Monday, we start at Doncaster where Nicky Henderson loves to visit. Henderson enjoyed a double on the day with Lough Derg Farmer and Stoway Magic both of whom won in impressive style. These two horses will surely go on to better things.The novices handicap chase went in good style to I Just Know for Sue Smith and Danny Cook winning by 6 lengths from Towering. The mares handicap hurdle saw Graceful Legend make it 3 wins from 4 in handicap hurdles. I loved the attitude of Graceful Legend in the finish at Doncaster on 29-12-16. It was the same story here as Graceful Legend saw Cajun Fiddle off by a head. Graceful Legend was well backed (11/4 -15/8). Graceful Legend was advised to our members 2pts win at (11/4). At Lingfield, there was a double for jockey George Baker with Aurora Gray and Summer Icon. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for jockey Adam Kirby with Seven Clans and Peachy Carnehan.
Tuesday, we start at Lingfield over the jumps. Warren Greatrex has a tremendous strike rate at Lingfield this continued with a double on the day. The horses were Missed Approach who took the novice chase in good style by six lengths. The second leg of the double went to The Nipper who won the mares novice hurdle. The handicap hurdle over two miles went in good style to Crievehill for Nigel Twiston -Davies and Sam Twiston-Davies. Crievehill did this well with Darwins Theory and Druids Folly back in second and third. At Southwell, there was a double for David Evans with Englishwoman and Gracious Tom. At Wolverhampton, there was another winner for both Adam Kirby and Jamie Osborne with Start Seven.
Wednesday, the racing world was still coming to terms with the shock news about Kempton Park potentially closing. I think this has a long way to run as a story, with many of the trainers and indeed high profile owners opposed to Kempton's closure. The reaction of race fans has been focused in on King George day which is understandable. The local council and residents also seem to be strongly opposed, they will rightly be a formidable opponent to the proposed project.The Jockey Club have a hard sell in front of them for hearts and minds. I also feel the Jockey Club have got ahead of themselves , they are no certainties to get this project over the line. The King George moving to Sandown potentially I would really need to be convinced, the ground at Sandown can get very heavy in the depths of winter.I must say to be fair Sandown has held two memorable King George's in recent times that were won by One Man and Kicking King.
Racing wise we start at Hereford,doubles were the order of the day. Davey Russell has become a regular visitor to the UK this season he made it pay today with a double on board Long Call and Courtown Oscar. There was also a double for Venetia Williams with Zamdy Man and Lady Karina. The win for Lady Karina came after a protracted battle with Lamanver Odyssey, Lady Karina winning out by a head. At Taunton, there was some good racing . Overland Flyer was a very impressive winner of the the 2 miles seven furlongs maiden hurdle. There was talk of the Albert Bartlett afterwards for the Paul Nicholls trained horse. Bags Groove got his maiden hurdle win for Harry Fry in the 2 Miles Three furlongs maiden hurdle. Bags Groove has a lot of ability in my view. Calett Mad continued his progression over fences with an easy win for Nigel Twiston -Davies and Darryl Jacob. Space Oddity made it a double for Harry Fry when running out an impressive six length winner of the 2 Miles Three furlongs handicap hurdle. It might have been different if Forecast stood up , however that horse crashed out at the last. Volpone Jelois was advised to our members 1pt each way at (4/1) placed in the race. At Newcastle, nothing stood out for me.At Kempton, there was a double for Adam Kirby with Little Indian and Pretend.
Thursday, we start at Catterick where there was a double for Noel Fehily with Impulsive Star and A Little Magic.The North Yorkshire National went for the second year in succession to Straidnahanna who jumped the rivals into submission here. Straidnahanna was six lengths clear of Gonalstown Cloud.It was a great success for trainer Sue Smith and Danny Cook. At Leicester, there was was a double for Paddy Brennan on board Baraza and Bells 'N' Banjos. The Selling hurdle went in good style to Paddocks Lounge by 8 lengths.This saw Richard Johnson at his best no nonsense ride bouncing out Paddocks Lounge it never looked in doubt in truth. Paddocks Lounge was advised to our members 2pts win at (11/4). At Newcastle, there was a double for Robert Winston with Doc Sportello and Flaming Spear. There was an incredible turn of foot from Flaming Spear to win late on by a neck.At Chelmsford, there was a major snow storm which meant abandonment. At Meydan,the carnival continued, there was a treble for jockey Ricard Mullen with Town's History , North America and Reynaldothewizard.
Friday, we start at Sedgefield which was abandoned following a snow storm. There was a good card at Huntingdon where Nicky Henderson enjoyed a treble. The first leg of the Henderson was Burbank who won the maiden hurdle by seven lengths. The feature race was the juvenile hurdle it saw a good battle between Mister Blueyes and Divin Bere who got the better of it by a neck. Divin Bere made it a double for Henderson on his first start since arriving from France. Divin Bere is entitled to improve, I think he will have to if he he is to trouble the top juveniles. O O Seven had looked a novice chaser to follow when winning at Cheltenham earlier in the season. O O Seven blew out at Doncaster. O O Seven got back on the road here to complete the Henderson treble with a gutsy win by a half a length over Mad Jack Mytton who ran a cracker on debut over fences. This could be a race to follow as I think Aqua Dude who finished third is a decent horse as well. O O Seven will go on to Cheltenham probably for the JLT, I reckon. This was a good performance by O O Seven as he gave Mad Jack Mytton 16 pounds. I reckon Mad Jack Mytton will be aimed at the handicap novice on Day one of Cheltenham, Jonjo will have him ready.
At Lingfield, there was a double for trainer John Butler with Lady Nayef and Zain Arion. At Wolverhampton, Aido McGuinness made another raid pay as Pivot Bridge won for the Irish trainer. At Dundalk, there was a double for Wayne Lordan on board Lady Rosebud and Winter Lion who took the two mile handicap in great style. Winter Lion was advised to our members 2pts win at (4/1). Tocatta Blue took the claimer in tenacious fashion under Colin Keane for Ger Lyons. Tocatta Blue was advised to our members 1pt each way at (7/2), completing a very good Friday for me.
Saturday, we start at Kempton where there was a treble for Sam Twiston- Davies on board Foxtail Hill, Ballymalin and Our Kaempfer. The first two legs of the Sam Twiston- Davies treble also formed a double for his father Nigel Twiston- Davies. Foxtail Hill won well despite jumping markedly to his left all the way around. I was very impressed with Ballymalin who gave 10 pounds and a beating to his rivals over three miles, he would be of interest for the Albert Bartlett to my eyes at Cheltenham. The only defeat Ballymalin has suffered over hurdles was to Wholestone at Cheltenham in October. In a strange turn of events Wholestone is the other horse I am interested in for the Albert Bartlett. .The Albert Bartlett is a race of attrition and you want certain stayers. Our Kaempfer put it all together over fences and ran out an impressive winner of the handicap chase , he will be of interest at Cheltenham. There was a double for Alan King with Fidux and River Frost. The win of River Frost provided the second leg of the Barry Gearghty double on the card. The first leg came courtesy of the long suffering Modus who always seems to run his race. It all came together for Modus in the feature race the Lanzarote hurdle, stepping up to two miles five furlongs for the first time. Modus traveled superbly and readily drew clear. I think Modus could be a player in a coral cup. I also thought there were signs of a revival from a stablemate of Modus Old Guard, who traveled well for a long way. I think Old Guard who loves Cheltenham would be a player in a Coral cup or County Hurdle. Vaniteaux finally got his act together for Nicky Henderson in the conditions chase to beat Vibrato Valtat.
At Warwick, it was the big day of the year Classic chase day. There was a double for Harry Fry and Noel Fehily with Overtown Express and American both were very impressive. American dismantled a good field in the Hampton Novice chase a race won by Black Hercules last season on route to Cheltenham glory. American took it up early, jumping magnificently down the back straight.American got a bit tired at the end which was fair enough he had nearly 5 lengths to spare. I think this horse needs softer ground but what an engine. Harry Fry will have his fingers crossed he can keep the fragile American in one piece. The Pertemps final qualifier went the way of Tobefair who made it six wins on the spin winning by a length and a half from Scotchtown. Tobefair is not ground dependent so must go on short lists for the final the same applies to, Schotchtown whos prominent racing style could see him involved also. The Neptune novice hurdle went in very impressive style to Willoughby Court who galloped his rivals into submission, taking the race by the scruff off the neck early on winning by eight lengths and a length and a quarter from Gayebury and Peregrine Run. The feature race the Classic chase went the way of One For Arthur. The story of the race was a ferocious gallop which witnessed lots of horses pulling up after jumping sloppily. It could have been very different for One For Arthur as Kaki De La Pree crashed out at fence two. One For Arthur was nearly brought down, dropped in by jockey Derek Fox , One For Arthur was able to travel into the race.One For Arthur got there in plenty of time and ran out an authorative 6 length winner. One For Arthur ran well over the Aintree fences already this season his style of running will require luck , however One For Arthur is a player in the Grand National for sure.
At Wetherby there was a double for trainer Micky Hammond with Mountain Path and Just Cameron. There was also a double for jockey Danny Cook on board El Massivo and Special Wells who took the feature race. At Lingfield, Adam Kirby continued his good run with a double on Blaze Of Glory and Maverik. At Wolverhampton, Sir Mark Prescott had a winner with Boost. At Punchestown, it was a moderate card. The two mile four furlong beginners chase was an interesting race which saw Edwulf get a deserved win beating Bachasson and Mall Dini. I think Mall Dini is being aimed either at the Ultimo on day one of Cheltenham or the Novice handicap chase on day one. The main event was the Moscow Flyer novice hurdle which has been won by Vautour, Douvan and Min. No pressure for this years winner. Willie Mullins sent Crack Mome here for the race the punters steamed in 4./6 to 4/11. It was not be Crack Mome had every chance going to the last , however got in tight landed on all fours. This gave surprise Navan winner Any Second Now (looked very good that day winning at 66/1) a chance which he grabbed for Ted Walsh and JP McManus. Any Second Now while still looking green put it away well. Any Second Now looks a fine build of a horse and sems to have a massive engine. I would like to see Any Second Now go in the Deloitte at Leopardstown, he is an exciting horse. I could see Any Second Now doing what Al Ferof did when he won the Supreme coming into late on and picking his rivals up late on.
Sunday, we start at Fairyhouse where it was Dan Moore chase day. The day took a now familiar feel with a double for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. The first leg of the double went to Barra who took the mares maiden hurdle in tremendous style by twelve lengths from Kate Appleby Shoes. Barra had two very good runs in maiden hurdles behind Invitation Only and Joey Sasa, finishing second twice prior to this. These two horses have a lot of ability. Barra was advised to our members 3pts win at (5/4). The feature race the Dan Moore chase saw Ttebbob go off like the hammers of hell building a massive lead up most of the field ignored Ttebbob wisely in this case. Ball D'arc and Pairofbrowneyes moved into contention on the home turn. Ball D'arc settled the race readily between the last two fences moving clear comfortably to beat Pairofbrowneyes nine lengths with Draycott place in third. Ball D'arc completed the double on the day for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. Pairofbrowneyes was advised to our members 1pt each way at (13/2), completing a good day for us as well as a very good weekend. Ballyoisin was a good winner of the beginners chase for JP McManus and Barry Geraghty.
At Kelso, Two Smokin Barrels completed a hat trick in the Mares handicap chase winning in good style for trainer Michael Scudamore and jockey Liam Treadwell. The feature race the Royal Caledonian Handicap Chase went to Bernardelli for Nicky Richards who outstayed them very well for a nine length win from Spanish Fleet. The hunter chase went to a old hero in Black Thunder sold from Paul Nicholls yard to the Waley- Cohens to be trained by Warren Greatrex. Black Thunder got it done despite the ground being horrible at that stage. However the jockey in second Mr D Gittins failed to ride his mount Dolatulo out in the last 50 yards and got a ten day ban for his trouble. Black Thunder could have a chance in the Aintree Foxhunters and the Cheltenham version.