Tag: William Hill

2018 Gold Cup deserves Respect!

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 ten weeks out!

Posted Mon. Jan 8th 1.30pm

As 2017 disappears over the horizon so the 2018 Cheltenham Festival comes galloping into view. There looks a different shape to this year’s four day punting frenzy with Footpad looking to be the only Willie Mullins shortie on view and the future of the Irish economy resting squarely on Samcro’s ample shoulders. Ante Post betting at Cheltenham seems to have gone the same way as trams and hula hoops but it can never be a bad Festival if you can crack the Gold Cup winner.

The 2018 edition may not be the best ever, although the winner will surely get an official rating of OR170+, but it looks dastardly competitive. I thought it would be fun if we looked at the race as a handicap, as of now, to see if we can spot the winner and/or some value. It helps that the Official Handicappers both sides of the Irish Sea seem to be in some sort of agreement!


Cheltenham 4.00 SimpleSimonSays…Gold Cup Handicap 3m2½f Good to Soft

11.10   Sizing John                                 (Potts Ltd)                           8yo         Jessica Harrington            Robbie Power?

11.09   Might Bite                        (Knot Again Partnership)              9yo         Nicky Henderson             Nico de Boinville

11.07   Bristol de Mai                        (Munir & Souede)           7yo         Nigel Twiston-Davies      Daryll Jacob

11.07   Our Duke                    (Cooper Family Syndicate)           8yo         Jessica Harrington            Robbie Power?

11.07   Road to Respect                           (Gigginstown)                   7yo         Noel Meade                       Sean Flanagan?

11.07   Thistlecrack                            (J & H Snook)                     10yo      Colin Tizzard                       Tom Scudamore?

11.07   Whisper                                             (Walters Plant Hire)        10yo      Nicky Henderson             Davy Russell

11.06   Double Shuffle           (Crossed Fingers Partnership)    7yo         Tom George                       A P Heskin

11.06   Native River                                    (Brocade Racing)              8yo         Colin Tizzard                      Richard Johnson

11.05   Djakadam                                         (Mrs S Ricci)                        9yo         Willie Mullins                     Ruby Walsh

11.04   Balko des Flos                        (Gigginstown)                   7yo         Henry de Bromhead       ????????????

11.04   Disko                                                   (Gigginstown)                   7yo         Noel Meade                       Sean Flanagan?

11.04   Tea for Two                            (Williams & Lakeman)    9yo         Nick Williams                      Lizzie Kelly

11.03   Minella Rocco                                                (JP McManus)                   8yo         JJ O’Neill                              Barry Geraghty?

11.03   Outlander                                         (Gigginstown)                   10yo      Gordon Elliott                    Jack Kennedy

11.02   Coneygree                              (The Max Partnership)  11yo      Mark Bradstock                ????????????

11.02   Coney Island                                   (JP McManus)                   8yo         Eddie Harty                         Barry Geraghty?

11.02   Empire of Dirt                                        (Gigginstown)                   11yo      Gordon Elliott                    Brian Cooper

11.01   Blaklion                                  (Such & Paletta)                               9yo         Nigel Twiston-Davies      Sam Twiston-Davies


11.00   Un Temps Pour Tout                 (Prof C Tisdall & B Drew) 9yo       David Pipe                           Tom Scudamore?

11.00   Valseur Lido                                   (Gigginstown)                   9yo         Henry de Bromhead       Noel Fehily?

10.13   Anibale Fly                                       (JP McManus)                   8yo         Tony Martin                       Mark Walsh

10.13   Definitly Red                                  (P J Martin)                         9yo         Brian Ellison                        Danny Cook

10.11   American                                (Jago Family Partnership) 8yo     Harry Fry                              Noel Fehily?

10.11   Presenting Percy                          (Philip J Reynolds)           7yo         Patrick Kelly                        Davy Russell?

10.10   Alpha Des Obeaux                       (Gigginstown)                   8yo         Mouse Morris                   Mark Enright

10.10   A Toi Phil                                          (Gigginstown)                   8yo         Gordon Elliott                    Keith Donoghue

10.10   Black Hercules                               (A & G Wylie)                     9yo         Willie Mullins                     Paul Townend

10.10   Total Recall                                      (Slaneyville Syndicate)   9yo         Willie Mullins                     David Mullins

10.07   Killultagh Vic                  (Boyd Armstrong Anderson))     9yo         Willie Mullins                     DannyMullins





GENERAL Let’s be fair, if that thirty lined up it would be some race, especially as if the handicapper was running the book as well because it should be 25/1 any of them! Well I could see at least half of them facing the starter this March if not as many as twenty. Another way of looking at the race through their handicap marks is that, at one pound = one length, the handicapper thinks that Sizing John will win by a length but with six horses within six lengths of him and another fourteen horses should be within ten lengths!

Time to weed a few out, so here’s my bite sized opinion of the possible contenders!

Sizing John Currently wears the crown and has looked pure class since March winning G1’s at Punchestown at their April Festival and on seasonal debut until it all went pear shaped at Leopardstown in the Christmas Chase (Lexus as was). Never travelling, he was “clinically abnormal” after the race and the Harrington yard had just one winner in December suggesting a low level virus of some sort. The Irish Gold Cup in a month’s time could be a big test? We know he acts on Spring ground, handles Cheltenham and he got the trip last year. Could go straight to the Festival.

Might Bite Has he grown up? Like many a teenager as a novice he was quirky at best, nuts at worst! He did win the G1 RSA last season here at the Festival on the Old course, then impressive at Aintree, beating stable mate Whisper both times. Looked much more pliable in both starts this season and some of his leaps would clear the average bus but I still have niggly doubts about his stamina, his jumping under pressure and his levels of concentration. The general opinion of his success in the King George at Kempton over Christmas was “underwhelming”. He is progressive and perhaps he just does enough?

Bristol de Mai If this race was run at the Somme he would be a shoo-in! Second to Black Hercules in the 2016 JLT, seventh in the Gold Cup last season he has yet to show he is any more than a flat track, heavy ground bully albeit a very good one.

Our Duke Chose to miss Cheltenham last season and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did so again. Built his reputation by destroying the field from the front in the Irish National off OR153. Currently on the easy list having scoped badly after disappointing behind Outlander at Down Royal but reportedly getting there. I’d like to see some form against the big boys not Bless my Wings!

Road to Respect Noel Meade has a rapidly improving 7yo on his hands. Hacked up in the Byrne Plate handicap over 2m5f at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, then pipped an errant Yorkhill at Fairyhouse and rounded off his season winning the Grade 3 3m1f novice chase at the Punchestown Festival. Opened this season touched off by Outlander at Down Royal but showed his true colours when winning the Grade 1 Christmas Chase at Lexus beating Balko des Flos and Outlander with the fancied pair Sizing John and Djakadam running listlessly behind. So that’s trip, grade, ground, course all covered and horse, jockey and trainer are all in form.

Thistlecrack I believe that one’s personal opinion of how Thistlecrack ran in the 2017 King George will determine whether you think he wins the 2018 Gold Cup. He is a multiple G1 winner with the World Hurdle and the King George on his CV. Despite being ten years old he has low mileage on his chasing clock and this will be his first attempt at the Gold Cup as despite being favourite for much of last season he missed the 2017 race through injury. So back to the King George, if you thought he ran a race suggesting he was coming back to form and that the extra yardage and stiff finish at Cheltenham would eke further improvement then he is a player. However my personal view is that last season’s thrilling but tragic Cotswold Chase in which Many Clouds paid the ultimate price for victory took Thistlecrack to a place that he has no intention of revisiting. He is a class horse who I expect to jump and travel but I feel that the more Tom Scudamore has to ask for the less he will get in response.

Whisper Whichever way you look at it he can’t beat Might Bite. If Presenting Percy turned up here would be interesting to see who Davy Russell rode, if he has the choice?

Double Shuffle He was put up 15lb for running Might Bite to a length in the King George last Boxing Day and is probably the reason the form of that race is looking average at best. Double Shuffle is an honest staying chaser at his best going right handed on a flat track over 3m. If he was mine of course I would run him in the Gold Cup, the handicapper says I’ve only got to find five pounds to win the damned thing BUT I would definitely have the Gold Cup at Punchestown in late April ringed in my diary as that could be race where things stack up in HIS favour.

Native River Last year’s third in the Gold Cup is yet to be seen on a racecourse this season. The thinking of Team Tizzard seems to be that he is at his best on his second and third outings. So it is prep in the Denman, second run in the Gold Cup and third run in the National. Ambitious. His top two runs were in winning the Hennessey and the Welsh National, both handicaps. In my opinion he would be a National horse winning a Gold Cup but I felt the same about Synchronised! A soft ground Cheltenham would enhance his chances.

Djakadam He looks like a burnt out wreck of the horse that stormed to victory in that foggy Thyestes Chase three years ago! The formbook says Sizing John has his number. Does he stay 3m 2f? Does he get up that Cheltenham hill? Both of his last two Grade 1 victories were over 2m4f at Punchestown and perhaps that C&D are his best chance of returning to the winner’s enclosure? However if there is one trainer that could wave his magic wand and freshen this horse up it is the wizard, Willie Mullins. If Djakadam does step back in trip for the RyanAir, Ruby Walsh’s choice of ride in the Gold Cup would be interesting!

Balko des Flos Where has this one come from? Of course he won the ultra-competitive Galway Plate last summer over 2m6½f off OR146 for which he was raised twelve pounds. Ran third in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil chase behind Alpha des Obeaux but most recently was stepped up to three miles and split Road to Respect and Outlander in that Christmas chase at Leopardstown last December for which he was put up another six pounds to the dizzy heights of OR164. Only a 7yo and certainly the best his French sire, Balko, has produced. Sent off at 16/1 for the JLT last season, he was leading four out when he fell in a red hot race that saw Yorkhill beat Top Notch, Disko and Politogue! Progressive, untested beyond three miles but surely a big player in the RyanAir?

Disko Where the hell is he? Third in last season’s JLT but impressive in beating Anibale Fly by five lengths in the Growise Champion Novice Chase over 3m½f at the Punchestown Festival. Opened this seasons account beating Ballyoisin half a length in the Grade 2 at Down Royal over a clearly too short 2m3½f but absent since the 4th November. Allegedly the apple of trainer Noel Meade’s eye and it is my belief that he thinks that if they were both fit and firing that Disko would be his best chance of winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup. However will Gigginstown give him the chance? Meade has been here before with Road to Riches.

Minella Rocco Second in last season’s Gold Cup staying on strongly. Most recently fourth in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown when done for toe but the trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, suggested he was going down the handicap route. Indeed ever since he won the 4m NH chase at the Festival in 2016 he has looked a Grand National winner in waiting and I am of the opinion that like Native River he would be a National horse winning a Gold Cup. Niggly concern that O’Neill has a habit of getting horses to peak for four days every March.

Outlander Splendid Gigginstown owned Grade 1 winning yardstick. Goes to all the big gigs, frequently places but the formbook suggests he is well held by Road to Respect.

Coneygree Fragile, talented, won the Gold Cup as a novice in 2016. Trained by family Bradstock. He is a rare visitor to the racecourse and impossible to fathom. If he turned up in the shape he was two years ago and jumped and galloped like he did then he would have many in this field way out of their comfort zone and would be a tough nut to crack, that is an enormous IF. Sadly I feel his time has gone.

Coney Island Always highly thought of but this son of Flemensfirth out of a Milan mare is very lightly raced, just ten starts to date, with only four over fences. As a novice he split Our Duke and Disko in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels chase at Leopardstown over 3m in December 2016, top form indeed but then unseen until he hacked up in a three runner 2m5f C2 Graduation Chase at Ascot that fell apart as the runaway leader was cooked turning for home and the other horse was the “gone at the game” More of That. A single figure price for this seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup is beyond me. I want to see him against the big boys prior to Cheltenham. Kinloch Brae, BobbyJo or the Irish Gold Cup?

Empire of Dirt Not seen since pulling up in the Betway Bowl last April and it will be some feat for an 11yo to win this season’s deep version of the Gold Cup. Beaten just three quarters of a length by Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup a year ago and fourth to Un de Sceaux in the 2017 RyanAir at Cheltenham explains the horses high mark and if he returns to the festival the Ryanair would seem the most likely target.

Blaklion It is often forgotten that this bonny horse won the RSA at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. He is a fine jumper, all guts and stamina although the jury is out whether he stays the Grand National trip? His second to Bristol de Mai in this seasons Charlie Hall looked solid after the victors wide margin BetFair Chase win at Haydock. To me he is another who would be a National horse winning a Gold Cup but thoroughly deserves his place in the field.

Un Temps Pour Tout Never heard him spoken about in Gold Cup terms but David Pipes 9yo has won the last two runnings of the 3m 1f Ultima handicap chase on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. So that is trip, Spring ground and the Festival boxes all ticked. Why not? Surely when they forked out £450K to buy him the Gold Cup would have been the plan. Not seen since that last Ultima victory but the trainer told ATR back in November “You won’t see him until the second half of the season as he comes good in the Spring and he will have a Grand National entry at the same time.”

Valseur Lido A top grade novice when with Willy Mullins winning Grade 1 chases at 2m4f and 3m1f and was third in the 2015 JLT to Vautour and not far away when falling in the King George when Cue Card pipped Vautour. Transferred to Henry de Bromhead he won the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal and was fourth to Outlander in the 2016 Lexus chase. He was then off the course for a year, on the home gallops he fractured a cannon bone that required surgery, before running a promising fifth under the intelligent guidance of Noel Fehily, an eye catching booking, in what had now become the Christmas chase at Leopardstown over 3m1f. Interesting.

Anibale Fly Hosed up in the Grade B 3m Paddy Power handicap chase at Leopardstowns Winter festival. Greater racing minds than mine suggested trainer Tony Martin may have been “hiding his light under a bushel” by campaigning him over too short a trip but he had no problem getting three miles and his official mark rose eleven pounds from OR148 to OR159. Won his bumpers on heavy ground and the only time he has run on Good ground was when sent off 3/1F for the 2016 Kauto Star novice chase at Kempton and he didn’t go a yard, this is the race that Might Bite had in the bag but fell at the last! Recently his trainer said “After the Leopardstown win you’d imagine he could be a Grand National type.” The Irish Gold Cup on February 4th seems his next target. Owner JP McManus also has Coney Island and Minella Rocco who would seem the more likely Cheltenham Gold Cup candidates. Anibale Fly is a progressive, classy 8yo. As for Grand Nationals, could be Irish 2018, Aintree 2019?

Definitly Red Trainer Brian Ellison certainly thinks he deserves a shot at the Gold Cup. However with wins round tracks like Aintree, Ayr, Wetherby and Doncaster suggesting he is best suited to a flatter course and in two visits to Cheltenham he is yet to complete having pulled up in Martello Tower’s Alfred Bartlett and falling in Minella Rocco’s 4m NH chase, the SkyBet or the Grimthorpe, which he won last year, at Doncaster look his quickest route to the winners circle albeit probably having to carry top weight. Then surely it’s back to Aintree for another tilt at the Grand National, he tops my shortlist, after only a slipping saddle caused him to pull up last year and at the time I thought nothing was going better.

American He must drive trainer Harry Fry to despair? Oodles of talent but legs of glass, is there a better jumper of a fence in training? (OK, Grand Vision was pretty good!) Yet to win beyond Listed company and must have Soft in the going. Peter Marsh at Haydock or the Grimthorpe at Haydock would seem logical targets but Harry Fry could have his eye on Ireland?

Presenting Percy Another who hacked up in a handicap defying top weight off OR145 for which he was raised twelve pounds to OR157. At last season’s Cheltenham Festival he put the field to the sword in the Pertemps handicap hurdle and is clearly a talented horse. Currently well to the fore in the RSA ante post market I just wonder if his sporting owners might just fancy a tilt at the Gold Cup with an improving 7yo who is bang in form? If they did who would Davy Russell ride? This fella, Whisper or one of the Gigginstown battalion?

Alpha Des Obeaux Fourth to Might Bite in the 2017 RSA, second to Total Recall in the Munster National conceding sixteen pounds he is somewhat in limbo. If he does run at Cheltenham this March personally I would love see him carry close to top weight in that Tuesday 3m Ultima handicap but I fear they will throw him at the RyanAir chase as he won the Clonmel Oils chase this season over a similar trip.

A Toi Phil

I’ll finish the field of thirty with three trained by Willie Mullins that would all have to come under the heading, “Wildcards”. There is talk of Djakadam running in the shorter RyanAir which begs the question, “What will Ruby Walsh ride in the Gold Cup?” Black Hercules Back in 2016 we all thought he was a good thing for the 4m NH chase when Mullins switched him to the JLT and he duly obliged. Clearly talented he is just starting to have entries again. Total Recall Left Sandra Hughes, went to Closutton and heigh ho he wins the Munster National off OR129 and the Ladbroke Trophy (the Hennessey in old money) off OR148. Very much a case of a horse being “minded” over a shorter trip. Mullins has nominated the BobbyJo at Fairyhouse on February 25th before a crack at the Grand National in April but we’ve all played and lost on Willy Bingo before! Killtulagh Vic For me this was the training performance of the Christmas/New Year racing with massive credit going also Colm McBratney who nursed him back. He hardly jumped a flight at Punchestown but ran away from the likes of Ex Patriot, Tigris River and Ivanovich Gorbatov. Team Mullins has suggested he will be seen next in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. If he makes Cheltenham this March the Ryanair would seem the logical race but this is Willy Mullins. Quoted for the Stayers hurdle but I wouldn’t rule out a Blue Riband appearance nor for that matter top weight in the Byrne Plate!



So before I open the golden envelope I would like to throw three stats at you and regular readers will know I love a stat or three! Firstly this century, horses that didn’t win the Gold Cup at their first attempt but are back again are O from 66, Secondly all horses aged ten or older are 0 from 67 and thirdly horses that had a prep race on heavy ground are 0 from 72+. For those reasons alone I can’t have Thistlecrack, Whisper, Outlander, Coneygree , Empire of Dirt, Bristol de Mai, Djakadam, Native River, Minella Rocco and Tea for Two!

Health concerns with Sizing John and Our Duke rule them out for me. Blaklion, Definitly Red, Minella Rocco, Total Recall and Native River would be more likely to be the first five home in the Grand National. Presenting Percy, Valseur Lido and Kiltullagh Vic are worthy long shots and if Disko lines up in March he will be running under the penalty of my money.

Might Bite has to be a player but I will repeat what I said in the Spotlight section, “I still have niggly doubts about his stamina, his jumping under pressure and his levels of concentration.” Backing him now at 4/1 would only be as a “saver”.

To me Gigginstown Stud have the strongest hand and as I am looking for young legs with Cheltenham form who has current Grade 1 form ROAD TO RESPECT seems to be their ace.

The 11/1 currently available with William Hill represents value to me and I recommend a three star*** win bet.



Pricewise (Tom Segal) is due to have a Cheltenham Gold Cup ante post piece in the Racing Post on Thursday January 11th which could well shake up the market.

Cheltenham Festival entries begin this week.

9 Jan – Gold Cup, QM, Ryanair

16 Jan – Champ Hurdle, Mares, Stayers

23 Jan – Arkle, NH Chse, RSA, JLT

30 Jan – Supreme, Neptune, Triumph, Alfred Bartlett

20 Feb – Ultima, Close Bros, Coral, Fred Winter, Pertemps, Byrne Plate, Kim Muir, County, Martin Pipe, Grand Annual

27 Feb – Cross Country, Bumpers, Mares Nov, Foxhunters


Wednesday August 23rd Day 1 York Ebor Festival

Posted Tuesday 6.00pm

Eyes down for a full house. The York Ebor four day Festival is very much my summer Cheltenham. The form is in the book, quality everywhere you look, fiendishly difficult handicaps and even the youngsters have had a couple of days at school. Love it! Like its Cotswold cousin the Knavesmire has its idiosyncrasies. Personally I like my selections ridden just behind the pace, I like a low draw on the straight course and I’m always keen to have a jockey on board that might have a Plan B, if not C and D! They don’t give you races at York!

I think the two feature races on Day 1 2017 are really difficult with just too many unknowns, so I’ll profile those two races first then move onto Wednesdays Lucky 15 and Wednesdays Star* bets. Finally I will add any profiles I’ve done but haven’t put up as a bet.

James Pyman rightly pointed out in the Racing Post last Friday, “Its York, anything can happen!”

Be lucky!


York 3.00        Great Voltigeur Stakes G2 12F 3yo colts & geldings

Big race for Frankel. He sired half the field and two of his four highest rated progeny, Cracksman and Mirage Dancer, take on each other here and they head the market. This will only be Cracksman’s fifth career start and the last two have seen him finish third in the Epsom Derby and second in the Irish Derby. Indeed in those races all three horses he was beaten by were trained by Aiden O’Brien and although Coolmore saddle another three here I can’t see any of them troubling the favourite. However his half-brother Mirage Dancer is a different kettle of fish. Typically Sir Michael Stoute has played the long game and this is only his fourth start. Stoute said: “We’re just leaving nice gaps between his races. He is progressive. We like the horse and he keeps improving. This would be as far as he would ever want to go.” I make Mirage Dancer the play at the prices and surely at worse it will be only money lent until next season!

Khalidi was sired by High Chapparrel otherwise it is three Galileo colts versus four of Frankels! Atty Persse has yet to prove himself in Group company and this is a big ask but Andrew Balding’s Count Octave is very much on my St.Leger short-list, for which this race used to be THE major trial. He got within a neck of Stradivarius in the G2 14F Queens Vase at Royal Ascot but I’m not sure he’ll have enough speed here and just want to see him staying on. Khalidi has won at Listed level and his Group race seconds to the ill-fated Permian and Crystal Ocean earn his right to run and he will be an informative yardstick.

York 3.35        Juddmonte International G1 10F

Fantastic line up but a mine field of a race. Who leads? This race could be won by the jockey as much as the horse. I want to take the 3yo’s colts on. I am not convinced Churchill’s form adds up to a lot and I don’t think Barney Roy is as good as Richard Hannon does! Shutter Speed is quality but she isn’t Enable! Either Decorated Knight or My Dream Boat would constitute a surprise but not a shock. Recent money suggests Cliffs of Moher is a player not a pacemaker and Eclipse winner Ulysses needs something to aim at, which brings me back to “where is the pace”? The informed opinion is that Seamie Heffernan will make it on Cliffs of Moher, I have a hunch that Ryan Moore might try to dictate affairs but if anyone gets a soft lead they will be hard to pass at York! Saw this on Twitter this morning, “Mind really does boggle as to why Godolphin never learn their lesson and have a pacemaker present for Barney Roy. StopwatchRacing‏ @StopwatchRacing ”. Food for thought? Toscanini is only just up the road!


Wednesday Lucky 15 (each way if you like?)

York 1.55                    EDWARD LEWIS                     8/1 general

York 2.25                    ZAAKI                                      18/1 PP 14/1 general

York 4.15                    THEYDON GREY                      7/1 general

York 4.50                    KALAGIA                                 14/1 general


Wednesday Star* Selections (12 Stars)

York 1.55                    EDWARD LEWIS                     One Star*win @ 8/1 general

York 2.25                    ZAAKI                                      One Star* each way @ 18/1 PP 14/1 general

York 2.25                    WELLS FARHH GO                  One Star*win @ 16/1 general

York 3.00                    MIRAGE DANCER                   One Star*win @ 11/2 Ladbrokes 5/1 general

York 4.15                    THEYDON GREY                      Two Star**win @ 7/1 general

York 4.15                    MY REWARD                          One Star*win @ 14/1 PP 12/1 WH

York 4.50                    KALAGIA                                 One Star* each way @ 14/1 general

York 4.50                    AREEN FAISAL                                    One Star* each way @ 11/1 WH 10/1 general                       

and here’s why

York 1.55                    EDWARD LEWIS Real poser to kick us off! Twenty runners, odd trip of 5½F and 9/1 the field! Planned putting this one up a few days ago and it looks like he could go off Favourite now! Fifth in the Epsom Dash, a close sixth in the Wokingham, drawn on the wrong side in the Stewards Cup, he’s been knocking on the door and with the low draw I was looking for and Daniel Tudhope booked, O’Meara saddles another three, still looks the most likely winner to me! There are some very fast horses lining up here such as El Astronaute, Thesme, Amomentofmadness and I just hope the closers can get to them!

York 2.25                    ZAAKI I have four of these in the Notebook and I’m backing the two biggest prices! The other two are profiled below. Heres what my notebook says The other eye catcher for me in the G3 7F Superlative Stakes at HQ was the fifth Zaaki, the only maiden in the field, as he was second to the G2 July stakes sixth Enjezaat on debut, who ran on well and being out of a Sadlers Well mare should get further. He was only two and a quarter lengths behind Gustav Klimt, who is currently officially rated OR109 and no bigger than 8/1 for next years 2000 Guineas. The second Nebo was an excellent second to Barraquero in the G2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. That’s solid form.

His dad is the Brazilian sire Leroidesanimaux. No I’ve never heard of him either but he sired Animal Kingdom no less! Zaaki is trained by Mohamed Moubarak who has returned to Newmarket after twenty five years in the US but he has one hell of a CV.”

York 2.25                    WELLS FARHH GO Here’s what my notebook says, “(Tim Easterby) No prizes for guessing the sire and out of a Galileo mare and he couldn’t have been more impressive on debut. On a foul evening on the Knavesmire in a C3 7F maiden he settled well albeit out the back but when asked from 2F out he powered home to comfortably pick up the 2/1F Laugh a Minute. The time was nothing special, Topspeed 43, and the form is yet to be franked but connections have picked up a bargain at just £16K and as he was sent off at 16/1 probably surprised connections although I see they have given him an entry in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes. File under “Could Be Anything”! “

York 4.15                    THEYDON GREY My initial thoughts on looking at the entries were “Last four runs at York, won last three, 12F 14F & 16F. Goes well for Georgia Cox.”  Was on my list of Haggas Ebor Festival possibles and being drawn in stall 10 is fine, just 8st 6lbs on his back and 7/1 available I see no reason to change my mind.

Plenty in this race have been around a while and many of them have lines of excellent form but the handicapper has most of them in check.

York 4.15                    MY REWARD Ninth in this last year beaten six lengths by Oceane off a pound more. So how can he turn that around? Well the Tim Easterby yard is in excellent form, nine winners in the past fortnight. He’s drawn lower this year which should give him a better chance of grabbing the rail and the lead as that first sharp bend comes up pretty quickly. Since winning over this trip at Ripon he was just a length and a quarter off the winner when fifth in the Northumberland Plate and a solid fourth in the 14F C2 handicap at the Goodwood Festival to Ebor fancy Soldier in Action. If My Reward leads running to the 2F pole he could be a tough horse to pass.

York 4.50                    KALAGIA A low weight, a low draw, winning form, sprinting pedigree and from an in-form stable. That’s what I’m looking for and this young lady fits the bill. Fillies have won the last two runnings of this valuable Nursery and Mark Johnston’s runner is bred to be quick being by Kodiac out of a Whipper mare! Joe Fanning should be able to get her prominent from stall 2 and just like her win at Hamilton make every yard. She hasn’t been stopping over 5F and carrying just 8st 1lb, close to the jockeys minimum, hopefully she’ll see the extra furlong out!

York 4.50                    AREEN FAISAL #FantasticMrFahey has won the last two runnings of this race, both times with fillies and both times with getting on for 20lb in hand! No similar profile this year but of his two this one seems the selection. Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah paid €80K for this Bahamian Bounty colt with the plan being Royal Ascot as a 2yo, he was 15th in the Listed 5F Windsor Castle! He was an eye catcher on Newmarket debut when running on for third at the Craven meeting, made no progress second time, then the Ascot trip and broke his maiden at the fourth attempt when stepping up to 6F winning a C4 Pontefract nursery off OR76. He’s put up four pounds and two grades but could easily have that sort of improvement in him. Would probably have had him as my first choice but that draw in stall 18 and the quicker ground just tempers my enthusiasm.

#FantasticMrFahey’s blog on sportinglife.com “Areen Faisal is a horse who works really well at home and went to Royal Ascot as we felt he was one of our better two-year-olds. However, his performances on the track didn’t live up to what we see at home but he got his head in front the last day. He’s had a break since which will have done him no harm and heads here in good form. He has a chance – providing the draw hasn’t done for him.”


York 2.25        Acomb Stakes G2 7F 2yo colts & geldings

Here are the other two profiles:-

ULSHAW BRIDGE          (James Bethell) By High Chapparel out of an Oasis Dream he had already won a C3 6F maiden at York with a strong finish. 7/8F has to be within scope. Tudhope has ridden him in last two races.

A C2 6F Conditions Stakes on Good to Soft at Chester looked a tasty five runner event. Forget Haddaf who has disappointed before, the other four were all previous winners, were improvers and through Dragons Tail are going to get Official Ratings somewhere in the 90’s and that will make them possibles for those valuable 3yo handicap sprints next season. So Prestbury Park beat Regulator a short head with the strong finisher half a length back and the yardstick Dragons Tail OR93 three quarters of a length further back. Regulator got three pounds off the winner and five pounds off the other two. In the race itself Prestbury Park got the rail and set the fractions with Dragons Tail on his quarters and Regulator tucked in and Ulshaw Bridge outpaced. For once there was no cutaway which would have helped Regulator but Hanagan drove him up the inside failing by a short head. Ulshaw Bridge was adrift but flew home from two out whilst Dragons Tail kept on but not as well as the front three.

DEE EX BEE                 (Mark Johnston) Godolphin home bred by Farhh out of unraced daughter of Seeking the Gold. Won a C2 7F Goodwood maiden when well supported into 5/2JF. Long rangy colt who knew his job on debut making just about every yard and comfortably beat his market rival with four and a half lengths back to the third. The time was good, Topspeed 89, but what did he beat? Well three have run since with two winning which bodes well. After the race Mark Johnston said: “He’s a very good looking horse and had been working well – we don’t tend to bring them down here first time out unless they’ve been working well. He’s a big scopey horse and when you’ve something like that winning at a big meeting like Goodwood you start to dream.”

Big step up to G3 7F Acomb at York. If he wins on the Knavesmire the second and third from Goodwood would have to be looked at, Bethsheba Bay for Richard Hannon and entered at the weekend and Paul Cole’s Capital Flight. The latter was on debut at Goodwood and had a far from trouble free run, no cutaway on the Saturday, but ran on well without getting competitive and he holds an entry in the prestigious C2 7F Convivial maiden at York on Friday.


York 3.05        Great Voltigeur Stakes G2 12F 3yo colts & geldings

ATTY PERSSE Royal Ascot Review –Kicking myself, wrote in Fridays blog Wanted desperately to put up Atty Persse but concerned that 3lb claimer, Keiron Shoemark, rides for Godolphin? He’s drawn 22 and as one of the smallest Frankels I’ve seen he could get bashed about and he’s Favourite!” He may not be the biggest in stature but he’s a fighter. Overcoming Stall 22, over racing early on but still enough to repel all comers! Goes up from OR93 to OR102 and wouldn’t be surprised if Frankel’s first Royal Ascot winner was pointed towards the Great Voltiguer at York’s Ebor meeting and a tilt at the St. Leger. (Roger Charlton)”

Gigaset International 7F Handicap Ascot 3.00pm Saturday 29th July

Posted: Monday 24th July 3.45pm


Twenty nine runners spread across Ascot’s straight seven furlongs. Solving that puzzle five days out requires some sweeping assumptions to be made.

Firstly having consulted my seaweed I am putting Saturdays going as GOOD on the straight course with Good to Soft in places on the round course.

Secondly they are all going to race down the centre. Dangerous I know but until we see the racing on Friday it would be impossible to assume otherwise.

Thirdly there will be a strong end to end gallop, sadly lacking recently in these top handicaps.

Finally the race will be won by a 4yo or a 5yo. It’s too tough for the 3yo’s and those 6yo plus have their best days behind them.

Let’s deal with the final statement first because that takes out the likes of Top Score (Won a Listed race in Meydan and well beaten in the G3 Jersey), Sutter County (Well beaten in the G3 Jersey) and Bless Him (Won the Britannia at Royal Ascot over C&D). The first two look harshly handicapped for what they’ve achieved and Bless Him raced in a small group on the far side at the Royal Meeting under a peerless Jamie Spencer but more of him later. Look at the C2 handicap form over the last two seasons of some of the older horses such as Bossy Guest (60057000), Heavens Guest (0902200000700) and even Buckstay (3594500). Yes they have course form but not since the Kaiser died!

The Victoria Cup earlier in the season over C&D was won by Fastnet Tempest who will race here off a mark ten pounds higher but having had a troubled run in the Hunt Cup he comes here as a horse in form and the booking of Josephine Gordon or stable claimer Georgia Cox (gets three pounds) would further bolster confidence. Has to be a player. Another who looks to have a big pot within him is Roger Charlton’s Makzeem who chased home Parfait in the Silver Bunbury Cup having been put up by your correspondent. Racing off his old mark he is a few pounds well in here having been put up for that last effort at Newmarket. His trainer Roger Charlton could also saddle Yuften who on his win in the Balmoral here at Ascot over a mile last October but since being gelded over the winter has been regressive this season having been well beaten in the Lincoln and the Hunt Cup.

7F is a specialist trip and I just can’t get away from the obvious here. When the Official Handicapper tells you a horse is ten pounds well in you have to take notice. When solving these big handicaps I spend hours looking for a horse that is ten pounds well in, scouring the form book, reading the quotes etc. and here is the handicapper flagging it up a week before! VISCOUNT BARFIELD is on a hat trick. He won a C2 handicap at York over this trip, weaving his way through from the back and that isn’t easy on the Knavesmire, then recently repeated the feat at Chester in the Listed City Plate Stakes with the likes of Jungle Cat (won at the weekend), Salateen, Kool Kompany and Jallota behind. The handicapper has put him up thirteen pounds, he gets a three pound penalty here, so is ten pounds well in! He’s in form, he’s a hold up horse, he’s won over the distance, he’s won on Good to Firm, Good and Good to Soft, he’s a Listed winner carrying less than 9st. That is an awful lot to like!!

Earlier I mentioned Mr Marmite, Jamie Spencer, and if he goes to Ascot on Saturday his mount has to be respected over Ascots straight course as he showed at the Royal meeting on Bless Him and Con te Partiro. Will probably be Bless Him here who showed a nice turn of foot and is off a ten pound higher mark here but could be Buckstay, although he hasn’t picked up a hoof yet this season, and I expect at least a couple of trainers may have politely enquired as to his availability!

One who may sneak in at the bottom of the weights is Havre de Paix from the resurgent yard of David Menuisier. She ran a cracker ten days ago over C&D carrying 10st in a C3 fillies handicap. With just 8st 4lb here she’ll think she is running free and she races prominently anyway!

The bet is a two star** win on Viscount Barfield with WH, Ladbrokes or Coral @ 10/1

and we’ll have another look on Thursday at final dec’s time.

Tuesday July 11th 2.00pm

Light reading and fodder for your trackers?

Parish News

Not much of it is Good news!

Aidan o’Brien Fillies Update          11.07     Rhododendron “Rhododendron is grand and she is cantering away She’s still on the easy list and we haven’t stepped her up in work just yet. Everything has been perfect since France, but because it was so traumatic for her we just have to take our time with her. We have our eye on the Breeders’ Cup and maybe we might give her a prep beforehand, but we’re not in any major panic just yet about plans; we’re just concentrating on building her back up and are feeling our way.” Alice Springs “Alice Springs is in a similar situation to Rhododendron. She’s back cantering every day and could go to the Breeders’ Cup as well, but she’d definitely need a prep run beforehand.” Promise To Be True “She has been retired”.

Racing Post‏ @RacingPost  The Mark Johnston-trained Permian has today been supplemented to Friday’s Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Saint-Cloud at a cost of €43,200.

George scott‏ @georgeoscott  Jul 9 Gilgamesh is entered and therefore in the betting at both Ascot and Goodwood. Please note he will not be taking up either of these entries.

You have these in your tracker? Hit the delete button!

Alastair‏ @SackvilleDonald First 2 Frankels off to race in Hong Kong- Seven Heavens & Senator @JuddmonteFarms

Katy Mowat‏ @KatyMowat  Rivet gone to HK too it would seem.

Plus Irishcorrespondent according to Thoroughbred Daily News. The Michael Halford trained 3-year-old Irishcorrespondent (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) has been sold to continue his racing career in Hong Kong. “Irishcorrespondent was a very good horse for us and I’m sure that he’ll do well for his new connections over there. We are sad to see him go. He was a pleasure to have around the place, he is a high class horse and I wish his new connections well.””


NEWS NEWMARKET GALLOPS Names to note: the horses to follow with big targets in mind David Milnes JUL 8 2017

Bin Battuta (Saeed Bin Suroor) Graham Tredgett is one of the most important men in Newmarket in high summer as he prepares and looks after the watered gallop. The Jockey Club employee has issued a ban on any work before 6am on the nine-furlong treated strip, where Kieren Fallon and this chestnut – who was unlucky at Royal Ascot last time – found the fresh ground to their liking.

Autocratic (Sir Michael Stoute) Ted Durcan was back among the Stoute ranks for the first work morning since recovering from his latest ankle injury, but it was Kevin Bradshaw who caught the eye on the Brigadier Gerard Stakes winner on the Al Bahathri. The son of Dubawi is looked after by Workforce’s former lad Paul Grassick, who will be taking his latest project up the A1 later this month for the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes.

Unforgetable Filly (Hugo Palmer) James Doyle has been a regular on the Kremlin Cottage worklist of late and was seen to good effect on the German 1,000 Guineas winner, who swept out of the dip on the watered gallop with Galileo Gold’s former lead horse Extremity. Due to lack of opportunities in her own age group, the daughter of Sepoy is to face her seniors for the first time in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

Deja (Jeremy Noseda) Before embarking on a trip to Sandown on Friday – only for his two booked rides to be non-runners – Gerald Mosse did at least get to sit on a horse on the watered gallop, where Noseda was paying a rare visit. The unraced son of Youmzain knew all about the undulations having worked two furlongs on an adjacent strip before being purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds for 350,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven breeze-ups.


Circulate (Tom Clover) It was the annual Newmarket Carnival on Saturday and they will be putting the flags out at White Stables if this frustrating daughter of Dutch Art can finally get her head in front at Brighton on Tuesday. The three-year-old certainly looked the part after a break on the Al Bahathri, where she winged by under Clover’s partner Jackie Jarvis.



Ronald R (Michael Bell) Tim Gredley will be sporting the Big Orange colours, “but not the skin tight ones”, on Bivouac in the Newmarket Town Plate next Thursday. Later the same day the Britannia Handicap second, who impressed on the peat moss gallop, is pencilled in for the Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes.

Tenzing Norgay (Sir Mark Prescott) Prescott will soon be cutting the ribbon on a new office/tack room at Heath House, which may encourage the great man to send an email for the first time. This grey has a typical Prescott under-the-radar entry in an amateur riders’ race at Bellewstown on Friday and will be fit.

Erdogan (John Gosden) Attracted a lot of interest at the sales in 2015, as you would expect of a Frankel half-brother to So Mi Dar, but has been less high profile since. The Al Shaqab colt, a 750,000gns purchase, took another step towards a belated debut on the Limekilns on Tuesday.

Ship Of The Fens (Martyn Meade) The Champs Elysees colt is named after Ely Cathedral, which is 12 miles from Newmarket and on a clear day can be seen from the Limekilns. The youngster showed enough in his work on the Al Bahathri to give Meade something to build on.

Great Work!!!

Central Square (Roger Varian) Varian threw a pizza party for the staff at Carlburg on Monday night following Nezwaah’s Group 1 triumph in Ireland the day before and he could have further reason to celebrate judging by the way this useful handicapper went up the long gallop. Unlucky in running at Royal Ascot last time, the five-year-old is on course for the John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday week.


Interesting man!!


Thai billionaire , who has been the owner of Leicester City FC since 2010, bought five Royal Ascot runners at an auction of racehorses in Britain’s capital city yesterday. At Goffs’ London Sale, an annual event held on the eve of Royal Ascot, Srivaddhanaprabha bought tomorrow’s Sandringham Handicap prospect Tisbutadream (£400,000) from David Elsworth’s stable, and Twin Star (£260,000), the Sheila Lavery-trained gelding who runs in Thursday’s King George V Handicap. He also purchased three horses who will line up on Friday, namely Jessica Harrington’s Albany Stakes hopeful Whitefountainfairy (£300,000), the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Queen’s Vase contender Night Of Glory (£340,000), and Straight Right (£450,000), who will tackle the Commonwealth Cup for trainer Christophe Ferland.

Of the 19 horses offered at the event, 12 changed hands and Srivaddhanaprabha bought half, for he also added the broodmare Baldovina, the dam of Royal Ascot winner Ceiling Kitty. Baldovina was offered by Betfair founder Andrew Black of Chasemore Farm who sold her with a filly foal by Commonwealth Cup winner Muhaarar and carrying a foal by Le Havre.

When Baldovina’s £300,000 sale was added to Srivaddhanaprabha’s purchases, his total spend came to £2,050,000, which compares to overall turnover at the event of £4,525,000. Head of the King Power Group, which operates duty free shops, his horses run in the name of Abudiencia Co Ltd, and include the Andrew Balding-trained Beat The Bank, who has been declared for tomorrow’s Gr.3 Jersey Stakes

Quoted in today’s European Bloodstock News, Alastair Donald, a bloodstock agent who acted for Srivaddhanaprabha, said of his client: “He’s looking to build up his stable, and was attracted by the Royal Ascot element of this sale. He likes horses in general, is very keen on polo, and spends a lot of time in Britain – he’s enjoyed being at this sale and getting involved. His purchases today will stay with their trainers for this week and then decisions will be made about their futures.”

The top lot proved to be the William Haggas-trained Lockheed, who was bought by Australian bloodstock agent Chris McAnulty on behalf of a Hong Kong client, but the buyer said the three-year-old colt would not take up his entry in Thursday’s Hampton Court Stakes. Also bound for Hong Kong is Born To Play, who had entries at Royal Ascot on Thursday for Joseph Murphy’s stable, but will not run. He was bought for £500,000 by another Australian agent, Justin Bahen.


4 JULY 2017 • 12:28PM

The Financial Ombudsman, Laura Ashley and Ladbrokes are some of the worst companies to work for in the UK, according to employee ratings on the job site Glassdoor. The website holds a database of millions of company reviews curated by those who know the company best — their employees. The Telegraph browsed dozens of company profiles on the platform and randomly selected 10 that had a rating of 2.6/5 or less – the average overall rating across the site is 3.3/5. These are not the 10 worst rated firms on the site, but a randomly selected sample, and in no particular order.

William Hill – 2.5/5

Bookmaker William Hill has a score of just 2.5/5 on Glassdoor, with both current and former employees calling the firm out for the “long hours” and poor “work/life balance”. One employee said: “Not receiving breaks is one of the cons you get pretty used to”, while another said: “Unsociable work hours, most of which are spent working alone.”

On the plus side, employees say that the hours can be flexible, and that it is relatively easy to progress to more senior management.

A spokesperson for William Hill said: “William Hill employs 13,500 people in the UK many of whom tell us they love their jobs – in particular the interaction they have with customers and colleagues. There has been a lot of change in the business in the last 12 months which has been supported by many colleagues but which some have found more challenging.”

Ladbrokes – 2.3/5

Betting firm Ladbrokes has a rating of just 2.3/5, with workers complaining of “lone working” and difficulty dealing with “abusive customers”. Others lambasted the company over its merger with Coral, which one said had “ruined the company”. The staff member wrote: “I was doing an average 45 hours per week before the changes the merge made. Now doing 30 hours. Have asked to up my contract but cuts cuts cuts to everything. Going down the pan.”

On the other hand, staff members commended the firm for its “flexible working hours” and the fact that there is “a lot of room for progression”.

A Ladbrokes spokesperson said: “Working in the bookmaking industry is not for everyone but we regularly celebrate colleagues who have 10, 20, 30 and 40 years’ service so it does appeal to many. The beauty of democracy is free speech and the beauty of social media is freedom to air it, but we don’t think this fairly reflects the brand and would encourage anyone interested to come and experience the job before allowing others to make up your mind for you.”

Tuesday July 11th 1.30pm

Serious Punting News

This came through on my Twitter timeline at 10am this morning:-

FlatStats‏ @FlatStats   The Death of the High Street BOG

Betfred no longer offer happy hour BOG. Follows Ladbrokes recent change AND WE STILL DON’T HAVE PICTURES

BetFred replied Morning we are no longer running Happy Hour and instead have decided to be more competitive with 12 Bests Odds Races, every day from 8am.


As a resident of Paddy Power I thought it was time to get out and about in Norwich and see what the state of play was on the High Street regarding Best Odds Guaranteed!

William Hill – None

Coral – From 11am All Customers two meetings a day plus two more meetings for Connect card customers. Maximum unit stake £50 win, £50 e/w singles £25 for multiples up to trebles and bets involving trebles as biggest multiple. £5 for four folds upwards (Lucky 15, Yankee etc). Cap on maximum benefit £50K.

Ladbrokes – Same as Coral except insert Grid for Connect and the maximum single is £100 win and £100 e/w.

Betfred – 12 Best Odds races from 8am. Maximum single £100. Manager suggested multiples no limit but may be rung up. Not aware of a maximum benefit cap.

Paddy Power – Happy hour 11am-1pm for singles and multiples. Maximum singles £200 win or £100 e/w.  Most bets accommodated. Check with your friendly local manager as BOG availability can change from shop to shop.

Always worth checking out your local independent as they are usually accommodating but check the T’s & C’s!

Saturday July 8th ITV7 Preview Part I

Tuesday 5.30pm.You won’t mind it raining this Saturday as ITV have some belting racing on the telly. Many of these races are already priced up and there could be some value in getting on early.

1:50     Coral Charge (Group 3) (Registered As The Sprint Stakes) Cl1 (3yo+) 5f10y

Not everybody’s favourite 5F as it runs up the middle of Sandown Park and drawn low then bagging the far rail is the normal route to success. As I haven’t got access to the draw I will try to find the quickest horse!

One is immediately drawn to the two Hamdan Al Maktoum horses Muthmir and Battaash. The former rather lost his way last season but has been back in the winner’s enclosure this season beating Mr Lupton at Bath in a Conditions contest and then picking up a G2 at Chantilly and his last time fourth to Lady Aurelia in the Kings Stand is pretty close to a career best. Battaash on the other hand comes here after winning a 3yo Listed contest over course and distance in a quick time and he showed an explosive turn of foot in doing so despite having been drawn furthest from that rail and over racing in the first two furlongs. Battaash would receive ten pounds from Muthmir though I think it unlikely they would both run.

Aidan O’Briens Washington DC would be a player if put on the plane with their Eclipse runners. His form in Listed races is 2111 whereas in Group company it is 27235202277260 and therefore he would be un-penalised in this race.

The 7yo Line of Reason is in cracking form and Paul Midgely has already booked Oisin Murphy, who won on him last time, but the horse has shown nothing out of handicaps in the past.

Clive Cox’s 3yo Tis Marvellous has been mixing it in hot company this season with the likes of Caravaggio, Blue Point and Harry Angel and getting the allowance here could well be competitive at Listed level with the assistance of Gerald Mosse.

One star* win Washington DC @ 8/1 WH + PP One star* win Tis Marvellous @ 9/1 WH + Coral

2:25     Coral Challenge (Handicap) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m

The top half in the weights were Hunt Cup candidates at Royal Ascot whereas those at the bottom were balloted out plus a sprinkling of 3yo’s getting nine pounds! Looking back at the last five runnings of this event suggests you don’t want to be too far back, prominent or midfield, the 3yo’s struggle to be competitive, keep an eye out for Mark Johnston runners and you need to be drawn in the lowest six stalls! Indeed you could back stall 4 blind as it housed the winner for the past three seasons! Nothing special last time out and if it was Royal Ascot just as likely to be the Wolferton as the Hunt Cup, any price, a mark around OR99 and a previous run at Sandown is useful.

All that said there looks a standout horse here. Greenside won over course and distance last time out with Ryan Moore in the saddle. They won a little cosily as a little keen turning for home they had to bide their time but when the gap came they were away and gone. Up five pounds to OR99 Henry Candy has booked Moore again and in a well-timed At the Races stable tour the trainer says “He is a very admirable horse and although he hasn’t been the soundest over the years, he is maturing now at the ripe old age of six. He was unlucky not to win first time out at Sandown and then won very nicely on his return visit when Ryan Moore rode him. He is a beautifully bred horse with a lot of ability and he is going to run in the big open handicap at Sandown this weekend.”

Greenside one star* win @ 6/1 general. I’m in again on Thursday if he is drawn 1-6.

3:00     Coral Distaff (Listed Race) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m

The market for this race is wide open as I write with the 5/1 favourite having only won a C5 maiden on Turf although Amabilis ran close to some useful fillies as a 2yo. As a Listed race for 3yo fillies my first stop has to be with John Gosden and he has two entries in Dancing Breeze, with William Buick already jocked up and Standing Rock who has won her only start to date.

Runners from the Sandringham handicap at Royal Ascot often make their next appearance here, although the form is rarely backed up, and from this year’s race Dancing Breeze was one of my Royal Ascot eye-catchers, “Solid effort here having been drawn on the wing with little cover on the far side when the race was down the middle and her OR drops from 90 to 87. Her turn isn’t far away. Might be worth a try in a C3 10F 3yo filly’s only handicap?” John Gosden obviously disagrees over trip and grade!

She takes on two fillies who finished ahead of her when seventh in the Sandringham Handicap in Paco’s Angel who was third and Queen of Time who was fourth. The official handicapper says Paco’s Angel is seven pounds well in with the other two but I’m not convinced she truly stays a mile. The whole field came stands side and went too fast early on and the pace collapsed at the furlong pole with those horses coming from way back filling the frame and the improving Queen of Time didn’t have the clearest of runs having started in stall 13 and raced on the slower middle part of the track, a view backed up by trainer Henry Candy in the ATR stable tour, “She is a very progressive filly and a half sister to Bounce. I thought she ran a cracking race in the Sandringham and she will probably be going off to Sandown for the distaff which is the mile listed for three-year-old fillies on Eclipse Day on Saturday.”

Standing Rock won her C4 maiden at Newbury three weeks ago despite running green but when the penny dropped she powered home. Nothing behind her has in any way franked the form so she has to remain “could be anything”.

One star* win Dancing Breeze @ 16/1 WH One star* win Queen of Time @ 7/1 WH + Coral

3:35     Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m1f209y

The afternoons feature but to me a real conundrum. It’s the first Group 1 race of the season where the 3yo’s take on their elders and they get a very handy ten pound allowance BUT I thought we all agreed this year’s 3yo colts are modest at best and very much of a muchness so I’m mildly surprised they occupy the top three places in the market with Cliffs of Moher, Barney Roy and Eminent. Whereas Decorated Knight and Ulysses were only just over a length behind Highland Reel over this 10F trip in the G1 Prince of Wales at the Royal meeting.

Barney Roy has never raced further than a mile and beating Lancaster Bomber doesn’t up to a fat lot! I don’t think Eminent is as good as Martyn Meade thinks he is! Too many questions over both for me. Cliffs of Moher is a different kettle of fish as this is surely his best trip, he didn’t go to Ascot and Coolmore are not to be trifled with. However if Highland Reel was in here he would be a 2/1 favourite at best and I’m with the older horses and going for form in the book. It’s a toss-up between Decorated Knight and Ulysses. Trends for this race suggest “10/12 winners had at least 1 previous Group 1 win” suggesting Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight but the ground looks to be firming up and regular pilot Andrea Atzeni is booked to be at Haydock whereas Ulysses keeps his jockey from the Prince of Wales, Jim Crowley, so I’m going for Sir Michael Stoute to get another Eclipse victory with Ulysses and the horse to win the Group 1 the trainer always felt he would.

One star* win Ulysses @ 8/1 general

Cheltenham Festival Day 1

Monday 5.30pm Just had a peek at Oddschecker and at last we have some proper shows! So let’s get this blog rolling!

GOING:- GOOD to SOFT (first certainty of the week landed!)

Tuesdays Lucky 15

Cheltenham 2.50       THE DRUIDS NEPHEW                        10/1 general

Cheltenham 3.30       BUVEUR D’AIR                        11/2 PP 5/1 WH 9/2 general

Cheltenham 4.50       BEWARE THE BEAR                8/1 WH 7/1 general

Cheltenham 5.30       ALL HELL LET LOOSE              22/1 Lad 20/1 WH 16/1 general


and hopefully this is why


1.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle 2m

I blogged this race on Wednesday March 8th and I still stand by the bulk of it although a few have come out. Moon Racer goes for the Champion Hurdle and good luck to the connections with their talented, fragile, lightly raced 8yo but I can’t see him getting within ten lengths of a winner. Movewiththetimes is out as well “Nicholls told Betfair: “Movewiththetimes was a little bit sore behind after a routine canter this morning and it looks like he has pulled a muscle behind. I’m gutted that he will not be able to go to Cheltenham as he was one of my best chances of the week.

As it doesn’t look too serious we will try to have him ready for Aintree or maybe Punchestown.”

Who will Ruby ride? He’s chosen Melon that I just can’t have on what I’ve seen! Stats say put a line through the rest of the Mullins runners, I will be gobsmacked if the son of Zebedee, Bunk Off Early, gets up that Cheltenham hill.

Ballyandy should place and River Wylde is a Henderson improver and they will me my two for the placepot but no singles.

2.10 Arkle Novice Chase 2m

Simple, Altior is a superstar and he wins. Only financial interest will be in the “without” market each way and all season I’ve said the North has three above average novice chasers. Waiting Patiently is on the side lines but Cloudy Dream and Forest Bihan turn up and it is the latter I like. Can see him ridden for a place and he has been neat at his fences and shown some gears running for home.

2.50 Ultima 3m 1f Handicap Chase

This is one classy three mile handicap chase and let’s get the betting started! I believe the winner will be at the top of the market and I’m going with three against the field.

Holywell – I’ve been monitoring this Cheltenham Festival specialist all season to see what Jonjo O’Neill could get his handicap down to with OR150 as a target. He excelled himself with OR148!! In 2014 he won the Pertemps final off OR140, in 2015 he won this race off OR145, in 2016 he was second in this race off OR153. Ignore the form of the horse and the trainer but he loves this time of year and the daffodils are out! One star win.

Noble Endeavor – Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell team up here and this is a classy animal. Fell in last year’s red hot 4m NH Chase when just moving into contention, was 4th in the Troytown and last time out he won the Grade B Paddy Power handicap chase at Leopardstown at Christmas and could easily be heading to graded company. One star win.

The Druids Nephew – Won this race two years ago off a mark of OR146 and he rocks up here off OR146! Goes well fresh, Spring horse, course and distance winner, yard and jockey couldn’t be in better form! The trainer, Neil Mulholland, is extremely bullish and “going well at home” vibes have been regularly aired on the Preview circuit and hopefully my man-crush for Neil Fehily will be enhanced further. Watched the BetFred preview in shop Sunday night with Mulholland in the studio and they boosted Southfield Royale for the Kim Muir not The Druids Nephew. Just saying! Two star win.

3.30 Champion Hurdle 2m

I have blogged this race on Wednesday March 9th and I can’t have Yanworth! After his traditional Sunday Cheltenham course walk Nicky Henderson says there is enough juice in the ground for Buveur D’Air and it’s dry enough for Brain Power and those two are my selections, three stars for Buveur D’Air and one star for Brain Power.

4.10 Mares Hurdle 2m4f

Surely destined for Ireland. Limini, Vroum Vroum Mag and Apples Jade heading the market with Jer’s Girl having a sniff. Can’t oppose Ruby’s choice of ride, Limini, but couldn’t risk the hard earned at a top price 13/8. The race has a habit of throwing up a big priced placed horse so how about last year’s second Rock on the Moor at a general 66/1?

4.50 4m National Hunt Chase

Will this year’s race throw up as much quality and as many winners as last years? Probably not but I have a strong fancy here. Nicky Henderson’s Beware the Bear with Sam Waley-Cohen on board has impressed me no end in his two novice chase wins at Ascot and Newbury. This horse is an outstanding jumper of fences and stays well and I think the 7yo son of Shantou could be destined for Graded races if not the National route and no issues having a Gold Cup winning jockey on board.

The other one that is on my radar is Haymount. It would seem that it’s only me and Willie Mullins that think four miles would suit this horse, most pundits seem to think he should come back in trip! It would seem to be the ride for Patrick Mullins and his last run when third in a Grade 2 behind Acapella Bourgeois is more than solid and Ruby said he couldn’t go any quicker throughout but he kept on. Solid form. Three stars Beware the Bear, one star Haymount.

5.30 Close Bros Novice 2m 5f Handicap Chase

It’s a handicap in name only with just five pounds from top to bottom and with Zamdy Man’s penalty taking him two pound over the top it is in effect just three pounds. I’ve thought for a while that Dan Skelton held the key to this race with Two Taffs, ItsaFreebie and Value at Risk and with brother Harry jocked up on Value at Risk suggesting “he could be graded horse in a handicap” he was to be my selection, then 10am this morning…… “Value at risk misses tomorrow’s close brothers chase. He’s knocked a back leg and is sore. If we had a week we’d make it. Just bad timing.” Harry Skelton rides ItsaFreebie and Davy Russell rides Two Taffs and to really give them a chance you can’t look at any of their novice chase videos! I’ll pass and I will go for two others.

All Hell Let Loose – Henry de Bromhead mentioned this race a long time ago and he has sneaked in. “He had a bit of a setback last summer, but he’s good now and is entered in the two-and-a-half mile novices’ handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He got a mark of 137 when we asked for it and while he’s lightly raced over fences, I would only be hopeful rather than confident of him being fairly treated.” This horse first came on my radar when de Bromhead entered him in a race in England but at a gaff track, I want to say Sedgefield, fishing for a mark and hasn’t run him since! Limited chase experience, one beginners chase run one win, but hacked up and sole representative of Gigginstown and Bryan Cooper rides.

Burtons Well – Prominent racer from the red hot Venetia Williams yard who was a solid fourth to Royal Vacation at Cheltenham last time out and Charlie Deutsch’s three pound claim could be very useful.


Tuesdays bets

2.50 The Druids Nephew ** (10/1 general) Holywell * (11/1 BF + Lad) Noble Endeavor *(10/1 PP)

3.30 Buveur D’Air *** (11/2 PP) Brain Power * (15/2 PP)

4.50 Beware the Bear *** (8/1 WH) Haymount* (20/1 PP, Lad, Cor)

5.30 All Hell Let Loose* (22/1 Lad) Burtons Well* (20/1 WH)

Total 14 stars

Thinking Out Loud Monday 4.30pm

Before we let the show begin, this blog is a thinking out loud memo to myself.

 When making your selection.

If you fancy a horse don’t let the price put you off.

Don’t worry about long absences unless you know its an injury.

Spring weather and drier ground will see improvement from winter ground form for some horses.

Going is Key. Class is permanent.

Graded form in handicaps.

The 2016 Supreme Novice Hurdle form is king. Been franked over and over again.

When placing your bet

Always get Best Odds Guaranteed.

If not on line Betfred for Lucky 15’s 6-10pm the night before. (BOG from 6pm, 25% bonus all 4 on Lucky 15.£3 min 15x20p))

If not on line, Paddy Power for Win Singles on first five races each day. Money back as Free bet if you are 2nd.

If not on line, each ways shop around for those extra places

If on line. Sky Bet first race Money back as Free bet all losers up to £20 per account.

Trifecta’s available on all races at Cheltenham. (Totes version of Tricast)

Something for nothing

Vouchers in the morning tabloids.

Shop tipping competitions.

Free Telegraph Fantasy Racing – Cash prizes

Plenty of other tipping competitions on line


Tuesdays selections will go up as soon after six as I can. It’s written, just need to see the prices as those at that time should be available on the High Street. Betfred 6pm night before BOG and I would expect the same in Paddy Power. Coral will be 8.30-8.40am. Ladbrokes 9am-9.10am. William Hill are excellent on line but a law unto themselves on the High Street.

Be lucky everybody!!

Ante Post Haydock National Trial, Eider & Betbright Chases. Thurs. Feb. 16th 1.15pm

Let’s paint the town Rouge!

Haydock Grand National Trial Sat 18th Feb.

Vieux Lion Rouge was an impressive winner of the 3m 2f Becher Chase over the National fences when last seen and we know he jumps and stays, we know that he has a touch of class, he was sixth in that red hot 4m NH chase at Cheltenham. What we don’t know is what shape David Pipe’s Pond house string are in as the aforementioned Becher Chase is the only Graded chase the yard has won for two years and they haven’t been setting Saturdays on fire. How fit will Vieux Lion Rouge be as obviously this season is all about April 8th and the Grand National itself? As an 8yo I think he is still improving and is a well weighted solid staying chaser and I shall back him at to win at 13/2 with William Hill or BetFred. (Was 8/1 when I started writing this piece!)

When trying to look ahead to the weekend at the big handicaps one of the big secrets is trying to find a horse that is actually going to line up! This weekend for the National Trial at Haydock everybody is keeping their cards very close to their chest and all we’ve heard is that last year’s winner and Ante Post favourite, Bishops Road, will not run! So we will look at the card assuming they ALL run and the second assumption I’m going to make is that the ground will be no deeper than what it is currently, Good to soft, with no rain forecast. That cuts out the heavy, winter ground specialists.

Houblon des Obeaux will be happy with Good to Soft ground and the 10yo is in a rich vein of form for Venetia Williams without getting his head in front. So far this season he has been third in the Hennessey behind Native River and a rallying fourth behind One for Arthur in the 3m 5f Betfred Classic at Warwick. He has to go close and he is the each way selection at 12/1 general ¼ 1,2,3.

Others I seriously considered were Blaklion, Virak and Warrantor. The Twiston-Davies team are very bullish about last season’s RSA Cheltenham winner but although Blaklion has a huge heart and is a real scrapper I just think his lack of size and scope holds him back when it comes to the business end of his races. I have Virak very much on the radar and think Paul Nicholls has him coming to the boil nicely, is well handicapped and about to land a nice prize over 3m+ on Soft ground. Indeed if he runs in the 2.25 at Ascot on Saturday instead he would carry my money based on his excellent second to Wakanda in the C&D Listed Silver Cup off a mark six pounds higher (Currently 16/1 with PP). Warrantor was a selection for the Welsh National but missed the cut. He does need Heavy ground and/or an extreme trip to be seen at his very best and possibly Warren Greatrex will wait for the 4m Eider chase seven days later.

We will keep with this theme of staying chasers but the races are very contrasting in type of horse required!

4m BetFred Eider Chase, Newcastle Sat 25th Feb.

This race is all about jumping well enough to get into a rhythm and then having stamina in abundance and for the past two years I have thought this race is ideal for Shotgun Paddy. In 2015 he was sent off as 11/2 favourite, clouted an early fence and was never involved and eventually unseated. Last year he was second ridden by Davy Russell when he just couldn’t give two stones to Rocking Blues and ten pound claimer Lorcan Murtagh and now he is back as a 10yo off a mark seven pounds lower and in some form. His first run at Cheltenham when seventh to Viconte de Noyer was excellent as he only faded from the second last and he built on that when an eye-catching third to One for Arthur in Warwick’s BetFred Classic. He travelled well, got a tad outpaced but stayed on really well in the home straight. He has never been the neatest of jumpers but he has seemed to have cut out the big mistake that use to end his chance. Daryl Jacob wouldn’t be my first choice of jockey and prefer a horseman such as Russell, Noel Fehily or Leighton Aspell, who have all ridden Paddy before! Currently available at 10/1 with sponsors Betfred but plenty of 12/1 on line and Shotgun Paddy has to be a solid each way selection ¼ 1,2,3,4.

My shortlist included Knockanrawley, Wild West Wind and Warrantor. Ever since I saw Knockanrawley finish fourth to Sausalito Sunrise in the 3m chase at Cheltenham on Paddy Power day eighteen months ago I have had his name down for one of these extreme staying chases when there is a bit of cut in the ground. Couple of issues were that after Cheltenham he didn’t run again for fifteen months but made a terrific comeback in the Classic at Warwick at a time when his trainer Kim Bailey couldn’t buy a winner! Well the yard has now revisited the winner’s enclosure and although this fragile, gutsy grey may “bounce” at a general 16/1 ¼ 1,2,3,4 I am willing to have an each way tickle.

Wild West Wind represents trainer Tom George and jockey Adrian Heskin who are having a fantastic season. The horse isn’t doing too badly either having won both his starts this season and a few things of note about this progressive 8yo are that he is tall and pops fences, that he stays all day and most of the night and acts on Soft ground or worse!! Seems an ideal Eider type.


3m Betbright Chase, Kempton Sat 25th Feb.

At the Double! To crack these big Saturday handicaps you need a man with a very definite plan and here is what Tom George put on his website after Double Shuffle won over course and distance at Christmas, DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) appeared to relish the conditions and step up in trip when winning the 3m 32Red.com Handicap Chase on the same card. Adrian had him well placed throughout and he stayed on strongly to win with plenty in hand. Giving him less work at home seems to be the key with him and could explain his disappointing run in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham. He will now be aimed for the Grade 3 BetBright Handicap Chase back at Kempton on February 25th.” But does Double Shuffle have the right profile for the race? Absolutely! He ticks every box in the top nine BetBright Chase Betting Trends.

14/15 – Rated 139 or higher

13/15 – Finished in the top 5 last time out

12/15 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks

12/15 – Aged 9 or younger

12/15 – Won a class 2 chase or better before

10/15 – Carried 10-13 or more

10/15 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before

10/15 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting

10/15 – Came from the top 4 in the betting

This horse was placed at the Cheltenham Festival meeting last season, is still improving especially for the step up in trip and the red hot connections think they have found the key to him! I am really keen on this one and the only firm priced up is good old Paddy Power! Hoover up that 14/1 each way ¼ 1,2,3,4 right now. He’ll go off half those odds.