Thursday, we start at Thurles which was the only card of real interest. The mares beginners chase went to Uranna who finally got off the mark over fences for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. The conditions chase went to Lord Scoundrel who has had a good season he was well backed (10/3 to 9/4), Lord Scoundrel got the better of Tennis Cap in this race. The Michael Purcell Novice Hurdle went to Acapella Bourgois who survived a last flight howler which Ruby Walsh did very well to keep the partnership intact. The run of Our Duke was too bad to be true , I think we can put a line through it Our Duke is better then this.The win for Acapella Bourgois was a nice boost to the form of A Toi Phil. The handicap hurdle went to Sonny B who did it well, the run of Rathpatrick who drifted appallingly in the betting (6/4 to 11/4) he ran as the drift reflected.
Friday, we start at Dundalk where there was a double for Aidan O'Brien with Sea Of Blue and Ineffable. The card also produced winners for the powerhouse yards of Weld and Halford. In the Uk Exeter saw a double for Dan Skelton with Girly Girl winning by 41 Lengths . Captain Chaos was the second leg he got it done by a nose I like this horse. At Warwick Richard Johnson moved passed 200 hundred winners for the season with a yet another double. The first leg was Cheat The Cheater who allowed Johnson show all his experience.Cheat The Cheater got badly outpaced but Johnson did not panic he used all his strength to galvanize Cheat the Cheater to win. The second leg was Little miss poet. I was impressed with the winners Minella Reception and Leo Luna, I think both can win again.
Saturday, We start at Kempton .The first big race up was the Adonis hurdle which is normally an excellent trial for the Triumph Hurdle. The race went to Zubayr who tanked through the race picking up the trail blazing Azzuri to win by 4 Lengths. The disappointment of the race was Gibralfaro who was in trouble a long way out, but is more then likely better then this effort. I must say I was hugely impressed with Zubayr, considering it was his debut. Zubayr surely can only improve and will go to the Triumph with a massive chance. The Pendil Novice Chase went to Killala Quay who jumped very well , sadly Mon Successeur was killed in action a real shame he was a nice horse. The Devcote Novice Hurdle saw Winter Escape keep the unbeaten record intact getting the better of Marracudja by just over a length. I was impressed with both horses, Welsh Shadow ran pretty well in third also. The Betbright Chase was the feature it went to Theatre Guide it was good news for our members advised (1pt each way 8/1) . It was just reward for Theatre Guide who had been knocking heads with Smad Place most of the season. Thomas Brown found it happening too quickly for a novice, he eventually fell. Le Reve ran well ,I think if Le Reve ran in an Irish National it would really suit him, he is a far better horse going right handed. Ericht got back on the trail winning the handicap chase.
Newcastle hosted Eider Chase day. The opening Novice Chase went to Seeyouatmidnight who had been good up to now however he was not good here, I would not want to be with him now at Cheltenham. The Eider Chase itself was won in very impressive style by Rocking Blues, who won as he liked in the end. I thought Ballyculla was still going pretty well when falling although it was a long way out, Ballyculla is worth another chance. The Novice Hurdle went to Tomngerry who to my eyes looked a real good horse winning really well. At Chepstow there was an interesting Pertemps Qualifier which went to the Paul Nicholls trained Arpege D'alene he stuck at it well and could make an impact in the final at Cheltenham. Arthur's Oak won the £40K handicap chase in good style. At Navan it was a low key meeting .The outstanding horse was General Principle who won the maiden hurdle in good style. There was plenty of confidence behind Tuzo he is a horse to note as he ran well here. Jury Duty won the handicap hurdle, Sizing Coal ran very well in behind on his comeback that horse will be of interest in an Irish National.
Sunday, we start at Leopardstown as the curtain fell on the Leopardstown jump season. The Cheltenham traditional schooling session was of interest after racing with Don Cossack an No More Heroes doing a nice piece of work, jumping well on the way around. The racing itself was decent. The maiden hurdle went to Jett who is of course a full brother to one of my great equine heroes the brilliant Jezki. I thought Jett had been crying out for hurdles he did it well putting away the frustrating Space Cadet and Potters Point who are both needing fences in my view. The race was good news for our members who were on Jett (1pt each way 9/1). The Handicap hurdle saw a bunch finish with Solita winning. The horse who caught the eye was Aniable who was a fast finishing fourth he looks a winner in waiting. Willie Mullins unleashed a really good horse in the shape of Great Field who bolted up. This horse Great Field looks a very serious horse. The novice chase went to Alisier D'Irlande who got a solo in front bolting up by nine lengths, it is Aintree for Alisier D'Irlande now his yard has done well at Aintree in the proposed target race. Alisier D'Irlande looks a progressive horse. Colms Dream won the 2 miles five furlongs handicap chase once again advertising the skills of trainer Karl Thornton, who has a excellent strike rate. Aspen Colorado won the bumper but I must admit, I can not have this horse for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
Fontwell was the Uk standout. The National Spirit hurdle was the highlight, it went to the very likable Lil Rockerfeller who is tough, jumps well .The hunter chase went to Mendip Express who will now go to Cheltenham, Mendip Express is a nice horse who will have a good chance. At Southwell there was a jumps card the standout was the return to form of Delgany Demon, he is a good horse on his day and has options over hurdles and fences.
Monday, A very low key day. We start at Ayr, Oldgrangewood won for Dan Skelton. Little Glenshee won again .I must admit in truth the ground was awful , with the card nearly as bad. At Plumpton there was another winner for Dan Skelton with Baratineur doing it well. The Cider Maker won for Colin Tizzard. The Skelton and Tizzard yard are in good form also.
Tuesday, we start at Catterick. There was a double for Donald McCain with Court Dismissed and Ubaltique, McCain is going well just now his horses are worth following at the moment. The long journey to Catterick for Richard Johnson was worthwhile with a double on board Wintered well and Royal Milan, both horses won well and can win again. The card at Leicester was low key but there were winners for Nigel Twiston -Davies in the shape of I am Colin who won well. There was also a winner for David Pipe with Abrcadabra Sivola. The trainers like to have winners around festivals it helps attracts new owners. I have been struck by many of the big yards in the UK, hitting form now. There may be a number of factors a natural peak for Cheltenham. The other factor maybe that many horses from these yards have been avoiding the atrocious winter ground. These yards now have fresh horses ready to go.
Wednesday, Downpatrick was abandoned. We start at Wincanton which hosted a decent card. There was a double for Kim Bailey with Saint Ladylime and Dueling Banjos. I have always liked Kim Bailey , he is a class trainer I hope he continues to get winners. There was a double for Paul Nicholls who has his stable firing at the right time, the first leg was Tagrita who made it four wins out five at Wincanton. This was a good display in tough conditions from Tagrita , it was good news for our members who were advised a (1pt each way bet at 11/4). The second leg was a victory for Pacha Du Polder who was a winner for Victoria Pendleton. I must admit, I have been totally uninterested in Victoria Pendleton's project. I watched the race back I thought she rode well , certainly did not look out of place. I would say my only hope is that Victoria Pendleton is not involved in a incident at the Festival. La Vaticane won the handicap chase in impressive style in the end, it might have been different if Vic De Touzaine had of stood up instead of falling at the second last. At Bangor it was an average card , however Theatrical Style won the opener for Donald McCain who has hit form in the last few weeks. Donald Mccain has had a hard time but remains a very good trainer. Millicent Silverwon for Nigel Twiston - Davies who also has his team in very good form.
I attended the Betfair preview in Kettles hotel, as always a real fun night. The negativity about Don Poli in the Gold Cup was staggering at times as well as hard to fathom, especially from people I would consider to be very good judges like Gary O'Brien. Mark Winstanley was very positive on Don Poli I got a word with him afterwards he said " I like backing horses that keep winning" hard to argue with that logic.The cult of Don Cossack were out in force, the whole panel with the exception of Winstanley waxing lyrical about Don Cossack. I may well be wrong however, I can not understand how people can dismiss a horse (Don Poli) with a two from two record at the Cheltenham Festival . The pundits then say Don Cossack a horse who fell in the King George would have won and that his record of zero from two at the Cheltenham Festival does not matter. This whole Don Cossack stance by pundits reminds me of the consensus about Ireland's economy in 2008, Anyone remember how that ended?