Thursday ,we start at Punchestown who hosted a decent card. Net d'ecosse took and interesting beginners chase getting the better of Peoples park and Blazer in a thrilling finish . Net d'ecosse was redeeming himself following a fall first time out , Blazer ran a race full of promise and finished like a train. There was a nose and a head in it at the line, the three horses will pay their way this winter. Thomas Hobson took the novice hurdle despite jumping less then fluently, I backed Jetstream Jack here and there seemed to be no excuse for him he just could not go with the Thomas Hobson when push came to shove. The fact that Jetstream Jack was backed from 6/4 to 9/10 made this doubly disappointing ,Thomas Hobson clearly has a big engine having been smart on the flat if he can jump better he will be hard to stop from here on in. Min is a horse we have heard loads about already favorite for the supreme novices at Cheltenham before even racing in Ireland. Min could not have been more impressive jumping and travelling like a serious horse, obviously Min will go to graded company now and we will learn more. Min reminds me of both Douvan and Vautour both of course claimed victory in the supreme at Cheltenham. There was a treble for Willie Mullins on the card.
In the UK ,Taunton had some good racing , Whataknight looked a good staying novice prospect and was another winner for Harry Fry. The runner up Rock on Oscar traveled supremely well but found zilch this is the second time he has done this, Rock on Oscar looks one to be careful of. Balgarry won the handicap chase which was pleasing, I advised him at 4/1 and he won returning at 9/4. It was another sign of the David Pipe yards resurgence following a slower then usual start, Balgarry may find it harder to win next time but we got our day and he remains one to monitor in the right circumstances. Drumcliff won the bumper in good style for JP McManus and Harry Fry completing a double for Fry.
At Newcastle , I was impressed with Got the nac who was impressive for Keith Dalgleish on debut he can win again. Nautical Twilight put his best foot forward and produced a gutsy display to win. Warwick had a better card it was another good day for Dan Skelton with a double. The first leg was Ashoka a recruit from Michael Halford in Ireland ,Ashoka took the juvenile hurdle in good style. Born Survivor was the second leg of the double a recruit from Irish Point to Pointing, Born Survivor was a decisive winner of the maiden Hurdle and we will hear more about this horse in the coming months. The most impressive winner of the day was Red spinner who absolutely destroyed the field in the novice chase. Red Spinner was conceding weight all round and won by 25 Lengths jumping beautifully , this horse could be very smart and in Kim Bailey has a trainer who excels with this type of horse.
Friday, we start at Cheltenham. The opening novice chase looked tight on paper, Minella Rocco was fav but was let down his jumping and was pulled up early after a couple of mistakes. The race was won by Blaklion who looked an unlucky loser here last time out falling at a crucial stage Blaklion put it together here. The finish was a good one with Onenightinvienna running very well and just giving way late on, Fletchers flyer ran a good race and looks sure to improve. Vicente who had been on a roll found giving the weight to the others too much, and his jumping fell apart a bit,but to his credit he rallied and stayed on well Vicente could still run well in an RSA chase. They are probably a decent set of horses but Ireland's novice chasers still look stronger at this stage of the season. Solstice Star completed a four timer in the handicap hurdle were he dictated a steady gallop ,Kayf Blanco looked unfortunate finishing like a train after a mistake at the last. Aachen showed their was no fluke about his recent Wincanton romp putting an equally impressive performance in the handicap chase to win by 17 lengths. Wonderful Charm ran well as he always does when fresh to finish second. The Druids nephew as well as making his own mistake was also hampered at the same fence by the fall of Vieux Lion Rogue ,it would be wildly optimistic to say either horse was still in contention when bowing out of the contest. I did not fancy Vieux Lion Rogue at all for this race I must admit , however I was dissappointed with the way The Druids Nephew ran.
The cross country looked a deep race but it did not turn out that way with very few getting into it. Any Currency was weighted to turn it around with Josies orders on the race at the open meeting, but Any Currency ran no race at all here. On his own is not in love with the cross country game at all and was never a factor. Sire collonges who loves it here ran a cracker with himself and Ballyboker Bridge fighting it out a long way from home. I had put Ballyboker Bridge up for our members at 33/1 each way it looked good turning but he faded out of it for third but ran with great credit. The strong travelling Josies Orders arrived on the scene going to the last fence with a confident Nina Carberry although Sire Collonges gave his all and lost nothing in defeat ,Josies Orders was way too strong. I would say Josie Orders could be Irish banker material at the Festival but a reemerging Balthazar King may provide stiff competition and hopefully make the market. The last race looked a strong novice hurdle ,I am not a fan of Drumlee sunset (who went off fav) at all and could not have him pre race. Politologue was well touted for Paul Nicholls having drifted from his morning price was well backed on course (8/1 to 6/1) .The race was a disaster for Sam Twiston Davies who fell off the horse on the flat approaching the last flight as the horse jinked at something. I would not have liked to been going in to face John Hales (not known for his patience with jockeys) , Politologue looked very unlucky as he was certain to be involved in the shake up. The race was won by North Hill Harvey in good style for Dan Skelton having been slightly inconvenienced in the Politologue incident. It will be interesting to see what happens with these horses next. The final thing to say was there was a record placepot dividend at Cheltenham on Friday £91,774.50 to a £1 stake.
Doncaster had a decent card on Friday, Winter Escape looked a good prospect for the JP McManus team and Alan King , winning the maiden hurdle in good style. Ikorodu Road bounced back in the handicap chase he had not won for a while but has ability. Volnay de thaix got off the mark in the Novice chase , the runner up Pine creek has run into two useful types in both starts to date he could end up well handicapped and he will feature in my notebook horses for December. The handicap hurdle went to Red devil Boys in good style having been well backed. The runner up Boruma can pop up to win soon having finished fast with a bit too much to do. There was not much to note at Bangor , there was a double for Warren Greatrix, there were cross the card doubles for Graham McPherson and Nicky Henderson on the day. There was nothing of note at Dundalk from my point of view except to point out there were five winning favorites on the night.
Saturday, We start at Cheltenham the opener was a very good juvenile hurdle .The top three in the market had been racing each other. Adrien Du Pont was the fav , Sceau Royal second fav and Leoncavallo a little weak in the market. They all had 11 stone 7 pounds , going to the last all results were possible with Sceau Royal starting to assert Leoncavallo crashed out. The race was fought out up the hill with Sceau Royal running out a decisive winner over Adrien Du pont who looks a chaser in the making. I had suspected Sceau Royal was the best horse before the race , Sceau Royal is extremely likable he jumps ,travels and fights. As I write this Sceau Royal is 20/1 for the Triumph Hurdle and I think that is on the big side , Alan King the trainer of Sceau Royal has an excellent record in the Triumph hurdle. The second race was all about More of that who was looking to back up his win at the open meeting. More of that was perfectly fine here and did his job beating Samtegal by 13 Lengths in the end. More of that now has a perfect 4 from 4 record at Cheltenham there was some chat about the Gold cup afterwards with one bookmaker going 12/1 . I think they would be crazy myself as it looks a very strong Gold cup this season. The two mile handicap was run at a kamikaze gallop thanks to Next Sensation who went way too quick. The race went to Pearls Legend who deserved his win after a number of consistent efforts this season.
The Caspian Caviar Gold cup was the feature with lots from the Paddy Power Gold Cup featuring here. The race would be a triumph for Philip Hobbs who would train a 1-2 Village Vic producing a fine front running display under Richard Johnson to win. The second place was to go Champagne west on comeback who ran an excellent race, Tenor Niverais ran 3rd and Buywise rattled home for fourth. The non placed ones to note were Sound Investment who ran really well under a big weight,Little Jon ruined his chances with a bad mistake at the 7th and could never get back involved. A lot of these horses will probably be here on new years day again and the festival handicaps. The Albert Bartlett Hurdle contained a lot of slow horses, Unknowhatimeanharry is not one of those horses he got the job done well here. Unknowhatimeanharry a very progressive horse saw off Final Nudge very well , Unknowhatimeanharry has the novice and Handicap option a lovely position for his excellent trainer Harry Fry. The international Hurdle contained Britain's best champion hurdle hopes except for The New One, from a potential British champion hurdle winner hope it was a disaster. The fav was Peace and co who ran an appalling race first refusing to settle , then rushing forward using as much energy as possible up early in the race. Peace and co completely faded out of it to cap a miserable race for him and his many backers. I was not keen on Peace and co last season and on this runs basis he is not even the best hurdler in his yard. The race was won by Old guard who is the exact opposite of Peace and co, a great bit of stuff who jumps travels and is a professional race horse. The day was compounded for UK race fans with Sempre Medici a excellent second beaten a length. Sempre Medici is not even in the top three in the Mullins yard. I will take nothing away from Old Guard he needs to improve but he wouldn't be the first to improve like this and take a hand in a Champion hurdle. It is worth remembering that Old Guard is three from three at Cheltenham this season.
At Doncaster there was some decent races. Sego Success bounced back to win the Bet365 handicap Chase. This was a good ride from Wayne Hutchinson who knew Sego Success would stay further and made use of his stamina. Southfield Royale won the novice chase in commanding style by 13 lengths he looks a good novice. The opening race was won in good style by Holly Bush Henry who despite looking likely to be getting the worst of it stayed on strongly to defeat the strong travelling Qaaser. I think Holly Bush Henry can win again soon. There was a double for Alan King and a remarkable four timer for Wayne Hutchinson at Doncaster, Hutchinson has always been top class and is now getting on the right horses. At Lingfield Gevrey Chambertin , landed the money for our "Notebook Horses " feature backed from an overnight of 9/2 to 13/8 (there was a maddening 40% rule 4 as the fav was pulled out) to win by 12 lengths . I reckon that might be it for Gevrey Chambertin as regards winning for a while he tends to be best before Christmas. Tramore was abandoned after five races but not before Chales Byrnes got two massive punts. The first winner was Rosie Alice backed from 20/1 to 10/3 to win the maiden hurdle. Cyprian prince won the beginners chase landing another punt 15/2 to 11/8. Askwrisht won the 2 mile 5 furlong maiden hurdle but looks limited.
At Wolverhampton, Moonrise landing won the All weather championship Fast track qualifier in comprehensive fashion. Moonrise landing subdued the two Goodolphin horses with ease and ran out an impressive winner. Moonrise landing will now be aimed at the final of this series on Good Friday. I have no doubt her shrewd connections have bigger targets in mind for Moonrise landing who looks one to be with until beaten.
Sunday,we start at Navan who hosted a top card. Anibale Fly won the maiden hurdle he was a nice bumper horse and won this well having been well supported 11/4 to 7/4 for Tony Martin and JP McManus. The Fav Balko Des flos ran no race. Ttebbob turned the " Klairon Davis" Novice chase into a procession winning by 43 Lengths . The race on December 26th at Leopardstown potentially between Ttebbob ,Douvan and Sizing John could be the best novice chase run in Ireland for many a day. The Navan Novice Hurdle is always a good contest it looked a match up between Bellshill and Tycoon Prince. The pace was dictated by Bellshill , Tycoon Prince traveled well in behind but when push came to shove Bellshill left Tycoon Prince for dead after a slight mistake from Tycoon Prince at the second last, Bellshill won by 12 lengths. This was really impressive from Bellshill who looks top class on the flip side Tycoon Prince now has questions to answer. I think Tycoon Prince now may end up like Don Cossack did over hurdles we wont see the best of him till he jumps fences. The Beginners chase went to Walk to freedom after the luckless Edwulf trained by Aidan O'Brien crashed out at the last when 5 lengths clear. McKinley ran ok to a point , Domesday Book ran a decent race, Edwulf will surely gain compensation soon.
Killer Crow defied a massive drift in the market from 11/2 to 10/1 to win the novice chase , Sizing Titanium was bitterly disappointing backed from 5/2 overnight to 11/8 Sizing Titanium is surely better then he showed here. Rossvoss won the 50K handicap by 18 lengths in very impressive style. Russian Bill after plenty of market support 7/1 to 10/3 fav ran well,Harvey Logan was below par . A well backed Death Duty got the better of Our Duke in the bumper by a half length they look two nice horses for the future. The UK on Sunday was average fair there were a couple of highlights with two jump stalwarts Pineau De Re ( 2014 Grand National winner) getting his head in front at Carlilse. The other jumps stalwart was Tullamore Dew winning as well on the card. There was a treble at Carlilse for Richard Johnson and a double for trainer Micky Hammond. At Southwell not much to note Robin of Locksley deservedly got off the mark over hurdles for Dan Skelton. The major talking point was the departure of Sam Twiston Davies from Hawkhurst with the race won clear by 8 lengths the horse jinked very slightly right , it was a moment to forget for Sam who had the same thing happen to him at Cheltenham on Friday when he fell off Politologue in similar circumstances. I am afraid for Sam Twiston Davies the owners and Paul Nicholls will not put up with this kind of stuff and Nicholls in particular has got rid of jockeys for far less then this sort of stuff in the past. The last item to note was Not a bother boy won again following up a recent victory.
Monday,we start at Navan which had the rerouted Hilly Way from Cork. The Hilly Way went for the second year in a row to Felix Yonger in snug fashion, Felix Yonger is a solid grade 2 horse who will win these types of races all winter. Willie Mullins said he is unlikely to go to the UK so expect Felix Yonger to mix it between two and two and half miles, before defending his two mile crown at Punchestown. The stand out performance of the day went to Black Hercules who was superb in the Beginners chase jumping brilliantly he blew his rivals away. The RSA is surely on the Black Hercules agenda now long term, the victory of Black Hercules meant a double for the Wylies on the day. There were deserved wins for Whistle Dixie and Nickname exit which meant a double for Gordon Elliott and a treble for Gigginstown. The other thing of note was a treble for Willie Mullins when the potentially smart Avenir D'Une Vie won the bumper.
In the Uk ,Plumpton saw an impressive victory for Theo's Charm (finished 7th in the Champion Bumper) Theo's Charm ran out a 7 length winner they were miles clear of the third horse. I will be interested to see how Theo's Charm develops he looked a fair horse here. Regal Encore won the novice chase in impressive style, I fully expect Regal Encore to go off fav for a Cheltenham festival handicap possibly the old William Hill (won in pulsating fashion by Witchita Lineman a few years ago). At Ffos las Bob Ford emerged from the doldrums to give Rebecca Curtis a welcome winner who stable is showing some spark again after a quiet spell and problems in the yard. There was a treble for E Williams and a double B J Llewellyn on the day.
Tuesday , A poor days racing in the UK. Hester Flemen ran them ragged in the beginners chase and looks one to watch on a track like Wetherby if getting a soft lead. Warriors Tale ran very poorly and looked a non stayer ,however Warriors Tale would be of interest at trips between 2 and a half miles to 2 miles 6 furlongs. Star Presenter won the handicap chase by 7 lengths and could be up to winning again soon.
Wednesday , There were decent cards at Newbury and Ludlow .We will start at Newbury. The stand out displays of the day came from two horses. The first display was from Clan Des Obeaux who stormed to victory in the juvenile hurdle for Paul Nicholls off a very strong gallop, Clan Des Obeaux came home 21 lengths clear he is a smashing build of a horse and looks a very exciting horse potentially. The second stand out display cam from Charmix who under a winners penalty pulverized the two joint favs by 17 and 21 lengths respectively attacking from the front. Charmix had run very well behind Modus at the Hennessy meeting I thought at the time it was a good race and this performance proves it was. Charmix looks a serious horse for Harry Fry , Charmix also landed a 3 point win bet for our members in the process. O'Faolains boy won the graduation chase continuing the return to form of the Rebecca Curtis stable, it was nice to see the former RSA chase winner win but its anybody's guess if he can back it up.
Ludlow is a track on the rise, Ludlow has worked hard on its prize money and is being rewarded with lots of runners and competitive racing. Le Prezien won the opener for Paul Nicholls despite a few sloppy jumps he clearly has a big engine though. Double Shuffle took the handicap chase under top weight in good style, paying a compliment to his Cheltenham conqueror More of That. The 25,000 handicap chase went to Katkeau despite jumping left Katkeau won by a snug 5 lengths for David Pipe. The mares novice hurdle went to Dan Skelton with Rene's Girl bolting up.
The racing day and week ended with the news that Coneygree will miss the King George and possibly the season. It is very disappointing news for jumps fans. I am afraid this is the nature of it ,I am sure we can expect one or two more of the dream Gold cup field to fall by the wayside in the coming weeks