Sunday Lucky 15
Punchestown 2.00 PRESENTING PERCY 8/1 general
Taunton 3.50 VERNI 13/8 BF & Lad
Punchestown 4.00 BAIE DES ILES 7/1 WH 6/1 general
Musselburgh 4.10 CLONDAW KAEMPFER 6/1 general
and here’s why
Punchestown 2.00 PRESENTING PERCY Plenty in this field who may have one eye on the Pertemps Final itself but the likes of Oscar Sam (N/R) and Exactoris may prefer to be a running on 4th/5th/6th (??) whereas Presenting Percy off OR129 (irish) may need to win this just to be sure of getting in the field. Had expected Davy Russell to ride but he would struggle to do 10st 5lbs and David Mullins is not a bad substitute. Could see this horse backed heavily on Sunday as there have been strong smoke signals from the same yard that houses Mall Dini, winner of the Final itself last season!
Taunton 3.50 VERNI Let’s keep the Hobbs/Johnson lovefest going as I think Verni is thrown into this race, one of those ridiculous “seniors 8yo+” handicap hurdles. The Rooneys have always owned him but he was with James Ewart originally running in three bumpers. Verni may be an 8yo but this is only his fifth try over hurdles, goes “well” in soft ground and he has form figures of 3112 and that second was at Haydock when the only one to give the progressive Clyne a race. Never expected to find an improver in a “senior” race!
Richard Johnson Betway Friday February 3 I’m off to Taunton for four rides on Sunday. Hopefully the ground will be okay, as it’s likely to be better there than most courses. The one I’m most looking forward to is Verni in the handicap hurdle (3.50pm). He’s lightly-raced and the form of his second to Clyne at Haydock in November has been franked a number of times. He should appreciate the slightly better ground and is definitely going the right way.
Punchestown 4.00 BAIE DES ILES Love the trainer, Gavin Cromwell, who laid out this mare for the Welsh National to find the ground was unseasonably good and a 6yo carrying 11st 12lb jumped and galloped them silly! This race is just a couple of furlongs shorter but you will certainly be able to get your toe in with the ground forecast to be Soft to Heavy. Regular pilot Ms Katie Walsh is in the saddle again trying to go one better than last year when they were a 6l second to Bonny Kate who they meet here on the same terms. However Bonny Kate only ran ten days ago when a gruelling third to Champagne West in the Thyestes at Gowran Park.
Musselburgh 4.10 CLONDAW KAEMPFER Big things were promised by Clondaw Kaempfer in his younger days that never really materialised although he has twice run midfield in the Coral Cup at the Festival. Big and gangly, immature and consistent, really good on his day but this season he seems to have got his act together being placed behind Messira des Obeaux and Florrie Boy before being stepped up to 3m on good ground here at Musselburgh where he jumped, travelled and quickened in beating Arthurs Secret. Raised just 3lb he could be well in off just OR131 in this Pertemps qualifier with plenty question marks over those at the top of the handicap who may just be happy to qualify, finish in the top six, whereas a win here for the selection and he could be back at Cheltenham with a shot at the Pertemps Final which is just the sort of boost his trainer, a reincarnate Donald McCain, could do with!
Some bits from yesterday and Noel Meade and Neil Mulholland speak to the press.
Dan Skelton Coral blog Sat. Feb. 4th
“2.45 Wetherby – Captain Chaos ran third last time out in a Listed race at Warwick behind two good horses in American and Champers On Ice. We chased the winner which probably cost us second but we are there to win these races. This is Grade Two so it is another good race. I want to see him go and run as well as he has done in his opening two starts over fences. Obviously I’d love to see him win the race, however he may well be a horse who is better suited to handicaps so we may end up going down that road.”
“3.20 Wetherby – Sam Red I fancied this horse for the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton but in hindsight, it looks like he needed further in trip. He is a very genuine horse who jumps nicely. I think the step up in distance will suit him nicely so he has to have a fair chance.”
“3.45 Musselburgh – Optimus Prime This race has always been on our minds since he ran at Huntingdown. I think the track will suit him and the ground will be ideal. I wish he did not have top weight but that is the make-up of the race. Bridget helps out a little bit as we can take three pounds off him. We are committed to running him and hopefully he will go well.”
“Sunday 1.50 Taunton – Mohaayed He’s top rated in the race as he comes into this on the back of two good runs. He finished second to Elgin at Kempton and then was fourth in the Grade Two hurdle which was won by Neon Wolf. He didn’t quite the jump the third hurdle from home very well on his last start and it got away from him from there. This is a significant step down in class though so hopefully he can go in.”
Top Notch wins Scilly Isles
Jockey Daryl Jacob, who was winning the race for a third consecutive year, said: “It was a great performance. That was a real test for him. He’s not the biggest in the world but he makes up for it with his heart. He deserves it. He’s very, very consistent and he always tries his heart out. This was a big step and it told us a lot.”
Henderson said: “This is a real favourite. He’s nearer a pet than a racehorse. He came as a juvenile hurdler and I thought that was all he ever would be. He had a good year last year. He won the Morebattle (Kelso) and was fifth in the Champion (Hurdle) and had nowhere to go so we tried him over a fence. He was beaten first time out (over fences). Then we found him two lovely, easy races and you could see him grow in stature and confidence. Daryl says the two and a half miles suits him well. It will probably be the JLT he’ll go for at Cheltenham.”
NOEL MEADE TALKING TRAINERS with Dave Kenna Sat Feb.4th
A GENIE IN ABOTTLE 6yo b g (63212) Beneficial – Erkindale Miss Gigginstown House Stud
He just got touched off on Saturday. He ran a real good race at Naas and look, he was beaten by a good horse. We were disappointed to get beaten and he is now up to 146. Our horse will go for the four-miler at Cheltenham. He won a point-to-point on good ground and racing on soft ground suits him as it slows the rest of them down. I am sure over four miles, good ground will be fine for him and he won’t run again before Cheltenham. I’d say he’ll have an entry in the Irish National.
BEL AMI DE SIVOLA 6yo b g (1115) Network – Notting Hill Gigginstown House Stud
He has won three for us this season but he ran very badly on heavy ground at Naas. I was very disappointed with him and Sean was adamant that he couldn’t handle the ground that day. We skipped last Sunday with him and he’ll run again in another novice on better ground. He won’t go to Cheltenham, two and a half on good ground will be fine for him and we’ll aim him at Fairyhouse and Punchestown. He is one to really look forward to over fences.
BONNY KATE 7yo ch m (U2111P-633) Beneficial – Peppardstown Mrs Patricia Hunt
She ran well in the Troytown and the Thyestes. The ground wasn’t soft enough for her at Gowran, but the winner was very good and I don’t think she’d have beaten him on heavier ground. The plan has always been the Irish National but she only scraped into the Thyestes so I’d say she’ll have to win another one to make the cut. She wants very soft ground and extreme distances so we’ll look at the Eider Chase at Newcastle for her. I’ll make an entry for her in the Kim Muir and the Midlands National, but I’d say Uttoxeter is more likely than Cheltenham.
DISKO 6yo gr g (1/221-6133) Martaline – Nikos Royale Gigginstown House Stud
He bounced back with a real good run at Christmas after that bad run at Punchestown. He was only beaten a length and he was running them down again at the line. I think he’ll run again at Leopardstown in the Moriarty and if that goes alright, he’ll go for the RSA or the JLT. He never got a clear run over hurdles but he has been good this year. He jumped great at Christmas time and, while he looked a sharp horse last year, I always felt that that he’d appreciate a trip. I’d imagine that he will remain in novice chases this season.
ICE COLD SOUL 7yo b g (5741-01) Stowaway – Western Whisper Gigginstown House Stud
We were delighted with him after he won at Leopardstown. He went up 6lbs and we’ll see what the English handicapper will do. He’ll go for the County or the Coral Cup. He was pin-fired after Christmas last year and he is a miracle horse really. He comes from a good family and is the most beautiful looking horse as well. Was great to win that race with him and he won’t run again before Cheltenham.
JOEY SASA 8yo br b (112213) Winged Love – Brescia E Duignan & Bernard Woods
He was lucky to stand up after he made a terrible mistake down the back straight in the graded novice hurdle at Leopardstown last Sunday. He ran a good race considering, but he didn’t really finish out his race and, to me, it looked as if he if he didn’t stay. He has done well for us this season and we might drop him back in trip and go for the Deloitte. Perhaps a strongly run two miles will suit him well. He is in the Supreme at Cheltenham. He could be entered in the County Hurdle and we’ll see how he is in the next week or so. You’d imagine that he will go chasing next season.
MOULIN A VENT 5yo gr g (31214) Sagamix – Bahia Blanca Mrs Patricia Hunt
He is one of my favourite horses in the yard. I think he is a very good horse and he stays really well. I think three miles will suit him. He is in the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett and I’d say the latter is the more likely race that he’ll run in. We’ll see, we took it easy on him in January and I am just starting to build him back up again. He jumped terrible at Naas but we have done a lot of work on him since, we have been loose schooling him and that’s gone well. He’s a horse that I like a lot and the ground isn’t really an issue for him. The plan at is to aim him at one of the novice hurdles at Cheltenham and we’ll decide a bit closer to the time as to which race he’ll run in.
RED JACK 4yo b g (1) Mahler – Hollygrove Bonnie John P McManus
JP bought him after he won at Naas. He won very well and the form held up well when the second won well the other day at Leopardstown. We fancied him so well that we thought he’d win but when I got to Naas, everyone else seemed to fancy theirs as well. He is just a very good horse, he’ll go for the Goffs Bumper at Fairyhouse and, depending on how that goes, he could end up going for the Champion Bumper at Punchestown. He was bought last June and everything just came very easy to him from the word go. I remember I told Johnny Moore not to let him come off the bridle on his final piece of work before he ran at Naas. He ended up coming up the outside the rest of the horses that day and I said to him after the work, that he wasn’t to come off the bridle. Johnny said back to me that he didn’t and that I could go anywhere that I liked with him!
ROAD TO RICHES 10yo b g (212113/31232-FP28) Gamut – Bellora Gigginstown House Stud
I was delighted with him at Leopardstown and it was a bit of a rush to get him there. He came out of the Lexus in great form and he’ll go back to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup. He hasn’t done a lot of racing over the last couple of years, but he is 10 now and you just hope that he retains plenty of ability. He has been placed in a Gold Cup and a Ryanair at Cheltenham and, assuming he runs well at Leopardstown, he will go back to Cheltenham for another crack at the Gold Cup. He is in the English National, but I’d imagine that it’s very unlikely that he’ll go there. He has come on since Christmas time – he had an operation on his back and he looks great and is in very good form.
ROAD TO RESPECT 6yo ch g (223135-01432) Gamut Lora Lady Gigginstown House Stud
I like this horse. He has been running well all season. I fancied him in the Drinmore and I thought turning for home that he was going to win, but between the last two fences, he just didn’t see it out. He has been beaten twice over shorter trips and Eoin Griffin, who had him last year, said that he wants a trip. He will run over a trip the next day and he might go to Navan for the Ten Up. He is entered in the good novice races at Cheltenham but he’d have to win beforehand to justify travelling over there.
SNOW FALCON 7yo b g (15F1-11F32) Presenting – Flocon De Neige Ms Patricia Hunt
He ran a hell of a good race at Gowran. He gave Shaneshill 5lb that day and he finished out his race very well but the ground was just a bit tacky for him. The English style of racing really suits him where they go a real good gallop. He was still travelling when he came down at Newbury at the third last in the Long Walk Hurdle. His jumping has been an issue and that stems from little problems that he has had with his back. We do a lot of work on his back and at Newbury he was feeling really well and he was letting fly at his hurdles and then he tipped up. He’ll go straight to Cheltenham for the Stayers Hurdle and I think he goes there a contender.
TULSA JACK 8yo b g (1P58-F35146P) Urban Ocean – Jessica’s Pet Grand Alliance Racing Club
He is a summer stayer. We gave him a bit of time off over the winter and he might be entered in those good staying races in England. He will have an entry in the Irish National and I suppose something like the Scottish National is an option as well.
Sat. 4th Feb.Stable Talk with Neil Mulholland
It was a mixed weekend for our runners, with the highlight coming on Sunday as Solighoster won well at Fontwell Park on his first start over hurdles. It didn’t look the strongest novice hurdle on paper but he could hardly have done it any better so we have to be delighted with his performance. His jumping was very professional which is always a positive sign, and although he will need to continue to improve, we have given him entries for both the Supreme and Neptune this week.
It wasn’t all good news over the weekend as Southfield Royale failed to get involved at the business end of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster. It was a tough ask for him on his first start of the season, but we will look to ride him more positively next time out which should help his chances of being competitive.
We were disappointed that Oscars Boss was only 2nd on debut for us in the maiden hurdle at Plumpton on Monday. Lots of people seem to fancy him so it was a shame to see him beaten, but he should improve for the experience next time out and in time he will want further.
On a better note, we enjoyed a terrific double at Lingfield on Tuesday with Matrow’s Lady and Molly Carew giving us winners 80 and 81 over jumps for the season. A century of winners for the national hunt campaign would be a major landmark, so we will be working hard to get there this winter. Matrow’s Lady won the handicap chase in excellent fashion after a long lay-off, whilst Molly Carew claimed the mares’ novices’ hurdle after travelling like a dream. Molly Carew has been settling better in her races which has been the key to her improvement, and unlike many I wasn’t surprised she picked up the win. Runasimi River won her bumper in good style at Hereford on Wednesday, and she is one that will improve again for the experience. It probably wasn’t the deepest of races, but for a baby she did it well so we were pleased with her performance.
Looking ahead to the weekend, we send a team of three horses north of the border to Musselburgh for their two-day fixture.
Cesar Et Roaslie disappointed last time out but we put a first-time tongue-tie on him this weekend, so hopefully he can be pushing for some place money in the maiden hurdle on Saturday. Whispering Storm was pulled up on debut for us last time out, but he works well at home so we are hopeful of a good performance from him later, on the same card.
We are happy with Peter The Mayo Man after his mid-winter break so hopefully he can perform well in the Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle on Sunday. He is another one with entries for both the Supreme and the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, so hopefully we will find out more about him this weekend.
Finally, we also have a couple in at Taunton on Sunday with Oscarteea and Cor Wot An Apple set to head to one of our local tracks. Oscarteea ran a solid race last time out, so if he can improve a little bit he might be able to trouble the judge in the handicap hurdle. Cor Wot An Apple wouldn’t want too much rain ahead of the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle, but he is a horse we hope can get his head in front at some point in the future.