be competitive here today. TIMELESS BEAUTY 1 point each way @ 7/1 1/5th 12345 William Hill Cheltenham 2.25 10 staying chasers go to post for this 3m 2F handicap chase. The weights are headed by the ex Nicky Henderson chaser Santini who has been given a definite chance by the handicapper in dropping him 8lb to a career low of 159. Let’s not forget that he was runner up in the 2020 Gold Cup and has always run well at this track with his form figures reading 13212P. The question is will the change of stable from Henderson to the more than capable yard of Polly Gundry spark him up enough to beat these after an absence of 266 days? The warm favourite is the Paul Nicholls trained Enrilo who was disqualified from first place in last seasons bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and was going well enough in the Ladbroke Handicap Chase at Newbury on his re-appearance when crashing out 7 from home. It was too far out to say what the outcome would be and although he’s probably the most likely winner here he’s been well found in the market at around 5/2. Just a pound out of the handicap proper is the Venetia Williams trained Commodore who was 3L down when unseating at the last in this race last year and is 3lb lower now with a recent wind operation also in his possible favour. I’ll take him to take this at a value each way price but can’t resist a small re saver on Santini. COMMODORE 1 point each way @ 11/2 1/5th 1234 SANTINI 1/2 point each way @ 8/1 1/5th 1234 Cheltenham 3.00 Not everyone’s bag but there’s still a winner to be found in this 16 runner 3m 6F cross country handicap chase with the obvious starting point being the similar race run over course and distance at the last meeting a month ago. On that occasion Martin Keighley’s Back On The Lash landed a gamble to get up on the run in in from Singing Banjo with Diesel D’Allier and Plan Of Attack all finishing within 2L of the winner. Plenty of others who ran in that race re-oppose and look safely held. The value from the quartet that finished at the top of the race may well be Singing Banjo who seems too big a price compared to the other three. I’m of the opinion that the whole race was weak by usual standards and I’m happy to oppose that form line with Enda Bolger’s runner Midnight Maestro. Bolger is a past master at training these cross country horses for his main patron JP McManus and has won this contest twice in the last 6 years. This will be the first time he’s run over this unique cross country course but it would not be a shock if he had already been over to school over them. He has run over the Punchestown cross country course however when finishing a credible 7L runner up to his stable mate Shady Operator last month which should have teed him up nicely for this and he’s the bet. MIDNIGHT MAESTRO 1 point each way @ 9/2 1/5th 12345 Cheltenham 3.35 Sporting John heads the weights for this 11 runner 3m handicap hurdle and this classy Philip Hobbs trained, JP McManus owned 6 year old will be very hard to beat. He reverted back to the smaller obstacles when winning quite cosily I thought over course and distance at the last meeting and although he is now 4lb worse off with the runner up Onagatheringstorm for 2 1/2L I expect him to confirm that form today. The best outsider for me is the Mrs Jane Williams trained Agrapart who has fallen down the weights and is back on his last winning mark of 142. The softer the better for this proven stayer and he may hit the frame but for me this is all about Sporting John. SPORTING JOHN 3 points win @ 15/8 William Hill
  17. A couple of winners bookending the races for a small profit of 1.5 points. Saturdays thoughts are already up. I hope everyone found a winner or two today.
  18. A cracking afternoon’s racing with the terrestrial ITV cameras at Aintree where it will ride pretty testing on both the National and Mildmay course whilst at Sandown it’ll be slightly better although still on the slow side. Aintree 1.30 Eleven three year olds go to post for this 2m 1F listed fillies juvenile hurdle. Favourite White Pepper was the best of these on the level and travels over from Ireland representing Gavin Crowell and jockey Conor McNamara. She was a very easy winner of a 3y0 maiden hurdle at Galway in October and appears to have been saved for this contest, a race Cromwell has won twice in the last six years. She’ll handle wet conditions and is the one to beat. As you would expect there are several promising fillies in opposition including fellow Irish challengers Sea Sessions who was a 16L runner up to Triumph Hurdle favourite Fil Dor last time out and Six Feet Apart trained by Joseph O’Brien who was a winner at Fairyhouse last month. The best of the British challenge may well be the Ian Williams trained Malakahna who won apparently unfancied (12/1) at Fakenham on her hurdles debut. She beat rival Aliomaana 8L that day and although 4lb worse off can confirm that form and run well. WHITE PEPPER 2 points win @ 2/1 Bet365 MALAKAHNA 1 point each way @ 11/1 1/5 123 Coral Sandown 1.50 A small but select field of 7 assemble for the Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase run over just short of 2 miles. Third Time Lucki will be a strong favourite here following two emphatic victories at Cheltenham and on official ratings is the one they all have to beat. He wasn’t as impressive last time as he was previously and he can take a bit of a tug. I would like to see Harry Skelton let him bowl along at the front of the field and this course could be made for him. That said he’s been priced accordingly at around the 6/4 mark and there maybe better value in the vastly improved 4 year old Il Ridoto who took a competitive handicap apart last Saturday at Newbury showing much improved form from his British/stable debut previously. Paul Nicholls’ French bred gets a 6lb age allowance here and it wouldn’t be a shock if he was to be competitive in a race where on official ratings he only has 9lb to find with the favourite. IL RIDOTO 1 point win @ 7/1 Bet365 Aintree 2.05 A strong field of 8 go to post for this years renewal of the Many Clouds Chase run over 3m 1F of the Mildmay Course. Favourite Protektorat looks short enough to my eyes despite his excellent seasonal re-appearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup when runner up to Midnight Shadow. He’s stepping up 5F here and has stamina to prove and with Bridget Andrews taking over from Harry Skelton looks skinny enough in the betting considering on official rating he’s comes out only 4th best here. Native River went off a weak second favourite in this last year and appeared to blew up needing the run. I can see the same scenario here. Simply The Betts has his stamina to prove whilst Tiger Roll looks past it at this level despite the fact he is the highest rated. Mor a matter of elimination than anything else leads me to Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura who has to carry a 6lb penalty here for his grade 2 win at Ascot a year ago. He wasn’t done with when falling on his re-appearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock a fortnight ago six from home and he’s worth chancing as long as he’s none the worse for that mishap. David Bass has ridden him on all 14 starts so knows him inside out and I’m expecting a big run. IMPERIAL ECHO 2 points win @ 7/2 William Hill Sandown 2.25 Despite Shishkin’s absence this years renewal of the Betfair Tingle Creek will still be a spectacle especially with favourite Chacun Pour Soi likely to get his way out in front and try and lead them all a merry dance. That appears to be the best way to race him as it proved when winning at Punchestown in April when we last saw him. His main rival today Nube Negra was way behind that day and I fully expect Willie Mullins 9 year old to be very hard to beat today. He hasn’t been seen since April but his record fresh reads 1111 and with Patrick Mullins doing the steering can win this. Hitman and Captain Guinness are rated 22lb inferior on official ratings and it maybe Nube Negra that chases him home. CHACUN POUR SOI 4 points win @ EVS Bet365 Aintree 2.40 A big field of 22 contest the Becher Handicap Chase run over 3m 2F of the Grand National course. Plenty hold claims here with the bookmaking firms going 7/1 the field in places. Mac Tottie won the Gran Sefton over these fences at the last meeting and has an additional 5F to travel and 7lb to carry. Charlie Longsdon’s Snow Leopardess impressed when winning at Bangor and should run well if taking to these unique fences. David Pipe runs four and it’s his Vieux Lion Rouge that will be carrying my cash. He’s already reached veteran age at 12 but was highly impressive in this race last year when pulling 24L clear of his 13 rivals. He’s only 5lb higher now and that certainly wouldn’t of changed the result last season. Trained for this race, he’s had a pipe opener (pun intended!) at Chepstow but it’s over these National fences he comes alive and he should run a big race. VIEUX LION ROUGE 1 point each way @ 12/1 1/5h 123456 Paddy Power Sandown 3.00 The London National is a handicap chase run over 3m 5f and has attracted 10 hardy stayers this year. Both Deise Aba (2/2) and Larry (2/3) have excellent course records and hold excellent chances in this competitive handicap. My fancy however is Strictlyadancer who did us a favour when winning at Haydock a fortnight ago and can once again give up and coming Welsh trainer Christian Williams a Saturday TV winner. That was his third win on the bounce and despite a 7lb rise in the weights his winning spree may not have finished yet. This step up in trip looks likely to be very much to his liking and with Jack Tudor who stills claims a valuable 3lb in the saddle can take the first prize. STRICTLYADANCER 2 points win @ 4/1 BetVictor Aintree 3.15 A competitive 15 runner handicap hurdle run over 2m 4F concludes the action at the Merseyside track. Kateson poked his grey nose ahead in this race last season and returns to defend his title off of the same mark under a different trainer now in Alastair Ralph (previously with Tom Lacey). David Pipe’s Martinhal will love the wet ground and would be interesting if strong in the market whilst Tom Lacey’s Pounding Poet ran well over the course and distance last time and can be competitive. The most interesting runner however has to be the Olly Murphy trained Tamar Bridge who makes his handicap debut here. He looks quite well treated if you take his easy beating of the now rated 132 Bass Rock at Ayr in a match last March at face value. He made all to win on his reappearance in a Wetherby novice hurdle from stable mate Storm Of Light who’s won since at Uttoxeter. Off of 128 he can run a mighty race hopefully from the front which seemed to suit him last time. TAMAR BRIDGE 3 points win @ 7/2 Bet365 Sandown 3.35 A competitive 2 mile handicap hurdle concludes the Sandown card today. The promising Metier looks favourably treated and should run well although may prefer softer conditions. Gary Moore saddles a brace in the disappointing Natural History and Hudson De Grugy who has won on three of his four visits to the Esher track including last time out in November when defeating Will Sting by 2L. Samarive was disappointing on his handicap debut at Cheltenham in October but has been given 6 weeks off and it would be no surprise if he were to prove better than his mark. Last year’s victor Benson returns and is the one I want to be with today. Trained by Dr Richard Newland and ridden by Lee Edwards today he blatantly didn’t see the trip of 2m 5F out on his re-appearance at Cheltenham three weeks ago when weakening at the last and losing two places on the run in. With that run behind him, a drop of a pound and back to the minimum trip I expect a much more promising run from him despite him racing off of a 8lb higher mark than last year. BENSON 2 points win @ 7/2 Bet365
  19. A Friday afternoon treat for terrestrial TV fans as ITV are showing 4 races from Sandown including the Ballymore Winter Novice Hurdle and Exeter have three also. The ground is likely to ride on the soft side for both meetings. Sandown 1.50 5 of the 7 runners here have already jumped fences in publics but it’s one of the fencing newcomers I like in the shape of the Nicky Henderson trained Bothwell Bridge in this 2m 4F novices’ handicap chase. A dual winner over hurdles last season he ended th season under a a loud when pulling up in the Sefton novices hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting. He’s since undergone wind surgery so maybe there was a breathing problem that needed to be rectified and with Nico de Boinville in the saddle can take this for team Seven Barrows. The other chasing newcomer Halo Des Obeaux of Paul Nicholls is an interesting contender along with Mahlers Promise who ran so well at Sandown last time behind a subsequent winner but I’ll take a chance with Bothwell Bridge. BOTHWELL BRIDGE 1 points win @ 7/2 William Hill Exeter 2.05 A small field of 6 go to post for this 2m 3F novices chase with half of the field making their fencing debut today. The best in at the weights on hurdle ratings is the Tom Lacey trained Adrimel who has won a Irish point to point, a bumper and three novice hurdles. He did however pull up in both the novice hurdles at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals last Spring and has questions to answer now. Preference is for the Harry Fry trained Boothill who has always been held in high regard by his shrewd trainer. Runner up in two Irish point to points prior to winning a bumper at Kempton he blew the opposition away at Taunton on his hurdles debut and blatantly blew up when third on his re-appearance in a decent Ascot handicap hurdle won by Soaring Glory. On official hurdle ratings he’s only 4lb behind Adrimel and with the recent run under his belt he’s a confident selection today. Jane Williams’ Gladiateur Allen is making his fencing debut but his hurdles form wasn’t as good as the two principals whilst the same can be said about Champagnesuoerover. BOOTHILL 3 points win @ 6/4 Paddy Power Sandown 2.25 Only five go to post for the feature race of the day at the Esher track but all have a chance of sorts. Kim Bailey’s Fair Frontieres came home alone in a Worcester maiden hurdle in October but that was a weak contest and he has to drop down in trip which may not be ideal. Lossiemouth has won two handicap hurdles and deserves his shot at graded company whilst Ben Pauling gave a very favourable mention to his Harper’s Brook in this week’s Weekender with his debut hurdling success boosted in the week by the success of the runner up Famous Bridge. The one I’m with though is the favourite, trained by Paul Nicholls Brave Kingdom who took my breath away with the ease of his victory at Chepstow last month on his first run for the Ditcheat team having previously been trained by Harry Whittington for owners Kate and Andrew Brooks. Gavin Sheehan was on board that day and as the owners retained jockey keeps the rude today. He’s looks sure to run a big race and is the days best bet. BRAVE KINGDOM 4 points win @ Evs Paddy Power Exeter 2.40 A 2m 3F handicap chase which may go to the Olly Murphy trained Gunsight Ridge who will appreciate stepping up from the minimum trip to today 3F longer distance. A consistent 5 year old gelding who has yet to be out of the first 4 on 7 career starts ran really well on his chase debut at Aintree a month ago when staying on to finish third to Darling Du Large (easy winner since at Wetherby) giving the impression that he needs this type (or even further) of trip. Aidan Coleman was on top that day and keeps the ride and he can see off the opposition today with that run now under his belt. Philip Hobb’s Longshanks did well on his fencing debut at Stratford in October and comes into the reckoning along with L’Homme Presse who’s making his chase debut following a 223 day absence for the very much in form Venetia Williams - watch the market for this one. GUNSIGHT RIDGE 3 points win @ 3/1 William Hill Sandown 3.00 Venetia William’s struck form with a vengeance last weekend winning the Ladbrokes Trophy and is a trainer to follow when she hits form. She saddles Desque De L’isle here who was a winner at Ffos Las on his re-appearance last month from Sabbathical who went on to bolt up at Fakenham 9 days later. The 8 year old gelding was stuck up an understandable 10lb for that victory and with the yard in irresistible form looks the one to be with here today. Out On The Tear is a horse I like who I believe has some movement on his handicap mark and can also run well in what amounts to a tricky 9 runner handicap chase. DESQUE DE L’ISLE 2 points win @ 9/4 Bet365 Exeter 3.15 A big turnout of 17 go to post for this stamina sapping 3m 6F 153 yds handicap chase. The race has an open look about it with Stuart Edmunds’s Young Offender amongst the market leaders. A winner on his chase debut he steps up a further half a mile today which looks likely to suit. Grace Harris’s On Call is chasing a hat trick of wins following two handicap wins over just short of 3 miles at Chepstow rising a stone in the weights and may well need to improve again to be involved here. Anything Venetia Williams runs at the moment has to be taken seriously and her representative Snuff Box is maybe worth a small each way wager. He won twice last season at Bangor and Haydock at around 3 miles and probably needed his re-appearance run at a time when Venetia s horses weren’t really firing. This is his first attempt at such a stamina test and if he does take to it with his stable in such good form could outrun his likely big odds. In an open race and with extra places around he’s worth an interest. SNUFF BOX 1 point each way @ 14/1 1/5th 12345 BetVictor Sandown 3.35 Twelve go to post for the finale at Sandown - a Pertemps handicap hurdle qualifier run over just short of 3 miles. One of the best handicapped horses in the field is surely Pileon who is best remembered for getting chinned on the line by Indefatigable in the 2020 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He failed to take to chasing the following season and following three modest runs back over hurdles finally showed a glimpse of his old ability when 4th at Aintree a month ago finishing a length behind Remastered who surely would of gone close to winning the Ladbrokes Trophy last Saturday but for taking a crashing fall four from home. Philip Hobbs 7 year old is now rated 7lb lower than his Cheltenham defeat back in 2020 and will be carrying my cash today with Ben Jones, who ride him that day and last time out, back in the plate here. Stoners Choice ran well last time following a break although he does have to prove his stamina for 3 miles today. Warren Greatrex saddles Mulcahys Hill who is an interesting outsider with a 633 day absence to overcome. A decent novice hurdler in his pomp he’s returning to the smaller obstacles following 8 runs over fences and if tuned up looks nicely treated some 10lb lower than when we last saw him race over timber. PILEON 2 points each way @ 5/1 1/5th 1234 Paddy Power
  20. Ladbroke Trophy day at Newbury and Fighting Fifth day at Newcastle. 8 ITV races and with the ground currently good to soft at both tracks but with the possibility of the ground turning at the latter with a wet forecast. Here’s my thoughts on those races. Newbury 1.15 A decent field here of 13 for the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase run over 2m 6 1/2F. It looks a wide open race with no stand out bet. Kapcorse won this by 10L back in 2018 off of 128 and is back here off of only 3lb higher. He did attempt the double last season but could only finish 7th and hasn’t been seen since. The in form Colin Tizzard stable saddle two in Ofalltheginjoints, who’s out of form and Kauto The King who isn’t. He’s won 5 of his last 6 starts rising 16lb but has claims here under 7lb conditional Harry Kimber. Top weight Dame De Compagnie could ideally do with wetter ground whilst the Philip Hobbs runner Kalooki has an absence of 245 days to overcome. My fancy is the Emma Lavelle trained Killer Clown. Lavelle has her team in excellent shape and her Getaway gelding ran as well as could be expected in the Old Roan Handicap Chase at Aintree on his re-appearance when weakening two fences from the finish to finish 12 1/2L last of the six finishers. That form has subsequently been boosted by the 3rd Midnight Shadow winning the Paddy Power and with that run under his belt looks worth an each way bet in a competitive handicap. KILLER CLOWN 1 point each way @ 6/1 1/5th 1234 Newcastle 1.30 Only four turn up here for this 3 mile novices’ handicap chase and it’s hard to look past the favourite, the Alan King trained Valleres who ran so well on his fencing debut at Newbury three weeks ago when 3rd to Dublin Four. He’s stepping up in trip today but as a three mile Irish point winner on heavy ground one would think that won’t be an issue today. This looks a weaker race than the one he contested that day and he can take it from Tupelo Mississippi who’s sporting cheek pieces for the first time and has already shown a liking for this track winning twice from four starts here. VALLERES 3 points win @ 11/10 Bet365 Newbury 1.50 The 2m 4F 118yds handicap hurdle may feature a well handicapped horse in the Nicky Henderson runner Lecales Article who after a rather stop start season as a novice last season has acquired a mark of only 125 and if there’s one horse in the field who could blow his mark out of the park today than it surely is him. Nico de Boinville was injured on the gallops on Thursday so Tom Cannon comes in for a spare ride for the Seven Barrows trainer and I’m expecting a big run. Top weight Ch’tibello is not badly treated now (only 1lb higher than when winning the County Hurdle in 2019) but he’s rising 11 soon and may not be as good as he once was. Calva D’Auge represents the Paul Nicholls but he’s not been beating much in his two recent victories and is creeping up the handicap. Masters Legacy only just got up at Chepstow last time and though 2lb higher should run well. The biggest danger to my fancy however is the Tom Lacey trained Glory And Fortune who was not disgraced when a 10L 6th in the Greatwood Hurdle last time but they may all be playing for a place if Lecales Article is as well handicapped as I think he is. LECALES ARTICLE 2 points each way @ 7/2 1/5th 1234 Newcastle 2.05 Run over just short of three miles at the north eastern track, the Rehearsal Handicap Chase has attracted a healthy field of 13 this year. It looks a fiendishly hard race to crack with Sandy Thomson’s The Ferry Master among the favourites. He ran with promise when probably needing his re-appearance outing at Musselburgh but looks short enough to my eyes. Top weight Nuts Well has to prove his stamina whilst Good Boy Bobby is also not certain to see out this trip. One who will stay well is the Harriet Graham trained Aye Right who was placed in some decent handicap chases last season and doesn’t look badly treated now. He showed little on his re-appearance but the trip was too short that day and he should be thereabouts. Dan Skelton saddles Spiritofthegames who continues to fall down the handicap and is becoming very well handicapped. He’s now off of 141 which is 7lb lower than when runner up in last season’s Paddy Power Handicap Chase and wasn’t disgraced in the same race last time out when 7th. It’s a tough call but I’ll split my bets between Aye Right and Spiritofthegames. AYE RIGHT 1 point win @ 5/1 Bet365 SPIRITOFTHEGAMES 1 point win @ 6/1 Bet365 Newbury 2.25 Only four go to post for the Gerry Feilden Handicap Hurdle with a warm favourite in the Jonjo O’Neill trained Soaring Glory. He may have just needed his first run of the season at Ascot when winning there last month and has been raised 6lb for that win. His shrewd trainer rates him Champion Hurdle class so surely if he’s up that standard he can win this off of 149. His biggest threat maybe the bottom weight Captain Morgs who Lao won at Ascot last time and has been raised 6lb for that win. Gowel Road is two from three here but appeared to relish the longer trip last time and may not relish the drop back to the minimum trip today. Soaring Glory will be hard to beat in my opinion. SOARING GLORY 3 points win @ 6/5 William Hill SOARING GLORY & EPATANTE 2 point win double Newbury 3.00 A near maximum field of 21 go to post for this years renewal of the Ladbroke Trophy Chase run over 3m 2F of the Berkshire track and once more it looks a tough race to crack. Willie Mullins sends three over from Ireland for a race he won 4 years ago with Total Recall, the best of which appears to be Ontheropes who won the same handicap as he did prior to his victory. He has to be respected. Last years winner Cloth Cap appears to have his ideal conditions once more and expect him to be ridden prominently as he was last season having had a prep race without his customary cheek pieces, which are back on here, at Cheltenham. He’s looking to join an elite band of horses to have won this prestigious race twice of Mandarin, Arkle and Denman but has to do it off of a 18lb higher mark than last year. Fiddlerontheroof bounced back to form when winning the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle and looks the best of the Colin Tizzard trio here which also includes Copperhead and Mister Malarkey. Potterman is a horse I want to include in my staking plan as he looks overpriced. Alan King’s charge comes out a slightly better horse than Enrilo on Bet365 Gold Cup form from Sandown last April yet is currently over twice the price of his rival today. Bottom weight Danny Whizzbang has come from Paul Nicholls and is a lively long shot having his first run for Milton Harris who’s having such a good time of it at present. My main bet though has to be with the Henry De Bromhead trained Eklat De Rire who was a decent novice chaser last season going off only a 10/1 chance when unseating in the Brown Advisory Chase at Cheltenham (that’s the RSA chase to me!). He impressed when winning on his re-appearance in a listed contest at Wexford and if there is one horse here who could force himself into the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup it surely is him. The icing on the cake has to be that Rachael Blackmore is over to ride. EKLAT DE RIRE 2 points each way @ 9/2 1/5th 1234567 William Hill POTTERMAN 1 point each way @ 14/1 1/5th 1234567 William Hill Newcastle 3.15 Only 6 go to post for this season’s renewal of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle with last years winner Epatante the one they all have to beat. He was electric in this last year when scooting 4L clear of one of his rivals today Sceau Royal and although things didn’t really go well for her after she still ran respectably when 3rd in the Champion Hurdle to Honeysuckle. Trainer Nicky Henderson has had her back operated on as he felt she wasn’t her usual fluid self over hurdles in the second half of the season and if that’s helped she will be very hard to beat. Sceau Royal comes here in top form having won twice over hurdles this season and if there’s no rain will have his conditions. He can run well although whether he can turn the tables with the favourite is another thing. Paul Nicholls runs his smart three year old from last season in Monmiral who looked one of the best (if not the best) of his generation. Unbeaten now in 5 career starts (4 for Nicholls) he has shown a liking for very soft ground and if the rain stays away that maybe against him. Replaying last years win for the 2020 Champion Hurdler and you would be happy to take Evens or bigger and I’m loath to desert her here. EPATANTE 3 points win @ 5/4 William Hill Newbury 3.35 A decent sized field of 13 go to post for the last of the ITV races. Run over the minimum trip of 2 miles the Jim Joel Memorial Trophy Handicap Chase looks open enough. The key form race maybe the the Ascot 2m1F handicap chase from 4 weeks ago. That day Sam Thomas’s Grey Diamond ran 3rd to Amoola Gold with two of today’s rivals Frero Banbou and Sully D’Oc AA 14L and 18L respectively behind him. On only one pound better terms I fully expect Grey Diamond to confirm that form and he looks the bet here for his upwardly mobile young trainer who made his name as a jockey riding the great Denman who has two of his biggest pay days on this actual day when winning two Hennessy Gold Cups. Numitor is on a roll at the moment having won 3 of his last 5 starts and shouldn’t be dismissed having being put up only 5lb for his latest Wetherby success. Bottom weight and youngest horse in the field is the Paul Nicholls trained Il Ridoto who’s only had the one run for his trainer at Newton Abbot 7 weeks ago. He’s lacking in experience here and Grey Diamond is the bet for me. GREY DIAMOND 2 points each way @ 5/1 1/5th 1234 William Hill
  21. The ITV cameras are at Newbury for 5 races on Friday where the ground will be good to soft (good in places) having being watered earlier in the week. Here’s my thoughts on those five:- Newbury 1.15 A 8 runner novice hurdle that features the hype horse Jonbon who cost a staggering £570k at the Goffs UK sale 2020 following a highly promising 15L win in an Irish point to point. As a full brother to Douvan and the price tag you can see where the hype comes from but at cramped odds is worth watching on his hurdles debut for Nicky Henderson, JP McManus and Nice de Boinville. If the dead eight all go to post there actually might be some each way value against the warm odds on favourite. Good Risk To All won two listed bumpers last season here and at Cheltenham and although turned over at 1/3 on his hurdles debut still remains a decent prospect although he will have to smarten up his jumping. Sam Thomas will o doubt have him well schooled and he will be no pushover for Jonbon and can run well. GOOD RISK AT ALL 2 points each way @ 5/2 BetVictor 1/5 123 Newbury 1. 50 An interesting 7 runner novices’ handicap chase which features the chase debut of the Harry Fry trained Boothill who is highly regarded by his trainer. He blatantly blew up in a decent handicap hurdle at Ascot on his re-appearance when 3rd to the smart Soaring Glory. He could be smart over fences and the only negative thing about him today is the fact that he’s been so well found in the betting. Top weight Solo ran well on his chase debut when runner up at Ascot and despite a 5lb rise for that effort maybe the each way value here. I say each way as there are a couple of firms (William Hill and Betfred) who are paying 3 places here despite 7 runners and there’s where one need to be placing their bets if of course able. SOLO 2 points each way @ 9/2 William Hill 1/5th 123 Newbury 2.25 A 2m 4F handicap chase which will be run over 16 fences of the Berkshire track. Plenty with coins here but my fancy is top weight Fanion D’Estruval. Trained by Venetia Williams who is beginning to get going now after a typically slow start to the season, winning with 3 of her last 12 runners. He ran an eye-catching race on his reappearance at Aintree when getting detached but running on to such an extent that he went 4th on the run in only to. E beaten 4L by the smart Allmankind. Just 1 1/2L ahead of him that day was Sue Smith’s Midnight Shadow that went onto win the Paddy Power giving the run a good look. There are plenty of others here with chances including David Pipe’s Umbrigado and Harry Fry’s Phoenix Way who’s had a wind op since we saw him last but my money’s on Venetia’s here. FANION D’ESTRUVAL 2 points win @ 5/2 William Hill Newbury 3.00 This years renewal of the Long Distance Hurdle run over 3 miles has attracted a field of only 6 but with plenty of quality. 2019 winner winner and last year’s runner up Paisley Park heads the betting but races under a 6lb penalty here and is getting no younger at nine rising ten years of age. He was beaten on his reappearance at Wetherby by Paul Webber’s mare Indefatigable and is now 6lb better off for a 5 1/4L beating. Thomas Darby was behind that day and is tongue tied for the first time today. Mrs Milner has a bit to find but can’t be ruled out here as an improver from Paul Nolan’s stable in Enniscorthy, County Wexford. At the prices I’ll just take Indefatigable to confirm West Yorkshire Hurdle form. INDEFATIGABLE 1 point win @ 7/2 Bet365 Newbury 3.35 A decent sized field of 15 go to post for this 3m handicap hurdle and the race has an open look about it with the layers going 5/1 the field. Fergal O’Brien has his team in fine shape and saddles a brace here in Eyeofthescorpion who races off of the same mark as when runner up at Ffos Las last time and Polish who was a tad disappointing when well backed last time over course and distance. The pair I like are Ben Pauling’s The Cob who was a decent novice last season winning the River Don at Doncaster in good fashion. Pauling usually does well at this fixture and will no doubt have him ready to go following a 252 day absence. The other I like is the Paul Nicholls trained Saint Sonnet who’s been rather disappointing since joining Nicholls from France but is creeping down the handicap now (9lb for his last three runs) and steps up in trip today which hopefully will unlock some more talent. His latest 7th (beaten 27L) at Cheltenham to Guard Your Dream has worked out very well and he could be the value player here in a wide open handicap. SAINT SONNET 1 point each way @ 9/1 1/5th 12345
  22. An interesting afternoon’s racing at Ascot and Haydock where the ground although safe will be more to the liking of the good ground horses than the mudlarks with the official line from Ascot stating the ground is good whilst Haydock are calling it good to soft (good in places on hurdles track). Here are my thoughts on the days 7 ITV races with the best value bet in the 2.05. Haydock 1.50 Only 4 go to post for this 2m 5F 127yds graduation chase and this looks booked for team Ditcheat with Bravemansgame a very warm order. He jumped superbly when winning on his fencing debut at Newton Abbot in October from Fusil Raffles despite getting all the allowances. The runner up has franked the form ( by default maybe with Shan Blue’s fall)by taking the Charlie Hall at Wetherby since. On official ratings he’s actually 2lb inferior to his main danger in Itchy Feet from the very much in form team of Olly Murphy but I would be surprised if Paul Nicholl’s charge is not too good for this field en route to to bigger and better targets. He’s too short to back at around 4/7 but maybe worth adding to Buzz in the 2.40 Ascot in a win double. BRAVEMANSGAME & BUZZ (2.40 Ascot) 2 points win double Ascot 2.05 A small but select field of six go to post for the 2m 5F 1965 Chase. At the head of the market is the Jeremy Scott trained flag bearer Dashel Drasher who’s unbeaten in four starts here at Ascot but has to carry a 6lb penalty and more importantly is much better on softer ground (he was pulled out at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals on the day on good to soft ground as the ground was not deemed soft enough). He’s opposable on drying ground today. Both Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation are making their seasonal re-appearances following disappointing campaigns last season and both have had their wind tinkered with. Preference would be for the latter but to be honest I’m not interested in backing either with question marks over them at around the 7/2 mark. The horse with the least questions to answer and worth a bet is surely Nicky Henderson’s Pistol Whipped who on ratings is just a pound behind the likes of Master Tommytucker and Bennys King who are significantly shorter in the betting. Good ground is ideal for him and as the youngest in the field may have some improvement to come still. He looks a value bet with Nico de Boinville in the saddle. If you are privy to a Betfred account then they are betting 1/5th three places here in this 6 runner contest and that looks the way to go. PISTOL WHIPPED 2 points each way 12/1 @ Betfred 1/5th 123 Haydock 2.25 The most competitive race of the day is this 16 runner 3m+ Stayers Handicap Hurdle which threw up a nice staying prospect in Main Fact last season. As much as I rate Irish trainer Emmet Mullins I can’t have bottom weight Rightplacerighttime who is 17lb higher in the ratings over here than his Irish handicap mark. Riggs has apparently been trained for the race and has an attractive low weight whilst Flight Deck is a horse who only does enough and his form was boosted by Thursdays win for Teescomponents Lad at Market Rasen. Sandy Thomson’s Bass Rock’s recent form was also boosted by that one winning on Thursday and he looks a horse who could still be well handicapped with a longer trip likely to suit. He’s on my short list. The other one I like is Philip Hobb’s Orbys Legend who is also stepping up in trip here. He’s only lightly raced and if staying this far could be too good for them all. He’s up 8lb for his Chepstow victory from Didntheyleaveuoutto who re-opposes today. The unseasonal Haydock ground of good to soft may not suit the likes of Storm Arising and the Pipe pair of Brinkley and Martinhal although their trainer does have an excellent record in this race. I’ll play two against the field each way at enhanced place terms in Orbys Legend and Bass Rock in what looks an ultra competitive handicap hurdle. ORBYS LEGEND 1 point each way @ 13/2 1/5 12345 BetVictor BASS ROCK 1 point each way @ 8/1 1/5th 123456 William Hill Ascot 2.40 Only 5 have declared for the Coral Hurdle run over 2m 5F and I find it hard to look past Nicky Henderson’s Buzz who was last seen when running away with the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in October on the level. He showed an abundance of stamina that day and to my eyes looks a lively outsider for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March for which he’s currently a top priced 20/1 with Bet365. Goshen much prefers softer ground and has to shoulder a 6lb penalty whilst the same can be said about last years winner Song For Someone. Molly Olly’s Wishes arrives in good form and is maybe the one to chase Buzz home. BUZZ 2 points win @ 11/10 Bet365 Haydock 3.00 A good renewal of the 3m 1F 125yds Betfair Chase where it may be wise to oppose the front two in the market. The best horse in the race is last years Cheltenham Gold Cup runner up A Plus Tard but he’s been beaten first time out the last three seasons and I can let him win at around 6/4. Bristol De Mai is looking for a fourth win in this race and we know for sure he’ll be fully tuned up for the gig today. The issue with him is that he most definitely prefers much softer ground - proper soft Haydock ground and although he did win this back in 2018 on good ground in a fast time he’s three years older now and may just get run off his feet. The ground is also too fast for Royale Pagaille and I’m surprised he’s actually running. Waiting Patiently is the most interesting horse to me in the field now he’s left Ruth Jefferson to join Christian Williams. No matter what the figures may tell you in my eyes this is a serious trainer upgrade and although he too would prefer slower ground is worth chancing each way (fingers crossed all 8 stand their ground). Brian Hughes know the horse well and rides today - he is on his day a seriously talented horse. I’m rather annoyed with myself as he was sat there at 20/1 only a fortnight ago for this race and I never availed myself of it but hey ho that’s racing for you! WAITING PATIENTLY 1 point each way @ 13/2 1/5th 123 William Hill Ascot 3.15 An interesting 7 runner handicap chase run over 2m 167yds with only 7 going to post. Favourite Before Midnight made all to win at Cheltenham last month with Sky Pirate, who was having his first run of the season, 6L back in the silver medal position. On 8lb better terms they should be closer here but the way Sam Thomas’s Before Midnight travelled and finished his race off that day I fully expect him to come out on top once more. The other piece of recent form that needs to be analysed is the handicap run over course and distance three weeks ago when Amoola Gold came from the clouds to get up and pip Monsieur Lecoq on the line under an inspired ride from Bridget Andrews. The pair (and the 23L 5th Sully D’Oc AA) re-oppose today with the weights just in favour of Jane William’s Monsieur Lecoq. There shouldn’t be much between that pair and it would not be a shock were the 5th Sully D’Oc AA get a fair bit closer with that run under his belt and now 6lb and 5lb respectively better off with them. The Paul Nicholls pair Dolos and Diego Du Charmil have claims on back form but don’t really inspire at present so the selection for me has to be the upwardly mobile front runner Before Midnight. BEFORE MIDNIGHT 2 points win @ 2/1 William Hill Haydock 3.35 This race has fallen apart at the 48 hour stage and a strong fancy for this 3m 1F 125yds handicap chase is the Christian Williams trained Strictlyadancer. As big as 11/2 only two days ago he’s now a warm 6/4 chance and will be very hard to beat. He landed a bit of a gamble last time out in a amateur riders handicap chase at Cheltenham under Ben Bromley following up from a win in a similar contest at the previous meeting there. He’s gone up just 12lb for that brace of wins and looks still ahead of his mark for his under rated trainer who hopefully may already have the Betfair Chase in the bag! Jack Tudor is in the saddle and he’s excellent value for his 3lb claim. STRICTLYADANCER 3 points win @ 13/8 William Hill
  23. A profit of 7.25 points on the day - hope we all made a profit of sorts today.
  24. Seven terrestrial TV races today with ITV showing 4 from Cheltenham, a couple from Fontwell and the Morigana Hurdle from Punchestown. The ground is likely to be decent enough for all three meetings and here’s my thoughts on the seven :- Punchestown 2.05 Five quality hurdlers go to post for this years renewal of the Morigana Hurdle run over 2 miles on good to yielding ground. Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins saddle a brace each with Joseph O ‘Brien fielding the outsider Darasso. Elliott’s team comprises one of last seasons top juveniles in Zanahiyr who’s already been out and bolted up at Down Royal this season and Abacadabras, who won this last year as well as the Aintree Hurdle over further later in the season. Mullins’ pair are Echoes In Rain who was a top novice last season and will be ridden by Sean O’Keeffe presumably as Paul Townend would struggle to do the weight. Townend is on board Sharjah who without doubt has the best form in this field. He won the Matheson Hurdle first time out at Leopardstown last season and in a short season was runner up in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and at Punchestown behind the best hurdler around in Honeysuckle. He seems too big a price to me in relation to his stable companion Echoes In Rain and is worth a bet today. SHARJAH 2 points win @ 7/2 Boylesports Cheltenham 1.45 With Forza Milan entered on Saturday this looks likely to cut up to just 5 runners. A 3m 3m 71yds handicap chase, the favourite is likely to be Northern challenger Empire De Maulde who comes here in top:form and will be ridden by champion jockey elect Brian Hughes. He’s off of his highest ever handicap mark however and I prefer the chances of the habitual front runner Yala Enki under Bryony Frost. He ran a stormer on his re-appearance in this very race last season when a short head second to stayer Ramses De Teillee off of a one pound lower mark and I expect similar tactics to be employed here. YALA ENKI 2 points win @ 3/1 BetVictor Cheltenham 2.20 A small but select field of four go to post for the grade 2 Shloer Chase with officially only 2lb covering the quartet. Paul Nicholls saddles two in Politologue, the 2020 Champion Chase winner who started last season by scooting up in the Tingle Creek. He’s had his wind tinkered with since we last saw him but he’s getting no younger at ten, rising eleven. Nicholls also saddles Rouge Vif whom he’s acquired from Harry Whittington and is another to have had his wind done. The Skelton’s run Nube Negra who ran a stormer in the Champion Chase over course and distance in March when going down by half a length to Put The Kettle On and must run well. Preference however has to be for the Henry De Bromhead trained Put The Kettle On who is unbeaten now in four starts at Cheltenham, a novice chase at this meeting, the Arkle, this race last year and the Champion Chase last season. The 7 year old mare is sure to be ready and although the race looks tight is the most likely winner to me. PUT THE KETTLE ON 3 points win @ 7/4 William Hill Cheltenham 2.55 An ultra competitive 20 runner Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. Nicky Henderson has only had a handful of runners at the three day meeting but he has solid claims here with his No Ordinary Joe who looks well handicapped off of 133. He’s been trained for this and despite his lack of experience I expect him to be bang there at the finish under Nico De Boinville. The weights are headed by one of last seasons top juveniles in Adagio but the weight maybe his downfall today. The Irish landed a gamble in this race last season with The Shunter and they field four today. Charlie Byrnes had a winner here on Friday and his Advanced Virgo appears to have been laid out for this so has my respect whilst Noel Meade’s recent Navan flat winner Jesse Evan’s has been a market mover in the past 48 hours and is also interesting. I do like the look of the Brian Ellison trained Cormier who ran well on his hurdling comeback when 4th beaten 6 1/2L by the re-opposing Glory And Fortune at Ffos Las in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and is now 9lb better off at the weights. Ellison won this in 2018 with Nietzsche and he will form part of my staking plan along with No Ordinary Joe who will be my main bet. NO ORDINARY JOE 2 points each way @ 6/1 1/5th 123456 CORMIER 1 point each way @ 14/1 1/5th 123456 Fontwell 3.10 An open looking field of 9 assemble for the Southern National Handicap Chase which has a very open look about it this year. Total rag Ballyegan Hero is impossible to fancy but the remaining 8 all have chances of sorts. I’m going to take a chance on an outsider in the locally trained Rose Of Aghaboe who creeps in here off bottom weight of 10-3 with the useful conditional jockey Tabitha Worsley in the saddle. She should be teed up for this following a well beaten effort in the fog at Exeter 26 days ago for which she was dropped 2lb to 115 which is the mark she won off of at Warwick last February (only a three runner contest mind). She’s relatively lightly raced and with her jockey knowing her so well I’ll play here small each way in a very tight handicap. ROSE OF AGHABOE 1 point each way @ 20/1 1/5th 123 Bet365 Cheltenham 3.30 Another small field of four this time assemble for the 2m 87yds Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices Hurdle. Warm favourite is the Nigel Twiston Davies trained I Like To Move It who will be hard to beat. He has to shoulder a 3lb penalty here for his course and distance win over Tritonic (runs in previous race) in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at the last meeting and his trainer thinks he’s smart. Paul Nicholls saddles Sonigino who’s a John Hales owned hurdler bought from France where he won twice. He’s hard to assess whilst Olly Murphy who has a fine team of novices this season brings his unbeaten gelding Washington here. A winner at Bangor on his hurdles debut he can chase the favourite home. I LIKE TO MOVE IT 3 points win @ 11/10 Bet365 Fontwell 3.43 Gary Moore has made a sensational start to the National Hunt season and he appears to have a very well handicapped horse on his hands in Natural History who’s rated 101 on the flat but has a hurdles market of only 125. He misses the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle to run here and he looks one of the days best bets. Top weight Quinta Do Mar is in good form and looks the biggest threat. NATURAL HISTORY 3 points win @ 7/4 Bet365
  25. A winner, a second and one out the back for a profit of 7 points on the day. Saturdays selections already up.
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