Racing Post 12.40pm Colin Tizzard said: “Thistlecrack is out. He had heat in his leg last night. The vet scanned him this morning and it’s a slight tendon tear.” Dreadful news and I totally agree with Kevin Blake, ATR columnist, who tweeted “ Thistlecrack’s connections didn’t deserve that. Hopefully this doesn’t put others off campaigning their stars with such admirable boldness.” All of us who have played Ante Post are in for a nervous three weeks. Thank God for SkyBet Non Runner No Bet!!
Before I get on to yesterday’s winning Lucky 15, a heads up for tomorrow (Wednesday) there are two races of real interest. Apples Jade takes on Limini over 2m 4f at Punchestown in what is a serious trial for the Cheltenham Mares hurdle with Vroum Vroum Mag an interesting spectator! Then the bumper that closes the Doncaster card is absolutely top drawer, so much so that I will do an update for midday tomorrow (Wednesday) featuring that race and expanding to where we are re this seasons Bumpers here and in Ireland.
So on Tuesday we made a few quid with two winners, an 11/2 second and a 20/1 third beaten 1½L & ¾L!! The £15 staked (£1 unit) returned £29.25 and the sharks that took last night’s prices should make an extra fiver. If anyone went half stake each way, not my personal style, it paid just shy of £100 at SP! Well done me!
Tuesday Lucky 15
Taunton 2.50 MASTER BURBRIDGE 1st 7/2 (4/1 general)
Fehily masterclass. Tucked away until two out, produced to lead at last and firmly pushed his mount clear. Not sure the horse is much better than this grade.
Taunton 3.50 GOLD MOUNTAIN 3rd 20/1 (10/1 Ladbrokes 9/1 general)
Sticky at his fences early on held onto in rear but warmed to the task and from twenty lengths back had a squeak going to the last. Promising West Country 3m+ handicapper on Good ground.
Wetherby 4.00 MILAN EXPRESS 2nd 11/2 (5/1 general)
Couldn’t cope with the well in winner but after being caught out for pace three out, kept on best of the rest. Further signs of a back to life Kim Bailey Yard.
Taunton 4.20 TOMMY SILVER 1st 7/2 (10/3 PP and WH as low as 9/4 with Coral!!)
Always in the box seat, quickened at the top of the home straight, sealed it with a better leap at the last. Hurdled really well. County hurdle at the Festival?
Wednesday Lucky 15
Doncaster 3.15 SKIPTHECUDDLES 4/1 general
Doncaster 3.45 COURTBYSURPRISE 15/2 PP 13/2general
Ludlow 4.10 THE GAME CHANGER 9/2 WH 4/1 general
Ludlow 5.20 GULSHANIGANS 9/2 general
and here’s why
Doncaster 3.15 SKIPTHECUDDLES The combination of trainer and BHA solicitor Graeme McPherson and his stable jockey Kielan Woods are in a fine vein of form especially here at Doncaster, 4 from 28 in the last two seasons. This 6yo son of Westerner has improved as he has stepped up in trip finishing second to Keeper Hill (won Listed, Sidney Banks) and then winning at Wetherby over 2m5f looking better the further they went and this three miles on good ground should be ideal. I rest my case, M’Lud!
Doncaster 3.45 COURTBYSURPRISE Just had to play in this 3m Veterans chase. It’s Doncaster, it’s good ground, it’s flat but it still three miles! Too far for Ericht, Astracad and Seventh Sky, not far enough for Saint Are? Courtbysurprise has tumbled down the weights in the last eighteen months and races off just 10st 6lbs in conditions that could suit. There was money for him here on Town Moor over two furlongs further just before Christmas and he only got caught between the last two fences and he’s down another 3lb! I know, Daryl Jacob rides.
Ludlow 4.10 THE GAME CHANGER This looks to be a progressive horse and an opening mark of OR122 could seriously underestimate his talent. Philip Hobbs trains for the lucky Rooneys , Richard Johnson , champion jockey rides. Powerful connections and TGC won “easily” at Bangor last time and should see off the talented 4yo Dino Velvet who has form with some top notch juveniles but only gets 5lbs here. The prize can go back to Bilbrook. TGC could be an Aintree type.
Ludlow 5.20 GULSHANIGANS There look to be a large number of bridesmaids in this 2m5f C4 handicap hurdle, loads of places but not many winners. The selection seems to be going the right way, second last time when just failing to stay 3m. The yard continues to bang out the winners and youngest son Willy gets the leg up here. He needs about ten winners in the next five weeks to be eligible to ride in the Grand National. Some incentive. Remember his ballsy ride to win the Foxhunters at Aintree when still a teenager!
Light reading for Cheltenham fix of the day!
Monday 20 February 2017 AtTheRaces News Superb Story has been ruled out of the Stan James Champion Hurdle with a tendon problem. The six-year-old had booked his ticket for the Cheltenham Festival feature on March 14 with victory in a competitive handicap hurdle at Musselburgh in January in what has been his only start this winter.
Trainer Dan Skelton had been eager to have a crack at Grade One company with last year’s County Hurdle hero, but Superb Story will now be sidelined until next season.
Skelton tweeted: “Superb Story will not be running at Cheltenham. He’s got a small lesion in a tendon and will need time off. Possibly back in December.”
Skelton added: “In other Champion Hurdle news, Ch’tibello will have a soft palate cautery as we felt he didn’t get home as well as expected at the weekend. He’s 50-50 for Cheltenham and if (he) swerves it, (he) will go straight to Punchestown. Didn’t make a noise at Wincanton but we had a look.”
Rich Ricci’s Cheltenham Countdown Tuesday, 21 Feb 2017 13:48 BetBright Blog
“Willie and I will have a get-together one of these days and try and finalise where we’re going to go with different horses. We’ve been very fortunate over the last few years and in most cases the choices were self-evident; whereas this year, with a reduced team, it will be much about finding the right race for the right horse. That might be frustrating for people who would love to know now where this horse runs and that horse goes, but we have to be patient and make the right call. Last year we had a very good strike rate and most of our horses ran into the money. This year’s team isn’t nearly as big – we’ll probably have something in the region of a dozen runners – and we’ll only bring the horses we think can be competitive.
The one horse that I’m hoping will slip nicely under the radar is Djakadam in the Gold Cup. The race looks a bit different today after that terrible news about Thistlecrack earlier but I still think that Colin Tizzard has a wonderful chance of winning the race with Native River and Cue Card. Colin has done such a brilliant job – not just in preparing his horses but also in dealing with connections of those horses and the media. I have lots of time for him. But this year, as opposed to last year, we’ve had a clean run with Djakadam. We know he gets the trip and he gets around Cheltenham very well.
We have a nice midweek distraction tomorrow at Punchestown when Limini makes her return in the Quevega Hurdle. She’s in good form and is a much stronger mare this season but it will be a tough gig tomorrow because she’s running over a new trip – 2m4f – and takes on a really good mare in Apple’s Jade. Our girl will need the run, for sure, and will come on for it, so it’s not so important that we win or lose tomorrow the main thing is we run well. How we define that, I don’t know, I suppose it depends on how Apple’s Jade runs! Limini is another in that category where she could end up in a couple of races at Cheltenham: she is favourite with some bookmakers for the County Hurdle and has options like the Mares Hurdle on the Tuesday too. Tomorrow – and that new trip – will hopefully tell us plenty and point us in the right direction.
In the lull of these few weeks before Cheltenham something has to fill the void I suppose, and last week it was handicaps and handicappers’ interpretations! Obviously Michael [O’Leary] was very unhappy with the weights handed to his horses for Aintree. I understand Michael’s point but I don’t have a dog in the fight. That will change in the next week or so as the handicap entries are finalised for Cheltenham and we’ll see what happens with the latest marks for our horses when they are published.
Our approach has always been the same. We campaign our horses a lot like Michael and Eddie do: they all start off in the novice and open races and eventually find their level. It often means we have a lot of horses betwixt and between, but that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes if we have a well-handicapped horse it will happen on the back bad run in a good race. If our horses get a mark we think is fair for Cheltenham, we will run; if not they stay at home.
Max Dynamite could be the exception because you’d imagine that he remains a horse well-handicapped over hurdles. As I said last week, he faces a race to be ready for Cheltenham but we haven’t put a line through him yet! Koshari hasn’t run since November but is the type of horse I’d like to think would run well in one of the handicaps and what about Arbre De Vie? Although still a maiden he had his form franked by Acapella Bourgeois at the weekend and he could be one for the handicaps off his current mark or even a horse that might be suited by taking in the four-miler on the Tuesday of the festival.
Elsewhere all of our novices are fine and will keep their entries at the next forfeit stage. That includes the long-forgotten Senewalk, who is back in training after getting his wind done. He will be a much better horse on better ground and we still retain loads of faith in him, but the reality is he is a maiden over hurdles, has only had the one run, and will probably not make Cheltenham at this stage.”
October 2016’s French National Hunt Recruits to Ireland/UK
Dandy Mag A 4-year old gelding who has now moved from France to Willie Mullins.. Dandy Mag is a half-brother to the star Willie Mullins mare Vroum Vroum Mag. The son of Special Kaldoun ran twice in France, both of which were AQPS flat races where he finished runner up on both occasions. On debut, the son of Special Kaldoun travelled very nicely in the race, but as expected with a horse making his debut, he was very green off the bridle which most likely prevented him from winning, he eventually got his act together in the last furlong and finished second. Dandy Mag once again finished second in his last French race, this time the greenness off the bridle was not in evidence, but in a close battle for the winning position, Dandy Mag’s adversary just got the better of him. The manner in which Dandy Mag only started to get going towards the finish line suggests he’ll love a step up in trip from his 12 furlong AQPS flat races. If Dandy Mag is seen this season he’ll be campaigned in the juvenile hurdling division, however it’s likelier he won’t be seen until next season where the son of Special Kaldoun can have a proper novice hurdling season. 2m 4f or above could be Dandy Mag’s ideal distance.
Domperignon Du Lys A 4-year-old gelding who has now moved from France to England to the trainer Nicky Henderson, Domperignon Du Lys is owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. The son of Great Pretender ran just once in France, which was an AQPS flat race at Les Sables in August over 1m 5f. Domperignon Du Lys won this race on his debut, the result was all the more impressive as the gelding badly missed the start at the stalls which gave his other rivals a head start. In the final few furlongs of the race, Domperignon Du Lys stayed on very strongly and in a bunched finish with three other rivals in contention of winning the race, the new Nicky Henderson recruit showed a great attitude to battle and get first past the post. The form from this race is working out nicely, the runner up Dis Donc has won his next two AQPS flat races. The 3rd in this race Drive Again has won since and also been placed in a Group 2 AQPS flat race, the 4th in the race Dustin Des Mottes won next time out on his hurdling debut, the 5th and 6th both also won next out in their AQPS flat races too. It’s likely that Domperignon Du Lys will be seen this season and if so, he will be racing in the juvenile hurdling division. Nicky Henderson and the owners usually have a great success together with juvenile hurdlers, bearing that in mind and the manner of his AQPS flat race, Domperignon Du Lys could be an exciting juvenile hurdler to look out for this season.
Dreamcatching A 4-year-old gelding who has moved from France to the UK Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Dreamcatching is owned by Paul Vogt and Ian Fogg. The son of Al Namix ran three times in France, Dreamcatching’s first two runs were in AQPS flat races where he won on debut by 4 lengths and then finished last out of eight runners in a Group 3 AQPS flat race next time out. Dreamcatching then made his hurdling debut at Auteuil in which he finished 3rd. This was the same race in which the above aforementioned horse Dame De Compagnie came 2nd in, the filly and Duca De Thaix were quite a way ahead of Dreamcatching who didn’t look to quite have the speed compared to the 1st and 2nd when they took it up another gear, however Dreamcatching was staying on strongly. This suggests he may appreciate a step up in trip from a race which was over 2-miles. Paul Nicholls has a tendency to run his French juveniles fairly quickly, so there’s a good chance Dreamcatching will be seen this season and if so, he’ll be competing in the juvenile hurdling division.
November 2016’s French National Hunt Recruits to Ireland/UK
Charli Parcs A 4-year-old gelding who has now moved from France to England, Charli Parcs was purchased at the November Arqana sale for €250,000 by Hubert Barbe on behalf of J.P. McManus. The son of Anabaa Blue ran just the once in France, this was a hurdle race at Enghien for 3-year-old’s making their hurdling debuts and was ran over an extended 2-mile trip. Charli Parcs won this race at Enghien on his debut and did so in a very nice manner. For the majority of the race Charli Parcs was held back in the field and ridden towards the tail end of the pack, the horses at the front looked to have stolen a march on Charli Parcs in the last part of the race, but once Charli Parcs’ jockey Mathieu Carroux asked the son of Anabaa Blue for more, he duly obliged and caught up with the leaders very quickly. After the last flight, due to the very long run-in at Enghien and many horses in with a chance of winning the race, it turned into a sprint finish, Charli Parcs highlighted his speed as he gradually wore down his rivals and ended up winning fairly comfortably by a length. The race received a nice form boost from the runner up Poker Play, he has since won in a very impressive manner three weeks later at Enghien. Charli Parcs was very good in the jumping department on his debut, he did it with confidence and produced an excellent jump at the last when it mattered most, his jumping could be a valuable asset for Charli Parcs this season and beyond. In addition to his jumping, it was very eye-catching in regards to manner in which Charli Parcs quickened up when asked to get closer to the leaders in the race by his jockey, his jumping coupled with his speed makes Charli Parcs a potentially very exciting prospect. With Charli Parcs already a winner over hurdles and therefore only a novice this season, it’s likely he will be seen this season over these shores, most likely in the juvenile hurdling division. The concern would be that he has only moved to England very recently, so may be rushed too early without acclimatising to his new surroundings properly. If he can settle into new surroundings quickly and show an ability to progress from his debut, Charli Parcs could be a very good acquisition for J.P McManus for this season and beyond.