Month: January 2017

Lucky 15 January 31st 

6.00pm On 17th January in my blog “Yards of Ail” I mentioned the lack of form of Dan Skelton’s yard. Another yard on the naughty step is that of Philip Hobbs. Both are having winners but less than half the number you may expect and more often than not days like today, Tuesday, beaten favourites at 30/100, 10/11 and 4/6!!

We all know many of the top yards give their horses a flu jab in the first days of January and have a quieter month but the two above have had an almost Trappist month! However as we enter February I do expect the largest yards to start banging out the winners and building up momentum towards the Spring festivals. So don’t be surprised to see the words Henderson, Nicholls, Elliott and Mullins and double, treble and bigger in the same sentence. Messrs Fry, King, Twiston-Davies, Meade and De Bromhead will be looking to wind it up whilst Pipe, Skelton and Hobbs will want to get back on track and for Gods sake even Jonjo O’Neill may have a winner! I’m talking Class 4 and above and with their “Saturday” horses.

 Nicky Henderson 31/1/17  “It has been decided that BUVEUR D’AIR will not run in the G1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown on Saturday and will instead revert to hurdles with a crack at the Stan James Champion Hurdle the main objective. Faugheen is still the best hurdler in Britain and Ireland and could still be tough to beat but it was a decision we had to make now and Barry Geraghty came and schooled him this morning and he jumped beautifully. He is a very good hurdler and has close form with Petit Mouchoir so it made sense to go back over timber. The Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso in two weeks’ time is where he will next run.” Well thanks Nicky!

Twitter comment – ‏@CheltenhamNews   So JP McManus will have Yanworth and Buveur D’Air for the Champion Hurdle and Jezki and Unowhatimeanharry for the Stayers’? #StrongTeam

Wednesday Lucky 15

Leicester 3.10             KING COOL                             16/1 general (expect 25p in £ Rule 4)

Hereford 3.30             GOODTOKNOW                     11/4 PP & Coral 5/2 general      

Leicester 3.40             SOMEARELUCKY                    9/2 WH 4/1 general

Leicester 4.10             REIGNING SUPREME              15/8 general some 2/1 online Get what you can!!           

and here’s why

Leicester 3.10             KING COOL     With the listed favourite likely to come out as she won today, horses from the Skelton, Hobbs and o’Neill yards and a bunch of horses coming back from chasing we’ll go for King cool from the Moore yard, had a winner yesterday, that is down in grade, down in the weights yet has form on soft ground and around this trip. Can win this C4 handicap hurdle before he goes chasing.

Hereford 3.30             GOODTOKNOW  A staying chase over 3m+ on heavy ground. If it isn’t Venetia Williams it has to be Kerry Lee. If his excellent second to One for Arthur in the BetFred Classic Chase at Warwick hasn’t taken too much out of him, he is thrown in here. He is only up a pound and Jake Greenall retains the ride. Goodtoknow has form in this grade over 3m on heavy ground. Good bet.

Leicester 3.40             SOMEARELUCKY I love these C3 Limited novices handicap chases and there are no better practitioners than Messrs George and Heskin and this horse ran an excellent second at Newbury on his rules chasing debut and goes up 4lb. However chasing is his game as his Irish Ptp form indicates where he was placed behind the likes of Born Survivor and Petit Mouchoir!! Hard to abandon Fingerontheswitch but he’s up 7lb and this is a deeper race.

Leicester 4.10             REIGNING SUPREME A classy winner of a C3 novice hurdle at Newbury on his British debut when beating Chocala with the pair pulling 14L clear of the third. The jockey booking of David Mullins is eye-catching (Said in his blog “I ride REIGNING SUPREME at Leicester on Wednesday, who won his Maiden Hurdle well in England. I’ve sat on him before at Nicky Henderson’s and he’s a lovely, big, chasing type and I’m hoping for a big performance on Wednesday.”), the Seven Barrows novice hurdlers are strong and even if Reigning Supreme doesn’t make Cheltenham he would be just the type to feature in the EBF final at Sandown the Saturday before the Festival, for which this race is a qualifier.

Tuesday Lucky 15

We went for four of the hardest races of the day as there was a free £3 bet with Paddy Power on a Lucky 15 on their self-service betting terminals. Interested to see if they pay treble the odds, one winner on the machines? They do!

 Lingfield  3.00      CHEAT THE CHEATER            9/1 WH & PP 8/1 general            Non Runner

Withdrawn at 1pm. I hate non-runners, really b*ggers up a Lucky 15!!

Southwell 3.40           AMANTIUS                             8/1 Betfred & PP                              7th 11/2

Always rear, didn’t get much closer.

Southwell 4.10           FINISH THE STORY                  10/1 general                                      1st 11/2F

Got this one about right, “enjoys extreme distance, soft ground and has solid form at the course.” Hope you got an early price.

Lingfield 4.30              DAYTIME AHEAD                    7/1 general                                        6th 10/1

Uncompetitive from three out.

Just about got our money back at SP, small profit if you got the winner at bigger than 6/1 last night!




Cheltenham Festival 2017 – Mad March Musings (4) January 31st

In six weeks time the Cheltenham Festival will be starting and are we any closer to sorting out who wins what? Probably not but there have been plenty of worthy performances this month although the news always seems dominated by no shows, fallers and injuries mainly to Mullins/Ricci horses. So let’s have a look at how I see it currently.

QEII Champion Chase:- Douvan. No change, no opposition as it looks like Sizing John could step up to the Ryanair.

Stayers Hurdle:- Unowhatimeanharry keeps on winning all the right races but winning no friends. Shaneshill laid down a marker, winning well from the front. Classy Jezki won on his return from a lengthy layoff, in a race that didn’t look strong to me, and promptly everyone talks Champion Hurdle?!

Gold Cup:- You pays your money …  etc. etc. With Thistlecrack being beaten at Cheltenham would seem to make the race more open. An injured Coneygree misses the race, Alary flopped at Haydock and Don Cossack has been retired and all of a sudden contenders are getting thin on the ground. If Thistlecrack didn’t stay last time you can guarantee they are not going to hang about come race time this year and an out and out stayer could win it such as Native River, Don Poli or Minella Rocco?

I’m sticking to my simple logic. Djakadam has been second in the last two years and neither of the horses that beat him will be lining up this year. He is still only an 8yo, could be Willie Mullins only runner, is bound to run (if healthy) and Ruby Walsh will ride.


Champion Hurdle:- What a mess. Annie Power is out. Faugheen is going straight there without a run in fifteen months. Vroum Vroum Mag, Yanworth and Jezki would all prefer another half mile. Altior, Min, Yorkhill and Buveur D’Air are all novice chasing although the jungle drums are getting louder that the last two named may revert to hurdling? Handicap winners such as Brain Power and Superb Story are lurking to pick up the pieces. You could win a Champion hurdle off OR166-ish this year or Faugheen could run 10lbs below his top mark and still oblige. Absolutely no play yet.


RyanAir Chase:- Now this is a race that seems to be warming up. I was massively impressed with Un de Sceaux at Cheltenham on Saturday especially his spring heeled jumping. Sizing John picked up Sub Lieutenant over this trip last time out and has to be considered. The 6yo Bristol de Mai is being talked about in Gold Cup terms but surely this is his race.


Novice Hurdlers:- We finally got to see this seasons hype horse, Melon, and he didn’t let his supporters down. Neat at his hurdles and visually impressive what he beat was questionable and the time wasn’t great. As Matt Tombs observed on Twitter “Last winner of the Supreme to come off just 1 hurdle run was Flown a quarter of a century ago. Another run for Melon??”

Wholestone looks like having a say in the staying division and if West Approach dropped to Novice company surely that would be man against boys but until a week on Sunday and we’ve had meetings at Sandown, Newbury etc. and the hugely influential Deloitte hurdle (2m2f) at Leopardstown will we be able to have a real assessment of the Supreme, the Neptune and the Alfred Bartlett.

I think that Nicky Henderson’s geldings, JP McManus’s 4yo’s and Willie Mullins’s mares could have a big say in shaping the markets and the results.


Novice Chasers:- The Min-less (“banged a knee”) Irish Arkle was won by Some Plan who finished alone and hardly had Altior quaking in his shoes! I have written before that this season there were three above average 2m novices north of Watford in Waiting Patiently, Cloudy Dream and Forest Bihan and my opinion has been strengthened over the past two Saturdays and I hope they take their chances at Cheltenham.

The JLT is more of a poser. Yorkhill is good but he can’t jump that far left and still beat the likes of Buveur D’Air and Politologue, can he? Buveur D’Air runs over 2m 4f in the Scilly Isles Novice chase at Sandown this Saturday and will hopefully do enough to persuade connections that the JLT is his race. The Irish have the 2m 5f Flo Gas at Leopardstown a week on Sunday.

As for the gruel-fest that is the RSA, Bellshill is going the right way but I will probably side with one of the five Gigginstown run!

Yet again the 4m NH chase seems to becoming the target of some decent horses. Haymount was beaten over 3m when outpaced late on and they talk about dropping in trip. Surely not Patrick?


Juvenile 4yo Hurdlers:- Defi du Seuil/Charlie Parcs v Bapaume/Landofhopeandglory? Anyone else wanting to throw their hat into the ring? Plenty of time for more children to come out to play, the Spring hurdle at Leopardstown is Feb. 12th and the Adonis at Kempton is Feb.25th.


Handicappers:- It was interesting that Gordon Elliott has been making entries in this country to test the water with Phil Smith, the chief UK handicapper, then running none of them! The likes of Tombstone, Diamond King and the murdered Mega Fortune seem to be shown the keep away sign. However there are at least two that I think Elliott may be able to exploit?


On the Missing List:- Faugheen, Limini, On the Fringe, Moon Racer, Invitation Only, Blow by Blow, Campeador.

An appearance by any of these could help clarify matters.

Lucky 15 January 30th

6.00pm RIP Many Clouds, a real racing fans racehorse. Never less than 100% and sadly on Saturday just a bit more than that. There is a “Mad March Musings” on the way, a review of the weekend and those Mullins Mares. Keep an eye on your in-box!!

 Tuesday Lucky 15

We have gone for four of the hardest races of the day as there is a free £3 bet with Paddy Power tomorrow on a Lucky 15 on their self-service betting terminals. Get there early, numbers may be restricted! It’s a free bet so you will need to win £3+ back before you get any cash! Interested to see if they pay treble the odds, one winner?

 Lingfield  3.00                  CHEAT THE CHEATER             9/1 WH & PP 8/1 general

Southwell 3.40                  AMANTIUS                                   8/1 Betfred & PP

Southwell 4.10                   FINISH THE STORY                  10/1 general     

Lingfield 4.30                    DAYTIME AHEAD                     7/1 general


and here’s why


Lingfield  3.00                         CHEAT THE CHEATER Quite willing to take this short priced favourite on. That was his first win in 21 starts under rules and that was over hurdles! The ground is heavy tomorrow and this race will be slow motion. The selection has winning form in the mud, won over the course and trip, won under today’s pilot, champion jockey Richard Johnson and is down to his last winning mark. That’ll do!

Southwell 3.40           AMANTIUS On breeding this horse shouldn’t be staying the trip unless employing the services of a horsebox but this 8yo seems to be enjoying his hurdling and this is just his eighth attempt and he seems to be improving, indeed he’s won his last two. Think the trainer Johnny Farrelly knows the time of day and is on the up. Aiden Coleman rides for Jonjo O’Neill but Nick Schofield is an adequate replacement. The favourite may outclass these but the mare carries 12st 2lb!

Southwell 4.10           FINISH THE STORY The top of the market is dominated by unexposed novices and as they are from the way out of form yards of Dan Skelton and Jonjo O’Neill keen to take them on. An 11yo who hasn’t won for two years is not the best plan perhaps but It’s that man Farrelly again, the horse is coming back from chasing, enjoys extreme distance, soft ground and has solid form at the course. Brendan Powell has ridden the horse before.

Lingfield 4.30              DAYTIME AHEAD A 2m 3f C5 hurdle on chewed up heavy ground! So the plan was to start at the bottom of the handicap and work our way up. Second in is the 9/4F a course and distance heavy ground winner but we can’t have that price. So onwards and upwards and the selection ran behind todays jolly and is 8lb better off for 11L+ but the key may be that Jack Sherwood (3lbs) replaces Mr M S Bastyan (??). Ridden a tad more prominently the mare has a chance but not exactly where you would expect to back a daughter of Daylami!


Saturday Lucky 15

Cheltenham 12.35     BURTONS WELL                     4th 15/2

Every chance. Ran out of steam up the hill.

Doncaster 1.25           STRONG PURSUIT                  PU 7/1

Beaten turning for home. Philip Hobbs other star novice Sneaky Feeling ran poorly at Cheltenham as well.

Doncaster Stewards Tom O’Brien, the rider of STRONG PURSUIT (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding stopped quickly as if something was amiss.

Doncaster 3.40           ASK SAM                                4th 8/1

Probably not helped by the monsoon prior to the race. Solid run just couldn’t get to Ziga Boy.

Cheltenham 4.35       LE ROCHER                             Non Runner

I just hoped you were a little more savvy than your correspondent who didn’t even look at Uttoxeter with all the racing at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Naas! It was Le Rocher’s first preference at the Midlands track and he won a C2 2m 4f handicap hurdle at 13/8 on Soft/Heavy ground!! Really cross with myself!


I am going to add a whole load of bits and pieces from the internetty thing over the last four days that you may or may not enjoy reading!!

Thyestes Stewards J.W. Kennedy, rider of Prince Of Scars trained by Gordon Elliott, reported to the Clerk that his mount hung left throughout.

Naas stewards The Turf Club Veterinary Officer examined Ivan Grozny (FR), trained by W.P. Mullins, at the request of the Stewards and reported the animal to be blowing very hard post race.

Leopards stewards B.J. Geraghty, rider of Fair Return (GB) trained by Noel Meade, reported to the Clerk of Scales that his mount jumped badly right during this race.

Cheltenham stewards Tom Scudamore, the rider of CHAMPERS ON ICE (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Stewards ordered the gelding to be routine tested.

Cheltenham stewards Mr J.J. Codd, the rider of CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA), placed fifth, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Stewards ordered CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) to be routine tested.

Cheltenham stewards Neil Mulholland, the trainer of THE YOUNG MASTER, unplaced, reported that the gelding had a breathing problem.

Cheltenham stewards Tom Scudamore, the rider of MAX DO BRAZIL (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding stopped quickly.

Doncaster Stewards Tom O’Brien, the rider of STRONG PURSUIT (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding stopped quickly as if something was amiss.

Doncaster Stewards The Stewards held an enquiry into the fall of J.J. Burke, the rider of BIGBADJOHN (IRE), after the winning post on the first circuit. The rider stated that the gelding wasn’t travelling and became unbalanced approaching the bend. On the bend, he felt BIGBADJOHN (IRE) go wrong behind and slipped over whilst in the process of being pulled up. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that a post-race examination of the gelding revealed BIGBADJOHN (IRE) to have a fibrillating heart.


Michael Looby ‏@michaellooby2   If Lets Dance wins like Id expect her to on Sunday I hope she goes Neptune,shes the only danger to Death Duty if she went AB

Antepost Racing ‏@AntepostRacing   No Invitation Only on Sunday

Antepost Racing ‏@AntepostRacing  Min got a bang on the knee and was a late withdrawal, still hoping to see him before Cheltenham according to WPM.

Graham Cunningham ‏@gcunning12   Plenty of rain due at Cheltenham overnight.

Adam Norman ‏@JustNormNow  12noon 28th Jan. Murk has cleared at Donny but looks like they’ve had a fair bit of rain, expect it to be fairly loose on top.

Nicky Henderson/Stan James blog 27th Jan. That said BUVEUR D’AIR is still in the race and had a pop around the indoor school this morning. He will run in the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown next Saturday which may tell us more but I’m not ruling anything in or out. He has the entry in the Champion Hurdle for a reason and I’m very open on this one.

Nicky Henderson/Stan James blog 27th Jan They are both nice horses who arrive here having won their last starts respectively and are in very good shape. MAESTRO ROYAL was good at Sandown and got raised 7lbs in the weights but he’s a decent two mile horse who ran well the time before at the course where he got to the last hurdle in second and almost knocked it out of the ground which did him no favours and he just couldn’t reel in the winner after that. DIVINE SPEAR won nicely at Fontwell and got put up 4lbs for that but could still be well handicapped with Ned Curtis taking a valuable 5lbs off again.

Nicky Henderson/Stan James blog 27th Jan 1:25        CONSTANTINE BAY (G2 River Don Novices’ Hurdle) He has done nothing but improve and scored very nicely at Chepstow last time having started the year winning a funny race at Haydock on soft ground. My concern is however, that the forecast faster ground at Doncaster might be against him and I’m quite nervous about that as it’s currently good to firm in places and this is one horse that wouldn’t want it too quick. He was entered up at Cheltenham but I decided to run here because I think the 3m will suit him better. I have a lot of time for this one and, if the ground is right, he should run a big race.

@ElsieEphseyIs it too early to ask for a dark horse for the Festival? That’s a tricky one as I have plenty of Novice Hurdlers and Chasers to sort out but I suppose BEYOND CONCEIT would fit into that category. He’s nine years old now so it’s no point wasting any time with him. He will definitely go the Supreme. CAPTAIN WOODIE is also a horse I like.

@Logijunior Hi Nicky, is there any news on when Nico De Boinville will be back and when will we next see POST WAR? Nico’s been riding out here for the past ten days and schooled a few indoors this morning and is waiting to get an official all-clear but we are hoping it will be within the next ten days. Quite possibly he will be back next weekend, which will be good. I hope that you will see POST WAR soon; I just need to find the right race for him. He wants a 2m4f hurdle race on a galloping track in decent ground as he’s a very big horse who won well the other day but jumped appallingly which is silly as he’s one of the best jumpers I’ve seen in years!

Dan Skelton Coral blog 27th Jan. Some of the horses have run a bit flat following their flu vacs. There are no health issues at all, no dirty noses, no coughs, no bleeding, nothing at all to worry about. Some of the horses have run well, Three Musketeers win delighted us and Heron’s Heir won nicely during the week, but some of the horses are travelling well to around two out and then seem to be feeling the effects of the flu vac and not quite finishing their races off as well as they can. It’s not unexpected either. Last year we had five winners in January, and this year we are on four, and then last year we felt the benefits of the flu vac and the quiet month, and had eighteen winners in February. You can’t expect all the horses to be at their peak and in top form throughout the whole season. You have to have that quiet spell and then pick it up again as you come in to February with the busy spring ahead.

Dan Skelton Coral blog 27th Jan. SUNDAY 1.20 Sedgefield – Robin Of Locksley He was due to go over fences last time but it was called off. So I thought we’d just go back over hurdles, as the race suited and I’m taking two horses up there, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. It’s about time he won again in all honesty.

Alan King Blog 27th Jan.Keep In Line flies the flag in that race for Barbury this time, and he has been running well over two miles without quite delivering what we were hoping, so we are stepping him up in trip in the hope that might out a bit more improvement. Rainbow Dreamer jumps up two grades for the Triumph Hurdle Trial. He won twice at Fontwell in December, battling back after fluffing his lines at the last after Christmas, but he’ll need a career-best in what looks a hot race. Annacotty returns from a break for the Hugo’s Restaurant Barbados Trophy. He’s been disappointing this season, but we hope his little holiday will have freshened him up and they are also talking about rain in the morning which would help him as he has not really had the soft ground he needs this winter. We have William H Bonney in the finale, the Steel Plate and Sections Handicap Hurdle. He ran well for a long way on his seasonal reappearance at Kempton over Christmas, only tiring from the second last, and he’ll come on for that so we are expecting better this time”

Alan King Blog Tuesday January 17 Matt Chapman is not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you opted to give Alan’s phone-in on ATR last night with the new betting expert on ITV racing a miss then here are the salient points. Besides outlining plans for some of our possible Cheltenham Festival runners, Alan filled in the viewers on the progress of “the walking wounded”. He said:”Obviously, everyone asks me about Uxizandre, and the good news is that his return is imminent, possibly on the last Saturday in January at either Cheltenham or Doncaster. “You can’t just run Uxizandre anywhere as he has to go left-handed, but he’ll be entered in both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. It’s almost two years now since he gave AP (McCoy) that never-to-be forgotten last Festival celebration in the Ryanair, so it will be great to have him back. JP (McManus) also owns Winter Escape, and, though he was very disappointing on his seasonal debut in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, he came back very sick and it has taken a long time to get him right again. He has only just resumed fast work and, though he is in the betting for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month, I suspect that will come too soon. However, we have certainly not lost faith in Winter Escape, and I still believe he will prove a high-class performer. Another who I hope to get on the comeback trail before the end of the season is Ord Ab Chao, who was a promising hurdler last season but got pneumonia and pleurisy and very nearly died. We schooled him over fences last season, but he has been off since April and it is too late now to send him novice chasing, so we will save that until next winter. I did enter him for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, but that may be a bit too ambitious.” Of the high-profile horses who have played their part in such a great season for Barbury, Alan added:”Two and a half miles might prove to be Yanworth‘s optimum distance, but there is no championship race for him at Cheltenham over that distance, so, with Unowhatimeanharry also being owned by JP and looking an obvious contender for the World Hurdle, we have had to revise our plans and head instead towards the Champion Hurdle. I have never been totally convinced that Yanworth is crying out for three miles, and he has never been beaten at two so maybe it is not such a bad thing. He dug deep and won the Christmas Hurdle in brave fashion, but Cheltenham will suit him so much better than Kempton. A stiff finish will bring out his stamina, so the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown looks the right place to go for the prep-race and we’ll take it from there. Messire des Obeaux is also very exciting. He is 3-3 this year, having started in a handicap at Bangor and followed up with a Grade 2 and a Grade 1. He would not have the same brilliance that Yanworth showed us as a novice, but, though I can’t wait to see him over fences next season, he is a pretty smart hurdler and the Neptune looks his race. He’ll either have his dress-rehearsal at Cheltenham on Trials day or the Sidney Banks Hurdle at Huntingdon. Sceau Royal might well join Yanworth in the Champion, depending on how he fares in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton next month. For me, Sceau Royal is the forgotten horse of the race. He travelled well for a long way in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle but did not see his race out, and he is definitely better than that. He’s had a good break and is back in strong work, and, having looked very good early on as a juvenile hurdler, he never fired in the Triumph, but unfortunately March was the only month last year that my horses were not in form. Smad Place is another who has just returned after having a break after the Hennessy. The plan is to try and win the Cotswold Chase for the second year running at Cheltenham on Saturday week, and I would imagine we’ll give the Gold Cup another shot if the ground is soft.”

Jpnorris That’s a “back over hurdles” performance from Aux Ptits Soins.

Paul Ferguson ‏@paulfergusonJTF  27th Jan.  John Hales hints on @AtTheRaces that Politologue could go to Sandown, presumably for Scilly Isles next week vs Buveur D’Air.


Sandown Park ‏@Sandownpark 27th Jan.  Jack Jacob Milner

All eyes on Sandown Park next week. A whole host of Cheltenham contenders likely. Hoping for Brain Power vs Yanworth vs Irving


Richard Johnson Betway Blog Jan. 27th The Neptune Trial (3.25pm) is a pretty open-looking contest where I’m on Sneaky Feeling (9/1). He’s very unexposed on only his second hurdles start, so hopefully there’s plenty more to come. I loved his attitude at Newbury last time and this will be a good test to see where he stands.


Paul Nicholls Betfair blog Jan.27th 15:25 – Topofthegame Won narrowly in the end at Ascot on his hurdles debut despite almost throwing it away through inexperience. Topofthegame is a fine big horse with an exciting future so we are determined not to rush him. He is learning as he goes along and I am hoping he can take another step forward here in a strong field.

16: 00 – Old Guard Has been finding life tougher this season and this could help us decide if he goes for the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival or the Coral Cup. We know the course suits his style of running and there was much to like about the way he kept on under a big weight to finish fourth to his stable companion Modus at Kempton last time.

13:25 – Give Me A Copper Won stylishly at Exeter and Is a decent long term prospect, a nice chaser for next season. We are looking after Give Me A Copper for the time being and he will not run here unless they get some rain because he needs plenty of cut in the ground.

WillieMullins on twitter 28th Jan. We have two in the 3 mile novice chase. Briar Hill (Mikey Fogarty) fell at Leopardstown last time and will hopefully get his confidence back here. He certainly has the ability when everything goes right. Haymount (Danny Mullins) didn’t enjoy this trip over hurdles but we think he needs it over fences. He is a good jumper and we are expecting improvement from his run at Limerick at Christmas. Neil Mulholland Stable Chat

Last weekend was a quiet one for us, as well as for jumps racing as a whole in the UK, with the cold weather impacting the fixture list, but thankfully we still enjoyed a successful week.

We had a fantastic day on Tuesday as we picked up an across the card treble at Wetherby and Leicester, with Most Celebrated and Fingerontheswitch entering the winner’s enclosure at the Yorkshire venue.

Most Celebrated has been showing us his talent at home, and thankfully he managed to transfer that ability to the track to win the juvenile hurdle by a wide margin. Tom Scudamore was delighted with the horse, which was pleasing to hear, and he has come out of the race in fine form which is equally important.

I am yet to form a plan with the owners, but the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton or the Victor Ludorum at Haydock would look like the two potential options for him. It’s important to take it day-to-day with young horses, but all being well we hope he can turn into Triumph Hurdle runner.

It was equally pleasing to see Fingerontheswitch notch his maiden victory over fences, with the first-time tongue-tie seemingly doing the trick.  It was a win we hoped would come, but he still had to go out and there and do the business so we couldn’t have been happier.

Actlikeacountess had a bit of luck to win the mares’ handicap hurdle at Leicester but she was running a big race in her own right, and three winners on the same day is a magnificent achievement for the yard.

On paper this weekend looks like a quiet one for us, but all three of our runners face important challenges.

We are delighted to have Southfield Royale back healthy and well, and he makes the long journey to Doncaster for the Sky Bet Chase on Saturday afternoon. He had one or two niggles at the start of the season but he is as fit as he can be first time out, and he schooled well on Friday morning which is a positive.

It’s a big ask first time out, but we have James King taking an important 5lbs off so hopefully he can be in the frame. We will see how he performs on Saturday first, but if all goes well there could be a handicap for him at the Cheltenham Festival so fingers crossed he can show his true ability.

The Young Master ran in the Cleeve Hurdle last season before winning the bet365 Gold Cup and we are more than happy to go to Cheltenham with him once again this weekend. He does of course have bigger targets ahead of him in the spring, but he is well at home so hopefully he can put in a decent display.


Looking ahead to Sunday, and we send Solighoster to Fontwell Park for his hurdling debut in the 2m1f novices’ contest. Solighoster is a Point-to-Point winner so we know he jumps well, and so far his form has been good this season. He won on debut for us at Newcastle back in November, before he ran a solid race when beaten by a good horse at Huntingdon on Boxing Day. That race looked a decent one on paper so we are looking forward to running him, and we are hopeful that he can put in a good performance at one of our favourite tracks.


Racing Post ‏@RacingPost  Hobbs: “Barry walked the course and decided it was on the soft side. Therefore, my horse runs and Nicky’s- who wants better ground- doesn’t”

Nicky Henderson ‏@sevenbarrows   Charli Parcs will run @MusselburghRace next Saturday in the Triumph Hurdle Trial. NJH


Harry Fry Latest News 27th Jan. Air Horse One maintained our fine strike rate in January with a fluent success under a penalty at Taunton on Friday. In beating two well-regarded types he qualified for the EBF novices’ handicap final at Sandown the weekend before the Cheltenham Festival. The key to Air Horse One is that as he gains experience he is settling much better now which allows him to finish his races properly.


Racing Post ‏@RacingPost  1.31pm Saturday!! BREAKING: Faugheen does not run in the Irish Champion Hurdle, according to trainer Willie Mullins

Racing Post ‏@RacingPost  1.48pm Saturday Willie Mullins: “We weren’t happy with him this morning and while we’re not sure what the problem is he could have tweaked a muscle behind.”

The Irish Field ‏@TheIrishField  Willie Mullins reports Faugheen likely to go straight to Cheltenham following apparent muscle problem which rules him out of tomorrow’s race


Itv4 13:29 – 28 JAN 2017 Colin Tizzard has hinted Grade One winner Finian’s Oscar could take a drop down in class on his next start. The Milborne Port handler has earmarked an extended two-mile Listed novice hurdle at Exeter on February 12 as the potential next port of call for the five-year-old. Tizzard said: “I think he will run again before Cheltenham. There is a nice race at Exeter in a fortnight. He only needs one more run and that is a few weeks before the Festival. I would assume he is more like a two-and-a-half-miler. He doesn’t seem to be stopping in his races and he is not a Flat-bred horse. I expect we will leave our options open, as if it came up like a bog (at the Festival) he is not slow either.”


Sunday 29th

Michael Looby ‏@michaellooby2   Willie mentioning Neptune or the open Mares race there on RTE for Lets Dance


Racing UK Sunday 29 January 2017

Willie Mullins and his veterinary team to check Faugheen out on Monday

Faugheen will be checked out on Monday by Willie Mullins and his veterinary team after being forced to miss the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. The nine-year-old, winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2015, has not been seen in action since taking the Irish Champion 12 months ago. He is set to head straight to Cheltenham in an attempt to regain his two-mile crown, having been taken out of his eagerly-awaited comeback when found to have pulled a muscle in his hind quarters. Mullins said: “I won’t get a vet to look at him until tomorrow. He’ll have the weekend off and hopefully it will be all sorted by tomorrow. I just hope that he will be all right when I go out tomorrow morning. He’s just walking at the moment. It’s just something that is going to need a few days, and if he needs treatment after tomorrow we’ll wait again.”

Mullins sent Vroum Vroum Mag to Doncaster on Saturday to win the mares’ hurdle, although she was far from impressive in doing so as the 1-5 favourite. The trainer said: “It was probably one of her worst performances. She might have had a cough or cold coming on, but Paul (Townend) said she was never travelling. She jumped the last two hurdles and I’d say it was just her bravery that won it for her. Maybe the second horse is better than we think, but it wasn’t a good performance from her at all.”

He added of Irish Arkle absentee Min, who was not declared for the race on Friday after a bang to his knee: “There is no update on Min. We will get the weekend out of the way first.”


Adam Norman Doncaster Friday The novice chase was a high-class four runner affair headed by former Festival winner Aux Ptits Soins, who hasn’t been entirely convincing in two starts over fences, albeit looking better at Kelso last time. That form wasn’t brilliant though, and he was up against some strong staying sorts in Premier Bond and Kerrow, while the poorly handicapped Viens Chercher wasn’t a forlorn hope if suited by a step up in trip. The Nicholls horse did not look entirely happy early on and his jumping got progressively worse, leaving the other three to fight out the finish, the two stayers wearing down Viens Chercher after the last with Premier Bond knuckling down best close home. And I’m starting to wonder if Kerrow might be the one for the handicap on the opening day of the Fest. The Henderson beast is really likeable, the sort you want on your side in a ruck, and he’s definitely worth keeping on the right side of in decent handicaps this spring, with good ground clearly no bother.

Adam Norman Doncaster Saturday Double W’s had his supporters and one of my favourite horses ran a cracker to chase home the winner after going freely throughout. He jumped better here than at Newbury last time and this should now put him spot on for Cheltenham where I still feel a fast run 2m on decent ground will see him in even better light.

Another four runner novice chase was one to look forward to and it took a similar shape to that run the day before, albeit with flip-flopping favourites as the hype machine A Hare Breath was backed as though defeat was out of the question. This didn’t ring true in these quarters – both Cloudy Dream and Forest Bihan boasting novice form of the highest order. They were both worth backing at the prices offered at various stages and although I was confident the Jefferson grey would win, it came as no surprise to see the terrific looking Forest Bihan land the spoils, putting to bed slight reservations over his attitude off the bridle. I suspect both principles are heading for the Arkle at the Festival and neither will look out of place.

I didn’t see the mares but it didn’t surprise me that Midnight Jazz gave Vroom Vroom Mag a fright – she’s as tough and consistent as you’ll see. The reservation going forward is that she’s had three very hard races of late.

I didn’t take any view on the SkyBet Chase and sadly didn’t get a good look at them as a torrential shower had everyone diving for dry land.


Gordon Elliott’s chances of winning a first Irish Trainers’ Championship were improved significantly in the minutes surrounding the running of the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas today, which was won easily by the trainer’s Sutton Place. Sutton Place. a son of Mahler and ridden by Mark Walsh, moved strongly into contention from the second last and went past Supasundae at the final flight. He stretched his lead on the run-in and eventually scored an impressive seven and a half lengths win over that rival.  After the race, an impressed Elliott stated “I’d say he’s a fair one and you’d like the way he has galloped to the line. He has improved a good bit from last year and has got stronger and he’s a horse for jumping fences down the road. There’s no chance he’ll run in the Newbury race as he’s a horse for next year; I’ll talk to Frank (Berry, owner J.P. McManus’ racing manager). We might keep him at home (instead of going to Cheltenham) but we’ll talk to the lads and see.”


Lets Dance “The advantage she has is that she’s a second season novice in against real novices,” said Mullins. “She ran last year but didn’t win and we just ran her in big races because she started off so late in the season. We took a chance that if she won one, all and good, but if she didn’t she’d have all the experience for this year. I think that’s paying off for her, apart from the fact that she’s a good filly anyway. The conditions of the race suited her here. She did it well. We have to try and pick the right race for her at Cheltenham now. The mares novice would look the obvious one but that’s only two-and-a-quarter miles. She might be better off running in maybe the Neptune or the Mares Hurdle, something a bit longer. We’ll see what turns up in the mares novice. Two-and-a-quarter around Cheltenham would be a good gallop though and it’s more than likely the one. We’ll see we have a few nice mares for that race. We won’t have to make up our mind for a while and we’ll see how she comes out of that.”

Mullins added about runner-up Kemboy:- “He could be a Albert Bartlett type the way he raced there. He impressed me in his work during the week. He was running a real good race until that mistake. He’s improving all the time.”


David Mullins Racing FX blog Jan 30th 2017 I ride REIGNING SUPREME at Leicester on Wednesday, who won his Maiden Hurdle well in England. I’ve sat on him before at Nicky Henderson’s and he’s a lovely, big, chasing type and I’m hoping for a big performance on Wednesday.


MONALEE will be at Clonmel on Thursday, after skipping Leopardstown because the ground was too quick, so he’ll run in the Grade Three Novices Hurdle instead. He’s very well thought of at the yard and will take a lot of beating. I’ve had two spins on him before and felt great both days, so I’d be expecting the same when I ride him on Thursday.


Lucky 15 January 27th

6.30pm As the previous blog said, so much good racing but finding some winners that aren’t odds on is going to me trappy with a capital T! But I have always been a man for a challenge when it comes to Saturday punting.

I’ll start with an apology. When I kicked this new blog off I said I would do some Ante Post features but I just haven’t been quick enough off the mark. I look at them normally on a Tuesday and get my bets on and when I get round to writing the article either everybody on the worldwide internetty thing has tipped my fancy or the price has tumbled and in both cases it would like after-timing, something I hate. Anyway onwards and upwards!

Saturday Lucky 15

Cheltenham 12.35     BURTONS WELL                     13/2 general

Doncaster 1.25           STRONG PURSUIT                  13/2 general

Doncaster 3.40           ASK SAM                                8/1 Coral Ladbroke 7/1 general

Cheltenham 4.35       LE ROCHER                             9/1 PP  8/1 general

and here’s why

Cheltenham 12.35     BURTONS WELL His form with Waiting Patiently looks very strong, won well last time and won’t mind any rain overnight. Venetia Williams has an improver on her hands and Charles Deutsch is well worth his 3lb claim. Fences could be the issue. Singlefarmpayment and Mercian Prince main rivals. Can’t have Champers on Ice with counterfeit over this trip!

Doncaster 1.25           STRONG PURSUIT This is mainly a price thing. Made it between three, Give me a Copper, Constantine Bay and this one. At 9/4, 7/2 and 13/2 not much of a decision. Strong Pursuit is a strapping type and like most of his rivals will all be better over the bigger obstacles but I like the selections attitude. Is he good enough? At 13/2 I’m willing to ask the question.

Doncaster 3.40           ASK SAM I hinted at this one earlier in the week when I reported “UPLANDS LATEST NEWS 21.01.17 Warren Greatrex Out Sam is an intended runner in the Sky Bet Chase next Saturday. I was very pleased with his 3rd at Kempton last time and he has come out of that race really well.” Well he does run, won’t mind good ground, 3m is fine and Andrew Tinkler has been in to school him and off just 10st 10lb he has to be competitive. Get his jumping right, get him in a rhythm and happy days. Dangers too numerous to name. Can Jonjo get Holywell down to OR150 for Cheltenham, again?!

Cheltenham 4.35       LE ROCHER     Allegedly he was second to Clyne in that fog. Well that form was franked last Saturday, he’s a G1 winner, he has won a G2 at Cheltenham and if substantial rain arrives I’m even keener. Nick Williams has his string in good nick and the ubiquitous Lizzie Kelly takes off 5lb. Nicky Hendersons Divine Spear looks a danger off just 10st 6lb and Ned Curtis (interesting booking) reduces it by another 5lbs!


Friday Lucky 15

Sadly Huntingdon was lost to frost but Premier Bond read the script and provides a tasty £35 return!

Huntingdon 1.30        WINNER MASSAGOT             9/4 general                        Non Runner

Huntingdon 3.00        CALL TO ORDER                     7/2 WH 10/3 general     Non Runner

Huntingdon 3.30        AWESOME ROSIE                   9/1 WH 8/1 general       Non Runner

Doncaster 3.55           PREMIER BOND                      5/2 general                        1st 5/2

Plenty to set the heart racing!!

Friday January 27th 5.30pm

All fans of National Hunt racing have a real feast laid before them this weekend with outstanding cards at Cheltenham, Doncaster, Leopardstown and Naas. Plenty of important races in their own right such as the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Cleeve hurdle, the SkyBet chase and the Cotswold Chase but nearly every race has some relevance to the Spring festivals especially Cheltenham in March.

One factor that will need serious monitoring is the going.

Cheltenham:- Chase and hurdle Good to soft. Cross country Good, good to soft in places. Overnight rain (3 to 5 mm), followed by a mostly dry day. Chase and hurdle courses and vulnerable parts of the cross country course protected with frost covers.

Doncaster:- Chase Good Hurdle Good. Forecast Friday temp high +3 by midday to increase to +6 overnight. 80% chance of rain overnight into Saturday.

Naas:- Yeilding (Yielding to Soft in places)

Leopardstown:- Hurdle Good (Good to yielding in places) Chase Good

So here is a race by race guide to who and what I will be looking out for.


Cheltenham 12.00 A Grade 2 4yo Triumph hurdle trial and to everyone’s surprise both JP McManus owned starlets, Defi du Seuil and Charli Parcs are declared to run. Barry Geraghty has “chosen” to ride Charli Parcs and Richard Johnson is on Defi du Seuil, no surprise as he’s trained by Philip Hobbs and the champion has ridden him in two of his four wins already. It is expected that one will run in the Triumph at the Festival and the other in the Supreme but you would have to remember that Joseph O’Brien trains a bunch of ex-Coolmore 4yo’s also for JP, the likes of Housesofparliament, Landofhopeandglory, Sword Fighter, Bhutan etc. Fascinating.

Alan King does well in this division and at this meeting. So can Rainbow Dreamer bustle up the JP pair or is he more Fred Winter (2m 4yo handicap at Cheltenham) material?

Cheltenham 12.35 A 2m 4f+ novices handicap chase and could have relevance to the last race on the Tuesday of the Festival, a 0-140 2m 5f novices handicap chase. The mark of 140 is important and with 12 of the 14 already on OR134+ this race may have more relevance on the Kim Muir (3m Hcp Chase) or something like the Betbright Chase at Kempton, so I’m looking for those staying on.

In the longer term many of these runners could be possibles for that run of big pot 2m 5f races at Cheltenham in the Autumn such as the Bet Victor and the Caspian Caviar etc. Notebook at the ready!

Cheltenham 1.10 ITV4 Here is one of those previously mentioned big pot 2m 5f races. You could make a case for most of them and unless Saphir du Rheu out classes them it will be really hard to find a winner. Many of these could run in the Brown Advisory Plate, the 2m 5f handicap chase on Festival Thursday, unless something hacks up and puts themselves in the picture for the RyanAir Chase, same day, same trip but Championship level weights contest.

Doncaster 1.25 ITV4 The Grade 2 3m River Don novice hurdle is a recognised Alfred Bartlett (championship 3m novice hurdle, Cheltenham Thursday) trial and this is a none too shabby field full of promise. Messrs Henderson, Nicholls and Hobbs run their unbeaten staying novices Give me a Copper, Constantine Bay and Strong Pursuit. No idea but so much potential going to post here for all ten runners. Better sharpen the pencil!

Naas 1.30 Grade 3 2m hurdle where more contenders for a Champion hurdle ticket line up, whilst avoiding Faugheen!! SupaSundae, Ivan Grozny and Sutton Place all have a big prize in them this season.

Cheltenham 1.45 ITV4 The Clarence House is the 2m chase transferred from the abandoned Ascot card and as Douvan dominates this division it’s a case of could Special Tiara or Top Gamble get a Festival place. Un de Sceaux is odds on and he has three Cheltenham options, as a substitute for Douvan, up in trip for the RyanAir or not at all!! It will be good to see Uxizandre back on course after 688 days off, indeed since he won the RyanAir in 2015 with a brave front running performance and was Sir AP McCoys last Festival winner!

Cheltenham 2.15 ITV4 Thistlecrack, Gold Cup favourite and long odds on here. Can Many Clouds or Smad Place find a chink in Thistlecrack’s jumping. The open ditches will be the main focus.

Naas 2.35 A Grade 3 mile novice chase where Anibale Fly will try to make up for his dismal run at Kempton over Christmas. In A Genie in a Bottle, Balko des Flos, Briar Hill, Martello Tower and Haymount he has serious opposition. Keep the 4m NH chase (Cheltenham Festival Tuesday) whilst watching, especially for the last named!

Cheltenham 2.50 ITV4 Cross Country Race. I can’t bet, just watch. Please note this is a handicap! Cantlow should win but Cause of Causes will be monitored closely, if he lines up.

Doncaster 3.05 ITV4 This Grade 2 Mares race has more sub plots than a Dick Francis novel! Vroum Vroum Mag should hack up BUT this is 2m on Good ground on a flat track! Is she a sub for Annie Power and goes for the Mares at Cheltenham or is she a sub for Faugheen and AP and goes in the Champion hurdle, what about Limini? Can’t wait to hear what Ruby Walsh has to say before and after! Gutted I had her down for the Stayers. The Nicholls trained Coillte Lass is an improver.

Cheltenham 3.25 ITV4 Absolute humdinger of a Grade 2 2m 5f novice hurdle and obviously a trial for the Neptune at the Festival over the same course and distance. BUT some of these have already got a handicap mark that could make them serious players in the Festival handicaps. In that golden band of OR137-142 are Elegant Escape, Keep in Line and Wholestone. Win this and you’re single figures for the Neptune, run on strongly and the Alfred Bartlett (3m novice hurdle) comes into play. Be in contention but beaten two out and a whole range of handicaps are on the agenda!! Big notebook at the ready!

Doncaster 3.40 ITV4 The SkyBet chase is a big pot race in its own right. 3m handicap on Good ground. Good Luck. Could be contenders for that Tuesday Cheltenham 3m handicap, more likely to serve up some hints for Aintree in April.

Cheltenham 4.00 ITV4 Fifteen go to post for the Grade 2 3m Cleeve hurdle including the 5/2 favourite for the Festival Stayers hurdle, Unowhatimeanharry, who is unbeaten in seven. But the size of this field indicates that not everybody is convinced with “Harry”! So can the likes of Ballyoptic, West Approach, Cole Harden (Cheltenham winner 2015) or even Kotkikova rattle Harry’s cage? Some trainers have used this race to give a chaser a spin here which won’t affect his chase mark with an eye on the 3m Chase, third race on Cheltenham Tuesday. No idea what young Mr Fry is up to with Whataknight but I’m watching!

Cheltenham 4.35 This is a belter of a C2 2m Cheltenham handicap hurdle. All runners currently rated OR127-132 if they won would get in a Festival handicap and that is a big incentive! Wait for Me was fourth in the County hurdle (2m Festival handicap) last march and is on OR138, not sure he would want much more. If the rain has arrived by 4pm, as I expect, take a long look at Le Rocher for whom Festival ground would be too quick. Beware David Pipe has a horse running on UK debut, Max do Brazil, off a French handicap mark of OR128.


Leopardstown 1.30 He does exist! Melon, this seasons talking horse, is due to line up in this 2m maiden hurdle. Harold Kirk, procurer of most of Willie Mullins/Rich Ricci best talent, put him up as “the one he was most looking forward to seeing”. Unraced but currently 10/1 third favourite for the Supreme hurdle at Cheltenham.

Leopardstown 2.00 A Grade 2 2m 4f novice hurdle and a stepping stone trial to Grade 1 staying novice hurdling at any Festival. Mullins runs three, with special interest to me Montalbano and the mare Let’s Dance. Plenty of solid yardsticks with the likes of Joey Sasa and Monalee. Contrast and compare with the Cheltenham 3.25 Saturday.

Leopardstown 2.30 The Grade 1 Irish Arkle chase, 2m for novices, but no Min. Racing Post ‏@RacingPost   Willie Mullins says “Min has banged a knee. Not serious & had even declared him initially this morn, but decided to err on side of caution.” Only four go to post and my bank manager will have his eagle eye on a fit again Identity Thief.

Leopardstown 3.30 At last, the return of the mighty Faugheen, fingers crossed, after over a year off the track. Nicholls Canyon and Petit Mouchoir will ensure he needs to be on his metal.

WOW! Reviewing that lot is going to be some task but loads of fun!

Now onto Saturdays Lucky 15. Give me an hour!

Lucky 15 January 26th

6.00pm Both Huntingdon and Doncaster both have morning inspections with concerns over Frost and snow (?). Fingers crossed. Clerk of the course at Doncaster is “optimistic” and it’s a cracker of a card at Huntingdon with one Ruby Walsh due to ride!

 Friday Lucky 15

Huntingdon 1.30        WINNER MASSAGOT             9/4 general

Huntingdon 3.00        CALL TO ORDER                     7/2 WH 10/3 general

Huntingdon 3.30        AWESOME ROSIE                   9/1 WH 8/1 general

Doncaster 3.55           PREMIER BOND                      5/2 general

and here’s why

 Friday Lucky 15

Huntingdon 1.30        WINNER MASSAGOT Again only four runners and it should really involve three. Winner Massagot was a solid hurdler, winning an Ascot C2, and is being brought along slowly by trainer Alan King, this being his fourth run over the larger obstacles. I liked his last run when second at Doncaster with the likes of Ma Du Fou and Hammersley Lake behind him.

I have reservations over his two opponents. Omessa Has arrived at Nicky Henderson’s yard with a big reputation but in three runs hurdling she is either taking time to acclimatise or as I suspect she just isn’t putting it all in, she’s won just 1 in 11. Theo’s Charm was second to Kruzhlinin in the Haydock “Fixed Brush”, form I like, but then second on his next two runs as well, albeit to Theinval and Robinsfirth, but I’m afraid I couldn’t rely on the horse or his trainer, Nick Gifford.

Huntingdon 3.00        CALL TO ORDER  Let’s roll the dice and put up a horse trained by Jonjo O’Neill. This horse beat For Good Measure at Cheltenham over 3m on Good ground but it wasn’t a Pertemps Qualifier. This race is and if he has any plans for the final he will need to win this and get his mark up from OR127 just to get in. Six qualify and I would expect Clondaw Cian and the Fry pair, back from chasing, to book their place. Indeed Wotzizname could be the main danger.

Huntingdon 3.30        AWESOME ROSIE Let’s see if Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson can find us another winner at a bigger price? Awesome Rosie was second at Doncaster last time to Graceful Legend who won again since and that form is good enough to be competitive here. She will enjoy the flat track, the trip and the ground. At the price she looks value.

Doncaster 3.55           PREMIER BOND Only five runners and I’m keen to take on Paul Nicholls hot pot Aux Ptits Soins. Undoubtedly a class act but just has too many questions over his jumping and I was impressed by Premier Bond at Catterick, so much so that he’s on my short list for the Cheltenham 4m NH chase. Alan King saddles Kerrow who has taken well to chasing but I don’t think he will have the pace of the principals.

Thursday Lucky 15

Terrific start then it went rapidly downhill. Those fences and hurdles and becoming a real nuisance!

Gowran Park 1.50      SHANESHILL                           5/2 general                        1st 9/4

Solid front running performance. Shaneshill has stamina in spades.

Gowran Park 2.25      WILCO’S MA CHARA              12/1 general                      10th 14/1

Couldn’t go race pace. Never competitive.

Gowran Park 3.00      PRINCE OF SCARS                  7/1 PP 6/1 general          PU 13/2CF

Jumping was never good enough to get in a rhythm. Too much too soon?

Gowran Park 3.35      GENERAL PRINCIPLE              9/2 general                        Fell 11/4

Only horse to give the winner a race until he came down three out.

Lucky 15 January 25th

5.30pm Will miss Annie Power at Cheltenham. With Fakenham frozen off and hard to see a winner at Warwick longer than 3/1, we will cast our net across the Irish Sea at the Thyestes meeting at Gowran Park.

 Thursday Lucky 15

Gowran Park 1.50      SHANESHILL                           5/2 general

Gowran Park 2.25      WILCO’S MA CHARA              12/1 general

Gowran Park 3.00      PRINCE OF SCARS                  7/1 PP 6/1 general

Gowran Park 3.35      GENERAL PRINCIPLE              9/2 general                   

and here’s why

Gowran Park 1.50      SHANESHILL Had rather hoped to see Vroum Vroum Mag here but it’s still a class field for this Grade 2 C3 Galmoy hurdle. Willie Mullins has two entered in Clondaw Warrior and Shaneshill and Ruby Walsh has sided with the former, part owned by his wife. Going against Ruby is a fairly quick way to the poor house but I think Shaneshill is a Graded horse and Clondaw Warrior is a handicapper albeit a good one! I think Shaneshill’s second to Thistlecrack is the best bit of form on display here. He’ll appreciate the better ground and he needs three miles. Obviously he’ll need to overcome his final flight fall last time not to mention Snow Falcon, the improving De Plotting Shed and the Gigginstown pair of which Milsean appeals. Thought for a long time Milsean would make a top grade 3m hurdler. However at the prices it’s Shaneshill and the ever reliable Paul Townend for me.

Gowran Park 2.25      WILCO’S MA CHARA  Donagh Myler gave Heartbreak City an excellent ride in the big handicap hurdle last Sunday, every chance at the last, just not good enough on the day. Riding here in a conditional riders handicap hurdle I think young Mr Meyler can notch up another winner on Wilco’s Ma Chara, a horse on whom he was beaten just a neck off two pounds less three runs back. On this better ground stepping up to 2m 4f should be fine. The favourite is a 4yo for JP McManus carrying no weight with winning heavy ground French form and two runs in Ireland beaten a very long way. Not for me.

Gowran Park 3.00      PRINCE OF SCARS Has he been plotted up for this race, the Thyestes? Rated OR159 over hurdles he runs in this 3m handicap chase off OR140? This will be just his fourth run over fences, second to Road to respect on debut, 3rd to Our Duke and then sixth to the same horse in the Grade 1 Lawlors Hotel novice chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival. Smart but not exceptional but he is owned by Gigginstown, trained by Gordon Elliott (he has another six of the eighteen runners!) and ridden by the seemingly unstoppable Jack Kennedy. If the ground was softer he would have been even shorter in the market and is the major concern, an opinion put forward by Eddie O’Leary. This race is usually run in bottomless ground and even Soft may be too quick for many of these! Main danger could be the in-form mare Bonny Kate.

Gowran Park 3.35      GENERAL PRINCIPLE  Mall Dini, the Cheltenham Pertemps winner last March, is 15/8 favourite to win over 2m!! He needs another lap! Mullins runs two. Ruby Walsh is on Dicosimo for Rich Ricci and turns up with form figures of FFPU9. Good Luck! The other is Great Field for JP and looks a chaser, despite going off 7/1JF for last season’s County Hurdle. Wouldn’t be surprised if he was being primed for a Punchestown handicap. Which leaves me Gordon Elliotts General Principle. He was just behind Prince of Scars on debut, second to Bellow Mome and then fifth when he didn’t stay, upped in trip. He jumps, two miles is his trip and the man Kennedy rides!

Wednesday Lucky 15

Getting round is an achievement at the moment!

Ludlow 1.45                OXWICH BAY                          13/8 general                      2nd 15/8F

Annoyingly beaten by the Henderson horse who looked useful in winning by a cosy length.

Ludlow 2.15                AN POC AR BUILE                  14/1 general                      3rd 16/1

The form will read quite well but don’t look too closely! Nine ran, two pulled up, two fell, two unseated and he was beaten a nose and a very, very long distance!

Ludlow 2.50                SHAMBOUGG                         6/1 general                        Fell 16/1??

Drifted like a barge and fell at the third!

Ludlow 3.25                BIG WINDMILL                       6/1 PP 11/2 WH               UR 4/1

Guess what? Stumbled and unseated at the third!


Here’s a few horses you may be interested in

Ben Linfoot Weights and MeasuresWaiting Patiently’s win was another boost to the form of Venetia Williams’ Burtons Well, who was beaten seven lengths by Jefferson’s charge getting 3lb at Sedgefield in late November. Burtons Well has won subsequently at Uttoxeter off 129, where he beat Pistol Park, giving him 1lb, by a length-and-a-quarter on New Year’s Eve. Pistol Park was second to Ubaltique at Haydock on Saturday and is now up to 132, so the improving Burtons Well could certainly be of interest off 136 in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday. Williams has an incredible recent record in the Timeform race, even though she hasn’t won it, as in the last five renewals she’s had a placed runner every year, thanks to three seconds and two thirds. The early 8/1 available looks a good price given he’s highly likely to turn up.”


January 25, 2017 by @SportingSermon “So what do we know about Melon? The answer is, not a great deal. A four year old gelding who has run just four times on the flat over in France. This huge frame of a horse seems to really find his stride towards the end of the race, leading us to think he’ll relish the step up in trip tomorrow. Melon is huge and I mean huge, given his size there should be little concern about the transition from the flat to hurdles, and potentially chasing further down the line dependant on his performance this season.”


Joseph O’Brien Irish Independent Johnny Ward 25/01/2017Bhutan hadn’t run on the Flat for a long time when he came to me. “He was a good bit behind the others. He’ll be entered in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. I don’t know if he’ll run. He could have gone for a maiden in Naas as well but it doesn’t really make sense to win a maiden. Run in a Grade One and in a worst-case scenario you’re a novice with a much better programme next season, or you might go in the Fred Winter. The programme doesn’t encourage you to win a maiden hurdle. I doubt Bhutan will go (to Cheltenham) this season; it’d surprise me if he did as it’s a bit late now.”

Willie Mullins will use the Cheltenham Festival 2017 as a prep for Punchestown.


It is my personal belief Willie Mullins the man has one major aim for this current National Hunt season and that is to retain his Irish champion trainer’s title. It is important because of the O’Leary/Gigginstown issues early in the season and Willie needs to show he is still No.1. It is important for Vautour and what he could have been. It is important that owners such as Wylie and Ricci and their moneyed ilk don’t look towards Elliott, de Bromhead and the rest. From the start Mullins was about a month behind because he allegedly couldn’t get his top horses on the grass gallops and into fast work. So with Elliot turning the screw in the race for the title I believe Mullins could be counting back from Punchestown instead this season to ensure he can maximise his winnings there.

Whatever turns up to run at Cheltenham in whatever race will be even better six weeks later, in the “right” race and primed to run the race of their lives. Mullins doesn’t have much in the novice hurdle division currently and he could be mob handed at Cheltenham as he tries to find an A team for Punchestown.

So the fact we haven’t seen the likes of Faugheen, Limini and Melon yet may not concern their trainer as much as it does the Cheltenham Fez (sic) fanboys!

Lucky 15 January 24th

6.15pm We’ll take a stab at Ludlow for the Lucky 15. At Catterick Jaleo v Neitszche is an interesting clash in the C3 2m hurdle. Why oh why are the Skeltons running Two Taffs in the novice chase (1/4F)? Please don’t muck up that mark of OR139 (Chelt. Tuesday Nov. Hcp!). Meanwhile at Fairyhouse keep an eye on Chambord Du Lys in the mare’s maiden hurdle at 12.45.

Wednesday Lucky 15

Ludlow 1.45                OXWICH BAY                          13/8 general

Ludlow 2.15                AN POC AR BUILE                  14/1 general

Ludlow 2.50                SHAMBOUGG                         6/1 general

Ludlow 3.25                BIG WINDMILL                       6/1 PP 11/2 WH                          

and here’s why

Ludlow 1.45                OXWICH BAY              Let’s try to get the ticket started with a shortie. Simply he has the best form in the book. Last time out on hurdling debut at Ffos Las his third to Robinshill (now rated 141) reads well in the context of this race. Only seen once last season but that was in a C2 Bumper at Newbury suggesting he had been showing something at home. He had his sights lowered this season and won his bumper at Sedgefield. This half-brother of progressive chaser Pobbles Bay can open his hurdling account against some moderate inexperienced horses, especially the Henderson entry, and keep the Ewan Williams bandwagon rolling along.

Ludlow 2.15                AN POC AR BUILE      Eclectic collection of nine runners for this C4 3m 1f+ handicap chase. Hardly any have form over the trip, they range in age from 6 to 12, three of them pulled up last time, you get my drift? Favourite, Winged Crusader, doesn’t appeal as he won over shorter, fell the time before and he is up 10lbs. So I’m taking a big chance on the bottom weight to once again be coaxed home by the excellent Paul Moloney. An Poc ar Buile has only tried the trip in much better company and as an 8yo could still have improvement to come.

Ludlow 2.50                SHAMBOUGG             After winning his bumper at Warwick a year ago I would guess that trainer Philip Hobbs hadn’t earmarked a C4 3m Amateur Riders handicap at Ludlow! But after three lacklustre runs in reasonable novice hurdles he has a mark of just OR108 and that’s where Shambougg is right now. He wears first time blinkers’s and is ridden by Mr N.Lawton (7) who I know nothing about (I am looking!). It wouldn’t take too big a leap of faith to see Shambougg being competitive. The favourite is in form but a son of Daylami over 3m?

Ludlow 3.25                BIG WINDMILL           I love these novice limited handicaps where prospective chasers can run off their hurdle mark on their first go at chasing! One man who certainly farms these is Tom George with the assistance of the stable jockey and excellent horseman, Adrian Heskin. Big Windmill is a son of Stowaway and is already an Irish PtP winner and starts his chasing off just OR112 and his hurdling exploits suggest the basic 2m on some better ground, Good to Soft, will be fine.


Tuesday Lucky 15

OK if you got on early, not so clever if you didn’t with just the one winner.

Wetherby 2.00                       CAPTAIN MOWBRAY             9/2 general                        3rd 7/4F

Every chance 3 out. Slow horse, needs a fence.

Wetherby 2.30                       FINGERONTHESWITCH          10/3 PP 11/4 general     1st 13/8F

Outclassed these. In first time cheek-pieces didn’t know he had a race.

Wetherby 3.00                       ASK PADDY                             7/1 general                        5th 6/1

Travelled fine for three parts of the race, went out like a like a light at top of home straight.

Wetherby 4.00                       ROBBING THE PREY               3/1 general                        Fell 7/2

Disastrous error at first on far side, never competitive afterwards. Eventually fell at last. Fair play to the Pipe team despite looking immature the winner, Mr Big Shot, is a monster of horse. Time and a fence and he could be special.

Adam Norman, Paddock Watcher, “The last wasn’t a great maiden hurdle and Mr Big Shot didn’t need to be very good to take it. The huge animal can clearly gallop but the hurdles were getting in the way, and he could be one to take on in a stiffer contest as he’ll only fulfil his potential when sent chasing.”

Lucky 15 January 23rd Part 2 update

Morning boys and girls. Just who is following this blog? I put up four for the Lucky 15 last night at 6pm and every one has been smashed in the market!!

Tuesday Lucky 15

Wetherby 2.00                       CAPTAIN MOWBRAY              9/2 general   NOW 5/2

Wetherby 2.30                       FINGERONTHESWITCH         10/3 PP 11/4 general   NOW 9/4

Wetherby 3.00                       ASK PADDY                                7/1 general   NOW 11/4

Wetherby 4.00                       ROBBING THE PREY               3/1 general   NOW 5/2

(There is a 10p in the £ rule 4 on Ask Paddy.)

You just have to bet on line the night before with Guaranteed Best Odds!!  Let’s hope they all run to expectations.

Currently working on SkyBET Ante post blog, Cheltenham handicappers and trying to finish my Mullins Mares (Girlpower) essay whilst trying to contain my excitement of the racing from the Thestes card at Gowran on Thursday through Huntingdon, Doncaster and Cheltenham to Leopardstown on Sunday!! Check the entries out.