Monthly Archives: December 2013

Taquin Double on New Year’s Day

Happy New Year to you all!! I shall keep today’s intro very short as I am in need of some food and then to see in 2014 in style. Good luck to you all and more importantly please stay safe whatever you are doing tonight.

 Happy New Year!

1:15 Fairyhouse – Folsom Blue

Folsom Blue was one of my ante post selections for Cheltenham a few years ago over hurdles before he got injured just weeks before the race. He was rated 142 over the smaller obstacles and gets the soft ground that he relishes after a more than promising chase debut at Navan behind Sizing Gold. In the capable hands of Davy Russell he could do no better than fourth, beaten 30 and a half lengths behind the winner which usually wouldn’t be much to write home about. That run was off the back of almost a year out of action and naturally he will strip much fitter today so should be able to make his presence felt in a weaker contest. (No Price Yet)

1:20 Cheltenham – Taquin Du Seuil

A poor turn out for this years Dipper with just the four turning up which is disappointing but it isn’t short on class. I will say the same thing I have said all season that Oscar Whisky is not a chaser and in my eyes never will be but did beat Wonderful Charm last time in receipt of weight. The top two in the market have already clashed once over fences in which the selection came out on top, but that was over 2 miles and a farce of a race. However I do fully expect Taquin Du Seuil to confirm that form today over the longer trip of 2 miles and 5 furlongs after being outpaced at Sandown last time. To me Oscar Whisky looks a false favourite and Taquin Du Seuil is an absolute gift of a price. (6/4)

2:30 Cheltenham – Double Ross

It was a few weeks ago when Double Ross was a winning NAP on this blog but unfortunately we wont be getting anywhere near 11/1 today. To me he was very impressive last time out with a brilliant turn of foot on the home turn to take the lead two out to score by 2 lengths to Cantlow back in 2nd. To my mind he was much better value than two lengths after idling in front and it would be no surprise to see Sam Twiston-Davies be a bit more patient today. That was a very competitive and very strong Cheltenham handicap last time and this once again looks much weaker but he has a 7 pound rise to deal with. One thing I will say it that any rain that falls is in his favour after last time the ground was possibly on the fast side for him. Double Ross to land a Cheltenham Double. (2/1)

3:40 Cheltenham – Coyaba

Annacotty won on the blog for the same connections last week in the Feltham at Kempton and Coyaba can add to that today. He was mightily impressive on debut at Ffos Las in testing ground when quickening off a slow pace to score decisively by 7 lengths and easily so. Next up was Towcester when he was arguably even more impressive under a penalty in the usual testing ground, winning by 4 and a half lengths. From that run we can take that the Cheltenham hill will pose no problems and if successful today the Festival will be the next port of call. Coyaba to make it a perfect 3 from 3 and good luck to all involved with the horse (Apologies there were no jokes this week Hannah!). (7/2)

 NAP – Double Ross

Nb – Taquin Du Seuil

Christmas Review 2013

As Christmas has spoilt us with a feast of top class action, I have decided to attempt the task of reviewing four days of racing which mainly focuses on the feature races seen over the festive period.

Boxing Day

The King George was the main attraction on Boxing Day and it didn’t disappoint with Silviniaco Conti taking the prize back to Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat stable for the eighth time after a brilliant ride from Noel Fehily beat the gallant Cue Card into second. Connections got the tactics spot on as they didn’t give Cue Card much leeway like the Betfair Chase although Nicholls said post-race that the Betfair was a preparation for this race. He has proved that he is over the fall from last season’s Gold Cup and it was muted at the start of the season that he would go back to Cheltenham for the Argento to give him more course experience before returning in March for the Gold Cup. He was made favourite for the race before Bob’s Worth returned to winning ways in the Lexus however he still merits plenty of respect heading for the blue riband of steeplechasing.

Take nothing away from Cue Card. In defeat, he ran a brilliant race going from the front under a confident ride from Joe Tizzard in which he was ridden like a true stayer however it appeared that he failed to see it out thoroughly which raises questions about the Betfair Chase although the form of that race is working out tremendously well with the winner also giving it a strong boost. His Cheltenham target will be interesting as he could take his chance in the Gold Cup if the ground came up good but he is surely one of the bankers of the week if he goes for a second Ryanair or potentially the Champion Chase without Sprinter Sacre.

The Christmas Hurdle lived up to all its expectations and more as My Tent Or Yours and The New One did battle up the Kempton Park straight but a mistake at the last from the latter gave Nicky Henderson’s star hurdler the opportunity to prove that he is a battler which proved several people wrong including myself who thought he would down tools if a race turned into a battle. Both proved that they are the best English chances of retaking the Champion Hurdle back from Ireland. The New One comes out of this race with plenty of credit as Kempton was always going to play to My Tent Or Yours advantage however I would expect the finishing positions to be swapped around come March time although The New One will need to jump every hurdle spot on as one mistake in the Champion can finish your chances.

Annacotty put in a professional round of jumping to land a deserved success in the Kauto Star Novice Chase. He made every yard of the running under a wonderful ride from Ian Popham who is finally reaping the rewards that he truly warrants. The first time blinkers worked an absolute treat and he was given an uncontested lead which helped enormously. Trainer Martin Keighley mentioned the RSA Chase as a target however he would be very vulnerable trying to make all the running uncontested around Cheltenham. Just A Par is worth forgiving on that run. Kempton was definitely a track that didn’t play to his strengths and is one that would be more suited to a galloping left handed track like Newbury so the novice chase there in February over three miles would be an ideal place to go.

Over in Ireland, Defy Logic took the notable scalp of Champagne Fever in the Racing Post Novice Chase after the Willie Mullins grey made a bad error at the second last which finished his chances. Before that, we were treated to an exhibition round from Champagne Fever who met each fence perfectly and looked to be gaining the upper hand on Defy Logic who takes plenty of credit himself for surviving a bad mistake at the final open ditch and being able to maintain the strong gallop that both himself and Champagne Fever had set. The Irish Arkle back over course and distance would be an ideal target for the winner whilst Champagne Fever for me would be more suited going back up in distance to two and a half at this stage.

The Rowland Meyrick went the way of Cloudy Too who confirmed the promise that he showed in the Hennessy Gold Cup when leading at the top of the straight before fading to finish eleventh. Back in a smaller field, he showed that he is still on the up with a fluent success over Tullamore Dew who yet again showed his consistency in big handicaps and Cape Tribulation showed a lot more than he had done in two previous efforts back in third. It was pleasing to see the Grand National winner Auroras Encore run well for a long way on ground that wouldn’t exactly be most suited to him. The run was similar to his effort in the Classic Chase at Warwick back in January and he will have every chance back at Aintree in April.

27th December

It was bitterly disappointing to see Sprinter Sacre not look at one with himself in the Desert Orchid Chase. The usual sparkle that has dominated his past performances just wasn’t there with him being pulled up sharply by Barry Geraghty. I hope for the horse’s sake that he pulls through his heart condition however I find it really disturbing that he is already 60% likely to run at the Festival which makes me question how the horse has recovered so quickly from something so serious.

At the end of the day, take nothing away from Sire De Grugy who picked up the pieces beating Oiseau De Nuit by four lengths. Gary Moore’s stable star jumped the best he ever has done on a racecourse and still had plenty left in the locker if needed. The Champion Chase now looks wide open however on the basis of his Shloer Chase run, Cheltenham doesn’t seem to suit Sire De Grugy but with the Celebration Chase now upgraded to Grade One level at the end of the season, that race is surely the ideal target. Oiseau De Nuit showed again how much of a credit to connections he has been over the years and at the veteran age of eleven, is showing that he is still in good health plus is still capable of landing a big prize somewhere later in the season.

Staying at Kempton, the Grade Two Wayward Lad Novice Chase was taken in nice style by Dodging Bullets who jumped economically in beating odds on favourite Grandouet who to be fair jumped pretty well on the whole but the mistake three out ended what little chance he had at the time. The race did lose some interest when Valdez was declared a non-runner as I cannot see either Dodging Bullets or Grandouet winning an Arkle with the former’s form seeming to tail off as the season progresses whilst the latter’s jumping would be under the sternest examination at Cheltenham and I feel he would struggle.

The Paddy Power Dial A Bet Chase went to the very likable Benefficient who popped up again at a bigger price in a Grade One to beat Hidden Cyclone and Arvika Ligeonnaire although the winner had to survive a stewards enquiry however at the time of writing, the result could change as Shark Hanlon is appealing to reverse positions with the winner. For the winner and the runner up, the Ryanair would be the ideal race for them as the winner won the Jewson at this year’s Festival and the longer trip would suit him more than the Champion whilst the runner up has good handicap form behind John’s Spirit and showed another improved effort here. Considering Arvika Ligeonnaire is a right handed bully who has to lead, his run was filled with plenty of promise if he was to return to Cheltenham. Settled in behind by Ruby Walsh, his tendency to jump right wasn’t as alarming as it has been in the past plus he travelled ominously but several Mullins horses did the exact same through the week yet didn’t find much off the bridle. If Sprinter Sacre didn’t turn up for the Champion Chase, then the 25/1 currently on offer from William Hill for Arvika Ligeonnaire wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world. However, if he doesn’t turn up at Cheltenham, then the Punchestown Champion Chase is his for the taking.

The big handicap of the day at Leopardstown was the highly competitive Paddy Power Chase over the extended three miles which finally went to Willie Mullins with Rockyaboya ridden by Ruby Walsh just foiling the gamble on Cause Of Causes who looked likely to take the race on the run in however Rockyaboya showed plenty of guts to battle back. It will be interesting to see whether the winner goes for either the Irish National or the Grand National itself although his handicap mark would have to go up a bit to get in the race. Cause Of Causes quashed my thoughts that he wouldn’t get three miles in this type of race but the original thoughts at the start of the season that the Grand Annual would be the plan have gone straight out the window. Ipsos Du Berlais ran a cracker over a trip that was probably a bit sharp for him. He looks a candidate for the Irish National especially if the ground came up on the softer side. The two top weighted runners Home Farm and Sweeney Tunes will both be forces to be reckoned with in staying chases in both Ireland and England if they come over.

One last note of the day was the very impressive thirty nine length bumper winner No More Heroes who looks potentially a very useful horse for the future.

28th December

On Friday in the video, I talked up the chances of Tidal Bay becoming the first top weight since Carvill’s Hill to win the Welsh National. Whilst he didn’t win, we saw one of the best weight carrying performances in recent history as he went down by less than a length behind Mountainous and Hawkes Point giving them both twenty six pounds. It was a tremendous effort especially as he was the only hold-up horse who managed to get into the placings with connections once again keen on targeting the Grand National. Even as a thirteen year old, he would have to go to Aintree with a leading chance although the main concern would be the hold-up tactics especially as you can get into trouble with fallers in front of you.

Mountainous was given a perfect ride by Paul Moloney with the extra distance playing to his strengths on ground that he truly loves. He travelled extremely well throughout the race going round the inside. This race was his plan all season and trainer Richard Lee didn’t seem keen on Aintree when it was mentioned but he has the potential to improve again from this success. Hawkes Point ran a fine race in defeat having raced in a similar position to the winner throughout. He will probably receive an entry for Aintree and would only boost his trainer’s chances of a second win in the race.

Of those in behind Merry King ran a brilliant race for a six year old and will be one to watch for next season’s race but two others caught the eye. The first one was Amigo who ran really well for a long way in the Andrew Cohen colours made popular by Suny Bay. Watch out for him in a three mile handicap chase whilst the second one Teaforthree has one aim all season which is the Grand National so it was pleasing to see a good return from him. Rebecca Curtis has said that it does take two runs to get him fit so there was plenty of encouragement finishing twenty five lengths behind the winner.

Meanwhile over in Ireland, the Lexus Chase took centre stage and it was brilliant to see Bob’s Worth return to form when beating his old rival First Lieutenant who also showed a marked improvement from his last run and with Sir Des Champs running well on what could be counted as his first proper run back since last season, the Gold Cup looks more exciting by the minute. Plus with the ex-French star Rubi Ball running a fantastic race in third, he adds a new dimension to the race especially if he goes for it as he would be Ruby Walsh’s ride in the race and the 20/1 on a horse that will stay the trip looks tempting.

29th December

A short entry for the final day however Hurricane Fly continued yet again to silence his critics in the Ryanair Hurdle when taking his eighteenth Grade One in the manner that we have become accustomed to. Although I felt he was extremely vulnerable this season, this performance actually made me rethink his chances at Cheltenham. I don’t think Hurricane Fly can win the Champion Hurdle however if he goes and proves me wrong, I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit I was wrong, especially with the line-up for next year’s renewal looking so strong. Jezki isn’t my idea of the Champion Hurdle winner either although he wasn’t given the best ride today as McCoy had the opportunity to kick just before the turn into the straight, only for Our Conor and Danny Mullins to appear on his outside and block him in with Jezki’s own pacemaker. Our Conor loomed up menacingly although didn’t fully go through with his challenge. Whether his Triumph success has left a mark or he needed the run time will tell but the drift on his price for the Champion itself I felt was a bit of an over-reaction for a four year old facing older horses for the first time albeit getting three pounds from them.

Thank you for reading and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Moore At The Double

Good Morning racing fans, I hope your waistline is at least two sizes bigger after Christmas and the New Year’s resolution of ‘Go to the Gym more’ is being prepared. Boxing Day was a good one for us after nailing the 20/1 winner of the Feltham in Annacotty, judging by Twitter a few of you backed it which is great. Big congratulations have to go to Martin Keighley, Ian Popham and owner Liz Prowting who all saddled their first Grade One winner in the process. Also a big well done should go to the Managing Director for Mrs Prowting,  Hannah Bishop for originally buying the horse. She also read this blog last week and informed me she will definitely come back again, so ‘HI HANNAH!!’. One final thing, good luck to the same connections with Faultless Feelings today at Newbury, now enough of the sucking up and onto the racing today.

They go to post this afternoon at Newbury as they hold the Challow Hurdle won last year by Taquin Du Seuil who went on to run in the Neptune. Also racing today is Chepstow as 20 horses step up to the challenge in the Welsh National which was won by the exciting Monbeg Dude last year. The only other English National Hunt meeting is at Catterick but they race on the polytrack at Lingfield as well. Perhaps the pick of all the meetings today is at Leopardstown which last season provided one of the races of the year in the Lexus. Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth takes the trip over and looks to put behind a recent flop at Haydock behind him. Limerick also hold a jumps card.

As always we have prepared a video for you previewing the Channel 4 races. Joining me this week we have Adam Webb (@Adamwebb121), Calum Madell (@Calummadell) and jockey George Gorman (@GeorgeFGorman) who rode his first winner under rules on boxing day. Watch the video by clicking the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p04mZGgIKNM

Now onto the action today!

12:45 Newbury – De Blacksmith

In our video George put this one up as his NAP of the day which I seriously considered doing, but we will let him have his moment of glory. He ended last season by hitting the deck twice over hurdles but has since got back on track this season now that he is over fences. His chasing career got off to a good start when runner up behind the exciting Uxizandre at Plumpton but has since disappointed on testing ground at Lingfield. It is best putting a line through that run as he was beaten way too far out and some problems came to light which will have been corrected. De Blacksmith to carry on the good form of Gary Moore. (9/1)

1:30 Chepstow – Lamps

I like this one for a few reasons and one of them is because I am a big Chelsea fan (here comes the hate on Twitter) but there are stronger reasons. We will start with his love of the soft ground that he will encounter today, on soft ground or worse he has won twice and placed a further 6 times so he has earned the title ‘Mudlark’. The equally important factor today is that he goes well fresh winning twice first time out in his still short career but there is plenty more improvement to come this season, after all he is only a 6 year old. Any money for him will be a big positive as well, Lamps to find the back of the net… Please forgive me for that one!! (12/1)

2:00 Chepstow – Violet Dancer

This is the second selection of the day from Gary Moore’s yard and also the NAP of the day for me. He left a huge impression on me at Sandown when winning last time and remaining unbeaten over hurdles. On his hurdles bow he handed out a 10 pound beating to the well regarded Aldopicgros on very soft ground before winning a very strong race at Sandown as previously mentioned. He wasn’t the best over the 2nd last that time but picked himself up to jump the last really well and ended it all by going away from Sleepy Haven up the hill. He is a very strong bet and looks destined for great things down the line. (4/1)

2:20 Leopardstown – Djakadam 

This is one horse I am genuinely excited about seeing this afternoon and have been excited about all season after a few eye catching efforts last year. He gets a lot of weight from the older horses today as for the next few days he is still a four year old, 11 pounds is a lot of weight to get though. On his last run last season he was just over 11 lengths behind Diakali who has since won a big Grade One hurdle in France, but anything he did over hurdles was just a bonus. Once you see him you will realise just why I fancy him to make a top chaser and from the Willie Mullins yard he could be absolutely anything. Djakadam to land his first chase at the first time of asking. (2/1)

2:35 Chepstow – Merry King

Last weekend Houblon Des Obeaux was put up as a selection on this blog after staying on very takingly in the Hennessy late on to grab 6th. Merry King was staying on with him and finished just ahead of him in 5th and was flying late in the race which would signify the step up in trip will be no problem. He has always been a horse that needs a trip and this will be the furthest he has run over so far in his career and the ground should pose no problems at all. Thanks to Tidal Bay keeping the majority of the other horses out of the handicap, Merry King is allowed to run off a very low weight of 10-3 which is very appealing in this race for sure. Merry King to land the Welsh National of 2013. (10/1)

 NAP – Violet Dancer

Nb – Djakadam

 As always Happy Punting guys!

Martin Smith Christmas Blog

Merry Christmas from all of us!!

 It’s everybody’s favourite time to be merry and be with family and friends, for us it is also a time to look back on our first season and start setting some goals for what we hope will be a phenomenal 2014!

 Next week our New Year’s blog will cover a bit more on that front, for now i want to dedicate this blog to one person who has been an inspiration to us and I’m sure will be for many of you. 

 So many of us take the little things for granted and get frustrated over mundane stuff that really has no importance when you look at the bigger picture. Most people look to their favourite athletes or world leaders for inspiration but for me one tweet from Joshua Jackson @Battling_joshua makes me realise just what is important. 

 Joshua was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, in 2010 he was in remission and relapsed in October 2012. He has raised thousands for Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he spends a lot of his time, he is a massive Liverpool fan and is followed by most of the team’s best players past and present. He goes through more treatment than most people could put up with and yet he is never annoyed, upset or angry! Joshua is an absolute warrior and inspires all of his 25 thousand followers!

 I can’t imagine what life must be like for his family but I sincerely hope they have a great Christmas and a happy 2014 so from all of us at Martin Smith Racing and everyone at Ontheotherhoof, Merry Christmas Joshua! 🙂

photo (1)

Cheltenham International Meeting Review

This weekend’s International festival at the home of jumps racing highlighted some potential clues leading towards the Festival including The New One’s impressive win in the International Hurdle over Zarkandar plus some very nice novice events over the two days.

The meeting started with the 2m5f novice chase and my statement from the last meeting of ignore the form of the race due to the lack of early pace was reversed as unlike the Open meeting, Barry Geraghty decided to make all the running on Oscar Whisky, using his eight pound advantage to take Wonderful Charm’s unbeaten record away from him. Both of them jumped really well on the whole, in particular Wonderful Charm who comes out of this with plenty of credit especially on hurdles ratings. Both of them look set to re-oppose in the Jewson and back off level weights, Wonderful Charm would reverse this form with Oscar Whisky. For more imminent plans for Oscar Whisky, the Sicily Isles at Sandown or the Pendil at Kempton would be an ideal race just before the Jewson but the worry back at Cheltenham would be his tendency to jump slightly right handed.

The Skyfarmer showed an extremely likeable attitude when taking the two mile one furlong handicap hurdle for Phillip Hobbs beating Lyvius who was given an exemplary ride by Barry Geraghty to get him as close as he even did as the horse looked incredibly awkward. The winner represents the bumper from Ascot in February which has some excellent form which was further boosted today with a facile success from Red Sherlock at Southwell. By Presenting, he will appreciate a longer trip in time and will make into a nice chaser in the future.

Friday also gave plenty of clues towards the Crabbie’s Grand National with Monbeg Dude taking his third Grade Three when winning the Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Chase beating Theatre Guide by one and a quarter lengths. His jumping was eye-catching as he hardly put a foot wrong which is unlike him. The Grand National was said to be the likely aim and if he puts in a round like Friday then it wouldn’t be a big shock to see him in the Aintree winner’s enclosure on April 5th. This race could have come a bit quick for Theatre Guide after his excellent Hennessy run but he travelled sweetly into the race and there is definitely a big prize over this trip to be won with him. Burton Port should not be given up on either as his handicap mark steadily comes down and with one aim in mind, he will be a threat on the day.

Sire Collonges is another who could be Aintree bound after a gutsy display in the cross country. After looking beat going to two out, Paul Nicholls grey found plenty of stamina reserves to come back at the leaders under a brilliant ride from Ryan Mahon to beat Any Currency who continued the trend of seconditis for Martin Keighley and Ian Popham after Champion Court’s excellent effort in Thursday’s Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. Whilst the winner looks to lack a bit of speed, if the ground came up testing at Aintree then his dour galloping and jumping would give him an excellent chance however with recent years having good/good to soft ground, it is hard to imagine he would go. He will return for the cross country at the Festival where he would have a chance but may struggle against the likes of Balthazar King. The interesting horse of the race was Keep On Track who looked a complete natural over this course before belting the Aintree fence. He recovered but that mistake looked to knock the stuffing out of him. At age six, he has plenty of time to mature into a cross country type with him looking like the horse that could dominate the sphere in England and Ireland.

The more surprising winner that emerged for the Grand National was Sunnyhillboy’s success in the three mile handicap hurdle. Given a more positive ride, he showed his toughness to beat recent course winner Return Spring by three quarters of a length. It was pleasing to see him win, especially as he wasn’t in the best of form last season so another crack at Aintree cannot be ruled out. The winner, second and fourth Southfield Theatre boosted the form of the November race whilst the third So Fine boosted the October three mile handicap won by Trackmate. One obvious horse to note was Thomas Crapper who travelled really well before not seeing out the trip. His race from the Open meeting is working out well plus he can win another competitive handicap hurdle off his current mark.

The final race on Friday had an embarrassing start with nobody wanting to make the running which resulted in a crawl but the winner Ballyalton looks a very good horse having won over much further last time plus he made a serious error. His Festival target will be interesting but the longer races would look to be the ones mostly considered but he didn’t lack speed and if the ground came up very soft then the Supreme wouldn’t be a bad alternative. The runner up Garde La Victoire also comes out with plenty of credit as he and the winner pulled clear of the third. He remains a very exciting prospect with the Supreme looking his main target. He reminds me of Menorah who took the race back in 2010 for the same connections.

Unlike day one, I attended the second day of the meeting and was able to see everything in the paddock. The JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial had a shock in the form of 33/1 shot Ballyglasheen winning for Paul Moloney and Evan Williams however on his paddock behaviour, for a horse of such inexperience he handled preliminaries very well as did the majority of the field. Kentucky Hyden behaved perfectly fine until they attempted to take the rug off which resulted in him lashing out. I was taken by the German runner Burgoyne especially as he had been in the paddock for a long time and hadn’t turned a hair. Unfortunately, he ran like a 500-1 shot unlike his odds of 50-1. The one to take out of the race was the third Commissioned who ran on again and on debut at Cheltenham going up the hill that is a very promising sight. He could potentially be a Fred Winter type.

Sam Winner was a deserving victor of the staying novice chase and reversed form with Le Bec albeit with an eight pound pull. He jumped beautifully and used his strong stamina to win. Paul Nicholls post-race said the target would be the four miler which would suit him perfectly although he wouldn’t be disgraced in an RSA whilst Le Bec continues to surprise and would be a live outsider in the RSA. Shutthefrontdoor was very disappointing and needs watching next time out if he needs his confidence back.

The same connections of the previous mentioned horse took the Jenny Mould Memorial with Eastlake who jumped well and did it nicely but the run of the race came from the veteran French Opera who deserved to win but ran into one yet again who was too good for him. Although he is handicapped high enough, you wouldn’t write him off again in the Grand Annual even with his age. Parsnip Pete will be winning again and will be one to watch on a flat track.

King’s Palace continued his step up the ladder with a facile success in the Bristol Novice Hurdle (Sponsored by Albert Bartlett) with a superb display of galloping and fast accurate jumping compared to most of his rivals. Having won twice over three miles, the Albert Bartlett would more than likely be the plan however he doesn’t lack speed so if he is put in the Neptune and turns up, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him go close in that. The runner up Masters Hill ran an excellent race trying to keep tabs with the winner and showed himself in much better light after disappointing in the Badger Ales. It transpired that he was a sick horse that day and with his mark over hurdles likely to go up quite a bit, he is worth a go back over fences. Potter’s Cross is a horse that I’ve had a soft spot for since I saw him at Chepstow in October. Even though the ground was dead, he still found conditions over this trip far too quick for his liking but he has a likable attitude and kept on all the way to the line. He won’t be winning at this year’s Festival but he is one for next year’s National Hunt Chase where four miles and fences will bring out the best in him.

The Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup was taken by the novice Double Ross who handled the drier ground much better than anticipated. He did make a few mistakes and must be a tough horse to recover, especially with the mistake four out. He will go up a bit in the ratings but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take another big prize in the season. Cantlow will appreciate a step up to three miles and did well himself to recover from a shocking mistake just after halfway. Colour Squadron ran a solid race in third but never looked like winning whilst John’s Spirit again travelled really well and looked a huge threat at the top of the hill but didn’t find as much off the bridle suggesting that he has reached his handicap peak.

The feature race was the International Hurdle which looked a match between The New One and Zarkandar and it proved to be with The New One running out an impressive winner in the end but not before a minor scare when Zarkandar headed Nigel Twiston-Davies’s stable star. The race will sadly be remembered for the fatality of the French challenger Seabreeze D’ho with questions being asked on social media as to why his jockey didn’t run after him to catch him.

The performance of the winner was reassuring with him showing the perfect mix of speed and stamina to beat Zarkandar who wasn’t disgraced in the slightest with him wanting further than Saturday’s trip whilst the third Jumps Road ran the race of his life. At this moment in time, the only threat to him in March is Our Conor who still remains very exciting. The Christmas Hurdle was proposed as The New One’s target where he will face a difficult challenge against My Tent Or Yours who I would expect to beat him on his preferred flat track however the form would be reversed at the Festival with My Tent Or Yours being questionable on the undulations of Cheltenham.

The Relkeel Hurdle on paper was an exciting renewal with all the entries bringing intrigue to the race. In the end, More Of That and Salubrious both came clear of Glens Melody by over twenty five lengths which reflects how potentially good the pair of them could be but the winner wasn’t asked for his full effort which makes his performance all the more impressive. His odds of 14/1 for the World Hurdle were quickly snapped up and can be found as low as 10/1 with some suggesting that he could be JP McManus’s number one horse to take on Big Buck’s however At Fisher’s Cross doesn’t deserve writing off just yet and hopefully he can regain some of his reputation back on Saturday in the Long Walk at Ascot.

More Of That would deserve plenty of respect if lining up in the World Hurdle with him improving a ton for each run this season. Looking back on reflection, his handicap mark of 130 for his first run of the season at Wetherby and what he has achieved since made him look one of the certainties of the season that day and he wasn’t extended that day either. Salubrious also emerges with plenty of credit having made the running and his slick jumping got both Gemix and Glens Melody in trouble. After the Open meeting, I suggested he could make up into a World Hurdle outsider and the evidence from Saturday would suggest that he would with him waiting to go chasing next season. Sadly Gemix was a huge disappointment and we won’t be seeing him on these shores again which is a crying shame.

I will be back next week with a review of Ascot/Haydock with a possible preview towards a race or two over Christmas. Hope you enjoyed reading this.

George Gorman Weekly Blog

I’ll start with an apology for the 2 week gap between blogs, I have no excuse other than being very busy, which is never a bad thing in this game!

The first thing to mention is obviously Sire De Grugy’s clear cut win in the Tingle Creek giving Gary his first Grade 1 winner and Jamie his second. It’s been said again and again but no one works harder than the Moore’s and if hours of tireless graft could buy Grade Ones, Gary would be champion trainer. No question. It will be interesting to see where he goes next, a couple of Irish engagements could be on the horizon as big 2 mile races are scarce away from Cheltenham.

As for the action this weekend there were two performances that really made me take notice. King’s Palace absolutely demolished a decent field in the Albert Bartlett trial at Cheltenham on Saturday. He showed a great, focused attitude to make all the running, he was foot perfect all the way round and will surely make up into a serious contender for the real thing in March.

At a lower key setting was Red Sherlock’s romp in a Southwell maiden hurdle on Sunday. The half brother to Swing Bowler came into this unbeaten in 3 very good bumpers and there was never a moment of doubt that he would continue his winning sequence. He had to be clever at a few of his hurdles and he proved more than up to the task, shortening or coming up at the right times, all the while travelling very, very easily before drawing away from the field. He’ll surely take on some better horses next time where we’ll really get to see him lay down his Cheltenham credentials but for now he is very definitely one to follow.

My rides since my last blog have been running ok, Just Beware, who had been looking like being out of love with racing, ran a decent race to finish 7th after a troubled run. I’m riding her again on Monday at Plumpton carrying 4 pounds less and again you’d like to think she could run a good race at her favourite track. Zhukov again needed his second run back from a 15 month layoff and may now need further than 2 mile 4 as he gets older. Galiotto continues to drop down the weights, he’s a very tricky ride and he also runs at Plumpton on Monday, hopefully the change of code will sweeten him up a bit.

Martin Smith Weekly Blog

Saturday morning and we’re looking forward to a day out at Southwell. Amberjam has had a tough time in maidens so far. He’s still young and immature, needs a longer trip than maidens provide and probably isn’t at his best in the all weather surface. I know a lot of people would be thinking “Why even bother if he’s too slow and backward?!” but I have an enormous amount of faith in this horse and I’m confident we’ll see a different side to him once he matures and we can step up in trip and possibly even over jumps…

This Wednesday we had an a bit of a disappointing day. We were at Lingfield in good spirits and really looking forward to Special Mix running. However the weather had other ideas and we lost the meeting due to the thick fog. Special Mix has been in really good form since his first run for us, he has a couple of entries again at Lingfield next Wednesday so let’s hope he gets a run this time.

It would be great to have a winner for our Little Princess Racing syndicate @Little_P_Racing, all our members adore their horses and love the sport. They are great fun to be around and most of them have supported us from day 1 so it really would mean a lot to all of us! As far as we’re aware, Little Princes racing is the UK’s most affordable racing syndicate (by quite a long way compared to some other syndicates!). Michelle and I are determined to show that you don’t need to pay over the odds to get involved And have some success along the way! 😉

For anyone who is still looking for the ideal racing gift what better way to spend your winnings after a good bet?! Visit our website www.martinsmithracing.com for more information. Good luck wherever you’re watching the racing from! 🙂

Ross To Find Cheltenham Gold

Good Morning/Evening racing fans, I trust we all had a good week and are fully rested up for a good weekend of racing. Last week didn’t exactly go to plan with our selections with no winners and 3 places, but that is nothing to brag about and certainly nothing to ‘Boom’ about like many ‘tipsters’ on Twitter do. Tokyo Brown remains a frustrating one from last week and just came up short after getting second run on the winner. He will be winning next time out but I fear he wont be a huge price, but onto this week’s racing.

They go to post today in the feature meeting at Cheltenham as they stage the International Hurdle which will see the exiting, The New One bid to boost his Champion Hurdle Credentials. Also staging National Hunt fixtures today are Doncaster, Lingfield and over in Ireland at Fairyhouse, they race on the Polytrack at Southwell and in the evening Wolverhampton.

As always we have prepared a video for you covering all of the Channel 4 racing tomorrow and some more. joining me this week is @Adamwebb121 and @Calummadell. Go and give them a follow on twitter and you can also follow me if you don’t already on @Lukeelder13, you can watch the video by clicking the link below, enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W1rYWkOd7I

12:40 Cheltenham – Sam Winner

The first three in the market today re-oppose after filling the first three placings here last month when Le Bec came out victorious. Sam Winner was back in third that day and is the one to take from the race after falling in his only two other starts over fences. On paper them falls look worse than they were as on the whole he jumped well both times but made two mistakes that cost him when looking like winning both times. He is 6 years old now and finally mature enough to make a name for himself over fences this season starting here. Paul Nicholls was in rude form last Saturday when notching up a treble at Sandown and this week should be like no other for the former Champion Trainer. Sam Winner to get his career back on track today. (4/1)

1:15 Cheltenham – Parsnip Pete

Most of these look handicapped to the hilt but Parsnip Pete could still have a little bit to come after bumping into one last time out at Newbury when beating Greywell Boy. The stable had two runners yesterday and both were in the first two with one winner ridden by Paddy Brennan at Bangor. It was a competitive race at Newbury last time out and in all honesty probably a more competitive one albeit off a 5 pound higher mark. Parsnip Pete to make amends for last time out and get a win to his name. (10/1)

2:25 Cheltenham – Double Ross

The main race of the day here and an interesting runner for Nigel Twiston-Davies after taking to fences pretty well this season. He started off when winning at Perth with Attaglance behind him and went on to chase home Balder Succes and The Romford Pele at Chepstow. The run that really caught my eye was last time out at Ascot when second to Niceonefrankie when conceding 4 pounds to him. In all honesty he wouldn’t have beaten him off level weights as the winner was a full 13 lengths ahead of the selection. The reason it caught my eye was down to the fact that the Twiston-Davies yard were in a slump at that point and couldn’t train a winner for love nor money. Double Ross put in a fantastic performance with all things taken into account and can go one better today. All rain is a big bonus. (11/1)

2:50 Fairyhouse – Rogue Angel

Mouse Morris has a consistent horse in Rogue Angel and he has held fairly high company since going chasing this season. First time out he should have beaten Bonisland but ‘fell’ when in truth he was all but taken out by the wayward jumping favourite. Next up he was 3rd in a Grade 1 over two and a half miles behind the exciting Sizing Rio but proved no match for him on the day. His most promising run however came last time out which was also his worst placed finish when completing over fences. He was the only one in the field that day who attempted to go with Champagne Fever and matched him for a long way before a mistake set him back. From that point he faced an uphill task and he probably lost a bit of confidence but still managed to beat home the useful Our Vinnie. He will be very dangerous today if he gets his own way, however he will need to brush up on his jumping. Rogue Angel to lose his maiden tag over fences. (No Price Yet)


NAP – Double Ross

Nb – Rogue Angel

Good Luck today guys and as always happy punting!!

 

Aintree + Sandown Review

What a day at Aintree! The fairytale story nearly came true with Baby Run’s almighty effort in the Becher Chase after 959 days off the track. But more of that in another piece which will be posted soon as there is plenty to look through from last weekend with Aintree and Sandown.

We will begin though at Aintree with two novice/juvenile events with the first going the way of Splash Of Ginge for Sam Twiston-Davies for father Nigel with a bold front running ride which sealed the race. The winning margin is also justified and the winning interview afterwards with the owner was priceless. He looks one to follow over this sort of trip with better ground suiting him more than the heavy ground he encountered at Carlisle. Willie Mullins had his first Aintree winner for a few years when Gitane Du Berlais benefitted from similar tactics to the first winner under a confident Paul Townend to beat Mystery Drama under a five pound penalty. It will be interesting to see how the winner is campaigned as last season’s winner L’Unique missed Cheltenham and came back to win the Grade One juvenile over course and distance and that race wouldn’t be out of reach.

The two and a half mile handicap hurdle went the way of Like Minded who travelled like the best horse through the contest and held off Party Rock to give Dan Skelton his biggest success so far as a trainer. Party Rock showed an improved performance from his first two starts and can pick up a prize off his new mark whilst Clondaw Kaempfer needs to go chasing as his jumping isn’t slick enough for hurdles and even off his handicap mark, he will still struggle to keep up so this Irish point winner can get off the mark this season in a chase.

Unioniste is one of my horses to follow this season so it was pleasing to see him take the Betfred Goals Galore Chase in determined fashion from Wishfull Thinking who ran a great race over a trip that was mentioned when I last wrote about him. The winner gave the form of the Charlie Hall a much needed boost although you can forgive Wayward Prince for his run as he slipped badly at the first fence with Jack Doyle performing a miracle to stay on board. The plan for Paul Nicholls grey seems to be the Lexus over Christmas which wouldn’t be the worst idea as it looks a winnable race with plenty of question marks about most of the line-up. Wishfull Thinking jumped really well on the whole showing the old sparkle from a few seasons back with this extended trip looking to suit more plus being ridden closer to the pace looks to help him keep interested and jump rather than drop him out completely. The disappointment of the race was Katenko however he can be forgiven as this came too quick after the Hennessy but it was the worst he has jumped in England so the fall could have left a mark.

The Grand Sefton didn’t look the best renewal on paper so it was pleasing to see Rebel Rebellion winning from near enough top weight under a brilliant ride from Ryan Mahon with the cheekpieces helping enormously. The obvious plan would be to return to the course in April for the Topham where better ground could even help his chances more. Another who would probably benefit from better ground is You Must Know Me who came from the back of the field to finish third and is one who has a big handicap chase in him somewhere. Gansey ran a similar race to twelve months ago and is another who would want better ground as these fences seem to bring him back to life after recent efforts.

Although Aintree was where the heart was on Saturday, Sandown remained firmly in my mind with two Grade One’s and some competitive handicaps to sieve through. The Pertemps Qualifier couldn’t have had an easier winner in Saphir Du Rheu who I have fancied to run well on his last two starts however stupidly avoided him thinking the week wasn’t long enough. How foolish of me. He made a mockery of the field with the mark of 130 looking very lenient with the improvement shown by the step up to 2m6f. Home Run ran another good race although he didn’t find much off the bridle suggesting the trip stretched his stamina whilst Whisper made one too many mistakes back in third and Utopie Des Bordes ran well off her big weight and could be interesting in the Final itself. The one to take from the race is Upswing who has a big race in him somewhere and was another to frank the form of Thomas Crapper’s race at Cheltenham with Whisper.

The Henry VIII Novice Chase had a strong look to it and the race didn’t disappoint with Hinterland beating Grandouet in a close finish with Taquin De Seuil back in third. Daryl Jacob has given the winner a lovely ride as he didn’t jump the best but used his tactical speed to get him out of trouble whilst Grandouet jumped the best of these especially over the Railway fences. The Arkle looks the route that the top two will take and whilst it wouldn’t surprise me if the order is swapped round, I don’t see either of them winning at Cheltenham. Nor do I see Taquin Du Seuil winning either. His jumping was sketchy throughout but he has some engine to finish as close as he did after a jolting error at the second of the Railway fences. Over this trip, he would need much softer ground to be seen at his best however his Festival target would probably be the Jewson.

Leighton Aspell should definitely be a candidate for ride of the season with Deep Trouble in the two mile handicap hurdle after the horse ran around approaching the last flight which unbalanced Aspell who had to kick his feet out of the irons to ride a finish. He gives a strong boost to the form of Quick Jack who won the novice handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s Open meeting last month. Urbain De Sivola looked a different horse after a wind operation over the summer to finish second having travelled like the winner for most of the race.

The Tingle Creek was the feature event of the whole day and whilst the race missed the star in Sprinter Sacre, take nothing away from Sire De Grugy who performed much better on a track he enjoys much more than Cheltenham with a four length success from Somersby who’s jumping let him down. Gary Moore’s stable star was cut to 7/1 second favourite for the Champion Chase however it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss Cheltenham for the Celebration Chase at the end of the season with it now being a Grade One. Before then, a clash with Sprinter Sacre looks likely over Christmas at Kempton in the Desert Orchid Chase.

I find it hard to rate both Somersby and Captain Conan. There is no doubting Somersby is an improved horse after his troubles last season but he will need to jump better in the top grade if he is to get another Grade One victory whilst Captain Conan could benefit from the run like most of Henderson’s however in the words of one of my fellow co-writers, he looks ‘tripless’ and I would agree as he has questionable stamina if going above two and a half miles yet lacks the speed needed to be a top two miler.

One more note to make about the race is that the enigmatic Mad Moose is likely never to be seen on a racecourse again after planting himself yet again. He will be missed by most people, especially his fan club which has built up through his temperamental behaviour s although his finest moment came in January when second to Sprinter Sacre. For those who loved the Moose’s antics, Steve Mullington (@mulldog) has a special Mad Moose wristband and wishes to auction one for the Injured Jockeys Fund which as we all know is a fantastic charity – Here’s the link if you wish to donate – http://www.justgiving.com/Steve-Mullington/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Steve-Mullington&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet

Finally, the London National ended the day with a wonderful waiting ride from Daryl Jacob sealing the race for There’s No Panic who was given a similar ride to what Tidal Bay received in the Bet365 Gold Cup over course and distance where Jacob let his mount pick them off one by one. He was priced up at 33/1 for the Grand National but his owner seems keener to return for the previous mentioned race at the end of the season. Court By Surprise ran a great race for Emma Lavelle and Barry Geraghty. Having made an early blunder, Geraghty allowed his mount time to recover and looked to have made a winning move before the second last. The trip looked to bring out some extra improvement so he could be a type for the Scottish National at the end of the season on good ground.

Well Refreshed ran a brilliant Welsh National trial on ground feared to be too quick for him although jumping errors were a main feature of his round whilst Alfie Spinner looks to have turned a corner with two much improved efforts under the change in tactics to make the running with him again. He stayed on stoutly up the hill after making a strong early pace so he would be interesting in a staying handicap chase later in the season whilst Soll’s comeback run towards the Grand National was promising with his strong jumping keeping him in the race plus his relentless galloping makes him an ideal candidate for Aintree. Godsmejudge can be forgiven as he looks a horse more suited going left handed.

As said above, my review of the Becher Chase will form another article as it would have been too long compared to some here!

“The Best Second Place I Have Ever Seen”

The Twiston-Davies’, yet again, provided the perfect horse for the awe-inspiring Becher Chase, which has to remain at the top of my ‘favourite races of the year’ chart, a thought I’d considered impossible less than twenty-four hours ago. How could Baby Run live up to the legend of Hello Bud? Only a length separates the two now, really.

Baby Run nearly ran an identical race to Hello Bud last year. Led, nearly throughout, before tiring after the last fence and eventually outstayed by Chance Du Roy. Seems simple eh? I think not. As early as the second Sam Twiston-Davies performed miracles to keep the partnership intact after Baby Run shot him up out of the saddle. Our dreams could’ve been dashed there and then, but fate seems to shine kindly on the stories of the Becher Chase.

The thirteen-year old jumped them into the ground after that. As they turned into the straight for the final time, two fences to go, Baby Run had only three challengers around him. Chance Du Roy took it up just before the last and went ahead by three lengths. That was when it got interesting: Baby Run battled right on back. Just yesterday I was writing about how I try not to get too excited outwardly when it comes to horse racing… but I think I was lying. I threw everything at Baby Run up the run-in, a flurry of words that brought about a cathartic release of emotion. My friends around me joined in, all racing fans hoping the surreal story could come true, though I was in the zone by then. Baby Run came back, within a length and battled right on up to the line. Somehow, my memory became confused and my lips uttered the words ‘GO ON BUDDY’.

Baby Run didn’t quite get there. Listening to the interview with the winning jockey, Tom O’Brien, he had premeditated this and had ensured his mount had that little extra. Though that was still no certainty; what Baby Run lacked in extra, he certainly made up for in guts. Just after the line, Sam leant forward and playfully patted Baby’s neck. Again, a quote stirred in my head, the ending of one of my favourite films as a child, Babe, which coined the phrase: “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

That will more than do, Baby Run. Overhearing Alistair Down’s words to connections with Baby Run as they came into the paddock widened the smile on my face, though I am unable to post them on here without using the censor. The fact he didn’t walk over to the winner for a good five minutes sums it up very nicely. For the rest of the day, I sung ‘Baby Love’ by the Supremes with the necessary amendments to the words.

Here ends my Saturday racing spree. I hadn’t noticed until now (my moment of anagnorisis) how I’d been using it so effectively as a form of escapism. Surrounding yourself with racing’s atmosphere can make you completely forget about anything outside the four-legged world. I feel I’ve said it a lot recently, but that’s why I love racing, and there’s no chance of me leaving anytime soon.

baby run

Title Quote by Calum Madell, Picture by Sarah Sidwell