Thursday, we start at Punchestown which hosted an informative card. The big race was the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle. The headline act was Up For Review who had been impressive on hurdles debut. The contest went to Up For Review by 13 lengths in a scintillating display dictating from the front while jumping superbly, this was a very taking display Up For Review looks to be Irelands leading contender for The Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival Jetstream Jack plugged on for second but in truth it was a one horse race. Noble Emperor landed a punt for JP McManus (11/4 to 11/8) in the handicap hurdle readily beating off Seabass who ran well again. Pleasant Company won the beginners chase to complete a double for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. There were two follow up successes for recent handicap winners Oscar Sam and Ice cool the assessor will have his say again now with the two horses , life may be harder for Ice Cool in particular from now on. The cards at Warwick and Uttoxeter produced little of note in a low key end to 2015 in the UK .There was one thing to note trainer Tom Lacey had another winner he is a trainer I think is slightly under the radar and could step forward in 2016. As 2015 year ended so did my profit and loss account for my betting year , I finished with a profit of 13.73 points for December and a profit of 704.73 points for 2015. I am obviously very happy with those figures and look forward to 2016 with enthusiasm .
Friday we start at Cheltenham , Champers on ice won the opening novice hurdle in very game fashion under a winners penalty jumping better then previously as well, he could step up from this and may well lead the UK challenge in the Albert Bartlett with Barters Hill. The second race went to Perfect Candidate who deserved his turn winning by eight lengths under a resurgent Paddy Brennan. The Dipper looked a decent race, there was plenty of money for Seeyouatmidnight who ran out an impressive winner by 3 lengths over Blaklion , I think Seeyouatmidnight could make into a live RSA candidate but the feeling remains that the Irish Novices are better then the Uk novices. The rest of the horses in the Dipper were very disappointing and apart from the ground it would be hard to see viable excuses. Village Vic backed up his Caspian Caviar Gold cup win with another tremendous front running display to land the handicap chase continuing Village Vics fine season. Camping Ground took the Relkeel hurdle in commanding fashion by 11 lengths with Top Notch and Cole Harden disappointing in truth. Camping Ground had traveled very well in the Peterborough chase before falling on that occasion , this was a very good display and Camping Ground could be a world hurdle contender on the back of this.
At Catterick the year started off in the best possible style for our members with the victory of Hitman Hearns 1pt each way recommended at 7/1. It was a good display from Hitman Hearns (returned 9/2) further advertising the ability of trainer Keith Dalgleish over jumps. The novice chase went to Definitley Red who can go on from this race. Exeter saw the Paul Nicholls trained Emerging Talent finally win his maiden hurdle, it was Nicholls first winner of the festive season. Activial won the beginners chase impressively for Harry Fry ,hopefully Activial can make into a JLT or RSA contender .I believe Activial has lots of ability. The long distance handicap chase went to Venetia Williams and Rocky Bender, with the mud flying Venetia has few equals. Musselburgh staged a very decent card with a number of very decent performances. Away For Slates won the handicap hurdle in good style for Keith Dalgleish ,Aristo Du Plesis saw off Pearl Castle readily in the £40K handicap hurdle. Donna's Diamond a proven stayer and won the 3 miles 2 furlongs handicap hurdle sticking at it really well.
At Fairyhouse, Good As Gold was another good winner on the day for our members 1pt each way advised at 12/1 (returned 7/1). The rest of the card saw Not for Burning win well in the Handicap Hurdle. Witness Of Fashion was winning for the second time over the festive season under a well judged ride by Danny Mullins. The beginners chase went to Sambremont who was a very impressive winner, another promising novice chaser for Willie Mullins. The bumper went to Noel Meade and Nina Carberry ,with Stoneford who was winning for Gigginstown .Our members finished the day 12.15 points in profit a very happy start to the new year.
Saturday , we start at Sandown for the Tolworth hurdle card. This years card was run on horrible ground. Yorkhill put his credentials on the line in the tolworth, Yorkhill won in impressive fashion beating O O Seven by 3 lengths ,Yorkhill was well on top at the line ,I reckon he will step back in trip for the Neptune at The Cheltenham Festival. The most valuable race of the day was the Veterans handicap chase final worth £100,000 a great initiative by the BHA. The race was won by Soll who wore down our members selection Aachen on the run in to win by a neck. It was tough on Aachen who ran a brave race. The aftermath of the race saw Tom Scudamore get a seven day whip ban for hitting Soll more then the permitted times, I must admit I think the whip rules in England are incorrect. The question I have is if the BHA are serious about the whip rules they have introduced, why are they allowing jockeys and connections who break the rules keep the races?They surely can not have it both ways? The mares race went to Polly Peachum the highest rated mare in the race, it was a very disappointing race for Willie Mullins who saddled Gitane Du Berlais and Petite Parisienne. Both horses were well backed, both never looked like winning. Willie Mullins reported after that neither horse traveled over to the UK well. The Philip Hobbs trained Bold Henry bounced back to form to win the 2 mile handicap chase beating Arthur's oak by 2 lengths, Bold Henry could be another for the JP McManus handicap squad for the Cheltenham Festival. The Ayr card was low quality there was nothing to be honest , I took out of it the truth be told.
Sunday, We start at Naas who had an excellent card .The Lawlor's Hotel Novice hurdle and it went in great style to Bellshill who won by 5 lengths despite a couple of sticky jumps at the last two hurdles .I would be inclined to forgive Bellshill those jumps on very deep ground and with no real challenger he may have lost focus. I think Bellshill will end up in the supreme at the Cheltenham Festival. The novice chase went to Shaneshill who up until the second last fence had been exemplary ,however Shaneshill dived at the second last fence and was lucky to stay upright. I also thought Shaneshill then guessed at the last fence and got lucky. I would want to see Shaneshill run again before considering him for a bet at the Cheltenham Festival. The horses behind Sizing Codelco ran much better then recently , it was reported that Kitten Rock who was disappointing had a slight spinal problem after the race. It was a fourth graded race in four days for the Wylies and Willie Mullins ,the Wylies have a nice set of horses. The rest of the card was a glorious day for our members with both of my selections winning. Vincangelome won the handicap hurdle 1pt each way advised 5/1 (rule 4 15p ) .Boher call then won for our members 1pt each way advised 5/1 (rule 4 35p ) to make it a great day , I also had an (0.5pt each way double) which returned a profit of 12.66 points. The result on the day meant a total profit of 22.17 points on the day. The other winners to note on the card were Hurry Henry, All You Need and Zaheer who all were well backed and are all of interest for the future.
Plumpton hosted the Sussex national sadly the card had to be abandoned half way through before the Sussex National could be run. The card was not a total write off though as in the three races run, Theo's charm won the novice hurdle under a winners penalty by 23 lengths. The novice chase was won by the very useful L'ami serge who jumped efficiently and won very well, it was a very satisfactory debut for this potential Arkle candidate. It has hard to know what the form of both races is worth given the atrocious conditions on the day.
Monday , we start at Musselburgh who had decent ground and good size fields. Beneden delivered on his early promise in his career to win the handicap chase by 11 lengths under Richie McLernon for Michael Scudamore, Benenden can win again on a decent surface I reckon. The victory of Benenden was good news for our members as Benenden won for our members 1pt each way advised 6/1 that took me to a profit of 35.27 points profit for January to date. The rest of the card featured a double for Lucinda Russell with Simarthur and Sammy B .
Ludlow there was a real milestone as Richard Johnson rode his 3,000th winner on board St Saviour, great stuff. Cloonacool won a competitive looking novice handicap chase, Cloonacool could win again soon
Tuesday no jump racing due to the Uk being under water. There were two all weather cards at Southwell and Lingfield. The only stand out point was that John Gosden had a double over the two tracks.
Wednesday, we start at Huntingdon .The maiden hurdle went to Potters Legend at a prohibitive price of 2/13 he won well but will have to step up on this next time. Allee Bleue won division 2 of the maiden hurdle in impressive style by 12 lengths overcoming the well touted JP McManus owned Travertine, this could work out as a race. The mares novice hurdle went to the Nicky Henderson trained Clemency , who conceded a seven pound penalty to odds on favourite Alizee Javilex. The most interesting race on the card was the novice chase it looked a match between Fletchers Flyer and Value at Risk , it did not work out that way. The race was a disaster for Value at Risk who fell at the second fence , collecting his second fall in two chase starts in the process. The race was won by Drumacoo recently moved from Michael Hourigan to Ben Pauling, Drumacoo drifted in the betting alarmingly (5/1 to 12/1) however he won by 38 lengths from Fletchers Flyer who had no answers after jumping slightly left. This has to go down as very smart performance by Drumacoo and he could take a high rank among the UK novices. Kings Bayonet won the handicap hurdle boosting the form of old friend of mine Template who beat Kings Bayonet last time, continuing his trainer Alan King's fine season. The other item to note on the day was six winning favourites on the Wolverhampton card.