Monday, we start at Hereford. The feature race was worth £23K it was a handicap chase. It went to Kim Bailey's Another Venture who won in good style from Regal Flow and Houblon Des Obeaux. Regal Flow was advised to our members' 1pt each way at 15/2. The champion jockey Richard Johnson rarely leaves Hereford without a winner, he was on target here with Arthur Mac. At Plumpton, there was a treble for Gary Moore with Distingo, Leo Luna, and Argyle. The first two mentioned horses formed a double for Joshua Moore. There were also doubles on the cards for Anthony Honeyball and Noel Fehily with Le Coeur Net and My Dance. At Wolverhampton, Ivan Furtado was on the mark with Murdanova.
Tuesday, we start at Punchestown. There was a treble for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy. The horses were Goddthynemilan, Poormans Hill who was winning twice in 4 days. The treble was completed by Sir Carno who had a fight on his hands as Sharwhatstherush crashed out at the last when upsides.It is hard to know what would have happened. What I do know is it was most unfortunate for our members as they had a 3pts win double rolling with Sharwhatstherush(3/1) with a winner earlier in the card Eagle Lion (11/10). Our members did get in the winner's enclosure as Moyhenna took the mares maiden hurdle. Moyhenna advised to our members' 1pt each way at 4/1. At Lingfield woman of the moment, Bryony Frost was on target on board Northandsouth. At Newcastle, Richard Johnson made the journey pay as Petticoat Tails took the mares novice hurdle. At Southwell, trainer Simon Crisford was on target with Bobby K.
Wednesday, we start at Ayr where Hills Of Dubai made it 80 wins in the season for Donald McCain. There was a double for jockey Craig Nichol on board Sweet As Candy and Uncle Alastair. At Leicester, Richard Johnson was on the mark with 1/12 fav Springtown Lake. At Newcastle, there winners for Keith Dalgleish and Ivan Furtado with Good Boy Alfie and Swissie. At Chelmsford, Ocean Of Love ran out a very impressive winner for Godolphin. At Down Royal, the novice hurdle went to Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy with Gun Digger.
Thursday, we start at Wincanton. There was a treble for Colin Tizzard with Molineaux, Valhalla and Grand Vision. At Towcester, there was a winner for young James Bowen with How's My Friend. At Southwell, Ray Purchase was on target for Keith Dalgleish. At Kempton, Freebe Rocks and Western Way made it a double.
Friday, we start at Chepstow there was a double for Richard Johnson with Thomas Patrick and Rock My Style. At Catterick, there was a horrendous incident in the 330 Milly Baloo with the race at her mercy ran out the last fence giving Ryan Day a really bad fall. It got worse for our members as we had a 2 pt win at 10/3!!!! The race went to Brian Hughes and Donald McCain with Planet Nine. At Lingfield, there was a double for Joe Fanning on board Watersmeet and Nomorecalls. At Wolverhampton, Mark Johnston had a double with Ravenhoe and Mambo Dancer. At Dundalk, Pari Passu impressed for Anthony Mullins.
Saturday, we start at Leopardstown for day one of the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival. I was in attendance. The opening grade one saw a boil over as Tower Bridge took it for Joseph O'Brien and JJ Slevin. Tower Bridge picked up really well in the home straight. It was an odd race Fabulous Saga was backed from (9/2 - 7/4) went a lunatics gallop and cut his own throat. Jetz ran a cracker in second and I thought Carter McKay ran well in third. I think Carter McKay needs further, it could be the Albert Bartlett for him. The Grade 2 chase over two miles it went in spectacular fashion to Min. They went very hard here with Special Tiara bowling along running a cracker. Special Tiara will run well on quicker ground at Cheltenham. Yorkhill completely blew out again here which was very disappointing for his supporters. Min looked good and can run well in a champion chase. The form Min has in Novice hurdles with Altior is strong. The Grade One Arkle saw the brilliant Footpad enhance his reputation with another electric display. Petit Mouchoir ran a very good race considering he behaved badly in the parade ring being removed twice. On the track, Petit Mouchoir attempted to get rid of his jockey on the way to post. Petit Mouchoir then belted a couple of fences. Petit Mouchoir still got within five lengths of Footpad which was a good effort. That said it looks on all evidence Footpad is a potentially brilliant chaser.
The Irish Champion Hurdle saw the return of Faugheen he started odds-on. I thought Faugheen looked big enough in the paddock. The race saw Faugheen jump off in the lead Faugheen could never get away from Supasundae who kept Faugheen honest. As they went to the last Faugheen led, he was a sitting for Supasundae who readily picked Faugheen up. Supasundae was a two and a half lengths winner. It looks hard for Faugheen now, Supasundae will still go for the stayers hurdle according to Jessica Harrington. The big disappointments were Melon and Defi Du Seuil who ran poorly. The Coral handicap hurdle went in great style to Off You Go for Charles Byrnes. The bumper saw a really good winner in Backbow (owned by the family of the owners of the brilliant Florida Pearl). Patricks Park took the two-miles one-furlong handicap chase by two and a half lengths from Three Stars with Tully east running a lovely race in third. The upshot of the day was a four-timer for Willie Mullins with Min, Footpad, Patricks Park and Backbow. The day was a complete triumph for Leopardstown.
In the UK. We start at Sandown, there was a treble for Nicky Henderson with Countister, Buveur D'air, and Terrefort. The race for Buveur D'air was a joke and we learned zero. Terrefort, on the other hand, was impressive in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles chase and has to be a player at Cheltenham. The Grade 3 handicap hurdle worth £100k went to Topofthegame who was very gutsy. Folsom Blue ran well for our members and was placed. Folsom Blue advised to our members' 0.75pt each way at 14/1. At Wetherby, there was a double for Dan and Harry Skelton with Robin Waters and Red Rising. There was a back to form display for Ballyoptic who took the Grade Two novice chase. The handicap chase saw a cracking contest as Mercian Prince, Pain Au Chocolat, and Kayf Blanco. There was a head and a short head in it at the line. Kayf Blanco advised to our members' 0.75pt each way at 7/1. Ther was also a multiple bet collection for our members. Kayf Blanco 135 Wetherby (7/1) & Folsom Blue 300 Sandown (14/1) advised to our members' 0.5pt each way double both placed.At Musselburgh, there was a treble for Paul Nicholls with Wonderful Charm, Marracudja, and Coup De Pinceau. At Kempton, there was a winner for Kevin Ryan with Bunjee Jump. At Lingfield, the winter Derby trial went to John Gosden with Utmost.
Sunday, we start at Leopardstown for day two of the Dublin Racing Festival. I was in attendance myself. I was joined both days by my great friend racecourse bookmaker Alan Bushell who came over from Wales. The opening race saw Jessica Harrington as Alletrix take the mares handicap hurdle. The Juvenile hurdle the first Grade One on the card saw a terrific battle. Mr. Adjudicator and Farclas fought out a great battle from before the last hurdle. Mr. Adjudicator got the better of it by one and a quarter lengths. I thought this was a very impressive display from both Mr. Adjudicator and Farclas. I think both go to Cheltenham with a massive chance in my view. The favorite Espoir D'allen totally blew out here, on the face of it there seems little hope of reversing the form with Mr. Adjudicator and Farclas. The Deloitte novice hurdle saw the appearance of the potential star that is Samcro. It was my first time to see Samcro in the flesh he is something else up close. As a racehorse, he has every physical attribute you would want a racehorse to have. Samcro drifted from 8/13 to 4/5. The punters came back in and Samcro went off 4/6. What followed was a breathtaking performance. Samcro dismantled a field of really good horses on the bridle. Samcro traveled supremely well, jumping economically. Samcro cleared away to win by five and a half lengths from Duc Des Genievres and Paloma Blue. I took one in fourth place out of it, if Whisky Sour pitched up in the Martin Pipe he would be of serious interest to me. The bottom line is Samcro has plenty of options now( Supreme or Ballymore) and looks top class.
Total Recall who was chucked in on his chase handicap mark, back over hurdles here. Total Recall blitzed a field of handicap hurdlers, refusing to settle for Paul Townend it mattered not as Total Recall came home three lengths clear. I am convinced Total Recall could be a Gold cup horse if he was mine I would do that for sure. The victory for Total Recall was good news for our members. Samcro 150 Leopardstown (8/13) & Total Recall 225 Leopardstown (5/4) advised to our members' 3pts win double. The next race was the Flogas novice chase another Grade One. This saw one of the races of the festival. Monalee who was on a recovery mission from Christmas after falling was sent off joint-fav. The race itself saw Monalee make the running jumping very well in front. As they came down to the last there were five in with a chance. Monalee repelled all comers. Monalee won by three parts of a length from Al Boum Photo with Invitation Only a head back in third. I thought Dounikos ran a cracker and looks to have the four-miler written all over him. The other joint-fav Sutton Place was pulled up. Monalee advised to our members' 2pts win at 3/1.
The feature race was the Unibet Irish Gold Cup. It was to produce a racing fairytale. Our Duke was backed into favorite but could only manage fourth after a bad mistake at the second last. Killultagh Vic looked set for victory when crashing out at the last, leaving Edwulf, who had crept into contention under a trade-marked patient Derk O'Connor ride, and Outlander to fight out the finish on the run-in.Edwulf, a one-time notoriously bad jumper, pulled out more on the run-in to score a thoroughly unlikely neck win from Outlander.It was gutting from a betting point of view for myself, however, it was a fantastic story. An understandably happy trainer Joseph O'Brien later reported “he (Edwulf) ran out of oxygen and basically collapsed and fainted and was on the ground for the guts of half an hour at Cheltenham last March. The vets were always confident he'd be fine though, as it was basically exhaustion as the race was over an extreme distance and he made a mistake which knocked the stuffing out of him. All the vets did such a good job with him and everyone at Martinstown did so well too. He came back to us and I can't quite believe it! It's been a long road for him.“He pulled up here at Christmas when Derek said he just got tired although he gave him a nice feel and just blew up. He thought he'd improve for the race and he was right!“Derek is an unbelievable horseman and gets on great with this fellow.“I suppose we'll think about the Gold Cup now but we'll see how he comes out of this. It's not too often you get a horse good enough to run in a Gold Cup so we'll think about Cheltenham if he comes out of this race well. It goes to prove horse racing regularly produces the most unlikely heartwarming scenarios. Outlander advised to our members' 1.5pts each way at 6/1.
The Chanelle Pharma chase went in very impressive style to, Last Goodbye who cleared away by nine lengths from Vieux Morvan. I can see both of these horses running well in Cheltenham handicaps. The bumper went to Relegate, for the Katie Walsh and Willie Mullins combination. It gave Willie Mullins a treble on the day and seven winners for the festival. A remarkable effort from Willie Mullins. The weekend at Leopardstown was a complete triumph for Leopardstown. The Dublin Racing festival looks set fair to grow into something special. I feel the Dublin Racing Festival will become a destination for trainers rather than a stop off on the road to Cheltenham. The ground conditions were excellent and the prize money even better.
At Musselburgh, Paul Nicholls had his fourth winner of the weekend at the Scottish track as The Last But One won the novice handicap chase. The Triumph hurdle trial went to Nicky Henderson as We Have A Dream got the job done by four and a half lengths. It was not all good news for Nicky Henderson as two of his big Cheltenham hopes were turned over at odds-on Claimantakingforgan and Mr. Whipped. At Taunton, it was a bad day to be a layer with three winning favorites. The warrior that is Cloudy Bob took the feature for Anthony Honeyball.