Monday, we start at Dundalk. The well-supported Falak (12/1 - 5/1) took the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dundalk Handicap (Div I) giving Colin Keane his first winner of the new year. Winning trainer John McConnell said: "He has his own little niggly issues but is genuine and likes the surface. He stays well so Colin made plenty of use of him up the straight.“I wish we could go to Wolverhampton or Newcastle for some more two-mile races as there are not too many of them here. “Chasing is another option but there again it would be nice to be able to go to somewhere like Cartmel or Perth.” Winston Wolfe (5s into 3/1) won the Irishinjuredjockeys.com Handicap (Div II) in the hands of last year’s champion apprentice Gavin Ryan. Stephen Thorne, assistant to the winning trainer Ado McGuinness, said: “I thought Gavin was super on him. The plan was to sit handy but he couldn’t go with them early so he gave him a chance to finish out.
At Doncaster, there were winners for Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson with Stratagem and Wiseguy respectively. At Hereford, there were doubles Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman. The horses were Spirit Of Waterloo and Port Of Mars. There were also doubles for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies with The Mick Preston and Ballybough Mary. At Wolverhampton, the feature race went to Felix under Hollie Doyle.
Tuesday, we start at Fairyhouse. There were doubles for Joseph O'Brien and JJ Slevin with Fun Light and Duc D'allier. There was also a double for jockey Kevin Brouder with Hilltop Supreme and Light Brigade. At Wetherby, there was a double for Nicky Henderson with Lust For Glory and Tweed Skirt. At Lingfield, there was a double for William Carson with Rakematiz and Smokey. At Newcastle, the fast track qualifier went to Venturous.
Wednesday, we start at Naas. Energumene powered away up the hill to run out an impressive winner of the two-mile novice chase at Naas this afternoon. Willie Mullins' charge made it two from two over fences with a fine front-running performance in the two-mile contest. Willie Mullins completed a double with Belle Metal in the bumper. Bob Olinger powered away in the closing stages to run out an impressive winner of the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle this afternoon. Henry de Bromhead's charge went to post the 6/4 favourite in the Grade 1 contest on his third outing over timber. I have to say I loved this performance. The potential clash between Bob Olinger and Bravemansgame in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival could be one of the races of the festival. Epson Du Houx ran out a comprehensive winner on his first start in handicap company giving Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore a double on the day.
At Plumpton, Cyclop bolted up by 20 lengths making up for a near-miss in the Lincolnshire national last time out. At Leicester, there was a brilliant day for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch with a treble. The winners were Fontaine Collonges, The Crooner and Jack Valentine. At Kempton, Melody Of Life was on target for Andrew Balding.
Thursday, we start at Bangor. Flight Deck was on target for JP McManus and Jonjo O'Neill. Gavin Sheehan reached a career milestone of 500 winners when guiding Sartene’s Son home in the Iscoyd Handicap Hurdle at Bangor on Thursday. David Pipe was delighted to see Umbrigado make it third time lucky for the season with a battling victory at Fontwell. At Chelmsford, Dutch Decoy was on target for Mark Johnston.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. Glorious Zoff won on his Irish flat debut at Dundalk today as the Gordon Elliott trained horse initiated a double completed by Catherine Chroi. It was a double for Sam Ewing. Ireland and Britain's first dead-heat of 2021 occurred at Dundalk tonight as Caesar's Comet and Sunset Nova passed the post together in the opening division of the Floodlit Friday Nights At Dundalk Handicap. Nothing separated the James McAuley trained Caesar's Comet, under jockey Chris Hayes, and the Andy Slattery trained Sunset Nova, under the trainer's son Andrew Slattery, with the latter scoring a fourth career success and Sunset Nova bagging his own third such win. Congratulations to our friends at Hilltop on yet another smart claim. At Newcastle, there was a treble for Andrew Balding with Flyin High, Artic Vega and Oo De Lally. At Southwell, Artistic Streak was on target for Donald McCain.
Saturday, we start at Warwick. Sky Pirate opened the door to bigger and better targets after continuing his progression over fences with victory in the Edward Courage Cup for Jonjo O'Neill. Next Destination maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a tenacious success in the McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices’ Chase. Paul Nicholls has done a great job with this horse. Trainer Tom Lacey claimed the first Grade Two success of his career after Adrimel made all to land the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle. Notachance executed trainer Alan King’s plan to perfection when lifting the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase. Nice Saturday Double for the Members 3 Points win Double Sky Pirate 115 Warwick 6/4 won Next Destination 150 Warwick 10/11 won.
At Market Rasen, Eileendover took her unbeaten record to three with a hugely impressive victory in the Listed bumper. At Fairyhouse, Teahupoo came out on top in a dramatic ITM Virtual Stallion Trial Hurdle, Youmdor crashed out at the last when looking sure to win. Daly Tiger sprang a 20-1 surprise in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase. I thought Pont Aven ran a huge race, he has to be a massive player for the two-mile handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival or possibly the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.
Sunday, we start at Punchestown. Envoi Allen easily extended his unbeaten record with an 11th successive victory under rules after his chief market rival Asterion Forlonge fell at the first fence in the Sky Bet Killiney Novice Chase. I know with the early faller Envoi Allen's job was made easier, however, you would have to love the way he travels and jumps. He will be even better on a quicker surface. Dreal Deal continued his remarkable winning sequence as he sprang a shock on his first attempt at Grade Two level with victory in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. Atlantic Shore landed the concluding Total Event Rental (Qualified Riders) Handicap Chase. One bet for our members today Cushinstown Finest 350 Punchestown (1pt each way) 20/1 placed. Willie Mullins hopes his stable jockey Paul Townend will be fit for action again by the weekend after having to sit out Sunday’s meeting at Punchestown.