The Racing Week That Was 5-12-21


There was a double for trainer Tom Marquand with Spirit Of Nguru and Havana Goldrush.  At Ayr, there was a double for trainer Lucinda Russell with Operation Overlord and Rapid Raider


At Southwell, there were doubles for Dan and Harry Skelton with Across The line and Lydford.


At Dundalk, Sean Bowen rounded off a remarkable year for his family today, as John Nallen's 16-year-old nephew registered a first winner in Dundalk's Claiming Race, on the Denis Hogan trained Ajax Tavern.

At Haydock, there was a really high standard of Veterans handicap chase. Blaklion dictated matters and fought on gamely when challenged by Aso to record his first success since winning the 2017 Becher Chase for Nigel Twiston-Davies."He's a credit to himself. He's not overly big but he's got a lion heart and he deserves it," said Harry Skelton. "It was a massive day for him and he enjoyed that ground. He travelled away so sweetly and it was great to have him back like that. It's the best ride I've had from him."Blaklion was bought for £300,000 by Darren Yates as a Grand National contender in early 2019 but missed that year's race due to an injury setback.


Al Boum Photo will miss his weekend engagements with the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner likely to begin his season at his usual first stop of Tramore after all. At Clonmel, there was a double for Declan Queally with Western Victory and Lovely Moon. At Wincanton, there was a double for Colin Tizzard with The Widdow Maker and Butterwick Brook. 


Bryony Frost will have a ride for Willie Mullins on Sunday as the champion trainer prepares a seven-strong team for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. At Dundalk, there was another winner for our friends at Hilltop as Meishar was on target. There was a double for Ben Coen with No Nay Alexander and Joupe. At Exeter, there was a treble for Chester Williams with Hermes Boy, Gladiateur Allen and Voyburg. At Sandown, the Grade 2 Ballymore novice hurdle went to Lossiemouth for Tom Lacey. This was a really impressive performance.


Bryony Frost left behind an emotional few days to pilot Greaneteen to a superb victory in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown for trainer Paul Nicholls. Frost has been at the British Horseracing Authority's headquarters in London this week, giving evidence relating to the charges brought against Robbie Dunne of prejudicial conduct and violent and threatening behaviour towards her, all but one of which he denies. Starting at 12-1, Frost and Greaneteen travelled handily through the two-mile Grade One contest until he was ridden to take up the lead over the penultimate fence. From there he pulled further and further away from stablemate Hitman, and eventually crossed the line five and a half lengths ahead to give Nicholls a one-two in a race he was winning for the 12th time. Hot favourite Chacun Pour Soi was a major disappointment.

This was another example of Paul Nicholls being a brilliant target trainer. Greaneteen took a step forward here and has to be in the Champion Chase picture. I have never warmed to Chacun Pour Soi, he apparently has an issue. I just think Punchestown in the Spring seems to be his bag. Nube Negra was very disappointing as well, he will head straight to the festival now. He has work to do also. Edwardstone was an impressive winner of the Henry VIII. The card featured a treble for Paul Nicholls with Greaneteen, Highland Hunter and Samarrive. 

Gordon Elliott had a day to remember at Navan as he trained the winning horse in an incredible seven of the eight races on the card. Willie Mullins' Whatdeawant claimed division one of the Kilberry Pub & Kitchen Maiden Hurdle, after which the Elliott onslaught began as he took every remaining contest of the day. Enjoying three winners over hurdles, three over fences and one in a bumper, Elliott's achievement was made all the more special as Navan is the track closest to his County Meath stable."It's been an unbelievable day - to get seven winners at one track and at Navan as well, my local track," he said."I don't know if it's been done before in Ireland, but to train seven winners is unbelievable and we'll never forget it."This is special after the year we've had, it just shows what it means to the staff and all my owners and friends.

At Aintree, The Becher chase went in brilliant style to Snow Leopardess. I thought this was fantastic she jumped brilliantly. The Many Clouds went in very impressive style to Protektorat. I think the UK has a real Gold Cup contender here. This was visually impressive. At Chepstow, the Welsh Grand National trial went to Iwilldoit who was a 24 length winner and must go on the shortlist for the Welsh National.


Energumene maintained his unbeaten record over jumps with a dominant display in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork. The seven-year-old enjoyed a faultless novice campaign over fences last term, claiming Grade One wins at Leopardstown and Punchestown either side of missing the Arkle at Cheltenham due to a minor setback. Energumene was sent off favourite to make a successful reappearance in a Grade Two contest his trainer Willie Mullins has dominated over the years and ultimately did so without much fuss. This was brilliant in my view. I think Energumene will win the Champion Chase. Willie Mullins' high-class hurdler Concertista made a winning start over fences at Grade 2 level in the mares' novices' chase at Cork.

Allaho led home a one-two-three for Willie Mullins in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. A brilliant winner of last season's Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Allaho was a 7-2 shot to make a successful reappearance in a race in which the champion trainer saddled seven of the 10 runners. Sent straight to the lead by the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old jumped well in the main to keep his rivals at bay. Janidil emerged as the biggest threat from the home turn, but despite tiring, Allaho dug deep to see off his stablemate's challenge by two lengths. Perennial bridesmaid Melon was best of the rest of third, with 7-4 favourite Envoi Allen ultimately disappointing in sixth. This was a cracking race. It just looks like Envoi Allen will not become the horse it looked. Allaho looks like a good thing for the Ryanair.

Ferny Hollow overcame an absence of just over a year when making a successful switch to fences in the BetVictor Beginners Chase at Punchestown. Glenquin Castle made it an incredible seventh successive win in handicap company when gaining a fortunate victory in the Hanlon Concrete Handicap Chase. At Kelso, Big River took the Borders National for Lucinda Russell. At Huntingdon, First Flow took the Peterborough Chase for Kim Bailey.