Monday 5pm Nothing special in the jump action tomorrow although I believe the Grand National weights are out tomorrow and there may be some clues to horses running in the Haydock National trial 3m 4f+ this Saturday and the 4m Eider Chase seven days later at Newcastle. I would like to put up an ante Post piece on both races along with the 3m Betbright (old Racing Post!!) Chase at Kempton on the same Saturday as the Eider.
Only race of any interest during the week is the first at Clonmel on Thursday when hopefully Invitation Only will put the smile back on Willie Mullins face by laying down a serious marker for the 2m 5f Neptune hurdle at Cheltenham. Possible opponents include stablemate Bravissimo and from the Elliott yard the OR147 rated Tombstone.
Tuesday Lucky 15
Fontwell 3.00 THE GEEGEEZ GEEGEE 11/4 general
Ayr 3.20 OSCARS PROSPECT 2/1 PP 15/8 general
Fontwell 3.30 CASH AGAIN 3/1 general
Ayr 4.20 NO NO MAC 10/1 WH 8/1 general
and here’s why
Fontwell 3.00 THE GEEGEEZ GEEGEE On a day I’m struggling to spot stand out winners TGG caught my eye. The horse can win off a mark of just OR99 in this lowly grade and I’m hoping the good form of the Honeyball yard with a buzzing Aidan Coleman in the saddle.
Exeter 2.50 OSCARS PROSPECT This race looks odd with the selection being a 5yo and all his opponents are twice his age! 1 x 14, 1 x 12, 1 x 11 and 3x 10yo’s. The pensioners are in reasonable form but some will need to run a career best to win here whereas the selection kept on over 2m 6f and this 3m at Ayr should be fine from the bottom of the handicap. Jockey Joe Colliver will be keener than many as he tries to re-build his career after a naïve error saw him have a brief holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure!
Fontwell 3.30 CASH AGAIN I’ll be hoping that the 6lbs the selection receives from the two penalised previous winners in this novice hurdle will be sufficient to see Sam T-D bring this JP owned son of Great Pretender home first for his boss, Paul Nicholls. Cash Again is steadily improving, he sttled better last time when fourth to Gayebury at Ffos Las and these look the conditions to get off the mark.
Ayr 4.20 NO NO MAC Really surprised to see that Charlie Longsdon has let this one go. Upcoming Scottish trainer Ian Duncan has him now and he can get the better of the disappointing Mountain King, despite him being Gordon Elliott and Tom Scudamore’s only action of the day, and 10yo Special Catch who would have to record a career best to win here. The pilot is Derek Fox who gave One for Arthur such a good ride in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick.
I’m a huge fan of the Skeltons set up and his weekly blog with Coral is always informative.
Dan Skelton Stable Talk Coral Blog Jan. 11th Stable update In his latest blog Dan gives us an update on his stable.
The horses are running well again now. We always knew that would be the case. We gave most of the horses their flu vacs just after Christmas and you have to then sit out that rough period – that quiet month – that follows. It’s not a head-scratcher when the horses run flat during that period, you know it’s going to happen and you have to roll with it. It’s frustrating but you have to go through it, and the owners understand it, and you do it for a reason. I’m not going to do it the same way next season as I want to see if we can keep up the momentum. But you can see that all of a sudden the horses are in great form and I’m particularly happy with the health of them all now. There isn’t a better time to be happy with them, than the period building up to Cheltenham and the spring Festivals. It was good to see the likes of Bertimont and Willow’s Saviour run such nice races in the week. It just shows the rewards for being patient with them earlier in the season and they are just starting to blossom now. They’ve both had injuries but those second place finishes were a step in the right direction.
Cheltenham Updates Superb Story is going straight to the Champion Hurdle. He won’t now have an entry in the County. Ch’ Tibello will probably run in the Kingwell at Wincanton next week. I’m hopeful that both horses can run well in the Champion, and as it stands Harry will ride Superb Story in the race. He has been a very progressive horse for us, although we haven’t dipped him into open weight for age company yet. He looks more than ready for it though and he has good form around Cheltenham. He goes well fresh and there’s improvement to come from Musselburgh. The way the race is cutting up I just think it gives him a good chance. Ch’ Tibello was third in the Christmas Hurdle not far behind the horse who is challenging for favouritism for the Champion. That was his first dip at Grade 1 company, so he’s not a back number either. He’s beaten My Tent Or Yours twice this year, and I know that horse hasn’t won a Champion Hurdle but he was second in it last year. I noticed Ch’ Tibello was behind My Tent Or Yours in the betting for the Champion Hurdle and I can’t understand that. Ch’ Tibello has beaten him twice on merit.
I know I said at the time that Cause Toujours won at Warwick that he wouldn’t go for Cheltenham, and I’m always embarrassed when I go against my word, but the ground at Newbury is so soft that I now think we are better off going to Cheltenham on better ground, than trying to slog it out on ground we know he doesn’t want. So we will go for the Champion Bumper with him. He’s one of the toprated UK bumper horses so I do feel justified in doing it.
North Hill Harvey heads for the County Hurdle. It’s always been the plan to go there fresh and I’m very happy with him. Lakeside Castle runs next week in the Albert Bartlett race up at Haydock and will hopefully then go to Cheltenham. Mister Miyagi will probably go for the Coral Cup. We’ve got some nice horses to go there with. Dan
Nicky Henderson is also quite open on his StanJames blog “I’ve been inundated with questions via my @sevenbarrows twitter account and thank you to everyone that has taken the time to get in touch. Answers to some of your twitter questions are below; sorry I can’t answer them all, but there are so many!
@simonhcwilson – Hi, will Gaitway be Cheltenham Festival-bound?
The track at Musselburgh was probably a little quicker than we anticipated so we learnt quite a lot in the end. I was happy enough with his win though and I would have thought the EBF Final at Sandown next month will be the perfect race for him.
@peterrathbone – Has Sign Of A Victory been retired or is he a possibility for the County Hurdle?
He’s on a sabbatical and will be back next season. He picked up a small problem in his last flat race so required some time off but I’m hoping to have him ready for the flat in the autumn and then he’ll go jumping again. Perhaps we’ll win the Chester Cup with him!
@downallstar & @JJMSports – Will O O Seven run again or go straight to the RSA?
He will go straight to wherever he goes at Cheltenham. I don’t know if it will be the RSA, which must be quite an open race if Might Bite is close to the top of the market, and he might also be given an entry in a Handicap as well.
@Kengibbsuk – Any news on Kayf Grace? Will she be running again soon?
Unfortunately, she has got a near hind leg injury which is a most peculiar one. You can’t even see it on the x-ray and it’s very bizarre. She’s not 100% sound yet so we’ll have to wait and see but it’s very, very frustrating as she is an extremely talented horse and the Trull House Mares’ Novice at Cheltenham looked tailor-made for her but sadly she won’t make that. If she was sound next week we could get her back for Aintree or Punchestown, but Cheltenham is definitely out.
@dcubbard – How does Charli Parcs compare to last season’s Supreme horses Buveur D’Air and Altior?
I think Charli is a very high-class horse and I would be pushed to say he is as good as Altior because HE is as good as it gets but I’d certainly say (at their novice stage) Charli definitely as good as Buveur D’air, yes.
@Dyl_Brennan – How is Constantine Bay and what are his plans? Would Punchestown be an option?
He battled really hard to win at Doncaster and while Punchestown could be a possibility down the line we aren’t looking any further than the Albert Bartlett with him at this stage.