Thursday, still pretty quiet on the jumps front as the UK and Ireland remains very wet. We start at Towcester where the ground was very testing Eminent Poet followed up at odds on in the handicap hurdle for Venetia Williams winning easily by 8 lengths as long as current conditions prevail Eminent Poet could continue to make hay. American Life plugged on for third on a trip too sharp he is a decent horse in bad ground, Bishop Wulstan who was our members selection ran ok but jumped badly left and may well pop up at a left handed track soon. Pulling Power got off the mark for Kim Bailey over hurdles winning the maiden hurdle boosting the form of the smart looking Rene's Girl in the process who had beat Pulling Power last time out. Thursday also saw the start of the carnival at Meydan. The news for the weekend in the UK is not over positive with Chepstow's rescheduled Welsh Grand National meeting under threat from the weather again
Friday, we start at Doncaster which hosted a decent card. The day was to be a triumph for Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston -Davies with a treble apiece, Bouvreuill was the first leg of the treble winning the Novice chase defeating the odds on Vyta Du Roc who was trying to concede 11 pounds. Bouvreuill was getting back on the trail here having shown a lot of promise early in his career, Bouvreuill may now start to fulfill that early potential. Le Prezien won the novice hurdle easily by 19 Lengths his task made easier by some market rivals being non runners. I must admit to being very impressed with the way Le Prezien went about his job here though. Baoulet Delaroque won division 1 of the maiden hurdle to complete the treble. Baoulet Delaroque got the better of Divine Spear by 3 lengths it was a further 18 lengths back to the third horse. It was the clearest possible signal that the Paul Nicholls yard has put its recent quiet spell behind them.
Iron Butterfly won the handicap hurdle to make it three wins from three visits to Doncaster. Iron Butterfly is versatile as regards trip having won at 2 miles 3 furlongs in this race and won at three miles previously, it was good news for our members as well who had a 2 point win recommended at 5/2. The Novices handicap chase looked competitive Lovely Job was really well punted (7/4 to 5/4) .The race itself went to Askamore Darsi who ran Lovely Job down right on the line to win by a head it was 18 lengths back to the third placed horse Mysteree . I do think Lovely Job was not doing much in front, he also deposited Paddy Brennan on to the turf after the finishing post.It was a strange finish but that's the game to be fair Askamore Darsi picked up very well .
Saturday, we start at Chepstow who got the Welsh Grand National on after its cancellation on December 27th. The race was run in bottomless ground ,it went to Mountainous who was a worthy winner always up with the pace and stayed on best. Of the placed horses Shotgun Paddy showed signs of a revival, Firebird Flyer ran a cracker in second, Saroque ran very well placing for Venetia Williams. There was joy for our members as Woodford County took advantage of the first five places concession and placed fifth for our members 1pt each way advised 14/1. Mountainous will be now named at Aintree but I could not have him on my mind their at all. The handicap hurdle went to Awaywiththegreys for the third consecutive year ,Gevrey Chambertin was backed in to 5/1 but as highlighted in our "Notebook horses" for November he wins before Christmas and does nothing after it. The race was a cracking race with, Awaywiththegreys just holding off the very game Moorlands mist who kept trying and kept coming but lost out by a short head. The Grade 1 Juvenile hurdle went to Adrien Du Pont who won as he liked in reality picking up the long time leader Chic Name who ran with great credit. The victory of Adrien Du Pont was a great boost for the form of Sceau Royal (beat Adrien Du pont last time out) who I think is pretty smart, it will be interesting to see what Paul Nicholls does next with Adrien Du Pont.
At Kempton it was Lanzorote hurdle day. The listed chase went to Triolo D'Alene the former Hennessy winner was getting the better of Ptit Zig who came down at the second last. It was great seeing Triolo D'Alene win here hopefully the handicapper does not hammer him for this as he would have a real chance at Aintree if he gets to Aintree in good shape. Yala Eniki was well backed he duely won the Lanzarote, however the decision of the other jockeys to gift Yala Eniki 8 lengths at that start was terrible he was the favourite for crying out load. Yala Eniki got a soft lead and made full use of it holding Westren Warrior and Ibis Du Rheu, who both ran well by 2 lengths and 4 lengths respectively. A smart ride by Charlie Deutsch a disaster for the other jockeys. Kruzhlinin defied a near year absence to win for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson, this horse has always had ability Kruzhlinin is one to keep on side.
At Punchestown, the Min show rolled into town. Min took part in The Moscow Flyer Hurdle (great to see a race named after Moscow Flyer much beloved of my household). Min was superb beating the other horses in style, Min was following in the hoofprints of Douvan and Vautour in winning this race and taking dead aim at the supreme at Cheltenham. I think what impressed me was the jumping of Min , he also looks to have more gears then most. I really rate and respect Altior but Min can do no more then he has done to date, in short he is living up to the hype about him. Measureofmydreams was an impressive winner of the beginners chase for Willie Mullins he is another horse for that massive squad of novice chasers, he looks a four mile candidate to me. Lift the Latch was a really impressive winner of the maiden Hurdle JP McManus and Tony Martin have a really nice prospect on their hands. Elusive Ivy won the mares handicap hurdle coming through late to pick up her rivals she is pretty decent in my view. It was good news for our members who were advised a 1pt each way bet at 5/1. The last race featured Diamond King who was bidding to do what his stablemate Noble Endeavor did last season (win this and go for a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival). The race was a straightforward victory for Diamond King who I think is well handicapped and like Noble endeavor goes for the Martin Pipe handicap hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. It was a great end to the day for our members who were advised a 6pt win at 13/8. The end result on the day was a 15.25 points profit on the day for our members.
Sunday,we start at Fairyhouse who hosted a decent card. There was a great day for Gordon Elliott and JP McManus who had a treble each on the day. The opening two races went to Gordon Elliott with Tocororo and Myztique both winning. The first winner was Tocororo who was impressive on the day, this was a significant boost to the form of the impressive Leopardstown winner Ivanovich Gorbatov (who I believe is very smart) Tocororo can go on to better things. The second winner was Myztique who deserved her turn she did it well , Myztique will progress in my view. Shannak won the handicap hurdle very easily this horse is progressing,Might be magic ran well in behind (he will go into our notebook horses for January but purely for races at Fairyhouse)
The big race was the Dan Moore Chase victory went to Nearly Nama'd who won in great style, Barry Geraghty got down to 10 stone 5 pounds for the first time in twelve months the clue was probably in that fact on reflection. The placed horses are of interest with Mozoltov coming second , Mozoltov looks like he is now well handicapped to win on Heavy ground his form figures read (1131312221) however Mozoltov form figures on better then Heavy ground (211FU5P) . I will be putting Mozoltov as a "Notebook horse" for January. The third placed horse Guitar Pete ran really well on ground he would not really enjoy, I think Guitar Pete can be of massive interest in Good Ground handicaps "The Grand Annual" at the Cheltenham Festival springs to mind. The favorite Bright New dawn who was really well punted (4/1 to 9/4) ran disappointing he may need better ground, I will keep monitoring Bright New Dawn, who is another horse who could end up in "The Grand Annual" at the Cheltenham Festival. The Beginners chase went to McKinley the task was made easier by the fall of the well backed favorite Allsier D'Irlande who had set off at a fierce gallop, Westerners Son ran below par having chased the early pace. I still have doubts about McKinley however he was good here, McKinley joins the unreal team of Willie Mullins Novice chasers . The novice chase went to Marlbrook who won well ,paying a compliment to Noble Endeavor who Marlbrook finished second to at Down Royal over Christmas. The bumper went to Sutton Place who won really well,a fine stamp of a horse Sutton Place looks a real chasing prospect ,who completed the treble for JP McManus and Gordon Elliott.
Monday, with only two all weather meetings surviving there was nothing race wise of note. There was the confirmation that Don Cossack would run at Thurles on Thursday in the Kinloch Brae, a race Don Cossack won last season. The money continued to come for Min in the Supreme Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham with some bookmakers going 5/4 only about the Willie Mullins horse.
Tuesday, Ludlow was the main attraction .Garde La Victore was bidding to keep his Arkle hopes on track. Garde La Victore duly won but we learned little in truth , Garde La Victore made a mistake at the third fence but apart from that was solid winning at 1/6. The Pendil at Kempton on 27-2-16 was nominated as the next target for Garde La Victore. The handicap chase was a bizarre race with Take The Mick dropping himself out , then consenting to run on , then belting the second last when looking like winning. The in running markets must have been carnage ,the race went to Still Believing who needed the line at the end to win by a neck. I must admit these type of races are why racing is so intriguing always, the connections of Take the mick will for sure see this as one that got away. The bumper went Alf 'N' dor who won by 21 lengths in impressive style, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the winners penalty next time out as he looked a decent horse.
Wednesday , Taunton was the main attraction . The opener went to Churchtown champ for the Dan Skelton team, Churchtown champ who had decent form in Ireland tanked through the race and won as he liked by 11 lengths despite an X rated mistake at the last hurdle which Harry Skelton did well to survive. The victory of Churchtown champ was good news for our members also, as they were advised a 1 point each way bet at 5/1. There was an interesting postscript to the race when Harry Skelton reported the stable had been quiet after Christmas with the horses slightly under the weather, Harry did report that he felt the horses were coming back to themselves now. I thought Harry Skeletons comments most helpful , it was a refreshing change from " The nothing to see here" approach from some other trainers. Wychwoods Brook won the handicap Chase keeping trainer Evan Williams good run going in the process. There were signs of a spark from the Paul Nicholls trained Easter Day this horse is well handicapped now, I will be adding him to my notebook horses for February. Top wood ran a bad race and was beaten when hampered three fences out. Winning Spark won the handicap hurdle in commanding fashion , travelling well throughout and well on top at the line. The Favorite Pull The Chord jumped sloppily and looks like he is marking time till going over fences, Pull The Chord has a big engine he was conceding 20 pounds to the winner and was beaten just under 6 lengths a very respectable run.The Hunter chase produced a win for the one time smart Dark Lover who won impressively at 9/1 .