Monday, we start with the news that Jack Kennedy will miss the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a broken leg at Leopardstown on Sunday. Kennedy was hurt in a race that came just half an hour after winning the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on Delta Work. He was unseated from the Gordon Elliott-trained Dallas Des Pictons at the fourth fence in the two-mile five-furlong handicap chase that followed the feature race of the day. On the track at Carlisle, there was a treble for Brian Hughes with Goobinator Lily’s Gem and Artisto Du Plessis. At Wolverhampton, there was a quality grade 2 conditions race it went to Via Serendipity. The finale went to Cliara for Irish trainer John McConnell who is on a great run.
Tuesday, we start with the sad news that Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Robert Alner has died aged 76. He sent out Cool Dawn to win the 1998 renewal of the Festival feature, other star names handled by the trainer included Gold Cup runner-up Sir Rembrandt, multiple Grade One winner The Listener & Kingscliff. At Kempton, there was a winner for Joseph O'Brien and Ben Curtis with Munaajaat. It led to a double for Curtis with Ilhabela Fact. At Market Rasen, McFabulous was on target for Paul Nicholls. At Sedgefield, there was a double for Philip Kirby with Bertie Blake and Sincerely Resdev. There were also doubles for Evan Williams and Adam Wedge with Miss Zip and Sign Of War. Evander bolted up in the novice hurdle it was good news for our members Evander was advised (2pts win) at 13/8.
Wednesday, we start at Ludlow. There was a good winner for Jonjo O'Neill with Garry Clermont. At Southwell, Lion Tower was an impressive winner for Mark Johnston. At Wolverhampton, Political Policy was on target under Sean Davis.
Thursday, we start at Thurles. There was a double for Mouse Morris with Whatsnottoknow and French Dynamite who took the feature race. There was an impressive winner for Joseph O'Brien with Sempo. It was good news for our members on the day. One bet for the members today, its a winner though Sempo 320 Thurles (2.5pts win) 6/5. At Huntingdon, Shishkin strengthened his position at the head of the market for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with a stylish success in the Betway Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’. Manning Estate made a winning return to hurdling with a rallying success at Doncaster for Oliver Sherwood.
Dazzling Darren and Calidus Mirabilis continued a good week for Irish-trained horses in England when taking the first two races at Chelmsford this afternoon. The Gavin Cromwell-trained Dazzling Darren, available at 10/1 this morning and sent off a 4/1 chance, took the opener. Joseph O’Brien and Ben Curtis were on the mark with Munaajaat at Kempton on Tuesday, and they successfully teamed up again today with Calidus Mirabilis. The well-backed 5/4 favourite followed up a recent win at Dundalk. Stuart Crawford and John McConnell got the week off to a bright start with winners at Carlisle and Wolverhampton respectively on Monday, while Matthew Smith was also successful with Political Policy at Wolverhampton yesterday. At Meydan, our stablemate Geological ran a decent race before fading late on. Benbatl opened up a number of high-profile options as he proved far too good for his rivals with an impressive dirt debut in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan.
Friday, we start at Dundalk. There was a double for Ross Coakley with Morph Speed and No Trouble. The win on No Trouble was for our good friend Cathal McGuckin, who is one of the great characters of Irish racing. Well done CJ. There was also a winner for our friends at Hilltop racing as Tony The Gent defeated Parkers Hill in a good finish. The Hilltop lads put a huge amount into racing. Well done lads. Thir trainer Denis Hogan completed a double with Narynkol as did jockey James Doyle. There was also a double for Joseph O'Brien with Crossfirehurricane and San Andreas.
Flinteur Sacre may have a way to go to emulate his brilliant brother Sprinter Sacre, but he took the first steps towards doing that with an effortless victory at Kempton. Flinteur Sacre formed a double for Nicky Henderson which was completed by Homer. Annie Mc maintained her unbeaten record over fences with a facile victory in the Tote Placepot First Bet Of The Day EBF Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Bangor and booked her ticket to Cheltenham in the process. At Southwell, Iron Heart was on target for Andrew Balding.
Saturday, we start at Newbury. Chantry House can look forward to an outing at the Cheltenham Festival after maintaining his unbeaten record under rules in the Set Your Own Odds On Betfair Exchange Novices’ Hurdle. Altior resumed winning ways in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase. I thought Altior was good here I have an open mind as regards the Champion Chase. The win for Altior completed a double for Nicky Henderson. Jonjo O’Neill junior won the biggest race of his burgeoning career to date as Native River landed the Betfair Denman Chase for the third time. It was a job done for Native River who with the soft ground will run well at Cheltenham again. Pic D’Orhy defied a big weight to win an eventful renewal of the Betfair Hurdle. Pic D’Orhy had been a buzz horse on the Cheltenham preview circuit. He made his debut for Nicholls in the Triumph hurdle however he put it all together here. I could see Pic D’Orhy making a Champion Hurdle outsider.
At Warwick, Rouge Vif produced an impressive display to land the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase for Harry Whittington winning by seven lengths. Clondaw Castle took the feature race at Warwick for Paddy Brennan and Tom George. At Naas, there was a double for Willie Mullins with Aione and Cut The Mustard. There was also a double for Gordon Elliott with Aramax and The Caretaker. To be honest the rest of the Saturday action was uninspiring.
All Racing in the UK and Ireland was abandoned due to storm Ciara.