Thursday, we start at Thurles all eyes were on Don Cossack who was on a recovery mission after his fall in the King George. Don Cossack faced a straight forward task, Don Cossack won but appeared to race lazily but won by 9 lengths.There was a lot of chat about cheek-pieces ,better ground, being a better horse in the second half of the season etc etc. Then we had "The cult of Don Cossack" based in Halifax, Timeform HQ telling all and sundry that Don Cossack will win the Gold Cup. I just can not see it at all, I may be totally wrong but there is enough evidence to suggest that he is not the winner. I repeat what I said before,I will be amazed if Bryan Cooper gets off Don Poli to ride Don Cossack. I still think the races Don Cossack won at the back end of last season have produced a false rating, the fact remains he is 0 from 2 at the Cheltenham Festival . The debate will rage about Don Cossack for the months to come. Westend Star won the Novice hurdle for Gordon Elliott being well backed in the process (6/4 to 4/5). The Mares Grade 2 Novice Chase had looked set to go to Bitofapuzzle (3/10 Fav) but she crashed out at the third last when in with a great shout. The race went to 33/1 shot Aunt Nora who got up late on. There was compensation for Noel Fehily as he was successful aboard Coolnagorna Giggs in the handicap chase, it was good news for our members who were advised to back Coolnagorna Giggs 1pt each way at 7/1.
Catterick was the standout UK meeting . The juvenile hurdle went to Pemba and Alan King for the million in mind partnership. Pemba looked smart and won easily by 6 lengths, these connections excel with juvenile hurdlers so Pemba is one to watch. William of Orange was a fortunate winner of the maiden hurdle with Always Resolute falling at the last hurdle when 12 lengths clear and with the race in the bag. The North Yorkshire National was the feature race it went to Lackamon for Sue Smith who has her stable in excellent form still. Alto Des Mottes had looked likely to win 8 lengths up jumping the last but Alto Des Mottes missed it and got tired in the last 100 yards allowing Lackamon pull the race out of the fire.
Friday, this was a very low key days racing we start at Huntingdon. I must admit the race of most interest to me was the juvenile hurdle. I really like Sceau Royal he continued his upward curve here conceding the winners penalty (8 pounds) to win by 7 lengths. I believe in this horse , I expect a very good run in the triumph hurdle from Sceau Royal. The rest of Huntingdon was dire to be frank.
At Dundalk there was a double for Michael Halford with Ebadan and Hat Alnasar. There was also a bit of a punt landed in the last race with Poitin (13/2 to 10/3) winning to give the punters a result in the last.
Saturday, we start at Warwick who hosted a very competitive card. Black Hercules put his reputation on the line in the novice chase having been impressive on debut. Black Hercules won well jumping beautifully on the way around a track that takes plenty of jumping. The race contained plenty of decent yard sticks in Definitley Red , Emily Gray and Silsol .This was a high class performance Black Hercules will now head for the RSA. The Neptune Novice hurdle contained two Willie Mullins horses Thomas Hobson and Open Eagle. The race went to Thomas Hobson who jumped superbly except for the last two hurdles bowling along in front and really enjoying his racing. Open Eagle closed up impressively , he will surely have another day and both could go back on the flat. This was a black day for the UK novices as I do not believe these two horses are anywhere near the top tier of the Willie Mullins novice team. Flintham won the pertemps qualifier in very tough manner from the front , Flintham is from the same family as Coneygree a remarkable story, from a remarkable family. The Classic chase went to the thoroughly likable Russe blanc who traveled really well and won well. Midnight Prayer ran very well he might go to Aintree if his owners allow. Dromnea did very well in third at a trip I do not think he likes. I would be very interested in this horse in a two and a half mile handicap at the Cheltenham festival. Houblon Des Obeaux is really well handicapped he never had a cut at his fences on reflection I am not fully convinced heavy ground is his bag, I wont give up on him just yet.
Naas hosted a decent card, The Juvenile hurdle went in very impressive style to Lagostovegas who bolted up by 7 lengths, Lagostovegas paid a massive compliment to Ivanovich Gorbatov (beat Lagostovegas by 9 lengths). There was a massive eye-catcher in third with King Of Aragon getting an educational ride he now finds himself on my Fred Winter shortlist for Cheltenham. The Grade 3 Limestone Lad went to Sempre Medici in bloodless fashion in a schooling gallop effectively. The woodlands Park Novice chase saw the return of Pont Alexandre who was impressive at Punchestown. The dogs in the streets seem to know that Roi des Francs (Pont Alexandre stablemate) was fancied , Roi des Francs was really well backed (11/4 to 13/8). The race itself was a good race Roi des Francs won well and Pont Alexandre lost little in defeat. Pont Alexandre ran a little keen again but he still has a lot of ability, Roi des Francs did it well and looks the four miler horse. The two of them will go to Cheltenham both will be of interest. Edwulf got the job done in the maiden hurdle for Aidan O'Brien, Edwulf has been bought by JP McManus following his unlucky defeat over fences . Haymount traveled very well he is definitely a horse to keep an eye on .
Wetherby, saw another win for L'ami Serge who was impressive continuing his education. I think L'ami Serge is progressing nicely ,the JLT was mentioned as a possible target he will have one more run before Cheltenham according to Nicky Henderson. The very progressive Caraline racked up the four timer getting up to win by a head in tenacious fashion life will be harder now but owes connections nothing.
Sunday all eyes were on Leopardstown with Coral sponsoring the entire card. I was in attendance myself. The opening Mares Maiden Hurdle went to Pride Of The Braid who Davey Russell did well to get up to win by a nose. The Favorite Billy's Hope raced a bit keen , she got a bit lonely out in front there will be another day. The second race went in impressive style to Our Duke who looked a real chaser in the making, Our Duke won well getting the better of Pylonthepressure who looks one paced. The big race the Coral hurdle was competitive on the face of it , however it was won in very impressive style by Henry Higgins who traveled really well ,jumping superbly and was a ready winner .The County Hurdle looks an obvious target. Kalkir ran really well this was much more like it , The County Hurdle and Martin Pipe could be targets. The unlucky horse was Desoto County who got checked several times in his run, he looks a live player for The County as well he is really well handicapped. The Leopardstown Chase was won by Empire of Dirt who deserved his turn,Empire of Dirt has always had lots of ability, he won very well. The victory of Empire of Dirt was good news for our members who were advised a 1pt each way bet at 10/1. Killer Crow ran well , Heathfield ran a shocker, there must be a concern about the form of Tony Martins horses. The Grade 2 Novice chase featured Killultagh Vic who was well on the way to winning easily when sprawling badly after the last jump. Killultagh Vic and Ruby Walsh did amazing to recover, Ruby lost an iron amazingly Killultagh Vic got back up showing a tremendous turn of foot. This was a serious performance given the circumstances , I really like Killultagh Vic for Cheltenham. The horse was fine the next day which was great news. The bumper went to Aspen Colrado in impressive style who is now favorite for the Champion bumper.
Monday, A quiet day we start at Plumpton the opener went to Sunshine Corner who was impressive. Extreme Impact got up from an impossible position to win the handicap hurdle in a real slog. At Wolverhampton there was a bit of a punt Zainat who landed a few bets at 14/1.
Tuesday, Ayr was the highlight a remarkable day with three Irish winners. There was good news for our members with the victory of Willie Hall advised 1pt each way at 6/1. Willie Hall was backing up at Ayr under a good ride. Art Lord was the pick of the Irish winners for Karl Thornton.
Wednesday, Newbury was called off due to frost. We start at Fairyhouse, Shannak followed up in the handicap hurdle in very impressive fashion he looks good and could go in again. The maiden hurdle went to uaintseenothingyet who beat the frustrating Space cadet. The Novice chase went to Altiepix who did it well. Muuselburgh the highlight was the victory of Holly Bush Henry who was advised 1pt each at 11/4 to our members continuing a good week for us.