Thursday, we start at Clonmel. The conditions chase went to Bright New Dawn although he was entitled to win connections will be glad to have got his head in front again. I am of the view this horse is below top class , however Bright New Dawn could run very well in a Grand annual at Cheltenham or The Red Rum at Aintree. The Maiden hurdle went to Fire in the Soul who impressed for Willie Mullins on debut defying a massive market drift ( 5/4 overnight to 9/2), Fire in the soul looked decent and will make a chaser I reckon. The Grade 3 Novice Hurdle went to wait for it Willie Mullins!! but not the favourite Stone Hard. The race went to Arkwrisht under Ruby Walsh for Gigginstown who held off Westend Star. Arkwrisht could now go for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham he could go well in that race. Cerca Tova won the handicap hurdle but was most fortunate as Fade in crashed out at the second last when looking a winner. The eventual second Annie Alainn was badly hampered in the fall of Fade in , Annie Alainn looks a winner in waiting.The Novice handicap chase went to Vicangelome it was good news for our members advised (1pt each way 3/1). I like Vicangelome he has plenty of gears, he could do punters another turn soon.
in the Uk at Towcester, Cheat the Cheater won the handicap chase this horse just stays and stays. I reckon Cheat the Cheater can win another one of these races while the mud is flying. The bumper went to Informationisking with Barry Geraghty on duty in a rare appearance at Towcester,it was another winner for the unstoppable Alan King. Over at Wincanton there was some good racing a double for Paul Nicholls with Lifeboat Mona and Baoulet Delaroque both horses have a future. As De Fer won an incident packed handicap chase touching off our members selection Quite by chance. The unlucky horse in the race was Unique De Cotte who was brought to a standstill when Stilleto fell. Unique De Cotte is bang on my radar for a Cheltenham handicap, Unique De Cotte has run well at Cheltenham on a few occasions.
Friday, we start at Catterick. the juvenile hurdle went in impressive fashion to Jaleo for John Ferguson. Jaleo will now go for the Fred Winter he looks a smart horse , Jaleo could run very well on the day. The handicap chase went to Auldthunder who looked at one point out of it Auldthunder picked up really well, getting the better of our members selection Runswick Relax . The three mile handicap hurdle went to Hainan ,who saw off our members selection Iron Butterfly with the consistent Tambura sticking on in third. The racing at Chepstow was average to be honest. The opening novice hurdle saw two short priced horses Robin Of Locksley and Aurillac , however they were well beaten off by Pougne Bobbi for Nicky Henderson who was impressive. The Henderson horses are coming into form just now. The Novice chase saw Baltimore Rock try to continue his positive start over fences, however the race went to Oscar Sunset who saw it well. They are two fair horses who will pay their way. There was a double for Donnacha O'Brien at Dundalk the only thing of note.
Saturday, Ffos Las was abandoned very late in the day. We start at Leopardstown which had a very good card for Irish Gold Cup day I was in attendance myself. The juvenile hurdle was the first grade 1 on the card. It saw the return of the impressive Ivanovich Gorbatov it did not happen for him at all he was in trouble down the back. I thought it was a really strange run Ivanovich Gorbatov did not look anything like the horse he did at Christmas, its hard to know where Ivanovich Gorbatov goes from here even though he is still only 6/1 to win the Triumph. The race itself was a total result for Willie Mullins who had a 1-2-3 , Lets Dance went very hard from the front running really well in the process. Allblak Des Places ran a very promising race in the Hurricane Fly colours , he looks a decent horse. The race was won by Footpad who traveled well from a long way out putting the race to bed in good style ,this was a good performance from Footpad.The fact is Footpad could run well in the Triumph hurdle, however it is very hard to forget he could not win at Christmas. The mares handicap hurdle went for the second year in succession to Who's that who traveled really well in the race, this horse has an excellent record at Leopardstown. The Deloitte novice hurdle traditionally a strong trial for the Supreme at Cheltenham, this years renewal featured a strongly fancied favourite in Bellshill who went to post at 4/6. I have not been convinced by Bellshill all season , I think Bellshill is a moderate jumper who has been getting away with against inferior opponents his bubble was firmly burst here, Bellshill never looked like winning. I am sure Willie Mullins will say he can get Bellshill right for Cheltenham, I do not believe Bellshill is the best Novice in the Mullins yard let alone win at Cheltenham. Up next in the dock is Tombstone this horse always seems to have an excuse, I think he is running out road for excuses, I have been left underwhelmed by Tombstone as a hurdler. Petit Mouchoir refuses to settle , the horse clearly has ability if it ever learns to drop the bridle. The race went to Bleu et Rogue who was fourth to Long Dog at Christmas, Bleu et Rogue does nothing very quickly in my view he won well on the day but I could not have him as a Cheltenham winner at all. I think Irelands best Neptune novices are A Toi Phil and Long Dog.
The Flogas novice chase went in good style to Outlander who is a proper professional racehorse, I was unsure about him before Saturday but this was good. I hope he goes for the 4 miler at Cheltenham he would have a very good chance in my view. Monksland ran only ok in my view back in second staying on when the race was gone , No more heroes Cheltenham supporters will hang on to this bit of form. Pont Alexandre ran alright as well he does jump to his right slightly he was still in their pitching at the last when a bad mistake finished his chances. I still think Pont Alexandre could run a big race in a novice race at Cheltenham if he drops the bridle ,Pont Alexandre is still racing too keenly for my liking. The one horse who ran a shocker was Zabana he was way below par here jumping sloppily throughout , Zabana appeared to hate the ground in truth he was never a factor. I was very disappointed with the run of Zabana, I backed and tipped him in last years Coral cup at the Festival , this run was way below his best . The only hope is Zabana improves for a sounder surface. The handicap hurdle went to Blazer who look like he joined in at the home turn, Blazer will attempt the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and must have an outstanding chance. I thought the performance of Blazer was the performance of the day.
The Irish Gold cup always one of the races I really love, not least because one of my all time racing heroes my beloved Florida Pearl won it four times. This years renewal in truth was short on real star quality. The fav was Road To Riches a fine horse who ran his heart out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, Road to Riches ran an odd race.Bryan Copper seemed determined to be positive which was fine but his horse was never really jumping as well as he can. The field headed down to the last Valseur Lido tackled Road to Riches moving into the lead on approach to the fence , Valseur Lido pecked on landing and lost Ruby Walsh at the last fence. Road To Riches was in the lead briefly , however within strides Carlingford Lough arrived on the scene powered through on the inside and won by a hardly believable 12 lengths. The win was Carlingford Loughs second in succession in the Irish Gold Cup. Of the rest Foxrock ran Ok , Gilgamboa appears a non stayer , Fine Rightly ran a blinder. This race will have no influence on next months Cheltenham God Cup at all in my view. The Hunter Chase meant all eyes on last seasons treble champion On The Fringe as usual in this race he was nowhere to be seen finishing a bad seventh. I would not pay any attention to this run this was his fourth year in a row to get stuffed in this race yet he went off Evens unbelievable. The race itself was won in tremendous style by You Must Know me who jumped brilliant from the front sadly he broke his leg after the finishing line and lost his life,it was gutting.. The second horse It came to pass looks very useful , he is closely related to gold cup winner Lord windermere, Salsify also ran very well , it seems his fire still burns. I must admit my overall impression of the day was of bemusement with odd results , below par runs and a essentially redundant form book.
At Sandown, Peace and co was trying to get his career back on track it was not to be racing with his head high and refusing to settle ,Peace and co could only manage third. Connections announced a breathing operation would be done in the aftermath , I think they need a miracle. The race went Connetable who stuck at it well ,however Connetable who was rated 20 pounds below peace and co prior to the race was only receiving 14 pounds enough said. The Scilly Isles Novice chase looked competitive with Tea for two and Bristol De Mai facing off. The race was a triumph for Bristol De Mai who jumped superbly ,looking a real good horse in the process beating Tea for Two handily in the end with As De Mee nipping in for second. Bristol De Mai has racked up a lot of experience running six times over fences ,winning four times Bristol De Mai is unbeaten over 2 and a half miles. The 2 mile seven furlong handicap went to Saddlers Encore who landed some nice bets toughing it out well, there was a cracking run from Join the Clan who is bang on my radar for the Pertemps ,Yala einki continues to hold his form well. These horses were seperated by less then a length and were 25 lengths of the fourth horse. The 3 mile handicap chase went to Le Reve who had his optimal conditions , Le Reve won well with Unioniste running a respectable race in third. The race of interest at Wetherby was the Towton Novice Chase. The race went to Blaklion who did this really well getting the better of Definitly Red with Native River looking very one paced in third. The form has a solid look to it with Definitly Red having the form with Black Hercules. I think Blaklion will give people a good run in the RSA but just might lack a bit of class.
Sunday, it was a quiet enough day we start at Naas. There was a quick double for Willie Mullins with the impressive Babbling stream winning the maiden hurdle by 12 lengths the horse has a supreme entry he showed a good turn of foot here. The second leg of the Mullins Double was the victory of Gitane Du Berlais who won the mares chase in convincing style. There was a sad postscript to this race with the smart Carrigmoorna Rock sustaining a fatal fall at the second last fence when in the shake up. Musselburgh staged the Scottish Cheltenham Festival Trials day. The opener went to Charbel for Kim Bailey who battered a good field by 11 lengths, Charbel was a smart bumper horse in Ireland he could go well in the Supreme itself at a decent price. Tommy Silver won the Triumph trial for Paul Nicholls in good style with no stand out juvenile in Ireland or England Tommy silver might be in the mix. OO Seven won the Albert Bartlett trial beating off Fagan by 3 parts of a length. Cup Final landed a JP McManus punt in the pertemps qualifier, a race JP now has several viable options for. Taglietelle ran well in this a mistake at the last knocked him out off it he is one for the Cheltenham Shortlist.
Monday, we start at Musselburgh who raced again on Monday. The performance of most interest was that of Jetstream Jack he looked a certainty ,however he just about won in the end he is not as good as first thought I reckon. So Satisfied bolted up by 13 lengths in the handicap hurdle he looks one to stick with for now. At Fakenham Halo Moon won his third race on the spin in facile fashion he is improving at the rate of knots, Halo Moon can win again. The last race went to the resurgent Pipe team with Navanman a easy winner who the Pipe team will get another win out of soon.
Tuesday,we start at Market Rasen Kasakh Noir was very impressive on debut at Newbury, he was well put away second time out under a penalty. Kasakh Noir got back on the road here with a short head victory over Wolfcatcher. Kasakh Noir looks every inch a chaser a georgeous frame of a horse he will go for the Fred winter at the Festival before a career over fences. The hunter chase went to Dark Lover who now is qualified for Cheltenham. At Sedgefield Yes I Did bolted up for the Skeltons in the novice Hurdle. There was a victory for course specialist My Friend George and northern racing stalwart Snuker.
Wednesday, the day started with the news that one of the Irish bankers Killultagh Vic will miss the festival no doubt the miracle recovery at Leopardstown having had some impact on the horse. In the Uk Carlilse was the focus where Morning Royalty conceded weight all around and was an impressive 8 length winner. Subtle Grey landed the odds on bets 4/5 in a driving finish to win by a half a length.