Monday, we start at Punchestown. Shady Operator (11/4 into 7/4 favourite) got many punters off to a winning start kicking off a double for connections. JP McManus, Joseph O'Brien and Mark Walsh combined for a second win on the day at Punchestown with Gardens Of Babylon (7/1) in the Small Stakes Big Wins With Tote 3-y-o Maiden Hurdle. This big field two-miler was opened up with the departure of 13/8 favorite Fenta Des Obeaux at the first flight. On his first start since falling early in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, Bachasson (9/4) reverted to the smaller obstacles with a win for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. At Warwick, the feature race went to Commodore. Muckle Row advised to our members (1.5pts each way) 7/1 placed in the race. Monatomic 1250 Punchestown 7/2 Muckle Row 200 Warwick 7/1 both placed advised to our members 0.5pts each way double, completing another decent day for us. At Uttoxeter, there was a double for Olly Murphy and Richard Johnson with A Perfect Gift and Calipso Collonges. At Lingfield, nothing caught my eye in truth. The last day of 2018 saw us say goodbye to the much-loved TV channel At The Races. This channel has done a lot for Irish Racing, it can only be hoped that the new Racing TV will keep Irish Racing in its rightful place at the top of the bill. The free to air model of At The Races has seen betting turnover on Irish Racing rise especially at Dundalk. It can only be hoped we do not lose a generation of fans with the new model. I have paid for Racing UK since the start as I am that way inclined, I would be intrigued to know how many subscribers Racing UK has in Ireland.
Tuesday, we start at Cheltenham. Lostintranslation displayed a willing attitude to claim top honours in the Betbright Dipper Novices’ Chase seeing off Defi Du Seuill in a cracker. Lost in translation 125 Cheltenham advised to our members (1.5pts win) 3/1. Beware The Bear boosted the Ladbrokes Trophy form when landing some hefty bets (9/1 - 7/2) to win by 5 lengths. Aso was an impressive winner for Venetia Williams and must go on all Ryanair shortlists now. Aux Ptits Soin bounced back to thrash the field in the handicap hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton. There was a win for the north as Midnight Shadow gunned down Wholestone in the Relkeel Hurdle. At Musselburgh, Knockgraffon took the Auld Reekie handicap chase for the second year in a row. Normal Norman took the Hogmaneigh handicap hurdle seeing off Chica Beuna in a rough finish.
At Tramore, Phillip Fenton got his first win since 2014 as Special Cargo saw off Lord Boru and Peculiar Genius. Al Boum Photo made a winning return to action as he led home a Willie Mullins clean sweep of the first three in the Listed Savills Chase at Tramore. Al Boum Photo had six lengths to spare at the line over former Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall. It turned into a decent day for our members as Peculiar Genius 1235 Tram (5/1) (rule 4 deduction 30%) Beware The Bear 1250 Chelt (9/1) (rule 4 deduction 10%) Happy Diva 200 Chelt 8/1 (rule 4 deduction 10%) Chica Beauna 215 Musselburgh (7/2) Total Recall 220 Tram (5/1) advised to our members 0.25pts E/W double all placed. Mormon collared long-time-leader Duchess Ravenwaves coming to the last in the two miles five maiden hurdle at Tramore to bring up a double for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. The first leg of the double was achieved by Notebook who took the opener.
At Fairyhouse, Roaring Bull completed a double on the day at Fairyhouse for Gigginstown Stud, Gordon Elliott and rider Jack Kennedy when taking the Beginners Chase. Swordsman had won earlier in the card for the first leg of the double. At Catterick, The Herds Garden was on target for Donald McCain. At Exeter, Cliffs Of Dover was back in the winner's enclosure for Paul Nicholls and Byrony Frost who completed a double with Greaneteen. At Fakenham, there were doubles for Christian Williams and Olly Murphy respectively with Sideways and Strictlydancer. Murphy completed his double with Cliffside Park and Craigmor. At Southwell, there were two decent races they went to Moonraker for Michael Appleby and Saint Equiano for Keith Dalgleish.
Wednesday, we start at Ayr. I was impressed with Glittering Love who took the Three Mile handicap chase. The feature race went to Aye Right who made much of the running. I thought Aye Right was a bit green on the run in, however, there is a serious engine in this horse. Aye Right was advised to our members (2pts win) at 3/1. At Hereford, Go Long took the feature race for Evan Williams. At Wolverhampton, Military Hill won for John Gosden. At Newcastle, there was a double for Joe Fanning with Trevithick and Encoded.
Thursday, we start at Southwell. Temur Khan was a very impressive winner for David Probert. At Ludlow, Capone took the juvenile hurdle for Charlie Mann and Noel Fehily. At Chelmsford, Shamshon took the feature race under Richards Kingscote.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. Stanhope was in action for The Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate. Stanhope ran another very good race to finish third. Stanhope has now raced three times for us finishing 123. We are delighted with Stanhope and we are looking forward to 2019 with him. The seven-furlong rated race went to Ahlan Bil Zain who bolted up. This was good news for our members. Ahlan Bil Zain was advised to our members (1pt each way) at 4/1. At Lingfield, there was a double for jockey Rex Dingle with Bonza Girl and Goring One. At Wetherby, there was a double for Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville with Lisheen Castle and Clarendon Street. At Kempton, there was a winner for John Gosden with Reeth. There was nothing that caught my eye at Wolverhampton.
Saturday, we start at Sandown for the Tolworth hurdle card. Torpillo advanced his JCB Triumph Hurdle claims in maintaining his unbeaten record with a facile success in the Unibet Juvenile Hurdle. Houblon Des Obeaux justified strong market support to run an easy winner of the £100,000 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase Final at Sandown. The 12-year-old was as big as 20-1 in the morning and was backed down to 7-1 at the off. Venetia Williams horses are in super form right now. Laurina had little more than a workout as she duly disposed of her solitary rival to enhance her Cheltenham claims in the Unibet Mares’ Hurdle. Elixir De Nutz ground out a game all-the-way success to take Grade One honors in the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown. Elixir De Nutz (3-1) put in a good round of jumping and found plenty when tackled by Grand Sancy in the closing stages to score by half a length. Elixir De Nutz 225 Sandown advised to our members (3pts win) at 3/1 won. The finale went to Lizzie Kelly and Monsieur Lecoq, Our Merlin advised to our members (1pt each way) 5/1 placed in the race.
At Newcastle, there was a treble for Brian Hughes on board Hawk High, Petite Ganache and Ascot De Bruyere. At Wincanton, the feature race went to Venetia Williams and Calipto who deserved his turn. At Lingfield, Alan King picked up another win on the flat with Nylon Speed. At Kempton, Kim Bailey struck on the flat for the jumps boys as Blazon took the one mile seven furlongs race. At Cork, Following on from his win in the feature with Midnight Stroll, Robert Tyner completed a 186/1 Cork double with Concordin in the Follow Us On Twitter Handicap Chase. Noel Meade won race three at Cork for Gigginstown House Stud with Eurobot, but the Tu Va handler relegated the leading owner to the runner-up spot when bringing up a double at the Mallow venue in the Follow Us On Facebook INH Flat Race through the Mark O'Hare partnered Behind The Curtain (100/30 into 11/4 favorite).
Sunday, we start at Naas. Articulum dominated from the front in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase. Battleoverdoyen maintained his unbeaten record with a hard-fought victory in the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle. This is a very big horse I am not at all certain Battleoverdoyen would be suited by Cheltenham twists and turns. Gordon Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse and a big chaser in the making. Jack said he’s only learning and when he got to the front he didn’t know what to do. He jumped his hurdles great apart from getting underneath the last.“He’d probably prefer a little bit more ease in the ground. He’s a chaser and a horse for down the road.“I’ll have to talk with Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) but I don’t see why he couldn’t go to Cheltenham this year. It will be hurdling this year and chasing straight away next year.“He’s only a baby and we don’t want to kill him but he’ll have all the entries including at the Dublin Racing Festival. We’ll see how he comes out of this first.”
The Two Amigos continued his remarkable upward curve with a fine weight-carrying performance in the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National at Plumpton. The Two Amigos was advised to our members (3pts win) at 2/1. French raider Master Dino signaled his Cheltenham credentials with an authoritative victory in Plumpton’s Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices’ Chase. Master Dino looks a very talented horse. At Newcastle, One Vision was on target for Godolphin.