Monday, we start at Pontefract. The second round of the Pontefract stayers championship was down for decision. The race went to American Life who is a well handicapped horse on the flat, American Life is an out and out stayer he saw Madam Libert off by a length. The result was good news for our members who were advised a 1pt each way (11/2) Sp 9/2. There was a treble for Richard Fahey who has started the season brilliantly. The first leg was Springwood who took the novice stakes by a neck over 5 furlongs landing a few nice bets (8/1 to 11/2). The second leg cam in Division 1 of the mile handicap as Spring Offensive despite hanging won well to win by a length and a half. The third leg of the treble was Arcano Gold who got a dream run up the inside off the home turn, Sands Chorus ran well in second. I think both horses will remain competitive in this grade. Hexham had a jumps card . The 2 miles 4 furlongs handicap hurdle went to the wonderfully consistent Beyondtemptation who battered this field by 17 lengths , this horse is still on the upgrade. The 3 mile handicap chase went to Flaming thistle in impressive fashion by 8 lengths, Gibbstown ran flat in fourth. At Huntingdon there was a double for Kim Bailey with Younevercall and King Simba. The 2 miles 7 furlongs handicap chase went to The Mumper for Alan King who got up in the dying strides. The Mumper could have a regional National in him at some point. The 3 Miles 1 Furlong handicap hurdle went to Bronco Billy who Richard Johnson galvanized and got up late on for Jonjo O'Neill. Bronco Billy has always looked to have ability , he is one to keep on the right side of with good ground.
Newton Abbott saw Aso get a deserved win in the Novice Chase , Aso has had some lofty targets this was more his grade. Aso won by 10 lengths , Venetia Williams will no doubt get a decent handicap out of this horse next winter. At Windsor I was impressed with Stake Acclaim who won the 5 furlongs handicap in good style having been up there from the outset Stake Acclaim can win again soon. At Dundalk there was a four timer for Aidan O'Brien including a dead heat. The first leg was Caravaggio who won the 5 furlong maiden in good style, Aidan said post race, Caravaggio was a Royal Ascot type. Seventh Heaven won the Fillies Mile maiden by 3 and half lengths. Bravery won the One Mile Maiden by 2 and a quarter lengths. The One Mile Handicap saw The O'Brien four timer land in a dead heat as Stone Mountain (for O'Brien) dead heated with Spruce Meadows. The only setback on the night for Aidan O'Brien on the night was the display of Sir Isaac Newton who ran dreadful in finishing second to Yuften. Sir Isaac Newton is surely better then this , to be fair Yuften did it well , the back form of Yuften is very decent. I reckon Yuften will go on to better things. I would be very careful of Sir Isaac Newton going forward. The last item from Dundalk was the display of Ardhoomey in the 5 furlong handicap, Ardhoomey won this well I liked this horse last season. I think Ardhoomey is in for a good season as his trainer Ger Lyons stated Ardhoomey had his wind done during the winter.
Tuesday, we start at Kempton. The Dan Skelton bandwagon rolled on with Swansea Mile taking the novice hurdle, Swansea Mile benefited from a mistake by Broughtons Rhythm . Swansea Mile may have won anyway I think Swansea Mile can do well over the summer on good ground. The 3 mile handicap went to Loose Chips who saw off Port Melon and Cloudy Bob in a good race. The 2 miles 5 furlongs handicap hurdle went Cottersrock by a very impressive 9 lengths, Willem shaped with a bit of promise in second. Chartbreaker ran only alright in third , the horse tends to hit a flat spot in his races. At Ludlow plenty of runners as well as decent prize money as is normal at Ludlow these days. The 1 mile 7 furlongs chase went to Festive Affair under Richard Johnson for Jonjo O'Neill winning by 4 and a half lengths. Festive Affair had been threatening to win one of these I reckon he can win again soon. The 2 miles 7 Furlongs handicap hurdle went to Alzammaar who deserved his turn , Shotavodka ran a nice race in fourth. This horse is still well handicapped over hurdles. At Wolverhampton there was a double for Keith Dalgleish as he two winning Favourites in Argent Knight and Fast Pick.
At Brighton , I thought the 6 furlong handicap was of interest with Fingal's Cave running on really well to take the race, Good Luck Charm also ran on well in third. At Sedgefield there was double for Dan Skelton who was on the mark with Red Tornado and Abricot De L'oasis both should do well over the summer. The 3 miles 2 furlongs handicap chase went to Auldthunder who is a thoroughly progressive stayer , he can go on from here.
Wednesday, we start at Epsom the 5 furlong race was of interest as many of these will end up in the dash at the Derby meeting . The race went to Normal Equilibrium who did it from the front, Duke Of Firenze showed a bit in third as did Monumental Man in fifth, all Dash prospects. The Derby trial So Di Mar who stuck at it well , being a female the Oaks is the target , So Di Mar has to be of interest. The Favourite Claudio Monteverdi never looked happy and this was disappointing, surely one of the Ballydoyle lesser Derby lights. The 1 mile 2 furlong handicap was worth £28K and went to Dark Red who landed a punt at Chelmsford the last time out. Dark Red did this well , this win opens up options for the horse going forward Pacify and What About Carlo ran well. At Perth the 2 miles 7 furlongs novice hurdle went to Up For Review who made all the running and saw off stablemate Nambour. This showed how determined Willie Mullins is to win the UK trainers championship saddling a 1-2 . I now think Up For Review is best going right handed, I would not be inclined to back him going left handed again. The SP of Up For Review was 5/1 was remarkable. The 2 miles 7 Furlongs handicap chase went to No Duffer who survived an X rated mistake at the last. At Catterick Richard Fahey had another double with Normandie Lady and Footlight who were both convincing winners. There was also a double for Michael Easterby with Black Grass and Bajan Rebel.
At Lingfield the 6 Furlong Handicap was a dead heat between Evening Starlight and Ordinal. At Fairyhouse the maiden hurdle went to Master of Verse yet another winner for Willie Mullins and Gigginstown. The 2 miles 7 furlongs handicap hurdle went to Federici who won this very well, I reckon Federici could rock up in a banks race at Punchestown. At Taunton there was a double for David Noonan with Rejaah and Double Accord. There was also a double for Harry Cobden with All Set Go who got a winner back for Paul Nicholls. The second leg of the Cobden double was Saint Raph.
Thursday, we start at Perth were the battle for the UK trainers title was ongoing. The opening Novice hurdle went to Willie Mullins with the until this point disappointing Townshend by 9 lengths, I do not think this horse is much good to be honest. There was a double on the day for Philip Hobbs and Champion jockey Richard Johnson . The first leg was Braavos who won the 2 miles 4 furlongs handicap hurdle by 8 lengths. The second leg of the double was Ink Master who won the 2 mile Novice Handicap Chase. Witness in Court took the feature race for Donald McCain, The Lindsays Handicap Chase for the second year in a row. Witness in Court saw off the Willie Mullins trained Tennis Cap who lost little in defeat conceding 8 pounds to the winner. Monsieur Jordain took the hunter chase where Nowurhurlin looked unlucky after his jockey gave him an inefficient ride. Impulsive American won the Novice handicap hurdle backing up his win at Ayr during the Scottish Grand National Meeting. I think Impulsive American is decent , the Pipes will get a decent handicap out this horse. At Beverly the 7 furlong handicap was of interest, Sir Michael Stoute has at good record at Beverly he saddled Arab Post. The race went to Garcia who despite being slowly away was well on top at the line by just under 2 lengths. I think Garcia is decent. The 7 furlong handicap went to Billy Roberts who raced with the choke out making all the running, winning easily by 3 lengths . Billy Roberts could be a horse to follow.
At Warwick Paul Nicholls fired back at Willie Mullins with a double . The first leg went the way of El Bandit who won the Maiden Hurdle by 4 lengths. The second leg cam in the 3 miles 1 furlong handicap hurdle. The heavily backed The Eaglehaslanded landed the contest with ease , in behind in fourth I think Easter Day is slowly recovering his confidence. At Exeter Paul Nicholls got another winner as Black Corton took the maiden hurdle by four and half lengths. There was nothing of note to my eyes at Market Rasen. At Tipperary, the Aidan O'Brien bandwagon rolled on with a double. The first leg was Ambiguity who travelled well through the race, putting it to bed nicely to win by just over 2 lengths. The second leg of the double was Kellstrom who backed up his good run behind US Army Ranger at the Curragh last time out. Kellstrom took the 1 miles 4 furlong maiden in good style. Jim Culloty had the winner of the maiden hurdle with Lake Takapunna who won by 5 lengths, this horse can go on to better things.
Friday, we start at Sandown . The Gordon Richards Stakes went to My Dream Boat (12/1- 8/1), who got the better of Western Hymn in a thrilling finish. The Bet365 Classic Trial went to Midterm who lived up to his billing for Sir Michael Stoute, Midterm will go on from here. The Bet 365 went to Toormore who won by a neck from Dutch Connection. There was nothing that really caught the eye at Doncaster. At Perth the Mares Novice Hurdle went to Mardale who just saw off Myztique in a thrilling finish. The 2 mile 4 furlongs novice Chase went to Rolly Baby (advised 2pt win 5/2 to our members) for Willie Mullins. Rolly Baby is very lightly raced for an eleven year old, this was a good display. The win helped Willie Mullins cut the gap on Paul Nicholls, Willie said he would be returning to Perth after a successful week we shall see. At Chepstow Paul Nicholls struck back with Rubben Cotter who bolted up in the 2 mile 3 furlongs handicap chase. There was a winner for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson as One Cool Scorpion ran out a 5 length winner of the 2 miles 7 furlongs handicap hurdle.
There was nothing of note at Plumpton. At Kilbeggan there was a double for Willie Mullins Valyssa Monterg took the beginners chase in commanding style. The second leg of the double was Kolumbas who won the bumper by a neck. Bye Bye O Bye won the handicap hurdle under Davey Russell , I reckon this horse will be turned out under a penalty shortly. At Dundalk there was another double for Aidan O'Brien with Houseofparliament and Long Island Sound who look two decent horses. The 1 mile handicap went to Elusive in Paris (advised 1pt each way 7/1).Tribal Path won the seven furlong handicap he continues in good heart.
Saturday, only one place to start Sandown where the UK trainers championship was down for decision. The lead for Paul Nicholls over Willie Mullins going into Saturday was £ 52,830 , it meant Mullins would need 3 winners. The first race was a juvenile handicap hurdle it went to Wolf of Windlesham who had shown lots of promise in the autumn. Wolf of Windlesham held off the Willie Mullins trained Voix De Reve by a diminishing half length, I reckon David Mullins was not happy when he watched the race back getting caught out as they started to quicken up. Tommy Silver ran on as well fror Nicholls with a half length and a head the winning distances. The second race was the Oaksey chase, Menorah had won this the last two years, Menorah made it a hat trick. This was a tremendous sight a jumps game stalwart giving Richard Johnson a winner on the day of being crowned champion jockey. Valseur Lido tried hard, jumping sloppily at times for Willie Mullins however Menorah stuck at it really well to prevail by a length. Paul Nicholls got third with Rocky Creek. The Celebration chase was next up for the two milers, you felt Willie Mullins had to win this with Un De Sceaux he did not. The race went to Sprinter Sacre who turned in another superb performance, Sprinter Sacre, Annie Power and Cue Card have been the stories of the jumps season on the equine front. Sprinter Sacre was magnificent again here winning by 15 lengths, he will be a year older next year and Douvan if he stays at 2 miles will surely gun Sprinter Sacre down. The talk of next season is for another day but enjoy Sprinter Sacre while he is around for he truly is a remarkable racehorse. The season for Un De Sceaux has been a let down, Un De Sceaux jumped appalling at times here , Paul Townend performed miracles to stay on board. Un De Sceaux looks these days totalyy ground dependent , he is one to be careful of at short prices going forward. Dodging Bullets was third for Paul Nicholls the season for him as well as for the fourth horse Sire De Grugy has been very disappointing . In summary it was Sprinter Sacre and Nicky Henderson's day who deserves all the credit in the world for his perseverance and handling of Sprinter Sacre.
What that all meant was the Bet 365 Gold cup required a Willie Mullins win it was not to be. The race was a tremendous contest with The Young Master winning a titanic battle up the Sandown hill with Just a Par last seasons winner. Sausalito Sunrise ran a blinder in third, Paul Nicholls had the fourth with Southfield Theathre. There were very encouraging displays from The Druids Nephew and Hadrians Approach in fifth and sixth. It was a tremendous result for Neil Mulholland who capped a fine season with a significant big race triumph. The effect on the trainers championship meant Paul Nicholls secured the title thank to the placed horses in the Bet365 Gold cup. Paul Nicholls thoroughly deserved his win in the UK trainers title race, considering his lack of Grade 1 winners and horses this was a remarkable effort to hold of the Willie Mullins battalions. Willie Mullins may well try again , I am not convinced though, I think much will depend on his results at Punchestown next week. Mullins is a man who likes order , systems and patterns. This title race has interrupted those things , entertaining as exciting as it was. I believe below expectation results at Punchestown will lead to a return to Willie Mullins normal way of operating.
The first sign of this maybe was the immediate withdrawal of Vroum Vroum Mag in the very next race. Willie Mullins stated with the trainers title gone he was running Vroum Vroum Mag at Punchestown instead he got fined £1,100 for his trouble. The race itself went to Ptit Zig in probably the most forgettable race of the season, another winner for Paul Nicholls. The Novice handicap chase went to Junction Fourteen who was really impressive winning by a length and a quarter from Volnay De Thaix who also has potential . The third horse Anthony likes Sandown , he will be of interest back here next winter.The last race of the sesaon in the UK went to Willie Mullins who won the handicap hurdle with a revitalized McKinley. Dell Arca and Mad Jack Mytton ran well in fourth and fifth and are ones to watch. The days other big story was Richard Johnson being crowned Champion jockey, rarely can I remember a result being so universally popular in the sport. Richard Johnson has been a superb jockey for 20 years, this was his moment it was so richly deserved. My own favourite memory of the career of Richard Johnson is him steering the love of my racing life ,the wonderful Florida Pearl to victory in The Hennessy Gold cup at Leopardstown. The day meant a huge amount to me thank you Richard Johnson and well done you deserve every plaudit you are getting.
Sunday, we start at Musselburgh. The 7 furlong handicap went to Surewecan who knuckled down well for Mark Johnston, he might be the type to win a few. The 1 mile handicap went in good style to Bright Flash who saw off Hidden Rebel and Azrur in good style. I was very impressed with Bright Flash. At Thirsk I did not see much to take forward. I was impressed with Mcvicar who had not won for ages on the flat , however he travelled powerfully through this race. Mcvicar won in the style of a horse who can win again.At Gowran Bocca Baciata won the fillies listed stakes , however not before Colm O'Donoghue eased the horse right down, he was extremely fortunate Discipline did not do him on the line. I really hate this stuff there is no need for it all. Bocca Baciata was good here and will win again. Mint Chai bounced back to win the 1 mile 1 furlong race , I like this horse. The 1 mile 1 furlong maiden went to Ezanak who looks a really good prospect for Dermot Weld. I liked the way Sean O'Casey shaped in third.