Tuesday 6pm Rich Ricci expands on his misfortune in stoic manner on his BetBright blog which I’ve included after the winning Lucky info along with a brief resume of todays Paul Nicholls press day. Excellent racing at Huntingdon and Thurles on Thursday, Exeter and an extremely high class card at Leopardstown on Sunday and on Saturday we have Warwick, Naas and Newbury has the Betfair Hurdle and possibly Native River v Bristol de Mai in the Denman and Altior v Fox Norton in the 2m Game Spirit!! Only really Exeter, Kempton and Gowran left for Cheltenham clues before the Festival itself! Back to more mundane matters.
Wednesday Lucky 15
Carlisle 2.20 TURTLE WATCH 5/1 Coral 9/2 general
Ludlow 2.40 ON DEMAND 11/2 Coral 5/1 general
Ludlow 3.10 ICING ON THE CAKE 9/2 general
Carlisle 4.30 RIGADINE DE BEAUCHENE 8/1 WH and BetFred
and here’s why
Carlisle 2.20 TURTLE WATCH Owned by the Anderson-Greens and trained by Rose Dobbin, not a usual combination, who took over this horse from Jim Goldie in the summer. He has winning course form over hurdles on heavy ground and seems to be getting his act together over fences and with this being his third attempt with a clear round he should go close. Have to take on Nine Altars who we put up last time at Catterick but he just wouldn’t go past.
Ludlow 2.40 ON DEMAND Right hotch-potch in this C3 mares handicap hurdle over 2m 5f. Still Believing and Timons Tara have been chasing, the top two in the handicap look completely out of form, Lutece isn’t good enough which leaves On Demand, a Wincanton specialist, and Tara View, the improver going for a four timer and her third on the bounce here at Ludlow! On Demands 3rd at Cheltenham in a C2 handicap is the strongest piece of form and at the prices she is the selection. I like the Tizzard/Tom O’Brien combination, 11 from 71 this season.
Ludlow 3.10 ICING ON THE CAKE At the time I thought he rather fell in but if you take the selections victory at Newbury over Knockgraffon on face value it’s strong. Uhlan Bute and Mad Jack Mytton have been to some pretty big gigs but seem to be content to let someone else win. Pull the Chord hasn’t got his act together over fences and is probably best at Exeter, Gone Too Far and Granville Island are exposed but could spring back to life, Pougne Bobbi is inexperienced etc. etc. So Icing on the Cake looks the one, indeed his dance card has form behind the quality of OO Seven, Premier Bond and Move with the times. Would be delighted to see Oliver Sherwood and Leighton Aspell back in the winners enclosure.
Carlisle 4.30 RIGADINE DE BEAUCHENE You are going to have stamina in spades to win this 3m2f C3 handicap chase at Carlisle on chewed up soft ground! Understandable that Alfie Spinner is favourite for the in-form Kerry Lee but he won less than three weeks ago having been off for over ten months and lugging 11st 12lb round won’t be easy! I really wanted to put up the very talented mare Hesther Flemen who travelled really well for a long way after over a year off but bounce etc. so the lucky pin has landed on 12yo Rigadin de Beauchene who I know will stay, will handle the ground, it’s just the sort of race Venetia Williams specialises in and his last time out sixth to One for Arthur in the Betfred Classic was solid.
Tuesday Lucky 15
Yippee another profitable day with two winners and a non-runner and the other one was 3rd! What a cracking price on Wild West Wind who was 13/8 overnight and 11/4 on the off. Don’t you just love guaranteed prices! To a £1 unit, £15 staked, a return of £35.80.
Hereford 2.40 GARDINERS HILL 15/8F 1st
Held up, ridden patiently, swept to front on home turn, idled on run in and all out in the end.
Market Rasen 2.50 KAYF ADVENTURE Non Runner
Market Rasen 3.25 AWESOME ROSIE 13/2 3rd
Every chance, couldn’t go with the front two from two out.
Hereford 4.20 WILD WEST WIND 11/4 1st
Peach of a ride from Adrian Heskin. Despite the drift in the market he lobbed along just off the pace on the wide outside, asked him turning for home and won well. When he steps up in grade would like to see him go left handed as he did jump to his left. Interesting to where he does line up next?
Two reports of interest from good old Twitter!
Betbright Blog 7th February Rich Ricci Yesterday’s news wasn’t brilliant, that’s for sure. In any normal year, to lose either Faugheen or Min from your Cheltenham team would be hard to take. But to lose both – and on the back of what has been an attritional few weeks – was particularly galling. Faugheen has been off the track since routing his rivals in last year’s Irish Champion Hurdle As I said here last week I’m a next-trade kind of guy and you’ve got to make the most of what you have. Right now we’ve got to figure out what to do with the rest of the season and the only one we have on the team with a poor prognosis in terms of the rest of the campaign is Annie Power. Both Faugheen and Min should be able to compete later in the spring, so when you look at the bright side, yesterday’s bolt from the blue is just really bad news in a Cheltenham Festival context, no worse than that.
In Faugheen’s case, given the race we wanted him to line up for at Cheltenham would have been so competitive, you would really want to be getting stuck into him in training now, and that isn’t possible. Likewise with Min.
It just goes to show with racehorses, so wonderful and so fragile, anything can happen.
It’s funny, before I spoke to Willie yesterday and got the bad news, I had been earlier saying to him that I had the feeling we would go through all this emotion of getting Faugheen ready in time for Cheltenham in a right hurry, and then find out the day before the Champion Hurdle that he wouldn’t make it! It all happened a bit sooner than I feared. I know that so much went right for us last year and we had a stunning Cheltenham. But we have also lost over a dozen horses in the past 12 months so we’ve had a really tough run of it injury-wise too. When that happens you’ve got to ask yourself some hard questions. Does this happen to everybody or is it just our run of bad luck?For now we still have plenty to look forward to and I’ll be spending the next few weeks trying to figure out with Willie the best races for my horses at Cheltenham.
Douvan will hopefully lead the team and obviously goes there with a big shout. But there are no shoo-ins at Cheltenham and even though we don’t know yet who will take him on, I think for a number of reasons he will face the biggest test of his career there. It’s the instinct of many that his least impressive performances have been at Cheltenham. That might sound harsh given how impressive he was in the Supreme Novices and the Arkle, but he has set the bar pretty high with everything he has done. I don’t know if those arguments are right and whether the track or the likely good ground take a percentage from him, but either way you couldn’t be anything but incredibly excited about him lining up next month.
So Douvan goes there with a great chance and we have others too. Getabird looks like he could go very close in the Champion Bumper; Vroum Vroum Mag has lots of options and will be competitive in whatever race she runs in; Limini is a much stronger mare than last year and is in good form but also has not run since Punchestown last year; and Let’s Dance would have a very good chance in any of the novice races she is entered in. I think our novice hurdle team is one of quantity over quality and while our novice chase division has lost Min, Royal Caviar and hopefully American Tom are no back numbers and deserve to take their chances. All in all, no matter what ways you move the chess pieces around, there’s enough to keep the fire going.
I notice one of my horses, Chacun Pour Soi, has come in for support for the Martin Pipe Conditionals hurdle on the final day of the festival and he is a horse we like a lot. He has already won his hurdle in France last season so is not a novice anymore, and it was just a sense that we would be sending him over fences too young if we took that decision this winter. We’ve done that only once before – and that was Djakadam – and so I’m more than happy to sit it out and wait for him. The one thing I’d say to those thinking about backing him for Cheltenham though, is that he is a horse for the future and while he could still turn up for the festival it would be a big ask for him to do so first time out for us.
Sportinglife.com Paul Nicholls: Media day round-up February 7 2017, 13:43
Get an all-in-one round-up from Paul Nicholls’ media day, where he gave us the latest on several members of his team.
Arpege D’Alene The idea with (Arpege D’Alene) is to go to Ascot for the Reynoldstown and then he goes to the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival. The way he stays four miles will suit him really, really well. My view with him has always been to go to Reynoldstown as a prep for Cheltenham, then Cheltenham and the Scottish National – almost do what we did with Vicente did last year. One thing that this horse will do is gallop and stay for ever and he’s been crying out for a real trip. That’s unless it’s very, very soft as he doesn’t want it bottomless but the forecast now is for 10 days or so of better weather which would be handy. Cheltenham-wise, the four-miler has been the target from the start and Will Biddick will ride.
Dodging Bullets He ran in (Game Spirit) last year but is obviously not the horse he was. Altior is the one to beat but old Dodge always runs well. He’s a funny horse because he did well over hurdles but he was never a star and the first year he went chasing he was okay, ran fourth in the Arkle, but the year after that he ended up winning those three Grade Ones, winning the Champion Chase and got to a level that he’s not achieved before or since. Sometimes horses do do that. He looks great at the moment but he’s obviously not quite what he was. He’ll run on Saturday because he’s hard to place now and then I suspect at Cheltenham he’ll end up running in the Grand Annual, dropping back to a handicap.
Dynamite Dollars He runs in the bumper on Saturday. He’s had two runs in bumpers. He was third on his debut at Taunton when it was a bit of a farce of a race, they sprinted literally over a furlong, then he ran at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and was only beaten a length and a half by two fillies who weren’t penalised. That was a mile six and he ran on really well that day and wants two miles which he gets on Saturday. He’s by Buck’s Boum who is Big Buck’s full brother and a sire I like. He’ll be a great novice hurdler next season but two miles on Saturday will suit him well. He’ll run well at the weekend. He’s not a horse who we’re really looking to going to the Cheltenham Bumper with and I suspect if he runs well this weekend, he’ll be put away and go novice hurdling next year. He’s a nice young horse.
Le Mercurey Le Mercurey is always better off in a small field on a flat track. He ran very well at Aintree before Christmas when beaten by Many Clouds. We just ran him a little bit negatively and Sean [Bowen] thought if we’d taken Many Clouds on we would have finished a lot closer to him. He’s the sort of horse who can spring a surprise. He beat Bristol De Mai at Ayr last spring with blinkers on first time and he goes well fresh. He is capable of running to a very high level and he can be a little bit in and out. The bigger field at Ascot last time didn’t suit him but a small field on Saturday, three miles and a flat track will suit him well. On form we’re playing for third place money but he is capable of running above himself in a small field on a flat track.
Movewiththetimes At Cheltenham he was beaten three and a half lengths by Moon Racer and he couldn’t have got in any more trouble if he tried. It was one of those races where they all got in a muddle turning in, some went left, some went right but it was a bit of a funny result really. He got an awful run. He got blocked and stopped and the race never worked out, he ran a bit keen. He then went to Wincanton and won again and he’s had a nice break since then. He’s got a mark of 136. Who knows if that’s good bad or indifferent because he hasn’t run since but if you’ve got a novice on a mark like that you’d hope to think they’ll progress further than that. It’s a hard job running in a race like that for a horse like him because he hasn’t got the experience and it’s a good fast, furious gallop so they have to be at their very best jumping wise so you’re at a disadvantage experience wise but with a horse like this who knows where he might end up. One thing is sure, he’s going to be a really smart chaser in time, we like him a lot.
Silviniaco Conti Silviniaco Conti is not going make it to the Ascot Chase as he’s not quite right. He is all right, though, and he will run again this season. We will possibly aim him at Aintree as he needs a bit of decent ground. He’s not easy to keep right nowadays. Next weekend will come too quick and he needs a month or two to get his condition on. He definitely wont go to Cheltenham, he will go to Aintree, if anywhere.
Vibrato Valtat He’d obviously be an outsider (in the Ascot Chase) but I can just see the race cutting up. He had a breathing operation after his run before Christmas and then came back at Kempton and ran very, very well. He always runs well and always picks up good prize money and he’s in no man’s land. I could run him on Saturday at Warwick in a handicap where he’d have 11-12 but you’re balancing running against Grade One horses where you’re badly in at the weights or running in handicaps off top-weight. He’s done well, a tough genuine horse who always gives us a bit of fun and he’s worth running in those big races.
Zubayr He was only beaten a length and a half by Footpad which is good form. He would have been second in the Elite Hurdle [but for falling]. He ran a good race but was just flat out all the way and just paid the price at the last. Then he was fifth at Sandown under 11-12 and wasn’t beaten that far but he was nowhere near his best and he’s not the biggest horse to be carrying 11-12. He’s had a nice break since then and I just think he’s a horse who will be better in the spring; as the spring improves he’s going to get better. Last year he surprised us a little bit by winning the Adonis at Kempton, he was dropped right out last, they went quick and he stayed on strongly. We haven’t actually ridden him like that since then and I think that’s what we might have to do on Saturday. He’s crying out for a real fast run handicap where we can just drop him in a little bit. He did a nice piece of work with Movewithetimes last week, could hardly split them, and the race might just suit him on Saturday. I know he’s a lot better now than when was he went Sandown.