Wednesday 15th November 5.00pm

It’s time to get back blogging.

The Flat season is done and dusted, well almost, just keeping an eye on those AW maidens especially runners from the Gosden, Haggas and Varian yards.

I decided this year that I would see the Flat season through until the end and start my National Hunt season with Clonmel Oils day and the Cheltenham November (Open) meeting when there may be some relevant form available. I am going to post this blog on and on and then all my jumping blogs will be on the latter site.

Train of Thought

The upcoming three days at Cheltenham and two days at Punchestown signal the start of the “core” jumping season and I expect still to be writing more in my Notebook than on betting slips. Every race will be reviewed through the prism of the Cheltenham Festival. Many trainers will be looking to get their face on TV to raise their profile and spout on about their latest “live Festival chance” but obviously they will “take it one race at a time”! Here is my take on where the leading trainers are and what their targets are for this season.


Willie Mullins Simple. He HAS to be Champion trainer in Ireland. His Closutton stables still have the greatest depth of serious all round talent. It’s Achilles heel may be the three mile chase division but I’m sure he’ll rectify that in the next couple of seasons. He will target four major meetings, Leopardstown at Christmas, the first weekend of February for the NH version of Irish Champions weekend plus the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals. How close the pesky Gordon Elliott is at the end of March will decide whether he goes to Aintree. Huge assets in Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend and the return of Faugheen and Douvan’s trip the major talking points.

Gordon Elliott A serious player where ever he turns up. With the support of the Gigginstown Mounted Cavalry he is very strong in the 3m+ chase division and the supply pipeline to get there, so bumpers, staying novice hurdles, novice chasers from 2m4f upwards with other stars including Apples Jade, Cause of Causes and Petit Mouchoir. He will target the same four meetings as Mullins plus the Irish Grand National is a big race for Gigginstown.

Nicky Henderson Traditional, orthodox, vastly experienced and often an iron fist in a velvet glove. He has a solid all round team with three big guns in Buveur D’Air, Altior and Might Bite.

Paul Nicholls The man is driven. I wouldn’t want to even play Scrabble against him, he is competitive with a capital ‘C’! This season he has a large squad of novice chasers as he searches for the “next big thing”. Has a formidable team of jockeys in Sam Twiston-Davies, 19yo Harry Cobden, Sam Bowen especially at 10st and claiming 7lbs, Bryony Frost.


Old School

Philip Hobbs 100 winners and a £1 million in prize money, regular as clockwork. This season will be spiced up by Defi du Seuil and possibly Gumball and Hobbs will want a Festival winner.

Alan King 100 winners and a £1 million in prize money but I just have a feeling Mr King has developed a taste for the Flat? Big handicaps and a Festival winner high up his targets.

Nigel Twiston-Davies Hardly ever out of form who just churns out winners all season. Would love to have a Saturday horse or two to back up Bristol de Mai. Healthy competition in the shape of Fergal O’Brien across the road!



Dan Skelton He isn’t hungry for winners, he is ravenous. A chunky chip off the Nicholls block. 100 winners and a £1 million in prize money was the target but he could do that by Christmas! He wants to be in amongst Henderson and Nicholls. Pressure to get a Festival winner. Busy yard, where most horses are ridden by the trainer’s brother, Harry, and the trainer’s girlfriend, Bridget Andrews!

Harry Fry All about quality this yard. Patience is the by word. Fry and Fehily are a perfect match. American and UnowhatImeanharry are the stables leading lights. Not afraid of a handicap or two.


On the Up

Neil Mulholland – Tom George – Ben Pauling – Fergal O’Brien

Solid, competent yards who are media savvy and I would expect all four to do better than they did last season. Quite willing to take on the Powerhouses, can think outside the box and place their horses well.



Dr Richard Newland – Kim Bailey – Graeme McPherson

Make the most of what they have. Dangerous men when the money is down.


State of Flux

Colin Tizzard Last season he was on the verge of joining the Powerhouses but the recent deaths of leading owners Ann and Alan Potts will make this November Cheltenham meeting emotional as we wait for news of the top notch Potts horses. Cue Card has been a wonderful servant but is close to a final hurrah, Thistlecrack is on the way back from injury. As far as I am concerned the sooner Joe Tizzard takes over at the helm the better. Stable strength would be much reduced without the Potts aeroplanes.

David Pipe Just 80 horses at Pond House these days. Currently the yard is in good form but the Saturday winners have dried up. Moon Racer and Un Temps pour Tout are still in the yard but the Tinsdall money has not reaped the rewards! Stable jockey Tom Scudamore seems to be making new connections plus plenty of outside rides and is the writing on the wall?

Jonjo O’Neill My winter version of Mark Johnston!!! Can’t read him at all. Has just about the best facilities in Britain, a McManus conveyor belt of top horse flesh but seems to be in form for four days a year, maybe. I’m not Barry Geraghty’s biggest fan either. Anyone who could give me “Ten Jonjo horses to follow” is a friend for life!



Warren Greatrex – Charlie Longsdon – Donald McCain – Sue Smith

McCain is fighting his way back to the top table and I think best when sending his horses north from his Cheshire yard.

Longsdon was almost at top table four or five years back but just doesn’t have the owners. JJ Burke signing as stable jockey should be a positive. Whole set up lacks ‘X’ factor.

Warren Greatrex could have gone in the “On The Up” pigeon hole as well as the Shrewdies section and is surely just a couple of top horses from cracking it. The Worlds End? Any yard that has Tessa Greatrex/Highflyer buying for it, the McNeill family among the owners and Richard Johnson and Gavin Sheehan riding for it surely has to be taken seriously!

The Smiths are terrific with Danny Cook’s aggressive style in the saddle a good fit. They jump and they gallop but some would say they could benefit with a bit more time between races.


I will come back to this theme of Trainers targets, aims and ability. Yet to mention the “Taffia”, the Girls, the dual purpose boys and the resurgent North!


Saturday October 28th Time for some verbals!

Posted Friday 27th 6pm

Excellent afternoons racing ahead with Newbury and Doncaster on the Flat whilst National Hunt fans are well catered for at Cheltenham and Kelso. For punting purposes I will stick to the Flat although full attention will be given to the Cotswold venue and there are many decent horses making the long haul to Kelso.

The Group 1 Racing Post Trophy for two year old colts is a belter with most of the runners on my radar and in the Notebook! Fully expect the winner to be the 2018 2000 Guineas and/or Derby winter favourite.

Winners look hard to find so we will just go with the Lucky 15 and a stab at the Racing Post Trophy.

Win Lucky 15

Doncaster 1.45           STAXTON                                @ 6/1 general

Doncaster 4.00           BOUNDSY                               @ 9/1 general

Newbury 2.50            VINTAGER                               @ 7/1 BF 13/2 general

Newbury 3.55            HIKMAA                                  @ 11/2 general

Star* Singles (5 stars* Out)

Doncaster 1.45           STAXTON                                One star* win @ 6/1 general

Doncaster 3.25           VERBAL DEXTERITY                Three star*** win @ 4/1 WH + BF

Newbury 2.50            VINTAGER                               One star* win @ 7/1 BF 13/2 general

 and here is why

Doncaster 3.25 Doncaster Racing Post Trophy G1 8F 2yo colts

Undoubtedly the strongest, deepest 2yo race run in Europe this season and much of the hype will be over O’Brien breaking Bobby Frankels G1 record here or whether he’ll have to wait for Sunday in France or Lord help us, the Breeders Cup! I am going to keep this simple and put up the only horse to have already won a Group 1, VERBAL DEXTERITY. Aiden O’Brien clearly didn’t run his first team in the National stakes but the selection put Beckford and the rest to the sword in impressive fashion and Jim Bolger hasn’t sent him here for a day out! Saxon Warrior hasn’t done anything wrong but looks a Derby horse to me, likewise The Pentagon. Chilean and Loxley need to make a giant leap forwards and the main danger may be the cannily placed Roaring Lion from John Gosden. I think Verbal Dexterity has the class and speed to hold them all at bay.


Doncaster 1.45           STAXTON Having won two Novice events at Haydock over this 6F trip he was stepped up in grade finishing 5th in the G2 Gimcrack, 6th in the G2 Middle Park and third in the Listed Rockingham. He was beaten by the filly Rebel Assault last time out but didn’t get the cleanest of runs and a pound better off can turn the tables here. The biggest dangers will be the lightly raced Newmarket raiders, Hugo Palmers Never Back down and John Gosdens once raced winner of a Yarmouth maiden, Mutaaqeb. However I’ll stick with the form in the book.

Doncaster 4.00           BOUNDSY Already done us two favours this season at Chester and Haydock and with Paul Hanagan taking over the reins he is in effect up six pounds. However Boundsy doesn’t know how to run a bad race and loves a photograph! In his last five races he has been beaten a head and a neck and won by a neck, a neck and a nose! It might happen a bit quick for him over Doncaster’s sharp five but he is in top form and possibly still improving.

Newbury 2.50            VINTAGER 33/1 winner of his maiden at HQ for Sussex trainer David Menuisier may have been a surprise but that Newmarket maiden has thrown up a shed load of winners, the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and tenth have all obliged! Stepped up to G3 class in the Solario at Sandown over 7F he was an honourable fifth to Masar. His trainer is saying all the right things “Vintager seems to be in good shape and the track at Newbury should suit. I think that the soft ground should suit as well because he won nicely on similar ground on his debut at Newmarket. He was meant to run the other day at Newmarket in the G3 Somerville Stakes but his scope wasn’t great, so we decided to give him a bit more time and he seems fine now. He was very green when he ran in the Solario Stakes and he switched off a little bit too much at the back. Sandown is not an easy track for two-year-olds and, when you win first time out, you need to learn a great deal quickly in order to compete at G3 level. Despite his greenness, it was still a good run. He should be a bit cleverer on his third run and we will see how he gets on – he will either prove me right or prove me wrong!”

Newbury 3.55            HIKMAA Won her first two races on the AW over 6F and her two most recent runs have been in Group company. She wasn’t far away when fourth in the G2 7F Rockfel behind Juliet Capulet at HQ and over the same course and distance when fifth in the G3 Oh So Sharp. Ed Vaughan has found the ideal race for Hikmaa, Listed, 7F and Adam Bechizza is her regular pilot.

Friday October 27th 

Posted Thursday October 26th 6.40pm

Three fascinating cards with Newbury and Doncaster on the Flat and for the winter fans the first days racing of the season at Cheltenham. I think I can see a definite each way Lucky 15 and probably a win Lucky 15 as well! As usual it will be selections first then the here’s why but that part might have some different headings! Clear as mud.

First though some general observations.

Cheltenham – Good (watered). (Going Stick: 6.6 on Thursday at 15:00) Watering: Have applied up to 180mm of irrigation since the end of August. Rails: All hurdle and chase bends dolled out 7 yards. The 2m 5f hurdle start has been moved forward 25 yds to improve the start. Distances as follows: Races 1 and 3 2m 5f 63yds Race 2 2m 21yds Race 4 3m 164yds Race 5 3m 1f 84yds Races 6 and 7 2m 129yds Going/Weather/Other last updated @Thu 26 Oct 3:09pm

The handicaps have large fields but the ground has reduced the level weights fields. Wouldn’t be too keen to take a short price! Small stakes, big prices may be the way to have an interest. Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell are in attendance!

Newbury – Soft (Going Stick: 5.3 on 26-10-2017 at 07:45) Stalls: Centre of the course straight course

Rails: The 7f and 5f Bends are set on the inside lines so all round course races are standard distances. Rail will be moved after racing on Friday to give fresh ground for Saturday.

The maidens are essential viewing, debutantes especially.

Doncaster – Straight Good Round Good, Good to Soft in places (Going Stick: 7.5 on Thursday at 06:30)

Stalls: Straight course stands side Round course inside

This quicker ground could see some upsets.


Each way Lucky 15

Doncaster 3.35                       OUTBACK TRAVELLER                               8/1 PP and shortening!

Newbury 4.35                        REPTON                                              12/1 general

Doncaster 4.45                       ANDOK                                                               11/1 WH

Doncaster 5.20                       HAWRIDGE FLYER                                        11/1 general

Win Lucky 15

Doncaster 1.20                       DUBHE                                                5/2 WH + Ladbrokes

Newbury 1.40                        GEORGE OF HEARTS                                   2/1 general

Doncaster 2.25                       GRANDSCAPE                                     7/2 general                            

Newbury 3.25                        DUKE OF BRONTE                              5/1 general


Horses on my Radar with an eye for next season (2018)

Newbury 1.10 BLUE MIST This gelded son of Mafki was an impressive winner on the Aw at Kempton on debut but now on Soft ground and with a three pound penaly I’ll pass. Handicaps next season.

Doncaster 1.15 DUBHE Three runs and into a handicap. Fourth on debut in a hot maiden at Newbury won by Mildenberger, won well at Sandown and then derailed by the heavy ground behind Chilean on heavy in a Listed race at Haydock. Being by Dubawi out of a Galileo mare suggests he’ll want further next season but I think the handicapper has been lenient starting him off on OR90 and on this better ground for the in form Charlie Appleby yard looks good.

Newbury 1.40 GEORGE OF HEARTS Richard Hughes has a smart 2yo on his hands in the shape of Glendevon and he mentioned this fellow in the same sentence in the Racing Post at the weekend. George of Hearts was fourth on debut here at Newbury and goes a hundred yards further this time. The second from that maiden finished an excellent third in the Listed totepool 2yo Trophy at Redcar giving the form some substance. Nothing too scary in the newcomers.

Doncaster 2.25 GRANDSCAPE Oh I really hope he runs well! He was fourth in one of my favoured Yarmouth maidens behind a horse I have real high hopes for, Regal Reality. My thoughts on James Tate’s US bred son of Lemon Drop Kid on debut was “On debut respectable fourth to Regal Reality in a C4 7F maiden. Settled, travelled and stayed on. Looks a handicap project, probably on Good ground or better or maybe the AW?”. Since then the horse a neck in front of him has won at Chantilly and I am happy to support Grandscape in a maiden especially on this quicker ground. Tate is one of two trainers who I think have a better than expected set of 2yo’s, the other is Robyn Brisland but I digresss.

The Price is Right!

Newbury 3.25 DUKE OF BRONTE Love this horse and I just think he is the wrong price here. Only the three runners for this 13F C2 Conditions race but surely all three are destined for Group success next season. This year’s Mallard winner, Time to Study, will set the fractions with the Messrs Dettori and Crowley sitting behind. This is a step up for Royal Line who is two from two and will need every yard of this trip, I just think Duke of Bronte will have too much speed and he loves upsetting the odds!

Doncaster 3.35 OUTBACK TRAVELLER I backed him last time and due to SkyBet’s generous place terms I collected at 33/1 when he was fifth! He won the Wokingham at Royal Ascot last year but since then he’s tumbled down the weights and has found his way to the King of Sprints, Robert Cowell. This quicker ground will suit him better and who has Cowell booked for this definite hold up horse? The best in the business, Jamie Spencer! I can’t resist. Top weight is the Stewards Cup second Shanghai Glory,  owned by Fitri Hay but NOT ridden by Spencer. A clear message.

Plenty of old friends in opposition. Who’s brave enough to back Hoof It, George Bowen, Naggers, Aeolus, the first time blinkered Al Qahwa etc. etc? Mind you that 50/1 Kickboxer is too big.

Newbury 4.35 REPTON He’s been playing with the big boys in C2 recently without pulling up trees but dropping a grade here I think he can be competitive here. Thought good enough to run in a G3 as a 2yo, he just about gets 7F and on Soft ground over 6F from the Hannon yard that is finishing the season strongly at the price I think is worth a shot.

Doncaster 5.20 HAWRIDGE FLYER Stays 10F, won on Good ground, ridden by the seasons leading amateur Patrick Millman, trained by his super-shrewd dad, gets three pounds as a 3yo, the draw is a nightmare but Hawridge Flyer is a hold up horse and it’s a long straight on Town Moor and at the price I’ll take the chance!



Doncaster 4.45 ANDOK I don’t think the master of Musley Bank expected getting this far into the season without Andok having won! He was sent off at just 8/1 to beat Defoe in the C2 London Gold Cup off 7lbs higher! I think he’s running better now and C3, 10F, Good ground and off OR80 tick all the boxes for me! Happy to take on an inexperienced favourite who is yet to run on ground this quick and whose only win was a C5 maiden on heavy ground at Epsom! If soft ground loving Red Society beats Andok keep me away from high buildings and sharp knifes!

Newbury 2.50 PRYING PANDORA Twice second this season in a grade higher and I believe what she wants is a long straight to organise her challenge and Newbury fits that bill. I’m tempted at the price but the jolly may not have been out for getting on for a year but she could be Group class and you never know where you are with fillies at this time of year.

Newbury 5.10 GABRIALS STAR Seventeen pounds lower than this time last season, ran his best race for ages last time and the vastly improved Connor Murtagh takes the ride in this C5 16F apprentice handicap. Surely it’s now or never!


Lay of the day

Cheltenham 4.55 SLATE RIVER Been hyped up all over the place and Colin Tizzards good horses have all needed the run.

Wednesday October 25th Yarmouth is Great again?

Posted Wednesday October 25th 6pm

In May of this year Jane Carley wrote an article for the Pitchcare magazineGreat Yarmouth Racecourse looking forward” about the recent renovation work at Great Yarmouth racecourse and the aim to return the Norfolk track to its role as the nursery for stars of the future.  Here are the racing bits with the help of “cut and paste”!

“The seaside track moved to its current site, a stone’s throw from the bustling promenade, almost 100 years ago and gained a reputation as an ideal ‘nursery’ for flat racing’s future stars. Track improvements at Great Yarmouth have been given the thumbs-up by trainers and jockeys and are starting to attract increased numbers of runners back to the Norfolk course. “Leading Newmarket trainers like to bring their two-year olds to Great Yarmouth for their maiden races,” explains Clerk of the Course Richard Aldous. “We have a mile straight which is regarded as an honest galloping track that allows horses to get into their stride. It’s a very fair track now – the best horse generally wins.”

But, in recent years, the land on the straight mile had started to move and undulations appeared on the racing surface.

“It could be unbalancing for inexperienced horses and, by 2012, we were starting to get negative feedback, whilst runners also dropped off,” explains Head Groundsman Richard Bradley. In spring 2014, a survey of the course found that some of the undulations were two to four inches in depth. “It doesn’t sound much,” says Richard Aldous, “until you consider that the horses are travelling at 35mph and that the going tends to be good to firm. We observed that the running line had also changed over the years as jockeys sought the best ground, moving from the stand rail to the middle of the track.”

On 20th September 2014, work began to strip the turf, “We got to a furlong from the end towards the back of October 2014, then the heavens opened, and the track flooded,” says Richard Aldous. “It was a very difficult and frustrating time,” recalls Richard Bradley. It was not until the beginning of March 2015 that the job was completed.

Great Yarmouth was back in action in August 2015. The main concern was whether the course was able to withstand the extremes that the elements could produce, and it was not to be. A significant amount of rain fell between races then, due to an incident where two horses slipped and jockeys were unseated because of standing water, the final day and a half of the September Festival was abandoned.

Racing recommenced at Great Yarmouth on 8th June 2016 and Richard Aldous says that the track enjoyed a very good season – despite a blip when an irrigation pipe from the golf course burst under the track during the September Festival.

“The track was finally standing up to racing well. More experienced jockeys were trying different running lines, familiarising themselves with the new surface,” he comments. “The development has been appreciated by trainers and jockeys who acknowledge that we were trying to do our best for horse welfare. We would like full fields and competitive racing, and it is certainly looking up since the development. Runners are increasing all the time and feedback is good, so we are looking forward to the season.””


With the powerful Newmarket yards of John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Charlie Appleby and William Haggas now sending plenty of runners I believe the form of these maidens is strong and in some cases exceptional.

Back in September after their Summer festival I profiled two Yarmouth maidens that I felt were laden with future winners, well I thought I saw another strong C4 fillies maiden over 8F on Tuesday.

(I will tack on the September blog to the end of this one in case you missed it)

There were two divisions of this fillies maiden with the first division comfortably by Dramatic Queen on her second outing for William Haggas with James Doyle keeping it simple by making every yard and lengthening 2F out to put the race to bed. John Gosden’s Heather Lark was a solid second on her third outing and will now get a handicap mark and an indication of how the Official Handicapper views the race. Behind, the good sized Frankel filly, Qazyna, was taken all over the place but kept on whilst the H-a-M/Burrows/Crowley Anaakeed was clueless and can only improve.

Prior to racing I thought the second division looked the deeper and indeed the second division was run almost a second quicker, equating to five lengths, with Dramatic Queen Division I winner, strictly on the clock finishing fifth in Division II, although there are some mitigating circumstances.

The race itself Celestin’s was well away but Gerard Mosse clearly had a flight to catch and burnt through the early fractions on Star of Sienna, Celestin’s, Glitterdust and Goldspun towed the main pack along down the centre of the course. The leader was spent at the 2F pole and four went past, the three who were chasing the pace and stand side an ice cold James Spencer on Lady of Shalott who was galloping all over this field. Come with Me, a George Strawbridge owned daughter of Dansili, followed her home under a busy Rob Havlin.”

Lady of Shalott is a big scopey daughter of Camelot, she has won comfortably despite looking around in the final furlong. She is surely Group class and I think the next six home will all win next season at different levels and different trips.


2:00 Yarmouth 24 Oct 2017 Breeders Backing Racing EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Div II)

(Class 4) (2yo) (1m3yds) 1m Good To Soft

POS. (DRAW)       HORSE / SP                           JOCKEY / TRAINER                             AGE        WGT       OR          TS            RPR

1 (9)                        Lady Of Shalott 12/1   Jamie Spencer/David Simcock         2              9.0          –             –             79

Held up, headway over 2f out, led over 1f out, ran on well

2 (6) 2¾                 Come With Me 20/1         Robert Havlin/John Gosden             2              9.0 t1    –             –             71

Mid-division, headway over 2f out, ridden, every chance over 1f out, stayed on same pace well inside final furlong (op 16/1 tchd 22/1)

3 (7) 1¾ [4½]        Glitterdust 16/1                 Ted Durcan/Sir Michael Stoute       2              9.0          –             –             67

Chased leaders, ridden and every chance over 1f out, stayed on same pace inside final furlong (op 14/1)

4 (8) ½ [5]              Celestin’s 7/4                      Martin Harley/William Haggas       2              9.0          –             –             66

Chased leader who went clear over 6f out, closed to lead over 1f out, soon ridden and headed, no extra inside final furlong (op 6/4)

5 (5) ½ [5½]           Hameem 6/4F                     Jim Crowley/John Gosden                2              9.0          –             –             65

Slowly into stride, soon pushed along in rear, headway over 1f out, not reach leaders (op 2/1)

6 (10) 1 [6½]         Hourglass (IRE) 7/1           Andrea Atzeni/Marco Botti             2              9.0          –             –             62

Slowly into stride, ran green in rear, ran on inside final furlong, never nearer (tchd 5/1)

7 (1) ¾ [7¼]           Goldspun 28/1                   Fran Berry/Ed Dunlop                        2              9.0          –             –             61

Chased leaders, ridden over 2f out, weakened final furlong (op 25/1)


LADY OF SHALOTT     (David Simcock) £80K yearling who caught the eye of Marten Julian who made her a dark 2yo to follow in his Autumn Update, “Third foal and a half-sister to 1m 2f winner Harold Lloyd out of a middle-distance winning

full sister to two winners including US Grade 3 winner Roman Dynasty. Second dam a US Listed stakes winner and a half-sister to seven winners. A scopey filly but very stoutly bred on her distaff side, so one for the longer term.”

Surely an Oaks filly, whether it’s the Epsom variety or something more regional only time will tell.

COME WITH ME         (John Gosden) Wears a black noseband and had a first time tongue tie. Made her debut in the hot HQ maiden won by Wild Illusion, then had a troubled passage at Nottingham over 8½F on ground surely too soft. She is by Dansili out of a Sadlers Wells mare who was G3 class on Good to firm ground at around a mile. Quick ground, 8-10F and a year older she could be useful, especially if she appears on the AW in a handicap (?) or is shipped to the USA.

GLITTERDUST              (Sir Michael Stoute) A Cheveley Park home bred daughter of Intello who has taken a big step forward after running green behind Bye Bye Baby at HQ. She’s a tall leggy filly who did best here of those that chased the pace early on. 8/10F fillies handicap would be the least of her aspirations considering her connections.

CELESTIN’S                 (William Haggas) Not the biggest but a battler who will surely improve for quicker ground, a handicap mark and maybe 7F will be her trip.

HAMEEM                    (John Gosden) €500K yearling purchase at Arqana sent off 6/4 favourite here on debut and must have been impressing on the Gosden gallops. Breeding suggests she won’t be se seen at her best until she races over 12F. Slowly away here but travelled OK, green when asked to pick up but kept on. Definite “first day at school”! Hameem is owned by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s 19yo daughter, Hissa. The Dubai clan are certainly getting the kids involved!

HOURGLASS               (Marco Botti) After the winner probably the second most interesting horse to take from the race. I don’t associate Marco Botti with M Tabor, D Smith & Mrs J Magnier and especially with a daughter of Galileo who is a half-sister to Shamardal! On debut here, bustled along in the rear, progress under hands and heels but when Atzeni gave her a tap she whizzed home! Oodles of promise.

GOLDSPUN                 (Ed Dunlop) Another debutante who chased the pace, every chance two out but pretty clueless and looked after, the “educational” introduction. As a daughter of Nathanial I am sure trainer Ed Dunlop can place her to good effect up in trip but there is plenty of mile pace on the dams side so finding her trip may take a couple of runs.


Get them in your trackers!


Previous blog – Yarmouth 20 Sep 2017

As I keep hearing whispers from the Sir Michael Stoute yard that “he has at least two as good as, if not better, than Expert Eye” from the September 15 2017 Catching Pigeons column on I made a note of “One for next week to keep tabs on is Regal Reality from the Sir Michael Stoute yard. The son of Intello, out of Regal Realm, has a couple of entries at Yarmouth and while he’s likely to come forward for his initial racecourse experience, his homework suggests there’s a lot to look forward to in the long term.”

It’s great to see all the top Newmarket yards sending their better 2yo’s to Yarmouth once again. Not only is it flat again but they race down the centre of the course more often than not, with few hard luck stories. Any first time winner from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard has to go in the notebook.

 “Of the first four home only the third, Godolphins Dream Warrior, had run before when third to Elector (another Stoute 2yo debut winner) at Ascot. Regal Reality was out well and made every yard, lengthening at the two furlong pole and seeing the 7F out well. Rich Identity came from midfield with a change of gear to get within half a length of the winner and looks a real prospect. Dream Warrior sat on the leader’s quarters but when asked to challenge was still green and found little. Grandscape had the “educational” ride having settled and travelled well he stayed on with purpose without getting competitive.”


Hobgoblin Legendary Ruby Ale / EBF Maiden Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Div II) Class 4 2yo 7f3yds Soft

POS. (DRAW)       HORSE / SP                           JOCKEY/TRAINER                                               AGE        WGT       OR          TS         RPR

1 (4)                        Regal Reality 9/4                Ryan Moore         Sir Michael Stoute              2              95           –             32          78

Made all, ridden 2f out, found extra over 1f out, kept on well under pressure when pressed inside final furlong, ridden out (op 15/8 tchd 7/4 and 5/2)

2 (7)        ½             Rich Identity 11/2             Andrea Atzeni     Roger Varian                       2              95           –             30          77

Dwelt, soon in touch in midfield, closed to chase leaders over 1f out, switched left and chased winner 1f out, strong challenge inside final furlong, kept on well but always held (op 13/2 tchd 7/1)

3 (2)        2¼ [2¾]  Dream Warrior EvensF     Colm O’Donoghue Charlie Appleby                2              95           –             23          71

Took keen hold, pressed winner, ridden well over 1f out, lost 2nd and unable to quicken under pressure 1f out, outpaced but held on to 3rd inside final furlong (op 7/4)

4 (8)        nk [3]      Grandscape 33/1               P J McDonald       Ed Dunlop                             2              95           –             22          70

Held up in touch in midfield, effort over 1f out, chased leaders 1f out, kept on same pace, no impression inside final furlong


REGAL REALITY           (Sir Michael Stoute) A Cheveley Park home bred son of German sire Intello, out of Regal Realm who won two 7F G3’s at Goodwood. Could be a cracking 3yo, 8-10F. No Group entries.

RICH IDENTITY            (Roger Varian) Home bred Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum colt by Dubawi out of a Daylami mare suggests he’ll be wanting 10F+ further down the line. Showed a turn of foot on debut at Yarmouth having raced keenly to get within half a length of Regal Reality.

DREAM WARRIOR       (Charlie Appleby) Two runs, twice finished third to a Sir Michael Stoute debutante winner, Elector at Ascot and Regal Reality at Yarmouth. Son of Dubawi out of a Group 1 “Beverley D” winning mare, I’m a Dreamer. Should have no issues with 10F next season, just immature and could be one to improve through handicaps although of course Godolphin seem to have some larger targets.

Saturday, 26 May 2018 – 4:10 Curragh Irish 2,000 Guineas (Group 1) (Entire Colts & Fillies) (1m)

Saturday, 02 June 2018 – 4:30 Epsom Investec Derby (Group 1) (Entire Colts & Fillies) (1m4f)

GRANDSCAPE                         (Ed Dunlop) US Pedigree, £72K son of Lemon Drop Kid. On debut respectable fourth to Regal Reality in a C4 7F maiden. Settled, travelled and stayed on. Looks a handicap project, probably on Good ground or better or maybe the AW?



2:30 Yarmouth 21 Sep 2017

“Yarmouth September 20th C4 6F 2yo fillies maiden. I like the look of this race, so much so that I have put the first five home in my tracker. Flying Sparkle was one from one having beaten Hunni (Won a C2 6F nursery at HQ next time) on debut over 5F in a C5 at Windsor and had to give three pounds to the other four. Flying Sparkle was prominent throughout, quickened approaching the furlong pole and the other four all made up ground to varying degrees. Beauty Filly picked up in the style of a useful filly to win by a length in the hands of Ryan Moore. Left Alone running in the second colours of Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, he also owns the winner, came from further back and had to weave his way through, so a creditable third. This was Rozanne’s third run, having run in two strong maidens behind the likes of Teppal and Dark Rose Angel, and she showed a turn of foot without troubling the front three. Bidding War had the educational, hands and heels ride, travelling in the back three, making her ground up under hands and heels on the far side and got close enough without Martin Harley getting busy. The time wasn’t earth shattering, Topspeed 46, the RPR for the winner was 79, so it will be interesting to see if the form is franked.”


Ken Lindsay Memorial/EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Class 4) (2yo) (6f3yds) 6f Good To Soft

POS. (DRAW)       HORSE / SP                                           JOCKEY /TRAINER                              AGE        WGT       OR          TS            RPR

1 (10)                     Beauty Filly 6/4F                Ryan Moore         William Haggas   2              90           –             47          79

Held up in touch in midfield, effort entering final 2f, ridden to challenge over 1f out, led just inside final furlong, ran on well, ridden out (op 13/8 tchd 11/8)

2 (1)        1              Flying Sparkle (IRE) 11/4                 Jamie Spencer     Michael Bell         2              93           –             46          79

Led until over 2f out, chased leader until ridden to lead again over 1f out, driven and headed inside final furlong, stayed on same pace final 100yds (op 4/1 tchd 5/2)

3 (11)     nse [1]   Left Alone 5/1                                     James Doyle        Hugo Palmer        2              90           –             42          76 Held up in touch towards rear, not clear run and switched right over 1f out, headway and switched left inside final furlong, ran on strongly final 100yds (op 4/1)

4 (9)        ½ [1½]    Rozanne (IRE) 33/1                           J F Egan                 Jeremy Noseda   2              90           –             40          74

Held up in touch, ridden and headway entering final furlong, switched left inside final furlong, stayed on well (op 28/1)

5 (3)        1¼ [2¾] Bidding War 20/1                               Martin Harley      James Tate          2              90           –             35          71

In touch in last trio, ridden and headway over 2f out, chased leaders over 1f out, unable to quicken and kept on same pace inside final furlong (op 16/1)

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY The market suggested Beauty Filly was the one to beat in the six-furlong fillies’ novice stakes and so it proved with the William Haggas-trained daughter of Invincible Spirit registering a length success on what could be the start of a bright career.

BEAUTY FILLY                  (William Haggas) A £280K daughter of Invincible Spirit who was expected on debut and duly obliged at 11/8. Well regarded by connections.

FLYING SPARKLE           (Michael Bell) Cost £70K and looks money well spent as she did well to beat Hunni at Windsor and could well have “bumped into one” at Yarmouth although with her penalty would come out as the best horse in the race. Thoroughly deserves a step up in grade with Redcar a suitable target.

Saturday, 07 October 2017 – 3:20 Redcar totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy (Listed Race) (6f)

LEFT ALONE                    (Hugo Palmer) €120K daughter of first season sire, Reckless Abandon. Good size about her and certainly made her ground up comfortably. Her dam was a 10F winner with plenty of form on the AW. Should get a mile in time.

ROZANNE                         (Jeremy Noseda) Home bred daughter of Canford Cliffs who with hindsight taken part in three strong fillies maidens. Could go handicapping off OR75 and I would be disappointed if that wasn’t a winning mark.

Friday, 06 October 2017 – 6:15 Chelmsford (AW) Bet toteJACKPOT At Nursery Handicap (6f)

BIDDING WAR                            (James Tate) £110K daughter of Champs Elysses who will want all of 10F as a 3yo and if her siblings are anything to go by she should be an OR90+ rated filly. On debut was rear early but made her ground up well on the wing, far side, all hands and heels to finish a close up fifth. Tate seems to have a yard improving in quality and trains this filly for his main patron Saeed Manana.

Ascot Champions Day Review

Posted Monday October 23rd  6.30pm

Great days entertainment where to me the striking thought was that it was all about the last fifty yards and heart and stamina of the horse and tactical knowhow in the saddle. Cracksman laid down one hell of a marker for 2018.

Stayers Great runs from the 3yo’s Stradivarius and Mount Mariah albeit getting 8lbs. Interesting to see how they get on in next seasons Cup races off level weights.

Sprint Librisa Breeze was loving the ground and last off the bridle. Tasleet must have thought he had won that. Brando and Washington DC went for the same gap that didn’t help either of their causes.

Mares Boudet done up like a kipper by King Ryan. Kept him in a pocket, nicked two lengths at the top of the straight and the first two had the best race pace to go clear. Coronet hadn’t got the acceleration and stayed on stoutly. 14F next season with the Park Hill as the main target?

QEII Strong show from the fillies with Persuasive winning, Nathra fourth and Sea of Grace fifth. The last named didn’t get the cleanest of runs. Messy in the middle of the track 2F from home with Ribchester and Flaming Spear hanging right. Zonderland was murdered.

Champions Cracksman simply awesome under a clued in Frankie Dettori. Poets Word feet now firmly under the Group one table and Highland Reel is such a gutsy animal but wants the lead and quicker ground. Is Barney Roy a Group 1 winner at any trip?

Balmoral Looked to be run on merit to me and only the winner, Lord Glitters, would have been unlucky if he hadn’t won! Looked close to a Listed 9F contest to me.

The Stewards certainly had their say;-


An enquiry was held to consider interference in the back straight heading towards Swinley Bottom, when BIG ORANGE, unplaced, ridden by James Doyle, interfered with STARS OVER THE SEA (USA), unplaced, ridden by Fran Berry. The riders were interviewed and shown recordings of the incident. Doyle was suspended 7 days for careless riding when manoeuvring right-handed towards the rail when not sufficiently clear, causing STARS OVER THE SEA (USA) to clip heels and almost come down.

Colm O’Donoghue, the rider of TORCEDOR (IRE), placed second, was suspended for 7 days and fined £800 for using his whip above the permitted level inside the final two furlongs.

Ryan Moore, the rider of the winner, ORDER OF ST GEORGE (IRE), was suspended for 2 days for using his whip above the permitted level inside the final two furlongs.


Inside the final furlong, the winner, LIBRISA BREEZE, shifted quickly right-handed taking HARRY ANGEL (IRE), placed fourth, momentarily off its intended line, and causing it to make brief contact with TASLEET, placed second, but after viewing a recording of the incident it was found that no riding offence was involved and it had not improved the placing of LIBRISA BREEZE.

An enquiry was held to consider interference inside the final two furlongs when WASHINGTON DC (IRE), unplaced, ridden by Donnacha O’Brien, interfered with both BRANDO, placed sixth, ridden by Tom Eaves, and ALPHABET, unplaced, ridden by Wayne Lordan. The riders were interviewed and shown recordings of the incident. The interference was found to be accidental as at the time that O’Brien manouevered to make his run, there was a sufficient gap which then closed quickly as ALPHABET weakened in front of him.

Race 4 – 3:15pm THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II STAKES (CLASS 1) (Group 1) (Sponsored by Qipco) (British Champions Mile)

The Stable Inspecting Officer reported that he had been informed that a substance had been sprayed on BEAT THE BANK when the gelding was in the saddling boxes. The Stable Inspecting Officer, Andrew Balding, the trainer, his travelling head lad and a Stipendiary Steward were interviewed. Balding’s explanation that he believed the substance to be water which had been sprayed by the owner for good luck was noted and a report was forwarded to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority. The substance was sent for analysis and BEAT THE BANK was routine tested.


An enquiry was held to consider why BARNEY ROY, trained by Richard Hannon, had originally been saddled with the incorrect number cloth which contributed to the race being late off. The trainer’s representative, James Doyle, the rider, the Clerk of the Scales, the Clerk of the Course, and the racecourse employee in charge of distributing the number cloths were interviewed. Their explanations were noted and the Clerk of the Course gave assurances that more rigorous checking procedures would be in place for the future.

Following the race, the representative of Richard Hannon reported that BARNEY ROY, unplaced, was unsuited by the going which was Soft, Heavy down the hill to Swinley Bottom, and would prefer a quicker surface.

Race 6 – 4:30pm THE BALMORAL HANDICAP STAKES (CLASS 2) (Sponsored by Qipco)

Following the race, Charles Bishop reported that ACCIDENTAL AGENT, placed fourth, was denied a clear run and the Veterinary Officer further reported that the colt had lost a left-fore shoe.

Andrea Atzeni reported that ZABEEL PRINCE (IRE), unplaced, ran flat.

The representative of Richard Hannon reported that THE GRAPE ESCAPE (IRE), unplaced, was unsuited by the going which was Soft, Heavy in places down the hill to Swinley Bottom, and would prefer a quicker surface. THE GRAPE ESCAPE was routine tested.

Saturday October 21st Champions Day

Posted Saturday 10.45am

Good morning everyone. I am afraid the ground and the weather and the fact this is the third week of October have raised too may doubts for serious punting! How many horses are tip top, spot on for today? Jockeyship could be key!

Looks like it’s SOFT and we will have to stick to that! Wind may be a bigger issue than the rain.

OFFICIAL GOING Soft (GoingStick: Straight: 6.6, Round: 5.4 on Saturday at 08:15)

Stalls: Straight Course: Centre Round Course: Inside

Weather 3mm rain overnight to 6.30am Saturday. Becoming windy with blustery showers today.


No Lucky 15 and just a couple of Star selections but we will have a go at the placepot!

May I remind you that races 2-6 are Group 1, race 1 is Group 2 but Group 1 in all but name and surely it is Group 1 form we should be concentrating on! The handicap is a belter, it’s over the straight mile but the first five furlongs are on the far side “half” of the course then it’s the whole width?


Star* Selections

Ascot 3.50           POETS WORD                                    Two star** win @ 7/1 general

Ascot 4.30           QASSEM                                              One star* each way @ 16/1 general 12345 1/5

Ascot 4.30           WITHERNSEA                                    One star* each way @ 33/1 Coral 28/1 general 12345 1/5

Placepot (64 bets @20p = £12.80)

Leg 1-     7 & 13

Leg 2-     4 & 12

Leg 3-     7 & 9

Leg 4-     4 & 12

Leg 5-     4 & 9

Leg 6-     18 & 19

and here is why

 Ascot 3.50       POETS WORD I think that Sir Michael Stoute has been itching to get this horse into Group 1 company but the yards Ulysses success kept it on hold, ran excellently in the Irish version and I think this has been THE target. Flying on the gallops.

Ascot 4.30       QASSEM After his run at York’s Ebor Festival I blogged “Over the winter he was gelded, pretty big shout for a €300K yearling, and this season has been fifth in a York 10½F C2 handicap OR94, won at Chelmsford in C2, OR93, dropped again back to a mile and second to Flaming Spear in the C2 8F Clipper Logistics at the York Ebor Festival off OR98. The last run was terrific as he was in the van throughout, the handicapper has put him up just one pound OR99. Why is this horse screaming Balmoral to me? That is the £150K 8F handicap on Champions Day, Ascot October 21st! Can’t desert him now!

Ascot 4.30       WITHERNSEA 8F on Soft ground in a C2 handicap, Hanagan riding. Ideal conditions, third to Stamp Hill at Ascot over 7F and 4th in the BetFred Mile both with cut in the ground.


Leg 1-     Order of St. George, two miles on Soft ground, solid Ascot form and he’s Group 1 proven. Just can’t seem him out of the first three. Stradivarius this seasons 3yo’s have been good sprinters, good stayers and Enable. This is probably the best of the stayers, 3rd in Group 1 St.Leger, won the Queens Vase at Ascot and beat Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup on Soft ground.

Leg 2-     Librisa Breeze Promised myself I would back this horse as soon as I could get double figures in a 6F Group 1, loves Soft ground, Ascot form, he is the ultra hold-up horse so hold on tight! Quiet Reflection a filly who is fresh, loves the ground, has Ascot C&D Group 1 form and Karl Burke could currently win the Eurovision Song Contest such is his form!

Leg 3-     Coronet won the Ribblesdale over C&D, Gosden is a star with his fillies and guaranteed to stay, ground the issue? Hydrangea Group 1 filly and the vibes from Ballydoyle are strong.

Leg 4-     Ribchester simply the best miler in Europe in my opinion. Persuasive real improving filly for the man Gosden again.

Leg 5-     Poets Word (See above)

Cracksman desperately needs to lose his bridesmaid tag in Group 1’s for his stud prospects. Won’t be here but I can’t see how he is out of the frame

Leg 6-     Qassem (See above) & Withernsea (See above)


The French couldn’t win in France so why in England? Tactically inexperienced and inept jockeys, Peslier excepted?

Wednesday October 17th

Posted 11.40am

This started off as a quick e-mail to a mate and it’s ended up as an essay!

Over coffee this morning I had a further peruse of today’s cards and Wetherby throws up a whole load of questions especially with horses running for yards I didn’t expect.

2.10 3yo Hurdle Looks above average C4 northern contest with Something Brewing useful on debut and Alan King, who likes this division, having a runner should be the yardstick.

2.45 Has Cyrius Morviere learnt to jump as he has some tasty hurdling form? George/Heskin may have a useful tool in Minella Aris (OR139)?

3.15 Hello Bertie steps up in trip for Jefferson/Hughes?

#FantasticMrFahey runs Judge Earle, Mr Liam Quinlan interests me?

3.45 Bobby Renton C3 Chase – Katgary is ex-Nicholls, Mr Quinlan again riding this time for Pauline Robson. Straidnahanna for the Smiths promised more in his younger days, OR136 may very much underestimate his talent? Ballotin is the only horse Hobbs has sent from Minehead to Wetherby, however it is owner ridden by Mr David Maxwell who certainly has more money than talent, I just can’t back ANYTHING he rides! Ex French (G.Macaire), eleven time winner (the 6yo has already had 28 runs under rules!), first run in UK off a French handicap mark (French handicapper could be Santa Claus for number gifts he hands out especially to 4yo’s!) of OR139 in this 0-140 contest. Any other jockey and I would back Ballotin!

4.20 Sue Smith runs two, Smooth Stepper and of course, No Planning. Both are friendless in the market so far! The Lithuanian and his YTS cronies (Ladbrokes) put them both in at 4/1 last night, SS now 13/2, NP now 15/2.

4.55 Nicholas Chauvin is ex-Nicky Henderson that James Moffatt paid just £8,500 for.

5.25 Loads of interest in this C3 2m handicap hurdle. Sadly the 10yo Ballyalton is a non-runner (Going, not soft enough?), Seamour is two from two over hurdles (back in 2014) and this is his handicap debut off OR131, Top Ville Ben is ex-Henderson that cost Kirby £32K and OR130 is competitive with Sam Twiston Davies booked. Top Ville Ben was bred by someone in Ireland who I communicate with on Twitter and much as we all await this son of Beneficial jumping a fence, having had a run on the flat 32 days agoI’ve had a small each way play at 11/1.

Idder is ex-Varian, Master of Finance is ex-Johnston, Tyrell is ex-Alan King!! Utility for Jonjo is ex-“the Lads”, Intense Tango for John Quinn has some great form if you go back twelve months, Keep in Line, Alan King for the Rooneys, has been placed in Graded races as a novice.

If this race doesn’t throw up a bucket full of winners I’ll be amazed!!!!!!!!!!


Probably not surprised coffee took me a little bit longer than usual!


Elsewhere Petit Mouchoir makes his chasing debut at Punchestown 4.10. I’d guess he’ll be the highest rated hurdler going novice chasing this season, OR160!!

Campeador (fell at last in that red hot Fred Winter of 2016) and Tully East, a Barry Connell “job” horse, meet over hurdles at Punchestown 2.35. Both could be Spring Festival players.


As for my beloved Flat a whole load of novice/maidens to keep an eye on, Nottingham and especially at Kempton tonight. Would have backed Fille de Reve in the 7.15K but not at odds on.

So my only other bet of the day is Jamie Spencer for Brian Meehan on Mutarakez in the C3 10F handicap Nottingham 3.35. Drawn in 14 isn’t great, but this horse was on my radar earlier in the season for those big straight mile handicaps, so he is up to 10F, down 8lbs, wasn’t far off Thundering Blue at Sandown and Nottingham has a long straight for young Jamie to work his hold up magic on! Couldn’t get the 25’s, snaffled some 16’s, at 11.30am top price 11’s with WH.

Not bad fare for a Wednesday!

Didn’t set out to write an essay I had better blog it I suppose!

Time for a fag and back to those pesky 2yo’s and some serious profiling!

Enjoy, absolutely buzzing,


Saturday October 14th Star* Special

Posted Friday 13th 6.15pm

3:15  York   6f   Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap   (Class 2)   (3yo+ 0-105) Good ITV 

It says it’s a handicap but there is only 8lbs top to bottom, so this in effect a 6F 97-105 banded race. A fact I will come back too. You could make a case for just about every one of the twenty runners but I will restrict myself to just four.

FLYING PURSUIT No trouble with ground, grade and trip. A course and distance winner in cracking form and gets on really well with 3lb claimer Rachel Richardson. Having won off OR84 and OR90 and it will need to be a career best to win here and drawn 15 increases the difficulty.

UPSTAGING Very consistent in-form C2 6F sprinter whose style of running, just behind the leaders, should be suited by York. Upstaging was an excellent third in the Stewards Cup and makes his first trip “up north” having done most of his racing at the likes of Windsor and Goodwood. Will need to be special to win from stall 20 and father John Egan takes over from his 3lb claiming son David.

HOOF IT Twice he has gone into my Notebook this season and I don’t put many 10yo’s in! He runs York well coming from off the pace, 6F is his trip, no problem with the ground and he is ridden by the yards 7lb claimer Harrison Shaw which in a tight handicap like this is a big plus. Hoof It should be fresh as this is only his fourth run of the season and stall 6 is as good as it gets.

RAUCOUS The handicapper has dropped him five pounds in one chunk, connections have left the headgear off. He was my selection for the Stewards Cup and he rocks up here off seven pounds less at a double figure price. He has Group race form as a 2 and 3yo, won on the sand in a C2 Conditions to open his 4yo season but nothing since although not always had the rub of the green with ground, draw or both.

#FantasticMrFahey runs three. Growl back at his best would have to go close, Mr Lupton will be a big challenge for 7lb claimer Sebastian Woods. He is an extreme hold up horse who has been finessed to victory by the likes of Jamie Spencer and Gerard Mosse. Eastern Impact is down another three pounds but earned his high mark at Newmarket.

Hoof It             One star* each way @ 18/1 BF

Raucous           One star* each way @ 18/1 PP + WH


2:05 York The Coral App Handicap  (Class 2)  (3yo+ 0-110)  1m2f56y Good ITV

Just the thirteen runners but I’m quite happy to take on the favourite Chelsea Lad who was fourth in the Cambridgeshire just a fortnight ago, is up a pound and has had an up and down season. Others I can’t have include Linguistic who has been beaten four times off OR103 and I see no reason for it not to be five, Big Country was impressive in winning on the AW at Kempton and won a C3 over course and distance off OR99 with a 7lb claimer on and I think the handicapper well and truly has him.

Many of these have been beaten off todays handicap mark, Empress Ali doesn’t look good enough (C3), Weekend Offender is inconsistent and did me no favours in the Cambridgeshire last week, Azari is back down 2f in trip whereas Hibou moves in the opposite direction. Dark Red goes close without lighting that cigar, although the first time blinkers could do the trick, Master Carpenter needs some overnight rain but is almost back to his last winning mark.

I’m going with a bit of a flyer. Kevin Ryan had his yard closed for six weeks mid-season and I’ve no idea how much each horse was affected if at all. I do know that on his 2yo form Syphax is (was?) a class horse, good enough for Godolphin to buy him. His second to Forest Ranger to open his 3yo campaign was promising, he was outclassed in the Dante, no show behind Beat the Bank at HQ after the quarantine period and did a lot early in a course handicap ending a one paced 7th. He’s at the bottom of the limited handicap here, better drawn in stall 4, steps up to 10F, drops two pounds off his handicap mark, is ridden by the ever reliable Kevin Stott and sports first time cheek-pieces.

All that should eke some improvement and Good ground, 10F, C2 handicap look suitable conditions.

Syphax             One star* each way @ 11/1


3.40 Newmarket  2m2f   (Row)   Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap (Heritage Handicap)   (Class 2)   (3yo+) ITV 

The more I look at this race the more my enthusiasm wanes. There are too many serious unknowns over factors such as fitness of the NH horses, how many will genuinely stay the 18F trip, how many will act on this quicker ground? The Mullins trio worry me so I will just go for three against the field and keep it brief.

EUCHEN GLEN Is unexposed at this longer staying trip, won last time out at Ascot and Jim Goldie knows the time of day!

ENDLESS ACRES was an excellent second to Thomas Hobson at Royal Ascot, definitely stays and has been saved for this race by Charlie Fellowes.

BYRON FLYER dual trainer Ian Williams is in good form and this regular bridesmaid may have her ideal conditions in an extreme trip, good ground, low draw.

Euchen Glen                One Star* win @ 20/1 general

Endless Acres              One Star* win @ 16/1 general

Byron Flyer                 One Star* win @ 22/1 Ladbrokes

Thursday October 12th Triskaidekaphobia?

Posted 6.15pm Thursday October 12th

Should we have a fear of Friday the thirteenth? With Newmarket all about level weight contests, mainly for the girls, and York top heavy with handicaps, winners won’t be easy to find but with both meetings due to be run on Good ground hopefully excuses will be in short supply and the form should be solid.

Newmarket’s card opens with an impossible 5F handicap.

However the second race is full of interest, the G3 Oh So Sharp Stakes over 7F for 2yo fillies. The likes of Dark Rose Angel and Gavota have solid G2 form whilst Butterscotch represents Aiden O’Brien. I am a big fan of Dark Rose Angel who was just caught by Laurens at Doncaster in the May Hill and steps back a furlong here and Frankie Dettori takes over in the saddle. There are plenty of improvers lurking in this field and one I was impressed with when she beat Blanchefleur and Fille de Reve on debut was Herecomesthesun. A daughter of Invincible Spirit she cost £140K and represents Archie Watson and Eddie Greatrex who are two men very definitely in a hurry. Herecomesthesun travelled, lengthened and put her head down and just struck me as a filly who wants to please and that there was more to come. With BetFred offering four places at a fifth I thought there was some each way mileage at 20/1.

The G2 3yo+ 7F Challenge Stakes is all about how you feel about last year’s 6F July Cup winner, Limato at 7/4. Double G1 winner but is he the same horse this season? I’m happy to take him on and I promised myself that as soon as he was Ballydoyle’s “first choice” and Ryan Moore was on board I would back Cougar Mountain. This time last season he won the G2 Joel Stakes and was fifth in this race last year when sent off 10/3 favourite. He has been on the go since February in Doha, has run at 6, 7 and 8F, often on unsuitable Soft ground but hopefully HQ will have dried out, 7F is his best trip, no 3lb penalty this year and at 16/1 with William Hill (20/1 SkyBet on-line) I am willing to play each way.

The G1 2yo Fillies mile looks an O’Brien benefit with Happily, Magical and September. I wonder with no Soft in the going could September show her true colours as seen at Ascot and outrun the 15/2 being offered by Ladbrokes. Probably best to follow the money as “the lads” rarely get it wrong.

The 4.10 Old Rowley Cup over 12F for 3yo’s I’ve covered in my previous blog putting forward Duke of Bronte and Humble Hero as the likely winner. The 7F 2yo fillies maiden will be strictly Notebook only. The closing 10F Fillies Lisited Pride Stakes has Architecture at the top of the market but I think the 3yo’s Natavia, Ouja and Uae Queen can shake her up especially in receipt of four pounds but which one? At 20/1 with PP the improving Uae Queen could be the each way play.

With the exception of the staying 3yo handicap, covered in my previous blog, the York card looks of the “too difficult” category. Zap in the nursery, Zwayyan in the 8F handicap and Venturous in the sprint handicap catch my eye but with no conviction.

Jumps fans will no doubt be keeping tabs on the novice chases at Newton Abbot and the C2 handicap hurdle could be informative.

Saturday’s cards need some further research although my Cesarewitch shortlist is Euchen Glen, Endless Acres and Byron Flyer. The Dewhurst looks like Expert Eye’s to lose but I’m going to take a deeper look at the 6F Coral Sprint Trophy and the C2 10F handicap, both at York, and I’ll blog all three tomorrow.

Thursday October 12th 2.15pm

Two excellent days flat racing await with York and Newmarket both racing on Friday and Saturday. So here is a closer look at two excellent 3yo staying handicaps for Friday.

3.55 York Unibet Handicap 1m6f (1m5f188y) Unibet Handicap (Class 2) (3yo) 13 OCT 2017 ITV4

A competitive 3yo handicap over 14F on Good to Soft (Good in places) ground and indeed it was only seven weeks ago at the Ebor Festival they ran the Melrose Handicap (3yo’s Ebor) over the course and distance on Good ground. Two return, York specialist William Haggas saddles The Grand Vizir, who was fifth to Secret Number, and did best of those who had raced prominently although there has to be a question mark about his stamina although Haggas said: “The Grand Visir ran a very good race in the Melrose. He hasn’t run since but he’s in good form and we’ve had this race in mind for a while.” Dominating has had three runs for Mark Johnston since (does that man have any gallops?), has won over 16F and is up nine pounds.

John Gosden saddles two of the three top weights. Face the Facts is a dour stayer, chinned at Haydock over 14F on Heavy ground but impressive in beating Nearly Caught in what looked a “cheap” Listed 16F race at HQ. He has been put up 11lbs for that which with the drop in trip makes this a big ask. A hungry Rob Havlin rides. Robert Tart gets the leg up on Joshua Reynolds who although sent off 11/4 favourite was well behind Face the Facts at Haydock and “jockey Jim Crowley reported that JOSHUA REYNOLDS, unplaced, was never travelling” BHA Maybe the 8lb rise prior to that run and up to C2 caught him out.

Godolphin have Gold Star who has won the last two of three starts but he went up a whopping 13lbs for winning a C3 handicap on the Tapeta at Wolverhampton! David Egan takes off three pounds and the cliché is “he could be anything”! Brimham Rocks isn’t guaranteed to stay but is bred to do so and some more rain wouldn’t go amiss and of the other seven six won last time out! The one who didn’t is Je Suis Charlie who looks best suited to sharp courses, which the Knavesmire certainly isn’t!

So which is the improver, who will get the trip on ground just the soft side of Good. Count Simon is 7lbs wrong in the handicap and went up 11lbs for winning a C5 handicap. Percy’s Word won over 16F on the AW and is two from three starts but others look sharper. Star of the East is another Johnston runner who has run seven times in the last ten weeks, so God knows what it will do today! Career high mark and probably needs Soft ground or worse. Bolder Bob is an improver and his trainer David Barron said: “He’s a horse that has progressed all year. He has won twice over a mile and a half and he’s looking as though he’s crying out for a step up in trip. I would hope the race would suit him well. Easy ground helps him. As far as we’re concerned, we wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much.” Up two furlongs, two grades and 7lbs is a big leap.

So that gives me two against the field. Fools and Kings cost loose change, has only run four times, winning twice, won his maiden on the AW over 9½F and more recently a C4 12F handicap at Chepstow. However when winning last time out he travelled sweetly, ran green as grass when asked but lengthened and the further he went the better he looked. He is trained by Robyn Brisland, who I think is a shrewd cookie, and ridden by Hollie Doyle, who in my book is worth every pound of her three pound claim. So this an improving, raw, traveller, with gears who goes to post with just 7st 11lb on his back? One star* each way @16/1 WH 123 ¼

However I can’t believe Star Rock has gone up just 5lbs to OR85 for winning a C3 12F handicap at HQ, coming back from a four month break. She raced keenly throughout and looked in trouble at the furlong pole but found extra to pull away from Cribb’s Causeway, who has won a C2 handicap since. In her previous race in May, a 12F maiden at Newmarket on Good to soft, she won by half a length beating God Given who has since won at Listed and G3 since and is currently rated OR105.

She races prominently, a bonus at York, she should be fresh as this is only her fourth start this season, the step up to 14F should be in her favour as her dam, a daughter of Galileo, was beaten only a short head in the G2 14F Park Hill and her half-brother Star Rider won over 16F, carrying only 8st 2lbs she gets upwards of six pounds from the “sexier” colts and a train-stopping nineteen pounds from Face the Facts and trainer Hughie Morrison has had two winners in the past week. I have only two concerns, firstly the jockey Keiran O’Neill, who Morrison has used before and presumably rides as Robert Winston can’t do the weight and Josephine Gordon is at Newmarket for a ride in a Group race and secondly the mysterious “bounce” factor that I can do nothing about! Two stars** each way @10/1 PP 123 ¼


SSS.. 4.10 Newmarket bet365 Old Rowley Cup Handicap

(Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) 1m4f (Row) (3yo) 13 OCT 2017 ITV4


This is a cracking 3yo handicap over 12F and there are plenty at the top of the market I am quite keen to take on.

High End looked good on the AW with group race potential but seems to have got to OR102 without beating much and was disappointing at Yarmouth last time out and now sports first time cheek-pieces. Godolphin also have First Nation but he was beaten off this mark OR95 in a C3 last time and surely there are others better in. Melting Dew was on my 3yo’s to follow list at the start of the season and with the Moore/Stoute axis will have plenty of supporters but even with headgear of some type I just don’t think he is genuine, talented yes but those recent form figures since winning of 32622 bother me. Another talented colt is John Gosden’s Crowning Glory who still has plenty to prove as his only wins this season were in a C5 Nottingham maiden and a Windsor C4 handicap and the booking of Ted Durcan hardly inspires. Frankie Dettori rides Intrepidly for Jeremy Noseda but is another that was beaten off this mark last time and his only win was a C4 Windsor handicap. A few more to get the red pen are the two at the bottom of the weights, Medalla D’Oro (despite just 7st 11lb) and Winston C, as not good enough and the latter and Koeman are probably best on the AW. Mark Johnston saddles two and although Bear Valley is another from the yard having his eleventh run of the season (who knows?) but a case could be made for Hochfield who sluiced home over 14F here at HQ in a C2 on quick ground but could get outpaced here.

The key bit of form is the C2 Appletiser handicap ran at Ascot over 12F on Soft ground when Duke of Bronte beat Melting Dew with First Nation fifth and Torcello sixth. Melting Dew is four pounds better off for a neck but I can’t have the runner up for the reasons above. Likewise First Nation doesn’t strike me as a winner but Torcello has strolled away with a C2 12F handicap over course and distance since and although beaten just short of four lengths at Ascot he is two pounds better in. However I see no reason why Duke of Bronte with the excellent George Wood keeping the ride and claiming three pounds shouldn’t beat those three again. My notebook has also come round to this horse.

DUKE OF BRONTE Amazing horse! Half-brother to Taws, both out of Reaf. Rod Millman has had 210 Flat runners in 2017 and is +£83.88 to a £ level stake, without this horse he would be-£32.12! Millman has run about forty horses this year and DoB accounts for 30% of total earnings. He has won at 100/1, 10/1 and 16/1. Won twice on good to firm and then hacks up on Good to Soft. Has won at Newbury twice, flat galloping left handed track and Ascot, stiff, sharp corners, right handed track with a straight half the length! Won handicaps off OR81 and OR84 and is still only on OR89.

Didn’t run as a 2yo and gelded before setting foot on a racecourse. Two dismal runs on the AW in March and April then pops up at 100/1 at Newbury beating Musical Terms in a C4 8F Maiden with the now OR96 rated Archetype back in fourth. One paced 6th behind Defoe in a C2 10F handicap at Newbury then a staying on fourth to Galactic Prince in a 12F C4 at Goodwood before popping up at 10/1 in a 12F C3 at Newbury. Struggled over 14F at Sandown in a C3 when beaten fourteen lengths, fourth of five behind Joshua Reynolds, then up he pops at Ascot on Soft in a C2 over 12F at 16/1! Totally uncomplicated horse. Travels, quickens, sticks his neck out! Two stars** each way @12/1 PP 1234 ¼

The main danger is Humble Hero and as the red hot William Haggas (9 from 43 last 14 days) could have run The Grand Vizir and/or Mam’Selle his chance has to be respected. Unraced as a 2yo, he has won two of his five starts including last time out a C3 12 ½ F handicap at Newcastle. He seems progressive, the drying ground in Suffolk is a big plus, 12F looks his trip and the booking of Andrea Atzeni is a boost. One star* win @ 15/2 WH