At Fairyhouse, Dunvegan made it four from four at Fairyhouse in the Dan And Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase. Trainer Pat Fahy's grey won a bumper and a maiden hurdle at the Meath track four years ago - and completed the set with a handicap chase victory at the end of November. The nine-year-old was the 7-2 joint-favourite to maintain his unbeaten course record in this €80,000 feature under Bryan Cooper and ultimately got the job done in fine style. After tracking his pacesetting market rival Blackbow for much of the two-mile-one-furlong contest, Dunvegan hit the front in the home straight. Blackbow briefly threatened to rally, but Fahy's charge was winning the argument on the approach to the final fence and jumped it well to seal a three-and-a-quarter-length verdict.
At Ayr. Gordon Elliott took the bumper with Burn The Evidence (who was advised 2.5pts win to our members at 5/2)
Shark Hanlon is hoping Skyace will be fit enough to run at the Cheltenham Festival after returning home lame from her run at Sandown on Saturday. Beacon Edge could return to action at the Dublin Racing Festival after missing an intended outing over the Christmas period due to a bout of colic. Already a Grade One winner over fences having landed the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, Noel Meade's charge looked set to bid for further top-level honours at Leopardstown last month. A Plus Tard will head straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup as connections aim to go one better than last year in the blue riband event.
Paul Nicholls is ready to take on the cream of the Irish in their own back yard at Leopardstown next month, with Frodon, Clan Des Obeaux and Greaneteen being readied for the Dublin Racing Festival. Frodon, winner of the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, and dual King George VI Chase hero Clan Des Obeaux are among 18 entries for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday, 5 February.
Saturday saw Warwick have its biggest day of the season. Threeunderthrufive booked his Cheltenham Festival ticket and the possibility of a £25,000 bonus into the bargain when continuing his winning ways in the Wigley Group Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick. Trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Max McNeill, neither were on course to witness his second Grade Two win as both are on holiday in the Caribbean and no doubt the champagne corks would have been popping some way from home. Adrian Heskin was positive on the 8-13 favourite and bounced him into an early lead and in truth he never looked like being caught, coming home three and a half lengths clear of Doyen Breed, who was in receipt of 5lb. The decision now for connections is to run in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase in March or the National Hunt Chase over three-mile-six. I personally do not think it matters which race goes Threeunderthrufive for I think he will come up well short at Cheltenham.
Former classy Flat performer Stag Horn (10-3) remained unbeaten over hurdles with a game front-running performance in the Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle. By the Derby winner Golden Horn, he was last seen on the Flat winning at Pontefract under Hollie Doyle, taking his mark on the level to 103. Sent over hurdles by Archie Watson, an unusual move for the Lambourn handler, he showed promise in his winning debut at Hereford under Gavin Sheehan. Up markedly in class for a Grade Two which both The New One and Willougby Court used as a stepping stone to Cheltenham success, Nick Scholfield was on board this time and was not going to let anyone settle, constantly upping the pace on the tight track, and for a horse having just his second outing over timber his jumping was a big asset. This was impressive in my view, however, the Irish battalions will loom large over Stag Horn at Cheltenham. Stag Horn could run a big race in the Ballymore.
Eclair Surf put in an admirable staying performance to run his rivals into the ground in the Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick. The eight-year-old was given a bold, front-running ride by Tom Bellamy, as trainer Emma Lavelle claimed a second success in this stamina test over three miles and five furlongs after Shotgun Paddy in 2014. Eclair Surf (11/1) jumped well, making only one mistake at the 22 fences, and never looked like stopping. Chirico Vallis kept him company, but Eclair Surf pulled away before the home turn to score by 13 lengths. Gericault Roque, the 7/2 favourite, could not got close enough to challenge and was nearly caught for second place by a rallying Chirico Vallis (33/1). Corach Rambler, the top-weight, went past beaten horses to claim the fourth spot. I thought this was really electric from Eclair Surf. It was a good day for our members Eclair Surf was advised 0.75pt each way at 12/1 to our members.
Mister Fisher took advantage of a drop in class to land a deserved success in the Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton. Nicky Henderson's eight-year-old had things easier than on his last visit to the Sunbury track, when he was pulled up in the King George VI Chase at Christmas. Already a dual course winner, Mister Fisher made it three with a polished performance over the extended two and a half miles. Mister Fisher is a fine horse he will not be winning at Cheltenham. That said there are plenty of other races he will win away from the festivals. The Henderson team had a four-timer on the day at Kempton.
Cobblers Dream (10-1) won an eventful edition of the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. Jack Quinlan's mount was at the head of affairs from flag fall and, after a false start, it proved the best place to be as there was drama at the second flight. Ch’tibello fell, bringing down the favourite Green Book and badly hampering another fancied runner, Marie’s Rock. Unaware of what had happened to the two market leaders, upfront it was the Ben Case-trained Cobblers Dream and Highway One O Two who led the way. Very few got into the race and there was no change at the second-last flight where Quinta Do Mar came down when fading out of contention. Cobblers Dream kept up the gallop to land the valuable prize from Highway One O Two, with Call Me Lord third and Gelino Bello fourth.
Dysart Dynamo galloped his rivals into submission - and fired a warning shot to Constitution Hill and Jonbon in the process - as he maintained his unbeaten record in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Willie Mullins' charge won both his bumper outings last term and got off to a good start over obstacles when triumphing by 19 lengths at Cork in December. He was sent off the 4-9 favourite for this Grade Two contest and Paul Townend was quick to assume the lead, with Dysart Dynamo quickly building up a healthy advantage over the chasing Gringo D'aubrelle and Guily Billy. The field was well strung out by halfway and Dysart Dynamo just kept up his relentless gallop, with a slightly awkward landing at the penultimate obstacle barely checking his momentum as Townend allowed him to cruise home by 19 lengths from Gringo D'aubrelle. Mullins has won the two-mile affair with some giants of the jumping game in the past, with Vautour, Douvan and Min landing the prize between 2014 and 2016, and the bookmakers feel Dysart Dynamo holds similar potential, chopping him in the markets for both the Supreme and Ballymore Novices' Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival. I really like Dysart Dynamo. I would see him as being the Supreme winner right now. Given the confidence behind Constitution Hill, we should be able to back Dysart Dynamo at 7/2 or 4/1 on the day. That would do me lovely.
Bob Olinger made it two wins in as many starts over fences when running out a cosy winner of the Kildare Novice Chase at Punchestown. The seven-year-old, a dual Grade One hurdles victor last term, had triumphed on his chasing bow at Gowran in November although his jumping was not faultless on that occasion. However, he turned in a more assured round of fencing in this Grade Three, with Rachael Blackmore content to maintain a watching brief in the early stages as Lifetime Ambition and Capodanno set the early gallop. With three fences down the back straight omitted due to the sun, it was a long run to the third-last with Bob Olinger clearly travelling well for Blackmore. However, she had to start pushing on the 1-2 favourite turning in, but once Bob Olinger found top gear he swiftly put the race to bed, clearing the last in fine style before coming home four and three-quarter lengths ahead of the game Capodanno. Gaillard Du Mesnil plugged on for third, beaten a further 27 lengths. Bob Olinger is now the evens favourite for the Turners Novices' Chase at Cheltenham. I liked this performance. I could debate it if he should be even money. I liked his attitude he really had to race. Bob Olinger has some engine.
The finale at Punchestown went to John Adams it was good news for our members. John Adams was advised 1pt each-way at 8/1.