Monday, we start at Kempton. Smart hurdler On The Blind Side got his season up and running at Kempton with a first victory over fences to form the middle leg of trebles for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville. The trebles were completed by Precious Cargo and Pym. At Ludlow, Nicky Henderson made it four winners on the day with Lough Derg Spirit taking the novice chase. There was a double for Venetia Williams with Longhouseignora and Huff And Puff. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Richard Kingscote with Slowmo and Cloudlam.
Tuesday, we start at Down Royal. There was a double for Gordon Elliott with Andy Dufrense and Monatomic. The novice hurdle went to Joseph O'Brien with Denwork , Count Simon advised to our members (1pt each way) 8/1 placed in the race. At Newcastle, Rock On Fruity made it two wins since he moved to the UK for Ben Haslam. At Wolverhampton, Noble Expression bolted up by eight lengths.
Wednesday, we start at Lingfield. There was a very impressive winner for John Gosden with Anapurna who won by five lengths. At Wolverhampton, the stayers handicap went to Moon Of Baroda who held off Markhan. There was no turf racing in the UK due to frozen tracks.
Thursday, we start at Southwell, There was an impressive win for Coolagh Magic for Richard Fahey. At Newcastle, Lion Hearted made it two wins in two starts for Michael Appleby since switching from Tracey Collins in Ireland. At Meydan, the feature race went to Drafted. It was good news for our members who we advised to our members (2pts win) at 9/4. There was no turf racing in the UK due to frozen tracks.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. There was a double for Ross Coakley on board Lapilli and Isosceles. There was also a double for Ben Coen with View The Bay and Empire Line. The featured Windsor Bar & Restaurant Handicap at Dundalk went the way of Theobald (9/4 2nd favorite) for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning. Theobald made all under a smart ride from Kevin Manning. It was good news for our members Theobald was advised (2pts win) 11/4. At Wolverhampton, Zorawar was an impressive winner for David O'Meara. At Lingfield, Water's Edge was a winner for Ryan Moore. At Newcastle, the last three races were abandoned due to snow.
Saturday, we start at Leopardstown for day one of the Dublin Racing Festival. I was in attendance myself, I have to say it was a fantastic days racing. Stamina won the day for the Gordon Elliott-trained Commander Of Fleet as he relished the step up in trip in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Novice Hurdle. Commander Of Fleet had a protracted battle with Rhinestone down the straight, eventually winning by half a length. Relegate caught my eye in fifth, it has to be the Albert Bartlett for her in my view, she stays so well. The Irish Champion hurdle saw Apples Jade pulverize the field from the front. It was a one-horse race all the way. A sixteen length win over Supasundae told the story. Apples Jade will still go for the mares race apparently at Cheltenham. That is a matter for the O'Learys. What is not in doubt is that Apples Jade is a remarkable horse and will run well in a champion hurdle.
The Ladbroke hurdle saw a 1-2-3 for JP McManus with Off You Go, Jezki and Ivanovich Gorbatov. This gave me one of the biggest kicks in a race for a long time. Regular readers will know the affection Jezki is held in from this corner. As Jezki swept to the front, I got very excited roaring and screaming him home. I ended up halfway down the stand. The nicest thing was the Leopardstown crowd got right behind Jezki along with myself they tried to lift the former champion home. Jezki finally got the Leopardstown crowd in his corner after years of tackling the crowd hero Hurricane Fly. I have stood by Jezki his whole career, he is one of my all time favorites. Jezki has given me great days as well as plenty of heartbreak, he has never let me down once in my view. One thing with Jezki is he always gives everything. As brave as a lion with his jumping, the leaps he threw down the back straight were fantastic. Jezki is a former champion hurdler, a multiple Grade one winner over every trip from two miles to three miles. I have no doubt if Jezki had not had to meet Hurricane Fly so often at Leopardstown, people would speak of Jezki in terms of one of the greats. Jezki also came back from a serious leg injury to continue to race. If Jezki could have won here and retired on the spot it would have been fairytale stuff. I raced down to the second spot to applaud Jezki in. Well done champ you ran a blinder.
Envoi Allen was made to work as he maintained his unbeaten record in the Grade 2 Matheson INH Flat Race. I was not sure about this as regards Cheltenham, I will reserve judgment for now. Min ran out an easy winner of the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown for the second year running after an incident-packed contest. A fatal injury sustained by Special Tiara before the first fence marred the two-mile-one contest. Special Tiara was a brilliant jumper and a champion chase winner in 2017. It was a dreadful end to a great career. My sincerest condolences to all connected to Special Tiara. especially to those who cared for him every day. They will feel the loss most. On to a happier note. Le Richebourg recorded a Grade 1 double at Leopardstown when claiming the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase this afternoon. I thought the jumping of Le Richebourg was really good this is a serious horse in my view. I loved the way he went through the race as well as the ride Mark Walsh gave Le Richebourg I think 4/1 for the Arkle is big. The Paul Nolan-trained Quamino finished best of all to grab victory close home in a thrilling finish to take the finale.
At Sandown, Buveur D’Air took the 888Sport Contenders Hurdle for the third year running with an authoritative display at Sandown. The dual Champion Hurdle hero, trained by Nicky Henderson, pulled clear from the last under Barry Geraghty to dispose of any potential threat posed by Vision Des Flos. Rayvin Black made the early running until he put the brakes on as they turned away from the stands and that left Buveur D’Air in front. Oliver Sherwood’s stalwart consented to go on after the third-last flight, but Buveur D’Air (1-5 favorite) was soon in the lead again without any effort. Vision Des Flos tried to make a race of it, but he was flattered by the two-length margin of the easy winner. Defi Du Seuil reversed Cheltenham form with Lostintranslation to capture the Grade One 888Sport Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown. After leading some way out that day, Barry Geraghty delayed his challenge on Philip Hobbs’ six-year-old until they jumped the final fence this time. Defi Du Seuil set sail for home up the hill and was game enough to hold the renewed challenge of Lostintranslation by three-quarters of a length. It was a big-race double for Geraghty and his boss, owner JP McManus, following the victory of Buveur D’Air in the Contenders Hurdle.
Sunday, we start at Leopardstown. Willie Mullins believes the Leopardstown management was left in a no-win situation after the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival was decimated by non-runners. The ground was considered not to be safe on the chase course by many owners. Sassy Diva provided owner/trainer Shane Crawley with his biggest winner to date when landing the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle, the opening race on day two of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. The Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle provided a thrilling finish between two Willie Mullins-trained geldings with Klassical Dream just getting the verdict over Aramon. I think these look two smart horses. Joseph O’Brien recorded a 1-2 in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown as Sir Erec enhanced his reputation from the front under Mark Walsh. Six lengths was the winning margin at the line over stable-companion Gardens Of Babylon, with Surin finding no extra another half a length away in third. This was really good from Sir Erec he will be many peoples banker given his previous flat form.
La Bague Au Roi struck a blow for the English raiding party by recording another Grade 1 victory in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Richard Johnson’s mount made most of the running but the 10/11 market leader was strongly pressed on the run-in by Kaiser Black. The pair were separated by the width of the track with La Bague Au Roi keeping on gamely on the far rail to prevail by a length and a quarter. Willie Mullins saddled the winner of the Unibet Irish Gold Cup for a record tenth time as Bellshill just got the better of Road To Respect in a superb finish to the highlight of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. The drying ground conditions — officially good, good to firm in places — spoiled the three-mile Grade 1 event resulting in six of the ten declared runners coming out. I cannot have either of these two horses for Cheltenham.