Monday, we start at Warwick. Ange Des Malbeareaux was an impressive winner. Muckle Row 205 Warwick advised to our members (1pt each way) 15/2 placed in the race. The feature race went to Captain Cargo under Sean Bowen. At Sedgefield, there was a double for Brian Hughes on board Windsor Avenue and Katy Royal. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Adam Kirby on board Fearsome and Martineo.
Tuesday, we start at Leicester. There was another winner for Dr. Richard Newland as Trigger Nichol was on target. There was also a win for Dan and Harry Skelton with Falcon Sun. Clondaw Castle booked his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival as he got off the mark over fences at the third attempt with a bold front-running performance in the Dick Christian Novices’ Chase. At Kelso, there was a double for Brian Hughes on board Monsieur Co and Erik The Red. Mam Trasna paid a handsome compliment to Gordon Elliott’s Malone Road when running out a comfortable winner of the bumper at Kelso. Heavily backed pre-race from 5-1 into 6-4, the five-year-old eventually drifted back out to 100-30 in the face of support for Nicky Richards’ newcomer Glenduff, a half-brother to Willie Mullins’ Champion Bumper winner Relegate. Trained by David Broad, Mam Trasna had finished third on his debut at Punchestown when beaten 18 lengths by Malone Road. At Newcastle, Encore D'or took the feature race under Luke Morris.
Wednesday, we start at Lingfield the only meeting to survive. There was a winner for John Gosden with St Peters Basilica. The feature race the Betway handicap went to Pactolus who saw off Cosmeapolitan and Caspar The Cub. Cosmeapoliton was advised to our members (1pt each way) 6/1 placed in the race.
Thursday, we start at Gowran. There was a 7th Thyestes for Willie Mullins, a 2nd for Ruby Walsh and a 3rd for the Wylies when 4/1 favourite Invitation Only triumphed in the Goffs-backed Grade A Gowran Park handicap. It became a match between Invitation Only and pace-setter Alpha Des Obeaux from the second last. Rob James dropped his whip from the back of the last on Alpha Des Obeaux, and a length and a quarter eventually split them at the line. The Wylies and Mullins were also responsible for the third home, Up For Review (10/1), eleven lengths back under Paul Townend. There was strong reassurance about the health of Willie Mullins' horses as he took the last three races on Thyestes Day at Gowran, culminating with Blue Sari's very impressive performance on debut in the bumper. Invitation Only landed the big one for Closutton, whilst Cilaos Emery got off the mark on debut over fences for Mullins and Ruby Walsh in the beginners' chase.
Apart from the Mullins treble, all eyes were on Presenting Percy who returned over hurdles. He may have been easy to back for the Grade Two John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle but Presenting Percy (9/4 fav) won the Gowran event for the second year running and hardened as favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Pat Kelly's star is now 11/4 market-leader from 4/1 with Paddy Power for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This was very good in my view Presenting Percy traveled very strongly, he was entitled to get tired however he stuck at it well. Anyone associated with Presenting Percy would have to be pleased with this. In the UK we had no jump racing because of the frost. There was a good day for Michael Appleby who enjoyed an across the card treble at Southwell and Chelmsford with Pony Zero, Side Effect, and Lion Hearted.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. Trainer Joseph O'Brien completed a treble at Dundalk today as his Altair made a taking winning debut. O'Brien's earlier winners were with the Seamie Heffernan partnered Stronghold and Colfer Me, for jockey Shane Foley. UK raider Master Diver justified 5/4 favoritism to win the Maiden, providing jockey Tom Madden with a winning debut ride for leading English trainer Sir Mark Prescott. At Doncaster, Cracking Find followed up his Castleford Chase success with a game win here. At Huntingdon, Happy Diva took the mares chase. A deserved win. There was a winner for Jessica Harrington with Not Many Left. There was also a double for Graeme McPherson with Sammylou and Daydream Alumes. There was nothing at Lingfield that stood out for me, likewise Newcastle.
Saturday, we start at Cheltenham. Frodon repelled the late charge of Elegant Escape to claim a fourth win at Cheltenham in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase. This was a tremendous race. Frodon is the type of horse that captures the spirit of national hunt racing. I think Frodon needed the line badly. I do not see Frodon winning a Gold Cup. I thought the second horse Elegant Escape is interesting for the Gold Cup as the each way bet. Paisley Park secured his fourth victory from as many starts this season with a commanding display in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham. Wholestone made a mistake at a crucial stage probably would only have been third. Wholestone is out to 33/1 now and in each way, extra markets on the day will be super interesting. Fakir D’Oudairies moved to the head of ante-post lists for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after dominating his rivals in the opening race at Prestbury Park on Saturday. Having made a winning debut for Joseph O’Brien at Cork three weeks ago, the French recruit was a well-supported 4-1 chance as he stepped up to Grade Two level in a Triumph Hurdle trial in the hands of JJ Slevin. This was very good. Birchdale took the Ballymore novice hurdle I thought Birchdale was lucky and Brewinupastorm would have one but for crashing out at the last.
At Doncaster, Lady Buttons survived a late scare as she held on by just a neck from the rallying Indefatigable in the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle. Dynamite Dollars confirmed his Cheltenham Festival credentials with an all-the-way win in Doncaster’s Lightning Novices’ Chase. Go Conquer was an impressive winner of the Sky Bet Handicap Chase for Nigel Twiston - Davies. At Uttoxeter, The Crazed Moon made it three wins on the bounce. There was a return to the winners' enclosure for Ballyandy for Nigel Twiston- Davies. At Lingfield, Rajman was an impressive winner. At Chelmsford, West Coast Flyer took the feature. At Fairyhouse, Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy completed a 1,574/1 treble on the day as Authorizo made an impressive jumping debut. Elliott and Kennedy also teamed up to land division one with Chosen Mate, while 20/1 shot Kayf Thou initiated the treble in the 3m1f handicap chase. Honeysuckle maintained her unbeaten record with a facile victory in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle for Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead. Honeysuckle is now market leader for Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Sunday, we start at Naas which staged a very good card. Champion Hurdle dark horse Espoir D’Allen continued his progression when winning his first race outside of his own age group in the Limestone Lad Hurdle for Gavin Cromwell. I am not so sure I see Espoir D’Allen as a contender for the Champion Hurdle, I do not think he jumps well enough as yet. Joseph O’Brien saddled his second smart juvenile to victory in the space of 48 hours as Konitho ran out a ready winner of the Maiden Hurdle. Ballyward ran out a wide-margin winner in a dramatic renewal of the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase. Discorama crashed out at the last when challenging Ballyward. I think Ballyward will run very well at Cheltenham, he was fourth in the Albert Bartlett last year at the festival. If Ballyward were mine I would go for the four-mile National Hunt Chase. I was disappointed with Chris's Dream who jumped very well, however, found absolutely zero when push came to shove at the second last. It would remind you of the way Chris's Dream ran in last years, Albert Bartlett. The novice handicap chase saw Poker Party bolt up for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. It was good news for our members. Poker Party 350 was advised to our members (1pt each way) 8/1.
At Sedgefield, there was a double for Sue Smith and Danny Cook. The horses were The Paady Pie and Dartford Warbler. At Fontwell, Dream Du Grand Val bolted up for Nicky Henderson in the opening handicap hurdle.