Monday, we start at Warwick. A meeting saved from the recent bad weather. The UK needs to do more of this in my view. Molly Ollys Wishes bridged the gap from handicaps to Listed company to comfortably take the St Marys Land Warwick Mares’ Hurdle. Allmankind survived a scare at the penultimate obstacle to remain unbeaten over fences in the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase. Allmankind did this really well despite getting low at a few fences. He is an intriguing player in the Arkle, which is now shaping to be a very good race. I can't have Allmankind in the Arkle I do not think Cheltenham is his track. I do think he would be some tool around Aintree though. As for Sky Pirate he has been very good all winter to me, this was a bit disappointing he was readily beaten off. I do not think there is any point in Sky Pirate going for the Arkle. I would think the Grand Annual would be perfect despite the likelihood of being top weight. I think the rhythm of this race will really suit Sky Pirate.
At Thurles, Velvet Elvis made all to take the feature at Thurles this afternoon, the Horse & Jockey Rated Novice Hurdle. A good second to Torygraph at Fairyhouse in December, the Tom Gibney trained five-year-old looks useful. The bumper went to Cool Jet for Willie Mullins. There was a jumpers bumper card at Lingfield, which was marred by an incident in the 315. The sad sight of Eau Top breaking its leg in the last 50 yards was very grim. A reminder of what racehorses give for our sport. At Wolverhampton, Nate The Great took the feature for Andrew Balding. Away from the track, Delta Work has been ruled out of the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup by trainer Gordon Elliott. Officials at Chester are hoping a combination of mass Covid-19 testing and social-distancing measures will allow up to 5,000 racegoers to attend the Boodles May Festival.
Tuesday, we start at Carlisle. Paul Nicholls made the long journey count as Highland Hunter took the Novice chase. At Catterick, Venetia Williams took the feature race with Didero Vallis. It was good news for our members who were advised 1pt each-way at 15/2. At Kempton, the Fillies Novice stake went to Kesteena for John Gosden by nine lengths. At Newcastle, Flying High won in good style for Andrew Balding. Off the track Top-class sire, Pivotal has been retired from stallion duty at the age of 28
Wednesday, we start at Dundalk. On his second start for Leanne Breen Ahundrednotout took his career tally to four wins. “That's his second run for me and he's been taking a lot of work just to get him firing again as he had a break,” said the winning trainer, based in County Down.“The six furlongs here was perfect for him and Shane gave him a lovely patient ride.“Hopefully, he can improve from that as it was only his second run back. He was drawn 15 there so even if he got a few pounds and an inside draw he might pick up another one.“He's freshened up now. He's getting on in age but he still has the right attitude for it.” It was a great result for Leanne Breen who is a very sharp, hard-working young trainer. Although very earlier in her career. Ahundrednotout is the fifth individual horse Leanne has won with which takes a bit of doing. Division one of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dundalk Handicap saw Drakensberg (11/8 favourite) follow up his Friday success at the venue, again under Siobhan Rutledge.
At Wetherby, Chantry House put himself back on track for the big spring festivals with a return to winning form in the Novices’ Chase for Nicky Henderson. There was a good win for Umbrigado who looks progressive for David Pipe. At Hereford, Venetia Williams completed an across the card double having won at Wetherby with Destinee Royale. At Kempton, May Sonic took the feature race for Charles Hill. Sea The Shells could go on to much better things after making an impressive belated winning debut at Wolverhampton.
Thursday, we start at Leicester. The Mares handicap chase went to The Bay Birch. At Sandown, the Jane Seymour mares Novice Hurdle went to Anythingforlove under Page Fuller. There was a double for Emma Lavelle with Red Rookie and Eclair Surf. At Fontwell, there were doubles for Gary and Josh Moore with Golden Boy Grey and Cheque En Blanc. At Chelmsford, the feature race went to Shimmering Dawn. At Meydan, Equilateral followed up a course-and-distance win four weeks ago by running out a ready scorer of the Group Two Meydan Sprint.
Off the track, Trainer Charles Byrnes has been unsuccessful in his appeal against the decision of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s Referrals Committee to suspend his licence for six months and fine him €1,000. Leading jockey Davy Russell will miss next month’s Cheltenham Festival after failing to sufficiently recover from injury in time.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. An intriguing night lay ahead for The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate. We awake from our mid-winter slumber with a bang. We were represented by Stanhope 400 Dundalk and Fastman 530 Dundalk our latest recruit, who will be a new name for members to get to know. The pandemic has had its challenges, of course, however, that said the syndicate is in good shape. We have expanded significantly at the back end of 2020 with Double Kodiac, Casa Comigo and Fastman all joining the team. We have used the winter months well. When I and Johnny Maher took the drive out to Hilltop stables to meet Mokhalad for the first time. We could never have known what lay ahead. The job now is to keep going forward. We find ourselves with our ninth syndicate horse starting tonight. Fastman will follow in the hoofprints of those who have gone before. Sounds, visions, images from the last 3 years ran through all our minds. So many special memories, emotion, joy and of course some sadness at times. Mokhalad was of course the rock we built upon, then came Alfirak, Stanhope, Trading Point, Lottieloveheart, Parkers Hill, Double Kodiac, Casa Comigo and now Fastman. Those who have been there from the start of the syndicate took a deep breath as Fastman goes into the gates. Here we go again following the hoofprints of those who have gone before.
Fastman joined the team in October. There was no need to say too much for the last few months as we have been leaving John McConnell work. Fastman had excellent form in the UK in 12 runs he won twice and placed four times, he has also actually finished fourth four times. There is one piece of form that stands out for Fastman in the UK. The third place at York of 19 to Space Blues (who went on to be rated 114) beaten 2 lengths is very strong form. Fastman has been a model pupil for John McConnell so far doing everything right at home. His work has been good and he has done plenty for a first start. For us, this was a very good starting point. The unknown was the surface in a race situation. Fastman had never raced on the All-weather. Fastman is having a first run in Ireland and for over 200 days. Siobhan Rutledge came in for the ride, which was deserved. Siobhan has ridden Fastman in all his work so knows him well. Siobhan is a big part of our team and is riding brilliantly right now. We thought Fastman had plenty of back class and that he could run well.
Fastman as debut races go this was really pleasing. Fastman was taking part in the feature race. Travelling powerfully through the race. Siobhan Rutledge eased Fastman out at the two-furlong pole. Fastman absolutely winged home to force a dead heat for second with Wonder Elzaam the pair got beaten a length and a quarter by the winner Big Gossey. This was a brilliant start. The road ahead for Fastman looks exciting with plenty of targets for big days. I would imagine we will see Fastman out again soon.
A mixed bag for The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate last night. Stanhope did not fire at Dundalk again. As we know the surface has changed. Chris Hayes gave us very good feedback yet again. He just said that Stanhope is not enjoying the surface. This is important feedback as we can now focus on 5 furlongs straight races at Tracks like Naas and Navan. Stanhope is well handicapped on the turf now (having won off 80 last July). We think Stanhope will get back in the winners' enclosure in 2021. Last night cleared up a lot for us we now have a clear path forward with Stanhope.
On the rest of the Dundalk card. Following on from Bowerman in Qatar and Betrayed here earlier, Ado McGuinness made it three on the day with Thrumps Dream in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at Dundalk. Well done to all the team at Skylark house. Grandmaster Flash was on target for Joseph O'Brien. It was good news for our members advised a 1pt each-way bet at 4/1. The record holder at Dundalk Togoville took his polytrack score to 13, following up on his course and distance success from last week. Shane Foley claimed top honours in the STC International Jockeys Challenge in Riyadh on Friday.
At Kelso, Dan and Harry Skelton made it count securing doubles with Eclair D'ainay and Rockstar Ronnie. At Fakenham, there was a double for Laura Morgan with Fire Away and Dom Perry. At Lingfield, Nortonthorpe Boy took the feature race under Luke Morris. At Southwell, Lord Oberon took the feature for Karl Burke.
Saturday, we start at Haydock. Lord Du Mesnil booked his ticket for another date on Merseyside with a gutsy display in the William Hill Grand National Trial. Lord Du Mesnil was advised 1pt each-way at 8/1 to our members. Third Wind held on from the rallying Lisnagar Oscar to provide Hughie Morrison with a big-race winner in the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle. There was a double for Paul Nicholls with Monmiral and Bob & Co. At Wincanton, Goshen reignited his Champion Hurdle claims with an impressive victory in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle. Goshen looked right back to his best here, he now makes the Champion Hurdle more intriguing. I hope he runs his race as the Moores deserve to take the chance after what happened in last seasons Triumph hurdle.
At Ascot, Remastered put in an exemplary jumping display to make every yard of the running for trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore in the Grade Two Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase. Dashel Drasher delivered a famous Grade One success for trainer Jeremy Scott and jockey Matt Griffiths in the Betfair Ascot. It was another bad day for Cyrname, he looks best fresh these days. It may be best to back him on his first run and ignore him from then on. There was a treble for Dan and Harry Skelton with Midnight River, Captain Chaos and Shannon Bridge. Sadly three horses lost their lives at Ascot on Saturday. Including Lami Serge who was very talented and popular. Hollie Doyle broke American hearts when bringing Willie Mullins’ True Self with a tremendous late run to take the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh. Saltonstall ran a cracker for Adrian McGuinness to finish fourth.
Sunday, we start at Newbury. Jonjo O’Neill illustrated his knack for laying out a horse for a big handicap when Soaring Glory swooped to conquer in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle. Jonjo is going very well this season Soaring Glory could make a Supreme Novice horse. Fifty Ball advised 1pt each-way at 14/1 to our members finished a good second he could be a county hurdle horse. Nicky Henderson was thrilled to see Champ enhance his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials in defeat after finding only Sceau Royal too strong in the Betfair Game Spirit Chase. Sceau Royal is a dream horse to own year in year out he does his stuff. Secret Investor repelled stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in a thrilling climax to the Betfair Denman Chase. The sad postscript to the race was The Conditional lost his life. I really was very fond of this horse. Thoughts go with all connected with The Conditional. Gowel Road overcame greenness to earn himself a possible visit to Cheltenham with an all-the-way triumph for Nigel Twiston-Davies and son Sam.
At Navan, Thyestes Chase hero Coko Beach followed up in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Ten Up Novice Chase. Gordon Elliott completed a four-timer at Navan today as his well-touted and expensive Ginto won the concluding Bumper for owners Noel and Valerie Moran and jockey Jamie Codd. Frontal Assault completed a Graded double for owner Gigginstown House Stud, trainer Gordon Elliott and stable jockey Jack Kennedy. The other Graded winner Beacon Edge took the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle. Dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll remains on course for the Cheltenham Festival despite finishing a tailed-off last of six runners behind Beacon Edge.
Hugh Morgan produced an exceptional piece of riding to win the Racing Again March 6th Handicap Chase at Navan today on Young Dev, completing almost all of the three-miles course without the aid of stirrups. Morgan's right stirrup leather broke jumping the first fence and while that failed to dislodge the 5lbs claimer, he then dismissed any opt-out thoughts, continued stirrup-less chasing the field on Young Dev whose cause appeared hopeless. This was just remarkable, it is a fitting way to finish this week's blog.