Thursday, I have to start with the official launch of this site www.galaxyhorseracing.com we went live after a soft launch. I attended the launch of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival it was a pleasant evening with Rachael Wyse of Sky Sports fame as MC on the night. Leopardstown have added greatly to their facilities and will add more over time, I do hope they resist the urge to jack up the prices the once a year punters going to the races. I fear they wont and I think Irish racing in general needs to do more to get crowds in. I will say this much for Leopardstown it is a quality track in every way . On the racing front it was quiet with Clonmel cancelled . The stand out horse on the day was Presenting Arms who won again for Harry Fry at Wincanton far far easier then the official distance. Presenting Arms can win again ,also at Wincanton Aachen rolled back the years and won for Venetia Williams whom has her horses flying still. Aachen will now be aimed at the one hundred grand Chase for ten year olds and upwards at the end of the season, a brilliant idea by the BHA. There were doubles for Venetia Williams ,Evan Williams, Philip Hobbs and Sue Smith across the cards.
Friday, was to be the start of a remarkable weekend for the Gary Moore stable who rattled in a treble at Sandown. The three horses were Vision des champs, Antony and Mr Fickle a great days work. The race of most interest was the neptune novice hurdle, Clondaw Clan 13/8 Fav ran a flat race to finish only fourth.The race was won by Label Des Obeaux who was getting weight from the majority of the field , Captain Chaos ran very in second well but is surely marking time till he becomes a chaser. Francis Of Assisi ran well for third and a good handicap could be within this well bred individuals range. The card at Exeter produced a couple of decent displays Woodford County won the 3 miles 6 Furlongs marathon advertising the form of the 2015 Eider chase in the process this form would be franked again on Saturday. Woodford County is one to keep in mind for these type of races. Tea for two won the novice chase in commanding style for Lizzy Kelly who continues to impress. Calipto was a shade disappointing here and perhaps is not as good as first looked in his juvenile days. There was a double for Philip Hobbs at Exeter , there was also another winner for Venetia Williams with Otago Trail who could win again shortly beating the luckless Mon successeur who ran his heart out again but was beaten 3 parts of a length. Otago Trail and Mon Successeuer were 22 lengths clear of the third horse.
There were doubles for Donald McCain and Micky Hammond at Sedgefield. At Dundalk there was a double for Aidan O'Brien , also at Dundalk JP MCManus landed a gamble with Love Potion 3/1 to 11/10 ,the trainer David Wachman clearly had Love Potion ready to go who got up late on to win in awful conditions.
Saturday, was an action packed day. We start at Sandown. The feature race was the Tingle Creek which was a terrific race,victory went to Sire Du Grugy but not without controversy. The race itself was run a good gallop with Special Tiara taking the field along,Special Tiara did not jump with his usual fluency. Sire Du Grugy swept on from Special Tiara at the pond fence and looked to have settled it. Noel Fehily then galvanized Special Tiara to launch a challenge between the last two fences with favorite Vibrato Valtat beaten off into third. The controversial moment arrived at the last as special Tiara moved up to challenge Sire du Grugy jumped across Special Tiara jolting him and completely unbalancing Special Tiara. The two horses settled down to fight out a pulsating finish with Sire Du Grugy prevailing over Special Tiara by three parts of a length. The race was decided in the last fence incident there can be no doubt about it. The stewards called an held an enquiry, I never thought the result would be changed and the places remained unaltered.A sizable vocal section of the Sandown crowd let their displeasure known as the boos rang out for the TV replay and the official result when it was eventually called. below is a copy of the Stewards report.
The Stewards held an enquiry under Rule (B)11.6 into possible interference at the final fence. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that the winner, SIRE DE GRUGY (FR), ridden by Jamie Moore, had interfered with SPECIAL TIARA, placed second, ridden by Noel Fehily. They found that the interference was accidental, in that the gelding had jumped left-handed and the rider was unable to prevent him from doing so. They considered that the interference had not improved SIRE DE GRUGY (FR)’s placing as, although the interference cost SPECIAL TIARA some ground and momentum, the winner appeared to be holding him comfortably on the run to the line. The Stewards ordered the placings to remain unaltered.
The rest of the Sandown card was another triumph for Gary Moore he had a treble to go with Fridays treble. The highlight was very definitely Ar Mad who bolted up jumping brilliantly, running a faster time then the Tingle Creek . This was really spectacular the handicapper put him up a massive 25 pounds after this. Gary Moore stated afterwards the horse will only race right handed so no point in thinking about the Arkle. Flute Bowl was the order leg of the Moore treble and won very well by 6 lengths. Lil Rockerfeller won the class 1 handicap it was a messy race with no pace , Devilment and Savello were inconvenienced by this pace. Devilment remains of serious interest going forward I really hope he goes for the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot on the last Saturday before Christmas. The London National was won by Caroles destrier by 3 parts of a length from Summery Justice 33/1 (who I tipped up for our members each way)
At Aintree Don Poli returned to action and he did what he was entitled to do at the weights winning by four lengths from Many Clouds. The race was not plain sailing for Don Poli who suffered a slipped saddle on the first circuit. Bryan Copper stated afterwards "He did it well. He's always going to come out better at the end of a battle. He's tough. He's never going to look impressive in what he does but it was his first run - Many Clouds had had a run - and my saddle slipped, which had to have an effect. It must have been pinching him. I have long suspected that Don Poli only does what he has to,there are plenty of UK (mostly) racing journalists who want to call Don Poli slow. This corner was delighted with Don Poli, it is my take he definitely will stay the Cheltenham Gold Cup trip .I also suspect even those close to Don Poli ,trainer and rider are not certain how good Don Poli is given the nature of his racing style. As is typical some bookmakers took their chance to cut the price of Don Poli for Cheltenham. I still feel Coneygree should be favorite but no connections of rival horses will want to see Don Poli closing in on them two fences out in March . The Gold Cup dream lives on for Don Poli .
The rest of the Aintree card was decent Jer's Girl was very impressive winning the opener on the card having seen Rashann last Sunday in Fairyhouse destroy his field. Jers Girl has now emerged as a serious challenger to Rashann for Ireland's top Juvenile hurdler the potential clash at Christmas could be a very good race as they both look smart. The races over the Grand National fences were great spectacles as always. The Becher chase was a strange race it was won by Highland Lodge .It was a strange race many of the market principals ran no race. I had a bet on Goonyella who ran a dreadful race ,he did not appear to relish Aintree at all . I thought Vics Canvas ran a good race and might be a player in the Grand National under a quieter ride. Virgilio turned a competitive handicap hurdle into a stroll it was yet another winner for Dan Skelton graded company awaits for this horse. The Grand Sefton over the Grand National fences was won in impressive manner by Bennys Mist who has a good record here he will be of interest in the Topham again come the Aintree Festival. Chepstow held the Welsh Grand National trial this was won by Tour Des Champs for Nigel Twiston Davies. Rigadin De Beauchene ran very well for a long way here.I wrote in my November Notebook Horses blog that I thought his turn was coming over trips in excess of 3 miles. I still think Rigadin De Beauchene could run a massive race in the Welsh National on December 27th .
To wrap up Saturday there were doubles for Nigel Twiston Davies, Venetia Williams, Michael Scudamore and Sue Smith. The card at Navan was abandoned,talented hurdler Sign of a Victory won a flat maiden for Nicky Henderson to give him a double on the day.
Sunday ,Djakadam went into Sundays John Durkan chase at Punchestown with a very good Cheltenham Gold cup second and with "a horse with lot of potential " tag to his name. As the sun set on Sunday evening Djakadam's star was firmly in the ascendancy with a comprehensive 12 length victory in the feature race. Ruby Walsh rode a very smart tactical race making plenty of use of the stamina of Djakadam . The race itself had a strong line up but Djakadam dictated the pace and jumped superbly throughout. There was a brief worry when a loose horse fired Djakadam up but he put the race to bed in efficient manner. Valseur Lido ran with great credit in second but in truth it was all about Djakadam, for the rest of the line up it was a mixed day Gilgamboa plugged on for third after attracting money earlier in the ring and may have needed the run ,Foxrock ran very poorly and Clarcam had another day to forget. Flemenstar showed some spark but is nowhere near the horse he once was. Djakadam will go for the Lexus at Leopardstown on December 28th next for a not to be missed clash with stablemate Don Poli.
The rest of the Punchestown card had plenty of quality Yorkhill won the 1240 the maiden hurdle, Yorkhill was a smashing bumper horse he looks a natural hurdler for Willie Mullins . I thought Yorkhill was a bit keen in his run style and jumped a little high but it was a good display against a well supported Road to Respect Yorkhill won by 8 lengths. Pont Alexandre who many punters will remember as being the dreaded losing Irish Banker at Cheltenham in 2013 had his first run since then in the 225 Punchestown the beginners chase. The race literally could not have gone any better Pont Alexandre who jumped superb and travelled with supreme confidence to win by 8 lengths. Welcome back Pont Alexandre The last race to note was the bumper Blow by Blow for Willie Mullins went off fav, Mullins had won this bumper for the last 4 years ,Blow by Blow is held in very high regard but he was just touched off by Tamlough Bay who traveled really well and got the better of a great finish. Tamlough Bay and Blow by Blow look smart. Jett a full brother to Jezki raced far too keen he clearly has ability, hurdles may be next for him and Jett will be winning this winter at some point. Finally Sizing Gold ran very well in the handicap chase he retains his ability after a lay off.The Paddy Power Chase at Christmas December 27th is surely a target.
At Huntingdon Al Ferof rolled back the years with a superb display of jumping to win the Peterborough chase. The race itself was run at a frantic gallop as Wishfull Thinking set off like a 5 furlong horse. Al Ferof got into a wonderful rhythm and was always travelling strongly. Three fences from home Wishfull thinking was done for ,Al Ferof swept to the front Ptit Zig challenged briefly but was well held when crashing out at the last allowing Al Ferof to win by 40 lengths. The owner of Al Ferof John Hales stated Al Ferof go for the King George on December 26th at Kempton and that this would be Al Ferofs last season of racing. It was yet another victory for one of jumps older brigade in what has been a brilliant start to the season for that vintage of horses. The race once again showcased the talent of Dan Skelton when he gets in a recruit from another stable. The 3 mile chasing division is as competitive as I can remember. it appears with ten top horses potentially in this grade we will see five in the King George and four in the Lexus.I can not think of two better late Christmas presents for jump racing's faithful, these are the best of times folks drink it in. The rest Of Huntingdon card the stand outs where Template who despite kicking the last hurdle out of the ground hung tough to beat Great fighter in a good finish. It was yet another winner for Harry Fry. The other performance to note was Kalane who jumped super in the mares novice chase.
At Kelso it was Scottish Borders national day victory went to Neptune Equester in emphatic style by 16 lengths ,the final distance unlikely at one point but as rivals paid for a crazy early pace one by one. Neptune Equester was winning the race for the second year in a row. Sandy Thompson trainer of Neptune Equester landed a double as Seeyouatmidnight landed the novice chase in impressive style .Seeyouatmidnight beat his Carlilse conqueror Silsol here on 10 pound better terms. I think Seeyouatmidnight is very good and will do very well over the winter months. Vivaldi Collonges got off the mark for Paul Nicholls over fences and now that he has got his head in front could win another handicap, runner up Firth of the Clyde will be of interest when dropping back in trip. There was a double for tainer N.W Alexander on the card also.The last thing to note was our members returned a 49.4 points profit on the day.
Monday A quiet day racing wise there was a double for Gordon Elliott and Richard Johnson at Musselburgh. The victories going to Fagan 1/7 and Myztique 1/4 in comfortable fashion. There was a nice gamble landed (10/1 to 11/2) by the JP McManus owned Tap Night the one time promising handicap chaser got his first win since 2013 here in a handicap hurdle. I dare say a Cheltenham Festival handicap chase will be the long term target.
At Leopardstown the Horse Racing Ireland awards took place. Don Cossack and Faugheen were joint-winners of the Horse of the Year Award at the annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards ceremony at Leopardstown. For the first time in history the award was shared as voters were unable to choose between the Willie Mullins-trained Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen and Gordon Elliott's five-time Grade One-winning chaser Don Cossack. I reckon this was probably about right.
Tuesday, The ground was very holding at Uttoxeter and Fontwell. The outstanding display at Uttoxeter was supplied by Utility who sauntered to victory in the bumper by 11 lengths very visually impressive. The regally bred son of Yeats is owned by Coolmore at the moment, Utility looks to have a big future. Alternatif got his head in front at Fontwell continuing the resurgence of the David Pipe yard. Alternatif can win again in the coming weeks now that the penny may have dropped.
The racing day featured sad news as racing personalities past and present gathered to pay their respects to Pat Eddery at his funeral in Thame on Tuesday. Eddery, crowned champion Flat jockey 11 times, died on November 10 at the age of 63. May he rest in peace .
Wednesday , A low key card at Leicester . There was a double for Nigel Twiston Davies who has his string in fine form. Truckers Highway picked up another victory and looks a horse to keep onside. There was a winner for Dan Skelton in the shape of Bekkensfirth who won the novice chase by 13 lengths , in the same race Benenden shaped very well for a long way and is one for the horse tracker. Goodbye Dancer completed the the double for Nigel Twiston Davies in very impressive fashion he will be winning again soon as will the runner up Milord they were a mile clear of the third horse a well backed favorite in the shape of Hedley Lamarr.