Thursday, we start at Thurles. The opening two races were novice chases they went in bloodless fashion to Kayf Supreme by 17 Lengths and Ballychorus by 9 lengths respectivley both can go on to better things hopefully. I note the comments by the trainer of Ballychorus stating that, Ballychorus will go for the four miler at Cheltenham on the back of this win. The maiden hurdle went to Burgas in impressive style by 9 lengths for Bryan Cooper and Willie Mullins, our members selection Pakman (1pt each way) was back in third at 9/2 and can win a maiden hurdle. The 2 mile 6 furlong maiden hurdle went to Road to Respect who finally got off the mark his future is surely over fences. The bumper went to Willie Mullins with Augustin who looks a decent prospect for 3 miles next season. The card at Doncaster was racing on a decent surface as it always seems to be at Doncaster. The card had doubles for Paul Nicholls and Alan King the respective yards are going well at this moment in time. Rock on Oscar got his head in front bolting up by 10 lengths, it was good news for our members (1pt each way) at 7/2. I think this horse has lots of ability , he could be very decent. The Div 1 of the novice hurdle went to Winter Escape for JP McManus and Alan King at 1/5 looks a decent horse but will be tested stepping up in class now. The long distance handicap hurdle went to Emerging Force under a power packed Richard Johnson just holding off Whataknight who lost nothing in defeat .The novice chase was infuriating with ,once again a load of fences taken out in a UK novice chase due to a low sun, in this case 8 of the 14 fences not one fence jumped in the home straight. This is a real pain for punters backing good jumpers , those who backed Pine Creek like myself had every right to be irritated. Nexius won the race move on.
The card at Huntingdon was also decent, the 32 red handicap hurdle was a good race.There was a great tussle between Baoulet Delaroque and Value at Risk, victory went to Baoulet Delaroque for Paul Nicholls .The second horse Value at Risk advised to our members (1pt each way ) 7/1 ran a blinder, both of these horses could be of major interest in a handicap hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival they both have above average ability. The Sidney Banks Novice Hurdle was a high class race victory went to Ma du Fou who is a very decent horse and continues to improve with every run. The second horse North Hill Harvey has been going very well , he ran a good race here it was 11 lengths back to the third horse so the form looks solid.
Friday, we start at Kempton. There was a racecourse gallop for My Tent or Yours which to my eyes went very well he had a bit of a tummy but settled well I thought. I am going to have a few quid on him each way non runner no bet for the Champion hurdle. The novice hurdle went to Ballyhenry in very tenacious fashion landing some nice bets as well (6/1 to 11/4) , I thought the horse to take out of the race was Atirelargio who traveled really well and but for two bad mistakes at the last two hurdles might well have won. The 2 mile novice handicap went to Always on the Run , it was good news for our members advised (1 pt each way) 6/1 , Always on the run blew them to bits winning by 12 lengths. The good news continued as Silvergrove landed the 3 mile handicap advised to our members (1pt each way) 3/1, I had also advised a (0.5 pt each way double ) to our members , the net result was a 25.56 point profit on the day. The race itself illustrated the good jumping of Silvergrove , who is now to be aimed at the Kim Muir with this jumping as an asset I would want to be with him. The Graduation Chase went to Josses Hill who continues to divide opinion , I thought this was pretty good others didn't agree with that view. The jumping of Josses Hill will always be a worry, he has a good record at the Cheltenham Festival. The Ryanair looks weak Josses Hill could run well , if Vautour does not go hear the 25/1 looks big but 14/1 non runner no bet is fair also. I really liked the two horses in the concluding bumper who fought out the finish Stowaway magic and Onthewesternfront, I suspect we will hear plenty more about these two horses in the future. The whole day at Kempton was a triumph for Nico de Boinville who in my view is still a very underrated jockey, Nico rode a four timer on the day.
The card at Wetherby was pretty average in truth. Navanman followed up for the Pipe team as highlighted in last weeks blog at 4/7 , the handicapper will have to try again. The handicap chase went to Venetia Williams with Astigos who deserved a turn after some very good runs. Lake view lad won the novice hurdle he is a decent horse and is now 3 from 6 including two falls in two of his races so his record could be even better. At Dundalk, Rocking the Blue landed some nice bets winning by an impressive 6 lengths. There was a treble on the card for Pat Smullen who continues to be the top man on the flat.
Saturday, we start at Newbury where it was Betfair hurdle day. The opening race went to Meet The Legend who despite racing very keenly got the better of the odds on favourite Emerging Talent. I thought Meet The Legend looked a decent prospect in this race with Aintree likely to suit. The long distance handicap hurdle went to Count Guido Deiro who made all the running, Sykes was given a lot to do in second. The third horse Keltus yet again flattered to deceive but could run well in something like the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival. The Game spirit saw the return of Dodging Bullets who was entitled to need the run. The betting told the story of the race , Top Gamble had been backed at all rates (5/1 during the week to 11/10F on the day ) . Top Gamble went at it hard from the front under Richard Johnson exposing the lack of race fitness of Dodging bullets for a comfortable 10 length success. This was Top Gambles day , his connections planned it out superbly for Dodging bullets he heads back to Cheltenham to defend his two mile crown hoping the run will bring him on. I am not so sure it will matter.
The feature race the Betfair hurdle itself went to Agrapart by 11 lengths under Lizzy Kelly another feather in her cap on a big day. Starchitecht ran well in second his chance went at the last when he made a dreadful mistake when getting the worst of the exchanges at any rate. I thought Affaire D'honoeur ran well in fourth. The favourite Blazer endured a rough run , the finishing position did not reflect the effort, there will be another day for Blazer.The same comments applied to Modus who got mullered on the way around, Modus may do better at Cheltenham on a sounder surface. Sternrubbin never got involved he seemed to hate the ground and sulk when he could not dominate.I looked at this race back again a few times, what struck me was how few horses got into the race the first four from early on were positioned in the front 6 places from very early on. The novice chase had only 3 runners it was another disappointment for Activial who just does not win enough races compared to the ability he appears to have .I reckon Activial drives Harry Fry mad!! Out sam won the race but in truth it is hard to know what the form is actually worth. The bumper went to Ballyandy who looks a real smart horse he won by 9 lengths.
Warwick staged a decent card. The opening race went the Willie Mullins trained Open Eagle won very well on the day. I would love to see Open Eagle step up in trip at the Cheltenham Festival to try the Albert Bartlett. The mares hurdle looked interesting with a view to Cheltenham. Jessber's Dream went off at the top of the market, Jessber's Dream tried to make all she only gave best after the last to Flute Bowl who stayed on really well to win. The third horse was Jennies Jewel who I thought was slightly disappointing following a very good run at Ascot. It was another bad day for Petite Parisienne who has not hit last years grade 1 winning heights at all, this was at least a little better. The Kingmaker has been a good trial for the Arkle in the past, all eyes were on L'ami Serge but it was a disaster of a day for that horse who never really jumped. I had not been convinced by L'ami Serge up to this point ,its back to the drawing board for that horse. Violet Dancer who of course had won the Betfair Hurdle previously, Violet Dancer won the race in superb manner jumping from fence to fence to run out a convincing 8 length winner. The joy for the connections of Violet dancer was short lived as the horse was ruled out for the rest of the season later on in the week. The handicap chase saw a winning return for Taquin Du Seuill who now is 5 wins from 5 starts in heavy ground. It was great to see the return to form of Taquin Du Seuill he has always had lots of ability , hopefully he can go on from this.
At Gowran it was Red mills day. The Red Mills Chase went to Smashing who won in great style from Morning assembly by 11 Lengths, Ballycasey was again a disappointment in third. Smashing will now take on the Ryanair at Cheltenham a race Ireland are zero from eleven in. Smashing has run well previously at the Festival in the Coral Cup, we will have to see the eventual shape of that race before we can be dogmatic about the prospects of Smashing. The Red Mills Hurdle went to Sempre Medici we learned very little except Sempre Medici is fit and well. Newberry New was an impressive winner of the four year old maiden hurdle by 15 lengths.
Sunday, we start at Navan where I was in attendance. There was a decent card on offer. The Flyinbolt Novice Chase looked to be at the mercy of Tell Us More when he crashed out of the second last, it was rotten luck on Tell Us More. The fall of Tell Us More appeared to leave Ttebobb in firm command, however Ttebobb started to empty dramatically allowing Sambremont to basically inherit a race amazingly despite looking out of it Sambremont only hit a high of 50 in running. The Boyne Hurdle was up next the non participation of Prince Of Scars was a disappointment but he only had a stone bruise. The race itself had a field of just three. I had a look at them in the parade ring Dedigout and Lieutenat Colonel looked like they had been at the biscuit tin.I went and backed Snow Falcon who looked very fit.The race panned out asw I hoped with Snow Falcon out speeding his rivals Dedigout and Lieutenat Colonel for a decisive victory. The three of them will go to Cheltenham for the World Hurdle they might be better of staying in Ireland I reckon. Nickname Exit won the handicap hurdle sticking at it well.
The Ten Up Novice chase featured the really exciting Black Hercules who was really well supported 8/13 to 4/11. The race itself was going to plan with Black Hercules jumping very well. as they approached the last Ruby sent Black Hercules on , they clipped the top of the fence down came Black Hercules and Ruby Walsh. Measureofmydreams seized his chance galvanized by Paul Townend he cleared away to win by 5 lengths. Noble endeavor ran well in third , he is now on an excellent handicap mark of 140 this is extremely workable. I think Black Hercules looks a very talented chaser he had jumped superb to the point of his departure. I reckon he has a great chance at Cheltenham still, I really hope he goes for the Rsa. The bumper went to Blow By Blow who looks a top prospect , Jett ran a fine race in second.
At Exeter the ground was dreadful . The point was perfectly illustrated by the fact that only one horse finished in the 340 Midnight prayer. The Pertemps qualifier was of major interest . The race saw a decisive win for the very talented Unowhatimeaharry for Harry Fry. Unowhatimeaharry now has plenty of options at the Cheltenham Festival for both handicapping and the Albert Bartlett. I hope he goes for the Albert Bartlett where he will have a very good each way chance in my view. The novice hurdle went to Politologue by 59 lengths.
Monday, we start at Plumpton. The brilliant novice Ar Mad was trying to establish if he could race left handed prior to a potential crack at The Arkle at Cheltenham. Ar Mad won the race by 25 Lengths but sadly was ruled out the next day for the rest of the season. A dreadful blow for Gary Moore no to mention the Arkle. I hope Ar Mad comes back to form after injury, I think Ar mad is a wonderful racehorse. The mares novice hurdle went to Bella who is starting to pay her way for David Pipe. There was a double for Colin Tizzard with The Cider Maker and Billy no name. At Catterick, Gonalstown Cloud continued to collect the first place finishes with another win. The mares novice hurdle went to Yes I did who continues on the upgrade.
Tuesday, a quiet day in truth with just Ayr really to note. Danielles Journey landed the mares maiden hurdle by 17 lengths for the Crawford team, Danielles Journey can go on to better things now. Al reesha made it worth Dan Skeltons while sending the horse on a long journey to win the bumper by 23 Lengths.
Wednesday, the day started with the shock news Faugheen would miss the Champion hurdle with an injury. It is obviously a real shame for Faugheen a brilliant racehorse and his fans but the show must go on. We start at Punchestown which saw the return of Annie Power. I don't know who writes the scripts for Annie Power, but as fitting in a headline filled career Annie Power finished the day as favourite for the Champion hurdle even though she is not even entered!! Annie Power of course won beating two vastly inferior rival mares but favourite for the champion hurdle not sure about that at all. There was a treble for Ruby Walsh, including capturing Gordon Elliotts 100th winner of the season. I am delighted for Gordon Elliott a great trainer , I have been lucky enough to meet him a couple of times he seems a really nice man as well. At Musselburgh Tom Scudamore rode his 1,000 winner aboard Impulsive American well done Tom. Finea won the handicap chase remarkably 24 hours having run at Ayr. At Towcester Bredon Hill Lad won the long distance handicap chase in tenacious fashion.