Month: April 2017

Saturday April 28th 9am

Apologies for the total lack of words yesterday but my server was down for 24 hours and its still a bit hit and miss. Hopefully back up and running from Tuesday onwards when it will be all about the Flat.

All hail family Mullins. Hopefully Patricks treble yesterday is going to bring home the bacon and land our 4/1 bet!

Today keep an eye on Stamp Hill and Invermere for #Fantastic Mr Fahey.

Punchestown Festival 2017 Day 4 Friday

Thursday 5.00pm That pesky Robbie Super-Power is making life a little difficult for Mr Mullins! Fox Norton turning over Un de Sceaux and Sizing John chinning Djakadam has cost the King of Closutton €200K! Ruby Walsh and Patrick Mullins just can’t get in the winners enclosure, indeed of the fourteen races run so far Team Mullins has had seven seconds! So come on. Willie, Ruby, Patrick, Me and my bank manager need a BIG Thursday for Team Mullins.

Trainer Championship Gordon Elliott Total Prize Money € 4,199,030 Willie Mullins Total Prize Money € 3,922,250

With 3 Days left of the National Hunt season the Trainer Championship is going down to the wire. €1,632,500 Prize Money Remaining. 3 Days and 23 Races to end of Season. Difference is €276,780. Top price Mullins 5/2 Coral.

By the time Friday starts us Mullins fan-boys could be staring down the barrel but that won’t stop me continuing to pile into these Mullins second and third strings!

4.20 Always keen to take on Diamond King but this is certainly the easiest race he has run in for a while. I’m torn between the two Mullins/Ricci entries, Dicosimo and Arbre de Vie. Dicosimo looked like he had got his act together when comfortably winning at Thurles and on the best of his hurdles form could be thrown in here but I’m going to trust that Ruby has called it right. Arbre de Vie has been on my 2will win a handicap” list all season. Like Dicosimo he had better hurdle form and AdV is a novice over fences but his last two runs, BD and UR, were in the Irish National and the Cheltenham four miler. He could probably do with a drop of rain but this is the right trip and grade and off OR140 I think he should be competitive.

4.55 Don’t get many of these, a grade B Mares handicap chase over 2m 5f. it looks the right race for Slowmotion, just hope Ruby Walsh and Retour de France, surprisingly the only Mullins entry, can pick up a chunk of the prize money.

5.30 Absolutely gutted there is no Annie Power in this the Grade 1 BetDaq Punchestown Champion 2m Hurdle, indeed she isn’t in the Mares hurdle on Saturday and it looks like the next time we see her will be in Mothercare! With Faugheen still on the injured list Willie Mullins sends his FIVE highest rated hurdlers into battle, Arctic Fire OR162, Vroum Vroum Mag (OR152+7=159), Wicklow Brave (155), Ivan Grozny (OR153) and Diakali (153). That is serious firepower and I’m amazed Ruby has chosen the mare VVM but the one I’m going to back is Diakali. Excellent last time, now had two runs back from injury, will love the ground and back in the day won the 4yo Championship hurdle at this meeting. The Cheltenham Champion hurdle second and third, My Tent or Yours  and Petit Mouchoir, line up and I opposed them at the Festival and I’m quite happy to do so again.

6.05 The second grade 1 of the day is the 2m4f novice hurdle and this looks hot almost volcanic. From the top:-

Bacardys, Hampered at Cheltenham, top bumper, loves the ground and a Spring horse.

Bleu Berry, improving at a rate of knots, G2 winner but this is his biggest test to date.

Death Duty, Apple of Gordon Elliott’s eye, expensive flop at Cheltenham, drops back half a mile and has something to prove.

Finians Oscar, Missed Neptune through injury but scintillating at Aintree having already won the G1 Tolworth. It’s that man Power for Potts again and will be a tough nut to crack.

Kemboy, after his fifth in the Neptune at Cheltenham when he took the scenic route I really wanted to back him here but didn’t expect this stellar line up! Definitely think we are still to see the best of Kemboy and it may well be here.

Moulin a Vent, probably a tad out of his depth but he’ll like the Good ground.

Outspoken, shouldn’t be far behind Bleu Berry on the book but not showing the same improvement.

Runfordave, always looked a handicapper but a rock solid yardstick. His third to Champagne Classic in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham beaten three and a half lengths giving two pounds looks tastier after Wednesdays events.

Let’s Dance, Ruby Walsh chooses to ride her from the four Mullins entries. Hugely impressive at Cheltenham over two miles although this had seemed to be her best trip but Augusta Kate picked her up at Fairyhouse less than a fortnight ago.

The Nipper, Warren Greatrex loves her and in her youth was right up there with Labail and Yorkhill as a fruit loop but seems to have settled down winning her last three but this is a big, big step up.

At the prices it has to be Bleu Berry each way at 16/1.

 

So how do we punt this card?

4.20 Arbre de Vie                   1 star** each way      To be updated later 

5.30 Diakali                             1 star** each way      16/1 Coral     

6.05 Bleu Berry                      1 star* each way        16/1 Coral

Total = Six stars

Loving Punchestown but on Friday afternoon there is an excellent Flat card at Sandown featuring their Derby trial, ably supported by an eight card Notebook special from Doncaster. Over the course of the afternoon there are three horses I just have to back.

Those who know me well know that on the Flat I have three specialist subjects. #FantasticMrFahey, big field handicaps preferably on a straight course and my annual list of improving 3yo’s made up of 2yo’s I spotted the season before who I think could run at a Graded level. Often these 3yo’s start in handicaps and then I get excited, Monarchs Glen and Middle Kingdom have already obliged. Tomorrow there are three but I am not expecting big prices as they have sexy profiles, two are trained by my main man, Big Johnny G, and the other is for an on fire Roger Charlton.

Sandown 1.50                        ATTY PERSSE Godolphin bought this one from Benny Neilsen of Abba fame for big money, money, money. He won his only start last season over C&D “readily” and looked as smooth as silk to me. Atty Persse has entries in the Dante and the Derby, for which he is on my shortlist of five, and I can’t believe he kicks his season off in a C3 8F handicap off OR87! Roger Charlton’s stable cat would currently be an odds on poke, eight winners from the last seventeen that went to post. Atty Persse opened at 4’s earlier in the week and there is still some 3’s about.

Sandown 5.10                        GLENCADAM GLORY Love this horse. He was backed off the boards to win on debut but was simply too green and was second to Ghayyar in a Newmarket C4 8F maiden. He won on his second start in a C3 maiden over the mile at Doncaster in a race that I think will throw up a bucket load of winners, probably handicaps although the third, The Anvil, is quoted for The Derby 33’s -50’s. The main reason I love this son of Nathanial is two fold, firstly I think he will improve upped in trip and secondly he strikes me as the sort of horse that just does enough! Frankie is in the saddle and although drawn widest it is a field of only eight.

Doncaster 1.40           ELDRITCH This son of Dark Angel was professional winning on debut at Haydock in a back end 8F C4 maiden. Twice he met traffic but was still good enough to get up Dubawi Prince, who has won since. Although one other runner from further down the field has won the form hasn’t been franked and I can’t believe he goes handicapping off just OR77 as I had him down as an OR90+ horse. Surely a steering job even for Jimmy Fortune but being trained by Gosden I’m expecting skinny odds.

 

I try to keep you up to date with new trainers and here is one new to me. Their website says:-

“Tom Clover Racing is the exciting training business recently launched by Tom and his partner Jackie Jarvis.

Tom and Jackie both bring expertise, experience and enthusiasm to their enterprise which is based in Newmarket – the historic home of horseracing.

Tom – and his family – have been around horses most of their lives. He rode in point-to-points as a young man and, after gaining a diploma from the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, started out as a pupil assistant with jumps trainer Charlie Longsdon. Tom soon stepped up to assistant trainer as the operation doubled in size.

With a desire to develop his skills, he came to trainer David Simcock’s stable in Newmarket. What was meant to be a one-summer placement extended into five seasons as assistant in which Tom extensively learnt from David, who is renowned for maximising each horse’s potential.

That stint has proved the ideal grounding for launching his business with Jackie, who herself grew up in one of the most famous stables in Newmarket – Kremlin House. Her father Michael Jarvis won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks among many other top prizes in the sport as Jackie witnessed first-hand all the ingredients that are required to sustain a first-class training operation.

In the latter stages of Michael’s illustrious career, Jackie played her part, riding out and helping in the office. These are roles she has continued at Kremlin as Roger Varian has become one of the biggest training businesses in British racing. Jackie has also significant knowledge of the business side of the sport, having been responsible for website development and many PR initiatives at Roger’s. Now Tom and Jackie are combining their wide range of skills with their new venture.

Tom and Jackie are delighted to be starting their venture from the historic Wroughton House Stables, based right in the heart of Newmarket. The 25-box yard is situated at the base of the world-famous ‘Warren Hill’ where trainers have exercised thoroughbreds for hundreds of years.”

Interesting. Owners include Miss K Rausing, Mr A D Spence and Saleh Al Homaizi & Imad Al Sagar plus quite a few partnerships.

Punchestown Festival 2017 Day 3 Thursday

Wednesday 2.30pm Thursday looks the quietest day of the Punchestown Festival with just the two Grade 1’s, the Stayers hurdle and the 2m novices chase, but three handicaps and the La Touche Cup over the banks.

Willie Mullins has done well to reduce the gap to Elliott from €400K to €260K and they now bet Elliott 1/3  Mullins 11/4 although Paddy Power who have had this market to themselves up until yesterday bet 1/3 v just 2/1. My forecast was 9/10 the pair Wednesday evening so come on Djakadam, Penhill or both! The Grade 1 bumper could have a big say in the outcome of the trainer’s title and Closutton need a big run from Carter McKay, he needs to beat at least one of the Elliott pair of Poli Roi and Fayonagh.

That represents a fine effort from Mullins as both Melon (mugged) and Un de Sceaux (flat) were beaten. The prize money is in the Grade 1’s and Willie Mullins is going mob handed at these and I wouldn’t put anyone off taking the 11/4 currently on offer with Coral.

I am going to review the Punchestown Festival as a whole at the beginning of next week along with Saturdays Whitbread card. For Thursday I am just concentrating on the two Grade 1’s and the 3m handicap hurdle.

5.30 The Grade 1 stayers hurdle looks a race with some real depth to it with the first three at the Cheltenham festival, Nicholls Canyon, Lil Rockefeller and Unowhatimeanharry, all lining up and I would be hard pressed to make a case for the finishing order to be different this time although once again Ruby Walsh will need to be at his tactical sharpest again and with no Cole Harden it wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to make every yard bossing the race from the front. Plenty of dangers if they ran to their very best such as Snow Falcon, Shaneshill, One Track Mind and Clondaw Warrior but there are two new guests to the party. Sutton Place was impressive when beating subsequent Coral Cup winner Supasundae over 2m and won as he liked from De Plotting Shed over 2m 4f and steps up to 3m for the first time here. However I just don’t think this race was the plan. They talked about novice chasing originally, then it was the Betfair hurdle, then possibly supplementing for the Champion hurdle, now he runs in the Stayers at Punchestown. For Elliott I think this is hope above expectation.

The other newbie is FOOTPAD for Willie Mullins and this trip is just about a mile further than he has raced competitively outside of Auteuil. However he has run well in a host of Grade 1’s over 2m and more than once has shaped as though further would really suit. At 20/1 with BetFred he looks a knocking each way bet to me.

6.05 Just like on Wednesday I am with a JP McManus horse and yet another trained in England. This time it’s NO COMMENT with Richard Johnson on board and I think he is the ideal jockey for this horse with his ground saving, creepy creepy style. No Comment was seventh in that hard to gauge Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and it would be reasonably safe to say he could see all the field for most of the race and gave up the outside to no one turning for home. He arrived to challenge two out swinging but probably made up too much ground too quickly and had nothing for the hill. No Comment beat Monalee in a bumper at this meeting last year and I expect they had hoped to return for a grade 1 but this horse could be well in here off just OR136.

6.40 This isn’t an easy race to weigh up. The Cheltenham Arkle winner Altior is head and shoulders above the rest of the 2m novice chasers and although he goes to Sandown on Saturday to take on the big boys his Arkle form is represented by Ordinary World who inherited third at Cheltenham. Is that good enough? JP McManus hopes not as he runs two. Great Field trained by Willie Mullins is unbeaten in three and looks a natural having struck up a partnership with Jody McGarvey. This is however their biggest test to date. When he stood up BallyOisin looked something special but he has only managed that once in three chasing starts. The Ricci’s have the improving Townshend with Ruby Walsh on board and I fancied them for the novice handicap but I’m not sure Townshend is ready for a Grade 1. Mullins also saddles the talented mare Listen Dear, getting a 7lb allowance, but her last run suggested that having been on the go since last June she had had enough for now. Gordon Elliott has Ball D’Arc who followed Road to Respect and Yorkhill home at Fairyhouse in their Grade 1 over 2m 4f.

I think the bet has to be Ordinary World each way and Davy Russell getting at worst another G1 place for this consistent if not brilliant horse.

So how do we punt this card?

Footpad                                  2 star** each way      20/1 BetFred 123 1/5th            

No Comment                         2 star** each way      8/1 Coral + Lad 12345 1/5th

Ordinary World                     1 star* each way        15/2 Coral + Lad 123 1/5th 

Total = Ten stars

Punchestown Festival 2017 Day 2 Wednesday

Tuesday 4pm I am having to post Day 2 before seeing Day 1 which is a bit awkward re Going, Mullins v Elliott, market moves etc. but it’s a logistics thing!

3.40 This is isn’t going to be easy! It’s the final of the Martinstown series for claiming jockeys, a 2m 4f handicap hurdle for horses rated no higher than OR123, a figure which looks hugely relevant on first glance. I don’t think it was a plan more of a lucky coincidence but Drumcliff has an awful lot going for him here. I have been waiting to back the horse over 2m4f preferably right handed on decent ground and he has all three here. Seconds to Mr McGo and Bigmartre read well and the fitting of a first time tongue tie could bring further improvement. This is an 86-123 handicap and Drumcliff conveniently has an OR123! Andrew Ring is a competent claimer, Harry Fry’s yard is in fine form and I don’t think they would send Drumcliff to Punchestown just to fill the horsebox! Mullins has the disappointing Wood Briezh whereas Elliott has Dawerran plus a very interesting first reserve in the rapidly improving Fridaynightlights who would be a player if “for any reason” Dawerann was taken out!

4.20 A 2m 4f conditions hurdle for very little prize money! Just €15K to the winner. Not surprisingly the ten runners could be categorised as “disappointing under-achievers who you haven’t given up on yet but could be better over fences, maybe”! Elliott has the two highest on official ratings in Milsean and Minella for Dawn whilst Mullins opposes with Battleford and C’est Jersey. Nicky Henderson sends over Baden but he’s always looked a chaser to me. I’ll pass on a bet and just cheer on Team Mullins, every euro counts.

4.55 This could easily be the race of the week, the Grade 1 3m novice hurdle featuring Penhill and Monalee, first and third at Cheltenham in the Alfred Bartlett, Presenting Percy, who hacked up in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham carrying 11st 11lbs, Champagne Classic, Gigginstown’s “worst” horse who bolted up in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and the progressive Grade 2 winner Al Boum Photo.

I’ll happily oppose Penhill who has been on the go since Galway last June. Likewise Champagne Classic stepping up in class. Monalee, surely a top class chaser in the making, and Presenting Percy, the small yard find of the year, were two I backed at Cheltenham and I am loathe to oppose them here but I think the lightly raced Al Boum Photo, for whom the Closutton vibes are bullish, could be the freshest horse on display, will improve for the extra half mile and was mighty impressive when hacking up in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last time out.

5.30 If there wasn’t enough quality in the previous race try this one for size. Two Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in Sizing John (2017) and Coneygree (2015), staying chases highest rated bridesmaid Djakadam, the Thyestes winner Champagne West, Lexus winner Outlander and Flemenstar makes up the six!

I’m looking forward to the reappearance of Coneygree who I hope returns in A1 condition because he changes the whole shape of a race. He will go from the off and Nico de Boinville will attempt to set a gallop that takes the opposition out of their comfort zone, none of this Irish style of hunting to three out then race for home! Now we will see if Sizing John is the real deal over 3m, likewise it will answer questions concerning Djakadam and Outlander. Personally I think a strong pace will really suit the former and in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Coneygree couldn’t take Cue Card beyond three out and if he still needs the run I hope it is Ruby who kicks on when Coneygree fades. Once again I’ll pass on a single but Djakadam needs to beat Outlander and if he could win it would be a huge boost to my Mullins to beat Elliott bet.

6.05 The Grade 1 Champion Bumper is just that! Fayonagh was unbelievable at Cheltenham where Carter McKay was a blowout, Someday was controversially withdrawn there and the other four are unbeaten. Paloma Blue couldn’t have been more impressive, Poli Roi is allegedly better than the mighty Samcro, Dell Oro is sent from Sussex and is by Walk in the Park whilst Go Another One has dotted up at Market Rasen and Killarney.

I backed Someday to win at Cheltenham and I see no reason to desert him now especially considering the current form of Jessica Harrington. The market will be very interesting for this race.

6.40 Punchestown’s equivalent of Cheltenham’s Brown Advisory Plate, a Grade A 2m 4f handicap chase run right handed on a quicker track. No surprise Diamond King for Gordon Elliott heads the Ante Post market but he would be one of the first I cross off. He’s a non-runner but the connections saddle Jetstream Jack instead and I can’t have him either as he just doesn’t look a natural chaser to me. Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh team up with Poildam who makes his Irish debut off a French handicap mark and who knows? Both could be plots of the highest order but I’m going to put up another JP McManus horse who I’ve been waiting to back over this trip, not on winter ground off a mark around OR125-ish. When Peoples Park won back in December off OR122 he looked like he had joined in at the second last. He was put up 9lb for that win but he’s back down to OR127 here and with the excellent champion claimer elect Rachael Blackmore taking off a further three Peoples Park will go to post with just 9st 7lbs on his back!

7.15 The card closes with another bumper, this time a Grade 3 for mares. Surprisingly Willie Mullins runs just one with son Patrick riding Mystic Theatre but it’s one more than Elliott has going to post.

 

So how do we punt this card?

Peoples Park                          2 star** each way      14/1 WH                    

Drumcliff                                2 star** win               13/2 Coral + Lad 6/1 general

Al Boum Photo                      2 star** win               9/1 WH                      

Someday                                2 star** win               4/1 general

Plus a half star* win Lucky 15 (7.5 stars)

Total = Fifteen and a half stars

 

It interested me I don’t know if it interested anyone else?

Last Saturday there was a conditions race over 7F at Thirsk where Rene Mathis (OR100) beat Custom Cut (OR110) by a length and a half at level weights. The race conditions included that the handicapper could only affect the winner whatever the outcome. Never known that before.

Prior to the race trainer Richard Fahey told sportinglife.com “The ebfstallions.com Michael Foster Conditions Stakes is a tricky test for Rene Mathis in that he’s up against a 110-rated horse in Custom Cut. He’ll be hard to beat but hasn’t run at seven furlongs for a considerable time and we’re a specialist at the trip. Our horse is fit and well and we’ll see how he goes.”

So what did the handicapper do? Here is his blog today. “NO KNEE-JERKS Thirsk ran a conditions race on Saturday and it was one of the ones in the trial where Handicappers cannot raise the handicap marks of exposed horses except for the winner. The winner in this case was Rene Mathis with a pre-race rating of 100 and he beat the 110-rated Custom Cut by a length and a half. The Handicapper is, of course, allowed to raise the winner and you would think that the trainer would be worried about a hike in the rating. You might be surprised to learn that Richard Fahey had rung me before he made the entry to discuss possible outcomes. We get rung by trainers for advice just as often as we get rung for complaints. I was able to reassure him that there would be no knee-jerk reaction since his 7yo horse has a long history of solid performances and there was no way that I was suddenly going to assume that it was a 112 performer. In the event, and despite beating a 110 horse, I was able to leave the rating for Rene Mathis unchanged. The only horse that I had mathematically running above its handicap mark was Mount Tahan in third. I would have left him unchanged anyway for much the same reason.”

Punchestown Festival 2017 Day 1 Tuesday

Monday 4pm Cheltenham starts with a roar as the tapes are released for the Grade 1 Supreme Hurdle. Punchestown kicks off with the Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase (For the Ladies Perpetual Cup) over three miles and the banks! Don’t let that distract you as this is a high class Festival and many of this seasons highest rated stars are going to achieve that rating in the next five days.

This year’s Festival will be played out to the tune of Willie Mullins versus Gordon Elliott as Mullins tries to claw back close on €400K and retain his coveted title. So cards on the table I’m on at 4/1 that Mullins comes out on top and for a lumpy wager. That will come as no surprise to those that have read my two blogs, “Kevin Blake said don’t do it” on March 30th and “You can’t win anything with kids” on April 3rd.

The latest going reports are “Ground good to yielding (Hurdle, Chase and Bumper). Selective watering to maintain. Good to firm (X Country). Punchestown forecast colder with some showers over the next three days, milder towards the weekend with showers continuing.”

It would seem that the Championship races are going to be contested by single figure fields. Irish owners don’t have a runner for “the day out” but it could accentuate the need to settle and the possibility of false run races. Many of these races are going to be Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend against Bryan Cooper and Jack Kennedy and who gets the fractions right.

So let’s start with Race 2 on the Tuesday and what a cracker that is.

4.20 It’s Labaik (11/4)  v Melon (11/8) Round 2. The first two take on each other again after Labaik comfortably beat Melon at Cheltenham where the winner was on his best behaviour. However Labaik refused to race on his three previous Irish starts or as good as damn it and connections suggest that only Labaik knows whether he’ll condescend to jump off although I think the Long Tom played its part at Cheltenham. One has to assume he will go this time but I still think Melon will come out on top. Cheltenham was only his second ‘public’ start and the horse can only improve plus Ruby Walsh will know more about what he’s riding and if Labaik hasn’t picked up Melon by the last I believe Melon will get home this time. The next three in the market were well beaten off in the Supreme and are unlikely to trouble the front two although I expect Cilaos Emery and Bunk Off Early to be ridden cold and try to pick up the maximum place money for Team Mullins.

4.55 In this Class B 2m handicap hurdle Elliott saddles three Veinard, Sanibel Island and the 4yo Dakota Moriviere to the one for Willie Mullins top weight, fit from the AW 10yo Pique Sous. However they may all have to play second fiddle to Tony Martin’s Tudor City who looks primed having had a confidence boosting win recently in a maiden hurdle. His second to Ice Cold Soul in the coral.ie hurdle looks the best recent form on show.

5.30 Back to Grade 1 action and Cheltenham’s 2m 4f RyanAir chase winner Un de Sceaux for Willie Mullins heads the market. The concern will be the drying ground but the fact that the only horse to beat UDS when he has stood up is Sprinter Sacre and UDS is three from three at Punchestown make him a standout selection to me. He has some worthy opponents, Fox Norton was excellent at Aintree but I’m amazed he’s brought back in trip just eighteen days later, surely Potts-hunting at its worst! God’s Own seems a shadow of his former self. Rock the World steps up from handicap company albeit winning Cheltenhams Grand Annual, previous form suggests he’ll struggle but trainer Jessica Harrington can currently walk on water! I think the two most likely to follow UDS home are the Mullins second string, a rejuvenated Ballycasey, who will be ridden to do exactly that and the teak hard Sir Valentino who is so consistent.

6.05 The grade 1 Goffs bumper for horses who have been in their catalogue, mainly bought as stores, and many are seeing a racecourse in a competitive manner for the first time. This seasons Punchestown Festival does have another sub-plot amongst the leading amateur riders with Patrick Mullins trying to catch the Coddfather, Jamie Codd, and like his dad, Willie, keep his title. Patrick teams up here with Joseph O’Brien and JP McManus on Early Doors on whom he won a bumper back in February. That jockey booking leaves Katie Walsh on the Mullins trained representative, Hollowgraphic, suggesting second at best. However the dogs are barking for the recent Point to Point winner Rapid Escape for whom Gigginstown paid £240K and is now trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by Jamie Codd. No selection but notebook at the ready.

6.40 The fourth Grade 1 of the day is the seven runner 3m Growise Champion Novice Chase and it’s no surprise Gigginstown own four of them and they are headed by Disko, a favourite of this particular blogger. However two notable absentees in Harry Fry’s American, suggesting the ground is closer to Good than Soft and Bellshill for Willie Mullins which means Gordon Elliott gets a free shot at Championship prize money with A Tio Phil who won the Grade A coral.ie handicap chase and up in trip is currently a 12/1 shot. Disko’s defeat of Our Duke looks outstanding now and like Noel Meade I am delighted to see Disko back at three miles and would love to see his trainer’s high regard for the horse justified here. Acapello Bourgeois and Anibale Fly surely want more juice in the ground, A Genie in the Bottle didn’t get home when fifth and a beaten favourite in Cheltenham’s 4mNH chase and Alpha des Obeaux has that ‘bleeding’ concern. Velocity Boy needs a miracle. Here’s the but, I simply don’t trust Bryan Cooper! Good horseman but inept tactically as a jockey and likes to let the horse do the thinking!

7.15 The card closes with another bumper, this time for maidens. Elliott and Jamie Codd team up with Stooshie and Elliott also saddles Roaring Bull for Gigginstown with Ms Lisa O’Neill in the saddle. No Willie Mullins entries but Philip Hobbs has one for JP, Musical Slave, a gelded son of Getaway with Derek O’Connor riding. Patrick Mullins rides The Butcher Said for his cousin Emmett. Notebook at the ready but no betting medium! I can’t believe Alan Potts has named a horse “Pottsie”!

 

So how do we punt this card?

Melon                                     3 star*** win             11/8 WH

Tudor City                              2 star** win               11/2 PP

Melon/Un De Sceaux/Disko 2 star** win treble    11/8-10/11-5/4 WH (9.2/1)

Disko                                       2 star** win               5/4 WH

Total = Nine stars

Come on Closutton!

Monday 24th April 11am

Good morning everybody. Delighted to say I’m back to full health and fair buzzing. For me this week is all about Punchestown and Willie Mullins, a cracking Flat card at Sandown on Friday and #FantasticMrFahey banging in the winners.

So the blogs should go something like this. Next blog will be for Punchestown on Tuesday and as an unashamed Mullins fanboy, this week anyway, I will be using my star bet system as the odds will be a tad short for the Lucky 15.

Next up will be my Craven/Greenham report plus all things last week.

Then hopefully a blog on a 2015 novice chase at Cheltenham and the value of uber formlines!

That lot could all be today, Monday, if I don’t get carried away with watching too many replays!

PADDY POWER, you beauty!

Apologies for the lack of recent blogs but I got laid low by a stomach bug plus lack of computer access over Easter and a frankly underwhelming Craven meeting, so far anyway.

Wednesday April 19th 12noon I think that the bookmakers have made a massive error, not all of them but one in particular and that’s Paddy Power. They are the only bookmaker pricing up the Elliott v Mullins duel for the Irish Champion trainer’s title and they go Elliott 1/6, Mullins 4/1. That is no ‘typo’ they are honestly 4/1!

Three weeks ago I wrote two articles on this blog concerning the Champion trainers titles in England and more pertinently in Ireland. Since then we have had both the English and Irish Grand National meetings  and although none of the protagonists won the main event either side of the Irish Sea  Nicky Henderson did enough at Liverpool  with the likes of  Buveur D’Air and Might Bite for Ditcheat to concede the crown  to Seven Barrows.

In Ireland it’s a completely different kettle of fish. The Jessica Harrington/Robbie Power Annus Mirabilis continued to roll on  with the talented novice Our Duke hacking up in the Irish Grand National and is now already rated just one pound behind Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John.  However Gordon Elliott saddled the second,  fifth and sixth with Willie Mullins just having Haymount in seventh. That was a €107,500 swing to the young pretender. Yorkhill’s self inflicted defeat was another blow to Closutton but with a 1,2,4 in the valuable mares novice hurdle and somehow conjuring wins for Renneti, Diakali and Thomas Hobson in Tuesdays €59K handicap hurdle Mullins has made back most of the National swing.

So as of Wednesday April 19th 11.15am by my maths the totals are, Elliott €3,131,125 Mullins €2,825,416. The difference is €305,709. That’s not much bigger than when I wrote the two articles three weeks ago and Fairyhouse was expected to favour Elliott. Punchestown is Tuesday-Saturday next week and the last race at Punchestown is the last race of the season and in effect the finishing line. So I will summarise the two articles below.

Willie Mullins is going to blow Gordon Elliott out of the water at Punchestown.

I think they will both be saddling anything with four legs and a pulse with multiple entries in most races. I think stewarding of the five days could be a nightmare. Forget non-triers, the issues here will be riding to team orders, pacemakers, riding to get placed as opposed to  trying to win and fading late. I can see some serious use of the whip even by Irish standards, jumping across opponents at the final fence because simply it will be winning at all costs!

Gordon Elliott has plenty of cards but Willie Mullins holds the aces. 4/1 is far too big!

Here are the two articles that hopefully can persuade you that Willie will!!

 

Kevin Blake said don’t do it! by 57simplesimonsays Friday March 30th 2.15pm

The Cheltenham festival may have come and gone for this season but there is plenty to look forward for all students of the National Hunt game. On both sides of the Irish Sea there are head to head contests to be Champion trainer and I don’t believe any of the four protagonists if they say “it’s just a bit of fun” as these guys win big races as a matter of routine but being Champion Trainer is important for them personally, their staff, their owners and all connected to the yard. Not much mileage in the advertising logo “Second best trainer 2017”!

So in the UK it’s Nicholls v Henderson with the big guns going for Aintree, Ayr and finally Sandown on the last day of the season. Personally I think the canny Team Ditcheat will just shade it as Paul Nicholls “wants” it whilst Nicky Henderson would “like” it to be Seven Barrows although I often under-estimate Henderson’s competitive streak!

Now the Irish contest is something different altogether. Willie Mullins v Gordon Elliott. So many sub plots and an undercurrent that could turn personal very quickly especially if a Mr M. O’Leary gets time on a microphone! It is the Irish contest I wish to concentrate on as I think there is some money to be made.

Let’s start off with some bold statements.

Victory in their respective home Grand Nationals will seal the deal. Just about certainly for Nicky Henderson if he breaks his duck in the race but he has just one runner in Cocktails at Dawn who is an upwards of 66/1 to do so. Definitely for Paul Nicholls and he has two live chances in the classy Saphir du Rheu (best priced 20/1) and last year’s Scottish National winner Vicente (solid 25/1). Failure of either to do so and I will be looking closely at the Ayr Scottish National three day programme, especially at who Nicky Henderson sends there.

If Willie Mullins wins at Fairyhouse I think it would be game over and he could be represented by Alechi Inois, Pleasant Company, Bachasson or Bellshill and maybe Haymount or Arbre de Vie. It would seem the first two are going to Aintree which for Alechi Inois is fine but from Willie Mullins point of view I would have thought he wanted Pleasant Company at Fairyhouse. He’s a bridle horse, he’s best going right handed, he needs some cut in the ground and he won last time out over 3m 1f at Fairyhouse. I can only presume Malcolm Denmark fancies a shot at Aintree for a piece of history and twice the money! That would leave the novices for the Irish National and he has mentioned Bellshill as “one for the race” but he may need him at Punchestown for the €100K 3m novice chase?

Gordon Elliott could saddle half the field courtesy of his Gigginstown battalions but even if he did win the Irish Grand National I am not convinced the Trainers championship would be over.

Willie Mullins is going to blow Gordon Elliott out of the water at Punchestown. Now this is the part that “Kevin Blake said don’t do it!” You have got to get inside Willie Mullins head.

Before you start looking at the horses it is important to look at the Punchestown Festival race programme. There are a total of 38 races including 12 Grade 1 contests. Four @ €250K, eight @ €100K plus two €100K bumpers and three €100K handicaps. There are no intermediate trip Championship chases, the 2m 4f race is a handicap, the same for the novices which makes Yorkhill a wild card with both he and Un de Sceaux supposedly dropping back in trip! There is no mares novice hurdle which means Closutton’s strong team in this division, Let’s Dance, Augusta Kate, Airlie Beach etc., could be taking on the geldings.

There are seven bumper races, two of which are €100K events and the Mare’s only event is worth just €50K which means the Cheltenham 1-2 of Fayonagh and Debuchet may go to Aintree for the valuable Grade 2 contest there. That makes this division wide open, Samcro and Poli Roi for Elliott and Getabird and Ballyward for Mullins, if he can get them fit, neither of which would surprise me. Indeed I expect both yards to pull some serious rabbits out of the hat when it comes to the bumpers.

So let’s look at the four big money Grade 1 races to start off with using current UK handicap marks to see where we stand.

Tuesday 5.30 Boylesports 2m Champion chase. No Douvan, out for the season. No Special Tiara, the Cheltenham winner, he’s going to Sandown to take on Altior! Gods Own OR165 will probably attempt to repeat the Aintree/Punchestown double of last season but surely WM will have him covered with Un de Sceaux OR171 on recent Tingle Creek form and all back runs. Indeed the only horse to beat Un de Sceaux over fences at two miles when he’s stood up is the mighty Sprinter Sacre!

Wednesday 5.30 Coral 3m 1f Punchestown Gold Cup chase. Jessica Harringtons Gold Cup winner Sizing John OR168 rightly dominates the market here. WM has Djakadam OR165 who will try to show that his mistake at Cheltenham’s second last cost him the race. Just like the Cheltenham version Djakadam has been runner up in the last two editions of this race. Gordon Elliott will be relying on two second season chasers in the shape of C&D Lexus chase winner Outlander OR168 and Empire of Dirt OR166 who will both have to take a giant step forward from their Cheltenham runs! Eddie O’Leary surprisingly suggests they may both go to Aintree for the Bowl. Looks a tasty race and if Coneygree OR166 or a Colin Tizzard inmate lined up that would add further spice.

Thursday 5.30 Ladbrokes 3m Champion Staying hurdle. WM would seem to be in the box seat here with his Cheltenham winner, Nicholls Canyon OR168 and strong back up in Shaneshill OR157 and Clondaw Warrior OR155. Snow Falcon would appear to be the biggest Irish danger but surely it will be any UK raiders to fear most. Lil Rockefeller OR168 was only beaten ¾ length at Cheltenham and with Aintree looking to be quick ground is a likely runner in Ireland. His last run was seven pounds better than anything before, can he repeat the dose? Cheltenham’s third was the financially calamitous Unowhatimeanharry OR166 who had been taking the division by storm up to that last run and if there was any real juice in the ground surely JP and Harry Fry would be tempted. Indeed the BHA handicapper put on his official blog, “With Aintree, Fairyhouse and Punchestown still to come, the picture could change again and Unowhatimeanharry is probably worth another chance to enhance his reputation. While only marginally below his pre-race rating of 167 here, he simply did not pick up in the usual manner after travelling into the race as well as any. Connections suggested the faster ground may have been a factor but he still looked a horse that was improving before the Festival and he has probably not flattened out just yet.”

Will Warren Greatrex send last year’s Punchestown winner, One Track Mind OR158, and what shape is he in? You are not going to win this year’s renewal off OR147! There is of course another fly in the ointment in the shape of Pertemps Final handicap winner Presenting Percy OR159 who is improving at a rate of knots. WM may need to fire all his arrows here and if Limini is looking 100% for the Mares that could include rabbit number one, Vroum Vroum Mag OR152.

Friday 5.30 BetDaq 2m Champion hurdle. Here’s rabbit number two. The $64 million dollar question is “Will we finally see the reappearance of Annie Power”? Willie Mullins March 28 2017, 08:56 “Annie Power could run at Punchestown. We step up work in the next couple of weeks. Min is just OK, Annie is in better order.”  So Annie Power is OR166 (plus 7lbs mare allowance), Willie also has Arctic Fire OR162, Footpad OR157 and Wicklow Brave OR155 (however looks destined for a Flat campaign) not to mention the other two mares with their 7lb allowances Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag both on OR152. The Elliott team should include Petit Mouchoir OR160 and possibly his best mare, Apples Jade OR154. Nicky Henderson is considering travelling over Brain Power OR162 after Cheltenham’s disappointment. If Annie Power misses the race it is wide open, if she turns up she is ten pounds plus well in!

I fully expect Un de Sceaux, Djakadam, Nicholls Canyon and yes, Annie Power, to turn up at Punchestown fit and ready to run the race of their life. The only one I would back now is Un de Sceaux and 4/5 is not my kind of price but I could see him going off south of 1/3 on the day.

 

“You can’t win anything with kids” by 57simplesimonsays Monday April 3rd  6pm

In Part I “Kevin Blake said don’t do it” I suggested that the Punchestown Festival this season will hold the key to who wears the crown as Irish Champion trainer this season and although Fairyhouse may well tip the scales further towards Gordon Elliott if he wins the valuable Irish National although Willie Mullins will fancy winning the RyanAir Gold Cup novice chase, as Jessica Harrington suggested this weekend his Yorkhill could line up, and the equably valuable G1 Mares novice hurdle with any number of his ten entries. Indeed I felt “Willie Mullins is going to blow Gordon Elliott out of the water at Punchestown.” There are five novice Championship G1 races, three hurdling and two chasing, each worth €100K+ and the 2m4f novice chase is a handicap for the same money. With the mares novice hurdle only worth €25K the Mullins top girls could well be taking the boys on instead. Mullins has a huge list of candidates to choose from and it’s real quality as well as quantity.

Novice hurdles

If we start looking at the 2m race, the G1 Herald novice hurdle on the Tuesday, it looks to be a straight rematch from the Supreme at Cheltenham where Elliott’s Labaik beat Mullin’s Melon? I would be quite confident in backing Melon right now. On only his second start he almost won a Championship race! With that run extra under his belt he could improve further as we now know he’s good enough and he’s got the Festival experience. Labaik on the other hand has all the ability in the world but with no cracking whip in Ireland will he condescend to start and more pertinently will he even be in the field? He goes to the Aintree pre National Sales, no doubt with a reserve in the £300K ball park, and there is every chance he could remain in Britain if he is on the Potts, Tinsdale/Drew, Brookhouse or McManus shopping list? Without him the Elliott cupboard looks a little bare!

Willie Mullins could run the mare Airlie Beach OR143(plus allowances) if she is anywhere near her 2016 form when she beat Saturnas and the boys in the G1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. Saturnas OR146 badly disappointed in the Deloitte and if he’s had the proverbial “visit to Lourdes” he could be a contender. The same goes for Rich Ricci’s early season hype horse, Senewalk.

In the 2m4f G1 Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice hurdle on Friday Willie Mullins will need to box clever as the first three home in the Neptune at Cheltenham were trained in the UK, Willoughby Court, Neon Wolf and Messire des Obeaux and his final selections could well depend if any of these three are going to line up.

Willoughby Court’s trainer Ben Pauling, who has a chasing career in mind for his rising star, said: “He could not be better. He has come out of it very well but he looks like he has had a race. There are no two ways about it as he is a little bit lighter than he was. He has just trotted and been walking since. I don’t think he will run again this season, but you can never say never. I think he’s a chaser all over as his jumping is what makes him the horse that he is.” Neon Wolf’s trainer Harry Fry suggested “Neon Wolf will be entered in the two-and-a-half mile novice hurdle (Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle) at Punchestown, and if he runs again it will be there, but it’s the last week in April and it will be ground dependent.” Alan King may make the running plans of Messire des Obeaux clearer in this week’s RP Weekender but the horses only entry at Aintree is in the Sefton over three miles.

If Neon Wolf runs, and I think he will, you will need to be a 152+ horse to win this race, if he doesn’t you may need to be only 145+. Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have a whole barn of candidates to choose from but I will put forward four. This is the ideal trip for impressive Cheltenham Mares novice winner Let’s Dance and with her mares allowance she is an OR154 animal. If Willie sticks with the boys a case could be made for Bacardys, OR146, who was well backed to win the Neptune but nothing went right for him especially when Consul de Thaix fell in front of him. The other would be Neptune fifth Kemboy about whom in my Cheltenham Notebook I said “Kemboy travelled at least three wide with little or no cover but still had a good chance turning for home and as this was just his third run over hurdles, he won his maiden and then was second to Let’s Dance, a Festival winner, in a G2 and if Ruby was on board he could be good at Punchestown on the Friday in the G1 novices over 2m 4f.” Finally you have to add Bleu Berry who was impressive in winning the G2 2m novice hurdle at Fairyhouse at the weekend in the hands of Ruby Walsh. The trainer said afterwards “He’s improving with every run and he’ll probably head to Punchestown and go novice chasing next season. He could go out to two and a half miles (at Punchestown) but we’ll decide closer to the time when we see what we have.”

Gordon Elliott is going to have to have a good rummage around his barns to find a competitive candidate as the obvious pair of Brelade and Runfordave ran at Fairyhouse at the weekend where neither exactly covered themselves in glory, to my eyes both had “handicap” written all over them. He could drop the disappointment of the Alfred Bartlett, Death Duty OR149, back in trip health permitting? His Martin Pipe handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, Champagne Classic OR145, may be worth a go but the horse I would love to see entered is The Storyteller OR142. He was a heavily gambled 9/2 favourite for the Martin Pipe handicap hurdle on the Friday before Cheltenham but pulled a muscle on the gallops the following morning. If he is back to 100% I think he could be an OR150+ horse.

The aforementioned Death Duty OR149 could try to rebuild his reputation for Gordon Elliott in the G1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice hurdle over 3m on Festival Wednesday but Willie Mullins has the Alfred Bartlett winner in Penhill, OR153, who will likely have Henry de Bromheads runner up, Monalee OR148, to beat again. However an even bigger danger could be the comfortable Pertemps handicap winner, Presenting Percy OR159, who has seen his mark rise 44lbs since he won his maiden hurdle at Galway last October. Connections may be tempted to go for the Championship event instead with a horse in such good form before novice chasing next season.

Elliott is up against it in the novice hurdling division but with the support of Gigginstown Stud can he fare any better over the larger obstacles?

Novice chasers

Just the two Championship races as the 2m 4f novice chase is a €100K handicap. The G1 Growise Champion 3m novice event is on the opening day, Tuesday and the market could be headed by horses who avoided Cheltenham such as Our Duke (Jessica Harrington) OR153 and Coney Island (Eddy Harty) OR152 and although Gigginstown could run two from Cheltenham in Alpha des Obeaux OR147, who bled for the second time, and Disko OR155 who surely has to step up to three miles neither are trained by Elliott.

The first Irish horse home in the RSA was Bellshill OR148 for Mullins and as the jungle drums suggest he may run in the Irish National if he comes here instead he has to be a serious player as his Cheltenham form is 003 whereas he is unbeaten in his two races at Punchestown. I am presuming that Nicky Henderson will be sending Might Bite OR161 and Whisper OR151 to Aintree and if they then came here three Championship races in six weeks is a big ask against what could be a real quality field especially on Good to Soft ground!

Elliott may have more success in the mid distance handicap with the likes of Jetstream Jack, mind you Mullins has some likely lads of his own in Great Field and Blazer. Final dec’s will be eagerly awaited!

For the 2m G1 Ryanair €115K Novice Steeplechase I expect Mullins the magician to put his hand deep into his hat and pull out a super fit, all cylinders firing Min OR160 who is going to totally stuff Irelands weakest division. If I was Kim Bailey I would send CharbelOR154 here instead of Aintree and on softer ground give it a real go! If those two plus Altior and Yorkhill missed the race Mullins could still win the race with Royal CaviarOR146. Could those three top Northern novice chasers, Waiting Patiently, Cloudy Dream and Forest Bihan be tempted? Geography suggests Aintree would be a more likely destination.

So once again I think Elliott is struggling, this time with the novices. The question is how many can Mullins win with his kids? In Melon, Penhill and Min he has three solid chances. Elliott is going to have to dominate the valuable bumpers and be lucky in the handicaps otherwise the crown will return to be worn once again by the King of Closutton, Willie Mullins.

 

 

Lucky 15 Thursday April 13th

Thursday 6.00pm Plenty of cracking racing for the next four days. I’ve put Fridays Lucky 15 up using Newcastle and Bath and I’ve had a brief look at Lingfield’s AW Championship card. ITV have Haydock and Musselburgh on the box on Saturday. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday is Punchestown and their Grand National meeting where Mullins v Elliott will be big on the agenda before climaxing at Punchestown so I’ve included a bit of light reading on the subject!

Special treat is a Newmarket gallops report from RP’s David Milnes.

Good Friday Lingfield AW Championships.

Just an Apprentice handicap then six Conditions (level weights) races over varying trips for varying ages and sexes. Just too much luck involved with fourteen hurtling down and round Lingfield and unless you get a racing seam in that short home straight you’re stuffed. Having the right jockey in the right place will be crucial.

1.40 Just think for a trainer such as David Evans these races are a big deal and I fancy a couple of his that I think have been trained to the minute! So it’s the frustrating Dougan for me, normally a 6F finisher on the Turf but he has won over 7F here in Surrey. Drawn in stall 7 Callum Shepherd should be able to have plenty of options when making his charge.

2.10 Not many races of this quality over 16F at Lingfield. If any jockey can overcome the car park draw it’s Joe Fanning and he’s going to try to get to the front before they run downhill first time and make every yard on Mark Johnsons in form Watersmeet.

2.40 The mare’s is a three way go. Neither Realtra nor Muffri’Ha covered themselves with glory on their Dubai trip so I’ll go for Kevin Ryan’s stay at home Ashadihan. She is two from two over course and distance.

3.10 6F sprint. You pay your money and you take your chance!! Heart says Kimberella for Fahey and Hanagan but two serious rivals in the classy Lancelot du Lac and the selection Gracious John. For reasons outlined in the 1.40 and he was soooooo unlucky last year, awkward at stalls and met with a wall of horses when storming through!

3.40 It’s a mile, it’s at Lingfield it has to be Michael Wighams My Target! C&D form 2111115!!

4.10 Hard to oppose the Haggas hotpot but Ryan Moore riding for Godolphin on a filly getting 5lbs from the boys and she’s unbeaten in her last three! At the prices (5/1) we’ll choose Dubai One.

4.40 We’ll stick with young Ryan here on Convey who the handicapper and I think is at least three pounds well in! Won the Winter Derby on his only attempt over course, distance and surface with most of these behind him. Nap material.

 

Good Fridays Lucky 15

Bath 3.30                                DOCTOR BAROLO                        4/1 general

Bath 4.30                                THE WARRIOR                                    8/1 general

Newcastle 2.55                       INAAM                                    6/1 PP 5/1 general

Newcastle 3.25                       WILD HACKED                                6/1 general

and this is the reasoning

Bath 3.30                                DOCTOR BAROLO Many of these 3yo’s are stepping up in grade and trip or both. The selection impressed on debut in a Newmarket maiden when second to Time Zone, has a 2000 Guineas entry, and the third has won since. Disappointed twice at Wolverhampton but hacked up at Newcastle in a C5 maiden when stepped up to 10F. OR80 seems a fair mark to go handicapping off and Charlie Hills can repel the Mark Johnston batallions, he runs three of the eight!

Bath 4.30                                THE WARRIOR Ex Coolmore and A.P O’Brien acquired by Amanda Perrett in October 2015 he was OK last season, just beaten three lengths when eighth in the Victoria Cup. He was gelded in August 2016 and his form on the AW since is 321. 8F seems to be his trip, he’s fit and in form and as a hold up horse just needs a little bit of luck in the final furlong.

Newcastle 2.55                       INAAM Time to find a winner from #FantasticMrFahey. I like it when he’s succinct in his sportinglife.com blog, “Inaam is in great form as he goes for a hat-trick in the sunbets.co.uk Handicap. Track and trip will suit him.” Not many negatives there! Up just 2lbs for winning in this grade over C&D. Happy with the draw in stall 4 and even Tony Hamilton has had a couple of winners recently.

Newcastle 3.25                       WILD HACKED Marco Botti teams up with Frankie Dettori on the recent Rosebery second who certainly bumped into one in Big Country. Up 4lbs I think he’s still well in for this valuable £52K C2 12F contest. Remarkably consistent being placed in eight of his eleven races, winning three. This can be his fourth with trip, grade and fitness in his favour, Frankie will just have to box clever from the outside draw early on.

 

Wednesdays Lucky 15

Sort of OK if you got some of the 3/1 about the winner (£10 back for £15) with a first second and third.

Catterick 3.00                         DUTCH ARTIST                               3rd 4/1F               (8/1 BetFred 7/1 PP) R4 3x 10p in £

Great position going into the bend but didn’t handle it well and was in a pocket turning for home but when he got out the Fahey trained winner was gone.

Nottingham 4.50                   SNOOKERED                           8th 14/1           (12/1 Lads 11/1 general)

Tried to sneak up the inside to make his challenge two out but got squeezed and came home in own time. 12/04/17 BHA Stewards Report The Stewards noted that approximately 1½ furlongs out, PEACE AND PLENTY, unplaced, had hung left despite the best efforts of its rider to correct, causing SNOOKERED (IRE), unplaced, to be tightened for room against the rail but after viewing a recording of the race they were satisfied that it did not involve a riding offence. “

Kempton 6.45                        MONARCHS GLEN                  1st 7/4             (3/1 general)

Terry Norman‏ @tjnnorman  Weds April 12th Monarchs Glen did 11.2sec between the 2f – 1f pole. A proper horse. Drop to 10f will be no problem #impressive

sportinglife.com April 13 2017, 13:47  Frankel colt, Monarchs Glen, will be stepped up in class after making a mockery of an opening handicap mark of 87 at Kempton on Wednesday evening. Gosden said: “He is very talented and he won his maiden well. He is a strong-willed horse. He finally relaxed after the back straight. He surprised Frankie how well he defeated a field full of winners. We will head towards the Classic Trial at Sandown.” Nuff said!

Dundalk 8.00                          PUPPETSHOW                                2nd 4/1                    (15/8 PP)

Hood and a tongue tie probably tells you all you need to know. Good sized filly with tons of ability and when she mentally matures, learns to settle she could easily be Group class!  Confused by market, drifted all day to 7/2, opened on course at 5/1 out to 6/1, smashed into 7/2, returned at 4/1. Looked to me as though she was ridden in an “educational” manner, if you can say that these days about A.P O’Brien runners, and the market knew!

 

Keep an eye out for

Newcastle 3.55 I’ve backed South Seas for the Guineas so I hope he bolts up here but there are some useful types in opposition and I think this race could throw up a bucket load of 3yo winners with runners from Fahey, Ryan and Johnstone for the North v the Newmarket big guns of Stoute, Gosden and Bin Suroor! A notebook must!

Bath 4.00 Can #FantasticMrFaheys Mr Lupton beat Muthmir? Notebook says Brilliant winner of the Charity Sprint handicap at York off OR102 and now plying his trade at Listed/Group level. 6F, cut in the ground, breakneck gallop and Jamie Spencer may be the ducks that need to be aligned to land a Group race!” Its Bath’s Good to Firm ground that bothers me, they can’t water. Otherwise all the ducks are swimming in the right direction! Fahey in his sportinglife.com blog says ”Mr Lupton in the Bathwick Tyres Conditions Stakes. For some reason he seems to take a run to get into gear but he’s in good form at home. He has Muthmir to beat here but if that one isn’t on his A-game I hope we’ll be around to pick up the pieces.” Not exactly oozing confidence. Spencer only has one other ride on the card, the 2.00.

Bath 4.30  HEAVENS GUEST Love this horse and Connor Murtagh takes 7lbs off his reduced mark of OR98. HG on OR91 and I would be piling in BUT he’s best on a straight course with a bit of cut in the ground and this hairpin bend into the straight is going to totally confuse him. Why is he running here? Well the answer may be in Fahey’s sportinglife.com

blog I think Heaven’s Guest is badly handicapped and ran accordingly in the Lincoln. However, with the current system if you don’t run you won’t come down so we’ll try again in the Dribuild Handicap. I’d be absolutely over the moon if he won – but a little surprised too.”

He also runs Invermere who ran a cracker at Doncaster and only carries 8st here but is 3lb wrong in the handicap. Notebook says “Got her season off to a cracking start when second in a C4 7F handicap at Doncaster’s opening meeting. Up a pound to a career high OR80. Really consistent and could still be improving. Any ground, 7-9F. Worth a shot at a C2?” Has to be worth an e/w interest with Coral @12/1

Newcastle 1.50 and Bath 5.00 are two 2yo 5F maidens BUT they are both C2 and worth £12k a pop!! Could be some Royal Ascot clues as you won’t send a muppet here. Winners could be useful.

 

David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017  

Shutter Speed John Gosden

Gosden conveyed his recovering jockey Nicky Mackay to watch his second lot work on the Al Bahathri Polytrack and the rider was soon turning around on his crutches to watch the Yarmouth winner fly by. The daughter of Dansili is one of a few fringe horses in the 1,000 Guineas picture at Clarehaven and is set to test her Classic credentials at Newbury’s Greenham meeting. David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017

Eminent Martyn Meade

Jim Crowley plans to ride out twice a week in Newmarket this season and found time from his Hamdan Al Maktoum duties to partner the promising Frankel colt on the Limekilns Trial Ground. As he did when winning his maiden on the Rowley Mile, the three-year-old takes time to find his stride but was well on top at the close of a seven furlong exercise and will trial back at Newmarket next week David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017

Dubawi Prince Roger Varian

Now situated close to the Bury Side gallops at Carlburg, Varian can have a lie in and still get to the Limekilns and Al Bahathri early and this recent Doncaster maiden winner shone at the latter venue at second lot. Andrea Atzeni was stepping on the revs on the son of Dubawi who may tackle a 1m2f conditions contest at Newbury on Friday week. David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017

Kaspersky Jane Chapple-Hyam

A recent arrival from Italy, the six-year-old looked a class act on the Al Bahathri Polytrack at second lot where he stepped clear of his lead horse under Stevie Donohoe. A four-time winner at Group level in Italy and Germany, the son of Footstepsinthesand already tops the bill at Abington Place and is set for his first outing on British soil in the Listed Paradise Stakes at Ascot on May 3. David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017

Never Back Down Hugo Palmer

Palmer is hoping to unleash this two-year-old son of Kodiac in the 5f conditions contest at the Craven meeting, a race he won with Gifted Master in 2015. The 100,000 guineas purchase was giving out all the right signals in his work on the Al Bahathri and is managed for a new middle eastern owner by agent Armando Duarte. David Milnes Newmarket Gallops APR 12 2017

 

Gordon Elliott or Willie Mullins David Jennings 6:48PM, APR 12 2017

Neither Gordon Elliott or Willie Mullins can win the Irish trainers’ title at Fairyhouse but both can lose it. Three days, two Grade 1s and Ireland’s most valuable jumps race means that the Easter eggs on offer at the Meath track have never tasted so good. There is a whopping €1.39 million worth of prize-money up for grabs over 23 races and, while the €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National is the undisputed highlight of the festival, there are four races worth €100,000 and five more worth €40,000 or more so there is plenty to play for. Sponsors BoyleSports make Elliott a 2-1 shot to train the winner of the Irish Grand National for the first time, while Mullins is 4-1 to do likewise. If either achieve the feat, it would certainly put them in the driving seat. Elliott goes into the three-day festival at Fairyhouse with a commanding €362,230 lead over Mullins but, given the defending champion’s superb record at Punchestown in the last decade, the consensus is that he will need to be just as far in front heading into those five days as he is now to hold on.

 

The races that matter most . . .

 

Ryanair Gold Cup (€100,000), Sunday April 16

Elliott Sent out Realt Mor to make all in 2013 and the Gigginstown pair Ball D’Arc (7-1) and A Toi Phil (9-1), who both have solid handicap form, are his two representatives this time.

Mullins Has never won it but Yorkhill is 1-2 with Paddy Power to end his hoodoo. The JLT winner jumps markedly to his left but did win his beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse.

Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares’ Novice Hurdle Championship Final (€100,000), Sunday April 16

Elliott Yet to scoop this lucrative pot, and while he does not have a female as talented as Let’s Dance he does have Barra (chased home Let’s Dance at Cheltenham), Shattered Love (took on the boys in the Neptune) and the four-year-old Dinaria Des Obeaux, who gets weight from all her rivals.

Mullins Landed two of the last four runnings with Annie Power (2013) and Adriana Des Mottes (2014) and this would look the ideal race for Cheltenham winner Let’s Dance, who is unbeaten this season. Mullins has six of the 14 entries.

Tattersalls Ireland Sales Bumper (€100,000), Sunday April 16

Elliott Three possibles, including Gigginstown pair Commandant, who fell six out on his sole point, and Dorydalis, who was a half-length winner of a Ballinaboola point in February.

Mullins Won the race in 2015 with Castello Sforza but has just the one entry this year, the Supreme Racing-owned Special Ted, an unraced son of Soldier Hollow.

Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle (€70,000), Monday April 17

Elliott Has six to choose from but the most interesting of his entries are arguably Coral Cup disappointment Tombstone and the hugely exciting Sutton Place, who has looked a star on both his starts this season and easily beat Supasundae at Naas.

Mullins Won this in five of the last eight renewals and has ten of the 19 entries on this occasion. Most intriguing of those could be the six-year-old mare Karalee, although Open Eagle, Shaneshill and Renneti would all be strong contenders too.

BoyleSports Irish Grand National (€500,000), Monday April 17

Elliott Has never won it but came very close last year with Bless The Wings, who was denied in a photo-finish. Now has 21 of the 74 possibles at the five-day stage, with Paddy Power winner Noble Endeavor his shortest-price runner at present. Sponsors Boylesports make him 2-1 to win the race.

Mullins still bidding to break his duck and will probably be hoping that The Crafty Butcher makes the line-up. Haymount and Arbre De Vie would look his two leading contenders if the Paddy Power runner-up does not make the cut. BoyleSports make him 4-1 to win the race.

Glascarn Handicap Hurdle (€100,000), Tuesday April 18

Elliott Automated would look the pick of his five entries, although Veinard was sixth to Ballyandy in the Betfair Hurdle off a mark of 126 and has a 3lb lower mark in Ireland.

Mullins Clondaw Warrior did the business for him last year and Daneking won it in 2014. He has 15 entries for this, headed by topweight Ivan Grozny.

Fairyhouse in numbers

3 days 2 Grade 1s 23 races  362,230 euro lead for Gordon Elliott in the trainers’ title race

1,390,000 in prize-money up for grabs over the three days

 

Thursday, April 13, 2017 MULLINS CONFIRMS STABLE STARS FOR PUNCHESTOWN

Willie Mullins has been leading trainer at each of the last 11 Punchestown Festivals (and 14 times in all) and he is set to unleash a fabulous team at this year’s event, running from Tuesday, April 25, to Saturday, April 29. Mullins is currently playing second fiddle to Gordon Elliott in the Irish trainers’ championship but Punchestown is likely to have a crucial bearing on the title race, with over €2.9 million in prize money on offer.

All eyes will be on the fantastic Annie Power, who Mullins has confirmed is set to have her first start since last year’s Punchestown Festival. The brilliant mare missed the Cheltenham due to a knee ligament injury. She has three options at Punchestown – the three-mile Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle (Thursday, April 27), the two-mile BETDAQ Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Friday, April 28) and the 2m 4f Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle (Saturday, April 29).

 “Annie Power is in good order and she is working well in preparation for Punchestown. We’re very happy to have her back obviously and looking forward to seeing her out again,” said Mullins. “She’s very adaptable and has top-class form over a variety of trips.  Consequently she holds entries in the BETDAQ Champion Hurdle over two miles, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle over two-and-a-half and the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle over three miles so we’ll decide on her target next week.”

 Djakadam finished fourth to Sizing John when sent off 3/1 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Mullins is happy to take on that rival again in what should be a brilliant Grade 1 Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, April 26. The 3m 1f showpiece is also the target of 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree.

 “I was disappointed with Djakadam’s run in Cheltenham as I thought he was in great form going into the race but hopefully he’ll return to form in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup as he likes this track,” said Mullins. “From only four starts over Punchestown’s fences, he has won two John Durkans and finished second in the Gold Cup twice. With two of the last three Cheltenham Gold Cup winners likely to run in this year’s race, Coneygree and Sizing John, it looks like it will be an exceptionally strong renewal, which is as it should be. More and more English owners want runners in Ireland, or now have their horses trained here, because of the excellent prize money on offer.”

 Un De Sceaux proved one of the stars of this year’s Cheltenham Festival when winning the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f in superb fashion and Mullins has confrmed he will step back to two miles for the €250,000 Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Chase on Tuesday, April 25.

 “I’m very happy with Un De Sceaux,” added Mullins. “He was brilliant when winning his third consecutive Grade 1 chase at Cheltenham last month and given he’s unbeaten in three starts at Punchestown, I’m very much looking forward to seeing him contest the BoyleSports Champion Chase.”

In-form Ballycasey will be joining Un De Sceaux in the same race. “Ballycasey has had a great season thus far, recording four wins – three in Grade 2 company – and he will come back in trip to contest the two-mile Grade 1 Boylesports Champion Chase on the opening day of the festival.  He’s well after his Fairyhouse win.”

The G1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday, April 27, promises to be a race to savour with Nichols Canyon, winner of the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham, set to line up in the €250,000 contest. Lil Rockerfeller and Unowhatimeanharry, the Cheltenham second and third, look set to reoppose while Mullins has not ruled out running Arctic Fire, winner of the County Handicap Hurdle under top-weight at Cheltenham. The eight-year-old also has the option of the two-mile BETDAQ Punchestown Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, April 25.

 “Nichols Canyon is fine and he will go for the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle,” said Mullins. “Arctic Fire has come out of his County Hurdle win at Cheltenham very well and he is on course for Punchestown. He’ll probably go for the BETDAQ Champion Hurdle at this stage but he has won over two-and-a-half miles so the three-mile Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle could be an alternative for him as well. We’ll keep all options open until closer to the day but he is in great form.”

Alongside Annie Power, Mullins has usual formidable team of mares, including the progressive Let’s Dance, winner of the Grade 2 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on her latest start. She is likely to stick to novice company at Punchestown while the gutsy Vroum Vroum Mag has a whole array of possible targets, with her entries including the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup and BoyleSports Champion Chase over fences.

“Let’s Dance has kept on improving all season,” said Mullins. “She was second in the Grade 1 AES Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown last year and has won all five of her starts since. I was very pleased with her win at Cheltenham and she’s come out of it in good form.  Whilst she’s in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle, it probably makes sense to stick to novice company with her this season and so the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle over 2m 4f or the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle over three miles are the more likely options for her.

Vroum Vroum Mag is so versatile she could go anywhere. She holds an entry in both the BoyleSports Champion Chase and the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup over fences but at this stage we’ll probably stick to hurdles with her for Punchestown so we’ll pick between the BETDAQ Champion Hurdle, the Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle and the Mares Champion. But last year’s winner Whiteout will definitely attempt to retain her title in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle.”

Mullins has a string of entries in the two-mile Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday, April 25, the 2m 4f Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle on Friday, April 28 and the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on Wednesday, April 26. The highly-regarded Melon, runner-up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, is on target for the former, while Bleu Berry – unbeaten in three starts this season – is being aimed at 2m 4f race. Meanwhile, Penhill, winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, is on course for the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

“Melon is in great form after Cheltenham and will go for the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle where he could be joined by a few of his stablemates as well,” added Mullins. “With three consecutive wins over two miles under his belt, Bleu Berry looks an exciting young horse. He is in the Herald Champion Novice over two but at the moment it looks like we might step him up in trip to contest the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. He’s in good form. Penhill has various entries but he is being aimed at the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle, that’s the race for him. He’s in good nick too.”

Mullins has no shortage of rookie talent over fences with Great Field, a 32-length winner at Thurles last month, being aimed at the two-mile Ryanair Novice Chase on Thursday, April 27. Yorkhill, winner of the JLT Novices’ Chase, is also in that race and the 3m 1f Growise Champion Novice Chase on Tuesday, April 25. He is likely to start at Fairyhouse this weekend so plans are fluid at present.

 “Great Field is unbeaten in three starts for us over fences and he just keeps on improving.  He’ll go for the Ryanair Novice Chase over two miles where better ground should be to his liking,” added Mullins. “Yorkhill returned from Cheltenham in good form and I’m happy with him. He’s in at Fairyhouse this weekend so we’ll have to see about Punchestown after that. He is in both novice chases at Punchestown and I’m not sure which he’d go for.”

Meanwhile Bapaume, runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, is set to try and go one better in the Grade 1 AES Champion 4YO Hurdle on Saturday, April 29. Several stablemates could be in the field including French import Orion D’Aubrelle, who has yet to run in Ireland.

 “Bapaume came out of Cheltenham well and is being aimed at the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on the final day of the Festival where he might be joined by Dandy Mag, Meri Devie and possibly a new recruit from France in Orion D’Aubrelle,” continued Mullins. “There are some very good bumpers at Punchestown too and we have a nice team of horses to contest those.”

Wednesday April 12th

4.30pm Just seen the cards for tomorrow, Thursday, and they are poor! So just this parish notice tonight but oodles tomorrow with excellent Flat cards at Lingfield (AW Championships), Bath and Newcastle on Good Friday. Plenty of C2 races, Conditions and Handicaps. I’ll try to sort out Friday and Saturday on tomorrows blog.

Might like to put this one in your Tracker!

RP “our man in Paris” 6:00PM, APR 11 2017 Gold Luck is the last off the production line that has produced Galikova, Anodin and of course the brilliant Goldikova. Her win in the Prix Vanteaux on Sunday raised plenty of cheer for Freddie Head and her owner-breeders, Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. But Goldikova’s influence could be even bigger in the shape of her daughter by Galileo, Terrakova. An impressive winner of her only start at two, her return to action appears imminent, either at Chantilly on Sunday or Maisons-Laffitte next Tuesday.

Lucky 15 Tuesday April 11th

Tuesday 6.30pm I hope you all took the hint that Brian was indeed no Snail! Never a moment’s doubt. Currently top priced at 16/1 with BetFred for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

For a Wednesday in early April there are some really interesting horses running. So let’s try to rustle up a Wednesday Lucky 15.

Tuesdays Racing

Pontefract 5.40          Theos Lolly                 5th 3/1

Frustrating. For a boys race they went no pace at all. Connor Murtagh got Theos Lolly in the right place turning for home but in a messy race the horse had been too keen too early and found absolutely nothing running for home. Back to the drawing board.

Pontefract 3.10          Brian the Snail            1st 6/5F

Richard Fahey was delighted with 3.10 winner Brian The Snail and said: “I’ve made no secret, we do like him and there is a race at Ascot on May 3 for three-year-olds for him. We have the Commonwealth Cup in mind.”

Out well, got box seat, pulled out in the straight and hacked up. Buick rode him with supreme confidence. You don’t sell a 3yo sprinter to Godolphin to win a C3 handicap at Pontefract in April! Sorry to be repetitive but the 3yo sprinting division is the toughest but this chap, who has Serena William’s backside, has to be backed until he is beaten!

Wednesdays Lucky 15

Catterick 3.00                         DUTCH ARTIST                               8/1 BetFred 7/1 PP

Nottingham 4.50                   SNOOKERED                           12/1 Lads 11/1 general

Kempton 6.45                        MONARCHS GLEN                  3/1 general

Dundalk 8.00                          PUPPETSHOW                                15/8 PP

 

and this is the reasoning

Catterick 3.00                         DUTCH ARTIST 7F handicap at Catterick and I’m looking something drawn low that can get out, hold the rail round the sharp downhill bend and kick on in the straight. Dutch Art won his maiden here last May over this trip and I’m sure Daniel Tudhope can get him out of stall 5 into a prominent position for that important bend. Trainer David O’Meara specialises in others cast offs and this is a peach. John Magnier and Fitri Hay paid €240K for Dutch Artist as a yearling, O’Meara picked him up for £8K! Plenty to like about the selection including the odds.

Nottingham 4.50                   SNOOKERED  This is a fairly competitive C5 3yo 10F handicap and the opposition has in form progressive types but Snookered is the right end of the handicap, gelded, up in trip, has Hanagan on board and the yard has hit the ground running! My #FantasticMrFahey notebook says “Three runs in sprint maidens hardly sighted but has done better in 7/8F handicaps finishing second both times. Sadly has gone up 8lbs without winning. Clearly has ability and headstrong but settled better last time. Made all to win a C6 handicap at Leicester under Tony Hamilton. Now gelded could be progressive at 10F.”

Kempton 6.45                        MONARCHS GLEN Time to get on the Frankel bandwagon and I am amazed this one makes his debut in a C3 handicap not to mention on the sand on a Wednesday night! In Gosden we trust! He ran twice at Goodwood as a 2yo in C4 maidens over 9F, second on debut he then beat stablemate Pealer on his return visit. Neither run has had the form franked, indeed Pealer was turned over at 1/4 . However he looked the part to me, Frankie Dettori is aboard and he gets a couple of pounds off the Godolphin good thing!

Dundalk 8.00                          PUPPETSHOW  No mention in the O’Brien Racing Post Stable Tour but this filly is very much on my radar. This daughter of Galileo out of a Listed 6F winner ran twice as a 2yo. Fourth on debut over 6F in October when green at the start, made progress to challenge a furlong out but didn’t know what to do. Then just a fortnight later in a hot 7F maiden she was an excellent third to Tempura and Asking. She makes her 3yo debut over 11F on the sand and  I expect her to take giant steps forward in the very capable hands of Seamie Heffernan.

Keep an eye out for

Nottingham 3.20 A cracking 14f Listed renewal of the Further Flight stakes. Wall of Fire is the one to watch for me as Hugo Palmer his trainer thinks he could make up to Cup horse. Ed Dunlop runs Trip to Paris to see if he still has the enthusiasm for racing. Elidor has some excellent handicap form and Ralph Beckett’s unbeaten Moonrise Landing hasn’t been seen for almost a year. I don’t think this race is a major target for any of them but instead a stepping stone for the summer. Watch but no bet.

Nottingham 3.50  MISS VAN GOGH This is a cracking C3 8F handicap with loads of likely types such as Weekend Offender, Midhmaar and GK Chesterton but Miss Van Gogh is a Course and Distance winner, now below her last winning mark, bottom weight and Hanagan on board. My #FantasticMrFahey notebook says “Just about down to a winning mark, OR85. Stiff mile with some ease in the ground and preferably Hanagan on board.” There’s the rub. The going tomorrow is Good to Firm, Good in Places. Selective watering to maintain. 5mm applied to bends and back straight Monday pm. A further 5mm will be applied to home bend on Tuesday. She could well be a non-runner.

Dundalk 7.30 A 7F Listed 3yo contest with AP O’Brien saddling Intelligence Cross and War Secretary whilst Jim Bolger has the much vaunted Holistic Approach, “He’s ready to go now. He was disappointing in the Killavullan, but it was a race we were happy to draw a line through at the time. It just didn’t work out for him. I don’t think he’ll stay much further than a mile and I don’t think any ground will be a problem for him. I definitely see him as a stakes horse.” Mick Halfords Ambassadorial is unbeaten in two.