Monday, we start at Ayr where there was a double for Brian Hughes with Verona Opera and Sky Full Of Stars. At Plumpton, there was a treble for jockey Tom O'Brien on board Cigarisi, Snippetydoodah and Minella Gathering. At Wolverhampton, there was a double for Adam Kirby on board Admirable Art and Poetic Queen. There was also a double for Oisin Murphy with Powerful Dream and Atkinson Grimshaw. Willie Mullins had his media open day for Cheltenham. The most significant thing to to emerge was that Willie Mullins appears increasingly keen to "take a punt" with Limini by supplementing her for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Tuesday, we start at Catterick where there was a double for Danny Cook and Sue Smith with Nomoreblacjack and Delusionofgrandeur. There looked to be a very good prospect in Red Rising who took the Three Mile novice hurdle by Fifteen lengths for Dan and Harry Skelton. Chti Balko took the maiden hurdle for Donald McCain by Forty lengths.At Leicester , Belami Des Pictons took the novice chase by Thirty Three Lengths. Belami Des Pictons 240 Leicester (4/7) & Chti Balko 250 Catterick (1/2) Advised 2pts Win Double both won (Rule 4 20% deduction). There was a double at Leicester for trainer, Andrew Martin with Sunny Ledgend and Midnight Mustang. At Lingfield, there was a double for Stevie Donohoe on board Banditry and Carolinae.
Gordon Elliott held his media day here are a selection of the most interesting comments.
Death Duty (Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle):
"There is no chance of Death Duty running in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. He is going for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. I just think over three miles he can really get into his comfort zone, I think the race is made for him.
"He is a big three-mile chaser in the making. I said from flag fall that this is the race we are going for. There is no doubt about it.
Jury Duty (Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle):
"He won well in Navan and then we were running out of time to get him qualified which is why he went to Chepstow the other day. I think that was the last qualifier.
"He is a horse I am looking forward to running. You need to take your time on him. Jack [Kennedy] hit the front way too soon at the Punchestown Festival last year. He is owned by a great bunch of lads and I hope he runs well for them."
Diamond King (Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate):
"He is in great form and goes for the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate rather than the JLT Novices' Chase."
Apple's Jade (OLBG Mares' Hurdle):
"Limini's performance the other day didn't surprise me at all. Apple's Jade was beaten by a better horse on the day. There were no excuses.
"You would be hoping that a bit better ground and a faster gallop would suit Apple's Jade in the Mares' Hurdle. She did the donkey work at Punchestown which perhaps didn't suit her."
Empire Of Dirt (Ryanair Chase):
"Empire Of Dirt looks to have a very good chance in the Ryanair Chase. That's the plan unless something happens to Don Poli or Outlander."
Tombstone (Stan James Champion Hurdle):
"He will be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle, providing everything goes right between now and then. It is a very good race, but an open-looking one as well.
"I think he will improve again from Gowran (when winning the Red Mills Trial Hurdle on February 16).
“He is an unexposed horse. I am not saying he is good enough to win a Champion Hurdle, but Petit Mouchoir, who is second or third favourite, was behind us in the Supreme.
"Tombstone was meant to go chasing this season and definitely will next year. Gigginstown buy them to be chasers."
The Ultima Handicap Chase is the plan for him. He was running a big race in the four miler last year, he was only just behind Native River and Jamie said he was only getting going. He ran very well when a close second in the Martin Pipe too, so he clearly likes the place. It was always the plan to wait for this after winning the Paddy Power and the Irish National will be the plan after Cheltenham.”
Wednesday, we start at Musselburgh. Dear Sire took the maiden hurdle a remarkable recovery from Will Kennedy who had both legs on one side of the horse after jumping the last. Will Kennedy recovered his balance , riding the finish without irons to win by five lengths ride of the season for sure. Evan Williams sent one horse to Musselburgh up from Wales Silver Streak who delivered winning well. The race only saw the field jump only three hurdles due to a low son. Silver Streak was advised to our members 1pt each way at (7/2). At Wincanton, Ballinvarrig took the handicap chase over Two Miles Four Furlongs for Tom George and Adrian Heskin. There was a winner for the older brigade as Loch Ba took the hunters chase. At Ffos Las , Bob Mahler threw the race away falling at the last handing the contest to Swift Crusader for Evan Williams. There was a double on the day for Peter and Sean Bowen Alf 'N' Dor and Henllan Harri. At Newcastle, Josephine Gordon had another winner on board Harlow.
Thursday, we start at Clonmel . There was a double on the day for Bryan Cooper with Clara Sorrento and Monbeg Chit Chat. At Taunton,the winners were spread among the big yards. The Unit took the Two Mile Three Furlong Handicap Hurdle for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson. Venetia Williams had a winner with Huff and Puff which was the first leg of a four timer on the day for Williams. The horses were Kap Jazz who followed up last weeks win. Mercilhac and Centurius completed the Williams treble at Ludlow. Aidan Coleman reached 100 winners for the second successive season when he won on Mercilhac. At Newcastle, Keith Dalgleish had a winner with War Department. At Chelmsford, Ryan Moore was on the mark with Atalante.
Friday, we start at Newbury . The Two Mile Four Furlong Novice hurdle went to Le Breuil in really impressive style coming home nine lengths clear of Benatar. That horse had some decent form. Benatar was advised to our members 1pt each way at (3/1). Venetia Williams picked up another winner with Plaisir D'amour. There was also another winner for Tom George with Behind The Wire. At Doncaster, the mares handicap hurdle went to Lady Buttons. The Two Mile Three Furlong Novice Chase went to Apertix. At Newcastle, Rock Of America was a good winner for David O'Meara. At Lingfield, there was a double for Silvestre De Sousa with Millie's Kiss and Russian Reward.At Dundalk, there was a double for Joseph O'Brien with Circus Ring and Tommy Welsh. The Seven Furlong race went to Visionary a UK raider for Robert Cowell. The last piece of news was injured Coney Island ruled out of Cheltenham Festival by Eddie Harty.
Saturday, we start at Newbury where it was Greatwood day. There was a double for Richard Johnson on the day on board Hello George and Bol D'air. There was also a double for Paul Nicholls with Just a Par who captured the veterans race prior to a tilt at the Aintree Grand National. The second leg of the Nicholls double was Warriors Tale. The day of doubles was completed by talented young jockey Harry Cobden who rode Just a Par for Nicholls and completed his personal double on board Sam Brown in the bumper. The feature race, The Greatwood Gold Cup went to Thomas Crapper who bolted up for Robert Dickin and Charlie Poste. Thomas Crapper was Twenty lengths clear of Vic De Touzaine at the line. Vic De Touzaine was advised to our members 1pt each way at (9/2). At Lingfield, My Target continued his love affair with Lingfield with another win. At Newcastle, there was a double for jockey Ben Curtis with Ki Ki and Swift Emperor. There was also a double for trainer David Barron which included the aforementioned Swift Emperor and African Gray.
At Doncaster, there was an informative card. The Betbright Two Mile handicap chase went to San Benedeto for Paul Nicholls bravely fighting off Katgary. The Betbright Mares Novice Hurdle went to Lastbutnotleast in very similar colours to Red Rum for Donald McCain and Will Kennedy. Lastbutnotleast saw off Happy Diva by Three and a quarter lengths after an extended battle. Lastbutnotleast was advised to our members 3pts win at (2/1). The Grimthorpe chase the feature race went in very impressive style to Definitly Red who came home Fourteen lengths clear of The Last Samuri both horse will head for Aintree with live chances.The Last Samuri was advised to our members 1pt each way at (9/2) . At Kelso, it was all about one man Brian Hughes who rode a four timer. The horses were Clan Legend, Mount Mews , The Orange Rogue and Seldom Inn it was remarkable stuff. Seldom Inn saw off two English trained Exhaulted rivals in Tenor Nivernais and Le Mercurey. At Navan, it was typical pre Cheltenham stuff in Ireland quiet. There was a winner for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins with Bargy Lady. There was also a win for Folsom Blue who got back on the road in the Veterans handicap chase.Folsom Blue could play a hand in long distance chases later in the season.
Sunday, we start at Huntingdon. The listed mares chase went to Paul Nicholls with Antartica De Thaix who picked up really well to beat Desert Queen by nine lengths. The Cambridgeshire National went to Court Frontier who made it a hat trick of wins.The race was in the balance still at the last as Wood Yer fell when still in contention. At Sedgefield , Askamore Darsi bounced back to form for Donald McCain. There was another winner for Brian Hughes continuing his great weekend as he steered Bollin Ace to an eight length victory in the novice hurdle.
At Leopardstown, it was the finale for the jumps. Hidden Cyclone delivered again winning the opening hurdle by three parts of a length from Bonbon Au Miel. The one who was noticeable was I Shot The Sheriff who ran an eye catching race in third. Camlann made it a double for Shark Hanlon on the day. Camlann landed some nice bets (5/1 - 9/4). Great Field took the novice chase in good style. Great Field made a bad mistake at the last. Jody McGarvey made an incredible recovery at the last when he was all but down. This was a tremendous piece of horsemanship. The feature race a €50K handicap chase went in very impressive style to Mr Diablo who, saw off Emcon and Bearly legal by one and three parts of a length and four lengths. Bearly Legal advised to our members 1pt each way (10/1).The bumper went to High Tide for Joseph O'Brien and Jamie Codd who was really impressive winning by seven and a half lengths. The after race traditional Cheltenham schooling saw, Bellshill take another tumble. It also saw Yorkhill jump a bit sticky early on, however when warming up his power was in real evidence.