20 October 2017

 

Knocked 'em for Six!

Top County Meath trainer claimed six of the eight races at Punchestown yesterday. Technically, Gordon Elliott's half-a-dozen didn't compare with his six-timer at Navan last November, because one of the winners, Pallasator, was running in a charity race. The highlight of his six victories was when the Davy Russell-ridden Death Duty made it his second win over fences in the Grade 3 Buck House Novices Chase.

 

Showing Respect

Two of the races a Gordon Elliott runner failed to win at Punchestown yesterday were claimed by another County Meath-based rival. One of them was won by the Noel Meade-trained Gamut gelding who scored in the Irish Daily Star Star Chase for which a quality field of seven runners lined up, with Jonjo O'Neill's Minella Rocco sent off the 7/4 favourite on his first start since finishing second in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup. The 25/1 outsider, Kilcarry Bridge, surged away at a powerful gallop, steered by Danny Mullins. Only Noel Meade's Cheltenham Festival and Ryanair Gold Cup winner, Road To Respect, and the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Sub Lieutenant were within striking distance of the leader as the field went round the home turn, with Minella Rocco on their tail. But it wasn't over yet. Sean Flanagan urged Road To Respect into the lead after the final fence and victory was secured by a length and a half.

 

He is Legend!

The charity contest mentioned earlier was the John Shortt Legends Challenge Race supported by a start-studded field of sixteen former jockeys, including Mick Kinane, Charlie Swan and Norman Williamson, racing in memory of former National Hunt jockey, John Shortt. The impressive Pallasator, a Doncaster Cup winner, when trained by Sir Mark Prescott, went to Gordon Elliott's yard this summer to begin a new career over hurdles. The Motivator gelding was understandably the 13/8 favourite for this one-mile-six-furlong contest and travelled powerfully throughout under the 1995 Cheltenham Festival top jockey, Norman Williamson and, leaving his rivals trailing behind, passed the post with eight-and-a-half lengths in hand.

 

19 October 2017

 

Be an Angel!

John Gosden's team is hoping for a revival in the fortunes of their three-year-old Dark Angel gelding in tonight's Bowburn Hotel Handicap at Newcastle. Eldritch scored on his first two career outings at Haydock Park and Doncaster but then disappointed in his next race at Goodwood in May. He was subsequently absent from the track for a while when he lost his 'colthood'. Eldritch re-appeared at Kempton last week in a fairly competitive race where he made a decent effort but was robbed of third place by a short head.

 

Rocco's Return

Today's Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown marks the first showing of the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Minella Rocco since finishing runner-up in Cheltenham Gold Cup in March when he got the better of most of the current star performers except Sizing John. The Shirocco gelding

also won the National Hunt Chase at last year's Festival at this County Kildare track. Two unfortunateincidents followed, however, when he fell at Aintree and unseated his rider at Leopardstown. He redeemed himself subsequently by coming second in the Grade 1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase back at Prestbury Park in March. Minella Rocco today makes his return to Grade Three level in Ireland and will be partnered by Barry Geraghty.

 

Grand Aspirations

Rookie trainer, former amateur jockey, Jack Barber, has his sights fixed on the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December for his outstanding point-to-point winner, Ask The Weatherman. Formerly attached to Paul Nicholls' team, James Barber has been training in the point-to-point sphere since 2013 where he saddled more than a hundred winners and was three times crowned champion in that activity. He has now turned his full-time attention to National Hunt training.

 

18 October 2017

 

That's the Spirit!

After more than a year's absence from the track this son of Invincible Spirit put up an impressive performance for a horse with so little experience. The Roger Varian-trained Emmaus made a successful re-start of his career in the Wreake Handicap at Leicester yesterday. The three-year-old had plenty to contend with, but the 10/1 shot, with Andrea Atzeni aboard, got down to business with a purpose and eventually got the better of 2/1 favourite, Sir Dancealot, partnered by Ryan Moore.

 

No Hanky Panky!

The Henry de Bromhead-trained son of Al Namix always looked like he had the makings of a good chaser and today he gets the chance to prove it at Punchestown. Certainly Petit Mouchoir has excellent credentials over hurdles, recording his first victory in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of December when confidently ridden by Bryan Cooper, the six-year-old grey left Nichols Canyon trailing seven lengths in his wake and following that up with a win in the Irish Champion Hurdle. With the County Waterford trainer's current winning performance, connections are hopeful of a successful debut over fences for Petit Mouchoir.

 

And the winner is ...

Last night witnessed the annual Tipperary Crystal-sponsored award to the top performing rider and trainer at the Curragh during the 2017 season. The two who came out on top this time from five nominees in their respective categories were Seamie Heffernan and Denis Hogan. The former was honoured for his ride on Capri in the Irish Derby in July, the jockey's third win in this Classic, and the latter was recognised for his achievements with Tithonus, who scored in two major sprint handicaps, the Rockingham and the Scurry.

17 October 2017

 

Gunning for Victory

The 2017/2018 National Hunt season is here which also means that it's time for the third renewal of the Challenger Series which supports middle-tier jump racing during the main National Hunt season between October and April. Hosted at 34 racecourses across the country, the Challenger Series consists of six separate Series that allow horses rated up to 135 (130 for mares) to qualify for a Finals Day at Haydock Park Racecourse on Easter Saturday. The 2018 Finals Day on March 31 will carry prize money of more than £300,000. The first of the Series is at Worcester Racecourse today with the Class 3 Mares' Handicap Chase. A field of eight has been declared for this two-and-a-half-mile contest. One of last year's finalists, the Michael Scudamore-trained Twenty Eight Guns is in the line-up and connections will be hoping for her to qualify as soon as possible. The Ross-on-Wye-based trainer commented: "The Challenger Series is a great initiative with really good prize money that you can aim for towards the end of the season. It provides a real incentive for trainers with that kind of mid-tier level horse and you’d be crazy not to look at it and aim horses for it.”

 

Shall We Dance?

This son of Sir Prancealot hasn't scored since winning the Rockingham Stakes at York just over a year ago so connections will be hoping he will get back into winning ways this afternoon. David Elsworth saddles Sir Dancealot in the seven-furlong Wreake Handicap at Leicester, which represents a sizeable drop in class. Although, due to his runner-up slot in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket in July, the three-year-old carries a fair bit of weight, this contest is clearly not as competitive as a Group race and he does have the benefit of being once again ridden by Ryan Moore.

 

Good News

As expected of a talented Galileo filly, the British Stallion Studs Beckford Stakes at Yarmouth yesterday proved to be a piece of cake. The Luca Cumani-trained Aljezeera, who was runner-up in the DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster the last time out in September, was too good for her nine rivals and claimed this one-mile-six-furlong-plus contest by a length and three quarters.

 

16 October 2017

 

On the Ascent

Victory in the valuable Foran Equine Auction Race Final at Naas yesterday raises Dermot Weld's hopes that this Mount Nelson filly is due for even greater success next season. Yulong Gold Fairy, partnered by Pat Smullen, confidently followed up her success in the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden with this six-length victory to claim the £62,000 prize.

 

Good Trip

Andrew Balding shipped this Tamayuz mare all the way to Woodbine in Canada to race in the Grade One E. P. Taylor Stakes. Blond Me, winner of the Middleton Stakes at York in May, was partnered by Oisin Murphy, seeking a second top-level victory of his career after triumphing on Aclaim in the Prix de la Foret last month, who steered the five-year-old powerfully into the straight. There was a brief challenge from the Michael maker-trained Kitten's Roar but it didn't last long before Blond Me was in a dominant position to claim a one-length victory.

 

Very Keane.

Colin Keane's bid for the 2017 flat jockeys' crown moved a notch nearer at Naas yesterday when he rode a treble for his boss, trainer Ger Lyons - Moonlight Bay, Elegant Pose and Mustajeer. The twenty-four-year-old now leads in the race for the championship by seven (90-83) ahead of the defending champion, Pat Smullen. The County Meath rider scored eight times this week – a double at Gowran Park on Wednesday, one at Dundalk on Friday night, two at Cork on Saturday plus yesterday's trio.

 

15 October 2017

 

Flying Home!

The Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket yesterday was a multi-triumph for Aidan O'Brien who not only saddled the first four home in this Group One but he also notched up his 24th top-flight victory, leaving him just one short of the record set by American trainer Bobby Frankel fouteen years ago. The equine hero of the day was undoubtedly U S Navy Flag who beat his nearest stable companion, Mendelssohn, by two-and-a-half-length lengths. Ridden by Ryan Moore, this War Front colt broke well, crossed to race on stands' rail, made all and went clear over one furlong from home. The other Ballydoyle inmates, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence, finished third and fourth respectively.

 

King for the Day

Trainer and jockey teamed up yesterday to land the Darley Nursery at Newmarket. Mark Johnston saddled 16/1 shot, Rufus King, ridden by PJ McDonald, in this Class2, seven-furlong contest. After making most of the running, the Iffraaj colt, who had disappointed in four starts since winning at Ascot in July, was finally challenged by the Charlie Hills-trained Porth Swtan but Rufus King had enough in reserve to hold off the Invincible Spirit progeny.

 

Down to Eartha

The Tom Dascombe-trained Pivotal filly proved the best of the twelve ladies when she came home with three-quarters of a length to spare in the Darley EBF Stallions Boadicea Stakes. Eartha Kitt has been in fine voice this season, winning the EBF Breeders Series Fillies' Handicap at York in the middle of June and with previous good placed efforts in Listed and Group Three company. The three-year-old was sent off at 5/1 on her latest outing and, although having a little bit of a ding-dong with Pixeleen, last week's course and distance, Eartha Kitt, with Richard Kingscote aboard, rallied late to secure victory.

14 October 2017

 

Old Rowley!

Yesterday was the first day of the Dubai Future Champions Festival at Newmarket and the highlight of the fixture, the Bet365 Old Rowley Cup Handicap, is named after a king, well his nickname. Charles 11 was known as Rowley or Old Rowley; apparently he didn't mind that, as it was the name of his favourite stallion. Over the years, however, this £120,000 handicap has proved more profitable for bookies than punters as the favourites usually get beaten by huge-priced outsiders. The Andrew Balding-trained Torcello was  the favourite after notching up a third win in six starts when winning over this course and distance two weeks ago but he was just one of four runners who scored last time. In th event it was the Charlie Appleby-trained First Nation, steered by Wwilliam Buick, who claimed the prize. 

 

Out on a Lim

Also at Newmarket this Tagula gelding had something to prove as he has been looking decidedly below par this season, particularly when coming fourth in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood at the beginning of August when the race looked his for the taking from over a furlong out. It will also depend on the ground staying 'good', as currently described, as to whether the Henry Candy-trained Limato will have another opportunity to show what he's made of in the Group Two Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes this afternoon. It is no secret that the five-year-old prefers a fast surface and will, more than likely, be withdrawn if the going eases. But all's well that ends well. Harry Bentley partnered Limato to a three-and-a-half-length victory.

 

To Cap it All!

The Harry Fry-trained Milan gelding made a pretty good start to his new career over fences in the Download The App At 188Bet Novices' Hurdle at Exeter. If The Cap Fits came a close fourth in the championship bumper at the Grand National meeting so, naturally, connections were excited about this impending contest. Noel Fehily didn't beat about the bush but urged the odds-on favourite straight into the lead from early on, a position the duo maintained all the way to the line. If The Cap Fits put on a pretty good display of jumping so it looks like it won't be long before he'll be hobnobbing with graded company.

12 October 2017

 

Happily she'll be there!

Happily the Ballydoyle trainer will be saddling a winner at Newmarket tomorrow. Sorry, I'll read that again! Aidan O'Brien, on the brink of breaking Bobby Frankel's record of twenty-five Group-Grade One victories, runs Happily in the bet365 Fillies' Mile on his quest for his twenty-fourth top-level success this season. This Galileo filly will also be seeking to add to her recent victories in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and joins Magical and September in a three-pronged attack on this one-mile contest.

 

One Door Closes and ...

A leading Irish jockey has been compensated for losing his top job earlier this year as number one rider for the Gigginstown House Stud, for whom he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Don Cossack. The Tralee-born Bryan Cooper has been confirmed as the new first-choice rider for leading owner Alan Potts' British-based horses. There had already been speculation that, due to the lack of opportunities in Ireland, the twenty-five-year-old jockey was considering moving to ride full-time in Britain. So, apart from fleeting trips across the Irish Sea, we should be seeing more of Bryan Cooper on British tracks in the coming weeks and months after gaining this well-earned appointment. Unfortunately the partnershipd didn't get off to a good start at Ludlow yesterday when the Colin Tizzard-trained duo, Exxaro and Mick Thonic, finished last and unseated rider, respectively, but it's early days..

 

Back for More

The lingering memory of this Nathaniel filly is of her finishing last of nine runners in the Investec Oaks at Epsom in June. The Roger Charlton-trained Natavia, who had previously impressed by winning the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury, returns today to try to make amends in the the Join Club Godolphin Pride Stakes at Newmarket where she will have to deal with the likes of Hugo Palmer's Architecture and Henry Candy's Chain Of Daisies.

 

11 October 2017

 

Get the Point?

Leicester Race Course yesterday presented an unusual feral fixture, with the eight races on the card celebrating the red deer, badger, stoat, dormouse, leveret and even squirrel. The Roger Charlton-trained Blakeney Point won the £15,000 Squirrel Handicap. The Sir Percy gelding, who got the better of the subsequent Cumberland Lodge winner, Danehill Kodiac last time out, was the clear favourite but he still had his work cut out. The likes of My Reward and Dance The Dream looked set to carve up the spoils between them from some way out but the Kieran Shoemark-ridden Blakeney Point was resilient enough to find more when required and went on to claim the enviable prize.

 

One Door Closes and ...

A leading Irish jockey has been compensated for losing his top job earlier this year as number one rider for the Gigginstown House Stud, for whom he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Don Cossack. The Tralee-born Bryan Cooper has been confirmed as the new first-choice rider for leading owner Alan Potts' British-based horses. There had already been speculation that, due to the lack of opportunities in Ireland, the twenty-five-year-old jockey was considering moving to ride full-time in Britain. So, apart from fleeting trips across the Irish Sea, we should be seeing more of Bryan Cooper on British tracks in the coming weeks and months after gaining this well-earned appointment. In fact, this new relationship kicks off at Ludlow this afternoon when he is booked to ride the Colin Tizzard-trained duo, Exxaro and Mick Thonic.

 

Eye on Success

With victory in Saturday's Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in mind, the ten-time champion trainer has admitted that this unbeaten Acclamation colt is the best two-year-old he has handled for quite some time. Sir Michael Stoute is, no doubt, also musing that if Expert Eye succeeds in lifting the first prize of about £300,000, then this would raise his career-best domestic prize money to more than the £3.7 million he achieved in 2003.

 

10 October 2017

 

Willing and Enable

It's hard to believe that this John Gosden-trained Nathaniel filly is still only a three-year-old as she already has the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks to her credit, as well as beating the boys in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and, last week claiming the French Crown, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly. Immediately following this Triomphe triumph it was clear that the Newmarket handler was keen for his stable star should stay in training for at least another year. Apparently after a week of deliberations, owner Khalid Abdullah, has finally confirmed that Enable will continue racing next season and that, high on the agenda, is a bid for a second Arc success.

 

Watson at Del Mar?

After a four-year stint as assistant to William Haggas, Archie Watson launched his own career last year at Saxon Gate Stables in Upper Lambourn, once the base of both Mick Channon and Fulke Walwyn. It has now just been announced that the 27-year-old trainer intends to saddle his first-ever runner at the Breeders' Cup, after deciding to enter Corinthia Knight in the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar on November 4. Following his third victory on the all-weather track at Wolverhampton on August 11, this Society Rock colt seemed to find the step-up to six furlongs a bit much in the Group 3 totepool Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last time out so he will revert to five furlongs for his transatlantic trip.

 

The Hunt is on!

Traditionalists tend to consider Chepstow's two-day meeting this weekend as the real beginning of the National Hunt season proper. Owner Alan Potts and trainer, Colin Tizzard, are certainly taking the event seriously. They plan to run Finian's Oscar in the Listed totequadpot Novices' Chase. The Oscar gelding who had his first, narrow, defeat in five runs on his last outing at the Punchestown Festival, will be making his debut over fences at the same track, where Thistlecrack, Cue Card and Native River began their illustrious chasing careers.

 

9 October 2017

 

Wheel See!

This Acclamation filly is seeking an important notch up in her career today when she lines up in her first Listed contest, the EBF Musselburgh Fillies' Sprint Stakes at you-know-where. Richard Fahey-trained The Wagon Wheel ran at bit flat on her last outing at Beverley and seemed to have problems, at one stage, keeping up with her nine rivals until suddenly, getting second wind, she ran on strongly on the rails inside the final furlong to finish third, just a head behind the winner, Take Cover, ridden by Tom Queally.

 

Last-minute Denial

Velká Pardubická, the famous 6.9-kilometre cross-country steeplechase, run in the Czech Republic since 1874, proved to be an agonising result for jockey, Felix de Giles, who was aboard Urgent De Gregaine, trained in France by Emmanuel Clayeux. With just two of the thirty-one obstacles to jump, the Truth Or Dare gelding was so far ahead that it looked like he just had to stay on his feet to win the 127th renewal of this unique contest. However a race isn't over until the sat fady lings, or something like that! Well inside the final furlong the Arnaud Rasquier-owned nine-year-old suddenly seemed to be floundering, not surprisingly, as heavy rain had drenched the Prague track in previous days. Suddenly an opportunity had opened up and the appropriately named No Time To Lose, ridden by Jan Kratochvil and trained by the legend of the race, Josef Vana, mounted a last-minute challenge and claimed victory by one length.

 

Total Victory

An impressive winner in yesterday's JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap Chase at Limerick. Being saddled for the first time by Willie Mullins on the retirement of Sandra Hughes, Total Recall, ridden by Ruby Walsh, was the 2/1 favourite in this sixteen-strong field and was soon settled, perhaps too comfortably, at the rear as he appeared to be cantering nonchalantly along. The 'Mouse' Morris-trained Alpha Des Obeaux, running a fine race at top weight, seemed to have the whole thing cut and dried as the field turned home. It wasn't over yet, however. The Westerner gelding suddenly got a good wake-up call after the last fence and sprinted clear to win in fine style, scoring by seven lengths. The nine-year-old's major problem was staying clear of the fallers, four out of the sixteen runners.

 

8 October 2017

 

Buick's Back!

The Norwegian-born jockey came back to the track in style yesterday when he claimed the John Guest Bengough Stakes by half a length. William Buick, who had been sidelined with a fractured vertebra since August, was hoping and praying that the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point would win and, thereby, book his place on Qipco Champions Day later this month. The even-money favourite Shamardal colt, despite a little wandering around when out on his own in the final furlong, duly obliged and held off the last-minute challenging Projection, urged on by Kieran Shoemark.

 

Calling it a Day

This County Wexford-born jockey has finally decided to bring to an end his nearly thirty-year-old career. Jimmy Fortune, originally apprenticed with Jim Bolger in Ireland and first licensed in 1987, announced the news after coming a creditable third on 20-1 shot, Nathra, for his old boss, John Gosden, in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. During a successful career, the forty-five-year-old rider has notched up more than 1,800 winners, including 16 at top level. Jimmy Fortune hit the headlines back in 1989 when he won the Ayr Gold Cup aboard the 50/1 outsider, Joveworth, and in 1998 gained his first Group 1 win, when partnering Commander Collins in the 1998 Racing Post Trophy in his first season as retained jockey to Robert Sangster.

 

Absolutely Fabulous!

At Limerick this afternoon a Saint Des Saints gelding will be bidding to make it three in a row. After 20-length victories at both Ballinrobe and Listowel, the Willie Mullins-trained Fabulous Saga, again steered by Ruby Walsh, lines up in the seven-strong Listed Dunraven Arms Hotel Novice Hurdles. The five-year-old steps up in class for this two-and-a-half-plus event and takes on five previous hurdle winners, including his stable companion, Robin Des Foret, ridden by Paul Townend, who won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Hurdle at the end of August.

 

7 October 2017

 

Where there's a Will …

The Group 3 John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot today is what William Buick has been waiting for to make his return race riding. The Norwegian-born jockey with British and Danish citizenship, has been out of action since the middle of August, after sustaining a serious fracture when falling from the Mark Johnston-trained Permian in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. William Buick has recently been riding out in Newmarket desperately trying to return to total fitness in time for Qipco British Champions Day on October 21. On Wednesday a specialist finally gave him the all-clear and he re-appears at the Berkshire track this afternoon riding the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point in this Group 3, six-furlong contest. A good result will certainly be a confidence-booster for the bigger challenges to come.

 

21 Today!

Twenty-one consecutive victories is certainly something to write home about and Australian supermare, Winx, did it in style as she galloped home to win, racing for the first time at this Melbourne track. The six-year-old seemed perfectly at ease throughout the ten-furlong contest under the steady guidance of her regular rider, Hugh Bowman. Ex-British runner, Ventura Storm was ahead at the top of the straight but, the moment the Street Cry mare was asked the question, she pushed on to an effortless victory.

 

Offaly good!

Pat Smullen made his bid to be crowned this season's champion Flat jockey in Ireland with a a 193-1 four-timer at Dundalk last night. This means he at the start of an eight-race card in County Louth. There was nothing to choose between the pair for a while but then the County Offaly jockey produced his quadruple piece de resistance, the highlight of which was, probably, victory aboard the Mick Halford-trained Riyazan in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Star Appeal Stakes.

6 October 2017

 

Sceau he did it!

The Alan King-trained Doctor Dino gelding was successful in his debut over fences at Warwick yesterday. Sceau Royal, sixth in the Champion Hurdle last season, demonstrated, by far, the best hurdling form of of his four rookie rivals in the Bet At Racinguk.com Novices' Chase. Such a performance was obviously anticipated by bookies and punters as the five-year-old was the 1/3 favourite and, with the talented Daryl Jacob aboard, their faith was justified. Sam Twiston-Davies had obviously already decided that Ballyhill was going to have a piece of the action took him along at a fair lick until about two out. At that point he was still in the lead but Sceau Royal was already on the move and easily surged past second-favourite, Forth Bridge, down the back straight. As the small field turned in, there was no doubt that the odds-on favourite still had plenty left to finish the job when he went into the lead between the final two flights, from where he galloped clear, easing to a four-and-a-half-length victory.

 

Brave Challenge

It's the World's richest turf race Down Under next week and a former Irish and British champion jockey has been invited to make the twenty-two-hour flight to The Royal Randwick Racecourse in New South Wales. County Tipperary-born Jamie Spencer has accepted the invitation from trainer, Darren Weir, and the Australian Turf Club, to ride former Japanese sprinter, Brave Smash, in the TAB Everest on October 14. This Tosen Phantom colt came second in a six-furlong Stakes contest at the end of September and his only victory from nine career outings was in the Strathmore Community Bendigo Bank earlier that month.

 

What am I bid?

The horse racing organisation that paid the highest fee for a yearling so far in the world this year was …(tension as the result is awaited) … was Godolphin who pipped Coolmore at the post by forking out four million guineas for a Galileo filly on the final day of the Book One sale at Tattersalls. The record highest figure was offered some four years ago when Al Naamah was bought for five million guineas. Yesterday's price was forced up and up as Coolmore's MV Magnier and Sheikh Mohammed's representative and trainer, John Gosden, vied with each other to gain possession of this filly, whose Dam is Dank, winner of the Beverly D. Stakes and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf in 2013.

 

5 October 2017

 

And Sceau Forth

The Bet At racinguk.com Novices' Chase at Warwick today presents an intriguing clash of runners making their first foray over fences. Two horses, in particular, catch the eye. There's the Alan King-trained Sceau Royal, winner of the Grade Two Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last November and who is the favourite in this two-mile-plus contest. This Doctor Dino gelding will probably ultimately have to do battle with the second favourite, Forth Bridge, trained by Charlie Longsdon, who claimed the bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Musselburgh at the beginning of February.

 

A Champion Day.

Its the seventh renewal of the Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on October 21 and, at the the latest forfeit, stage it certainly looks like a day to look forward to, especially as champions on the Flat, such as Ribchester, Cracksman and Harry Angel, are due to compete. On Britain’s richest race day there will be a total of £4.3 million in prize-money on offer. There is an exciting list of thirty-five individual Group One winners entered across the day's fixture, consisting of four Group Ones, a Group Two and the Balmoral Handicap Stakes, the richest one-mile handicap in Europe –

 

On a Lighter Note!

In last night's 32Red Casino EBF Novice Stakes at Kempton the Hugo Palmer-trained Dragon Mountain passed the post in third place but was subsequently disqualified. The problem was that jockey, Josephine Gordon, weighed in at 8st 9lb instead of 9st 2lb. The clerk of the scales lodged an objection and a stewards' inquiry was held, where it was decided it wasn't the rider's fault that her horse had been saddled without the weight cloth. It was also decided that the Newmarket-based trainer, who was not present at the track, should be fined because a member of his stable staff was responsible for the error.

 

4 October 2017

 

Doing his Duty

This Gordon Elliott-trained Shantou progeny seemed, at the start, to be a little lifeless on his debut over fences in the www.tipperaryraces.ie Beginners Chase at Tipperary yesterday. The highly-regarded Death Duty had certainly had no problems with his hurdling career, scoring four in a row. It proved to be only a temporary blip, however, for as soon as his jockey, Davy Russell, opted to send the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding into a clear lead, there was a significant improvement in his jumping, apart from the last when he was a bit slow again. This tardiness didn't affect the outcome, however - an easy win by three-quarters of a length.

 

She fell for it!

There was more than £50,000 bet on this Gold Well gelding in the 188Bet Novices' Hurdle at Southwell yesterday. Imagine the thousands of punters' dismay and anger when their horse, the Dan Skelton-trained Stick To The Plan, did just that and won the race but his jockey didn't! Unfortunately Bridget Andrews fell off twenty yards from the finish line. A replay of the race reveals that the former Champion Lady Amateur Rider, in fact, lost her right iron when jumping the last hurdle but she did manage to retrieve it, before dramatically parting company with her mount so near but yet so far.

 

Ring a Bell?

On the face of it, 100/1 for a Fruits Of Love gelding, who hasn't had a win since November 2015, didn't appear especially generous for his belated debut on the Flat in the 100% Profit Boost At 32Redsport.com Maiden Stakes at Kempton last night. But the Alex Hales-trained Isaac Bell, who has had continued niggling leg problems over his extended career, produced the shock result of the evening, when Luke Morris steered him to a neck victory. Any punters, who had remained loyal to this nine-year-old hurdler, were duly rewarded but one person, who is reported not to have backed him, was his trainer!

3 October 2017

 

Willing Enable

The trainer of dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner has led the tributes to Enable after her amazing display at Chantilly on Sunday. Criquette Head-Maarek handled Treve, the first horse since Alleged in the 1970s to win back-to-back wins in Europe's premier middle-distance contest in 2013 and 2014. The Motivator filly was retired in 2015 after finishing fourth behind Golden Horn in her bid to become the first three-time Arc winner. The John Gosden-trained Enable has now added her name to the illustrious list of honour.

 

Lunar Success

Clemmie can aim for the moon, says Ryan Moore, after victory in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. The Galileo filly previously won at the Curragh and Newmarket before opening this Group One account. The full sister to dual Guineas hero, Churchill, had originally won Group Three and Group Two contests and certainly proved that she was able to mix it with the very best, when delivering a one-and-three-quarter-length victory in this six-furlong contest.

 

Here Come the Judge!

The next person to join the panel of twelve for next year’s Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards is, none other than Alice Plunkett. The former eventer and National Hunt jockey has just been named as one of three new judges. The latter will have as her fellow judges, Josh Apiafi, founder and director of Rewards4Racing.com, and Terry Doherty, manager of Watership Down Stud, who won the stud staff employee of the year award last year. These awards, run by the BHA in association with the Racing Post, are also judged by Dawn Goodfellow, Chief Executive of Northern Racing College, former jump jockey Mark Bradburne and Perth Chief Executive, Hazel Peplinski.

 

2 October 2017

 

Flower Power

At Chantilly yesterday it was the turn for a new diva to take the curtain call in the Prix de l'Opera. For once Ryan Moore got it wrong when he plumped to ride Hydrangea after her decisive victory in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in September. It was the time for another stablemate to blossom, however, in the guise of Rhododendron, partnered by Seamie Heffernan. This three-year-old Galileo filly was runner-up in the Investec Oaks in June, although some five lengths adrift of the winner, the indomitable, yesterday's Arc winner, Enable and then flopped, finishing seventh out of ten, in the Matron Stakes, mentioned above. The Ballydoyle duo were never much off the pace set by the John Gosden-trained The Black Princess and after battling their way into the lead in the final two-hundred yards ultimately it was Rhododendron's triumph by a head.

 

Jez for Old Time's Sake.

This Milan offspring was the oldest runner in the race at Tipperary yesterday by at least two years but that didn't stop him winning. The nine-year-old, Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki showed his younger rivals how to win a race when he claimed the Istabraq Hurdle by four lengths. Five-year-old Coquin Mans, trained by Willie Mullins did his best to stay in front but when push came to shove, the Fragrant Mix gelding had no response when Mark Walsh decided to urge the 2014 Champion Hurdle winner to the front between the last two flights and maintained this momentum to claim the two-mile contest.

 

Luck Strike

Whilst the most of the racing world was focussing on the events at the Chantilly racetrack yesterday, one Sky Bet racing punter's minces were only on Musselburgh. Why? Because this lucky son of a b... bettor turned £3.15 into £20,920.85 from a 5p win Lucky 63. The now prosperous punter had an  inauspicious inception, though, when the first of his selections lost but, thereafter, the other five duly obliged. In fact most of his winners were tight finishes with Aimez La Vie winning by a head, Economic Crisis by a short head, Jonny Delta by a neck and Lady Joanna Vassa again by a short head.

 

1 October 2017

 

You've got Male!

Everyone seems to think that today's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly is a foregone conclusion ( because Frankie's hoping for his fifth win!) and that the John Gosden-trained Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori, is the one to beat. Certainly all the signs are, including a lucky draw in stall 2, seem to be in the Nathaniel filly's favour. In addition, six of the last nine winners of Europe's most prestigious race have been fillies. There is one male, however, who could 'bouleverser le panier de pommes', as they say over there, The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses, also with a lucky draw (stall 1), could be the fastest improving horse in the field. The way this Galileo colt travelled and had enough in reserve to outclass a couple of the smartest three-year-olds in the business, Churchill and Barney Roy, in the Juddmonte Interational at York last month, means it's not beyond the bounds of reason that it will be a double male victory this year – Ulysses and Jim Crowley!

 

Going for the Record

The Ballydoyle maestro saddles five horses in today's Arc de Triomphe but that didn't distract him from the job at hand at Newmarket yesterday. Aidan O’Brien was on top form when he claimed both Group One two-year-old races. There was already strong speculation that his 15/8 favourite, Clemmie, partnered by Ryan Moore, would win the Cheveley Park Stakes and the Galileo filly did not disappoint. The big surprise of the day, however, came in the very next race. The 10/1 shot, US Navy Flag, steered by Seamie Heffernan, won the Middle Park Stakes, half a length ahead of his stable companion, Fleet Review. This special double victory means that Aidan O’Brien's total of Group One wins for the year now stands at 20. Once more he is knocking on the door of the record of 25 in a calendar year, established by American trainer, Bobby Frankel.

 

Phil's Skill!

Five runners competed in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park yesterday and the Gordon Elliott-trained A Toi Phil denied victory to the 11/8 favourite, Balko Des Flos, Henry De Bromhead's hero of the Galway Plate at the beginning of August. Kylecrue dominated for the first half of the two-and-half-mile contest until Davy Russell, aboard Balko Des Flos, decided to go for home in the back straight. This move was well covered by the Day Flight gelding who competed for supremacy with last year's winner, Ballycasey, until the latter eventually faded, offering the race to either of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners and it was A Toi Phil who triumphed by six-and-a-half lengths.

30 September 2017

 

Blue's Due

Today Newmarket stages what is generally considered to be one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps of the entire Flat racing season – the Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap for three-year-olds. This nine-furlong contest on the Rowley Mile has attracted no fewer than thirty-five runners. As often is the case with such a large field it usually divides up into three separate groups. One horse that has become a hot favourite, at least among the punters if not with all the bookies, is the David Menuisier-trained Thundering Blue who has become a strong market contender since notching up a hat-trick at Sandown in the BetBright Recall Handicap at the beginning of this month. On that occasion the four-year-old Exchange Rate gelding produced an amazing turn of foot for champion jockey, Jim Crowley, who will, no doubt, be hoping for a similar performance today.

 

Move Over Bro'

This Aidan O'Brien-trained Galileo filly is being given the chance to prove that she deserves a crack at the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket next spring and, thereby, emulate her big brother, Churchill. Clemmie, lines up today on the Rowley Mile in the Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes. The two-year-old, who didn't get off to a good start on her first two career outings at the Curragh and Royal Ascot, finishing seventh and third, respectively, made up for those disappointments by winning a Group 3 contest at the Curragh and then triumphing in the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the Suffolk track in the middle of July. Clemmie hasn't run since that race because the Ballydoyle trainer didn't want to subject her to the testing ground she would have encountered in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Today's conditions won't be as testing but there could still be a problem if more rain falls.

 

Bank to Thank

The Andrew Balding-trained Paco Boy gelding, with Oisin Murphy aboard, continued his run of success yesterday with an impressive performance in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket. Formerly trained in Ireland by Darren Bunyan, Beat The Bank made his first start for the Park House Stables' trainer last April when he had a narrow victory in the EBF Stallions bet365 Conditions Stakes. The three-year-old failed to build on that success subsequently in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot when he finished way down the field of twenty. Since then, however, Beat The Bank has cashed in on wins on the July Course and at Goodwood. In yesterday' contest, Whitecliffsofdover lead the field for a good part of the way but ran out of steam two furlongs out, giving the eventual winner the chance to take over and claim victory by five lengths.

 

29 September 2017

 

Zayf and Sound

This was the day the Aramis Racing syndicate had been waiting for. Their Zafeen gelding was due to run in the Happy 60th Macca Handicap Chase at Warwick. Everything seemed to bode well for the two-and-half-mile event: it was a gloriously sunny day; the ground was right; the distance ideal and, a most important factor, Liam Treadwell, who has ridden him four times before and knows him well, would be aboard. The rest was up to the Michael Scudamore-trained Zayfire Aramis who was last seen performing at Southwell at the beginning of June when he came fourth in the Tony Martin Ltd Handicap Chase. There was a distinct air of optimism among the syndicate members and the owner/breeder's family and friends. If willpower alone could win races then there was nothing to worry about. At the off, Zayfire Aramis seemed keen to get going but his rider wisely held him back in the rear until he settled down. The eight-year-old then started to make headway on the outside from after the eleventh fence and even went on to challenge for the lead at two out. It looked as if he had every chance of winning at this stage but then, surprisingly, the chestnut gelding hung to the right in the final hundred yards, thereby losing momentum and valuable ground and landed up fourth, but only one-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner. Amid the noise and commotion of the final stages of the race, to the syndicate members and friends gathered on an owner's and trainer's observation stand, strangely positioned some hundred yards from the finishing line, it even looked from a distance as though Zayfire Aramis was about to win. Although a little surprise and disappointment ensued on hearing the official result, that soon passed, as everyone, including trainer and jockey, agreed, that this was an impressive performance after a nearly three months' absence from the track and keenly looked forward to his next outing.

 

Here he come, Elarqam!

This elegant Frankel colt, trained by Mark Johnston, made only his third career start yet another victory, when claiming the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. As on his debut at York in September, the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Elarqam took a while to get going but when he finally did the performance was impressive. As the the nine-strong field headed into the dip, champion jockey, Jim Crowley decided it was time to show what he was made of, particularly as the Richard Hannon-trained Tangled was giving signs that he meant business. As soon as Elarqam reached the rising ground, however, the outcome was never in doubt as the winning distance of two-and-a-quarter lengths proved.

 

Marsha Concern.

The forecast testing conditions at Chantilly on Sunday are causing alarm among a number of owners and trainers and certainly the Elite Racing Club is voicing its apprehension for their entry in the Prix de l'Abbaye. The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Marsha, resumed her winning ways by memorably beating Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York and also won this prestigious race last year. Connections' main concern is that, although this Acclamation filly has performed well on soft ground, she seems to prefer a sounder surface. Also there is an additional worry as her two main rivals, Battaash and Signs Of Blessing have already notched up big-race wins on very soft ground.

 

28 September 2017

 

Fire Away!

This was the day the Aramis Racing syndicate had been waiting for. Their Zafeen gelding was due to run in the Happy 60th Macca Handicap Chase at Warwick. Everything seemed to bode well for the two-and-half-mile event: it was a gloriously sunny day; the ground was right; the distance ideal and, a most important factor, Liam Treadwell, who has ridden him four times before and knows him well, would be aboard. The rest was up to the Michael Scudamore-trained Zayfire Aramis who was last seen performing at Southwell at the beginning of June when he came fourth in the Tony Martin Ltd Handicap Chase. There was a distinct air of optimism among the syndicate members and the breeder's family and friends. If willpower alone could win races then there was nothing to worry about. At the off, Zayfire Aramis seemed keen to get going but his rider wisely held him back in the rear until he settled down. The eight-year-old then started to make headway on the outside from after the eleventh fence and even went on to challenge for the lead at two out. It looked as if he had every chance of winning at this stage but then, surprisingly, the chestnut gelding hung to the right in the final hundred yards, thereby losing momentum and valuable ground and landed up fourth, just one-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner. Amid the noise and commotion of the final stages of the race, to the syndicate members and friends gathered on an owner's and trainer's observation stand, strangely positioned some hundred yards from the finishing line, it even looked from a distance as though Zayfire Aramis was about to win. Although a little surprise and disappointment ensued on hearing the official result, that soon passed, as everyone, including trainer and jockey, agreed, that this was an impressive performance after a nearly three months' absence from the track and keenly looked forward to his next outing.

 

Homer's Hero

Hard to believe but it will be the Champion jockey's first Prix de L'Arc De Triomphe on Sunday. Jim Crowley, who scored his first Group One win on Lord Shanakill in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly in 2009, will be aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses, who triumphed in both the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in July and the Juddmonte International Stakes at York just five days ago. The four-year-old Galileo offspring was also an impressive runner-up to the John Gosden-trained Enable in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot so the Great Farm Barns' team are expecting great things at Chantilly on Sunday.

 

A Regal Array

The EBF Stallions Foundation Stakes at Goodwood yesterday demonstrated what the John Gosden-trained Frankel gelding can do when he gets his act together. Monarchs Glen had already hinted last time out at Sandown that there were better days to come when he was a strong runner-up to David Menuisier's Thundering Blue in the BetBright Recall Handicap, his first race since being gelded. The three-year-old was certainly a cut above his efforts earlier on in the season, settling well for the task at hand and subsequently claiming the mile-and-a-quarter contest by a short head.

 

27 September 2017

 

Is it Zayf?

This was the day the Aramis Racing syndicate had been waiting for. Their Zafeen gelding was due to run in the Happy 60th Macca Handicap Chase at Warwick yesterday. Everything seemed to bode well for the two-and-half-mile event: it was a gloriously sunny day; the ground was good (good to soft in places); the distance ideal and, a most important factor, Liam Treadwell, who has ridden him four times before and knows him well, would be aboard. The rest was up to the Michael Scudamore-trained Zayfire Aramis who was last seen performing at Southwell at the beginning of June when he came fourth in the Tony Martin Ltd Handicap Chase. There was a distinct air of optimism among the syndicate members and the breeder's family and friends. If willpower alone could win races then there was nothing to worry about. At the off, Zayfire Aramis seemed keen to get going but his rider wisely held him back in the rear until he settled down. The eight-year-old then started to make headway on the outside from after the eleventh fence and even went on to challenge for the lead at two out. It looked as if he had every chance of winning at this stage but then, surprisingly, the chestnut gelding hung to the right in the final hundred yards, thereby losing momentum and valuable ground and landed up fourth, just one-and-a-quarter lengths behind the winner. Amid the noise and commotion of the final stages of the race, to the syndicate members and friends gathered on an owner's and trainer's observation stand, strangely positioned some hundred yards from the finishing line, it even looked from a distance as though Zayfire Aramis was about to win. Although a little surprise and disappointment ensued on hearing the official result, that soon passed, as everyone, including trainer and jockey, agreed, that this was a valiant performance after a nearly three months' absence from the track.

 

Hark – the Arc!

Ahead of Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly it seems that the winner of the French Guineas and Derby is reported by connections to be shaping up well for the occasion. The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Brametot seems to have put behind him the first disappointing run of his career when he lost out to Eminent in last month's Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville. Al Shaqab Racing & Gerard Augustin-Normand-owned Rajsaman colt

also won the Prix du Jockey Club at the beginning of June so impeccable credentials for tackling, with confidence, next week's ninety-six renewal of France's prestigious event.

 

A Thundering Success?

The Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on Saturday is in of trainer David Menuisier's sights when he is hoping that the ante-post favourite, Thundering Blue, will transport Champion jockey, Jim Crowley, to victory and, thereby, make it four in a row for the Exchange Rate gelding. Following on from victories at Epsom and on the July Course, the four-year-old notched up his hat-trick in fine style at Sandown when claiming the BetBright Recall Handicap. Each of his recent races were over a mile and a quarter but at the weekend he drops back a furlong on the Rowley Mile but the Pulborough-based handler doesn't appear to have any qualms about that.

 

26 September 2017

 

Sadly It's So!

Unfortunately the current champion jockey will be riding in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. Sorry I'll re-write that! Jim Crowley is scheduled to ride the Karl Burke-trained, pessimistically named, Unfortunately, in the six-furlong contest. The Society Rock colt not only rocked the boat by claiming the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte in July but went on to rub it in by also winning the Prix Morny at Deauville last month. The two-year-old, previously partnered by French-based jockey Tony Piccone, will be steeered this time on the Rowley Mile by the Ascot-born rider.

 

Glory Be!

The Joseph O'Brien-trained High Chaparral colt headed up a one-two result in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Kilbegnet Novice Chase at Roscommon yesterday. The JP McManus-owned Landofhopeandglory, one of the top juvenile hurdlers in Ireland last season, won his first three starts and then went on to finish fifth in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and second in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown. The four-year-old, the 2/1 favourite ridden by Mark Walsh, confronted just five rivals at this re-visit of Grade Three level. Admittedly his jumping was at times not that fluent and his jockey had his work cut out at various stages of the extended two-mile contest but the gelding picked up well after the final fence and claimed victory by half a length.

 

Another Crack

This John Gosden-trained Frankel colt is snubbing a chance to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly next Sunday and will probably go for the Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 14. The impressive Great Voltigeur winner, Cracksman, is now the 7/2 favourite for the Berkshire track's prestigious fixture, although it does involve a drop back in trip to ten furlongs. Connections had already intimated that a return to France for Europe's premier middle-distance prize was not probably on the cards and with the race just a week away, Cracksman has now been confirmed as a non-runner.

 

25 September 2017

 

Naas Work!

Seventh win in a row and the seventeenth since 1996 for the Ballydoyle king. Aidan O’Brien achieved this impressive statistic when he saddled Saxon Warrior in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the County Kildare track yesterday. The one-mile event was held at Naas this year, whilst its usual location, the Curragh, is being redeveloped. It is interesting to note, however, that from all these seventeen winners only two went on to Classic glory - Septimus who triumphed in 2005 and Capri last year.

 

Thinking out loud!

Not only Irish trainers were in the limelight yesterday at Naas. The Rugby-born, North Yorkshire-based Karl Burke claimed two of the eight races on the card. Colm O'Donoghue did the honours in the second race of the day, the C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes, when he partnered Ellthea to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory. All eyes, though, were on his other filly, Quiet Reflection, who scored twice at Group One level last season, winning both the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the Sprint Cup at Haydock. The Showcasing filly, however, was a disappointment in the following race but, nevertheless, was the 5/2 favourite for yesterday's Group 3 Renaissance Stakes and travelled well under Martin Harley. There were a few anxious moments when it looked like quiet reflection was all that this filly was going to enjoy as she was hemmed in. Fortunately a gap appeared and she surged through and won by two and three-quarter lengths.

 

Got it Covered!

Despite his name, this David Griffiths-trained 10-year-old threw caution to the wind in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes at Newbury. Take Cover, with David Allan aboard, went for it from the off and made all, being virtually unchallenged in this five-furlong sprint, coming home with an advantage of three-quarters of a length. The Nigel Tinkler-trained Caspian Prince, also known for his front-running prowess, never managed to get on terms with the Singspiel gelding, not the least, due to the fact that he slightly missed the break.

 

24 September 2017

 

Ayr We Go!

As a result of the cancellation of the three-day fixture at Ayr due a waterlogged track, the British Horseracing Association has decided to re-schedule the feature race, the Ayr Gold Cup, and hold it at Haydock Park on Saturday, September 30. This prestigious event will have a new promoter, 32Red, instead of the original sponsor, William Hill. The BHA has also announced that be no special draw for the race just the standard automated draw allocation and also that ther will be a maximum safety factor of 17 runners.

 

Doing Battle

Willie Mullins has established a tremendous record with his horses on the Flat, currently on a strike rate of a 27% as compared with his great rival, Aidan O'Brien's 22% but in today's Beresford Stakes it is the latter who holds all the good cards, saddling three out of the five runners. The favourite is Saxon Warrior is, however, the one to beat. The Deep Impact colt is fresh from his impressive three-and-a-quarter-length victory on his maiden outing in the Irish Times Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden at the Curragh at the end of last month. Added to that the two-year-old will be partnered by Ryan Moore, who won this race last year aboard Capri.

 

Presidential Prowess

Trainer, George Scott, notched up the first Group win of his career when James Garfield scored in yesterday's Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury. The Exceed And Excel colt, beaten by a nose in the Acomb Sably aided and abetted in this aim by Frankie Dettori. The two-year-old, owned by Bill Gredley, the trainer's new father-in-law, made headway from the rear from two furlongs out, before taking over the lead inside the final furlong and eventually surging three-quarters of a length ahead of his nearest rival, Invincible Army.

 

23 September 2017

 

Anyone for Tennis?

This Richard Hannon-trained Acclamation gelding yesterday put on a tenacious performance for what could well be his final appearance in this country. Tabarrak, whose last victory was in the Listed Rundle's Paradise Stakes at Ascot in May, although he was a close runner-up in the Group 3 totepool Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury in August, was clearly determined to stamp his mark on the seven-strong, one-mile Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship Cup Stakes at Newbury. The Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned four-year-old hit the front inside the final furlong and successfully held off a late challenge by the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Accidental Agent to win by a neck.

 

Any Cesarewitch Way!

Three of the runners in today's Betfred Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket are trained by Mark Johnston. Heading up his trio is the Dual Royal Ascot winner, Oriental Fox, although, surprisingly, a 20/1 shot with many bookies which is, maybe, partly due to the fact that he is the oldest in the race. The nine-year-old, however, proved he was not yet ready for his pension in June when he showed the young'uns how to run a race when winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes. He failed to live up to this success in the subsequent Coral Marathon at Sandown, the Goodwood Cup or even the Ebor at York. This afternoon's contest looks like not being too challenging for him, however, and connections are optimistic that their ageing star can earn another crack at the Cesarewitch on October 14 and that he can avenge himself of the short-head defeat by Grumeti in 2015.

 

To Crown it All!

This Scottish race course unfortunately had to abandon all of its three-day fixture because of an unsafe patch of ground caused by torrential rain. This means that the Jewel in the Crown, the Ayr Gold Cup, scheduled for today, the last day, is one of the victims. It has been reported that the BHA is seeking to reschedule the race at another track in the near future, if possible, as the Ayr officials still have to deal with the problem that lost them their three days of racing.

22 September 2017

 

Mother of all Victories

Top amateur rider back again in the winner's enclosure at Ballinrobe. Nina Carberry, returning to the saddle after becoming a mum, was aboard the Noel Meade-trained Cask Mate in the Connacht Tribune Flat Race over an extended two miles, her first ride since last November. It was just as if the the thirty-three-year-old County Meath-born jockey had never been away. She kept the Kalanisi gelding always handy. When asked to eventually kick clear of his six rivals in the straight he responded immediately and won the race by twelve lengths.

 

Taxing Times

After a successful day at Fairyhouse and Yarmouth on Wednesday, when Jessica Harrington notched up three winners, she will now be sending five runners to Dundalk today, including the lightly raced World Tax War. This son of Acclamation performed well to gain a third place in a mile maiden at Navan earlier this month after a longish absence. The London-born trainer stated that World Tax War was in good form and that he was running at Dundalk, Ireland's only all-weather track, because the ground at the turf tracks is too soft and unsuitable.

 

A Close Shave

It is noticeable that racetrack weighing rooms do not present the typical hirsute image of any busy street, company office or, indeed, of racegoers. This would, perhaps, lead to the erroneous conclusion that beards for jockeys are a no-no. Over the years there have even been speculations that this was due to the desire to avoid extra weight or wanting to be more aerodynamic. There may even have been conjectures that some arcane racing rule, handed down from the old days, forbids jockeys to have beards. In fact, there is no truth whatsoever that there is a stipulation in the rules of racing that jockeys may not have a growth of hair on the chin and lower cheeks. Former Godolphin jockey, Ahmed Atjebi and Martin Lane, were the most recent British-based jockeys to sport a beard.

 

21 September 2017

 

Penny for your Thoughts.

The American racing community and, indeed, anyone interested in racing history, is saddened by the news that the owner of the legendary winner of the 1973 Triple Crown has passed away at the age of 95. Renowned as the 'first lady' of US racing, Helen 'Penny' Chenery went into the history books following her role in the story of Secretariat. The huge chestnut horse known as 'Big Red', trained by Lucien Laurin and ridden by Ron Turcotte, set a track record in the Kentucky Derby and a Stakes record in the Preakness before going on to an unforgettable 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes in world-record time. After becoming a celebrity during Secretariat's Triple Crown campaign, Penny Chenery left her indelible stamp on horse racing, particularly as her "influence on the sport spanned decades and her standing inspired generations of women in racing".

 

Johnny Be Good!

A double at Carlisle for the former top jockey who is now establishing an equally successful training career. Johnny Murtagh saddled the first winner of the day at Carlisle when Passionatta, following up her win at Chepstow last time out, triumphed in the Watch Racing UK ON BTTV Handicap. Rowan Scott rode the Intense Focus filly to a two-and-a-half-length victory despite the fact that he was ignominiously unshipped on the way down to the start. Half-an-hour later her stable companion, Les Arceaux, owned by JP Murtagh Racing, showed he also had what it takes to claim the Watch Racing UK On YouView Now Handicap. Making his first start since June, this son of Arcano appeared to relish the step-up to one mile and three furlongs and triumphed by two lengths.

 

A Rising Star?

There's a new teenage riding sensation on the block and it has been announced that he is soon to join champion trainer Nicky Henderson's team as a conditional jockey. James Bowen, just turned sixteen, has, it appears, the makings of as a future champion jockey. The Pembrokeshire-born rider, who has already notched up ten winners this season, clocks on at the Highclere yard on October 1.

 

18 September 2017

 

Another Crack?

A week on Sunday the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner could have another chance to take on the the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses was runner-up to John Gosden's Enable in that prestigious contest at Ascot in July. It seems the Galileo colt so impressed trainer and connections at a Warren Hill gallops event at Newmarket yesterday morning that it is now mooted that the four-year-old colt is bound for the North Paris track next month.

 

Good Evans!

David Evans enjoyed four-fold glory at Ffos Las yesterday afternoon. The Welsh trainer began how he obviously intended to carry on by claiming the first race on the card, the Bet With Peter Sutton Bookmakers On Course Nursery, when his 9/4 favourite Give Em A Clump, with Kieran Shoemark aboard, made every yard of the running and won by two lengths, followed by stable companion, Kheleyf's Girl, making it a one and two for the Abergavenny stables. Then half-an-hour later Fran Berry did the honours when he partnered Yorbelucky to a two-and-three-quarter length victory in the EBF Novice Stakes, denying victory to the odds-on favourite, Christopher Wood. Then Francis Martin did it again in the next race when he won the Peterson Family Supporting The NSPCC Cymru/Wales Handicap. The County Kildare jockey was clearly on a roll as he clinched the fourth race of the day with a win in the BBI Group Supporting Childline Wales Fillies' Handicap, making it a treble for him and a four-timer for David Evans

 

Life of Bryan!

It was reported last week that this County Tralee jockey was about to start a new riding career in this country. It looks like Bryan Cooper is taking the first steps in this plan as he has one ride at Worcester today. The twenty-five-year-old rider is booked to ride the Harry Whittington-trained Guiding Stars in the Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race. This four-year-old Bonbon Rose gelding is making the second start of his career, after not making too much of an impression at Huntingdon last November when he finished well down the field in the Hog Roast Catering Company 'Junior' Standard Open NH Flat Race.

 

17 September 2017

 

One Moore Try

Hard to believe but this jockey, arguably one of the best in the world, has never won the world’s oldest Classic. Ryan Moore, on his eighth attempt, however, partnered the Irish Derby winner Capri to a thrilling victory in the St Leger at Doncaster yesterday and, thereby, complete his full set of victories in the British Classics. In the eleven-strong field, four of the runners were trained by Aidan O’Brien, but this Galileo son was the favourite in, what was considered to be, one of the best renewals in recent years. Ryan Moore was aided and abetted in his ultimate bid for glory by his mount's stable companion and the 66/1 outsider, The Anvil, who set a useful early pace in the one-mile-six-furlong contests. About four furlongs out, James Doyle, aboard Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden who has won this Classic four times before, went into the lead with Sir Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean vying for supremacy. However the three-year-old grey still had enough left to see off his rivals in the straight and pass the line half a length ahead.

 

Rustle of Spring

This five-year-old Zebedee progeny showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels in yesterday's William Hill Portland Handicap at Doncaster and caused quite a stir among his connections. Spring Loaded, with Joey Haynes aboard, pursued the leaders on the stand side for quite a while and didn't seem to be going anywhere fast but, just over one furlong from home, he started to make headway and went into the lead, keeping on strongly to win by three-and-a-half lengths.

 

Wrong One!

Unfortunately Ryan Moore made the wrong choice of Aidan O'Brien-trainer runner in the Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes at Doncaster yesterday. The thirty-three-year-old Brighton-born jockey (34 tomorrow! ) hoped to get the right tune out of the shorter-priced Mendelssohn who, unfortunately, weakened a furlong out and came last. The hero of the day was Seahenge, ridden by the trainer's son, Donnacha, who claimed the Group Two honours. This Scat Daddy colt produced a surprising a strong last-minute challenge to pip the James Tate-trained Hey Gaman at the post by a neck.

 

16 September 2017

 

Never Reins but it …...

Day Three of Doncaster's St Leger Festival witnessed the continuation of jockey PJ McDonald’s top run of form when he partnered the Mark Johnston-trained Time To Study in the Mallard Handicap. In a heart-stopping conclusion, requiring a photo-finish to separate the two protagonists, the Motivator colt, who had led the field from over two furlongs out, had to really dig deep to beat off the threatening challenge by Byron Flyer, ridden by Ryan Moore. This was clearly no time for study but for action and the Mr Abdulla Al Mansoori-owned three-year-old passed the test by a head. The victory had extra relish for the winning jockey. He dropped a rein as he battled against someone who is generally considered to be the world’s best rider. As he commented afterwards: “It’s hard enough to beat Ryan Moore with two reins, never mind one!”

 

Sky's the Limit

The champion jockey elect rode this Tamayuz colt to a one-and-a-half length victory in the Doncaster Cup yesterday. The David Elsworth-trained Desert Skyline was the youngest of this nine-runner event and clearly showed his elders that they were not his betters. Silvestre de Sousa patiently held back the 2/1 favourite at the rear of the field on and his patience was ultimately rewarded when he left Willie Mullins' Thomas Hobson and last year's winner Sheikhzayedroad in his wake. Sadly Desert Skyline is a gelding and so is not eligible for Classic races so we'll never know how well he might have fared in, for instance, today's St Leger or even the Derby.

 

Good Grief!

Seventy-five members of the Hot to Trot syndicate who lease this Kyllachy filly for £1,995 a year, enjoyed another great day's racing. The Clive Cox-trained Heartache had already given them a day in the sun (literally!) at Royal Ascot in June when she carried off the prize in the Queen Mary Stakes. Now she got the better of the opposite sex, Havana Grey, in an excitingly close finish. For most winners, victory in this Doncaster sprint would be perhaps the pinnacle of success in their careers but there is definitely a lot more to come from this very talented filly.

 

15 September 2017

 

Leger Demain!

This Sardinian jockey claimed the St. Leger Stakes in 2014 and 2015 but he couldn't do the same again last year because, unfortunately, he wasn't booked to ride. So, understandably, Andrea Atzeni is all the more determined to go for his third triumph at Doncaster tomorrow and he is confident that the Roger Varian-trained Defoe has what it takes to gain a place in the winner's enclosure. This Dalakhani colt, who has won his last four races, began his campaign by winning the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap off a mark of 88 at Newbury in May but this time he will go to post rated 113, after his latest victory when he made easy work of the Group 3 Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes back at this Berkshire venue last month.

 

Laurens at the Post

The Karl Burke-trained Suyouni filly claimed the William Hill May Hill Stakes at Doncaster with a last-minute dash for the line. Laurens narrowly won on her racecourse debut at this track in July and then went on to be runner-up in the Group Three Prix du Calvados at Deauville last month. Joining Group Two company for the first time, the two-year-old, ridden by PJ McDonald, was sent of the 11/4 favourite but she seemed a bit flat-footed when James Doyle urged Nyaleti into the lead inside the final three furlongs and, indeed, she seemed destined for only a place. However, John Dance's filly eventually found a little speed and came in a head ahead of the course and distance winner Dark Rose Angel.

 

'Ell' of a Ride!

Karl Burke also had success in the EBF British Stallion Studs "Carrie Red" Fillies' Nursery when his Kodiac filly was back in top form. After outclassing her rivals in the Carleton Fillies' Novice Stakes at Carlisle in June she then seemed out of her depth in the Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Stallions Star Stakes at Sandown when she only managed sixth. This time the 8/1 shot, Ellthea, joined handicap company and had no problems under the guidance of apprentice jockey, Clifford Lee, drawing away in the last two-hundred yards to claim victory by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

14 September 2017

 

Happy Birthday!

A recently-retired National Hunt jockey who won the Queen Mother Champion Chase on One Man back in 1998, scored in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster yesterday aboard a horse who hasn't won since June 2013. The Tim Easterby-trained Off Art who looked like he was returning to to previous top form when coming third at Redcar at the end of August, was brought in late by Brian Harding to take the one-mile contest by half a length – a fitting fifty-sixth birthday present for the North Yorkshire-base trainer.

 

Yes, Sir. That's Shabaaby!

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Conditions Stakes at Doncaster was another occasion for this Kyllachy colt to prove that he's one to watch. The Owen Burrows-trained Shabaaby, third behind Nyaleti on his racecourse debut at Salisbury in June and then going on to a resounding win at Newmarket last month, was deemed second best by the market but the result soon made a mockery of that conclusion. Champion jockey Jim Crowley kept his mount in third place, tracking the leaders until going into the lead one furlong from home. Once given his head, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Shabaaby didn't need asking twice and went clear to score by seven lengths.

 

Get the Point?

Gordon Elliott had already indicated that this jockey was aboard the best of his three runners in the Guinness Kerry National and so it turned out. Lisa O'Neill provided the County Meath-based trainer with back-to-back victories when she steered Potters Point to a half-a-length victory, relegating Arkwrisht and Bay Of Freedom to second and third, respectively.

 

13 September 2017

 

Dream On?

Saturday's Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes at Doncaster holds out the possibility, at the five-day confirmation, that the Mark Johnston-trained Dream Ahead colt could step straight into Group Two company. This decision came about after Dream Today's impressive victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes, Britain's richest feature for first-time runners, at York last month. The North Yorkshire-based trainer has claimed this prestigious race on two previous occasions, with Lucky Story in 2003 and McCartney in 2007. So 2017 could see a Dream come true on that day!

 

Shoulda been a Contender!

It appears that the Kevin Ryan-trained Pivotal gelding is in good shape after his disappointing ninth showing in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday. Brando was the favourite for that Group One feature, particularly following his impressive result in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville but the Tom Eaves-ridden five-year-old fared no better than his namesake in the Classic film, On the Waterfront, who just wanted to be a contender. The Thirsk-based trainer had no specific explanation why his charge didn't cut the mustard. He did recall, however, that Brando had had a bad experience at the Merseyside track a few years ago when he burst a blood vessel when winning a handicap. Whether the memory of that event affected his performance, we'll never know.

 

Another Crack

After their Teofilo colt's creditable performance when coming third behind Ribchester in the Prix du Moulin on Sunday, connections are eager for him to take on the Richard Fahey star again in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot next month. Massaat caught the eye when winning the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury last month, his first start for over a year. So his trainer Owen Burrows thinks a rematch at the Berkshire track is well merited.

11 September 2017

 

Run of the Mill

At Chantilly yesterday this Iffraaj colt once more asserted his position as Europe’s top miler by winning the Group One Prix du Moulin. It was the Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester's fourth victory at the highest level and also establishes him as Yorkshire’s best horse on the Flat after topping the three Group Ones in a row notched up Alan Swinbank’s star, Collier Hill in 2006 and 2007. It was good to see that Ribchester's last-month shock defeat in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood was purely down to the heavy ground.

 

Good with Words!

The second day of Irish Champions Weekend was a bit of an anti-climax after Leopardstown on Saturday due to erratic weather, a string of important non-runners and also, unfortunately, because the Curragh is still undergoing important re-building works. These factors were probably responsible for the low number of racegoers who bothered to turn up. Considering the high standard of racing and the fact that it was the biggest attraction around the area, 5,370 visitors was a poor show, compared to the 13,689 who attended Leopardstown the day before. But, despite all that, it was business as usual for trainers and jockeys and particularly Jim Bolger. Shrewdly the 75-year-old trainer probably speculated that the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes didn't have the high calibre of runners of previous renewals and took advantage of that to claim his first Group One win in more than two years. Verbal Dexterity, (who his wife, Jackie, claims was named after her husband!), did most of the talking in this seven-furlong contest, however, soundly beating the Gordon Elliot-trained favourite, Beckford, by three-and-a-half lengths.

 

Order! Order!

The Irish St Leger on the final day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend held no surprises. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Order of St George easily claimed the prize by nine lengths. Winner of this prestigious event by eleven lengths in 2015 when the trainer's son, Joseph, was in the saddle, it was no wonder that the five-year-old Galileo progeny was the race favourite. This victory means Order of St George becomes only the fourth dual winner of this race, joining the likes of Vintage Crop (93 & 94), Oscar Schindler (96 & (7) and Kayf Tara (98 & 99), although he has some way to go before beating the record set by the four-time race winner, Vinnie Roe (2001 - 2004). 

 

10 September 2017

 

Knight's Day

A 25/1 chance Galileo horse notched up his third Group 1 victory when winning the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday. The Roger Charlton-trained Decorated Knight, also winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May, was still in last position half-way round this ten-furlong contest but, under Andreas Atzeni 's persistent stewardship, the five-year-old closed this gap by one furlong out, narrowly in the lead in the final hundred yards, and stormed home with a half-length advantage from Sir Michael Stoute's Poet’s Word. The disappointment of the day was that the odds-on favourite, Churchill, could only manage seventh out of the field of ten.

 

Blooming Good!

There was a surprise blossoming in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown when the Aidan O'Brien-trained Hydrangea got the better of her stable companion, Winter, who was, thereby, denied a fifth successive Group One triumph. The Ballydoyle trainer had hinted that Winter's preparation had been interrupted for one reason and another and that might make a difference if it came to a tight finish. Never a truer word spoken as the eventual winner, ridden by Wayne Lordan, persisted right to the end and prevailed by a head.

 

Wild About Harry

Trainer Clive Cox acknowledged that he had had a few sleepless nights prior to yesterday's 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock yesterday. The reason was that the dire weather forecast and the resultant heavy ground were, as he knew from experience, not ideal for his stable star, Harry Angel. So much so that the Lambourn-based trainer only confirmed the Dark Angel colt as a runner just half an hour before the event. Now he must be wondering why he bothered his head so much because Harry Angel added his name to the list of sprinting superstars when winning the six-furlong contest by four lengths.

 

9 September 2017

 

Reining Hero

The Murwillumbah racecourse in New South Wales, Australia, was the scene of an amazing example of top horsemanship by a Sydney-born female jockey. Laura Cheshire was aboard Secret Blend in a competitive handicap race. Just after the runners jumped out of the starting stalls, the mare's bridle fell apart, causing the bit to fall out of her mouth, taking the bridle with it. The other jockey’s seemed to realize that their colleague was racing without a bridle and did their best to stay well clear of her. That wasn't the end of it, however, because when the race was over, this Pivotal offspring carried on running and, in fact, raced around the track three times. At one stage the loose rein caught around the horse's hind leg, which only made the fourteen-year-old take off even faster and start bucking in an effort to kick the rein off. Luckily she didn’t step on it or both horse and rider could have flipped over. When the rein eventually came loose, Laura Cheshire, as cool as a cucumber, leaned over to retrieve it, and continued trying to calm her mount down, finally managing to get her to stop at one of the fences. The plucky rider was then able to slide off and fashion the broken bridle into a kind of head collar to lead her safely back to the parade ring. It was certainly an eventful incident, heroically handled.

 

Royal versus St George

It could be testing ground for the renewal of the Irish Leger at the Curragh tomorrow but connections of five-year-old Dartmouth, owned by the Queen, do not seem unduly perturbed. The royal runner heads the British challenge aiming to take on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Order Of St George who is now the hot favourite, after Michael Bell’s Ascot Gold Cup winner Big Orange was withdrawn. This Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dubawi offspring won the Group Two Yorkshire Cup in May and was just nosed out of victory by Andrew Balding's Montaly on the Knavesmire in last month’s Lonsdale Cup. Racing advisor to the Queen, John Warren, admitted that with a top-class horse there were always concerns about extreme conditions but, provided the going wasn't too onerous, there was no reason Dartmouth shouldn't do well as he was exceptionally versatile.

 

Anna Surprise at Salisbury

This Richard Hannon-trained Dubawi filly pulled off the surprise of the day when winning the Group Three Bathwick Tyres Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes at Salisbury. The 40/1 shot, Anna Nerium, was the first of the thirteen runners to come off the bridle and, three furlongs from home, things looked dire. Never-say-die jockey, Tom Marquand, however, wasn't going to give up that easily and managed to persuade his two-year-old mount that all was not lost and goaded her into a last-minute race for the line to score by a neck, ahead of the Dean Ivory-trained Eirene who looked to have the race in the bag a furlong out.

8 September 2017

 

Magical Result?

The Mowbray House Farm team will shortly be setting off from Stillington, York, to make the three-and-a-half-hour trip to Musselburgh for this evening's racing. Trainer, Ruth Carr will be saddling two contenders, eight-year-old Ellal, who came second a week ago at this East Lothian track and five-year-old Magical Effect who is appearing here for the first time. Of the two it appears that great things are expected from the latter who is favourite and top-weight in the St Andrews Timber Handicap. This son of New Approach, who was with Charlie Appleby until the Summer of 2015, has produced some solid results lately for his current trainer, with two wins and four places from eight starts. Clearly he is about due for another success.

 

Cudda. Shudda. Wudda

With a seventy percent chance of rain at Haydock Park tomorrow the 32Red Sprint Cup is the subject of serious speculation, even though it has been allocated an earlier third-race slot in an attempt to avoid the worst of the bad weather. The long-time favourite, Harry Angel, is now being seriously challenged in the betting market by the Kevin Ryan-trained Brando who beat Aclaim and Tupi in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last month. Admittedly the going was good on that occasion but he did score in last year's Ayr Gold Cup on good to soft and on soft in the Coral Charge at Sandown. The five-year-old Pivotal offspring is named after American stage and screen star Marlon Brando, whose famous quote in the film On the Waterfront was; “ I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody!” Well, tomorrow his namesake could finally put Terry Malloy's spirit to rest.

 

Better than you think!

It may be one of the most prestigious meetings attended by the stars and celebrities of the racing world but the Irish Champions Weekend welcomes everyone. It is certainly not unknown for a few gifted smaller trainers to leave Leopardstown on Sunday evening with a few wins to their credit. One handler with such aspirations is Madeleine Tylicki, sister of jockey, Freddy, with just ten horses in her Newbridge yard in County Kildare. One of these is Sirjack Thomas who broke his duck in heavy ground at Roscommon ten days ago and will be lining up in this year's Group 3 Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes. This Fast Company colt is currently a 20/1 shot which, his trainer thinks, seriously underestimates his chances.

 

7 September 2017

 

Lille Appeal

The 2005 joint champion apprentice in 2005 and the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in a year has now had her first win in France since announcing she will ride there full-time this Winter to take advantage of the new 4.4-pound advantage for horses with a woman aboard. Hayley Turner rode the Henri Devin-trained Prime Time to victory at Le Croise-Laroche race track near Lille. Since retiring from racing two years ago the Nottingham-born rider has been working for At The Races and ITV Racing and has made the odd comeback in the saddle, including the Shergar Cup at Ascot at the beginning of August.

 

Remember November !

In case the general public can't tell a riding whip from a golf club the popular Cheltenham Open, which for the past seventeen years, as its name suggests, has traditionally heralded the start of the jumps season, has been obliged to change its name. It seems that the organisers of The Open, the 157-year-old golf tournament, feel they have a superior claim to this nomenclature and the dual use of the name couold be confusing to the public. So Prestbury Park's most important meeting outside the Festival will henceforth be known as – wait for it! – the November Meeting. It doesn't have the same ring about it, though!

 

Race against Time

The 32Red Sprint Cup, originally scheduled as the last-but-one race of the day at Haydock on Saturday, has now been moved to the third race on the card. The organisers, quite naturally, are anxious that the six-furlong contest should be run on the best possible ground. The re-adjustment was prompted by the week of wet weather that the North-West has experienced, resulting in the going becoming good to soft. The threat of further rain means that trainer, Henry Candy, has already indicated that his stable star, Limato is a doubtful starter. Others could follow if conditions deteriorate any further.

 

6 September 2017

 

Flat Return

It is rumoured that this John P McManus-owned Montjeu offspring could switch back to the Flat for the Betfred Cesarewitch at Newmarket. Galway Hurdle winner, Tigris River, trained by Joseph O'Brien, claimed his third successive victory in the riveting renewal of this Ballybrit prestigious race last month, making it his fifth victory over hurdles to-date. The six-year-old has run just five times on the Flat before, most most recently when winning the Brady Burns Insurance Brokers Supporting Junefest Handicap at the Curragh in June. Connections are loath to commit themselves at this stage but it looks as though a trip across the Irish Sea could be on the cards.

 

Days Numbered

The Ken Condon-trained Jeremy five-year-old probably only has a couple more chances to win a Group One before calling it a day at the end of the season. The County Kildare handler is pondering the Champion Stakes on both sides of the Irish Sea for Success Days; the first takes place at Leopardstown on Saturday where the Robert Ng-owned five-year-old is scheduled to compete in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, provided that the ground is suitable. The grey appears to relish soft ground, however, and is said to be in fine form after his impressive victory in the Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire.

 

A Royal Line

It seems this Sheikh Mohammed Dubawi progeny is another future star to carry the well-known maroon and white silks to glory. At Windsor in the Call Star Spreads On 0808 234 9709 Maiden Stakes Royal Line raced at the rear of the field for most of the nearly one-and-a-half-mile contest. But, when passing the two furlong pole, however, the three-year-old colt suddenly seemed to realise what the job on hand was and went from last to first to win by three-quarter of a length.

 

4 September 2017

 

Magic Moment

The Charlie Appleby-trained Dark Angel colt won the Des Chenes Group 3 Stakes at Chantilly yesterday. Stage Magic, owned by Godolphin, put on an impressive performance in the five-strong, seven-furlong contest. Cambridge-born James Doyle quickly manoeuvred the two-year-old into the lead and stayed there in a dominating position for the rest of the race, narrowly holding off the hot favourite, Olmedo, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget. Another English raider, Zyzzyvam, from Robyn Brisland's Newmarket yard, came an admirable third.

 

Turkish Delight

Meanwhile another Godolphin runner provided the treats in Turkey. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Secret Number stormed to victory in the International Bosphorus Cup at Veliefendi. This son of Raven's Pass, despite a 295-day absence from the track, produced a professional performance in this Group Two contest. Gerald Mosse brought the seven-year-old with a powerful gallop down the centre of the track, denying victory to the Andrew Balding-trained mare, Elbereth, who finished third in this race last year.

 

Well-earned Win

Tim Easterby's My Reward dominated from the front to cash in on the corbettsports.com Chester Stakes. This Listed contest, with a total £37,000 prize money up for grabs, was the main event of the day on the Roodee and, naturally, attracted a strong eleven-runner field. The son of Rail Link, ridden by David Allan, got an advantageous draw in stall two and used it well to get out in front. For much of the one-mile-five-furlong trip the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Shraaoh endeavoured to keep him but, from the home bend, the writing was on the wall. The 3/1 favourite, Cape Coast, duly laboured hard at the finish and, indeed, slowly started to reel the leader in. My Reward managed to hold on, however, to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

3 September 2017

 

Now you're Talking!

A very quiet day for racing with only two English tracks in action, one on the Flat and the other National Hunt. It may be worth looking at the Brighton card, though, where there could still be a chance to make some cash. The Michael Bell-trained Zoffany filly has, it's true, only won one of her eight career outings but she has never been far away from the winning outcome and it looks as if today could be the day. Jive Talking put on a good show against better Class Two rivals at Salisbury last time out and, although she found the mile-and-a-half trip a bit tough she only dropped off the pace in the final stages. Today's Class 4 British Stallions Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap is two furlongs shorter so the three-year-old filly is in with a chance.

 

Pure Gold

Owners, the China Horse Club, forked out over £1.5 million for this Frankel filly but had to wait until her three-year-old season before they could see her in action. The Jim Bolger-trained Goldrush made up for lost time, however, by winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at Navan yesterday. Kevin Manning always kept the 6/1 chance close on the pace and when, two furlongs out, he asked her to go for home she easily combatted any efforts from the odds-on favourite, Frima, and galloped three lengths clear of the chasing Wooster.

 

Masar for Masar!

As expected, the Charlie Appleby-trained New Approach colt, after winning his racecourse debut at Goodwood in May and coming an impressive third behind high-class fillies September and Nyaleti in the Chesham Stakes a month later, was the 11-8 favourite to get back on the winning trail in yesterday's BetBright Solario Stakes at Sandown. The course and distance winner, Connect, lead the field for much of this Group Three seven-furlong contest with Richard Hannon's De Bruyne Horse next and Masar, with James Doyle aboard, following closely in third slot. Masar quickly went into the lead inside the final two furlongs, shadowed closely by the Ken Condon-trained Irish challenger Romanised. It looked as though it would be a close-run thing but the Godolphin-owned Masar was made of sterner stuff and claimed a two-length victory.

2 September 2017

 

Just the Type

Yesterday's All New Fiesta At Trust Ford Handicap at Sandown gave the Simon Crisford-trained son of Le Havre, un-raced as a two-year-old, the chance to show how well he can perform under top weight, producing his third win from six starts. Oisin Murphy kept Archetype handy just off the pace set by the Richard Hannon-trained Pillar Of Society. Then about a furlong out the three-year-old colt galloped away strongly to claim this Class 3 one-mile contest by two-and-a-half lengths.

 

High Five?

The big question on everyone's lips (“chapped lips”!) is whether John Gosden can win his fifth Solario Stakes of the decade at Sandown today. This prestigious contest, first run 70 years ago, with Group Three status since 1986, has established itself as a key late-season two-year-old race. The Clarehaven Stables' trainer saddled his first winner, Foss Way, in this seven-furlong contest fifteen years ago. Then came Windsor Knot in 2004, Raven's Pass in 2007 and Kingman, more recently, in 2013. Today the pressure is on Purser, the well-backed winner of a Newbury maiden two weeks ago, to claim another victory for the Newmarket yard.

 

A lot at Stakes

This Brian Meehan-trained son of Zebedee is aiming for glory in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket later this month. Impressively Barraquero came third behind 2000 Guineas favourite Expert eye on his racecourse debut on 15 June, following that up with an impressive six-length victory in the Daily Racing Specials At 188Bet/EBF Stallions Novice Stakes at Chepstow on July 4. At the beginning of last month the bay colt obviously had no problems with a step up in grade for the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood which he won comfortably. All this is valuable experience for his bid for glory in the Group One feature race on September 30.

 

1 September 2017

 

A Win and that's on the level!

This County Waterford National Hunt trainer has finally notched up his first Listed victory on the Flat. Henry de Bromhead saddled Gorane in the Kilfrush Stud Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary yesterday. Ridden by Declan McDonogh the 14/1 shot Dream Ahead filly made a hasty exit from the stalls and was soon narrowly in the lead ahead of Alphabet and Green Door. The Favourite, Son Of Rest, did his best to to challenge this young upstart but in vain. Ultimately Gorane denied another young contender, Snowstorm, victory by half a length.

 

First Win in Two Years.

It's been some 553 days since this Newmarket-based trainer saddled a winner at Chelmsford City. Last night, however, it was time for celebration when Roger Varian's Aljuljalah, with Andreas Atzeni aboard, triumphed in the Greene King IPA Charlotte Fillies' Conditions Stakes, her first win since September 2015, although she had gained some reasonable placings in her eleven outings. The four-year-old Exchange Rate filly came late from right back in the field to claim the seven-furlong prize by three quarters of a length.

 

Mademoiselle Hayley!

This thirty-four-year-old Nottingham-born jockey decided to come out of retirement, tempted by the two-kilogram claim on offer to women riders in France and experienced her first full day of riding across the Channel. Unfortunately from her three rides yesterday Hayley Turner only managed a runner-up slot on the Francis Graffard-trained Mr Maximum but she'll be back there again next Tuesday and Wednesday to try her luck. Bonne chance!

 

31 August 2017

 

Up the City!

Prize-money's up again this week at the former Great Leighs Racecourse. Chelmsford city's firm commitment to increase the financial rewards is in evidence this afternoon with the first two races on the card offering six-figure rewards totalling £110,500, To cap that Saturday's fixture has £200,000 spread over the seven races. These sums are the highest since the Essex course reopened in April 2008. James Fanshawe is clearly one trainer who would like to get his hands on some of this money and will be saddling runners today and on Saturday. His Zest has a good chance in today's £45,000 Greene King IPA Charlotte Fillies' Conditions Stakes.

 

Back on Song?

On Saturday the David Griffith-trained son of Singspiel will bid to get his season back on song in the Listed totescoop6 Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes. Take Cover may be ten years old already and some would think ready to call it a day but the way he handled himself when winning the City Walls Stakes at York in July indicates there's more to come before retirement.

 

The Real McCoy?

Competing in this Concours Complet International four-star event is worlds away, you would think, from the hustle and bustle of the National Hunt racetrack but is not, it seems, a bridge too far for the former twenty-time champion jockey. In a shock announcement, Tony McCoy has revealed he is now bidding to add CCI to his long list of achievements, which include three Guinness World Records and an assortment of major racing successes such as the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The forty-three-year-old Moneyglass-born jockey aims to 'ride' Pamela, a rescued Shetland pony, who has rather rocked the equestrian world recently with exclusive behind-the-scenes videos of her success in training. The decision to employ the services of Sir AP McCoy as jockey is clearly a dramatic final touch in the bid for Pamela to become the first Shetland pony ever to 'compete' in the Burghley Horse Trials.

30 August 2017

 

Emotional Win

It was a a doubly emotional occasion at Epsom yesterday; firstly because of the name of the race and secondly because of the horse that won it. The race was the Charlotte Lajoie Forever in Our Hearts Handicap, named after the former stable girl who sadly died in a car crash in 2015 and the horse was the Jim Boyle-trained Cordite who hasn't won a race since October 2013. The six-year-old son of Footstepsinthesand duly made amends and produced a length-and-a-half success in this mile-and-a-half contest. The trainer who is based about two miles from the Surrey track was obviously delighted with the result because his head girl, Louisa Allen, who looks after Cordite, was a very close friend of Charlotte.

 

Exchange no Robbery!

A horse that hasn't won for almost twelve months is the Simon Crisford-trained Rodaini. The son of Exchange Rate was last year in fine form when clinching a four-timer with his victory last September in the Weatherbys Stallion Book Flying Scotsman Stakes. Since then the three-year-old seems to have lost his way. So yesterday's Follow attheraces On Twitter Conditions Race at Ripon was probably a much-needed confidence-booster. With the added advantage of a drop in class, Franny Norton successfully steered his charge to a three-quarter length win ahead of the favourite, Hugin.

 

Star Attraction

This six-year-old sprinter also joins the infamous absentee list, having not scored since August 2013. The Kevin Ryan-trained Bogart did start to show signs of improvement on his last two appearances at Thirsk, however. The only problem was that he was unlucky to come up against better-handicapped horses such as The Armed Man and, most recently, Memories Galore. In his favour also is that the son of Bahamian Bounty has been ignore by the handicapper and is on an attractive 81 mark in what, by any standards, is not a challenging contest.

 

29 August 2017

 

Upsom Downs!

On and off it was an interesting day's racing at this Surrey track. Two separate but similar incidents provided racegoers with an eventful afternoon at Epsom. In the All New Fiesta At Trust Ford Handicap the favourite, Chica De La Noche, trained by Simon Dow, stumbled at the start and unseated her jockey, Harry Bentley. Tough luck for the punters but stuff happens. That wasn't the end of it, however. The very next race, the Caspian Prince Handicap, mirrored the previous event when the favourite, Boom The Groom, 'stumbled at the start and unseated' his jockey, Robert Winston. There was a happy ending for punters, though. Sky Bet generously refunded all its customers who had bet on these two unfortunate 'non-runners'.

 

Awesome Foursome

The nine-time Irish Champion jockey ehanced his chances to win this year's title by pulling off an amazing four-timer at Roscommon. Pat Smullen kicked off his eventful day in the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Race when the Tracy Collins-trained Sollertia followed up her encouraging debut at the Curragh last month by with a one-and-three-quarter length victory in this seven-furlong-plus event. The next race, the Murray Ambulance Maiden, wasn't so straightforward as the Dermot Weld-trained Knowing You left it very late to challenge the favourite, Invincible Ryker, but surprisingly made it with three-quarters of a length to spare. The Peggy Guerin Memorial Handicap looked as though it would be Pat Smullen's first defeat of the day when Ontheiflist, trained by Harry Rogers, dallied at the back for quite a while. This Iffraaj son wasn't beaten yet, however, and soon dominated in the final furlong to snatch victory by four-and-three-quarter lengths. To prove that not all things come in threes the Irish Champion steered Lord Erskine, again for Harry Rogers, to his fourth success of the day.

 

By Acclamation!

The Owen Burrows-trained Enjazaat benefited from a drop in class to triumph in the Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy. This Acclamation son won the Injured Jockeys Fund Novice Stakes at Yarmouth in June and, although he only made sixth in the Group Two July Stakes at Newmarket the next time out it was by no means a disappointing effort. The Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt clearly found this six-furlong Listed heat an easier proposition. The 5/4 favourite, Lake Volta, was obvious determined to take the race from the front and was still in the lead at the beginning of the final furlong. Champion jockey, Jim Crowley, however, succeeded in urging his mount to fend off the the fast-finishing Tip Two Win and the result was a comfortable two-length victory.

 

28 August 2017

 

Flash Drive

A second horse has now gone down in history after claiming back-to-back wins in the fiftieth renewal of the prestigious Celebration Mile at Goodwood. The David Simcock-trained Lightning Spear had already hinted at better things to come when finishing third in the Sussex Stakes at this track three weeks ago. All credit to jockey Oisin Murphy who timed his final challenge to perfection when the six-year-old son of Pivotal got his nose in front, thus denying victory to last year's runner-up, Zonderland.

 

With Flying Colours

This son of War Front took full advantage from a drop in class at the Curragh yesterday when he claimed the Group Three Plusvital Round Tower Stakes by six lengths. The Aidan O'Brien-trained US Navy Flag, having, in no way, disgraced himself when coming fourth to Sioux Nation in the Group One Phoenix Stakes last time out, made the most of what was clearly not such a big task this time. Ryan Moore kept his mount in front on the stands rail until asking the 5/4 favourite to go for home, a request that was easily complied with.

 

Going Dutch

Another piece of good news at Goodwood. The Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection, who hasn't had a victory for over a year, notched up his fifth career win when scoring in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Supreme Stakes. The five-year-old took full advantage of a drop to Group Three company and, partnered by Champion jockey, Jim Crowley, doggedly tracked the leader, Salateen, until about a furlong and a half from home and then drew away in the final hundred yards.

27 August 2017

 

Where there's Hope, there's Danny!

Last night at Redcar it was Ladies’ and Gents’ Evening . (I guess there are some of each of those at all race meetings!) This was something special, however, as the visitors to this seaside track were treated to an exciting treble by an Ayrshire-born jockey. Danny Tudhope made his first strike in the fourth race of the fixture, the Class 4 Racing UK Straight Mile Series Handicap when the David O'Meara-trained Mon Beau Visage claimed the prize by a short-head from Jim Goldie’s Scottish raider Testa Rossa. Having denied the Scottish trainer victory in that race, Danny Tudhope made amends by riding the Jim Goldie-trained Insurplus to a half-a-length victory in the All New racinguk.com Handicap. The treble came in the last race of the day when he was back riding for David O’Meara whose State Residence was a clear winner from about a furlong from home.

 

Right royal Win

Fabricate, owned by Her Majesty the Queen easily dealt with the step up in class when winning the Bet & Watch At sunbets.co.uk Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor last night. The Michael Bell-trained son of Makfi, fresh from winning the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap at Goodwood after a stewards' enquiry, left no doubts about the result of this contest as he was virtually all done and dusted over three furlongs from home.

 

Gamble Pre-amble!

Apparently there was a bit of a gamble with a Cartmel runner yesterday. The David Loughnane-trained Tornado Watch was available at 33/1 in the morning but was very soon half that price. Even an hour before the running of the totepool Cartmel Cup Handicap Hurdle the son of Selkirk could still be had at between 12/1 and 18/1. Then things started to move. After opening at 10/1 on the course, the eight-year-old chestnut gelding suddenly moved up to 2/1 joint-favouritism, even making 15/8 for a brief while. In the end, however, the mysterious manoeuvrings failed as Tornado Watch was denied victory by seven lengths but, nevertheless, ran better than his morning odds suggested.

26 August 2017

 

The Wrong Jump!

The man from Milan jumped the gun (not his customary leap!) at yesterday's conclusion of the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Frankie Dettori, aboard the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia, punched the air and waved his whip in his usual exuberant winning style. The only problem was that the 10/11 favourite hadn't won, as the photo-finish camera revealed a few moments later. The lady in the spotlight this time was the Sir Mark Prescott-trained Acclamation filly, Marsha, ridden by Luke Morris, who had got her nose in front in the final stride of this five-furlong contest.

 

Two much to hope for?

This Highclere Throughbred Racing trainer hasn’t won the Ebor Handicap since Clerkenwell

did the honours back in 1996. Sir Michael Stoute, who scored on Wednesday with Ulysses in the Juddmonte International, is now daring to hope that he could pull off the ultimate Ebor Festival double when his Dubka lines up in Europe’s most illustrious mile-and-six-furlong contest. This Dubawi filly has made her mark lately in higher graded races and distinguished herself by coming a very close second to Charlie Appleby's Endless Time in the Markel Insurance Fillies' Stakes at Glorious Goodwood at the beginning of the month.

 

A Chip off the Old Block

Killarney proved the place to be for trainer Joseph O'Brien. Aidan O'Brien's son excelled himself by notching up a double at this County Kerry track. He kicked off his successful evening with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden when his brother, Donnacha, partnered High Language to a half-length victory. Then two races later he did the old one-two with Grey Waters and Pronounced taking first and second place in the two-mile-plus Seamus Mulvany Bookmakers 3-Y-O Hurdle.

 

 

25 August 2017

 

Can do!

This daughter of Nathaniel, with the English and Irish Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes already to her credit, added the Darley Yorkshire Oaks to that impressive list yesterday. The John Gosden-trained Enable performed well in the testing conditions to win her fourth Group One prize of the season. Racing down the centre of the track in the straight about three furlongs from home the three-year-old filly responded willingly when asked to go for home and ran her rivals ragged with a five-length victory.

 

Great Day for Some!

It cost a £15,000 supplementary fee to get this Exceed And Excel filly into the race but the gamble paid off nearly ten-fold. The Mark Johnston-trained Threading, fresh from her stunning debut win at Goodwood, claimed the Group Two Sky Bet Lowther Stakes by one-and-three-quarter lengths and rewarded her owners with the £142,000 prize money. Certain supporters of the Wesley Ward-trained Happy Like A Fool didn't have the great day that Steve had wished, however. This daughter of Distorted Humor certainly lived up to her Sire's name. She was well in the lead when the saddle slipped up her neck and was then an easy target for the eventual winner.

 

Luck still with the Lady?

This Scat Daddy daughter really looked a world-beater when winning the King's Stand Stakes at Ascot in June as she did last year in the Queen Mary Stakes. The question is whether the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia can today add the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes to her imposing list of conquests. In this eight-male-versus-three female contest perhaps one rival has what it takes to thwart the Lady's advances. The Charlie Hills-trained Battaash will be bidding for four wins in a row and one thing in his favour is that he has proved that he can deal with pretty well any ground the weather can produce, whereas Lady Aurelia looks like she is more comfortable on a sound surface. The son of Dark Angel enters the fray with confidence as he easily bagged the King George Stakes at Goodwood at the beginning of this month on particularly testing ground.

 

24 August 2017

 

Yes Sir!

It's forty-five years since this Barbadian knight saddled his very first winner. Four months later York staged what, until 1985, was called the the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup. Yesterday Sir Michael Stoute claimed the Knavesmire's most treasured prize, now known as the Juddmonte International Stakes, when Ulysses, with the current champion jockey, Jim Crowley, aboard, outclassed both Churchill and Barney Roy in this £1 million contest. The ten-time Champion trainer has now won this Juddmonte Farms-sponsored event six times, more than any other handler.

 

He'll go Farhh!

Yesterday's Acomb Stakes at York proved a continuation of a memorable season for Ryedale-based trainer Tim Easterby and jockey David Allan. Wells Farhh Go took the seven-furlong group Three race by a nose in one of the most thrilling events of the day. Right up to the line it looked as though the George Scott-trained James Garfield had it in the bag but the son of Farhh wasn't giving up so easily and a photo-finish result declared him the winner.

 

He Cracked it.

Not so exciting but a win just the same was the John Gosden-trained Cracksman's six-length victory in the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes. This Frankel colt, third and second in the English and Irish Derbies, respectively, was deservedly sent off the 4/6 favour and had no problems with that decision. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Venice Beach tried to stay with him but in vain. 

23 August 2017

 

Eboracum

York is considered to be one this country’s most successful independent racecourses and another of its highly popular Festivals runs for the next three days – The Ebor, a name abbreviated from Eboracum, the the Roman name for the city now known as York, the largest town in northern Britain at that time. The feature race of the day is the £1m. Juddmonte International Stakes in which the season’s top three-year-old colts compete with each other over a mile. The likes of Barney Roy, Churchill, Ulysses and Cliffs Of Moher will be seeking to assert their dominance in a contest which, in its forty-five-year history, has produced some big surprises. Today should be no exception.

 

It's Magic!

For my money perhaps the most interesting race of this first day of the Ebor is the Fine equinITy Handicap which could well be one of the most fiercely competed contests. There are a few old favourites bidding for glory in this seventeen-strong two-mile handicap. One, in particular, that catches the eye is dual Royal Ascot winner Oriental Fox, trained by Mark Johnston. Another that could well be in the frame is the Ralph Beckett-trained Magic Circle. Although Kimpton Down Stables has not been up to the mark in recent months, this Makfi son could be the one to do the business. Heavy rain is forecast for today and this could further strengthen this five-year-old gelding's claim.

 

Oaks. OK?

Arguably the best mile-and-a-half horse in training, winner of the Epsom and Curragh Oaks as well as the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, will put her reputation on the line again tomorrow. The John Gosden-trained Enable lines up with five rivals in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire. As a back-up the Clarehaven Stables handler is also saddling Coronet, winner of the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot but this Dubawi daughter is rated eighteen pounds inferior to her stable companion.

 

22 August 2017

 

In the Nick of Time

The logistics of accepting bookings to ride at two race courses on the same day is not something that racegoers ever give much though to. It seems that most such arrangements work out smoothly, with jockeys even hiring helicopters to make sure they arrive at their destinations in good time. Yesterday car-driving Eddy Greatrex was not so lucky, however. though. He was in action at Lingfield Park in the afternoon where he had three rides but, sadly, didn't score. Then he had to make the fifty-five-mile trip to Windsor at a busy tine on the M25, where he was scheduled to ride in the Sky Bet British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes. Unfortunately this motorway can be a pain and he got held up in traffic and missed that first race. He'll be thanking his lucky stars, however, that he was in time for the 18.50 when he partnered the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Ice Age to a one-length victory in the £75,000 Sky Bet Windsor Sprint Series Finale Handicap

 

On a High Note

This jockey may be generally recognised as one of the best in the world but he rarely rides winners for his trainer Dad. Therefore Lingfield was a special occasion when Ryan Moore was aboard his father Gary's Sing Out Loud in the Read Silvestre De Sousa At 188Bet Novice Auction Stakes. The thirty-three-year-old Brighton-born jockey was perhaps taking a bit of a risk when he opted to partner this son of Vocalised, as the two-year-old gelding had only managed ninth out of eleven on his debut in the Qatar EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes at Goodwood seventeen days ago. Last night was a different story, however, as Sing Out Loud made amends by winning this six-furlong contest by an easy two-and-a-half lengths.

 

Lightning could strike twice!

On Saturday it's the renewal of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood. Only one horse has ever notched up back-to-back victories in this prestigious Group 2 contest and that was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Chic in 2004 and 2005. David Simcock is clearly hoping there will be a second horse in history to achieve this accolade when he saddles Lightning Spear in the sixteen-strong field.

21 August 2017

 

Taking to it Kindly

This Richard Fahey-trained Frankel filly hadn't had a win since scoring in the the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York over a year ago although finishing in the frame a couple of times. Queen Kindly didn't disappoint at Pontefract yesterday, however, when she added the EBF Stallions Highfield Farm Flying Fillies' Stakes to her previous three victories. Jockey Tom Eaves took his mount into the lead after the first furlong and decided to go for home early in the straight. This proved to be one of his better decisions as the rest of the field closed in menacingly towards the close of this six-furlong feature but Queen Kindly ultimately won by a head.

 

Unfortunately - A Win!

Few British trainers have had greater success in France over the years than Spigot Lodge boss, Karl Burke, and yesterday was no exception. His Society Rock filly, having won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte a month ago, went on to triumph in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville and thus became the first horse to accomplish this double since the Clive Cox-trained Reckless Abandon in 2012. Unfortunately, ridden by Tony Piccone, eventually hauled in his front-running stable companion, Havana Grey, to claim the five-furlong contest.

 

A Magical Victory

The Ballydoyle king won the Group 2 Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes for the 12th time at the Curragh yesterday but not with the two fillies most tipped to do so. The ones expected to do the business were the Aidan O'Brien-trained September and Happily but it didn't turn out like that. The former, the daughter of Deep Impact, only managed fourth and the latter, a Galileo offspring, was denied victory by a length and a quarter. Unexpectedly, the one that upset the apple cart was their stable companion, the 11/1 shot, Magical, with the trainer's son, Donnacha O'Brien, aboard. 

 

20 August 2017

 

Beaten but Unbowed

The world's highest-rated racehorse may not have won but he didn't disgrace himself, either. The Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate was denied victory in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic by just half a length when his aptly-named stable companion, Collected, claimed the $1 million prize at Del Mar. It certainly wasn't one of this son of Unbridled's Song's better performances such as his Dubai World Cup triumph in March but neither did it compare with the colt's listless performance four weeks ago at the same track when he could only manage fourth in the Grade 2 Tvg San Diego Handicap.

 

Winner of the Month?

Today at the Curragh this Deep Impact daughter will risk her unbeaten record and huge reputation when she lines up in the Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes. The Aidan O'Brien-trained September made her mark in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden on her racecourse debut at Leopardstown in June and followed that up with a dominating win in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. There are eight runners today so, at least, September cannot adopt the proper monthly sequence!

 

He's Back!

What's a year's absence from racing for a four-year-old son of Teofilo! Trainer Owen Burrows had indicated in the build-up to the Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury that last season's 2000 Guineas runner-up might not be quite ready. He needn't have been so cautious because five-year-old Massaat, partnered by the current Champion jockey, Jim Crowley, showed his seven rivals a clean pair of heels and won the seven-furlong Group Two contest by a length and three-quarters.

 

19 August 2017

 

It's War!

The Dean Ivory-trained daughter of Declaration Of War, although a 10/1 shot, was the decisive winner of the Bathwick Tyres St Hugh's Stakes at Newbury yesterday. Eirene followed up her third place in her debut race at Yarmouth in the middle of June with a victory on her next outing a week later in the 188Bet Supports Voice Of Racing Day EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes. In August she just failed to score at Nottingham and had to be satisfied with second place. This time, however, she stepped up to Listed class and jockey Robert Winston was content to settle her at the rear of the fifteen-strong field until throwing down the gauntlet inside the final two furlongs to win by a length and three-quarters.

 

Matter of Choice

This three-year-old son of Choisir opened his season with a length-and-a-half victory in the Group Three Invesco Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown. The Fozzy Stack-trained Alexios Komnenos showed his credentials last year when finishing just a neck behind the eventual Classic winner, Churchill, in the Tyros Stakes last July. Something was obviously amiss after that run because he was sidelined for a while until re-appearing last month at the Curragh when he came third in the Listed Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Celebration Stakes and that run seems to have been just what the doctor ordered.

 

Round the Bend?

In general, the feedback from the racing community, after Fontwell's newly installed all-weather bend was officially used for the first time on Thursday, seems to have been positive. The West Sussex track finally decided to replace a two-hundred-yard section of the course with Fibresand after a number of incidents in 2016 when horses slipped on the bottom bend. A couple of trainers did comment that they thought the ripping up of turf might have been unnecessary and the modification might take some getting used to. A few others raised the issue of the the severity of the kickback but the general consensus was that this was a minor issue and things would settle down in time.

18 August 2017

 

Bally Good Win!

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Dansili followed up his recent John Smith's Cup triumph with a narrow victory in the totepool Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury yesterday. Ballet Concerto dropped back in trip to a mile but joined Group Three company for this contest. Andrew Balding's Isomer took the lead for about a furlong with Ryan Moore keeping the eventual winner well-placed but had to force a way through close to the rail. It looked as though the 2/1 favourite Tabarrak, trained by Richard Hannon, had it all signed and sealed but he was denied victory by a neck.

 

Leger on the Cards?

In the Betfred Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury tomorrow the Roger Varian-trained son of Dalakhani is going for four in a row. The three-year-old Defoe's victories at Newbury, York and Hamilton should stand him in good stead when he takes on three girls and three boys in this one-and-a-half-mile-plus contest. The outcome will probably decide whether the next appearance will be a run in the William Hill St Leger next month.

 

Fit for a Queen?

It is on the cards that last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine will be throwing down the gauntlet to the John Gosden-trained multiple Group One winner, Enable, in next week's Darley Yorkshire Oaks. This means that the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Queen's Trust will be stepping back up to twelve furlongs for the first time since last October for this Group One contest on the Knavesmire. There's all to play for as this Dansili daughter hasn't had a win since last November, having finished fourth in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and sixth and last on her last start in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

17 August 2017

 

Hollie Triumphs

Less than a week after replacing Michelle Payne at the last minute in the Shergar Cup at Ascot, this twenty-year-old apprentice claimed her first victory at Listed level. Hollie Doyle rode the Richard Hannon-trained Billesdon Bess to victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Upavon Stakes at Salisbury yesterday, marking the biggest triumph of her career to date. Hollie Doyle kept the Dick Turpin filly handy as they tracked the leading pair, biding their time until a gap opened about a furlong out when they went into the lead inside final furlong and won by a comfortable length.

 

Luca Gooda!

This Luca Cumani-trained four-year-old has been in in top form this summer and looks set to make it three in a row at Salisbury today. Pacharana demolished a strong field in the Rainbow Casinos Cardiff Fillies' Handicap at Bath in July so it must have been tempting to up the ante and promote this daughter of Oasis Dream to Listed class but the four-year-old filly stays with handicap company for today's Class 2 EBF Breeders' Series Fillies' Handicap. Thes £30,000 prize money was clearly too much to resist and it is interesting to note that the newmarket trainer has made a special effort to recruit the services of Ryan Moore. As one might expect, the good money on offer has lured a number of other up-and-coming other fillies but Pacharana could be the one to come up trumps.

 

New Rules. A Non-Runner?

Yesterday the BHA published ten recommendations aimed at tackling the three categories that account for 90 per cent of non-runners after declaration time :– self-certificates, vets' certificates and going alterations. These new measures, following on last Wednesday's modern-day record of more than 100 non-runners on the day, are designed to even punish what the BHA considers to be a small number of repeat offenders, who, according to CEO, Richard Wayman do not “operate within the spirit of the rules”. These recommendations have received varying degrees of support from bookmakers, punters, trainers and jockeys. The Racehorse Owners Association, however, has criticised both the review process and at least one of the proposals that jockeys should be fully compensated for the loss of income incurred for a late non-runner.

 

15 August 2017

 

Just William!

Today's Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville could be the one for the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Brametot. This son of Rajsaman returns to the track after a two-month break to take on this ten-furlong Group Two contest. The three-year-old colt's joint owners are Al Shaqab Racing and Gerard Augustin-Normand and, it seems, they are presuming their charge will succeed will do well today and are considering sending him straight to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

 

Gimme Gimcrack!

Despite the disappointment of being sent off the favourite for the the Group 3 Bombay Sapphire Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood recently and being beaten into second place by Karl Burke's faster Havana Grey, the James Tate-trained Invincible Army will probably go for the Gimcrack Stakes at York a week on Saturday. This will mean returning to six furlongs but the Newmarket-based handler considers a sounder surface to be of greater importance than an increase in trip.

 

The least you can do!

A minimum official rating for horses to run at top level is to be introduced by the British Horseracing Authority to stop obvious no-hopers from running in Group One races. From next year no horse rated less than 80 will be able to run in Group Ones, although, for some reason, this ruling does not apply to If a horse falls below this official rating, the BHA handicapper will have the discretion to permit the horse to run if he is satisfied that his or her performances merit a rating of 80 or above. This innovation was probably considered after the controversy over the John Jenkins-trained Diore Lia's intended running in the Derby. This Yeats daughter was a 500-1 shot for the Epsom Classic but was allowed to enter, although the BHA prevented apprentice Gina Mangan from taking the ride. In the end it was a storm in a teacup as Diore Lia was eventually withdrawn from the contest due to injury. National Hujnt racing will be affected by similar changes to Grade One races over jumps. All non-novice Again, as with the two-year-old races on the Flat, the rule does not apply to Grade One novice hurdles. 

 

14 August 2017

 

More and Moore

Ryan Moore returned, seemingly not jetlagged, from his six-thousand-mile round trip to the States to more success at the Curragh yesterday. His victory in the Phoenix Stakes was particularly gratifying for Aidan O'Brien as as it marked his sixteenth triumph in this six-furlong contest. Incredibly, the Ballydoyle trainer first won this feature event in 1998 when it used to be staged at Leopardstown. The 2/1 second favourite, Sioux Nation, following on from his victory in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, was given a confident ride by Ryan Moore, hitting the front as the nine runners entered the final furlong and beating off a strong challenge by the Gordon Elliott-trained Beckford to win by half a length. There was no stopping the incomparable Brighton-born jockey who then went on to ride Washington DC to a half-length victory in the very next race, the At The Races Phoenix Sprint Stakes, having earlier in the day got a sweet tune out of Mendelssohn in the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Irish European Breeders Fund Maiden.

 

Ta Very Much!

The Richard Hannon-trained Tajaanus beat eight rivals to the post when winning the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. This daughter of Arcano, after winning the Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Stallions Star Stakes at Sandown at the end of last month, appeared to have no problem stepping up to Group 3 company. Dane O'Neill gave the two-year-old filly a no-nonsense ride on the stands side rail to win comfortably by a length ahead of the John Gosden-trained Juliet Capulet.

 

Oh Brother!

This Malton-based trainer's team is currently in excellent form and could well have continued success at Ripon today. Tim Easterby saddles Brother McGonagall in the Class 3 Ripon Annual Badgeholders Handicap. This Equiano three-year-old has a long way to go if he is to match his half-brother, Hamish McGonagall, who won ten races for this trainer and was placed in the Nunthorpe twice and the Prix de l'Abbaye once. Brother McGonagall has, however, won three times this season and certainly has what it takes to handle the easy ground he is likely to get at the Yorkshire track.

 

13 August 2017

 

One to Watch

There are only seven runners in today's seven-furlong British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes but the presence of a son of War Front makes it is a race to watch. Comrade In Armstrained by Sir Michael Stoute, who, like all his siblings sports the colours of the Coolmore partnership, was bred by Barnett Enterprises out of the Sadler's Wells mare, Maryinsky.

 

Life's A Beach

The thirty-fifth renewal of the Arlington Million turned out to be a home victory but it wasn't without striking moments by the European raiders. The ultimate accolade went to the Joel Rosario-trained Beach Patrol, ridden by Chad Brown, who claimed the prize by half-a-length ahead of Fanciful Angel, who turned in an unexpected impressive performance for trainer Marco Botti. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Deauville, one of the horses Ryan Moore flew 3,000 miles to ride, had a smooth passage along the far rail but was ultimately unable to benefit from his dominant position and finished third in the race for a second year running.

 

Fran's the Man!

The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup was won by Great Britain and Ireland and captain, Fran Berry maintained his unbeaten record in the competition for the third time. To put the icing on the cake, the County Clare jockey also finished the day as leading rider and was awarded the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle as the day's leading points scorer. Fran Berry won his first Shergar Cup in 2010 and with it the Silver Saddle for a first time when part of an Ireland-only team.

The final results:

 

1. Great Britain and Ireland 86

2. Rest of the World 67

3. Europe 64

4. The Girls 23

 

12 August 2017

 

Sheer Shergar.

Today's unique event is undoubedly the Shergar Cup at Ascot when four teams with three jockeys each compete against each other in the six race card. The teams are: Great Britain & Ireland represented by Jamie Spencer, Neil Callan and Fran Berry; Europe by Adrie De Vries, Umberto Rispoli and Alexander Pietsch; The Girls by Emma-Jayne Wilson, Michelle Payne and Hayley Turner and Rest Of The World by Kerrin McEvoy, Keita Tosaki and Anthony Delpech. Hayley Turner is making her eleventh appearance in this event and is the record points scorer with 215. She has already won five Shergar Cups and ridden more winners than any other jockey taking part today.

 

High Flier

The jockey generally regarded as the best in the world has a hectic weekend ahead of him. Ryan Moore has jet-setted over to Chicago where he hopes to secure his first victory in the 35th running of the Arlington Million. Inaugurated in 1981 the latter was the first thoroughbred race to offer $1 million in prize-money and quite naturally attracts competitors from Europe as well as from the United States. The thirty-three-year-old Brighton born jockey partners the Aidan O'Brien-trained Deauville, who was third in last year's ten-furlong event, and after completing three other rides on an Arlington card, he will be back in the air again early on Sunday morning to fly the 3,657 miles back to Ireland, where he is booked to ride four more of the Ballydoyle trainer's horses at the Curragh.

 

Mamba Mia!

Today's German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket is the scene where an Irish raider is expected to put on a strong display. The Ken Condon-trained Mamba Noire certainly has the best form among a high class field of nine runners for this Group Three contest over seven furlongs. This Wootton Bassett daughter caughtthe eye when coming third to Clemmie in the Grangecon Stud Stakes at The Curragh at the beginning of July.

 

11 August 2017

 

Right on, Brighton!

This North Yorkshire trainer has made a habit of sucessfully raiding this East Sussex track and yesterday was no exception. Mark Johnston saddled Curlew River in the Marathonbet Sportsbook Brighton Challenge Cup Handicap and was not disappointed. The daughter of Casamento demonstrated the same front-running skills as on her last winning outing at Leicester nine days ago, dominating from the start in this mile-and-a-half contest and claiming her third win in a row by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

Saucy Success

It was also a good day for this Newmarket trainer who transported three horses the hundred-and-fifty-mile round trip to Yarmouth and returned with three winners. The third race of the day, the Premier League Football At 188Bet Handicap, opened Chris Wall's account when Silvestre de Sousa rode Entangling, the 4/5 favourite, to a half-a-length victory in this ten-furlong event. The Induna Stables boss was back on the score card again half-an-hour later with the unusually named Oh It's Saucepot, partnered this time by Ted Durcan, in the Best Odds Guaranteed At 188Bet Handicap. The daughter of Sir Percy was the heroine of the Fly London Southend Airport To Budapest Fillies' Handicap a couple of weeks ago and was not to be denied another triumph. They say that all good things come in threes and so it was. In the next race it was George Wood's turn to ride a winner which he duly did aboard Deciding Vote who lived up to her name by claiming the 1/4 Odds At 188Bet Maiden Handicap by half-a-length.

 

Sainted not Tainted

At Haydock yesterday this William Haggas-trained Dutch Art filly made a surprising swift return to action when winning the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap. Sainted didn't exactly cover herself with glory at Goodwood last week when all she could manage was sixth place out of ten runners. The four-year-old filly maybe can be forgiven that performance, however, for she had scored with a minimum of effort in a York handicap at the beginning of July and she promptly made amends by taking this six-furlong contest by a length-and-a-half.

10 August 2017

 

Ton Up!

The current flat racing champion jockey notched up his hundredth win for the season at Brighton yesterday and did it in style. Silvestre De Sousa kicked off the day aboard the Simon Crisford-trained Al Ozzdi in the Bombardier EBF Novice Stakes. Then he scored again in the Shipyard Brewery Handicap when he rode the 14/1 shot, Overhaugh Street, trained by Ed De Giles, to a one-and-a-quarter length victory. The Brazilian-born jockey then made it a treble riding Mick Channon's Whiteley in the Razorback Handicap. The thirty-six-year-old Silvestre De Sousa wasn't finished yet, however, as he still had two more rides sixty-five miles away at Kempton Park where he bagged one more win, partnering the William Knight-trained Arab Moon in the 32Red Handicap.

 

Eye Eye!

The best juvenile performance of the season was, according a consensus of bookmakers, that by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Expert Eye in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. The four-and-a-half- length defeat of Zaman in this seven-furlong contest put the Acclamation colt at the head of his fellow colts. Graham Smith, the BHA's official handicapper for juveniles, completely agrees with with assessment.

 

Back-To-Back Victory?

This Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Galileo takes on six rivals when he goes for a back-to-back wins in the Group 3 GRENKE Finance Ballyroan Stakes at the Curragh tonight. Johannes Vermeer won the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud when he was a two-year-old. Unfortynately, ue to minor problems, the four-year-old only had one outing last season and it took him four runs to get back in the winner's enclosure which he did when he scored in the Finlay Volvo International Stakes at the Curragh at the beginning of last month.

9 August 2017

 

Thanks for that!

The Rosewell House team has had an exasperating campaign due, primarily, to a virus infection but they finally came through with a triumph at Cork last night. Dermot Weld saddled Eziyra in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Give Thanks Stakes at Cork yesterday and she won by two-and-a-half lengths, making it her second Group 3 victory. The sixty-nine-year-old trainer's bid to add to the twenty-nine previous leading trainer awards at the Galway Festival last week didn't materialise. Something of a consolation prize, however, was the win by this Teofilo filly, last year's CL & MF Weld Park Stakes heroine.

 

Not this time, Josephine!

The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup feature race at Ascot on Saturday will now not include last year's British flat racing Champion Apprentice. Josephine Gordon it has been announced, is required to ride on the same day at Newmarket for trainer, Hugo Palmer, in the Sweet Solera Stakes. Britain's most successful female Flat jockey, Hayley Turner will replace Josephine Gordon in the Girls team.

 

A Corker!

After two previous disappointments racing in England this season the Aidan O'Brien-trained Sir John Lavery produced an impressive performance to win the Platinum Stakes at Cork by three lengths. The Galileo colt dominated the one-mile Listed race throughout, easily beating his stable companion, Whitecliffsofdover. It looks now as if three-year-old is headed for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on September 16.

 

8 August 2017

 

Long Odds

Flabbergasted may not be too strong a word for the reaction of trainer and jockey when their 80/1 runner scored in her maiden race. The Simon Crisford-trained Lawless Secret won the Sportnation Take Advantage Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Windsor last night. This Lawman filly, an incredible 250/1 on Betfair, seemed comfortable on the ground that had turned distinctly soft as she tracked the leading pair, staying alone near side of centre in the straight, and kept on strongly through the closing stages to win by half-a-length. The Berkshire-based trainer hadn't had a long-priced winner like that in the three seasons he's been training.

 

Got it off Pat

The nine-time Irish flat racing Champion Jockey demonstrated once again why he is at the top of his game by notching up a quick double at the Curragh yesterday. First off, In the first race of the day there was an unexpected victory for the Michael Halford-trained Riyazan in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. The punters were all rooting for the odds-on favourite, Nelson, trained by Aidan O'Brien but the Iffraaj colt had other ideas as he streaked ahead to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory on his maiden appearance. Pat Smullen's double came in the very next race, the Curragh 'Where Champions Are Made' Fillies Maiden which was a close-run event with a whole host of contenders in with a shout as they passed the furlong pole but the result went to the Bill Farrell-trained Kailee by a head.

 

Impossible Dream?

Most competent jockeys probably dream of becoming champion jockey one day and Harry Skelton is certainly no exception. Despite starting the nine-day break for jump racing just two winners behind current champ Richard Johnson, the youngest jockey to ever win the Irish Grand National modestly maintains that winning the title this season is "nigh-on impossible". At this time last year Harry Skelton had eighteen winners to his credit but with his older brother and trainer, Dan, showing such great form, the current winning number is 47 and, into the bargain, he has an impressive 33 per cent strike-rate. So maybe not so impossible! 

 

7 August 2017

 

Brushed Aside

The L'ARC Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville yesterday proved even more of a disappointment for this Scat Daddy son than coming fourth in the Darley July Cup Stakes at Newmarket in the middle of last month. Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O'Brien seemed lost for an explanation when his Commonwealth Cup winner failed to sparkle. The three-year-old Caravaggio made his customary slowish exit from the stalls but, unlike at Newmarket, never looked like assuming any important role in the six-and-a-half-furlong contest and was eventually beaten beaten by four-and-a-half lengths into sixth position.

 

Rulers of the World

It has been announced that the former first jockey to the late and great Sir Henry Cecil, Tom Queally will join a team of five international riders to compete in the World All-Star Jockeys competition in Japan later this month. This feature event, inaugurate in 1987, used to be called the World Super Jockeys Series and used to be staged over two days in late November or early December at either Tokyo or Hanshin Racecourse. In 2015 it was given its current name and now takes place the last weekend of August at Sapporo Racecourse in northern Japan. This year six top riders from France, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Japan Racing Association jockeys will compete for the title.

 

Fighting Fit

There's no keeping this County Meath jockey down for long. Barry Geraghty has had a raw deal lately, suffering lung and rib injuries, breaking his arm in a fall in the Irish Grand National which ruled him out of the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festival. The thirty-seven-year-old was determined not to be excluded from the Galway Festival, however, and his tenacity was rewarded in the week-long fixture at the Ballybrit track. In the end he claimed four winners overall, even scoring on Monday on his first ride back in action. Thursday proved the highlight, though, when he won on the Joseph O'Brien-trained Le Richebourg owned by his boss, JP McManus.

 

6 August 2017

 

A Win at last!

The O'Leary Insurances Maiden Hurdle finally gave this Curragh-based trainer a win on the last day of the Galway Festival. Dermot Weld usually notches up a batch of winners at the Ballybrit track but this year he was out of luck for the first five days. Thanks to Aydoun in the very first race of the day, however, one of Ireland's most successful racehorse trainers didn't go away empty-handed. The son of Mastercraftsman transported Bryan Cooper to a six-length win in this two-mile-plus contest. For a moment it looked as though the favourite, Big Ben, could strike lucky when he challenging at the last hurdle but the four-year-old Rosewell House resident had other ideas.

 

French Connection

Arguably this country's most successful female Flat jockey is planning to resume her riding career on the the other side of the Channel. Hayley Turner has just announced that she has been tempted to ride in France this winter to benefit from the the controversial four-pound weight advantage that the French racing authorities introduced for female jockeys this year. The thirty-four-year-old Nottingham-born rider has already appointed a French-based agent to get her rides mid-week, when she is not so busy with her current broadcasting commitments.

 

Some Like It Hot!

After a week of exceedingly damp conditions there was suddenly Scorching Heat at Goodwood yesterday. This wasn't a welcome unexpected change in the weather, however. The rise in temperature was brought about by the runner of that name who continued trainer, Andrew Balding's glorious week at the Sussex track by winning the Qatar Stewards' Sprint Handicap. Oisin Murphy, rode a confident race aboard this son of Acclamation, catching the pace-setting The Wagon Wheel inside the final furlong to score by three-quarters of a length and claim the the £46,687.50 first prize.

 

5 August 2017

 

A Roaring Success?

The highlight of the last day of Glorious Goodwood has to be the Stewards Cup and this Malton trainer must be hoping for some kind of consolation for the surprise setback for his stable star, Ribchester on Wednesday. Richard Fahey is pulling out all the stops by saddling three runners in the six-furlong Heritage Handicap - Brian The Snail, Eastern Impact and Growl. The latter will probably be his best chance for glory. This son of Oasis Dream produced his best performance last October when he was runner-up to James Fanshawe's The Tin Man in the Group One sprint on Champions Day at Ascot before closing his season with a victory in the not so high-powered Betfred Mobile Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster. Unfortunately the five-year-old is perhaps more readily remembered for his unceremonious unseating of Paul Hanagan in the starting stalls before the start of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

 

That's the Spirit!

The son of Jeremy savoured a big race double just four days after claiming the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap. The Willie Mullins-trained Whiskey Sour, with Declan McDonogh aboard, had no problem with the so-called 'dip' in the ground, which had worried his supporters, to take the Guinness Handicap by three-quarters of a length, obviously profiting from the drop back in trip from two miles.

 

Three Moore!

The first three races of the day at Goodwood were clocked up to the three-time Champion jockey. Ryan Moore began with a victory aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet's Word in the Betfred Glorious Stakes. Half-an-hour later he was back in the winner's enclosure again with the Andrew balding-trained Beat The Bank in the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes. The next race was probably the most appreciated by the thirty-three-year-old Brighton-born jockey, though. Not only was his treble for the day but he managed to steer the Aidan O'Brien-trained Master Of The World to victory by three-quarters of a length in the £150,000 Betfred Mile Handicap. That was one place better than last year's result for this six-year-old son of Mastercraftsman.

4 August 2017

 

The Wrong Season

It was warm and wet Summer's day at Goodwood yesterday but for Aidan O’Brien it was decidedly Winter. This Galileo filly, previously trained by the now retired David Wachman, made it four Group One wins on the trot (or rather gallop!) when she won the Qatar Nassau Stakes. The three-year-old grey had to work hard to reel in Charlie Appleby's's front-running Sobetsu but she finally got there and passed the post one-and-half-lengths ahead of Blond Me, who, in turn, snatched second position in the closing stages. This victory was a welcome bit of sunshine for favourite backers who all week have seen their betting aspirations thwarted again and again by, among other things, the inclement weather.

 

Class Act

The final curtain call of the Lillie Langtry (presumably named after the renowned early 20th. Century actress) certainly belonged to this Sea The Stars daughter who in the very last stages of the contest denied victory to Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dubka by a neck. Endless Time, wearing cheekpieces for the first time, clearly found the ground too quick when bidding for the Ascot Gold Cup in June but Goodwood's unusually softer ground was obviously more to her liking. Trainer Charlie Appleby was so impressed with the performance that he is now hoping this will lead to a first Group 1 success for the five-year-old mare.

 

Happy Returns

Back in action after an absence due to injury, Barry Geraghty soon got back into winning ways at the Galway Festival. On Monday he partnered the Joseph O'Brien-trained Le Richebourg to a five-length victory. On Tuesday he was back in the winner's enclosure again with Housesofparliament also from the Joseph O'Brien yard. Wednesday the County Meath rider had to be content with just a third but yesterday was the day he had been waiting for. Barry Geraghty won the race that had always eluded him, the Galway Hurdle, aboard Tigris River owned by his boss, JP McManus.

 

3 August 2017

 

When is Now!

All seven runners in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood yesterday were winners. That is to say they all went home with prize money as the million-pound feature event offered cash down the eighth position. This unusual situation had been brought about by the last-minute withdrawals of Churchill and Zonderland because of deteriorating conditions due to the heavy persistent rain. Apparently trainer Andrew Balding's parting words to Champion jockey, Jim Crowley, before he set off to partner the 20/1 chance, Here Comes When in the prestigious contest, were to the effect that £12,000 were to be had just by finishing last-but-one. Jesting apart, it was obvious that this trainer/jockey partnership both believed there was a good chance of coming in the frame even if their son of Danehill Dancer couldn't deny the odds-on favourite, Ribchester, the victory everyone expected. In the event, the seven-year-old gelding, the oldest horse to win the race, produced, what is bound to be considered, one of the shock results of Glorious Goodwood when he came home a neck in front of the Richard Fahey-trained Iffraj four-year-old.

 

Cool Win

The 2016 British flat racing Champion apprentice seemed unfazed by the meteorological conditions when she went on to claim her first-ever win at Glorious Goodwood yesterday. Josephine Gordon, aboard the Ian Williams-trained Cool Sky, seemed to thrive in the adverse weather as she steered the four-time hurdle winner on the fast-softening terrain, taking the lead inside final furlong and staying on well to beat the Hughie Morrison-trained Aurora Grey by a length and a quarter.

 

Victory on a Plate

For the third time in four years the Ryanair boss was flying high after winning the Tote Galway Plate. For top jockey Davy Russell, riding the Michael O’Leary-owned Balko Des Flos, it was also a moment to savour as it was his first success in this National Hunt's major summer prize. Surprisingly the reception for the winner was somewhat muted, compared with past rowdy festival scenes. Perhaps it was because Michael O'Leary wasn't present as he was reported to be “on Ryanair duty” or the racegoers are getting used to frequently seeing the Gigginstown Stud colours in the Plate winners enclosure.

2 August 2017

 

Young at Heart.

This afternoon's feature race at Goodwood, the Qatar Sussex Stakes, will be the scene of another contest between old and young. The Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester, arguably one of the best older milers this season, after winning the Lockinge and the Queen Anne Stakes, makes his challenge as one of the older brigade, though still only four years old. The Iffraaj colt may just have his work cut out this time, though, as he will be up against Aidan O'Brien's three-year-old, the dual 2000 Guineas winner, Churchill, who will have the advantage of a seven-pound age allowance which might just be the deciding factor.

 

Weight for it!

Age and weight certainly played their part in the Qatar Goodwood Cup Stakes yesterday. The six-year-old Michael Bell-trained Big Orange, bidding to make history by becoming the first horse to win the Goodwood Cup three years in a row, was thirteen pounds heavier than the three-year-old John Gosden-trained Stradivarius and it showed in the result. All credit to the Duke Of Marmalade son, though, as he showed he could accept defeat with honour by giving his multitude of fans his usual enthusiastic front-running performance right to the bitter end.

 

A Bet in a Million

A quarter of a million pounds for a £4.52 bet certainly made Goodwood glorious for one lucky lady from Cheshire, who immediately announced that she was going to buy a house with her winnings. All-in-all the majority of the bookies had a good day with winners coming in at 100/1, 50-1, 33/1 and 20/1. Only William Hill, it seems, had to sweat it out until the very last race, in anticipation of possibly having to make £1 million payout. The thirty-something-year-old single mum had her final bet on Darkroom Angel as the last part of her ace accumulator. A furlong from home it looked as though the Joe Fanning-ridden Dark Angel filly would make the lady's dreams come true but it wasn't to be. Her consolation prize, however, was £246,238.73. In fact, if the last part of this accumulator had been a success, winnings would have added up to many millions but, strange as it may seem, most bookies cover themselves by capping payouts at a maximum of £1 million. 

 

1 August 2017

 

Go on, my Son!

Day one of the Galway Festival undoubtedly belonged to Willie Mullins who saddled a stunning winner and three placed horses and the amateur jockey who helped to make it possible. The feature event of the evening, one of the great races in the calendar for amateurs, was the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap in which the 16/1 outsider, Whiskey Sour, ridden by a little-known Aubrey McMahon, stole the show with a two-and-three-quarter length victory. Ironically the County Carlow king won this prestigious contest as a jockey but never as a trainer. His son, Patrick, worked hard to uphold the family honour but he battled against a poor draw draw and could only make third aboard Lagostovegas, ahead of stable companion, Digeanta. The winning owners, the McMahon family, were quite naturally over the moon as their son had never notched up a victory as significant as this.

 

Historic Bid

Today the six-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade returns to the track where he raced for the very first time back in October 2015. The Michael Bell-trained Big Orange this time, however, is bidding for a slice of Glorious Goodwood history in a race that dates back to 1812. Some great horses have won the Goodwood Cup twice, including Le Moss (79, 80), Further Flight (91, 92), Persian Punch (2001, 2003) and Yeats (2006, 2008). Big Orange (2015, 2016), however, aims to go one better and join Double Trigger (95, 97, 98) as a three-time winner.

 

A Golden Oldie!

A 53-year-old New Zealander has won the champion jockeys' title for a second time more than twenty years after he won his first crown. Chris Johnson, as fate would have it, is based in the South Island whereas all the most important racing yards are in the North but that didn't stop him getting to the top. The veteran rider, retired in 1999 but back to riding in 2006, was champion in 1995-96 when he accumulated 139 winners and succeeded this time with a mere 112. He has ridden more than 2,200 winners during his long career and is, one of only seven New Zealand jockeys to notch up more than 2,000.

31 July 2017

 

Flying Home

The £50,000 Sky Bet Dash at York was won by a 12/1 son of Pastoral Pursuits, doing full justice to his name. The Tim Easterby-trained Flying Pursuit, after a disappointing performance at Hamilton last week, dominated the race from the off. Apprentice Rachel Richardson just let the four-year-old dictate the terms from the start as he he pursued a solitary track along the Knavesmire. The nearest rival, Al Qahwa, trained by David O'Meara, battled to catch up in the last six furlongs but, by three out, it was virtually all done and dusted, with the ultimate official winning distance given as an academic two lengths. There was happy group of owners on hand to savour the victory with the appropriate name of the Ontoawinner syndicate.

 

Holy Moly, Roly Poly!

The Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of War Front added to her first Group One victory at Newmarket last week by claiming the Prix Rothschild at Deauville yesterday. Roly Poly, with Ryan Moore aboard, was in a good position from the start, close on the heels of Godolphin's Usherette who was just ahead of a tightly-bunched field. When the opportunity came Roly Poly didn't have to be asked twice as she kicked on about a furlong from home. The Andre Favre-trained Via Ravenna made valiant efforts to reel in the eventual winner but it was not to be.

 

That's Champion!

At the fifth annual session the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association 'Stars of Tomorow' National Hunt Foal Show at Bangor yesterday this twenty-three-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, who made his name as a two-mile champion stayer, once again demonstrated his supremacy as a National Hunt Sire by being elected overall champion for the second year in a row when a Kayf Tara colt, born on March 13 and bred by David Ford out of the winning Karinga Bay mare Lifestyle, was exhibited by Goldford Stud.

 

30 July 2017

 

Sure Can Do!

After yesterday's stunning performance the Clarehaven Stables boss hailed his dual Oaks winning filly as the best he has ever trained. John Gosden's Enable made the most of being fourteen pounds lighter than her three main male Galileo rivals, Highland Reel, Ulysses and Idaho to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and, thereby join an illustrious group of fillies to win this prestigious contest. The fact that this Qipco-sponsored feature event was run in pouring rain didn't seem to bother this daughter of Nathaniel as she surged into the lead about two furlongs from home to win by four-and-a-half lengths. Last year's winner, Highland Reel, was clearly not happy in the downpour and could only finish fourth, nine lengths adrift.

 

Galway Girl

Jessica Harrington has had nothing short of a spectacular year so far, carrying home the big prizes with the likes of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John and Irish Grand National winner Our Duke. The Moone-based trainer also had impressive successes on the Flat with leading two-year-olds Alpha Centauri, Brother Bear, who will join their stable companion, the Galway Plate contender, Sandymount Duke, in their bid for glory at the coming week's Galway Festival at the Ballybrit track.

 

Days to Remember

The Ken Condon-trained son of Jeremy hasn't had a win since Leopardstown last September but made amends yesterday with an impressive front-running display in the Sky Bet York Stakes. Success Days looked a serious Classic contender after winning both the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial a couple of years ago, but unfortunately sustained a serious injury in the 2015 Epsom Derby. His eventual return to racing didn't actually get off to a great start but the Curragh-based trainer's patience was finally rewarded when the grey beat Champion Stakes winner, Fascinating Rock, in the Kilfrush Stud Royal Whip Stakes in August 2016. Yesterday's victory on rain-softened ground gave the five-year-old another opportunity to live up to his name.

 

29 July 2017

 

The Reel Thing

The Ballydoyle king is hoping to claim the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes for a fifth time at Ascot this afternoon with a two-barrelled approach. Aidan O'Brien will saddle Galileo brothers, Highland Reel and Idaho in his bid for further glory. For the equine siblings defending the family honour means beating the impressive John Gosden-trained Enable, who already has the English and Irish Oaks to his credit. The forty-seven-year-old Wexford-born handler's first triumph in this mile-and-a-half feature race came as long ago as 2001 when the master himself, Galileo, claimed the coveted prize. Now the latter's son, Highland Reel, last year's winner, is also seeking to become only the third horse to win this contest two years in a row, following in the illustrious hoof prints of Dahlia (1973-74) and Swain (1997-98). If the five-year-old wins today it will bring his total prize money so far to £6.5million and his Group One successes to seven.

 

Home from Home

A Kilkenny-trained horse finally made his first appearance on an Irish race track last night. The Tartan Spartan, handled by Pat Shanahan, duly made the homecoming the sweetest possible by winning the one-mile-six-furlong Her Majesty's Plate by one-and-a-half lengths. This historic race was run at Listed level for only the second time since its inauguration and had attracted a decent batch of runners, with the four-year-old eventual winner being the least known of all. The son of The Carbon Unit certainly made his presence felt as he battled on strongly under Ronan Whelan to to deny victory to the favourite, Twilight Payment and the game front-running Grandee inside the last two hundred yards. It is no secret that the Thistle farm handler likes to race his horses mostly in Britain and especially in Scotland, where his patron Jimmy Long lives but it seems he will not be averse to transporting The Tartan Spartan the shorter distance to the Curragh next month.

 

Bay for the Moon

The Longines Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders) at Ascot has become a popular target for amateur riders, especially since it inherited some of its previous glory when stage as a conditions race, in which many budding Group-class riders often took part. Katie Walsh joined the distinguished company of the likes of Princess Anne, winner aboard Ten No Trumps for Sir Michael Stoute some thirty years ago, when she triumphed in this prestigious event aboard Golden Desert in 2008. The thirty-three-year-old sister of Ruby Walsh clearly would love to do it again this afternoon when she takes the reins of the Keiran Burke-trained Georgian Bay in the seven-furlong contest.

 

28 July 2017

 

Three for Two

Unusual goings-on at Yarmouth yesterday! The 50/1 winner of the first race of the day, a six-furlong contest for two-year-olds, was revealed as a three-year-old, after routine post-race urine sample testing. It turned out that the filly listed as Mandarin Princess was, in fact, her stable companion, Millie’s Kiss, who was due to run in a later in the 15.15 188bet.co.uk Handicap and was subsequently declared a non-runner. Both horses are trained by the highly respected Charlie McBride who maintains that it was a genuine mistake in a last-minute dash to saddle his runner in the opening event. The problem is that the horse's identity only came to light after the official ‘weighed in’, so the bookmakers had already paid out on the original result. Even this morning, Mandarin Princess, ridden by John Egan, is still listed as the winner when, in fact she didn't run in the race. This error will presumably be corrected in due course.

 

Stars Back

Last Thursday's Rentokil Initial (Q.R.) Race at Killarney was declared void twenty minutes after its conclusion as the stewards deemed that Henry De Bromhead-trained Stars Over The Sea had gained an unfair advantage at the start. Roger Brookhouse, however, the owner of this son of Sea The Stars, was not happy with this and appealed against the decision on the basis that Rule 209 states very clearly that the starter's decision as to the fairness of a start is final. Interestingly the Turf Club did not contest the appeal and so Judge Tony Hunt, Chairman of the Appeals Committee, had no option but to reinstate Stars Over The Sea as the veritable winner.

 

In Good Shape!

An easy win in the JRA Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday means that this Aidan O'Brien-trained Galileo colt has earned his ticket to next year's Investec Derby. The Pentagon, following up his eight-and-a-half-length maiden success at the Curragh, was rightly sent off the 4/11 favourite for in this Group Three seven-furlong event and, although he seemed to need plenty of encouragement on the dash to the line, when push came to shove, he won convincingly under the canny stewardship of Ryan Moore.

 

 

27 July 2017

 

Kodiac Signs Good

This Karl Burke-trained filly was supposed to have run at Newmarket a couple of few weeks ago but she had other ideas and tried to escape under the stalls and so had to be withdrawn. It's just as well, really, as Ellthea would have had her work cut out racing against Richard Fahey's impressive Dance Diva, who at Ascot last weekend made it three wins from three after a step-up in class. This means now the Kodiac daughter has the chance to make amends starring in the Longines Irish Champion Weekend EBF Stallions Star Stakes at Sandown today.

 

Bombs Away!

The Yeomanstown Stud Dark Angel EBF Stakes at Naas yesterday gave this Pour Moi filly, carrying a three-pound penalty for winning the Curragh at the beginning of the month, the chance to show the handicapper and her ten rivals what she is capable of. The Joe Murphy-trained Only Mine, with Gary Carroll aboard, defied her high draw and shot across the track to dominate the field. For a brief moment it looked as though the Athasi Stakes heroine, Rehana, trained by Michael Halford, had a chance as she valiantly tried to catch up but ultimately it was it was a one-length victory for Only Mine.

 

Luca Gooda

The Luca Cumani-trained Pacharana didn't mess about in yesterday's Rainbow Casinos Cardiff Fillies' Handicap at Bath, winning by eight lengths. The Oasis Dream filly, who finally started to show her true colours in July, was thereby notching up her seventh victory and clearly is in line for a step-up in Class. Kieran Shoemark partnered this filly for the first time and the result made a bit of a mockery of the imposed handicap.

 

26 July 2017

 

Homer Hero

It's some twenty-five years since a horse won the the Coral-Eclipse and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the same season, a feat last accomplished by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Opera House in 1993. On Saturday the same Newmarket trainer will saddle Ulysses in an historic bid to enter the history books by claiming this illustrious double, after winning the first part at Sandown three weeks ago. Fingers are crossed that the Ascot ground will not deteriorate before the off. Alan Cooper, Racing Manager for owners, the Niarchos family, has already hinted that the Galileo son would not run if there were a lot of rain in the next few days.

 

On Song?

A former Argentinian petrol pump attendant who, reportedly, was advised to become a jockey because he had the right build for it, readily admits that he never was much cop in the saddle but a roaring success when he switched to training. Proof of this is that, in his very first season, Alfredo Gaitan saddled the winner of the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrini, Argentina's equivalent of the King George, and went on to win it four more times thereafter, the most recent success being last December with Sixties Song. This son of Sixties Icon then scored in Chile's Gran Premio Latinoamericano at Valparaiso, which led to his being entered in Ascot's feature race where he will take on the likes of Highland Reel and Coral Eclipse winner, and Ulysses (mentioned above). Connections are being realistic about the chances of success for their four-year-old but, as he has already established himself as the best middle-distance horse in South America, the odds of 66/1 might just underestimate what he is capable of.

 

A Brave Win

Trainer Rebecca Bastiman clearly has a lot of regard for her Acclamation gelding, as just one day after coming third in the Finest Collection Of Racing On Racing UK Handicap at Ayr she saddled him again at Musselburgh yesterday. And Royal Brave, partnered by apprentice Rowan Scott, didn't disappoint his Wetherby-based handler in the five-furlong Arthur Mckay Servest Handicap. The David Griffiths-trained Pearl Acclaim endeavoured to win the race from the front but Royal Brave overhauled him inside the final furlong and claimed the prize by a neck.

 

25 July 2017

 

All that glitters is Goldie

It looked like it was not going to be this Renfrewshire-based trainer's lucky day at Ayr yesterday when,  in the first race, the racinguk.com Novice Stakes, Oriental Power, came last of eight. Then, in the next contest, Jim Goldie was spoilt for choice as he saddled four of the nine runners in the Coastal Getaway Offer At Western House Hotel Handicap and, surprise, surprise, they came in one, two, three and four! The star of the day was the nine-year-old Cheeni who enjoyed her first-ever win by denying victory by a neck to her stable companion, Goninodaethat, who was enjoying his fifty-third run at Ayr. The third slot was bagged by Insurplus who crossed the line one-and-a-quarter lenghts ahead of the Sean Mooney-ridden Sea Of Green. For the rest of the fixture, however, the Libohill Farm stables' team had to be content with a couple of places.

 

Bollin' Along

The Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival's third day at Beverley yesterday had its fair share of inclement conditions and drama. The bad weather wasn't expected and neither was the dramatic outcome of the last race of the day, Racing Again Next Tuesday Handicap. The Mark Walford-trained Druid's Diamond won the nigh-on ten-furlong contest by a neck ahead of Tim Easterby's Bollin Ted. The problem was, however, that the son of Piccolo hung persistently to the left and caused considerable interference. So much so that the stewards decided to deny him the victory and relegate him to second place. Many of the racegoers expected the result to stand but all credit is due to Bollin Ted's jockey, Duran Fentiman, who probably had a sneaking feeling that things might go his way if later there were an enquiry and so battled on to reduce his three-quarters of a length deficit to the eventual result.

 

Better Days to come

After the creditable performance by this son of Azamour at Newbury on Saturday his trainer has decided that he has earned a crack at the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster. The Hugo Palmer-trained Best Of Days got off to an impressive career start after winning two of his three races as a juvenile, in particular, the Royal Lodge at Newmarket last September but then went on to blot his copybook by coming last in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. So the Godolphin-owned colt was dropped in trip and class for the Listed Steventon Stakes at the Berkshire track and, although he obviously wasn't too much at home in the rain-sodden ground, connections were generally pleased with his finishing third.

 

 

24 July 2017

 

Golly Olly!

A rookie trainer continued the fairy-tale start to his career yesterday with a quartet of winners. Twenty-five-year-old Olly Murphy, former assistant to top trainer, Gordon Elliott, only had his very first runner and winner at Brighton at the beginning of this month and went on to score again at Stratford and Newton Abbot. On Stratford’s Ladies Day the Wilmcote-based trainer saddled Cliffside Park who duly obliged with a twenty-two length victory in the Touch FM Selling Hurdle and three races later Ian Popham was aboard the five-year-old Skilled who claimed the Ardencote Novices' Handicap Chase. The Warwickshire handler notched up his treble half-an-hour later with Mizen Master who triumphed in the Debenhams Novices' Handicap Hurdle. Meanwhile over at Newton Abbot Richard Johnson partnered Knight Commander to a sixteen-length win in the Racing Partnership TRP Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

 

Lucky Horse

Fortunately Unfortunately, the Karl Burke-trained son of Society Rock, won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte yesterday. Fortunately because a stewards' inquiry was called after the Pierre-Charles Boudot-ridden High Dream Milena seemed to have been Unfortunately hindered as jockey, Tony Piccone, staged his late challenge to beat another British raider, Tom Dascombe's Frozen Angel, to the post. Fortunately for Unfortunately the result remained unchanged as the stewards seemed satisfied that the interference had not made any difference to the placings, although the winning jockey was given a two-day suspension.

 

Shock Result

The world’s highest-rated horse and the all-time leading prize money winner in North America failed to cut the mustard at Del Mar yesterday. It had been taken for granted among racegoers that all the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate would have to do was show up to win the Grade 2 $300,000 TVG San Diego Handicap. The race, however, produced one of the biggest shocks in racing history as the 1/20 odds-on favourite only managed to come in fourth, trailing fifteen lengths behind. Both jockey and trainer were at a loss to explain the the son of Unbridled's Song's poor performance as he appeared not to have been troubled by any kind of injury.

 

23 July 2017

 

So Fahey, so good

Five of the twenty-three runners in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury yesterday came from the Malton-based stables but from two furlongs out it was clear that one particular one would claim the prize. Although the Richard Fahey-trained Maggies Angel was the well-backed favourite, it was his 12/1 Bengali Boys that did the business. From the moment that Barry McHugh urged the Clodovil colt into a clear advantage, the gap grew greater and greater until the race was in the bag by six lengths. The Paul Hanagan-ridden Maggies Angel, some six lengths behind, obliged by also claiming third place for Richard Fahey, who won this valuable prize in 2012.

 

Day to Remember

A conditional jockey won the £27,000 totesport Cumbria Crystal Cup at Cartmel yesterday. Charlotte Jones added this fairy-tale victory to her already flourishing career when she rode the James Moffatt-trained Altruism to an eight-length win in this two-mile-six-furlong contest. The twenty-two-year-old was notching up her third success in only eleven outings, having, half an hour earlier, failed to score in the previous race in the Banks Lyon Jewellers Lady Riders' Handicap and having to settle for second.

 

Wanna Bet?

After the first day of the Sky Bet Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival at Ripon, trainer David O'Meara leads the Tom O'Ryan Memorial Tipping Challenge. Instead of saddling, the Willow Farm handler was tipping and he was spot on with his selection in the Ripon Bell-Ringer Handicap when Dave Allen made all aboard the Tom Easterby-trained Mukhayyam and, thereby, at a starting price of 4/1 made £400 for the chosen charities. The hits didn't stop coming, either, as there was also a 3/1 victory in the Sky Bet Go-Racing-In-Yorkshire Summer Festival Handicap, courtesy Tom Hamilton riding Mulligatawny. That means that there is £700 in the charity kitty so far and hopefully records will be broken in this fundraising pursuit over the next week or so.

22 July 2017

 

Ticket to Ride

The Roger Varian-trained Kodiac filly put on such an impressive display in yesterday's Bathwick Tyres Rose Bowl Stakes at Newbury that she has probably booked her ticket for next month's Lowther Stakes at York. Madeline, after her maiden victory in the Basketmakers Company Celebration EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes at Goodwood in May, was justifiably sent off the 13-8 favourite. Andrea Atzeni kept the Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned two-year-old at the back of the field until about two furlongs out when she started to make good headway chasing the leaders, assuming dominance inside the final furlong, running on to win by two-and-quarter lengths.

 

That'll be the Day!

Hugo Palmer will no doubt be holding his breath that today the son of Azamour, who didn't exactly cover himself with glory in the King Edward VII Stakes at last month's Royal Ascot meeting, will live up to his name. The Godolphin-owned Best Of Days faces seven rivals in the ten-furlong Listed bet365 Stakes at Newbury and, particularly has to get the better of the Brian Meehan-trained Spark Plug, winner of the Ambant Gala Stakes at Sandown at the beginning of the month but, apart from his recent performance, this three-year-old stands out as an exciting prospect.

 

Thanks for the Memory?

This Charlie Hills-trained grey triumphed in both the Abernant and the Duke of York Stakes last season before finishing way down the field in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot at the end of June. Magical Memory didn't distinguish himself in the July Cup nor in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, either. Last time out connections decided to try to boost their mount's confidence by stepping him down in Class. The five-year-old son of Zebedee ran in the Class 2 bet365 Conditions Stakes at Haydock two weeks and won by a short head. Today's Class 1 contest will indicate whether Magical Memory is on the up-and-up.

 

21 July 2017

 

Stewards have Last Void

Twenty minutes after a race had concluded, it was declared void - a decision that is said to have cost Paddy Power "well into six figures", as they had already paid out on the winner. The one-mile-six-furlong Rentokil Initial (Q.R.) Race at Killarney yesterday was 'won' by the Henry De Bromhead-trained Stars Over The Sea who finshed five lengths ahead of Ancient Sands. It was later decided that the six-year-old, after being led into the tapes by amateur jockey, David Roche, thereafter, had the advantage of a significant head start and was never caught. Acting steward at the course, Peter Matthews, declared that he agreed wholeheartedly with the decision.

 

Magic Moment

The Jim Bolger-trained Moonlight Magic, struggling to get back to form after finishing last in the Derby, narrowly beat the odds-on favourite, Deauville, trained by Aidan O'Brien, in the ICON Meld Stakes at Leopardstown last night. There were already positive signs that this son of Cape Cross was improving when he was runner-up to Minding at Naas in May but taking on this Galileo colt was a different kettle of fish. Indeed, the 4-5 favourite, ridden by the trainer's son, Donnacha, was determined to win the race from the front but Kevin Manning timed his challenge to perfection when overhauling the leader in the final hundred yards.

 

A Grand Tor

This Dumfries-based trainer stole the limelight at Hamilton yesterday when his only two runners won. First off the mark for Iain Jardine was his three-year-old filly, Yes You, who claimed the Racing UK Club Day Here Today Handicap. Then in the very next race, the Class 4 Racing UK Handicap the confident apprentice jockey, Jamie Gormley, made all the running aboard an improving Tor, determined to get the better of the odds-on favourite, Hochfeld, which he did in great style, leaving this other son of Cape Cross trailing a length and a quarter in his wake. So Steve got it wrong. Cheers!

 

20 July 2017

 

A Good Turner Round

The Group One-winning jockey, after officially retiring two years ago, set racegoers' pulses racing again yesterday when winning the Silk Series Lady Riders' Handicap at Yarmouth. Hayley Turner was aboard the Michael Bell-trained Hart Stopper in this six-furlong Class 4 contest and made clear headway approaching the final furlong, claiming the prize by half-a-length. The Nottingham-born rider has made a few re-appearances during her 'retirement' including last Summer's Shergar Cup at Ascot and the Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championships in Sweden earlier this month.

 

Young'uns versus Oldies

The feature race at Doncaster this even is the seven-furlong Frenchgate Fashion Handicap. The interesting thing about this contest is that it sets three and four-year-olds against eight and nine-year-olds. One youngster, in particular, the Ruth Carr-trained Explain will, in addition, have to cope with an eight-pound penalty after his impressive victory in the Close Brothers Asset Finance Handicap at Chester last month but all is looking good for this Kyllachy son.

 

Life's not a Beach!

This daughter of Shantou, making her Flat debut on her first appearance since her disappointing performance at Punchestown in April, adopted the front-running tactics that had been so successful over obstacles but things didn't pan out as expected in the final fifty yards, however. This time the Willie Mullins-trained Airlie Beach, with Declan McDonogh aboard, had to cede victory to her stable companion, She's So Flawless, and was even denied the second slot by Aidan O'Brien's Abyssinian.

 

19 July 2017

 

Field of Dreams

Despite being beaten by twenty and forty lengths, respectively, on his previous two starts this season the Noel Wilson-trained son of Cape Blanco produced a shock result in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Handicap at Thirsk yesterday. Why shock? He was 80/1! The four-year-old Hayward Field, formerly trained by Roger Varian, tried his best in a couple of handicaps from five runs last season but it was ultimately decided to offer him for sale last October and he was bought by owners Marwood Racing for 18,000 guineas. Not surprisingly with his previous dire form he was sent off at long odds in this one-and-a-half-mile contest and, miraculously, he came from off the pace and won by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

Open and Shut Case

The Amanda Perrett-trained son of Invincible Spirit came from last to first to score in the Dribuild Ltd Handicap at Bath yesterday. The Martin Dwyer-ridden Open Wide seemed to enjoy the ferocious pace and, finally found his feet after being slowly away in this five-furlong sprint. It was, however, only in the last fifty yards that the three-year-old gelding slowly edged his way into the lead and scored by a neck.

 

Champing at the bit!

Bookmakers generally think that the Stobart Championship on the Flat is a foregone conclusion and that this year's runaway leader, Silvestre De Sousa, leaves the rest of the contenders vying for second place. Danny Tudhope looks like the one to be runner-up as he is ahead of other bigger names such as reigning champion, Jim Crowley, and former three-time winner Ryan Moore. The champion will be crowned on October 21 at the end of British Champions Day at Ascot and and Silvestre who is twenty-nine winners ahead of his nearest rivals is tipped at 1/10 to secure the coveted title.

 

18 July 2017

 

Dream On!

The Simon Crisford-trained son of Cape Cross had the benefit of of six late withdrawals in yesterday's Parkdean Resorts Glasgow Fair Handicap at Ayr and certainly made the most of this opportunity. The Graham Lee-ridden Century Dream got smartly away and was kept handily placed behind the leaders in the early stages. Then about a furlong out, the three-year-old colt was urged to go for home and won quite easily by by three-quarters of a length, thereby making it three wins from seven career starts.

 

A Pauling Choice!

It looks like Grand National-winning jockey, Daryl Jacob, is due for busier National Hunt season than usual. The County Wexford-born rider will still be retained by owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede but whenever he has a free slot in his schedule he will also be available to ride for Nicky Henderson’s former assistant, Ben Pauling. The Bourton-on-the-Water-based trainer began his new career in 2013 and had his best season last year, winning thirty-two races and amassing nearly £300,000 in prize-money. The highlight was undoubtedly winning the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Willoughby Court.

 

A Fair Cop!

A Gloucester policeman was caught on camera, celebrating on Channel 4 Racing at Royal Ascot. Nothing wrong with that on the face of it. The only thing is that PC Jonathan Adams admits he called in sick so that he could attend racing at the Berkshire track and also to go to two other meetings at Nottingham. In his defence the thirty-two-year-old copper maintained that 'pulling a sickie' was the only way to cope with the stresses and strains of his "awful" job, as working at Barton Street Police Station in Gloucester was "absolute hell". 

17 July 2017

 

A Double for his Trouble!

A Cambridge-born jockey was able to forget temporarily his pending nine-day suspension and claim a double at York. James Doyle, who will be sidelined from July 22-31 under the totting-up procedure, started off the day with a two-and-three-quarter length victory aboard the Charlie Appleby-trained Rare Rhythm in the Listed John Smith's Silver Cup Stakes. The twenty-nine-year-old jockey was clearly determined to make the most of his last Saturday in action for a while by winning the very next race. This time he was riding the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ballet Concerto in the 58th John Smith's Cup Handicap which he must have appreciated as it was one of the few successful occasions he has ridden for the Berkshire-based handler since his widely publicised split with owner, Khalid Abdullah.

 

Chapter and Verse

This victory at the Curragh yesterday may have provided a modicum of cheer for the Ballydoyle trainer after his big disappointment on Saturday when his star, Caravaggio, failed to shine in the July Cup. The Kilboy Estate Stakes could have been a Pocketfullofdreams or an Absolute Blast but for the fact that 12/1 outsider, Aidan O'Brien-trained Elizabeth Browning penned her own unexpected last verse for this nine-furlong contest. Seamus Heffernan had kept the Galileo filly waiting patiently at the rear, beginning to put on the pressure from about two out, and then quickened smartly into the to lead inside the final furlong, eventually recording a length-and-three-quarter success.

 

Up in Lights

Not content with just providing a traditional Sunday afternoon 'family fun day' jumps meeting, this dual-purpose Nottinghamshire racetrack has published plans to erect floodlights and thereby become Britain's fifth floodlit track, alongside Chelmsford, Kempton, Newcastle and Wolverhampton. Southwell management envisages staging evening all-weather Flat meetings under lights from 2019. Progress will depend on getting the go-ahead from Newark and Sherwood District Council and being allocated fixtures by the BHA.

 

 

16 July 2017

 

Wild about Harry!

The son of Dark Angel upset the apple cart at Newmarket yesterday when winning the Darley July Cup by a decisive one-and-a-quarter lengths. The Clive Cox-trained Harry Angel thereby got his revenge on one of his rivals, Caravaggio, who denied him victory by three-quarters of a length in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month. Jockey Adam Kirby very much followed the plan of the previous encounter, getting off smartly and tracking Caravaggio's pacemaker, Intelligence Cross, for most of this six-furlong contest before hitting the front inside the final furlong. The Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Scat Daddy, the 10-11 favourite, seeking to make it seven victories out of seven, was obviously already under a certain amount of pressure and it never really looked like he would get back into the picture and was even narrowly beaten io third place by Kevin Ryan's Brando.

 

Family Fortunes

A legendary racehorse trainer was fleetingly remembered at Carlisle racetrack when his sixteen-year-old granddaughter rode her first-ever winner just days after sitting her GCSEs. Ella McCain, whose grandfather, 'Ginger', trained the legendary Red Rum, only finished Secondary School last month but she earned her spot in the winners' enclosure after riding Dark Confidant, trained by her father, Donald Jnr., to a three-quarter-length victory in the seven-furlong Racing UK Now On Talk Talk TV Handicap

 

Winning Performance

The Ballydoyle maestro notched up his eleventh triumph in the Jebel Ali Silver Jubilee Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh yesterday, courtesy of the daughter of Declaration Of War. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Actress had a lot to prove following a poor performance in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and a narrow defeat in the Coolmore Pride Of Dubai Tipperary Stakes at the beginning of this month. The two-year-old filly disputed the early running with Jessica Harrington's Brown Bear but when the 9/10 favourite son of Kodiac veered left towards the rail, Actress assumed her true winning role, keeping centre stage on a true line for the target and winning by a length and three-quarters.

 

15 July 2017

 

What a Day!

It was close but it looked as though the Mark Johnston-trained son of Teofilo had notched up another Group One success by winning the the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Saint-Cloud yesterday. The camera doesn't lie, however, and the result of the the photo-finish gave victory to the 10/1 shot, Shakeel, trained by Alain De Royer Dupre and not the joint-favourite, Permian, ridden by William Buick. The latter had urged his mount to make a challenge early on in the race but, well inside the final furlong, Christophe Soumillon decided to go for it and the two rivals flashed past the post together. It was perhaps appropriate that a French horse should win on such an auspicious occasion. This mile-and-a-half event, the perennial racing highlight of Bastille Day, was once more run this year at Saint-Cloud as its traditional venue, Longchamp, is undergoing extensive redevelopment.

 

Frost to-morrow

Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey will have her first professional ride for her father at Southwell tomorrow. Bryony Frost will be aboard the Jimmy Frost-trained Grissom in the Compare Racing Odds At bookies.com Selling Hurdle. It will be remembered that the Devon-born rider was in the limelight at Prestbury Park when, as an amateur, she rode the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder to victory in the Foxhunter Chase in March.

 

Just Perfect!

The John Gosden-trained son of Invincible Spirit certainly lived up to his sire's name when decisively winning the bet365-sponsored Silver Bunbury Cup at Newmarket yesterday. The William Buick-ridden Parfait had been a little disappointing on his last outing when coming fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. This time there were no mistakes, however, as the Godolphin-owned three-year-old, leading the stands rail grou for most of the way, claimed the seven-furlong contest by two lengths.

 

14 July 2017

 

Winning Intent

The 348th renewal of the Newmarket Town Plate, an historic race, instigated by King Charles II and run on the Round Course since 1666, was celebrated in style by a former international show-jumper. Tim Gredley employed his varied equestrian skills to goad the James Owen-trained Bivouac on to to what turned out to be a race-winning advantage just over a mile-and-a-quarter from home out and this three-mile-six-furlong contest was in the bag by a comfortable twelve lengths. Whilst all this was going on there was also drama further back in the field. Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, riding last year's winner Almagest, came off and fell over the rails two furlongs from the winning post. Fortunately it was reported later that he was not seriously injured.

 

Playing Cards right

Another leading two-year-old made his mark for the season by winning the Arqana July Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. The Mark Johnston-trained Cardsharp, who came an impressive third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, was a bit unruly before the start, but eventually settled down, dominating the six-furlong race in the final hundred-and-fifty yards to score by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Off the Mark

The first three races at Epsom last night were claimed by a three-pound claiming apprentice. It's been a memorable few weeks for Kieran Shoemark. He had already notched up a double at Lingfield on Wednesday and now he added to that the successes aboard Fair Power, Chess Move and Pealer, making trainers, Sylvester Kirk, George Baker and John Gosden, respectfully, happy men. These results meant that Kieran Shoemark had ridden five winners in his last six rides, reached a career total of ninety-five winners, thereby becoming a fully-fledged jockey.

 

13 July 2017

 

Bro's a no go!

Ryan Moore has won this world-famous event twice (2010 and 2013) but this is one race he has never won and never will. His sister, Hayley Moore, is hoping to ride Whinging Willie, trained by her father, Gary, to victory in the Ladies' Derby Handicap at Epsom this afternoon. It's true that Newbury also features a Ladies' Derby next month but the Epsom version has a certain cache as it is staged over the same course and distance as the real McCoy (not the jockey!). Apart from being an amateur rider, Hayley Moore has also carved out a career for herself as a successful broadcaster and this year did some commentating at Epsom's Investec Derby Festival.

 

Front to Back!

At Newmarket today, on the first day of the Moet & Chandon July Festival, the feature race is the Princess Of Wales’s Arqana Racing Club Stakes and it is generally agreed that the Charlie Appleby-trained Frontiersman is the one to beat. This Group Two event represents a slight drop in class for this Godolphin-owned four-year-old who gave Highland Reel a run for his money when coming an impressive second to him in the Group One Coronation Cup at Epsom at the beginning of last month. The fact that this Dubawi son was supplemented at considerable expense is a clear indication that connections are pleased with his progress following his two-and-a-half length victory in the Qatar Racing Handicap on the Rowley Mile course in May.

 

Going for record Double.

The Richard Spencer-trained Rajasinghe will try to add today's Newmarket July Stakes to his recent triumph in the Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes and thereby become the first horse to achieve this double since Richard Hannon Snr.'s Rock City in 1989. There were two other horses who achieved this honour in the same decade - Horage (1982) and Primo Dominie (1984). If this son of Choisir can pull off this feat it will be something special for trainer, Richard Spencer as Rajasinghe previous win was only this Newmarket handler's ninth career success. 

 

12 July 2017

 

That's Life!

After a ten-length victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Flat Race connections may be forgiven for getting a little excited about what lies in store for their grey mare. Already there are murmurs that the Willie Mullins-trained Ainsi Va La Vie could be a future Cheltenham Festival champion. Steve Massey, racing manager for the owners, Supreme Racing Club, certainly believes that there is a bright future for the seven-year-old but would prefer to avoid over-enthusiasm at this stage.

 

Rock Solid

There was obviously a sigh of relief from connections that the David O'Meara-trained daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar was able to forget her five-and-a-half-length defeat at Haydock four days earlier. Lincoln Rocks, ridden by Danny Tudhope, won the Listed Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract yesterday. The four-year-old, given an enterprising ride by the North Yorkshire rider, made all the running in this one-mile contest and was able to dominate the race, unlike on her previous start, when she had to settle for fourth place. Boldly urged to switch to the near-side rail in the straight, the 14/1 shot stuck to her task and got home by a neck.

 

Automated Jockey

At Kingswood Stud in Lambourn fledgling racehorses are being put through their paces – that, in itself, is not news. The way they are being exercised, however, is. They are not being trained by jockeys but by a special machinem called the Kurtsystem, which looks as though it belongs in in a theme park but, at a cost of £20 million, it is certainly more serious than a fair-ground ride. The apparatus is designed to eliminate any possible human error when horses are being pre-trained. It's a fact that many young racehorses do not get to race, for one reason and another, and this new device is intended to increase the number that make it. The Kurtsystem can take up to 10 horses at a 30mph gallop around the one-mile covered track and is particularly designed to improve the joint, bone and muscle strength of young horses, paramount factors for a future career.

 

11 July 2017

 

Hope to win?

Two-and-a-quarter lengths separated the sixth and seventh slots in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. The Roger Varian-trained Dawn Of Hope and Pirouette from the Hughie Morrison yard face each other again at Pontefract today in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Pipalong Stakes. Clearly a decision was made in both yards to drop to Listed company for a chance of success. Certainly they will not be up against such tough competition in this one-mile affair. Of the pair probably Dawn Of Hope could well triumph, even though her Ascot run was on good to firm ground. It seems, however, that rain would not bother her too much as she came a good third in the Betway Doncaster Mile Stakes at Doncaster in April when the going was good to soft.

 

A Re-match

This son of Golan has won two of his three starts over hurdles since joining Gordon Elliott's yard. Dorans River (no apostrophe!) easily beat the Willie Mullins-trained Robin Des Foret and Joseph O'Brien's Cook Islands last month at this track over the same distance and the seven-year-old takes them on again in this evening's Connolly's Red Mills Rated Novice Hurdle. Will history repeat itself?

 

Beginner's Luck?

Mick Easterby's former head lad joins the training fraternity at Uttoxeter this evening. Gary Sanderson, who, until now, has been running a small stud from his Lilling Hall Farm base near York, saddles his first runner this evening in the Betfred TV Maiden Hurdle. Charlie Poste takes the ride on Keen's Token. It looks like the rookie trainer is going to need a lot of luck in this event as this eleven-year-old son of Keen, who officially switched trainers only six days ago, was pulled up on his last two outings and has yet to notch up a win.

 

10 July 2017

 

Jam for T

It was certainly a big day for this trainer but the jockey had plenty to celebrate as well. John Gosden won his seventh Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on Saturday and the jockey who helped him bring about this landmark attainment was Robert Tart. This 24-year-old rider, whose previous big success was on Cunco in the Classic Trial at Sandown in April, claimed his first win at Group Two level when he, with perfect timing, partnered The Black Princess to a half-a-length victory in the one-mile-plus contest. In fact there was a double celebration in order because the young jockey had already scored in the previous race on Zenon.

 

A Winning Name

The Thomas And Young Handicap Hurdle at Worcester today marks the hundredth outing for this Richard Mitchell-trained son of Storming Home. Ten-year-old Thundering Home, equally at home over jumps and on the Flat, proved he could still mix it with the best of them when he won the Boxing Betting At 188Bet Handicap Hurdle at Exeter in April, attaining his fourteenth career victory. The Katy Boughey-owned gelding has done the rounds of trainers, starting with Ed Dunlop in 2009, subsequently moving on for varying periods with Michael Attwater, Brian Ellison and George Baker before joining the current handler's Dorset yard in 2012.

 

Bin there!

The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow, with Christophe Soumillon was encouraged to take the lead in yesterday's Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly as no-one else seemed inclined to assume the roll. This three-year-old son of Helmet had already made his presence felt in both the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot when he came third and second, respectively, and this contest proved to be a well merited top-level success for the Godolphin team.

9 July 2017

 

Oscar-winning Performance!

The highlight of yesterday's Stars & Stripes Festival at the New York track was undoubtedly the Belmont Derby Invitational. The winner, the Brian Lynch-trained Oscar Performance made all to record his second Grade 1 triumph after winning last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Although he had a bit of a problem at the start, once in the clear the son of Kitten's Joy was never seriously under threat for the rest of the race, scoring by two lengths in this one-and-a-quarter-mile contest. French raider, the Mme Pia Brandt-trained Called To the Bar, was handy in fourth position and kicked home best of the rest to finish second. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Homesman certainly didn't disgrace himself by finishing third.

 

Snow way to go!

The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow only takes on four rivals when he seeks a second Group 1 victory in today's Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly. The son of Helmet won the Criterum International Stakes by five lengths at Saint-Cloud last autumn before owners, Godolphin, decided to send him off for a stint in Dubai where he scored twice at Meydan. The three-year-old colt was then dispatched to the United States for the Kentucky Derby but there he didn't exactly cover himself with glory when treating the crowd to an extraordinary bucking bronco act when the stalls opened. Thunder Snow made amends, however, when he was an impressive runner-up to Churchill in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

 

Homer's Hero

The current champion jockey made up for his disappointing fourth slot aboard Eminent in the Epsom Derby six days ago by edging out Barney Roy in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park yesterday. Jim Crowley, however, for some reason, wasn't given the chance to make amends on Eminent in this Group One clash, as Silvestre de Sousa was given that task. The thirty-one-year-old Ascot-born rider, this time, was selected by Sir Michael Stoute to partner Ulysses who, as it turned out, proved more than equal to the task. This Galileo son was held at the back of the field for some time but was soon making smooth headway on the outside just over a furlong from home. It became apparent, however, that the Richard Hannon-trained Barney Roy, with James Doyle aboard, wasn't prepared to let the contest develop into a one-horse affair, making a strong challenge in the final yards but failing by just a nose.

 

8 July 2017

 

Sound of Music

Just three days after finishing sixth (last-but-one!) in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse, this daughter of Invincible Spirit is back again chasing an elusive second win. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Music Box tunes up today for a crack at the six-furlong Parliament Premium Finance Irish EBF Filllies Handicap at Naas. Connections are of the opinion that the Ballydoyle filly was also rather unlucky when she made her handicap debut at the Curragh at the beginning of the month and today could be the chance to set the record straight.

 

Havana Good Time

The Karl Burke-trained son of Havana Gold finished disappointingly way down the field in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot two weeks ago and clearly connections were looking forward to an improved performance from their two-year-old grey colt in the Allied World Dragon Stakes at Sandown yesterday. Jockey, PJ McDonald, was obviously keen to get his mount into the action from early on and the duo fairly bounced out of the stalls. Charlie Appleby's Roussel also had winning thoughts in mind as he made his move two furlongs from home. It looked for a moment like the 5/4 favourite would get the better of Havana Grey but the latter had more than enough in reserve to kick on again and claim the five-furlong contest by a length-and-quarter.

 

The Roundabout Way

Charlie Hills obviously has some qualms about the current form of this son of Zebedee. The Hungerford-based trainer has, therefore, decided to run Magical Memory in the Class 2 bet365 Conditions Stakes at Haydock. Now this is the first time in nearly two years that the five-year-old has not competed in Pattern company so clearly this six-furlong contest is supposed to provide some answers to outstanding questions. The Wetherdown House handler, it seems, still has the Group One July Cup at Newmarket in mind but nothing's certain as of now.

 

7 July 2017

 

Stormy Weather

The James Tate-trained Hey Gaman certainly wasn't put off by the thundery conditions at Yarmouth yesterday when he opened his account in the first race of the day. The son of New Approach just didn't get his act together in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but was clearly determined to benefit from the step-down in class and trip when transporting Martin Harley to an impressive four-length victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.

 

First and Third

The first nursery contest of the season took place at Haydock Park yesterday and was dominated by a Cheshire-based trainer. Tom Dascombe saddled two runners in the Aluminium Doors And Windows Contact AluFoldDirect.co.uk Nursery. Our Man In Havana had failed to score in four previous starts so a lot was hanging on this race. The son of Havana Gold didn't disappoint on this occasion, however, and and gave jockey Richard Kingscote a trouble-free ride to win this Class 5 six-furlong contest by a neck. As an added bonus, Magnus, the stable companion, came in just half-a-length behind, making it a first and third for the Manor House Stables,

 

Upstaged

The public had already decided that yesterday's performance of the Coolmore Pride of Dubai Tipperary Stakes was the stage for the Aidan O'Brien-trained Actress to out-perform her five rivals and and steal the show. The final scene, however, didn't follow the script, as the Fozzy (James) Stack-trained Sirici made an unexpected last-minute entrance from the wings and took the curtain call by a neck, making it her fourth success from six appearances.

 

6 July 2017

 

2,000 and that's flat!

Kempton Park last night was the stage for this three-time champion jockey to attain a new milestone in his outstanding career. Ryan Moore partnered the Richard Hannon-trained Billesdon Brook to victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes and, thereby, notched up his 2000th winner on the Flat, in a career that started in the year 2000 with six winners from thirteen rides. This means that the thirty-three-year-old Brighton-born jockey joins an elite band of riders who have reached this landmark total. Only two, still active, jockeys have more than this; Frankie Dettori is on 3,068 winners and Joe Fanning on 2,198. The all-time record is held by the legendary Sir Gordon Richards, the 26-time champion, who had 4,870; next comes Pat Eddery with a score of 4,633 and then Lester Piggott on 4,493.

 

Popularity Stakes

On Saturday it's the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and it looks like the currently very busy jockey, James Doyle, is set to continue his increasing popularity. The 29-year-old rider, after a rather unpleasant split with Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, went on to reclaim his career in a big way by riding in Australia for the Dubai-based operation. Since then he hasn't looked back and has become the jockey trainers turn to when they have problems. For instance, James Doyle replaced the injured Frankie Dettori and thereby enjoyed impressive victories aboard horses such as Elas Ruby and, particularly, Big Orange on whom he triumphed in the Ascot Gold Cup two weeks ago.

 

A Winner! – Roger!

This Newmarket-based trainer continued his high-flying form in Ireland yesterday. Roger Varian saddled Realtra in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse. The daughter of Dark Angel scored in the Fillies' And Mares' on All-Weather Championships Final day at Lingfield in April but, somehow, failed to follow up this success in her two subsequent starts. Under the faultless stewardship of Colin Keane, however, the five-year-old mare made amends for past disappointments in this Group Three contest and, once a gap came on the rail, she didn't need asking twice and stayed on gallantly to deny victory to her fellow British raider, Golden Stunner, by a length and a quarter.

 

5 July 2017

 

Another O'Brien!

Today's £15,000 Lodge At Perth Racecourse Handicap Chase (for The Kilmany Cup) is obviously such a coveted target for this Cotswolds' trainer that he is prepared send three horses on the 800-mile round trip to Scone Palace Park. Fergal O’Brien saddles Pantxoa in this particular Class 3 feature rac, in which Paddy Brennan takes the reins. As the Cheltenham trainer has a course strike-rate of about one win in every three races, clearly connections are hoping that this is the one.

 

No Offence taken!

The Kevin Ryan-trained son of Lope De Vega lost his race before it had even begun at Hamiltion yesterday. Weekend Offender, with Tom Eaves aboard, the 4/1 joint-favourite for the Almada Mile Handicap, was blindfolded to enter the stalls. When the gates were opened, however, the four-year-old appeared to lose his balance in the opening strides. It was revealed afterwards that the Wigan-born jockey had been unable to take the blindfold off as the other ten runners raced away. Tom Eaves tried to alert the starter but he didn't hear and so there was no other option but to pull his mount up.

 

French Queen

The inaugural Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championships in Sweden last night was won by French rider, Maryline Eon. Hayley Turner, who specifically made a temporary return to the saddle so that she could represent Britain in this five-race competition. Sammy Jo Bell was riding for Northern Ireland and Ana O'Brien for Ireland. The trio's best result of the night, however, was when the Northern Ireland rider came second in the first event of the day. 

 

4 July 2017

 

Ticket to Ride

The current champion jockey has been dropped in favour of the runaway jockeys' title leader. It has been announced that Silvestre de Sousa will replace Jim Crowley aboard the Martyn Meade-trained Eminent in Saturday's Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and thereby have a chance of notching up his first Group 1 winner for nearly two years. The Brazilian jockey's last top-ranking victory was in 2015 when partnered the 50/1 shot, Arabian Queen, in the Juddmonte International Stakes. Silvestre de Sousa's five rides recently at Royal Ascot were all outsiders but this Frankel four-year-old is a 4/1 third favourite for the Eclipse.

 

Back but for how for long?

Britain's most successful female jockey rode a winner yesterday at Windsor, marking her, purportedly, brief comeback from retirement. Hayley Turner partnered the Michael Bell-trained Flying Sparkle in the first race of the evening, the EBF Stallions Fillies' Novice Median Auction Stakes. The thirty-four-year-old rider withdrew from race-riding in 2015 but returned to be part of the female team at last year's Shergar Cup event at Ascot. The purpose of yesterday's ride was to prepare to compete in the new Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championship which takes place in Sweden on Tuesday but Hayley Turner insists that she has no plans to resume her career as a jockey.

 

Zaman for all Reasons!

The Charlie Appleby-trained Zaman squeezed home by a neck to win the British Stallion Studs EBF Spindrifter Conditions Stakes at Pontefract yesterday and that could be enough, it seems, to merit another crack at Ascot. In May he came home with a length to spare in the Yorkshire Regiment British EBF Novice Median Auction Stakes. As a result he was stepped up in class for the Coventry Stakes at last month's Royal Ascot meeting but disappointed connections by coming thirteenth from eighteen runners. The Godolphin-owned colt made amends yesterday, however, when he galloped to victory steered by William Buick.

 

3 July 2017

 

One Good Turner ...

Since hanging up her saddle two years ago this former joint-champion apprentice became a more familiar face in front of TV cameras commenting on racing. Hayley Turner, however, is due to be back in the saddle at Windsor tonight as she prepares for her competing in the Lady Jockeys’ Thoroughbred World Championship in Stockholm on Tuesday. The thirty-four-year-old Nottingham-born rider plans to be aboard the Michael Bell-trained Flying Sparkle in the first race of the evening, the five-furlong EBF Stallions Fillies' Novice Median Auction Stakes. Hayley Turner actually made a fleeting return to the track last year when she rode Early Morning to victory on Shergar Cup day at Ascot in August.

 

Third Time Lucky!

Churchill's sister (although historically his wife!) made her mark at the Curragh yesterday when she won the Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes. As befits a daughter of Meow, the Aidan O'brien-trained Clemmie fair purred along in this six-furlong contest, taking up the running about a furlong from home and denying victory to another Galileo daughter, Butterscotch, by two and three quarter lengths. The two-year-old filly was making it third time lucky after having having previously been trounced in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

 

The Brush Off

An Austrian painter sketched out an easy victory yesterday in the Barronstown Stud Irish EBF Maiden at the Curragh. Aidan O'Brien who has claimed this seven-furlong contest three times in recent years with Duke Of Marmalade (2006), Rip Van Winkle (2008) and Gleneagles (2014), added another name to the roll of honour, Gustav Klimt. This Galileo son was the 11/8 favourite despite only making fifth slot in the Tally Ho Stud Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden on his debut at the County Kildare track at the end of May.

 

2 July 2017

 

Derby Dozen

As it turned out, the Epsom Derby winner didn't make it a dozen for the Ballydoyle king at the Curragh yesterday. No, it was the Aidan O'Brien-trained Capri, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, notching up his third win of this Irish Classic, who presented his trainer with his twelfth Irish Derby. It was a close-run affair, though, as only a neck and a short head separated the first three home. The John Gosden-trained Cracksman, third at Epsom, this time had to be happy with the the runner-up slot, with the 2/1 favourite, Wings Of Eagles taking minor honours. After his victories in 2007 and 2008 aboard Soldier Of Fortune and Frozen Fire, the winning rider commented that being second jockey at Ballydoyle was one of the best jobs in the world and yesterday's result will have, no doubt, confirmed his view.

 

Breath-taking!

This County Meath-based trainer has made his name in the National Hunt world with horses such as Don Cossack and Silver Birch but yesterday's success at the Curragh will go down in the record books for another reason. Gordon Elliott saddled Beckford who won the Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes and, thereby, made his mark with his very first success on the Flat. This son of Bated Breath, who earlier this year became the jump trainer's first two-year-old winner showed a pre-delection for this shorter form of racing and went on to prove it.

 

Prize Vase

Although the Betfred Northumberland Vase Handicap was originally inaugurated as some form of consolation race for horses who didn't make it into the Northumberland Plate, it is certainly not a contest to be sniffed at, as a very tempting £70,000 prize is up for grabs. Even so, there were only twelve runners in yesterday's two-mile contest. The Ian Williams-trained London Prize, with Fran Berry aboard, was always prominent and, although he never seemed to be totally at ease, always looked a winner, and so it proved as he pulled away from the Michael bell-trained Graceland in the closing stages to win by a neck.

1 July 2017

 

And the hits O'Keefe on coming!

More Mischief is hardly the description of this Middleham-based trainer's reaction to the result of the Betfred Mobile/EBF Hoppings Stakes at Newcastle yesterday; rather more delight as this son of Azamour thereby presented Jedd O'Keeffe with his first Listed race success. The five-year-old, ridden by Graham Lee, beat Chain Of Daisies by a neck who in turn was a neck ahead of Very Dashing. The Highbeck Lodge yard, in fact, scored half-an-hour earlier when 16/1 shot stable companion, Montanna, claimed the Betfred 'Supports Jack Berry House' Classified Stakes by half-a-length. Meanwhile over at Doncaster, Injam and Metisian made it a four-timer for the man of the day, Jedd O'Keefe.

 

No Jumps. And that's flat!

No national Hunt racing today but that doesn't mean all the jump jockeys have a day off. Some of them are making their way to York to test their skills on the flat in the five-furlong Follow Sun Bets On Twitter Jump Jockeys Nunthorpe Handicap this afternoon. This marks the inaugural running of this £20,000 sprint handicap and eighteen riders will line up, including Tom Scudamore, Joshua Moore, Sam Twiston-Davies, Jamie Moore, Nico de Boinville and Aidan Coleman.

 

Doing his Duty

Another day another Derby. This time its the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. Aidan O'Brien, who has won eleven of the renewals of this Curragh Classic in the last twenty years, dearly wants to make it twenty-one. With this in mind the Ballydoyle king will be saddling a a five-strong team, including Epsom winner, Wings Of Eagles aiming for the famous double. To keep him company there will also be Capri, Douglas Macarthur, The Anvil and Taj Mahal, who was fourth in the French Derby. 

30 June 2017

 

Strings to his Bow.

This Malton-based trainer is sending three of his horses on the two-hour drive to Newcastle this afternoon with the hope of claiming a back-to-back renewal of the Betfred Gosforth Park Cup. Of the three, though Tim Easterby, is clearly banking on Orion's Bow doing the business. Formerly handled by Dandy Nicholls, this son of Pivotal won the five-furlong Class 2 handicap last year off a mark of 91, so the six-year-old chestnut will find life a bit tougher off the top weight of 104. Connections, however, are still expecting a doughty display from Orion's Bow and will have stable mates Hoofalong and Rasheeq to keep him company.

 

Everything's Grandee!

Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer will be hoping to bag another big prize on Saturday, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. Jessica Harrington has had quite a year so far and she obviously hasn't finished yet. The County Kildare handler also had several victories at Punchestown, as well as landing the Irish Grand National with Our Duke. Tomorrow her Grandee faces a major step-up in class for this weekend's Classic but connections obviously feel the three-year-old son of Lope De Vega deserves his moment in the limelight.

 

The Mighty Quinn!

A different kind of target from the old days for this Newmarket trainer but a goal is a goal. After eight attempts at scoring the Micky Quinn-trained Stanhope finally hit the back of the net. After being so near but so far on his previous outings this son of Equiano well deserved this victory when he beat his rivals to the line by three lengths in the 188Bet Handicap. As a former professional footballer, usually occupying the centre forward slot, the winning trainer also, no doubt, re-lived some of his moments of glory as he led Stanhope into the winner's enclosure.

 

29 June 2017

 

Key to Success

This Galileo daughter went some way to earning her £1.3 million guineas purchase fee as a yearling at Naas yesterday. The Aidan-O'Brien-trained Key To My Heart was on her tenth outing and made the Listed Queally Group Naas Irish EBF Naas Oaks Trial the scene of her second victory. Ridden by the trainer's son, Donnacha, the three-year-old filly obviously learnt a lot from from her previous races, including a win at Dundalk, to literally gallop her rivals into the ground to win by two-and-three-quarter-length.

 

No John Lewis Sprint, then!

Going to the races in Oxford Street seems now not to be on the cards. It has just been revealed that the Jockey Club and the SEL UK ( a company that supports sports activities, a director of which is the Queen's grandson, Peter Phillips), are keen to initiate a global feature of street horse racing events, in which a number of the world's top riders will compete over sprint distances. The City Racing plan, as it is called, suffered a serious set-back this week, however, when Westminster Council reversed its earlier approval for a series of thoroughbred contests along Oxford Street.

 

That rings a bell!

This highly successful trainer/jockey partnerships claimed the feature race at Carlisle yesterday. The Richard Fahey-trained Carnageo, with Paul Hanagan aboard, won the £30,000 bookies.com Carlisle Bell Handicap for the first time. This Pivotal gelding, sporting blinkers on this occasion, was of the leading contender in the sixteen-strong main attraction of the Cumbrian circuit. The four-year-old was kept well towards the back of the field for a lot of the one-mile contest. Then in the home straight, the thirty-six-year old Warrington-born rider urged his his mount wide of his rivals and, fortunately, Carnageo was in agreement with the strategy and rapidly overhauled the leaders to win by half a length.

28 June 2017

 

Century Lady

According to the British Horseracing Authority this year's King's Stand Stakes winner put on the best performance this century. The object of their adulation is the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia, who at Royal Ascot last Tuesday, clearly benefiting from a weight advantage over her rivals, galloped to a three-length victory, ably aided and abetted by her jockey, John Velazquez. Chris Nash, the BHA's handicapper, said he thought this Scat Daddy daughter could have won by an even greater distance.

 

A Win to Boot!

Trainer John Ryan found consolation at Brighton yesterday for his lack of success at Royal Ascot last week. His two-year-old colt with the unlikely name of Pranceabootthetoon made his winning debut in a race with a name to outdo his in length, the Trailwalker 100km Challenge 29-30 July Novice Auction Stakes. This son of Sir Prancealot, despite being the only novice in the contest, showed his rivals a speedy turn of foot as he quickened away smartly in this six-furlong event.

 

Pete Repeats!

This Oasis Dream gelding revealed his liking for this East Yorkshire track when he repeated last year's success in the Racing UK Android App racinguk.com/mobile Handicap. The Ollie Pears-trained Lean On Pete sealed his third victory at Beverley when Andrew Mullen kicked for home two furlongs out, denying victory to the Jason Hart-ridden Tred Softly (as registered!) by a head.

 

 

27 June 2017

 

Hill Tops

The St Leger, the feature race of the four-day festival at Doncaster, first run in 1776, will have a new Leeds-based bookmaker as a sponsor for the next three years. William Hill has taken over the reins from Ladbrokes in securing the naming rights for the world’s oldest Classic, worth £700,000 and regularly attended by over 60,000 racegoers. Grand Metropolitan, the owners of William Hill, already sponsor a number of Flat races, including the Ayr Gold Cup and Great St Wilfrid at Ripon.

 

Water to-do!

The decision to water the Ascot course, has been criticised by two trainers, who both had the agonising experience of watching their horses win the race on their side of the track but still lose out to the other side. North Yorkshire-based Declan Carroll believes the decision to water denied his star juvenile Santry the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday, whilst Newmarket handler, Jeremy Noseda, firmly believes that Take Me With You suffered similarly on Friday in the Albany Stakes. Both horses finished the best of those on the stands' side so the trainers maintain that the watering created a huge bias towards the far side of the track.

 

Where Eagles dare!

Saturday’s Irish Derby at the Curragh could well see a five-strong contingent running for Aidan O’Brien who is determined to continue his domination of the Flat season after his crowning as top national Hunt trainer at Royal Ascot last week. The Investec Derby winner, Wings Of Eagles, is likely to spearhead the Ballydoyle king's bid to win his second Classic of the season. It looks like Ryan Moore will be aboard the son of Pour Moi on this occasion rather than Padraig Beggy, who helped to produce the shock victory at Epsom.

 

26 June 2017

 

Music Maestro

A two-year-old Aidan O'Brien-trained colt brought memories of the greatest twentieth-century cellist to Gowran Park yesterday. After a disastrous debut at Leopardstown in May Rostropovich got back in tune and claimed the first race of the day, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. This son of Frankel, partnered by Seamie Heffernan, kept much closer to the pace this time around and although it took him a while to overhaul the strong front-running Medal Of Honour, he eventually dominated in the final furlong, scoring by half-a-length.

 

Peace of the Action

Another successful debut at Hexham yesterday when the Nicky Henderson-trained Peace And Co soon showed who was boss on his first attempt over fences in the Bet toteplacepot Novices' Chase. This son of Falco ended his unbeaten juvenile season in top form when he won the 2015 Triumph Hurdle but has failed to make his mark since, due to a variety of problems which kept him off the track for more than a year. The six-year-old had just to deal with four rivals in this two-mile contest and was sent off the 1/5 favourite under Daryl Jacob. Peace And Co put on a fair display of jumping and pulled away on the run-in to put eight lengths between him and the Claire Louise-trained Mount Beckham.

 

Close Run Contest

The first day of Royal Ascot didn't bode well for the hither-too seemingly invincible partnership of trainer, Aidan O'Brien and jockey, Ryan Moore, as they failed to score. Wednesday provided a more favourable sign, however, as the ever dependable Highland Reel got things moving by claiming the Prince of Wales's Stakes by one-and-a-quarter lengths. What was strongly tipped as a double on Thursday failed to materialise, however. Sioux Nation certainly did the business in the Norfolk Stakes but Order Of St George was shouldered out of back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup by surprise winner, Big Orange. Friday looked like the dynamic duo was back in business when Caravaggio put his name on the Commonwealth Cup and Winter claimed the Coronation Stakes. The last day of the Berkshire bonanza, therefore, started with Coolmore trailing Godolphin by two winners. September in the Chesham Stakes and Idaho in the Hardwicke Stakes soon made up that deficit. As Godolphin failed to score, Coolmore was declared the winner on the basis of better placed performances and Aidan O'Brien notched up the Qipco-sponsored trainers' award for the eighth time and for the third year in a row.

 

25 June 2017

 

Luck was a Lady

It was Ladies’ Day at Redcar yesterday and remarkably a female jockey who was in a wheelchair just over a year ago after a horse fell on her and broke her pelvis in the paddock at Carlisle struck gold. The highly-rated three-pound claimer, Sammy Jo Bell, was aboard Adrakhan, trained and owned by Wilf Storey, in the line up for The Betty Leigh Boutique Fashion Show Handicap Stakes. The son of Martaline was held up towards the rear of the field for a good part of the race but then started to make good headway about two furlongs from home. The six-year-old was then urged into the lead two-hundred yards from the line and held on well to beat the Tracy Waggott-trained Percy Verence by one-and-quarter lengths.

 

All you need is heart!

This son of Equiano's result in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday was subjected to a nerve-wracking stewards’ inquiry about possible interference before victory was confirmed. The James Fanshawe-trained The Tin Man had already scored over this course and distance after winning the British Champions Sprint at the Berkshire track last October. The five-year-old didn't so well on his next outing at York in May when he could only manage fifth the Duke of York Stakes so he owed connections one. Jockey Tom Queally bided his time before launching his challenge on the far rail in the final furlong to win by a neck.

 

A Run for her money.

Today this West Yorkshire track features one of its most prestigious meetings of the year, the £45,000 Listed totepool Pontefract Castle Fillies' Stakes. Of the eight runners one, in particular, catches the eye – the Sir Michael stoute-trained Abingdon. This Street Cry daughter has already notched up two wins from six starts at this level. The Ballymacoll Stud owners are being a little cautious about their filly's chances, however, as they think she needs the run having not raced since the DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September.

 

24 June 2017

 

A Derby Comeback

This son of Teofilo had a lot to make amends for at Royal Ascot yesterday when he lined up in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes. The Mark Johnston-trained Permian was a bitter disappointment to the Middleham yard when he finished way down the field in the Epsom Derby. Pressure was also mounting because it was the penultimate day of the Berkshire bonanza and it looked like the North Yorkshire trainer might wind up without getting off the mark as happened at last year's meeting. This was Permian’s sixth run of the season. After coming third on his re-appearance at Bath in April, he covered himself with glory when winning York’s Dante Stakes. Yet just under three weeks after that unexplained ‘off-day’ at Epsom, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum's colt provided his handler with a landmark 40th victory at Royal Ascot in a race that is widely regarded as Royal Ascot’s ‘Derby’

 

I got Rhythm!

The Charlie Appleby-trained Rare Rhythm hadn't been seen on the track since finishing mid-way down the field in last year's renewal of this mile-and-a-half handicap but absence seems to have made the heart grow stronger. The 20/1 chance Dubawi gelding was kept well up with the pace by his jockey, William Buick, and dug deep in the final yards to win the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes by two-and-a-quarter lengths, notching up a sixth win of the meeting for owners, Godolphin, and a second success of the day and the fourth of the week for the Norwegian-born rider.

 

Fighting for the Crown

One trainer has made his indelible mark in the Hardwicke Stakes, winning it on ten occasions, including a remarkable seven times since 2006. The Queen will be hoping very much that Sir Michael Stoute has not lost his magic touch this afternoon when her Dartmouth, the most memorable winner of last year's meeting, will bid to retain his crown for the Crown on the last day of Royal Ascot. 

23 June 2017

 

Shock - Day Three!

Every day of Royal Ascot so far has brought a surprise or shock result. On Tuesday, against all odds, Churchill failed to win the St James's Palace Stakes. On Wednesday French raider, Le Brevido, claimed the Jersey Stakes and yesterday the Michael Bell-trained Big Orange (in the favourite pun of the day!) 'pipped' last year's winner, Order Of St George, at the post by a short head to carry off the Gold Cup. What is also impressive is that this son of Duke of Marmalade was attempting the two-and-a- half-mile trip for the first time after winning back-to-back doubles in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes and the Goodwood Cup. There were a few moments when it looked as though the odds-on Aidan O'Brien-trained favourite was going to make it when Ryan Moore brought his mount on with a long powerful run on the outside but the eventual winner bravely held off the challenge for his well-earned shock victory.

 

An Artist at Work

It's only the third renewal of The Commonwealth Cup today but already the six-furlong Group 1 contest has established itself as a firm favourite among racegoers. Today's race is set to maintain this popularity. As expected, the focus of attention falls naturally on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Caravaggio. As his juvenile performance at Dundalk in April last year revealed, this son of Scat Daddy seems to be able to do no wrong. He was an impressive winner of the Coventry Stakes at this meeting last year, following that up with a cracking four-length victory in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August. Connections have obviously taken the wise decision to send their protégé down the sprinting route rather than stepping him up to a mile. Caravaggio's only outing this season was at Naas where he notched up another four-length-plus win. As the latter success was on soft ground, it is anticipated that he should run even better on the quick surface he'll be on at the Berkshire track today.

 

Crystal Clear?

Today's King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot was lined up for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean as a result of his coming an impressive third in last month's Dante Stakes at York. Well fancied before that race, following a maiden victory at Nottingham, this son of Sea The Stars seemed destined to step up to a mile-and-a-half trip. Also of advantage is the fact that the Sir Evelyn De Rothschild-owned colt gave the Derby a miss so it will be up to those runners today who did compete unsuccessfully in the 'Greatest Flat Race in the World' to prove that they have fully recovered from their exertions.

22 June 2017

 

A tall Order?

There are four other racing fixtures in the UK today but you'd never know it! All the racing news is about one event – the Berkshire Bonanza. Today is the third day of Royal Ascot and it's Gold Cup afternoon. After Churchill's disappointing performance in the James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday, short-odds punters can't be blamed for having second thoughts about another Aidan O’Brien-trained star. Last season the 1/7 odds-on favourite, Order of St George was denied victory in the Irish Leger by the 11/1 Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave. A few reasons could be raised why this Galileo son won't successfully defend his crown in this prestigious event today. One, in particular, is the fact that the going was much softer this time last year. Apart from that, however, it's difficult to see, comparing the competition, why a back-to-back triumph will not be forthcoming at around four-thirty this afternoon.

 

Well. Blow me down!

This two-year-old filly safely made the the long trip all the way from the States to race at Ascot, only to be knocked over by a two-wheeled vehicle! The Wesley Ward-trained Princess Peggy, due to line up in the Albany Stakes tomorrow, was returning from a morning work-out yesterday when she was hit by a cyclist on her way back to the stable yard, lost her footing and fell to the ground. This daughter of Scat Daddy was immediately checked out by a vet. It was discovered that she had suffered superficial scratches and will need to re-examined by the vet on Friday morning before she can take part in the opening fixture of the day.

 

The French have a word for it – gagner!

The Andre Fabre-trained Le Brivido, partnered by Pierre-Charles Boudot, claimed the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday, denying Aidan O'Brien's Spirit of Valor (American spelling!) victory by a neck. The well-backed French raider was heavily supported by many local racegoers who were treated to a stirring last-minute battle before going off to collect their winnings.

 

21 June 2017

 

Winnie's Defeat

The British and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, Churchill, bidding for his eighth straight victory, was forced to taste the bitterness of defeat yesterday, only managing to come fourth in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes and the reason was not immediately obvious. It's on recruns and not spectacular performances, always doing just enough to get home in triumph. Yesterday, however, he seemed unable to apply his usual tactics with rivals such as Barney Roy and Thunder Snow, both of whom had never got the better of him before. Even his stable companion, Lancaster Bomber, rubbed it in by claiming second spot. One of the first reasons for the poor performance put forward was the quick ground but his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, didn't think that was the problem, suggesting that the big occasion and even the heat had just been too much for the young colt.

 

High Stakes

The John Gosden-trained Daban drops back in trip to seven furlongs in today's Jersey Stakes after last month's battle in the 1000 Guineas when she could only make third, beaten inside the final furlong by two classy Aidan O'Brien-trained fillies, Winter and Rhododendron. Before that defeat, however, the three-year-old daughter of Acclamation won the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket's Craven meeting, displaying an excellent turn of foot to win by seven furlongs. Given that the John Gosden team is in top form with a 54% better-than-expected win rate in the past fortnight, then Daban could be the one to go for.

 

One for the Record

The Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester, with William Buick aboard, produced a record-breaking run in the Queen Anne Stakes yesterday, confirming his status as the No 1 miler in the country. Not only was it a great day for Ascot, Berkshire but also for Malton, Yorkshire where the son of Iffraaj's handler is based. It was obviously a much appreciated win for owner, Sheikh Mohammed, exactly forty years after his first race in Britain. This victory also took Ribchester's career earnings to just under £2 million and will certainly enhance his value for the day when he’s retired to stud to begin a second career as a top-class stallion.

 

20 June 2017

 

A Right Royal Occasion

Today until Saturday we shall have the pleasure of enjoying this country's most valuable race meeting. Royal Ascot will feature a host of world top-class horses competing for around £6,665,000 in prize money, in the presence of the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. Each day presents six races, comprising a total of eight Group Ones. One highlight takes place on Thursday when the Aidan O'Brien- trained Order of St George will bid to claim the Gold Cup for a second successive year. Other famous equestrian names will dominate the five-day extravaganza, including Ribchester, Lady Aurelia, Churchill, Jack Hobbs, Caravaggio, Highland Reel and, of course, the Queen's Dartmouth.

 

Mum's the Word!

A dozen or so horses changed hands at the Goffs London Sale in Kensington last night which has become the unofficial curtain-raiser for the five-day Ascot fiesta to follow. One of the acquisitions is the half-sister to last year's Windsor Castle Stakes winner, Ardad, amusingly named Armum. Originally owned and trained by Jamie Osborne, the Society Rock filly is now handled by Ed Dunlop who says that the aim is still for this Chester maiden winner to run in the Albany Stakes on Friday, having recently signed the ticket on behalf of an unnamed owner in his yard.

 

Where there's Hope ...

The David O'Meara-trained Consequences is scheduled to line up in the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday. This son of Dandy Man produced a pleasing second on in his debut in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes at York in the middle of last month and went on to victory at Catterick two weeks later in the EBF Novice Stakes. The jockey booked for the ride is Danny Tudhope, who is riding high this season and is clearly hoping that the consequences will be his first Royal Ascot triumph.

 

19 June 2017

 

The Price of Defeat

Yesterday's French equivalent of the Oaks, the Prix De Diane Group 1, turned out to be a local affair with the first three home trained and ridden by French Nationals. The result proved to be a disappointment for both the John Gosden-trained Shutter Speed who lost her unbeaten record, coming fourth to the winner, the Pascal Bary-handled Senga and Aidan O'Brien's 1,000 Guineas heroine, Rhododendron, who was pulled up halfway through the race with a reportedly broken blood vessel.

 

Hugo's First!

Hugo Palmer and James Doyle had better luck on the Düsseldorf track yesterday when Unforgetable Filly (registered with one t!) provided this trainer/jockey partnership with back-to-back renewals of the German 1000 Guineas. The Newmarket handler, who triumphed in the race last year when James Doyle rode Hawksmoor to a half-length victory in this one-mile Group Two event.

 

Six out of Ten!

Meanwhile back on home soil, Richard Hannon and Jim Crowley did the business at Salisbury yesterday when Eqtiraan claimed the narrowest of victories in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes. This son of Helmet went all out to reel in the leader, Mythmaker, in the final furlong and ended up a triumphant nose ahead. This is the sixth time in the last ten years that the Herridge Racing Stables' team have won this six-furlong Class 1 contest.

 

18 June 2017

 

Where there's Hope there's Jo!

It's all happening for last year's champion apprentice. Ahead of a big week at Royal Ascot Josephine Gordon landed the Listed Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes at York yesterday. The lightly-raced Saaed bin Suroor-trained Arabian Hope handled the step up in grade well and notched up a hat-trick after winning at Kempton and Chelmsford in April, both times partnered by Josephine Gordon. The Godolphin-owned daughter of Distorted Humor wasn't joking when she challenged the long-time leader, Golden Stunner, inside the final furlong and claimed the prize by a head.

 

A Family Affair

The prize for lady amateur riders in the Queen Mother's Cup Handicap at York yesterday was won by two granddaughters of veteran Yorkshire, trainer Mick Easterby – trainer, Jacqueline Coward and jockey Joanna Mason. The latter was continuing her impressive partnership with Tapis Libre whom she steered to a seventh victory. Joanna Mason kept the nine-year-old son of Librettist in a handy position, allowing the Richard Fahey-trained Imshivalla to lead the field as far as the long straight before going for home and winning by a length-and-a-quarter. Mukhayyam came from a long way back to claim second place thus keeping it in the family as he is handled by Tim Easterby, nephew of the training legend, and ridden by his daughter, Emily.

 

B an Angel!

The Charlie Hills-trained Battaash took no prisoners as he came fast and late to claim the Randox Health Scurry Stakes at Sandown yesterday. Ridden by Dane O'Neill, the son of Dark Angel hdn't been seen since last October when he came third in the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes and ran, it seemed, a little disconcerted on the outside of the pack in the early stages. By the halfway mark, however, he was making eye-catching progress and went on to pull a length-and-a-quarter clear at the line.

17 June 2017

 

She aint heavy!

At Royal Ascot next Wednesday the 2016 British flat racing Champion Apprentice will be aboard the John Gosden-trained Gymnaste competing in the Listed Sandringham Stakes Handicap at Royal Ascot. Josephine Gordon has landed this enviable ride on the TMT Group Maiden Fillies' Stakes winner because the filly is set to carry 8st 6lb, which is too light for stable jockey, Frankie Dettori. Gay Kelleway, now a successful trainer, is the only female rider to have ever ridden a winner at the Royal meeting, achieving this honour on Sprowston Boy in the 1987 Queen Alexandra Stakes.

 

All you need is Love …

Richard Fahey has had considerable success with his two-year-olds just lately and tomorrow could see one more victory added to his credit. Paramount Love returns to Doncaster to line up in the Project Polar EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes, after an impressive debut at this South Yorkshire track at the beginning of the month when she lined up in the Betfred TV EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes which she was seriously expected to win but ended up in third place.

 

Chop Sticks!

Silvestre de Sousa notched up a remarkable five-timer at Sandown yesterday, further establishing his challenge for this year's Stobart jockeys' title. The Brazilian-born rider won his first British jockeys' crown in 2015 and is in top form to claim the prestigious prize again. He almost made it six triumphs but was deprived of victory when his mount, Tirania, was beaten by a neck by Time Chaser in the Supporting British Stallions EBF Fillies' Handicap. Silvestre de Sousa was not to be denied his six wins in a day, however, as later on in the evening at Goodwood, he partnered the Brian Meehan-trained I'Vegotthepower to a narrow victory in the one-mile Lady's Newspaper Handicap.

 

16 June 2017

 

No Payne, no Gain!

Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot will include the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015. Michelle Payne has come over to ride for fellow Australian, trainer, Jane Chapple-Hyam. The mount chosen for the occasion is Kaspersky, already a Group Two winner in Germany and runner-up in the totepool Racecourse Debit Card Betting Available Handicap at Nottingham at the end of last month.

 

New Festival

Leopardstown, it has just been announced, is to stage a new two-day festival which will feature, among other events, the Irish Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup. The first day's major event will be the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and the Stan James Irish Gold Cup will be the highlight of the Sunday fixture. The total prize-money on offer for the weekend will be in excess of £1.3 million. The new Festival will incorporate the feature races from the Dublin racetrack's current three separate meetings at the end of January and in the middle of February, conveniently mid-positioned between Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival and the Cheltenham Festival in the middle of March.

 

Level Playing Field?

Trainers and owners, including Sheikh Fahad al Thani and Newmarket trainer Michael Bell, have voiced their opinion that, allowing a US trainer to gallop his Royal Ascot team at the racecourse in preparation for next week's bonanza, disadvantages domestic trainers who do not enjoy the same privilege. Wesley Ward was allowed to work out Lady Aurelia, favourite for the King's Stand Stakes, on the straight at the Berkshire track on Wednesday together with six other of his two-year-olds.

15 June 2017

 

Getting it Across

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained son of Sea The Stars has been given the all-clear to line up in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot a week on Saturday. Across The Stars won the King Edward VII Stakes last year and connections are hoping that he can provide them with another visit to the winner's enclosure this time. The four-year-old colt has only had two runs since that last victory, coming third in the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in August and a disappointing fifth on his return to action in the Al Rayyan Stakes last month. So today connections are shooting for the Stars!

 

Suits her to a T!

In today's Lord Weinstock Memorial EBF Stallions Stakes at Newbury trainer Owen Burrows is hoping that a step-up in trip will be what the doctor ordered for Talaayeb. This Dansili daughter couldn't wait to get the show on the road when she scored on her debut at Newmarket in September, following that up with an impressive run in the on the Rowley Mile when she finished fourth in the 1000 Guineas on just her second career outing. Connections decided not to enter their three-year-old filly in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot but go for this ten-furlong Listed event instead. Fingers crossed for this decision!

 

Patience Rewarded?

September 13 2015 was the last time the Richard Fahey-trained George Bowen notched up a winner so he owes his connections one. Not that the son of Dark Angel has run badly in all that time it's just that he hasn't won. More tribute, then, to the Mews House yard, for persevering with the five-year-old gelding. In fact, last time out in the Investec Asset Management Handicap at Epsom at the beginning of this month their patience was rewarded when their charge revealed what he is capable o,f when coming third in a Class Two event. George Bowen goes off the same mark of 86 today and, what is more, this race is a drop in class and the going and distance are ideal, So it will be interesting to see whether his jockey, Paul Hanagan, will be able to cash in on these benefits.

 

14 June 2017

 

Rising Storm

It's only five days since this daughter of Poet's Voice came within a neck of victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap at Carlisle and she's running again this afternoon, this time, at Haydock in the Racing UK HD Handicap. The quick return to the track must mean that the Mark Johnston-trained Storm Cry is considered to be in with a good chance of success, particularly as she is reverting to a more comfortable seven furlongs and has dropped a couple of pounds since her last run. With Franny Norton steering at his "home" track, it looks like a win is on the cards.

 

Off the Marco

After twenty-one losses this Italian Newmarket-based trainer must be praying that yesterday's win at Yarmouth is a sign that his yard is on the up just in time for Royal Ascot. The reason for this optimism is that the Marco Botti-trained Moolazim, with Ryan Moore aboard, powered to a two-and-a-half-length victory in the Racing Welfare Handicap on his first start on the turf.

 

Plain Sailing?

Yet another Olympic champion is getting in on the horse-riding act, following the success of cycling gold medallist, Victoria Pendleton. Sarah Ayton, winner of Olympic golds in sailing at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, is now training to be a jockey in the hope of competing in a charity race this summer. The particular contest she is aiming for is the Magnolia Cup, a charity race staged at Goodwood Festival on Ladies' Day in August. There will be twelve women riders taking part, all of whom have one thing in common - they have little or no experience of horse racing. Apart from acquiring equestrian skills, all the participants must submit themselves to a series of rigorous fitness tests.

13 June 2017

 

The Full Monty

It's almost a week since the Ed de Giles-trained Akavit came a respectable second to Micky Hammond's Wishing Well in the Ripon Races Supports Racing Welfare Handicap at you-know-where. In that race he was partnered by apprentice rider, Callum Shepherd, but today he gets the full monty for the Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap at Lingfield Park. This evening the son of The Vale Of York will be ridden by the 2015 champion jockey, Silvestre De Sousa and it's likely he'll try to win from the front and could succeed. He scored at Chepstow three races ago which is also left handed, with a similar downhill, undulating straight.

 

Run-away Horse!

Racegoers got more thrills than they expected at Brighton yesterday when a loose horse, still wearing a blindfold galloped down the track at the start of the Follow Us On Twitter @starspreads_bet Apprentice Handicap. The Clare Ellam-trained Just Marion had just unseated Louis Steward after the stalls opened and before he could pull off the orange blindfold. For the record, the five-year-old mare was officially deemed a runner, but she had no rider and crashed into the rails at top speed before crossing the track to the other rail and crashing through it into the infield. Fortunately the blindfold finally came loose and, thanks to the Equisave on-course ambulance staff, any further harm was averted when the five-year-old daughter of Bushranger was caught before she could run through the course enclosures. The run-away was subsequently taken to the Arundel Equine Hospital with cuts and bruises and the jockey was able to walk away from his fall.

 

It Luca good!

Salisbury features the Margadale Fillies' Handicap is the feature race his evening and the mixture of experience and youth should make for an interesting contest. The Luca Cumani-trained Dubara, highest on official ratings, is expected to go close. This daughter of Dubawi got off the mark at Beverley last season after five attempts. On her first start of this campaign, the three-year-old filly finished third in a Newmarket handicap and is expected to improve for that effort, plus the fact that the Cumani yard has been in top form lately.

12 June 2017

 

Crisis? What Crisis!

It was all sweetness and light and business as usual at Godolphin on Saturday, despite having the drama of losing their chief executive, John Ferguson. Sheikh Mohammed's all-blue silks dominated the winner's enclosure for the first four races at Newmarket. Charlie Appleby, one of Godolphin's two main trainers in the Suffolk town, claimed the first two races with Glorious Journey and Folk Tale, respectively, both ridden by William Buick. John Gosden, who has a few of their horses nearby, then stepped in and took the third contest with Parfait, partnered by Martin Dwyer. The Moulton Paddocks' team came back again half-an-hour later with victory for Culturati.

 

A Friend indeed

The Nicky Henderson-trained son of King's Theatre came from last to first to snatch Grade One honours on the Paris track yesterday. On his first attempt at the three mile one-and-a-half furlongs L'Ami Serge was given a patient ride by Daryl Jacob in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle). As expected the French favourite, Blue Dragon, was determined to seize the initiative and take the lead from the start but things went wrong and he made a mistake three out which put paid to his chances. While this was going on, L'Ami Serge, on the opposite side of the track, galloped on steadfastly after taking the the last hurdle and hit the front on the run-in, claiming victory by one-and-a-half lengths.

 

Oh, Lucky Jim!

Trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning were seeing double at the Curragh yesterday. The duo started out as they intended to continue by narrowly claiming the first race of the day, the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden with the aptly named Strike For Freedom. Then two hours later Glamorous Approach did the honours for the County Kilkenny yard when scoring by one-and-a-quarter lengths in the Listed RI Equestrian Silver Stakes.

11 June 2017

 

So be It!

Third-placed in the 2015 renewal of this race, the Andrew Balding-trained Absolutely So returned to Haydock yesterday to, as it were, settle some unfinished business. The seven-year-old, partnered by David Probert, even seemed to enjoy the rain-softened conditions. The David O' Meara-trained That Is The Spirit set the pace for this seven-furlong contest and was out on his own on the far side. Charlie Hills's Jallota headed the near-side group but Jamie Spencer was clearly put at a disadvantage by his mount's 3lb penalty and ultimately was no match for the Andrew Balding-trained son of Acclamation who surged on to claim the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes by half a length.

 

French Connection

Local talent was swept aside by a foreign invader yesterday in the Betway Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock. First of all, Irish trainer, Henry de Bromhead's Island Remede dominated the field with Dubka and Ajman Princess in hot pursuit. Then Richard Kingscote, riding the Francis-Henri Graffard-trained Bateel, showed remarkable patience, waiting for a gap to come up in the straight, and then was duly rewarded and rode the four-year-old filly to a one-and-a-half length victory.

 

A Good Deal

Just over a week ago this Mark Johnston-trained Cardsharp came second in the Investec Woodcote Stakes at Epsom and clearly learned a lot from that experience and upped his game yesterday at Beverley in the Brian Yeardley Continental Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes The Lohnro colt had David O'Meara's Chatburn for company through the early stages but Joe Fanning knew he had plenty left to go for home and claim the prize by two-and-a-quarter lengths leaving his stable companion, Rufus King, the runner-up slot.

 

10 June 2017

 

Making a Stand

A non-runner upset the apple cart in more ways than one in the Foxdenton Gins Open Hunter Chase at Stratford last night. The trouble began when the Fergal O'Brien-trained Are They Your Own, the twenty-six- length winner of the Brian Babbage Memorial Open Hunters' Chase at Cheltenham at the beginning of last month, literally made a stand, truly living up to his sire's name. When he arrived at the start, the nine-year-old son of Exit To Nowhere planted himself away from the other runners and refused to race. Not only was this action a disappointment for his trainer and connections but for the backers and supporters of the eventual 14-1 winner, Numbercruncher, owned, trained and ridden by David O'Brien, who had been granted his trainer's licence under rules only three days earlier. The withdrawal of the evens favourite resulted in a 45p rule 4 deduction.

 

Way off Course

This Richard Hughes-trained son of Sir Prancealot always seems to be on the wrong track. This time, Goodwood Crusader was at Brighton where he lined up in the six-strong Kew Electrical Handicap. Up to twenty-third of March the three-year-old had notched up nine career runs with his best results a couple of runner-up slots at Kempton Park and Lingfield. Then in April suddenly things changed. 7lb claimer, Finley Marsh, was booked to ride and the two seemed to hit off as they went on to score in the Betway Maiden Stakes at Brighton by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The partnership was renewed at Bath a month later where they 'dead-heated' in the Dribuild Group Handicap. Then a little longer than it takes to say Jack Robinson, the dynamic duo was back making it a hat-trick at the Sussex track.

 

King is King

The last day's racing at Stratford was the decider for the award of the champion male amateur jumps jockey title. James King and Sam Davies-Thomas were battling it out for the prestigious crown. As it turned out, both contenders had three booked rides at this feature hunter chase meeting at the Warwickshire track and neither of them scored. James King, however, already had fifteen victories to his name, one ahead of his rival, so he was declared the winner.

9 June 2017

 

September Reigns

The Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of Deep Impact perhaps had an easier task than expected when winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at Leopardstown yesterday. That was because the favourite, Shapes, who finished third to Royal Ascot favourite, Alpha Centauri in Listed company at Naas, was withdrawn. Nevertheless September, with Seamie Heffernan aboard, put on an impressive performance that did her sire justice in this seven-furlong contest. The two-year-old filly demonstrated a nifty turn of foot when she overhauled the leader, Himmah, in the final furlong and coasted clear by five-and-a-half lengths.

 

Dream Ride

This Retford-based trainer continued his recent good form (seven wins in two weeks) when adding the Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Handicap to his list of credits at Ripon yesterday. Scott Dixon saddled Boots And Spurs in this one-mile race and the victory would have been doubly pleasurable as this son of Oasis Dream also put the lid on a 24-race losing streak. The Karen McClintock-trained Gurkha Friend, bidding for a course hat-trick this season, was at least one tipster's favourite, but was denied victory in the final yards by both Boots And Spurs and Roller.

 

The Weighting Game

There was quite a bit of controversy, even among lady riders, when French racing authorities introduced the controversial weight allowance for female jockeys. It was announced yesterday, however, that, as result of this innovation, there has been a significant increase in the number of rides for women. In the first three months that the allowance has been in operation, female riders have been booked for than 300 additional rides compared to the same period last year – an increase of 39 per cent increase. The number of winners in the same period, however, has only increased by 12 per cent. France Galop, therefore, maintains that the 2kg (4.4lb) allowance had not "destroyed the balance" of the French weighing room by giving female jockeys the advantage.

 

8 June 2017

 

Rock steady

The Charlie Hills-trained Rosarno runs at Sandown this evening in the Boodles Diamond Handicap. The son of Fastnet Rock made his seasonal appearance at Windsor on May 15 but but his performance was unfortunately no great shakes on that day. Even Andrea Atzeni realised that wasn't his day and eased him up some way out. The Abdulla Al Khalifa-owned three-year-old, however, is capable of better things as his victory in the SIA Maiden Stakes at Newmarket last October illustrated. Today Rosarno seems to have a few things going for him: a welcome drop back in trip; the current ease in the ground; a 2lb drop in the ratings and the incomparable Jamie Spencer aboard.

 

From the US of A

The 10 pm flight from Kentucky duly delivered trainer Wesley Ward's latest Royal Ascot raiding party. The nine-strong party, six fillies and three colts, headed up by last year's top sprinter, Lady Aurelia, is now settling in at the National Stud in Newmarket. Originally a string of ten was due to arrive but, at the last minute, Fairyland, couldn't come because of an outbreak of warts on her mouth. It is hoped that the two-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, a contender in the Albany Stakes, will soon get the all-clear and come over and join the group next week. Wesley Ward, who has notched up a tally of seven victories at Royal Ascot since he started to come over in 2009 is expected to fly in next week.

 

They're the Tops!

The County Carlow king is headed for the Big Apple with an even greater air of confidence after securing the services of two top American jockeys to ride for him in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational. Willie Mullins has booked Javier Castellano to partner Wicklow Brave and John Velazquez, last month’s Kentucky Derby winner, to ride Carlow Warrior. Both contenders arrived last week and are acclimatising at stables on the outskirts of New York. 

 

7 June 2017

 

More Fire to come

It was good to see a member of the Aramis family back on the track again at Southwell yesterday. The Michael Scudamore-trained Zayfire Aramis, not seen since August last year at Worcester, finally found the good to soft conditions he prefers and lined up in the two-and-a-half-mile Tony Martin Ltd Handicap Chase. The son of Zafeen was partnered by Liam Treadwell, who last rode Cheltenham champion, Kayf Aramis, at Fontwell in 2009. The market generally reflected the opinion that the eight-year-old needed the run after such a long absence, although trainer and connections, having been much impressed by his work-outs at Eccleswall Court, no doubt secretly hoped for something unexpected to happen. Ultimately the market was right. Zayfire Aramis stayed the distance, making a valiant attempt to stay with the leaders but, as the jockey afterwards revealed, he tired from about two out. Generally, though, everyone seemed pleased with the eight-year-old's performance. Here's to the next time!

 

Making a Stand

After victory at Chantilly on Sunday it seems that the William Haggas-trained Muthmir will have as his next target the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot after his win at Chantilly on Sunday. The son of Invincible Spirit was third to Goldream in the five-furlong Group One at the Royal meeting last year and has qualified for second bid after his second success in the Group Two Prix du Gros-Chene.

 

Harrison Fords the Way

The Mick Channon-trained Harrison will have his work cut out when he makes the step up in trip and class in the Ascot Gold Cup. The son of Sixties Icon hasn't actually tackled anything more than a mile and three-quarter but the Berkshire trainer firmly believes that two-and-a-half-mile trip won't be a problem for the four-year-old gelding who won the totepoolliveinfo.com For Racing Results Conditions Stakes at Chelmsford in May. Harrison was also third in the King George V Stakes at the Royal meeting last year and had a good preparation for his bid for the Gold Cup when coming fourth in the Listed weddingmates.co.uk Grand Cup Stakes at York late last month.

 

6 June 2017

 

Toward Ascot

The American rider who won the 1984 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, going on to compete successfully at racetracks in Italy, Malaysia and Singapore, is once more drawing up his Royal Ascot plans. Yesterday, at Keeneland racecourse, trainer, Wesley Ward, arranged a special workout for his team, including last year's Berkshire belle, Lady Aurelia. Around thirty owners, breeders and also some interested onlookers had the pleasure of watching from the grandstand as last year's Queen Mary Stakes winner, and a number of other horses trained by the Washington-born handler, worked out on the turf course in preparation for the prestigious event at Royal Ascot in two weeks' time.

 

Swilly. Will he?

This son of Killachy has only raced nine times which did include a win at Wolverhampton in september 2015 and he ran close on a number of the other outings. The Anthony Carson-trained Swilly Sunset is being stepped up in trip to a mile for today's Ladies Night At Great Yarmouth Racecourse Handicap to see whether this can produce another victory. The four-year-old will also have the advantage of having the hugely talented Silvestre De Sousa on borad, so a big run is expected.

 

Some Baby!

The recent Derby shock result was followed by another turnip for the books at Listowel yesterday when a 50/1 outsider trounced the 4/9 favourite by six-and-a-half lengths. The scene was the last race of the day at the County Kerry track, the Dr. Louis O'Carroll Flat Race, in which the Michael Hourigan-trained Humm Baby lined up against, amongst others, Fabulous Saga, trained by Willie Mullins. And the rest, as they say is history!

 

5 June 2017

 

No Monkeying around!

Everything seems to be going this County Meath trainer's way at the moment. Gordon Elliott saddled another eye-catching juvenile in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden at Listowel yesterday. Monkeylou made a successful debut in this six-furlong contest under the effective guidance of Pat Smullen. The Dream Ahead colt was fully alert when urged to go for home about a furlong out, easily getting the better of Drombeg Dream two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Wings and Things.

After the shock 40/1 victory in the Investec Derby on Saturday, Aidan O'Brien, it seems, is thinking of letting his Wings Of Eagles have a crack at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in three weeks' time. His other derby hopeful, Cliffs Of Moher, will now possibly drop back to ten furlongs and have a crack at the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on July 8.

 

French Again!

Not to be outdone, there was another Derby across the Channel yesterday. The Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, established in 1836, was inspired by the English Derby and its name pays homage to the Jockey Club based at Newmarket in England. The winners are usually trained in France with the exception of three years ago when the Kevin Moore-trained The Grey Gatsby ctriumphed. This year didn't break the mould, however, as the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Brametot, with Cristian Demurro aboard, came from an unpromising position to win the prestigious prize. Things didn't go well at first for the French Guineas winner as he unfortunately missed the break and was left trailing. It then looked as though Andre Fabre's Waldgeist would do the honours for his Galileo sire but it wasn't to be as the eventual winner swept down the centre of the track to record a narrow victory.

 

4 June 2017

 

Beggy to Differ!

A 40/1 outsider, ridden by a jockey whose name is probably not too familiar to many racegoers won the 2017 Investec Derby at Epsom yesterday. The Aidan O'Brien trained Wings Of Eagles with Padraig Beggy aboard, upset the apple cart by getting the better of two Frankel colts in the Epsom Classic, becoming the biggest priced winner in over 40 years in what is now the UK's richest race. This also provided Aidan O'Brien with his sixth Derby victory.

 

Fit for a Prince

The Investec Corporate Banking Dash was won by a horse for a third time but for a third different trainer - Tony Coyle, following the successes of his previous fellow trainers, Tony Carroll and Dean Ivory. The front-running Caspian Prince got the widest draw in stall one but his jockey, Tom Eaves, wasn't going to let that deter him, getting his mount quickly away and into the lead. All seemed done and dusted by the last hundred yards but suddenly Duke Of Firenze, another former winner, and Dark Shot both mounted late challenges. The battling trio flashed past the post tightly bunched but the result went to the eight-year-old son of Dylan Thomas by a short head.

 

Up for the Cup

The unique Derby tends naturally to somewhat overshadow other events around the country. For instance at Musselburgh yesterday the feature race was the prestigious Edinburgh Cup. The Mark Johnston-trained Time To Study, the 15/8 favourite, ridden by Joe Fanning, denied victory to Sir Mark Prescott's Alibaster by a head and thereby provided his Middleham handler with his fourth victory in this £80,000 handicap.

 

3 June 2017

 

Ups and Down

With torrential rain driving racegoers for cover, a classic contest developed in the Investec Oaks at Epsom Down yesterday. A new equine superstar thundered down the home straight and beat the odds-on favourite by five lengths. The Khalid Abdullah-owned Enable not only put paid to the dreams of the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rhododendron but he did it in a race record time, presenting the winning trainer, John Gosden, with his second victory in this mile-and-a-half Classic.

 

Destination Derby

Winning a Class 5 maiden at Southwell, albeit by nineteen lengths, is not usually the accepted route for a horse to run in the Derby but that's the John Gosden-trained Pearl is set to do today. To add icing to the cake, the Newmarket trainer will also be saddling his stable companion, Crowned Eagle, fresh from winning the Class 4 Sky Bet Top Price Promise Handicap at Windsor two weeks ago.

 

A Reel Winner

Travel problems non-equine meant the Ballydoyle team didn't arrive until just before the beginning of racing at Epsom yesterday. Aidan O'Brien was there in good time, however, to watch Highland Reel win the Investec Coronation Cup. This Galileo son was given an easy time of it in the early stages of this Group One contest, with the riders of Godolphin's duo, Hawkbill and Prize Money, happy to shadow Ryan Moore, who had a smooth uncomplicated ride for part of the mile and a half contest. Two furlongs from home, however, William Buick decided to lay down a challenge with Hawkbill and seemed to be making a success of it until the son of Kitten's Joy ran out of steam, allowing the eventual winner to go clear by one-and-a-three-quarter lengths.

 

2 June 2017

 

Lady Be Good!

So a young female apprentice jockey will line up in tomorrow's Derby after all but it won't be the one all the fuss has been about in the last few days – Gina Mangan. No the distaff debutante will be none other than the daughter of Ballydoyle trainer, Ana O’Brien, who will bid to make history by becoming the first female rider to win the Epsom Classic when she boards The Anvil.

 

Jockeying for position

Meanwhile back at the ranch it has been announced that the 1000/1 outsider, Diore Lia, will run despite the earlier statement by breeder, Richard Aylward (owner his sister Mary Todd.) that if his chosen jockey is not allowed to ride then he would withdraw his horse. Now it seems he has changed his mind as the most important thing is to generate publicity for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, having even received donations from America as a result.

In the saddle, will be another apprentice, Paddy Pilley, with thirty-four winners to his credit to date, who has been selected at late notice. The latter is still a 5lb. claimer but his boss, Roger Charlton, and his jockey coach, Derby-winning rider John Reid, have nothing but praise for the rider, who, although not yet having notched up a winner from four starts at Epsom, does at least have experience of the track.

 

That's the Spirit!

The first race of the day at Lingfield yesterday was the chance for the Archie Watson-trained Ghost Serge to shine on his maiden trip. This son of Zebedee gave a boost for his handler's Royal Ascot aspirations by winning the Join Us For Countryside Day - 3rd June Novice Median Auction Stakes by seven lengths under the guidance of Oisin Murphy. This startling result has now persuaded the Lambourn trainer to send his his stable companion, We Are The World, for a crack at the Chesham Stakes.

 

1 June 2017

 

Not Fit to Ride!

Just four days ago the British Horseracing Authority announced that there are no rules to prevent apprentice jockey, Gina Mangan, from riding the rank outsider, Diore Lia, in Saturday's Investec Derby. Now it has have changed its tune and cites a subsection of rule 83 which states that it does have the power "to refuse to accept any declaration of rider for a horse" and they have accordingly deemed Gina Mangan not fit to ride. That seems an unnecessarily harsh way of putting it. The apprentice rider may not qualify for entry but it is unkind to say that she is not 'fit' to ride! In any case, owner-breeder Richard Aylward, who was planning to run the filly to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, has stated that if his choice of jockey is unacceptable then the horse won't run.

 

First Time.

James Moffatt's Cumbria-based Pit Farm Stables kicked off the day well at Cartmel yesterday when Brian Hughes won the first race by eight lengths on the favourite, Boruma. There is no doubt, however, that the last contest of the day was something really special in its own way. One of the yard's stable staff, Charlotte Jones, notched up the first win of her riding career when she partnered Lough Kent in the Wainwright Ale Conditional Jockeys Hanidcap. The twenty-one-year-old rider had already won three prizes for having the best turned-out horse in the parade ring. Now the Barrow-born jockey had an even greater success to savour for, on only her eighth career ride, she beat stable companion, Fiosrach, to the line by a length-and-a-quarter.

 

Flash Gordon!

This County Meath-based trainer may well say he leaves the girls in the office to remind him of such things but it can hardly have escaped his notice that yesterday was something of a landmark occasion. The Davy Russell-ridden Moonday Sun won the Track & Cash Out With The Ladbrokes Grid App Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown and thereby produced the 1,000th winner for Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer, Gordon Elliott.

 

31 May 2017

 

Derby Double?

Pat Smullen is bidding to win the Derby for the second year in succession on Saturday. The forty-year-old Offaly-born rider won the Epsom Classic last year aboard the Dermot Weld-trained Harzand. This time John Gosden has booked him to ride Khalidi who was supplemented for the race to the tune of £85,000, after winning the EBF Stallions Cocked Hat Stakes by five lengths last week.

 

Dashing Display

Today's feature race at Nottingham could be a chance to shine for the Ralph Beckett-trained Very Dashing. The Dansili daughter, previously trained by Luca Cumani, for whom she won just one of her six starts, lines up in the British EBF totepool Nottinghamshire Oaks Stakes. When connections decided to switch to the Kimpton Down Stables they also decided to keep her at Listed level and entered her in the Magnolia Stakes at Kempton. Unfortunately Very Dashing was faced with some tough opposition on her reappearance last month. Jockey, Richard Kingscote, decided, however, his mount should try to win the race from the front but the four-year-old filly just found herself overwhelmed at the line, just three necks behind the appropriately named winner, Absolute Blast. The cards could well be stacked more in Very Dashing's favour this time.

 

Fighting Fit

The Harry Dunlop-trained Fighting Irish did his dad proud yesterday at Leicester in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes. His sire, the three-time Classic winner Camelot, “the fastest son of sire of sires Montjeu” has just started his new career as a stallion at Coolmore at a cool £31, 000 a time. Fighting Irish, one of his first progeny, was a 66/1 outsider for this six-furlong sprint but jockey Adam Kirby was determined that his mount should show what he was made of and the two-year-old juvenile didn't disappoint, displaying plenty of speed from the word go and battling on gamely to finish fourth, just three lengths behind Frankel colt, Westerland.

 

30 May 2017

 

Way to go!

When a jockey or trainer makes an exceptionally long trip to a racecourse, then this is something to be noted. Former champion jockey in both Ireland and Britain, jockey Jamie Spencer made the four-hundred-mile round trip to Redcar at the beginning of the month when he rode the George Scott-trained Gilgamesh to victory in the racinguk.com Handicap. The thirty-six-year-old County Tipperary rider is back at the seaside track again today for just one ride when he partners Near Kettering, trained by Luca Cumani, in the Racing UK HD On Sky432 Media Auction Stakes. This son of Medicean was an eye-catching fourth three weeks ago on his maiden outing at Windsor and is strongly fancied in this ten-furlong contest today.

 

Third Time Lucky?

This son of Dylan Thomas has been handled by a number of different yards in his relatively short career. Caspian Prince has already won the Investec Corporate Banking "Dash" Handicap twice before; in 2014 for trainer Tony Carroll and in 2015 for Dean Ivory. On Saturday the eight-year-old will be seeking a third triumph but, this time for his current trainer, Tony Coyle. A lot has happened since last year's success. The Stephen Louch-owned gelding moved to David Loughnane's yard in Shropshire for a while before going into the care of North Yorkshire-based Roger Fell, for whom he won the Listed Mercury Stakes at Dundalk in October.

 

That's a bit rich!

This year's Derby will now be the richest race ever staged in Britain after the addition of two more horses a cost of £85,000 apiece – the Mark Johnston-trained Permian, York Dante Stakes hero and John Gosden's Khalidi, who scored in the EBF Stallions Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood last week. That means that the Epsom Classic's total prize money has reached an eye-watering £1.625 million. The John Gosden-trained Cracksman is the current favourite, having got the better of Permian in the Derby Trial last month.

 

 

29 May 2017

 

Epsom Learner

An apprentice jockey, with only one winner to her name, has been booked to ride 1000/1 chance Diore Lia in Saturday's Derby. Gina Mangan, who was last in the winner's enclosure when she won on Salazaar in 2009, will partner Diore Lia, previously trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam but now with John Jenkins, in the Epsom Classic. The last apprentice to ride in this event was Mark Coumbe aboard Castlemorris King in 2011 and he finished last but one.

Owner-breeder Richard Aylward probably has no illusions about the chances of this three-year-old daughter of Yeats coming anywhere in the first ten but he is keen for her to run to publicise the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital to whom he plans to donate any prize-money.

 

Cool!

The Ballydoyle king confirmed his dominance of this year's Classics by completing the 1000 Guineas double at the Curragh yesterday. Just twenty-four hours Churchill had followed up his triumph in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket with victory in the Tattersalls-sponsored Irish equivalent, his stable companion, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Winter followed suit in the Fillies' Irish 1,000 Guineas. This daughter of Galileo had already stirred things up three weeks ago when beating her Ballydoyle neighbour, Rhododendron, in the 1000 Guineas over the Rowley Mile and she went on to repeat the performance at the Curragh yesterday. Another stable companion, Hydrangea, blossomed in the early stages until Pat Smullen decided to take it up on the Mick Halford-trained Rehana. All these efforts ultimately proved to be of no avail because the eventual winner, partnered by Ryan Moore, produced an irresistible challenge inside the final three furlongs and galloped on to a four-and-three-quarter-length victory

 

Big Day for Knight

Trainer Roger Charlton has claimed this Group One prize at the Curragh twice before in 2013 and last year - both won by his former stable star Al Kazeem. It was on the cards that Decorated Knight would do it again for the Wiltshire-based handler and bring home the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Shane Foley steered Success Days at the head of the eight-strong field for most of the ten-furlong contest. Jockey, Andrea Atzeni, always kept the five-year-old handy and halfway up the straight he took over and steered the Galileo son to a one-and-a-quarter-length win.

 

28 May 2017

 

A Win for Winnie!

Last season's champion juvenile has come of age. After winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago Churchill went on to complete a Classic double with an easy win in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh yesterday. The prohibitively priced 4/9 favourite Galileo colt has now triumphed in seven out of eight starts and delighted connections back on home soil. Stable companions, Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valor, encouraged him along by giving him a nice lead into the race. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow endeavoured to make it some sort of contest but but ultimately Churchill, with Ryan Moore aboard, left him trailing two-and-a-half lengths in his wake.

 

Winter's here!

The Ballydoyle king has no time to rest on his laurels after Churchill's back-to-back 2000 Guineas' successes yesterday. Aidan O'Brien, in a bid for his fourth Classic triumph, saddles Winter in today's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas. This Galileo daughter looks a though she's ready to dominate the fillies' mile contest. She was runner-up to Hydrangea on her first outing this season and took the Leopardstown's 1000 Guineas trial by storm in April. She was well backed for the Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago and won by two lengths, benefitting from a superb ride from Wayne Lordan.

 

Taking a Fence

After winning the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes at Bath this Lethal Force colt ditched his jockey, Adam Kirby, after the winning post and decided to explore the neighbouring farmland. The Clive Cox-trained Prince Of The Dark then made his way along a hedgerow until he eventually landed up in a field. Subsequently a barbed wire fence had to be undone to get the wayward colt safely back onto the course. Fortunately the potential Royal Ascot runner didn't suffer any adverse effects from his little escapade. Race officials at the Somerset track have promised to do whatever is necessary to ensure that such a thing doesn't happen again.

 

27 May 2017

 

Go Jo!

Today in the Winners Are Welcome At Matchbook Handicap at Goodwood last year's champion apprentice notches up another landmark in her stellar career. Josephine Gordon takes the reins of the John Gosden-trained Hyde Park in this £100,000 contest. This is the first time that the twenty-four-year-old has ridden for Clarehaven Stables but with two jockeys sidelined, Rab Havlin and Nicky Mackay, the Newmarket handler has indicated his high regard for the Devon-born jockey by selecting her for the ride. It would be another feather in the young rider's cap if this son of Oasis Dream makes it into the winner's enclosure as would also be a first for the famous pink and green silks of owner, Khalid Abdullah, after three near misses recently.

 

High and Mighty

The John Gosden-trained Khalidi was clearly faced with a tougher task than he could handle last time out when faced with the likes of Permian at Newmarket, but yesterday at Goodwood he made amends in no uncertain terms. This son of High Chaparral was held up early in the contest on but demonstrated real class in the way he negotiated his way through the field, shrugging off any challenge at the the furlong pole, and going on to to claim the EBF Stallions Cocked Hat Stakes by five lengths.

 

Order of the Day

Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore did the dual act again when Order Of St George easily triumphed in the Seamus & Rosemary McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday. It was already predicted that the £25,000 contest would be a piece of cake for this Galileo son, who had already claimed last year's renewal, and so it turned out, when the 4/11 favourite cruised home by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

26 May 2017

 

Winning Appeal

One of the hottest evenings of the Summer so far didn't stop this Michael Bell-trained colt from claiming a cool £36,000 by winning the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes at Sandown. Double Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange, with Frankie Dettori aboard, put on a perfect display of front-running in this Group 3 two-mile contest. By the time the son of Duke Of Marmalade had made his way into the straight there was a line of potential rivals queuing up to make a challenge but the more pressure that was laid on the more the six-year-old gelding thrived until he put end to the proceedings by passing the post with five lengths clear.

 

Stoute Rules. OK?

There was a a career-best effort for this Cheveley Park Stud-owned colt in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Autocratic finished last season by winning the Download The Coral App Stakes Handicap at York and then was stepped up in trip for the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket last month but that proved a wrong decision as he landed up last-but-one in a seven-strong field. That upset didn't seem to have affected the Dubawi four-year-old's attitude, however, as from a furlong out he conveyed Ryan Moore to a one-and-a-quarter length victory.

 

Momento Mori

Earlier in the day another Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly did the honours at Goodwood. Mori, boasting the very best of pedigrees (her sire is Frankel), easily took charge of the Markel Insurance Height Of Fashion Stakes. The three-year-old filly only had an Ascot maiden victory to her credit before taking on this more serious Listed contest but that didn't seem to trouble her. Jockey Ryan Moore just had to make sure that she was handy until the right moment came and Bob's your uncle!

 

25 May 2017

 

Long Journey worth it.

Well, the 700-mile round trip paid off yesterday for the Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned filly who was the odds-on favourite in the Listed Rothesay Stakes at Ayr. The Roger Varian-trained Nezwaah, even though on her first start for 220 days. didn't put a foot wrong. Last year's winner, Maleficent Queen, went off at quite a pace but Andrea Atzeni was content to bide his time on the Dubawi daughter. The duo was forced to go wide for a clear run when the field reached two furlongs out but it was plain sailing rafter that, with Nezwaah winning by three-and-three-quarters lengths ahead of Sophie P and Maleficent Queen.

 

Two for the Ride

Wexford last night gave jockey Andrew Lynch the opportunity to shine when he notched up a double, making it his fourth winner for the new season. The Ashbourne rider kicked off with a win in the second race of the evening, the Rosslare Mares Handicap Hurdle when the Joseph Hennessy-trained Kiln Rock claimed the two-and-a-half-mile event by one-and-a-half lengths. Then half-an-hour later he was back in the winner's enclosure, having ridden the Vincent Halley-trained Mr Picotee to victory in the Slaney Handicap Hurdle.

 

On the Map

This Newmarket trainer has just finished his deliberations for next month's Derby when he discovered he had even more talent in his yard, this time female. Martyn Meade saddled Cartographer in the Holidays On The Norfolk Broads Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Yarmouth yesterday and she went on to break the six-furlong course record for the Jellicoe Road track The daughter of Henrythenavigator, having been runner-up on her debut outing at Kempton in November, was the 4/9 favourite and well merited this position. Jockey Jamie Spencer didn't dare trust his luck and kept on looking round from some way out to see where any challenge might come from but none materialised and Cartographer conveyed him to a four-length victory.

 

24 May 2017

 

Ayr to win!

When a Newmarket trainer sends one horse on an over 700-mile round trip to Scotland then it must be serious. Today at Ayr, Roger Varian saddles Nezwaah in the feature race, the Tennent's British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes and, on the face of it, the journey could be worth it, as the winner bags some £28,000. The four-year-old, Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned filly was supposed to have her firstshe didn't race as she broke out of the stalls and was withdrawn. This daughter of Dubawi has had only seven starts to date, finishing fifth in Group 2 company at Deauville and, at the end of last season she was beaten by two lengths in a Grade 1 contest at Woodbine. Clearly Roger Varian believes, however, that Nezwaah, as all Dubawi filly offspring so far, will improve with age. Added to that, the Varian Stable sports a 15% better-than-expected win rate.

 

War And Peace

Five of the nine runners in Saturday's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh are trained by Aidan O'Brien. Heading up this quintet is Churchill, bidding for a Guineas double after his triumph in the British 1000 guineas at Newmarket recently. This field commander will be accompanied by three warriors, Lancaster Bomber, War Decree and Spirit Of Valor. In a less war-like vein, the Ballydoyle trainer will also be saddling Pipes Of Peace and Orderofthegarter. The only unbeaten horse in the race, not trained by Aidan O'Brien, is Irishcorrespondent who comes from the Michael Halford stables. Connections will be keeping their fingers crossed that this son of Teofilo will be submitting his victory report just after 4pm on Saturday.

 

Horse Play!

Clearly this four-year-old grey was not entirely enamoured of her fourth place in the Racing UK Straight Mile Series Fillies' Handicap at Redcar. The Julie Camacho-trained Rosamaria, having not made the winner's enclosure, decided her efforts needed more publicity so on the way back to the stable yard she crashed into the stable lads' canteen and showed up behind the counter. Apparently this happened after the four-year-old daughter of Rip Van Winkle shied away from a camera, got loose, and wound up in these most unlikely surroundings.

23 May 2017

 

No-one Nose!

The result of the first race of the day, the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes, at Carlisle yesterday cost punters a packet. The world and his mate seemed to be backing the Hamdan El Maktoum-owned Sayadey at the generous 10/1 odds. Their dreams even seemed to have come true when the Mark Johnston-trained son of Excel And Exceed looked as though he had shaken off the challenges of both Richard Fahey's Ventura Dragon and Karl Burke's Magic Mark. A photo-finish, however, revealed that he beat the latter by a short head but Ventura Dragon claimed the £6,500 prize by a nose.

 

So Long Solow!

It has been announced that this sensational winner of five Group Ones in a row, including two wins at Ascot in the Queen Anne and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, is to be retired. Sadly the career of the Freddy Head-trained Solow was niggled injury after making a comeback run at Chantilly last March last year. The Chantilly-born trainer has now admitted defeat in his attempts to get the seven-year-old son of Singspiel back to his former winning ways.

 

Rhyme And Reason

The Andrew Balding-trained Poet's Vanity, who finished third on her return in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes in the middle of last month, will will be dropped back in trip on her next start. The reason for this is probably that the daughter of Poet's Voice couoldn't handle the mile on her return to Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas. So Oisin Murphy will be aboard the three-year-old in Saturday's six-furlong Timeform Jury Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. 

22 May 2017

 

A Merry Dance

This Aqlaam filly caught the eye last year when she won the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The Andrew Balding-trained Dancing Star so delighted connections that they were keen for her to run in Group One company and so she tried her luck in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. The four-year-old admittedly finished well down the field but she put on a doughty performance. Today she takes a drop down in class when she lines up at Windsor this evening in the Class 1 Weatherbys Private Bank Leisure Stakes. As the Kingsclere yard have been in superb form with the trainer notching up a 61% better-than-expected win rate in the past two weeks, great things are expected.

 

Artistic Performance

As a juvenile this son of ScatDaddy was unbeaten in four starts and he maintained his superb record yesterday at Naas by easily winning the EMS Copiers Lacken Stakes even though he carried a penalty in this Group Three contest. In the early stages of the race the Aidan O'Brien-trained Caravaggio was kept at the rear of the six-strong field by jockey Ryan Moore, who waited for the final two furlongs before asking his mount for an extra effort. This wasn't immediately forthcoming but eventually the three-year-old got going and accelerated away from the field inside the final furlong to record an impressive win.

 

A Star is Born

Also at Naas in the Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies' Sprint Stakes the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpha Centauri romped easily home, establishing herself as a juvenile filly to keep an eye on. The daughter of Mastercraftsman was naturally the 8/11 favourite and didn't disappoint her backers, keeping to the task throughout under the stewardship of Colm O'Donoghue. The Niarchos Family-owned two-year-old challenged the leader, Shapes, at the halfway mark and proceeded to sprint right way from her four rivals to win by five lengths from Actress.

21 May 2017

 

Cloud 1 so Cloud 9!

Surprising turnip for the books in the 142nd renewal of the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, yesterday. Kentucky Derby winner and Triple Crown hopeful, Always Dreaming, having valiantly tried to win the contest from the front, just lost it at the top of the final run-in and finished a disappointing eighth out of ten, more than thirteen lengths behind the leader. The contender who caused the shock result was the Chad Brown-trained Cloud Computing, ridden by Javier Castellano, who went on to dominate inside the final furlong and win the $1.5 million prize by a head.

 

No Plan B!

Another surprising result but at Newbury this time. The Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester scored his first top-level success in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. Things didn't bode well at the beginning, though, as the planned pacemaker, Toscanini, missed the break and the Mews House team's plans went up in smoke. With no Plan B it was up to jockey William Buick to save the day. He decided to take the initiative and grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck. Fortunately the four-year-old son of Iffraaj accepted the plan and accelerated into a leading position two furlongs from home, shrugging off the challenge from Lightning Spear to win by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Irish Again!

The Prix La Barka at Auteuil yesterday was won for the second year running by an Irish raider. The Willie Mullins-trained Shaneshill, with Ruby Walsh aboard, followed up last year's triumph by Un De Sceaux with a narrow victory over Nicky Henderson's L'Ami Serge. The eight-year-old son of King's Theatre made most of the running but he was closely hassled by the favourite, Device, ridden by James Reveley, but ultimately Andrea and Graham Wylie's pride and joy did the honours.

 

20 May 2017

 

Royal Conquest

York race track is considered by many to be the Ascot of the North and yesterday it vied with its Berkshire-based rival by putting on a right royal show. Though the Queen wasn't present on the Knavesmire, her representative, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dartmouth, was and he duly rendered service by claiming the Yorkshire Cup for his regal owner. This feature race of the week saw five runners spread across the width of the track with the Ryan Moore-ridden son of Dubawi on the stands side, closely marking the St Leger hero, Simple Verse, with Oisin Murphy aboard. The two battled it out in the final stages but Dartmouth held on valiantly to win by a neck.

 

Have I got News for you!

The Luca Cumani-trained Aljezeera will be aiming to put down her marker for the Investec Oaks when she lines with the other eight runners in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial at Newbury today. This daughter of Frankel put up a fine show on her debut at Doncaster last August when she won the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes by two-and-a-half lengths. The Al Shaqab Racing-owned Frankel filly figures among four of the runners who are still probables for the Epsom Derby next month.

 

Gotta Want it!

Another filly followed up her course record-breaking Nottingham debut with a half-length victory at York yesterday. The Michael bell-trained Main Desire, despite the much slower conditions this time around, handled the ground well enough to make it two wins in a row, when winning the Langleys Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes. The thirteen runners split up into two groups with Mount Victoria and Neola leading the far side, and the joint-favourite High Chaparral filly on the stands side but it was the latter who had the faster turn of foot in the closing stages.

 

19 May 2017

 

Go The Distance!

Today sees the renewal of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies' Stakes and one trainer is content that his entry will acquit herself well. William Haggas saddles On Her Toes in the Class 1, a-mile-as-good-as-dammit contest, with Ryan Moore in saddle for the first time. The Kodiac filly was kept busy as a two-year-old between June and July last season, having had five outings and scoring in three of them. The ground conditions should be no problem as she has already won on soft (heavy in places) at Windsor. The known unknown is the distance as the Cheveley Park Stud-owned filly has so far only tackled seven furlongs. The extra 192 yards will be the key.

 

Dante Day Double

A potential future champion, sporting a black eye as a result of a close encounter with an irritable horse earlier this week, triumphed twice on the second day of York Dante Festival. Oisin Murphy consolidated his position as one of this country's leading young riders when he came up double trumps – with the Andrew balding-trained Blond Me in the Betfred Middleton Stakes and Here Comes When in the Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap, again for the Newbury-based handler. The twenty-one-year-old rider may also have a few more surprises today when he partners Ralph Beckett's Simple Verse, winner of the 2015 St Leger and will be hoping that he can turn the tables on the defending champion, Clever Cookie, in the Yorkshire Cup.

 

Glitter again!

The Hugo Palmer-trained 2000 Guineas winner kicks off his four-year-old career tomorrow at Newbury. Frankie Dettori rides Galileo Gold in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at the Berkshire track. The son of Paco Boy had a string of successes in the early part of last season Apart from the Newmarket Classic he was runner-up in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh and won the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Unfortunately the four-year-old didn't exactly cover himself with glory on the next three outings but least said soonest mended!

 

18 May 2017

 

High Five

Well, the Clarehaven Stables' trainer notched up his fifth win from seven of the last Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, despite his worries about the damp conditions. Perhaps it wasn't such a surprise really, because John Gosden usually has a string good middle-distance fillies ready at this time of the year and Shutter Speed was no exception. What is interesting, though, is the fact that this Group 3, ten-furlong contest is generally considered to be a good indicator of who might win the Investec Oaks. In fact none of this Newmarket handler's last four winners went on to claim this prestigious prize and yesterday's Dansili filly is no exception as she is scheduled to race in the French equivalent, the Prix de Diane at Chantilly on 18 June.

 

Light My Fire!

There weren't many top class races that this jockey, who is now a trainer, didn't have to his credit. The York Dante Stakes is one, though. Today, however, Joseph O’Brien has a strong chance of setting the record straight when he saddles Rekindling in this Knavesmire contest. This son of High Chaparral scored in the P.W. Mcgrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown ten days ago and, if things go well, the outcome could decide whether the three-year-old will also line up in this year’s Derby in which Churchill, winner of the 2000 Guineas, trained by Joseph O’Brien’s father Aidan, is the only noteworthy contender at this stage.

 

No Worries!

Trainer William Haggas was a bit concerned about the soft ground for the running of the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. His worries proved unfounded, however, as his 14/1 shot, Tasleet, seemed to have no problems. The only potential fly in the ointment for champion jockey, Jim Crowley, was whether he had room to mount his challenge. That concern was short-lived as the opportunity came when the field approached the last furlong marker and the son of Showcasing was able to go well clear and leave last year's winner, Magical Memory trailin two-and-a-half lengths in his wake.

 

17 May 2017

 

Rain, Rain Go Away!

There hasn't been much of it about lately across most of the country but just when you think it's safe to run your Dansili filly in the York Dante Festival then down comes the rain. A disappointing prospect certainly for the racegoers who were looking forward to getting dressed up for the festivities on the Knavesmire but for trainers such as John Gosden, winner of four of the last six renewals of the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, the prospects are not looking good. He is scheduled to saddle Shutter Speed in this afternoon's ten-furlong contest but yesterday he added a note of caution that, if there is significant rain at York, following recent deluges, then the Khalid Abdullah-owned filly might not even run.

 

Not Annie More!

No long goodbyes from the winner of last year's Champion Hurdle. An incomparable career has suddenly come to an end. The Willie Mullins-trained Annie Power will not now return to racing. The daughter of Shirocco hasn't competed since her merciless defeat of My Tent Or Yours at last year's Cheltenham Festival, followed by an even more resounding 18-length triumph over the same horse in the Aintree Hurdle. Since then the nine-year-old has been beset by niggling injuries and setbacks that have kept her off the track. Finally owners, Rich and Susannah Ricci, have decided to call it a day.

 

Thanks for the Memory

One group of people who will be hoping that there is not too much of the wet stuff on the Knavesmire today are the connections of Magical Memory who is seeking a back-to-back victory in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes. The five-year-old son of Zebedee hasn't appeared on the track for some 256 days just after his disappointing performance in the Sprint Cup at Haydock but trainer Charlie Hills and owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds now have their fingers crossed that conditions are not worsened by more rain.

 

16 May 2017

 

Struck it Lucky

It's been over three years since this son of Verglas made it into the winner's enclosure but the seven-year-old was still sent off the 11/4 joint-favourite. The reason for this is not hard to find. The David Griffiths' yard is currently hitting the heights and that continued yesterday at Wetherby when Lucky Beggar won the Watch Racing UK On BT TV Handicap by two-and-a-half lengths, making it four wins from eight runs for the Doncaster-based handler. Despite the long absence of successful racing, jockey David Allan was given a trouble-free ride, easily beating co-market leader Tylery Wonder.

 

Stealing the Limelight

The 188bet.co.uk Novices' Chase at Warwick today only has three competitors but one of them produced impressive results last season over hurdles and further improvement is expected over fences. The Paul Nicholls-trained El Bandito notched up no fewer than six wins from just eight starts, including five on-the-trot (or more likely gallop!) This son of Milan was a plucky winner at Cheltenham last October and also scored as a Pertemps Handicap Hurdle qualifier at Musselburgh but, sadly, he didn't manage to cut the mustard in the Final at the Cheltenham Festival. The six-year-old seems to have been born to chase, however, and he will no doubt enjoy the decent ground forecast at the Midlands track.

 

The Name's the Game

The most well-known French race track is to get a new name next year - well a slightly amended name, when the £110m redevelopment work is completed in November. With the aim of stressing the precise location of Longchamp, particularly for overseas visitors, henceforth the iconic race course will be called ParisLongchamp. The new four-storey grandstand with capacity for 20,000 racegoers, with 360 degree panoramic views over the French capital, is the centrepiece of the venue. It has been announced that ParisLongchamp is on course to re-open with a special meeting on April 8 after trial runs have been rehearsed the previous month.

 

15 May 2017

 

So, bets who on Sobetsu?

After the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Best Solution’s run-away victory in the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield two days ago it was trainer, Charlie Appleby's turn to give owners, Godolphin, a second Epsom hopeful. In her first appearance since last October when she struggled to handle the fast ground at Newmarket in the Dubai Fillies' Mile, Sobetsu was more in control in yesterday's Group 1 The Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville. William Buick, aboard this Dubawi daughter, shadowed the pace-setting Estelle Ma Belle for some time before deciding it was time to go for home and the Darley-bred filly then could not be caught as she raced clear two furlongs from home.

 

French craic!

Franco-Irish relations were riding high yesterday when a Knocktoran Stud-bred filly handled by a Lamorlaye-based trainer won the Abu Dhabi Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Deauville. The Fabrice Chappet-trained Precieuse, ridden by Olivier Peslier, overhauled Sea Of Grace, trained by William Haggas, in the final stages of the one-mile contest to win by one-and-three-quarter lengths. It was the first Group 1 success for Fabrice Chappet but County Limerick winning owners, Brendan and Anne-Marie Hayes of Knocktoran Stud, have now notched up three French 1,000 Guineas winners.

 

Something to write home about

Yesterday's Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Race at the Curragh enhanced the Michael Halford-trained Irishcorrespondent's unbeaten record after his impressive victory and placed his marker on the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas in twelve days' time. This son of Tefilo, after a successful debut in a Leopardstown maiden was sent off the 8/11 favourite and and fully justified this confidence by overtaking the short-lived leader, Homesman In the latter stages of the contest and transporting jockey, Shane Foley, to a four-and-a half-length victory.

 

14 May 2017

 

Weld together.

The $400,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park yesterday, named in honour of an American Thoroughbred who is widely considered to be one of the greatest racehorses of all time, was won by a worthy successor. The Dermot Weld-trained Zhukova, partnered by John Velazquez, outran her her US-trained rivals to win by a comfortable six lengths. On paper the daughter of Fastnet Rock had a lot going for her as far as weight was concerned and, by chance, faced less opposition as three runners were scratched due to the rain-sodden ground. The eventual winner headed up a tightly bunched field before going into the lead on the far turn and maintaining a clear advantage.

 

Josephine. She's the Queen!

This season's champion apprentice fully justified her crown when she won the totescoop6 Victoria Cup at Ascot yesterday. Josephine Gordon, aboard the William Haggas-trained Fastnet Tempest claimed the prize with a perfectly-timed run. The four-year-old son of Fastnet Rock was not surprisingly the 5/1 market leader for this seven-furlong contest. His talented rider was also early determined to make amends for the recent defeat at Newbury, by calculatingly delaying the final challenge until the last possible moment. The Amanda Perrett-trained Zhui Feng was a possible threat for most of the time but the eventual winner, after switching for a run as the field headed into the final furlong, raised the tempo yet again and left Richard Hannnon's George William three-quarters of a length adrift.

 

All in the Mix

The fact that the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Qemah was the clear favourite for the Betfred "Supports Jack Berry House" Chartwell Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield yesterday caused even more consternation when she suffered a two-and-a-quarter length defeat. The disappointment was compounded as the four-year-old won two Group Ones last term and was only using this Group Three event as a prep race for Royal Ascot next month. Things didn't work out that way, however, and the plan was thwarted by Ryan Moore's decision to race the Chris Wall-trained Mix And Mingle alone up the stands rail whilst the rest of the field headed to the middle of the track. The four-year-old son of Exceed And Excel, in fact, seemed to enjoy this situation and defiantly threw down the gauntlet to the French raider and with only half a furlong to to go Mix And Mingle was well in control and claimed the prize.

 

13 May 2017

 

Dancer's Daughter Due

The Betfred 'Supports Jack Berry House' Chartwell Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield today should give the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Qemah a chance to shine on her first seasonal appearance. A return to Royal Ascot is already on the cards for this daughter of Danehill Dancer who notched up one of two Group One victories in last year's Coronation Stakes. That result was clearly no fluke, either, as the four-year-old Al Shaqab Racing-owned filly had already established herself as a top-level juvenile in France when coming third to champion, La Cressonniere, in the French Guineas last May.

 

Oldie but Goodie!

The oldest winning horse on the Flat for the past seventy years is about to make his seasonal appearance at Lingfield today in the Betfred 'Follow Us On Twitter' Handicap. Connections of sixteen-year-old Megalala are hoping that their veteran can add a further note in the history books by building on the remarkable record he established last year by becoming the oldest winning horse in Britain since 1945. The John Bridger-trained son of Petardia lines up this afternoon for the 142nd race of his career, of which he has won 20. Megalala's most recent triumph was last June on this Surrey venue's all-weather track, when he beat five youngsters who were only fourteen years old. The Trevor Wallace-owned gelding is not the oldest winnFfred Winter's Sonny Somers who won twice over fences in 1980 at the age of 18.

 

Advice Taken

The Keith Dalgleish-trained Sound Advice produced a swift turn of foot when powering home in the final furlong at Chester yesterday to win the first race of the day, the Crabbie's Earl Grosvenor Handicap by a length-and-a-quarter. The eight-year-old son of Echo Of Light, partnered by Dougie Costell, even managed to thwart a last-minute challenge by the well-backed 13/8 favourite El Hayem, trained by Sir Michael Stoute.

 

12 May 2017

 

Life's a Beach!

Ladies’ Day at Chester received an extra sparkle yesterday from a son of Galileo. Jockey, Ryan Moore, it seems, only chose to ride the Aidan O'Brien-trained Venice Beach because, of the three Coolmore entries, this was one he hadn't ridden before. The thirty-three-year Brighton-born rider was certainly glad he did, as the three-year-old colt managed to beat off any challenge from his stable companions, Wings Of Eagles and The Anvil and claim the Class 1 feature race by a length-and-a-quarter. So less than a week after completing the Guineas double at Newmarket with Churchill and Winter, Aidan O’Brien won the Chester Vase for the fifth year in succession.

 

Royal Call

At Newmarket a week on Saturday, the Queen will find out whether she will receive a belated birthday present. It will all depend on whether her Wiliam Haggas-trained Call To Mind has what it takes to be a Derby contender and win the first Classic for his illustrious owner. This son of Galileo made a good start to his racing career by winning on his debut appearance at Newbury last month in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes and is expected to appear again at York on 18 may in the Betfred Dante Stakes.

 

Derby for Pound

The famous hill in the middle of the Epsom track, very popular because it is a free area from which racegoers can watch the races and enjoy other entertainments, will for the next ten years, at least, be known, perhaps contraversially, as Poundland Hill, under a sponsorship arrangement with budget high street retailers, Poundland. Steinhoff International, Poundland's owners, was yesterday revealed as a new partner of Investec, who have also agreed a further five-year extension of its sponsorship of the Derby Festival. 

 

11 May 2017

 

He's urned it!

Starting in 2007 with subsequent Irish Derby winner, Soldier Of Fortune, the Ballydoyle king has won the Chester Vase seven times. More significantly, Aidan O'Brien has saddled the winner of this Derby Trial four in a row and is aiming to make it five with Ryan Moore aboard Venice Beach in today's mile-and-a-half feature race. The three-time champion jockey has ridden six different winners in this event, five of them for Aidan O’Brien, making this trainer/jockey partnership the most successful in the race’s history.

 

Stoute – No Doubt!

Another Chester highlight today is the Huxley Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute carried off the prestigious prize last year with Cannock Chase and, all things being equal, aims to repeat the process when he saddles Poet's Word in today's renewal. This son of Poet's Voice made marked improvements last season and looks as thugh he could build on that. The four-year-old showed a nifty turn of foot, even under top weight, when winning the Betfred Mobile Stakes Handicap by one-and-a-quarter lengths at Glorious Goodwood last July. He did the same again Chelmsford last month when he claimed the Bet toteexacta At totesport.com Handicap so there seems no rhyme nor reason why he can't have the last word this time. Added to that Sir Michael Stoute has been in top form just lately, saddling ten winners in the past two weeks at a strike rate of 58%.

 

All Cisterns Go!

Another renowned racetrack opens its gates for another year. The Curragh, where there are still extensive redevelopment works underway, will, however, have a slightly shorter season to enable these activities to be completed. The CEO of the County Kildare race course, Derek McGrath, assures, though, that it's all systems go for the first meeting on Saturday when the feature contest is the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes. Because of the ongoing building an 6000 attendance limit has been set for all fixtures, including the Irish Guineas weekend later this month, the Irish Derby weekend next month and the Irish Champions Weekend in September.

 

10 May 2017

 

A tempting bet!

If luck is with Aidan O'Brien today he could go home with his sixth victory in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks. The Ballydoyle king first launched his claim for this prestigious prize with Sail in 2008. This year he's tempted to go for gold again with Alluringly, a three-year-old filly who didn't seem very promising when getting soundly beaten on her two starts as a juvenile but made amends three weeks ago when she won the Tipperary Races Fillies Maiden by four-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Double, no toil nor trouble!

Another double on the cards for Renfrewshire trainer at Ayr yesterday, adding to his two on Monday at the Firth of Clyde track. Jim Goldie claimed the two feature races of the day courtesy Sam James who was aboard both. First off was the Spring Promotion At Western House Hotel Handicap, where Euchen Glen looked as though he would be denied the spoils but the resourceful jockey fortunately spotted a gap near the far rail and the son of Authorized didn't need asking twice and quickened well to win by a length-and-a-quarter. The double came up an hour-and-a-half later when 5/1 shot, Tommy G, surged past the kenny Dalgleish-trained Glengarry in the final furlong to claim the QTS Handicap by a length.

 

Luck of the draw

One aspect of a race is quite often not given as much importance as it deserves – the draw. The results of this lottery can make or break a strong prospect for a contest. One example today is in the 188Bet Chester Cup at erm ... erm …! The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Sea Of Heaven has been drawn 14 in a 17-runner field and the Newmarket Baronet is quite downbeat about chances for the son of Sea The Stars in the two-and-quarter-mile contest. The five-year-old comfortably won a two-mile handicap at this track in September 2015 so the location and distance hold no fears for him.

 

9 May 2017

 

The F Word!

When this name is mentioned in racing circles personal memories of the champion on the track and expectations from his new role as a Sire abound. Frankel, officially the world's best Thoroughbred racehorse, was victorious in his fourteen races and didn't disappoint with his first progeny last year. So it was naturally assumed that his sons and daughters would make their mark in the first Classics last week. Nothing is written in the racing world, though. As it turned out, the son of Galileo was put into the shade by his iconic father, showing how far Frankel has to go to even match the amazing achievements of Galileo. Eminent was the shortest favourite of the four Frankel entries in both the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas but only managed sixth behind Churchill with Dream Castle just ahead of him in fifth. The girls didn't fare better in the 1000 guineas, either, as Fair Eva, the stallion’s first Group winner, also came fifth and and last year's Group Winner, Queen Kindly, ended up way down the field.

 

Room for Improvement

Thirsk-based trainer, Noel Wilson is obviously keen to keep the momentum going after his Longroom claimed the Book Direct At Western House Hotel Handicap by three-and-a-quarter lengths at Ayr yeaterday. The son of Oasis Dream had already shown his potential by taking the Racing UK Apprentice Handicap at Musselburgh just four days earlier. As luck would have it, yesterday's favourite and winner escaped a penalty for that success because it was an apprentice race. Graham Lee was aboard this time and all he had to do was sit comfortably and steer.

 

Horse becomes a Man!

Saturday's 2000 Guineas turned out to be a proving ground for the Richard Hannon-trained Barney Roy, who came in just one length behind the winner, Churchill. It was only the son Excelebration's third career outing although you would never have guessed it judging from his brave performance. As the Marlborough-based trainer put it: “The experience will turn him into a man".

 

8 May 2017

 

Winter of Content!

For over 150 years the record for saddling the most 2000 Guineas winners was held by 'The Wizard of the North', trainer, John Scott (1794–1871). The Chippenham-born handler notched up his then record seven victories from his Whitewall Stables in Malton. This record last established in 1862, has now been overtaken by the Ballydoyle king. Churchill's triumph on Saturday brought Aidan O’Brien's total to eight triumphs. The icing on the cake came yesterday when his second string, Winter, with Wayne Lordan aboard, scored a surprise victory in the 1000 Guineas for fillies, outrunning her more fancied stable companion, Rhododendron.

 

Somehow she did it!

Earlier on in the day on the Newmarket fixture Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore teamed up again to win the Group Two Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes which Somehow won by three-and-three-quarter lengths. The four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock 's filly was making a quick return to the track after claiming the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes at Gowran Park. The Andrew balding-trained Elbereth dominated the race for most of the way but couldn't beat off the eventual winner's forceful challenge.

 

In Front Here!

The Charlie Appleby-trained Frontiersman was an impressive winner in the first race of the day at Newmarket, the Qatar Racing Handicap. The four-year-old Dubawi son, seeking to make it three-in-a-row, put on a doughty performance in the hands of William Buick and bravely went for home three furlongs out and even had enough in reserve to accelerate in the last 100 yards to seal an impressive two-and-a-half length victory ahead of Alan King's Top Tug.

7 May 2017

 

After Two comes One

Today's big feature race is the the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, the second Classic of the season and the Group 1 Fillies' one-mile contest has attracted fourteen runners. Aidan O'brien is obviously hoping to follow up yesterday's triumph with Churchill in the 2000 Guineas. Today he saddles Rhododendron who hasn't raced since last October but it was the same for the Galileo son yesterday and it didn't seem to do him any harm. This daughter of Galileo was the leading juvenile filly both here and in Ireland last year, achieving that status by winning the Dubai Fillies' Mile on her first run of the season. There might be a few niggling questions about Rhododendron's fitness but the Ballydoyle king wouldn't run her if he didn't think she had a great chance.

 

Dream on!

Churchill may have been up at Newmarket yesterday but Churchill Downs was the focus of attention in Louisville, Kentucky where the 143rd renewal of the Kentucky Derby was staged. The Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming, with John Velazquez aboard, certainly had all her wits about her as she glided smoothly from the gate and patiently shadowed the leaders for the first half of the one-and-a-quarter mile contest before going for home as the field went into the far turn, giving this trainer/jockey partnership its second career victory in this legendary Classic.

 

Marsha do about nothing!

The Sir Mark Prescott-trained Marsha nonchalantly shrugged off the seven-pound penalty she had acquired as a result of her victory in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly in October by triumphing in yesterday's Longholes Palace House Stakes at Newmarket, her first appearance of the season. The daughter of Acclamation, partnered by Luke Morris, produced a staggering burst of speed in the final furlong to claim this Group Three five-furlong contest by a neck, ahead of the Aidan O'Brien-trained raider, Washington DC.

 

6 May 2017

 

D-Day

This afternoon in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last season's top youngster will have a chance to show how he fares in top quality company on the Rowley Mile. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Churchill, with five wins from six career starts to his credit, enhanced his credentials at this track when he won the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of his stable companion, Lancaster Bomber, who is back again today for revenge.

 

Thanks, Big Fella!

This son of American sire, Primitive Rising, finished third in the Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase at Aintree last month despite his age. This result probably persuaded connections to give the fifteen-year-old Big Fella Thanks a chance to notch up a winner in the GX Landrover Open Hunters' Chase at Cheltenham fixture for the second year running. Sadly it wasn't to be as his jockey, Noel George, had to pull him up when things seemed to go wrong. Fortunately his trainer, Tom George, was able to report afterwards that the popular old-timer was perfectly fit and well but that it had been decided that he should be retired forthwith.

 

A Day Off Racing

A disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority has finally delivered their verdict following an enquiry into the starting problems at this year's Grand National on April 8. Twenty-six jockeys were found to be in breach of the rules by attempting to line-up and/or take up a position for the start before being authorised so by the starter and have accordingly been given a one-day ban. Sam Waley-Cohen, Jamie Codd and Sean Bowen will be forbidden to ride on May 15; Derek Fox on May 16 and the rest, including Ruby Walsh, Daryl Jacob, Noel Fehily and Bryan Cooper, will be sidelined on May 13.

 

 

5 May 2017

 

The farther they fall!

Sunday's Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket presents an intriguing family fight. The O'Brien brothers, trainer, Joseph and jockey, Donnacha, are taking on their father, Aidan, in this first Classic of the season, in which twenty-three-year-old O'Brien junior will be saddling his first runner in this mile-long contest. Dad on the other hand, has entered five fillies, one of whom, Rhododendron, is expected to blossom even more after her 1,000 Guineas Trial performance at Leopardstown last month when she came fourth to Hydrangea, another Galileo filly from the Ballydoyle Stables.

 

Great Scott!

The George Scott-trained Gilgamesh made it four-in-a-row last night at Redcar when he claimed the racinguk.com Handicap by a neck. The three-year-old son of Foxwedge won twice on the all-weather at Wolverhampton after breaking his duck at Nottingham last August. Jockey, Jamie Spencer, kept the 7/4 favourite towards the rear for a while and he seemed to need a bit of encouragement to take on the rest of the field. The Niarchos family charge was not too slow on the uptake, however, and and cut the long-time leader, Tai Sing Yeh, down to size in the final fifty yards.

 

Cut to the Chase

Picking one Hunter Chase winner at Prestbury Park this evening fixture is not as easy as it sounds because this is Cheltenham's Hunter Chase meeting. One contest, in particular, stands out, though and that's the Class 2 Timico Mixed Open Gold Cup Final Hunters' Chase, with prize money of £25,000. the richest race of its kind ever staged. The Philip Rowley-trained Barel Of Laughs probably sets the standard in this contest, having proved himself by coming in close on the heels of Pacha du Polder in the St James' Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup. This son of Milan has the highest rating in the field, after an impressive three-and-a-half-length victory in the Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley Corbett on April 15.

 

4 May 2017

 

Winnie's for the Guineas!

Perhaps not unsurprisingly last season's Dewhurst winner is the ante-post favourite for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Churchill, however, is taking on the first domestic Classic of the season, but he hasn't been seen on the track for over seven months. The Ballydoyle trainer seems confident, though, that the Galileo colt is up to the job and won't disappoint connections.

 

Known unknowns

The problem with betting on maiden races is that there are so many variables and quite often an unknown quantity will swoop through the field and the race is over before you know it. All things being equal,though, a known known is previous form. This could just prove to be the case at Redcar today in the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Maiden Auction Stakes. The current two favourites for this contest are the Paul Mulrennan-trained Grinty, who's had four previous outings and Wonder of Dubai, trained by Michael Bell, who has only had two. The influencing factor, however, could be the latter's spirited run at Lingfield at the end of March when he was runner-up to the William Knight-trained Hajjam. Of course there may be unknown unknowns!

 

Space for Ace

Tonight at Musselburgh there's an interesting five-furlong contest, the Racing UK Day Pass Just £10 Handicap. Of the seven runners one particularly catches the eye and that is the Iain Jardine-trained Desert Ace. The son of Kheleyf, with already five wins to his credit, performed really well last time out at Ripon two weeks ago on his seasonal reappearance. Admittedly that was an amateur riders’ race but he ran confidently well in front for quite way before seeming to tire close to home. He will no doubt have benefited from the run and will have the advantage of being sixteen pounds lighter than when he scored at Ripon last September.

3 May 2017

 

Thanks Half-A-Million!

It seems the chance of winning half-a-million dollars is too much to resist for Andrea and Graham Wylie so they have decided that the season is not yet over for their diminutive star, Nichols Canyon. In ten days' time this son of Auhorized will be in Tennessee lining up in the seventy-sixth renewal of the Grade One Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes. The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old finished third last year in this three-mile Nashville contest. Nichols Canyon was last seen at the Punchestown Festival when runner-up to Unowhatimeanharry in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle.

 

Safe Port of Call?

Today's Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot is the venue for the seasonal reappearance of the Laura Mongan-trained Harbour Law, winner of the St Leger and the Epsom-based handler admits she is nervously excited. Connections, too, will no doubt a little on edge as the four-year-old son of Lawman will be partnered by a new rider, Tom Queally, replacing George Baker who suffered a serious injury recently. It's not that there is any objection to the new jockey but it is felt that the regular rider is "a big part of the jigsaw puzzle".

 

New Career

Last January's Coral Welsh Grand National winner has been retired from racing and will take up another career in the show ring. Kerry Lee-trained Mountainous also claimed the Chepstow contest in the 2013-14 season when the current handler's father, Richard, held the licence. It seems that connections feel that the twelve-year-old son of Milan owes them nothing, having achieved all that can be expected on the race track and a fresh start could be rejuvenating.

 

2 May 2017

 

One for the Sire

Saturday's Newmarket Classic will be the smallest field since 1995 when the Andre Fabre-trained Pennekamp claimed the prestigious prize, beating ten rivals, and the top French trainer is confident that Al Shaqab racing's Al Wukair will be in the frame this time around. At yesterday's confirmation stage only a dozen runners are scheduled to run the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and four of these will be saddled by Aidan O'Brien, namely the favourite, Churchill, Lancaster Bomber, Peace Envoy and Spirit Of Valor. The legendary Frankel showed twelve rivals a clean pair of heels in 2011 and Eminent and Dream Castle will be attempting to become the first Classic winner for their illustrious sire.

 

Galileo's Daughter

The Group Two Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas yesterday was the race for Champion filly, Minding, to prove, if any proof were necessary, that she's still got what it takes and the four-year-old filly did it in style, coming home with a comfortable lead of three-and-a-half lengths. The Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of Galileo was urged by Ryan Moore to go into the lead after the first furlong and he was content to let her stride on in her own inimitable manner from there. Although the Ballydoyle trainer had hinted that Minding might just need the run for her first appearance of the season, the outcome never really looked in doubt.

 

Sacre not so bleu!

Nicky Henderson’s National Hunt champion has moved from Lambourn to the Cotswolds. Sprinter Sacre, who was found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat after having been pulled up at Kempton in December 2013, remarkably went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at last year's Cheltenham Festival. Since his retirement the popular dual Champion Chase winner has spent his recent months parading at racecourses to the delight of his hosts of adoring fans and seemed to enjoy his new walk-on role. Now the 11-year-old son of Network is facing a new life at with event rider, Spencer Sturmey.

1 May 2017

 

She did it Somehow!

The Aidan O'Brien-trained daughter of Fastnet Rock seemed to enjoy the extra quarter-mile when she outran her eight rivals in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes at Gowran Park yesterday. Somehow obvioulys benefited from her previous run when coming second in the Park Express Stakes on the opening day of the season and was well in control in this nine-furlong contest. Seamie Heffernan steered the four-year-old smoothly through the field but there was a moment when it seemed the dynamic duo wouod run out of room. Fortunately a gap opened up in time for the 6/4 favourite to sprint home with a length-and-a-quarter advantage.

 

To Camelot

Another Aidan O'Brien prodigy is back on track today at Naas. Four-year-old Minding lines up in the Camelot Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes, taking on just four rivals in this Group Two contest where, because of her class, she has to carry a top group One weight. The Galileo daughter completed a very successful campaign las season when she won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and clearly is a one Ballydoyle stars to keep an eye on.

 

Could come Good

The USA, Hong Kong and Japan have been some of the places that Goodwood directors have visited over the Winter months in their attempts to persuade the owners and trainers to bring of some of the best horses in the world Glorious Goodwood at the end of June. Adam Waterworth, the Sussex track's MD, for one, spent a whirlwind week last November attending both the Melbourne Cup and the Breeders’ Cup meetings and also jet-setted off to Japan and Dubai to meet owners, trainers and sponsors.

 

30 April 2017

 

Can't keep good man down!

The County Carlow king did it again! After starting the week about £350,000 behind Gordon Elliott he made a dramatic comeback on Friday with a terrific treble. As a result Willie Mullins arrived at Punchestown with a £90,000 lead. And the rest, as they say is history. The Closutton handler retained his champion trainer crown.

 

King crowned posthumously

The Trevor Hemmings-trained Many Clouds was crowned the Racing Post Jumps Horse of the Year for the second time at Sandown yesterday. Sadly the champion chaser died at Cheltenham in January just after winning the Cotswold Chase, beating the incomparable Thistlecrack. The 2015 Grand National winner was one of the most popular National Hunt runners, due to his sweeping successes and doughty running style. It was a popular result as witnessed by the landslide victory of 65 per cent of the vote.

 

Four-time Champion

History books rewritten yesterday at Sandown. Nicky Henderson got the better of his old rival and notched up a fourth victory in the title race. It had been a battle right down to the line but Nicky Henderson had enough in the bag to beat off any last-minute counter-attack by the Ditcheat handler. The final blow was provided by Altior who triumphed in the the bet365 Celebration Chase, seeing off the Nico de Boinville-ridden Special Tiara by eight lengths.

 

29 April 2017

 

Not beaten yet!

The County Carlow king notched up a first and third in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle yesterday. Trainer, Willie Mullins, thereby made an incredible comeback in his bid for the Irish trainers’ championship after winning yesterday's two main races and took the lead for the first time in a season which ends today. Wicklow Brave and Arctic Fire did the honours in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle and Bacardys added to the glory by winning the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.

 

Headstrong Winner

Frankels trailblazing son Cunco, trained by John Gosden, was the first offspring to run and win at Newbury in May last year, and followed that up with success in the bet365 Classic Trial by a head. It's interesting that the sire's headstrong nature evident in many of his sons and daughters was present in the three-year-old today but he managed to overcome this quirk and launch a winning challenge in the straight.

 

Dynamic Duo

Woodland Opera furthered the remarkable run of form for the trainer/jockey partnership of

Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power, when winning the EMs Copiers Novice Handicap Chase at Punchestown by three-quarters of a length. The duo has been riding the crest of a wave ever since Sizing John claimed the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Then they landed the Irish Grand National with Our Duke and have this week enjoyed another successful streak at Punchestown, with the County Kildare trainer saddling four winners.

 

28 April 2017

 

Blow them Away

All eyes on the Punchestown Champion Hurdle today. A contest that has attracted a dozen of the best two-mile hurdlers from both sides of the Irish Sea. One runner in particular could do well, especially as he seems to perform better on right-handed tracks. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Petit Mouchoir probably produced his best effort at the Cheltenham Festival in March when coming third behind Buveur D'Air and My Tent Or Yours in the Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. The son of Al Namix also claimed the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of January. It was then decided to swerve Aintree to give the six-year-old a chance to be fully fit for today's event. Another positive is the fact that jockey, Bryan Cooper, is currently on a 17% strike-rate for the County Waterford trainer so connections have every reason to be quietly confident.

 

Could go with a bang!

The John Gosden-trained Royal Artillery only raced four times last season and was perhaps a bit too inexperienced in his first two starts but he eventually got there at Haydock in August when he go the better of two tough rivals, Scottish and Arab Spring. The three-year-old son of War Front lines up today in the Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown and if he can summon up the same skills which produced his best effort so far at Deauville when he came third behind champions, Almanzor and Zarak, then the Clarehaven Stables team are in for a good day.

 

Meant Well!

Victory in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown was very much needed by Willie Mullins in his battle with Gordon Elliott for the champion trainer's crown and the favourite, Nichols Canyon, certainly looked as though he would deliver the much-needed prize-money. The Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry had other ideas, however, and had gone into the lead some way out and, although Ruby Walsh worked away reducing the lead, Noel Fehily managed to keep the son of Sir Harry Lewis on the job and the provide the Beaminster-based trainer with one of the biggest wins of his career.

27 April 2017

 

His Cup Runneth Over.

Punters were pretty confident that the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner would repeat his success on home ground and they were not proved wrong. The Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John, the 9-10 favourite, with the irrepressible Robbie Power aboard, didn't disappoint and won the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup in the most dramatic fashion. The Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree had free rein at the front of the field for quite a bit of the extended three-mile contest and was still in command as the field came into the home turn. The Willie Mullins-trained Djakadam and the eventual winner were hot on his trail and the event turned into an exciting grandstand finish. At the final fence there wasn't much to choose between the trio but Sizing John had the measure of his opponents and took the prize by a short head.

 

Mind the Gap!

The Cullentra contender for the champion trainer title struck back again in his bid for the coveted crown. Gordon Elliott saddled a Grade One double on the second day of the Punchestown Festival. The County Meath trainer established a lead of of some £340,000 but, by the end of the day, long-time champion, Willie Mullins, had reduced that to around £230,000.

 

Got Cracking!

Yesterday's Investec Derby Trial at Epsom was a close-run thing but the John Gosden-trained son of Frankel got his act together in the dying strides to win by a short head. It was only Cracksman's second appearance on a race track, having won the Class 4 Breeders Supporting Racing EBF Maiden Stakes at Newmarket back in October, and it took him a while to rise to the challenge. By the time he did it looked as though the three-year-old had left it too late as Mark Johnston's Permian, partnered by Franny Norton, set off for the post in the final furlong. Cracksman wasn't done yet, though, and a final thrust saw the job well one.

26 April 2017

 

About the Size of it.

Today there is the pleasure of watching one of the best staying chases of the season - the Punchestown Gold Cup and this year's renewal looks a humdinger. The Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John attracts a lot of attention whenever he runs, particularly since he stepped up in trip. Before that the son of Midnight Legend seemed to spend his time chasing Douvan over the minimum trip. But once the distance was right the seven-year-old never looked back, claiming the Brae Chase at Thurles by two-and-a-half lengths and the Irish Gold Cup by three-quarters of a length. After triumphing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup he has been allowed a long enough break to recover. The County Kildare trainer is also in top form with a 45% better than expected strike-rate so connections are confident that their star will be in the frame.

 

The Old One Two

Despite losing around £850,000 in prize money when Un De Sceaux's failed to score in the BoyleSports Champions Chase, Willie Mullins has still managed to reduce Gordon Elliott's £350,000 lead to £220,000 in the race to be champion trainer, with four days remaining. The County Carlow king notched up a one and two in yesterday's Herald Champion Novice Hurdle with Cilaos Emery and Melon, which netted around £68,000 plus the added bonus of seeing Gordon Elliott leave the first Grade One of the Festival with nothing to show for it.

 

Last Train

The late great Dessie Hughes' daughter has decided to give up training in the next few months because it is no longer financially viable to continue. Sandra Hughes took over the reins on the death of her father in November 2014 and took no time making her mark, scoring a victory with two Grade One wins before that year was out. The Osborne Lodge trainer's most valuable success was when Katie Walsh won the 2015 Irish Grand National aboard Thunder And Roses.

25 April 2017

 

Pinch Punch!

Another day another Festival! This time at Punchestown where the feature race this evening is the Grade 1 Champion Chase. The in top-form trainer, Colin Tizzard with already an incredible tally of winners this season, will be hoping for another Group One. This evening he saddles Fox Norton in the ten-furlong contest. The seven-year-old, originally trained by Neil Mulholland, seems to like it at Venn Farm, and rewarded his new handler with a rollicking nine-length victory in the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham in November and coming a close second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Prestbury Park last month. The son of Lando is a versatile performer and will no doubt enjoy the good ground that is forecast.

 

Willie Do it?

One trainer who will be bidding to make things hard for Tizzard in the Champion Chase is Willie Mullins. Although the Count Carlow king is trailing Gordon Elliott in the final week of the season by about £340,000 and may not be crowned Ireland's champion trainer for the first time in ages, it may be a bit soon to write him off. The Closutton handler has been spectacularly successful at Punchestown in recent years and, with the likes of Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh for support on the opening day of the Festival, 'don't count your chickens', as they say!

 

Not Quite A year!

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Washington DC seemed to appreciate the drop in grade yesterday at Navan by putting an eleven-month losing run behind him. Partnered by Seamie Heffernan, the son of Zoffany was off the pace for a while before launching his bid on the outside to take the Listed five-furlong Woodland Stakes by a neck.

 

24 April 2017

 

A Run for her Money

This seven-year-old Kayf Tara mare has only raced three times, coming fourth in a Novices' Hurdle at Towcester in February and more of the same at Southwell in March. The Michael Scudamore-trained Sheneededtherun, however, certainly added credence to her name when she was steered by Tom Scudamore to a twenty-two-length victory in the D M Keith Mares' Maiden Hurdle at Wetherby yesterday.

 

That Was The Week That Was!

From saddling the Irish Grand National winner, Our Duke, on Easter Monday to a Navan big-race double on the Flat yesterday, with Khukri and Torcedor, the weeks don't come any better for trainer Jessica Harrington. The Fairyhouse First was the icing on the cake just a month after her Gold Cup win with Sizing John at Cheltenham on St. Patrick's day.

 

Battle to the Line

Paul Nicholls' winning the Scottish Grand National with Vicente means that he has edged his way back into the Champion trainer's title race and Nicky Henderson, who is still narrowly in the lead, will have to battle on right to the line until Saturday when the National Hunt Season officially terminates. The Seven Barrows trainer is still some £190,000 ahead of his Ditcheat-based rival with hopes for more success at the Punchestown Festival which starts tomorrow. Paul Nicholls, on the other hand, is pinning his hopes on success in Saturday's bet365 Gold Cup card at Sandown.

 

23 April 2017

 

A very Happy Unbirthday!

The Queen got her birthday present a day late when her Galileo colt claimed the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes at Newbury yesterday after being disappointed on the actual day when Maths Prize miscalculated. The William Haggas-trained Call to Mind, partnered by Ryan Moore, made up for it, however, tracking the leaders for a while but then starting to make headway about a furlong from from home. The three-year-old was a little tight for space in the closing stages but luckily a gap appeared and he just managed to squeeze through to win the one-mile contest by a neck.

 

Sorry Dad!

The Paul Nicholls-trained Vicente won his second Scottish Grand National in a row, putting his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, in the unenviable position of denying his father, Nigel, a prestigious win. It was a close run thing, though, as the Grange Hill Farm star, Cogry, wasn't going to be beaten that easily and the race developed into a real ding-dong battle in the final stages. Ultimately, however, the eight-year-old son of Dom Alco triumphed just as he did a year ago.

 

No Shame for Seamus

There was also a thrilling finish to the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr yesterday when the Seamus Mullins-trained Chesterfield gave the cold shoulder to Paul Nicholls' Zubayr. The seven-year-old son of Pivotal, fresh from a handicap win at Aintree just two weeks ago, was forced to go really wide round the home turn but stayed on strongly, well steered by Daniel Sansom, providing both trainer and jockey with their biggest wins to date.

 

 

 

22 April 2017

 

The Name's Bond!

The race that was first run in 1858 at a course near Houston, Renfrewshire and known as the "West of Scotland Grand National" is today's highlight at Ayr where it has featured since 1966. One trainer who will be crossing his fingers for success today is Nicky Henderson who saddles Premier Bond in the close-on four-mile contest. Victory for the Middleham Park Racing-owned son of Kayf Tara will mean that the Lambourn-based handler will take the crown as champion trainer. Premier Bond, ridden by David Bass, was runner-up to his impressive stable companion, Might Bite in the 188bet.co.uk Novices' Chase at Doncaster in December. After winning at Catterick and Doncaster in January, the seven-year-old finished third in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Dis Guys no Jockey!

Yesterday at Newbury, a racegoer, was apprehended by Julian Thick, Newbury's CEO, and escorted from the the parade ring. The man in question, it seems, who had disguised himself as a jockey, was probably on a stag trip. The problem was that the Queen, on her birthday, was visiting the Berkshire track to watch her horse, Maths Prize, compete in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup EBF Stallions Conditions Stakes (sadly came fifth out six!) and security was stricter than usual.

 

Kindly pay attention!

Today is a big day for the Richard Fahey-trained Queen Kindly at Newbury when she lines up in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes. This Frankel daughter seems to be currently in top form with three wins from five career outings. The three-year-old filly hasn't been seen since last September, however, and today's contest may be something of a fact-finding mission as she tackles seven furlongs for the first time but if she can stay the extra furlong then her natural speed should stand her in good stead.

 

21 April 2017

 

Summing it up

The son of Royal Applause could well get his sums right today and triumph in the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup EBF Stallions Conditions Stakes at Newbury. Maths Prize, owned by Her Majesty The Queen, only had four outings last year but notched up two Firsts a Second and a Third, the last being at Doncaster in September. The Roger Charlton-trained three-year-old will be partnered by Ryan Moore and it looks like it could be one of his most promising of his six rides at the Berkshire track

 

Outstanding Result

Another Frankel colt made it two out of two at Newmarket yesterday when he claimed victory in the Group Three bet365 Craven Stakes. Martyn Meade-trained Eminent, maintained his unbeaten record with a one-and-three-quarter length victory over the William Haggas-trained Rivet, winner of last season's Group One Racing Post Trophy. The Sir Peter Vela-owned three-year-old cast aside any worries about the fast ground and seemed to relish the one-mile trip in the company of champion jockey, Jim Crowley.

 

A Star Performance

Marlon may well have been content to be a contender in the movie, On The Waterfront, but this Brando wanted more than that and got his season off to a flying start by comfortably winning the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. It initially looked as though the Robert Cowell-trained Ornate would claim the spoils, steered by the adventurous Ryan Moore but Tom Eaves always seemed at ease on the favourite, son of Pivotal, trained by Kevin Ryan, and the four-year-old finished the contest with a length in hand. 

 

20 April 2017

 

Blue Skies Over ...

Whitecliffsofdover at Newmarket yesterday left no room for doubt what the outcome would be in the bet365 European Free Handicap. The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old, who finished third on his most recent outing in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly in October, was fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time, was well in control from more than a furlong out. The WarFront colt, with Ryan Moore aboard, was challenged briefly by Seven Heavens and Rodaini gap, but he was unpeturbed and galloped all the way to the line to victory by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Three on Two

The Clarehaven Stables trainer is certainly on top form for the time of year. After notching up two winners on Day One of the Craven Meeting at Newmarket, John Gosden followed with a treble on Day Two. First off the mark was Daban, the least experienced horse in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes who showed a cool turn of foot to come from the back of the field to score by three-quarters of a length. Then it was Dancing Breeze's turn in the bet365 EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes. The New Approach filly, under Frankie Dettori, was keen from the start and went into overall lead from about three furlongs from home, eventually claiming the prize by half-a-length. The treble came in the last race of the day, the Class 3 bet365 Handicap, when Jimmy Fortune steered ten-year-old Middle Kingdom to a narrow victory. The icing on the cake for John Gosden was another two winners at Beverley.

 

Trouble at t'mill

All is not sugar and spice, it seems, at Musselburgh racetrack which is reported as is "heading towards disaster" due to a management crisis. The situation is now sufficiently serious that the British Horseracing Association (BHA) has issued this popular east Lothian venue with a temporary licence that is due to expire at the end of June. Apparently the Scottish racing community is about to be disrupted by a protracted and damaging civil war between the two sides responsible for the local authority-owned Musselburgh race course. The BHA is understood to be optimistic about the outcome but the threat of the end of racing in two months time still looms.

 

19 April 2017

 

Not a Soft Touch!

The John Gosden-trained High Chaparral colt was beaten into second place in a Class 3 handicap at Doncaster sixteen days ago but he made amends at Newmarket yesterday. The deciding factor was that Khalidi clearly prefers faster ground which he demonstrated by repelling the challenge of the Sylvester Kirk-handled Salouen to win the bet365 Feilden Stakes by a neck.

 

Full of Grace

This Born To Sea daughter was moved to the William Haggas stables from her previous trainer, John Oxx, over the winter months and could well put down a marker for the 1000 Guineas if all goes well on day two of the Craven Meeting at Newmarket. Sea Of Grace only made her debut last June, when she put up a noticeable performance by coming a well-earned third in the Peter Keatley Curragh Equine Groundcare European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden, following that with two wins, one at Tipperary and the other at the Curragh. Today the three-year-old filly lines up in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes. There's a question mark over her drop back in trip to seven furlongs after being used to further but connections seem to be confident that there's more to come from Sea of Grace.

 

Just Had Enough!

It seems that dual US champion mare with six races at the highest level to her credit, including beating her male counterparts in the Breeders' Cup Mile as a four-year-old in 2015 and following that with her memorable visit to Britain last year, when she recorded a famous victory in the Queen Anne Stakes has lost interest in racing and has been retired. Her trainer, Mark Casse, said that the six-year-old daughter of Bernstein is happy and healthy but just doesn't have the same desire to train any more and he respects her wishes.

 

18 April 2017

 

Duke's Up!

For the winner of yesterday's BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse it was a debut handicap appearance and only his fourth outing over fences. The Jessica Harrington-trained

Our Duke, however, with Robbie power aboard, never looked in any real danger, claiming the prestigious prize by fourteen lengths. This triumph added further glory to the trainer/jockey partnership, following on from a Cheltenham Festival treble, including the Gold Cup victory of Sizing John.

 

A High Five-Five!

What better fifty-fifth birthday present than to establish another record number of seasonal winners for the Ditcheat yard! That's what Paul Nicholls did at Chepstow yesterday, when he notched up his 156th victory with Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Dolos claimed an easy two-and-a-quarter length triumph in the Hugh James Supporting NSPCC Schools Service 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle. The celebrations didn't stop there, thugh, for, three hours later, If You Say Run put the icing on the cake with a win in the Army Cadets Wales Supporting NSPCC Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race.

 

Cream on the Top!

The Grade Two Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday was a nine-length victory for the Willie Mullins-trained Renneti. De Plotting Shed, handled by Gordon Elliott, was urged by jockey Davy Russell to make all he running but that plan only lasted until the eight-year-old son of Irish Wells, steered by Ruby Walsh slipped smoothly into top gear and sailed past to an easy win, despite valiant efforts by the eventual second.

 

 

 

17 April 2017

 

With Respect

Yorkhill was denied victory by a neck in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse yesterday and, what is more, denied his trainer, Willie Mullins the significant £34,000 prize money that could be crucial for his bid to retain the Championship title. The key to the son of Presenting's problems seems to have been a return to a right-handed track which proved a disaster as he jumped sharply left at most of the fences. The seven-year-old managed to make his way into the lead after the fourth fence but, unfortunately, saved the worst of his sideways manoeuvres for the last obstacle and, thereby, gifted the Grade 1 Fairyhouse feature race to Road To Respect, owned, ironically, by Michael O'Leary, whose company, Ryanair, sponsors the event.

 

You Betcher, Fletcher!

The BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse today will be a chance for the Harry Fry-trained Fletchers Flyer to capitalise on his previous experience of the County Meath track when he won a competitive handicap chase over three-and-three-quarter miles at the Punchestown Festival last April. The nine-year-old son of Winged Love was then given a rest until December when he had two outings so he should line up this afternoon fit and fresh for the fray.

 

Harry didn't tarry!

Harry Bannister, after a high-profile win at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting, sustained a broken wrist, leaving him languishing on the sidelines for most of the National Hunt season. Happily the conditional jump jockey was able to relegate a frustrating season to history when he partnered the Warren Greatrex-trained Magic Memory to victory in the Challenger Series Mares’ Handicap Chase Final at Haydock. 

 

16 April 2017

 

All that Aljazzi!

The Racing UK-sponsored Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes at Kempton yesterday was won, for the third year in a row, by Marco Botti. The Newmarket trainer saddled Aljazzi, ridden by Ryan Moore, in this one-mile contest. The four-year-old Shamardal filly was always prominent and was comfortably ahead inside the final furlong, beating the Luca Cumani-trained Materialistic by a length and a half.

 

Rock Solid

This Listed prize and two Group Three events winner didn't live up to expectations when competing in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot. This time, however, the Dermot Weld-trained Zhukova was the clear favourite and, although it looked as though Henry de Bromhead's Island Remede might have it all done and dusted by the home straight, the five-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock, with Pat Smullen aboard, eventually wore her rival down and passed the post with two lengths to the good.

 

Sound as a Bell

Yesterday's totepoolliveinfo.com Royal Mile at Musselburgh was won by the Richard Fahey-trained Cullingworth, ridden by Sammy Jo Bell, riding her first winner since returning from injury. The highly-successful apprentice was wheelchair-bound for quite some time after undergoing a pelvic operation as a consequence of a heavy fall at Carlisle last May and only returned to race riding at the beginning of last month. The four-year-old son of Kodiac, one of four runners in the race for the North Yorkshire trainer, appearing for the first time since September, went into the lead inside the final furlong and managed to hold off rival, Grey Britain, by a head.

 

15 April 2017

 

Third of a Grand!

With the aim of pocketing as much of the €500,000 (£424,000 in real money!) and, thereby, claim Ireland's champion trainer crown for the first time, Gordon Elliott is planning to saddle ten of the thirty runners in the Irish Grand National on Monday. In fact, almost half of the field is dominated by Gigginstown Stud runners and fourteen sets of owner, Michael O'Leary's well-known maroon colours will be sported in the fabulous Fairyhouse fixture.

 

Last to First

The Richard Fahey-trained 25/1 shot, Forest Ranger, caused quite an upset in the 32Red Burradon Conditions Stakes at Newcastle yesterday by coming right from the back of the field to claim the one-mile contest by two-and-three-quarter lengths. Partnered by Tony Hamilton the three-year-old son of Lawman easily beat the 10/3 favourite, Utmost, trained by John Gosden.

 

Get it across easily.

Sir Michael Stoute's Winter Derby winner, Convey, never really had any worries when he won the last race of the day, the Betway Easter Classic at Lingfield yesterday. Ryan Moore had the 11/10 favourite very handy behind the leaders and when asked the question two furlongs from home, the five-year-old Dansili son had all the right answers and cruised to the front past Third Time Lucky and Elbereth.

 

14 April 2017

 

On your Mark's!

Arena racing Company has invested significantly in Bath racecourse facilities, including the opening of the new Langridge Grandstand last Summer and today's new Good Friday fixture presents its richest-ever programme. The eight-race card embraces a main attraction of two valuable handicaps worth a total of £182,750. The £60,000 Bathwick Tyres Handicap, in particular, has attracted top trainers from far and wide. Even Middleham-based trainer, Mark Johnston, has been tempted to make the over-500-mile round trip to Bath with no fewer than three of his horses – Permian, Sofia's Rock and Manduro, so he must think he has a chance.

 

Seeing Stars

The Ahmad Abdulla Al Shaikh-owned Son Of The Stars produced a last-race success in the Class 4 Paul Goodwin 50th At Charlie Lockrams's Bar Handicap at Chelmsford City yesterday. The Richard Hannon-trained son of Delegator, ridden by Ryan Moore, following up his winning debut at Kempton Park last December, was always in front in this mile contest and secured victory by two lengths.

 

Reet Petite!

It's Championship Day at Lingfield Park today and what better time for a fairytale ending. An unraced son of Champs Elysees was acquired eighteen months ago for an incredible £600. In August of last year the Neil King-trained Petite Jack was a 20-1 chance for a juvenile hurdle at Newton Abbot and merited those odds as he finished last. Things changed drastically thereafter, however, as the four-year-old notched up four wins and a second on the flat, dramatically increasing his handicap mark from 73 to 98. Now he is a definite contender in the Class 2 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships. It would be lovely if Petite Jack could now repay his owner, Bill Burn, by winning the £93, 375 first prize money.

 

 

13 April 2017

 

National Pride

Easter Monday heralds this year's running of the €500,000 Boylesports Irish Grand National. Thirty-one years after its English counterpart, the Irish Grand National was inaugurated in 1870. Five furlongs shorter and seven fences fewer than the Aintree affair, the Fairyhouse feature is the biggest prize in Irish National Hunt racing. The very first winner of the race was a horse called, funnily enough, Sir Robert Peel, creator of the metropolitan Police Force (hence the nickname 'Bobby'!). The event is affectionately known as ‘The Race of the People’ because anyone can enter their horse and have a chance of winning it against many of horseracing's well-known millionaire owners. This was soundly illustrated in 2012 when the 33/1 chance, Líon na Bearnaí, trained by a young rookie, Tom Gibney, won it for a small group of tradesmen. Then the following year a 50/1 outsider, Liberty Counsel, owned by two sisters, did the honours.

 

Rhyme and Reason

At Chelmsford City tonight the Bet toteexacta At totesport.com Handicap is financially a race well worth winning. Some of the country's top trainers are well aware of this and have the contest in their sights. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet's World, in particular, has been ear-marked as the short-priced favourite and quite rightly so. The son of Poet's Voice won two of his four outings last season. The four-year-old finished a close second in the Class 2 crownhotel-bawtry.com Handicap at Doncaster last September which did his reputation no harm. Today Poet's World will have the benefit of the partnership with top-class jockey Ryan Moore, with a 42% strike-rate at the course, which can't be bad, either.

 

It's all Go!

Kempton Park's first race of the evening yesterday saw a continuation of this Devon-based trainer's successes at the Sunbury-on-Thames race track. Rod Millman saddled Go Amber Go in the 32Red.com Handicap and, although the four-year-old daughter of Compton Place seemed not too keen on the loading process, once the stalls were opened, she conveyed her jockey, Lulu Stanford, to an impressive two-and-three-quarter length victory.

 

12 April 2017

 

Verse to come!

This daughter of Duke Of Marmalade pulled out all the stops in 2015, notching up such successes as the St Leger and a second Group One victory in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot. The Ralph Beckett-trained Simple Verse didn't have such an easy time of it last season, however, but finally got back to her former self when scoring in the Park Hill Stakes and coming third in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot. The Andover-based trainer admits that the five-year-old mare has been somewhat slow getting it together this year but he is confident that she can compete at the highest level again and, with that in mind, the Royal Ascot Gold Cup has been pencilled in.

 

Have a good trip!

The 2016 season was not an easy time for another rising star after winning the 2015 Ascot Gold Cup. The Ed Dunlop-trained Trip To Paris is hoping to get his career back on track when he lines up in today's totepool Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham. Ryan Moore is back aboard the son of Champs Elysees again after an absence of three years and will be aiming to make it three wins in a row. The Newmarket-based trainer is keen to stress, however, that the six-year-old has proved himself as a successful stayer and owes his connections nothing and will only continue to race if he appears to enjoy it.

 

Trying Times

The Turf Club’s new ‘non-trier’ rules introduced at this Summer’s Galway festival are to be reviewed by the Jockeys Association. This action is being proposed as a result of jockey Wayne Lordan's failed appeal against a five-day ban for his ride on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Music Box at Dundalk last week. Aidan O’Brien’s own appeal against a €2,000 fine and a forty-two day suspension for his horse, Music Box were also rejected by the referrals committee panel, applying the January 21st-introduced Rule 212. The referrals committee chairman, Joe Finnegan, described the new rules – which refer to riders being observed to take all measures as judged reasonable by an informed member of the racing public – as an objective test.

 

11 April 2017

 

Snail's Pace!

This son of Zebedee kicked off his career with flying colours last September at this West Yorkshire track and proved it wasn't a fluke by going on to win again at Catterick a month later. Today the Richard Fahey-trained three-year-old with the inappropriate name of Brian The Snail is set today defend his unbeaten record back at Pontefract again in the Class 3 Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap. It's true the Godolphin-owned colt is ceding a lot of weight away to eight more experienced rivals who may, however, not be up to dealing with a sprinter of this class.

 

Rock Star

The new Flat season has barely begun but clearly some trainers already have their sights on Royal Ascot. This certainly seems to be the case with Charlie Hills after his Rock Of Estonia produced a winning debut in the EBF Racing Welfare Novice Stakes over five furlongs at Windsor yesterday. Steered by Jamie Spencer the son of Society Rock raced keenly, making virtually all until caught about a furlong from home by the Dean Ivory-trained Angel Of The South but managed to hold off this challenge by a neck.

 

For Eva

It has just been announced that, after a good work out at Kempton Park last week, the Khalid Abdullah-owned Fair Eva doesn't need any further prep runs but will head straight to the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 7. The Roger Charlton-trained daughter of Frankel did her sire proud on her first two starts in June and July last year, following those successes with a notable third in the Lowther Stakes at York and second in the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last September. The three-year-old is currently a 12/1 shot for the prestigious fillies' Classic.

 

10 April 2017

 

Not Entitled!

The Ten-time champion National Hunt trainer has stated that £331,000 stands between him and another title. At the conclusion of the Aintree fixture Paul Nicholls is this amount of prize money behind Nicky Henderson, who gained his third championship in 2012-13 and so the latter is destined to be top trainer for this season. Conceding that an eleventh honour is almost certainly out of reach this year, the Ditcheat handler has set his sights on another target, that of beating his 2008-09 record of 155 winners. As he's on 152 at the moment and there are three weeks to go before the end of the Jump season, this certainly seems achievable.

 

Riding on Air

This year's Dr Vincent O'Brien Centenary Alleged Stakes at Naas was bagged by a British challenger for a change. As expected the Aidan O'Brien-trained US Army Ranger was the flavour of day in this Group Three contest but, somehow, he didn't seem to have his usual verve. It was Ralph Beckett's Air Pilot, with Fran Berry aboard, who delivered a well-timed challenge in the final hundred yards to claim the prize by a head.

 

Doughty Dell

The winner of the Grand National, One For Arthur, has naturally attracted most of the attention for a superb achievement. The jockey , Derek Fox, however, also achieved something spectacular. Just over three weeks ago he broke his left wrist and right collar bone in a fall at Carlisle. The amazing thing is that the way he rode the National winner and particularly how he battled on in the run-in at the end of the four-mile-plus contest no-one would have guessed that he had just returned to racing after a serious accident. As has been acknowledged, the real miracle workers behind the scenes were the employees at Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys’ Fund’s northern rehabilitation centre.

 

9 April 2017

 

To a Tee!

One for Arthur's winning the Grand National was a big one for ecstatic owners, Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson and for Irish jockey, Derek Fox. It was also a big one for the history books as this was the first horse trained in Scotland to win the National for the thirty-eight years and so marked a memorable day for trainer Lucinda Russell. It seems the two lady owners bought the son of Milan three years ago for £60,000 because they wanted a hobby, as they were fed up with being golf widows!

 

King's Day

The Barbury Castles' trainer was of a mind to step the son of Norse Dancer up in trip earlier in the season. Alan King's instincts proved right yesterday when Yanworth won the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle. At the turning for home it looked an open race with six-or-so contenders battling it out but by the second last there were only four seriously in the picture, with the Noel Meade-trained Snow Falcon probably having the edge. Then Barry Geraghty on Yanworth and Robbie Power, aboard Supasundae, came up alongside the leader at the last obstacle. It proved to be a close-run thing all the way to the post but Yanworth had that little bit extra and bagged the prize by three-quarters of a length.

 

Sizing up

Although 'winless' since September 2015, this Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old ran his rivals ragged in yesterday's Betway Handicap Chase at Aintree to score by eighteen lengths. Sizing Codelco, partnered by Robbie Power, claiming his fourth win of the week for owners, Ann and Alan Potts and the Milborne Port handler, was prominent from the start in this three-mile-one-furlong contest and the result, bar misfortune, was never really in doubt.

8 April 2017

 

An Ardent Loathing?

Or “Aha! Rotten landing!” However you arrange the letters of The Grand National, the Aintree Extravaganza is back again for its 170th renewal. First run in 1839, this four-mile-plus contest, now the most valuable jump race in Europe with a prize money of £1 million, has become a prominent feature in British culture and a race that is popular amongst many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing at other times of the year. The course over which the race is run features much larger fences than those to be found on conventional National Hunt tracks. Many of these obstacles, particularly Becher's Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn, have become almost household names in their own right. So whatever system you use for selecting the winner – hard statistics, sticking a pin in a list or choosing an unusual name, the place to be at 5.15 pm is at Aintree or in front of a TV screen!

 

Lucky Five?

It's been five years since the Ditcheat trainer won the most prestigious contest in horse racing with his 33/1 shot, Neptune Collonges, and he seems determined to do it again. Paul Nicholls intends to saddle five hopefuls in this afternoon's race any one of which could be a very welcome birthday present for the top trainer who will be fifty-five next week. The Manor Farm Stables' runners to look out for are: Saphir de Rheu (20/1) – ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies; Vicente (20/1) – Brian Hughes; Wonderful Charm (33/1) – Katie Walsh; Le Mercurey (33/1) – Sean Bowen and Just A Par (40/1) – Harry Cobden

 

The Old One-Two!

Nicky Henderson added yesterday's Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree to his credits following his recent victory in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham when the same horse, Might Bite did the honours again, beating his stable companion to the line by two lengths.

 

7 April 2017

 

Dell Boy!

The Fontwell’s top trainers’ table is headed by Sussex trainer Gary Moore who extended his lead with another victory, taking his score card to forty-eight from 265 rides – a strike rate of 18.1%. This time he saddled Dell Oro, with his son Josh(ua) aboard in the bet365 Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race which the four-year-old son of Walk In The Park won by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

More Power

A thirty-five-year old jockey, winner of the Grand National ten years ago and the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Sizing John last month, is seeking to become the first rider, since Jim Culloty in 2002, to win the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season. Robbie Power is scheduled to ride the Anthony Honeyball-trained Regal Encore in the Aintree spectacular tomorrow. The nine-year-old son of King's Theatre won the Lavazza Jolie Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot in December but sadly had to be pulled up in a handicap chase at Cheltenham at the end of January.

 

God Willing

This son of Oscar won this nigh-on two-and-a-half-mile contest last year and his Slad-based trainer is hoping for a repeat prescription. Tom George saddles God's Own in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree this afternoon. The nine-year-old seems to be on the top of his form this time of year as he proved when going on to beat the ill-fated Vautour at Punchestown.

 

6 April 2017

 

Life beyond The National

You'd think that there's no other racing in the UK today if you read Sporting Life or Racing Post! Not a mention of Southwell, Chelmsford City or Taunton! The latter has not, however, been ignored by top trainers such as Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and David Pipe. There are a couple of interesting contests at the Somerset track this afternoon. One that catches the eye is the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase when Michael Scudamore saddles the eleven-year-old Skint. This son of King's Theatre was an impressive winner a month ago at this track in the Clarke Willmott LLP Handicap Chase and he's the favourite today, ridden again by Tom Scudamore.

 

Two-Timer?

Of course there's a lot of exciting action at Aintree today and it's not surprising it hogs the limelight. One contest, in particular, will be worth watching. The Nicky Henderson-trained Champion Hurdler, Buveur D'Air, is aiming to emulate Annie Power who, a year ago, claimed the Betway Aintree Hurdle for the second year running. The slight question mark is that the son of Crillon has never raced over two-and-a-half miles before. On the plus side, however, is the fact that the five-year-old hasn't been beaten in his last five races since March last year.

 

Right for the Wrong Reasons!

A hundred winners for the second year running for trainer Dan Skelton when his mare, the strangely-named Listen To The Man, triumphed in the 188 Bet Mares' Handicap Hurdle at Wincanton. Ridden by the trainer's brother, Harry, the seven-year-old daughter of Court Cave shrugged off the challenge of bearing top weight and claimed the Class Three contest by a length and three-quarters and, surprisingly, on good to firm ground. An interesting post-race confession by the Alcester-based trainer was that he hadn't 'listened to the woman' because he always thought the mare was a stayer on soft ground!

 

5 April 2017

 

Never say die! 

A year and sixteen days is a long time to wait for a winner and this Hungerford-based trainer's patience was finally rewarded at Kempton Park yesterday. Pat Murphy saddled Cloudy Bob in the Class 4 Polyroof Advanced Liquid Roofing Handicap Chase and the ten-year-old sprinted home like a young colt. The son of Cloudings last did the honours for Glebe House Stables over this course and distance in March 1916.

 

Bounce Back

The Colin Tizzard-trained Cue card is seeking his tenth Grade One win on Thursday in the the Betway Bowl at Aintree. The eleven-year-old son of King's Theatre is returning with the aim of living down his heart-breaking fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming a cropper at the third fence from home, just as he had done last year. He bounced back from that disaster to win again so naturally connections are expecting him to do the same this time.

 

Prize Surprise!

The Leading Rider Award presented at Grand National Festival, which starts tomorrow, will be sponsored by Racing UK, in conjunction with Aintree. The leading jockey over the three days of the Festival will be awarded £1,500 and an Inkerman-produced trophy; the runner-up will get £1,000; the third £750; the fourth £500 and fifth £250. The leading conditional. Jockey will receive £500. The prize will be based on the number of wins achieved by a jockey. If these scores prove to be are level, then the number of seconds and thirds will be taken into calculation.

4 April 2017

What's in a Name!

With a nigh-on twenty percent strike rate it seems one of the heaviest burdens this eleven-year-old gelding has to bear is his name which follows the never-ending quest to come up with something unusual and non-equine. Yesterday, at Ludlow, the Tim Easterby-trained Ifandbutwhynot took the Boyne Cup by storm and transported champion jockey, Richard Johnson, to a nine-length victory ahead of another quirkily-named runner, I'dliketheoption, from Jonjo O'Neill's yard. The commentator sounded a little amused with the two names in juxtaposition but nothing can quite compare with the classic race at Monmouth Park 2010 when My Wife Knows Everything ran neck and neck with The Wife Doesn't Know!

(Look it up on Youtube! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVMY-VX7NyA )

 

Intent on Winning

The Nicky Henderson yard is still firing on all cylinders and there are a couple of targets in their sights at Kempton today. One in particular is the Trust Klober Novices' Chase when the Lambourn-based trainer saddles Bivouac in ths Class 4, three-mile contest. This son of Califet has revealed that he has plenty of ability in two previous outings over fences at Leicester and Exeter in February and March, respectably, so connections should be quietly optimistic about the outcome.

 

Last shall be First!

At the five-day stage there are still seventy contenders for this Saturday's Grand National. The latest situation, after the surprise withdrawal of the John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough, is that it falls upon The Last Samuri to shoulder top weight of 11st 10lb. Trainer, Kim Bailey doesn't seem particularly concerned at this stage for her nine-year-old son of King's Theatre.

3 April 2017

 

It's all Go (dolphin)!

It may only have been the very first weekend of the Flat racing season but it was obvious that Godolphin are determined to do better than they have done at this stage of the British season in recent years. Well-backed favourites from Saaed bin Suroor's yard were the team to follow at Doncaster yesterday where they had three winners: three-year-old Benbatl, with Josephine Gordon aboard, won the Purple Vouchers Maiden Stakes by seven lengths; Frankel son, Dream Castle, under Oisin Murphy, claimed the next race by three-and-a-half lengths and Bin Battuta completed the treble for the Godolphin/Bin Suroor team when he won the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Handicap by a neck.

 

Rewards Aplenty

Arena Racing Company's sixteen race tracks are to join the existing partners, Jockey Club Racecourses and York as members of Rewards4Racing later this year. As a consequence British racing's rewards programme, in which the Racing Post is a partner, will be increased to thirty-two racecourses and the number of meetings where members can both collect and spend their points will augmented from 360 to more than 900. The programme's members qualify for Rewards4Racing points when buying tickets for the races, placing bets with its three betting partners bet365, Betfred and Coral, and when making purchases at some four-thousand retailers.

 

Banned if you do. Banned if you don't!

Jockey Wayne Lordan, who recently joined Aidan O'Brien' Ballydoyle yard, didn't use his whip on Music Box in the Dundalk Stadium - Light Up Your Night Maiden and consequently missed out on second place by a short head. The Turf Club's revised Rule 212 (A) (ii) states that a jockey who "cannot be seen to have been the subject of a genuine attempt to obtain from the horse timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible place shall be guilty". As a result the stewards fined the County Wexford-born trainer €2,000 (about £1700 in real money), issued the jockey with a five-day ban and the three-year-old filly can't appear on a track for forty-two days.

 

2 April 2017

 

It just had Tupi!

Richard Hannon had the honour of saddling the winner of the first race of the 2017 British Flat turf season at Doncaster yesterday. Five-year-old Tupi, with Ryan Moore aboard, proved to be the fittest in the field after strong prep runs in Meydan over the last two months, and pulled away from the field inside the final furlong to win the Betway Cammidge Trophy by four lengths

 

An Absolute Blast!

It was a close finish in the Listed Betfred Mobile Magnolia Stakes at Kempton. The Ralph Beckett-trained Very Dashing had made much of the running on first run for Kimpton Down Stables but ran out of steam in the final stages of the ten-furlong contest. This was a golden opportunity for the Archie Watson-trained Absolute Blast to squeeze between the rail and get her head in front in the final yards.

 

Gamble's Shambles

The David O’Meara-trained Bravery thwarted a massive gamble by punters on the Ryan Moore-ridden Oh This Is Us in the Betway Lincoln at Doncaster yesterday which would otherwise have cost the bookmakers an arm and a leg. The three-time champion jockey had already bagged the first three races on the first day of the Flat season so the gamble was on for four-in-a-row. The Richard Hannon-trained son of Acclamation travelled well in the centre of the track and the race looked in the bag as he went for home about a furlong from home. Daniel Tudhope, however,wasn't prepared to give up so easily and coaxed a little more out of the Galileo son to win by a neck.

 

1 April 2017

 

Joking Aside!

There's a novel attraction at Doncaster today to mark the official first day of the Flat season. An extra event, sponsored by The Side Saddle Association, will take place after last race of the day and will feature a unique variant. All the male jockeys will honour the presence of their three female competitors by riding sidesaddle. They have been given two weeks to practise this unorthodox way of race riding on specially made saddles. The lady riders will sit astride their mounts in the more usual way. If one of the men wins this ten-furlong contest they will be awarded a special First of April fool's hat!

 

Royal Victory

The first career win from six runs by Ajman Princess in the 32Red Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield yesterday has given trainer, Roger Varian, renewed hope for his four-year-old. After coming second in the Class 1 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, this daughter of Teofilo missed the rest of the season due to an injury sustained in the Irish Oaks. Admittedly she was among inferior competition on her seasonal return and only needed to be ridden with hands and heels by Andrea Atzeni to claim the mile-and-a-quarter prize by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Trying Times

Tomorrow sees the return to action of the Anthony Curran-trained Flemenstar in the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse. The son of Flemensfirth looked set for stardom after his hat-trick of Grade One wins in 2012 but was off the track between November 2013 and March 2015 because of a series of niggling problems and has never really quiet got back to his previous top form. Connections are quite sanguine and confess only time will tell whether their charge has more to offer.

 

31 March 2017

 

Barry's back

This County Meath jockey has been absent from the track since the end of February after a fall at Kempton, which landed him with six broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Barry Geraghty sadly had to miss his favourite Cheltenham Festival due to these injuries. The good news is, however, that the thirty-seven-year-old rider has been pronounced fit to return to action probably as soon as Sunday at Fairyhouse and certainly for next week's Grand National Festival at Aintree.

 

Not yet in Clover!

There's a new trainer on the block. After spending five years as assistant to David Simcock at his Trillium Place Stables in Newmarket, thirty-one-year-old Tom Clover has decided, together with his partner Jackie Jarvis, daughter of the late Michael Jarvis, to join the illustrious ranks of Newmarket trainers. The rookie handler, based at Wroughton House Stables will be well aware of the need to achieve some early successes in order to hold his own among such distinguished company.

 

Breaking the Mould

It's half-a-dozen years since a favourite won the Betway Lincoln, the feature race at tomorrow's traditional opening of the flat racing season at Doncaster. There is one contender, however, who could change this situation. The Roger Charlton-trained Yuften, is relatively unexposed as he has only had thirteen career starts. On the downside the six-year-old son of Invincible Spirit is rated at 105, a pound higher than any other winner in the last ten years but he has been as high as high as 116. In his favour, however, Yuften and is only four pounds heavier than when he won the Balmoral Handicap on British Champions Day.

 

30 March 2017

 

Grounds for hope

Philip Hobbs-trained Cigarisi, after coming fourth on his first career outing in the Neptune Investment Management Standard Open NH Flat Race at Ascot in November went on to show he had what it takes to tackle hurdles at Taunton and Exeter, although only gaining third place at the latter. It was at Plumpton, on his handicap debut, on heavy ground in February that the son of Kalanisi notched up his first success, justifying his odds-on favouritism status on that occasion. Today the five-year-old is back at the Somerset track, lining up with eight rivals in the Chetwood Wealth Management Supports The RNLI Handicap Hurdle, for which the conditions are forecast as good and it looks like a return to better ground will be a huge positive.

 

Timely Omen

Article 50 was invoked yesterday morning to trigger the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union but, uncannily, the EU had the last word at Southwell in the afternoon. The Derek Shaw-trained Treaty Of Rome*, with Tony Hamilton aboard, won the Betway Sprint Handicap by a neck. Maybe an omen for the tough negotiations ahead to bring about Brexit!

*The name of the agreement signed in 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany that brought about the establishment of what was first known as the EEC (European Economic Community), then the EC and currently the EU.

 

More power to your Elbow!

Steering the Alan and Ann Potts-owned Sizing John to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on St. Patrick's Day certainly enhanced this thirty-five-year-old jockey's career. Robbie Power has been appointed to the highly coveted new job as retained jockey to this successful horse-owning duo. This new association gets started today when Robbie Power rides the Colin Tizzard-trained Sizing At Midnight, and Sizing Granite at Taunton.

 

29 March 2017

 

Flat Saturday

It's here again! The first day of Britain's turf flat racing season takes place at Doncaster on Saturday. The feature event is, of course the one-mile Lincoln Handicap, which as it is run just a couple of weeks before the Grand National, forms part of a double bet for punters. The only jockey to have ever won Lincoln-Grand National Spring Double was David Dick in 1956 who also held the record (nine times) for the number of clear rounds on a notoriously difficult Aintree course. The Aintree Clear Rounds Award, given for any jockey completing more than five clear rounds, was inaugurated in 1986.

 

Out for the Count

This Frankel son, already booked for the Derby, showed his distinctive credentials when he won the one-and-half-mile Betway Maiden Stakes by three lengths at Wolverhampton yesterday. Andrew Balding-trained Count Octave came third last time out on his debut at Goodwood when ridden by Oisin Murphy. This time it was David Probert who steered the three-year-old colt to victory.

 

Repeat performance

Two in a row at Hexham yesterday for the Henry Hogarth-trained Hattons Hill in the Super League Betting At 188Bet Handicap Chase. The eight-year-old son of Pierre had already proved he's one to watch when he won the 188bet.co.uk Novices' Handicap Chase at this Northumberland track just twelve days ago, also partnered by 3lb claimer, Jamie Hamilton.

 

28 March 2017

Just One More!

The Grand National has one rule that other races don't. To qualify to compete, jockeys have to have at least ten wins to their credit. For most of the competitors that's no problem but for one rider, in particular, this poses a race against time. Rachael Blackmore, from Tipperary who is four wins clear in the race to be champion conditional jockey in Ireland this season, is one short of this minimum requirement. The problem is that there are only three days of jump racing left in Ireland before the 6 April deadline. Her next opportunity is at Limerick on Thursday so the pressure's on.

 

That's the Ticket!

It is nigh on two years since this son of the Great Pretender failed to make his mark after being sent off favourite at Sandown in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle and his results have been nothing to write home about since. It was time to make amends, yesterday at Market Rasen, however, when the Jonjo O'Neill-trained Box Office, partnered by Aidan Coleman, lined up in the 32Red.com Handicap Chase. The six-year-old 5/2 joint-favourite was clearly in control a long way from home and dominated at the final fence to claim a five-length victory over Donald McCain's The Clock Leary.

 

The Rest is History

In preparation for an attempt on a repeat victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic this triumphant four-year-old grey will enjoy a well-deserved rest. The Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate produced one of the greatest performances in horse racing history when he turned a twenty-length deficit into a two-and-a-quarter length victory in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday. The Khalid Abdullah-owned colt thereby put a further £5 million in the coffers of Juddmonte Farms Inc. 

 

27 March 2017

 

Next Stage

This Warwickshire-based trainer notched up three winners from five runners at Bangor on Saturday, all ridden by his brother, Harry – Some Invitation in the Deva Racing Syndicates Novices' Hurdle; Atlantic Storm in the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre Wrexham Handicap Hurdle and Seelateralligator in the Silverburn Finance Mares' Maiden Open NH Flat Race. The omens are good, therefore, that Dan Skelton can continue his winning streak today when he saddles Stage One who is making his debut over the larger obstacles in the 32Red.com Limited Novices' Handicap Chase at Market Rasen. This son of King's Theatre finished third on each of his four hurdles outings so all bodes well for the six-year-old in this two-mile-plus contest.

 

Back on Track

A memorable day for this forty-one-year-old jockey yesterday when he scored at the track where he had his very first ride. Graham Lee partnered the Mick Channon-trained Czabo in the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes at Naas. The four-year-old daughter of Sixties Icon impressed when she came fourth in last season's Irish 1000 Guineas and got in some useful experience a couple of weeks ago at Saint-Cloud. The Galway-born rider timed his challenge to perfection, defeating the Aidan O'Brien-trained 7/4 favourite, Somehow, by half a length.

 

Sam played it again (and again and again and again!)

Sam Twiston-Davies produced a priceless Mother's Day present yesterday at Wincanton when he claimed four out of the seven-card fixture, three of them for his boss, champion trainer, Paul Nicholls, who, thereby, passed the £2million mark in prize-money for the season. The twenty-four-year-old jockey won on Copain De Classe, Antartica De Thaix and Winningtry for the Ditcheat handler and on How's Vienna for the Wortcestershire-based trainer, David Dennis.

 

26 March 2017

 

Alright Jack!

John Gosden-trained Jack Hobbs, winner of the 2015 Irish Derby but absent for most of last season because of injury, made an impressive return to the track by winning the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan yesterday. This victory was a reward for the Newmarket-based trainer's endless patience with the five-year-old son of Halling during his recuperation. The 7-4 favourite, Postponed, trained by Roger Varian, last year's winner, failed to do the business and could only manage third.

 

Never Say Die

A dramatic beginning but an expected result in the Dubai World Cup yesterday. The odds-on favourite, Arrogate, got squeezed out at the start of the race and and, at one stage, he must have been a good twenty lengths behind the leader. It was 'never say die' for jockey, Mike Smith, however, who was determined that the Breeders' Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner would have another day of glory and slowly but surely worked his way back into the race. By the home turn the son of Unbridled's Son had considerably reduced the deficit and dug deep for that bit of extra and galloped clear to give his trainer, Bob Baffert, a third win in this ten-furlong spectacular.

 

Streaming ahead

The Arlary House Stables' trainer scored magnificently yesterday at Kelso. Lucinda Russell saddled Big River in the Edinburgh Gin Handicap Hurdle and the son of Milan, with Blair Campbell aboard, claimed the £23,000 three-mile-plus contest by ten lengths. With next month's £1 million Grand National only two weeks away this was a very welcome victory for owner, Debs Thomson, and connections.

 

25 March 2017

 

Taking it in his Stride

This Khalid Abdullah-owned four-year-old hasn't raced for a whole year but already has the Travers Stakes, the Breeders' Cup Classic and the inaugural Pegasus World Cup amongst his list of credits. Today the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate takes on thirteen rivals in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline. The Californian trainer believes the secret of success for the four-year-old son of Unbridled's Song is the length of his stride.

 

Two for the Road

After a hectic Cheltenham Festival Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson only sent two runners twenty miles down the road to Newbury yesterday but both came up trumps. He scored in the first race of the day, the Be Wiser Insurance Novices' Hurdle which Reigning Supreme claimed by a length. Then in the penultimate contest Nico de Boinville steered Maestro Royal to victory in the Be Wiser Insurance Handicap Hurdle. With a current slight lead in the race to be champion trainer, Nicky Henderson needs every win he can get.

 

Hands up!

This is not the first time this mistake has been made and won't be the last! It looked like another win was being offered jockey James Ridley on a plate, having been gifted a fifteen-length lead, when the Martin Wilesmith-trained Duke Of Lucca unseated his rider at the last in the BJP Insurance Brokers Open Hunters' Chase at Newbury yesterday. That's not how it turned out, however. The amateur rider, aboard Lookslikerainted, unfortunately mistook the half-furlong marker for the winning post, lowered his his hands and slowed down, eventually finishing third. He received a twenty-eight-day ban to add to his misery!

 

24 March 2017

 

Duo for a trio?

The Oakley Coachbuilders Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at Newbury today could well see the in-form Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson partnership continue in its winning ways. Two days ago the dynamic duo triumphed twice at Warwick and this afternoon they are hoping to make it three in a row when Sykes lines up against six rivals in this nigh-on three-mile contest.

 

Spoilt for Choice?

Sam Twiston-Davies seems to be in the fortunate position of having the pick of a few good horses for the Grand National at Aintree in a couple of weeks' time. The twenty-four-year-old jockey has just made it known, however, that he's plumping for the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu in the world's most famous steeplechase. This eight-year-old son of Al Namix is currently 16/1 after coming fifth in last Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

Tales from Wales

It has just been announced that ITV is following up its exclusive coverage of the Cheltenham Festival with the launching of a programme called 'Welsh Horse Power' tonight on ITV Cymru Wales. This is a three-part series about the activities of four of the most prominent racing stables in Wales. The programmes will highlight the profiles of four National Hunt trainers: Peter Bowen, based at Little Newcastle; Tim Vaughan at Aberthin; Evan Williams, in Llancarfan; and Rebecca Curtis, located in Newport (Pembrokeshire). Viewers will see footage from some of the UK's top race meetings such as the Welsh Grand National from Chepstow and the Cheltenham Festival as well as gain an insight into what goes on at these stables with contributions from trainers, jockeys and stable hands. 

 

23 March 2017

 

First-timer gets a four-timer

Thirty-nine-year-old Richard Johnson, who finally gained the coveted Champion jockey crown for the first time last year, scored four times at Warwick yesterday. The Hereford-born rider didn't waste any time getting down to buiness mark, either. His first victory was for his boss Philip Hobbs, when he steered the 9-4 favourite Robbin'hannon to a two-and-a-half length win in the first race of the day, the Executive Hire Show Maiden Hurdle. Then thirty minutes later this trainer/jockey partnership triumphed again with the 1/9 shot Multiculture in the two-mile GES Novices' Hurdle. Then in the third race same jockey, different trainer when the Kerry Lee-trained 8-11 market-leader, Krackatoa King, scored in the CB Stephen Allday Perpetual Plate Chase. Richard Johnson's fourth came when he was aboard the Henry Oliver-trained Sparkling River who won the Ricoh Arena Mares' Handicap Hurdle by an incredible thirty-nine lengths.

 

Statue Charles?

Racegoers who attend next month's Craven meeting at Newmarket will have the pleasure of viewing the statue of King Charles II that has recently been unveiled by the Rowley Mile. The decision for such a monument is very apt because this monarch was responsible for bringing about the development of Newmarket as the home of horse-racing and the Rowley Mile, in fact, is named after one of the King's favourite horses, Old Rowley.

 

At a Pinch

After The Nipper's run-away fourteen-length success at Haydock yesterday, trainer Warren Greatrex is now considering an entry in the Punchestown Festival next month. The six-year-old daughter of Scorpion scored in her first three bumper starts last season, including the listed EBF British Stallion Studs & TBA Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race at Sandown. This win made it three in a row for the Smith, Ratcliffe & Bowring-owned mare.

 

22 March 2017

 

Build me up Buttercup!”

It's only ten days since this six-year-old daughter of Limnos cruised home by eighteen lengths in the TBA EBF Mares' Chase (Novices' Limited Handicap) at Warwick but the Venetia William-trained Buttercup is back on track again at Haydock today in the Howdens Joinery Chase. The six-year-old takes on a seven-pound penalty for that runaway victory as she seeks to make it three-in-a-row for her Herefordshire-based trainer. Clearly connections think Buttercup is up to the task

 

Lion King?

This year's Grand National is just around the corner and the latest news is that seventy-nine horses are still on the list for the world's most famous race, worth £1 million. One contender who has been a favourite since the allocation of weights is the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge, who finished seventh in the 2016 Grand National. This eight-year-old son of Sabiango has made his mark this season with a win in the Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences in December and again in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park last month. The Somerset-based trainer's last success in the Aintree Spectacular was in 2008 with Comply Or Die.

 

Back on Song

This five-year-old son of Kapgarde produced a very disappointing performance at Sandown in February when he came fifth (out of five!) in the Grade 1 Betfred Tv Scilly Isles Novices' Chase so it was good to see the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux getting his act together yesterday in the Higos Insurance Services Novices' Chase at Exeter.

 

21 March 2017

 

Runner with Appeal.

After a two-month absence following a not-to-impressive result at Catterick in the middle of January, this six-year-old son of Duke of Marmalade might do better in the racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby this afternoon on the forecast Good/Good to soft conditions. The Sir Mark Prescott-trained William Of Orange should also appreciate the additional half mile, having proved he likes the longer distance when coming runner-up over two miles on the flat at York less than two years ago.

 

All that Jazz!

The Venetia Williams-trained Kap Jazz is looking to make it three-in-a-row in the Higos Insurance Services Exeter Interactive Handicap Chase at Exeter this afternoon. The seven-year-old son of Kapgarde broke his duck over fences at Carlisle towards the end of February and then went on to claim the Racing UK On Sky 432 Chase (Novices' Limited Handicap) at Ludlow three weeks ago. Inevitably the Charles Barlow & Fiona Neill-owned gelding pays the penalty of an extra thirteen pounds weight for those earlier successes but he seems a cut above his seven other rivals.

 

Owner Onus

Emerald Isle Irish horses claimed most of the glory at the Cheltenham Festival but at least one 'smaller' trainer is reported as saying that there should be a cap on the number of horses one owner can enter in a major handicap hurdle or chase. Tony Mullins fears for the future of smaller yards who do not have the backing of wealthy owners. Without the support of horse racing’s rich men and women, there is no doubt that Irish trainers would and do struggle to survive.

 

20 March 2017

 

Life goes on

Where have all the top trainers gone now that the Cheltenham Festival is over? Well, there's a place in Somerset where horse racing has been taking place since the 18th century and officially became the Taunton Racecourse Company in 1927. That's where today you'll find the likes of Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Phillip Hobbs, Colin Gizzard, Jonjo O’Neill, and Nigel Twiston-Davies, ably assisted by top jockeys Richard Johnson, Wayne Hutchinson, Noel Fehily, Aidan Coleman and Sam Twiston-Davies.

 

Another Half-a-dozen

This County Meath trainer hardly took a breather after the Prestbury Park Pageant. Gordon Elliott saddled six horses in the seven-card fixture at Navan yesterday and five of them scored. The Cullentra House stables' handler also had five runners at Limerick earlier in the day but only one of them struck lucky. But with another six victories to his credit Gordon Elliott continues to set the pace in the race for his first National Hunt trainers' title.

 

Over the Moon

The small County Kildare village of Moone last night provided a hero's welcome for their returning Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. Seven-year-old Sizing John fully justified the exuberant reception after his brilliant display in Saturday's spectacular which also gave his trainer, Jessica Harrington, her first Gold Cup victory.

 

19 March 2017

 

Hot Potato

So there was life after the Cheltenham Festival! Yesterday Uttoxeter staged the second longest Steeplechase in the country(4 miles 1½ furlongs). The Midlands Grand National has been a popular fixture since 1969. The winner this year was the Fergal O'Brien-trained Chase The Spud who battled on gamely to win the contest by one-and-a-half lengths. For the Paddy Brennan-ridden son of Alflora it was a chance to get even with Michael Scudamore's Mysteree who had the upper hand at Haydock in November.

 

A win con Brio

Another post-Cheltenham victory for a top trainer for whom things hadn't gone as expected over the previous four days. The Paul Nicholls-trained Brio Conti made up for some of the Prestbury Park disappointment with a decisive win in the Matchbook Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle at Kempton Park.

 

Fizz did the biz!

Gordon Elliott finally got the better of his great rival, Willie Mullins, by being crowned top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival. The County Meath trainer already had it in the bag when his 12/1 shot, Champagne Classic, became the sixth winner for Cullentra House stables after winning the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

18 March 2017

 

His Cup runneth Over

A remarkable result for the Irish Gold Cup winner on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival yesterday. The Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John, with Robbie Power aboard, claimed the Cheltenham Gold Cup by two-and-three-quarter lengths. There was also a certain deja vu about the contest as the ever popular Cue Card, partnered by Paddy Brennan, once more fell three fences from home. A disappointing result, too, for Lizzie Kelly, the first female jockey to ride in this three-mile-plus Grade 1 event for thirty-three years, as she was unseated from Tea for Two at the second fence.

 

A Gordon for me!

There was a surprise result in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. The 12/1 shot, Champagne Classic, presented his trainer, Gordon Elliott with his sixth winner of the Festival and thereby his first Festival trainer's award. This means that the County Meath handler is still ahead in the race for the Irish trainers' title which will probably be decided by what happens at Fairyhouse and Punchestown at the end of next month.

 

Uphill

Willie Mullins hasn't had much luck in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle in recent years and yesterday's renewal didn't bode well, either. His main hope, Augusta Kate, ridden by Ruby Walsh, was a strong contender according to the market but she made a bad mistake as she headed out on the final circuit. All was not lost, however, as Paul Townend, aboard one of the other two Closutton entries, grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and urged Penhill from the rear of the field as they reached the bottom of the hill, going into the lead as they approached the last obstacle. From there the six-year-old son of Mount Nelson could turn a blind eye to the rest of the field and coast home three-and-a-half lengths clear.

17 March 2017

 

Paddy Power!

It's St. Patrick's day so it was to be expected that Irish runners would dominate the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival. One in particular race provides evidence of this and that is the County Handicap Hurdle. Seven out of the last ten renewals of this two-mile-plus Grade 3 contest have been from Ireland and, not surprisingly, five of them were trained by Willie Mullins, who today saddles Renneti and Arctic Fire. The County Carlow king may not have it all his own way, however, as his duo will be up against the Gordon Elliott-trained Mick Jazz and Ivanovich Gorbatov handled by Joseph O’Brien.

 

Bets are off!

After yesterday's breathtaking four-time win by Ruby Walsh the bookies have taken fright and have stopped taking bets on the thirty-seven-year-old County Kildare jockey's chances of claiming the top jockey crown for the fifth year in a row and the eleventh time since his first triumph in 2004. This turn-around is amazing considering that the formidable Walsh/ Mullins partnership drew a blank on the first two days of the Prestbury Park pageant. Incredibly, Ruby Walsh was a 10/1 shot with Paddy Power in the top jockey betting after that disappointing start.

 

Record Day

The Willie Mullins-trained Let's Dance's victory in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle equalled the County Carlow trainer's own record for the number of winners on a single day of the Cheltenham Festival, after claiming the six of the seven races on the card.

 

16 March 2017

 

Better believe it!

There are few certs in horse racing but the nearest to it must have been that Douvan would win the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase yesterday at Cheltenham. After all, since joining Willie Mullins, the son of Walk in the Park had an unbeaten nine out of nine over fences and is deemed by the County Carlow trainer as one of the best he has trained. Clearly bookies and punters thought so too, as the Mrs Ricci-owned seven-year-old was sent off the 2/9 favourite. The rest, as they say, is history: Douvan came seventh and the bookies enjoyed a £10 million windfall from the thousands of losing bets. A sizeable contribution to these Turf Accountants' profits was made by one unfortunate punter, who, after winning £400,000 on Tuesday on Altior in the Arkle, decided to bet £500,000 on Douvan at odds of 1/5, hoping to make another quick £100,000. Erm … erm …...

 

Something Special

Whilst all eyes were on the Willie Mullins-trained favourite, Special Tiara, with Noel Fehily aboard, staged an impressive front-running performance to claim the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Henry De Bromhead-trained son of Kayf Tara gained a clear lead with still a circuit to run and the main concern was obviously whether the eight-year-old, third in this race for both of the last two seasons, would have enough left to finish the job. Any anxieties worries on that score, however, were ultimately assuaged when Special Tiara proved superior to the challenges of God's Own and Sir Valentino who were getting close two out and even the strong-finishing Fox Norton who was held off by a head.

 

Might is Right!

Earlier on in the day racegoers were treated to another nail-biting conclusion in the RSA Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite, partnered by by Nico de Boinville, gave his rivals a good run for their money right from the word go and was a good fifteen lengths in the lead by the home turn. The seven-year-old son of Scorpion must have caused a few missed heartbeats when he made a mistake at the last fence, causing him to lose his momentum and it looked like the race as well, because his stable companion, Whisper, took advantage by galloping by on the inside. Then the unexpected happened. A loose horse, Marinero, who had fallen earlier on, but was still racing alongside, seemed to spur Might Bite on to further last-minute efforts. The result was an unforgettable dramatic photo finish settled by a nose.

 

15 March 2017

 

The Nick(y) of Time!

The most successful trainer at the Cheltenham Festival has now won more Champion Hurdles than anyone. There were doubts in certain quarters whether this son of Crillon was ready for the task. Nicky Henderson, however, was adamant that Buveur D'Air should run and he was proved right yet again. The Lambourn trainer He claimed his sixth hurdling crown when the six-year-old went on to win, beating his stable companion, My Tent Or Your, by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

What are mates for?

Another turnip for the books. The Gordon Elliott-trained Apple's Jade beat his former stable mates, Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini, both trained by Willie Mullins in a dramatic conclusion to the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday. Willie Mullins had won the last eight renewals of this two-and-a-half-mile contest and was confident that one of his duo would make it nine. This wasn't to be and the defeat must have been all the more galling for the County Carlow king as he used to handle the winner before Michael O'Leary moved his horses to Gordon Elliott's yard.

 

Douvan up

A trainer's life is up and down. So it was yesterday for Willie Mullins at the Cheltenham Festival but today is another day. The County Carlow king has one not-so-secret weapon up his sleeve for for the Queen Mother Champion Chase – the doughty Douvan, the indubitable envy of all other trainers. The six-year-old son of Walk in The Park, a jumping natural, has notched up thirteen wins in a row and already has two Grade Ones at the Festival to his credit. It's a daunting fact that it's been some two years since any rival finished within five lengths of him.

 

13 March 2017

 

Go Native with Cue

Racing is taking place all over the country this week but judging from the headlines there's one event that everyone's waiting for: the four-day Cheltenham festival. No yard is more keyed up than that of the Sherborne-based trainer, Colin Tizzard, who saddles two hopefuls in the timico Gold Cup on Friday; Cue Card who, unfortunately, fell three from home last year in this event when it seemed he could claim the prize: and Native River, with a dreamlike season so far, having won the Hennessy Gold Cup, the Welsh National and the Denman Chase.

 

Back more Blackmore!

There was a little bit of pre-Festival delight at Naas yesterday when Abolitionist, formerly with Shark Hanlon but now trained by Ellmarie Holden, won the Download The Ladbrokes Exchange App Leinster National. The winning jockey aboard this eight-year-old son of Flemensfirth was leading conditional, Rachael Blackmore, who hopes to make her mark at Prestbury Park by not hanging around on Linger in Wednesday’s Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle. The twenty-seven-year-old rider has already clocked up twenty-eight victories this season. Her one disappointment, apparently, is that she is not allowed to compete in Friday's Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle because she is too old. There is an age limit of twenty-five for this contest!

 

What's in a Name?

Irish bookmakers, Paddy Power, decided to commission a study of gamblers from last year’s Cheltenham Festival. The results have established a profile for the perfect punter based on the first names, surnames, areas and age ranges of the most successful speculators. If you're after top tips, it seems, you should look out for someone called Kelvin Atherton, who will be aged somewhere between 18 and 24 and hail from Dagenham. If you can't locate the man in question then anyone from Dagenham will do, as punters from this area of the country made an average of 645 per cent profit last year. Whatever you do, avoid accepting tips from anyone called Andre Horton who will be aged over sixty-five and comes from Windsor. Apparently this luckless individual acquired the worst tipster profile of the least successful punters in 2016. 

 

12 March 2017

 

The Nicky of Time

This morning this three-times jump racing Champion trainer plans to walk the Cheltenham course to get an idea for himself what conditions are likely to be like for the Festival which starts in forty-eight hours. Nicky Henderson has a string of possible contenders but, from what he said at the Cheltenham Festival preview at Sandown on Saturday after the day's racing, it seems that his short favourite, Buveur D'Air, might not be one of them.

 

Tom's Prize

Tom O'Brien, who had just learned that his leading ride at next week's Cheltenham Festival, Finian's Oscar, would miss the meeting due to a minor injury setback, received some sort of compensation yesterday at Sandown. The thirty-year-old Wexford-born jockey managed to put his obvious disappointment behind him and rode the Ian Williams-trained London Prize to a one-length victory in the £70,000 Matchbook Imperial Cup.

 

Aspell of wins!

Also at the Esher track, the Lucy Wadham-trained Gregarious made it two out of two after making all the running in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. The son of Big Bad Bob, with Leighton Aspell aboard, was following up his nine-length victory at this same track in the Telegraph Hill Novices' Hurdle, this time claiming the prize by just half-a-length. A good day for for the twice Grand national winning jockey as he notched up two wins for Lucy Wadham and one for Oliver Sherwood.

 

11 March 2017

 

Another in the Pipeline?

This Somerset-based trainer's yard has already produced nine winners of the Sandown Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle, now sponsored by Matchbook, one of the UK's top betting exchanges, who have re-introduced the £50,000 bonus on offer for also winning at the Cheltenham Festival. David Pipe will be hoping for another name to be added to his list of winners of this prestigious prize: Max Do Brazil ridden by Tom Scudamore. The four-year-old son of Blue Bresil, added a win and a couple of respectable placings to his name in France but was disappointing on his English debut when he had to be pulled up before the last hurdle.

 

Red Hot!

Connections of this daughter of Robin Des Champs will be hoping for three-in-a-row this afternoon in the EBF Stallions/TBA Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Sandown. The Willie Mullins-trained Redhotfillypeppers was acquired for a modest £200,000 after her impressive performance in an Irish point-to-point last May and the purchase was well justified as she went on to easily win her debut for the County Carlow trainer in a Punchestown bumper on New Year's Eve.

 

Dream on!

After a disappointing performance on his Meydan debut this winter trainer, Marco Botti, is hoping that his six-year-old son of Oasis Dream can make amends in the sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton. Naadirr, on this occasion, will be partnered by three-times champion jockey, Ryan Moore, who will get him into the winner's enclosure if anyone can.

 

10 March 2017

 

End of the Road?

Another trainer is seriously considering retiring due to financial reasons. County Cork-based Adrian Maguire, who clocked up a winner with Knockraha Pylon in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Mares Beginners Chase at Thurles yesterday, admits he has only “five paying horses”. A major contributing reason for his decision to withdraw is undoubtedly that his training career in his native Ireland has become progressively tougher over the years due to the dominance of leading yards, run by the likes of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, who are fortunate to enjoy the patronage of the top wealthy owners.

 

Mine's a Double!

There are many trainers we hardly ever hear who just keep beavering away in the background. Yeovil-based Simon Hodgson, for instance, enjoyed his first national Hunt winners for over three years at his local track at Wincanton yesterday. His first big surprise was in the opening contest, the Bathwick Tyres Trowbridge Handicap Hurdle when Daytime Ahead, who had not even been placed in any of her nine previous runs, conveyed Nick Scholfield to a half-a-length victory. Then almost three hours later you could have knocked the Somerset handler down with a feather when his 50/1 outsider, General Girling won the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Novices' Handicap Chase by six lengths, partnered by Mitch Bastyan, who only rode his first-ever winner at Lingfield on Monday.

 

Back on Track

Returning to racing after almost seven months' absence due to injury, Andrew Lynch is preparing himself for the Cheltenham Festival, for which he has just been declared fit, with a a couple of rides at Ayr today. The twenty-eight-year-old County Meath jockey is back with trainer, Stuart Crawford, for whom he will partner Our Valentina in the first race of the day, the two-mile Weddings At Western House Maiden Hurdle, followed by Mullaghboy who lines up in the extended two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle half-an-hour later.

9 March 2017

 

Bonus for Boanas

Gillian Boanas, who only recently succeeded the retiring Keith Reveley as trainer, enjoyed her first win yesterday at Catterick when Redkalani, ridden by 7lb-claiming amateur Emma Todd, triumphed in the Bedale Hunt Masters Handicap Hurdle by ten lengths. The nine-year-old son of Ashkalani was only the rookie trainer's ninth runner since she took over the reins at Groundhill Farm near Saltburn.

 

Getting a kick out of it!

Another sports person has decided to realise the dream of riding a horse in a competitive race.

Ex-footballer, Michael Owen, is planning to be in the saddle in the Prince's Countryside Fund Charity Race which takes place in November. Michael Owen, together with his wife Louise, owns Manor House Stables in Cheshire, where Tom Dascombe has been a trainer since 2009. It is reported that the former striker only sat astride a horse for the first time this year so he has a lot of training ahead of him for this seven-furlong event in eight months' time.,

 

Time to Go

The legendary Sprint King, who earned this nickname due to his unrivalled skill in preparing runners for major sprint races such as the Ayr Gold Cup and the Stewards’ Cup, has just announced he is retiring. Sixty-year-old David ‘Dandy’Nicholls was a highly successful jockey before deciding in 1992 to switch to training at his yard near Thirsk. His last success was with Sovereign Debt in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup at Doha in Qatar on 24 February.

8 March 2017

 

Bring Home the Bacon

Pig farmers from Northallerton are hoping for success at next week's Cheltenham Festival. Peter and Lucinda Atkinson have entered Irish Roe in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. This daughter of Vinnie Roe was purchased as a three-year-old for just £2,000 which seems a measly sum, considering her sire won four successive Irish St Legers from 2001-04. The six-year-old bay mare triumphed in her first two starts at Perth and Sedgefield last August and September and 'dead-heated' with the Alan King-trained My Khaleesi in the Listed High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire's Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Cheltenham in November.

 

One in Ten

If you have a flutter on Sunday's Grade Three Naas Directors Novice Chase there's a nine in ten chance that you will be backing a horse owned by Michael O'Leary. This is no act of clairvoyance. It's just a fact that nine of the ten horses scheduled to run come from the Gigginstown House Stud, the company headed by the Ryanair boss. That means the outsider, the Tom Mullins-trained Oscar Knight, owned by JP McManus, will have his work cut out, dealing with rivals with such names as All Hell Let Lose, Gangster and Prince of Scars.

 

Grand Total?

Predicting which horses will be backed in next month's BoyleSports Irish Grand National is not so easy, however, as trainer Gordon Elliott is only responsible for 28 of the 124 entries listed at this early stage. This County Meath trainer almost made it in last year's Fairyhouse feature when his Bless The Wings was runner-up by just a shoulder. This time around sizeable squad includes the Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Outlander, Empire Of Dirt, Don Poli and Noble Endeavor.

 

7 March 2017

 

Roll out the Barrels!

The Eccleswall Court team has been firing on all cylinders recently so trainer Michael Scudamore could still be on target when he saddles Two Smokin Barrels in the two-and-a-half-mile Mares' Handicap Chase at Newcastle. The son of Kayf Tara scored three times on the trot (or gallop!) at Wetherby and Kelso in December and January and didn't seem troubled by the resulting twelve-pound increase in weight. The eight-year-old, partnered by the trainer's brother Tom, only has to see off three rivals who haven't had a win between them since before last December.

 

Making his Mark

One jockey's misfortune is another's opportunity. It has been announced that Mark Walsh will ride the favourite, Yanworth, in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The son of Norse Dancer has previously only been ridden by Barry Geraghty on each of his eight starts over hurdles but, as has been well broadcast, the County Meath rider will unfortunately miss this year's Prestbury Park Pageant due to injury.

 

Two to Go

A County Meath trainer is so keen to win the Matchbook Imperial Cup at Sandown park on Saturday that he is planning a double-barrelled attack. Tony Martin hopes to saddle both Golden Spear and Tudor City for the prestigious handicap. The latter just beat his stable companion when they came second and third, respectively, in the Coral Hurdle at Leopardstown in January. 

 

6 March 2017

 

A Field Day

The final fence in the Irish Stallion Farm EBF Novice Chase at Leopardstown yesterday must have caused a few hearts to miss a beat, particularly the jockey's, Jody McGarvey, who was left with only one foot in the stirrups after the Willie Mullins-trained Great Field sprawled almost flat on the ground after the last jump. It was nothing short of a miracle that the partnership not only remained intact but recovered sufficiently to go and win by eight lengths.

 

For the Record

The 188Bet Lady Protectress Mares' Chase took this Somerset trainer another step closer to his best seasonal total of winners. After notching up a treble on Saturday (two at Newbury and one at Doncaster) Paul Nicholls saddled Antartica De Thaix in the nigh-on two-and-a-half-mile contest at Huntingdon yesterday. The seven-year-old Dom Alco mare, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, did the honours with a nine-length victory and the Ditcheat handler finished the day on the 130-winner mark for the current campaign.

 

Wow, Joao!

It's almost twenty-one years (1996) since Frankie Dettori achieved his 'magnificent seven' (winning all seven races on the Ascot card). Now a Brazilian-born jockey has made racing history in Hong Kong by riding eight winners on a single card at Sha Tin. There was no stopping the thirty-two-year-old Joao Moreira as he worked his winning way through the day's fixture, beating his previous six wins on two occasions in March and December, 2015 at this same track.

 

5 March 2017

 

Deferred Defeat

The Roger Varian-trained Postponed failed to follow up his last-year success in the Dubai City Of Gold at Meydan yesterday. After the son of Dubawi's 2016 triumph he went on to claim the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Coronation Cup and the Juddmonte International. Things obviously didn't go according to plan in yesterday's contest, however, as Postponed, under Andrea Atzeni, was short of racing room and deftly deterred from switching wide by Adrie de Vries, aboard the eventual winner, Prize Money.

 

Inn again

A good day at Kelso for trainer, Brian Hughes, with four scalps under his belt. One race in particular caught the eye and that was the £33,000 Listed Premier Chase which Seldom Inn won by twenty-one lengths. Earlier in the day it didn't seem that this was the expected result as all the betting was centred around two Southern raiders, the Venetia Williams-trained Tenor Nivernais and Le Mercurey, handled by Paul Nicholls. Jockey, Sandy Thomson, had other ideas, however, and after tracking the key rivals for most of the race, he threw down the gauntlet coming off the home turn, and the son of Double Trigger galloped into the lead as he approached the second fence from home.

 

Not Number Two!

The Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury turned out to be virtually a one-horse affair when the Robin Dickin-trained Thomas Crapper, partnered by Charlie Poste, produced an astounding twenty-length victory. This win was only the son of Tamure's second success over fences after twenty attempts, although he has been runner-up twice at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

4 March 2017

 

Come to think of it

It's been three years since William Haggas had a winner in the Listed 32Red Spring Cup Stakes which has its renewal at Lingfield this afternoon. The Somerville Lodge-based trainer is back again with another powerful contender, Second Thought, one of the more lightly-raced runners in the nine-strong field, with two previous victories on the all-weather at Kempton Park and Wolverhampton. The son of Kodiac resumes his successful partnership with Robert Winston in his bid to make it three in a row.

 

This is a Bute!

Also at Lingfield park today is the eighth and final race in the All-Weather Hands and Heels series. The 7lb claimer, Jane Elliott, riding the Mark Johnston-trained Tartan Bute, is leading after seven races with 46 points, four ahead of Aled Beech in second and with William Cox who is in third place on 41 points. Contestants get five points for a win, three for second place, two for third and one for fourth. Additional points are awarded for other equestrian skills such as professionalism and presentation and the ultimate prize is £1,000 to be spent on some aspect of career enhancement. The race could be a bit of a nail-biter because Jane Elliott competes with her nearest rival, Aled Beech, partnering the Tony Caroll-trained Scrafton, who could notch up five points if successful and claim the series by one!

 

Last could be first

The Kim Bailey-trained The Last Samuri will have to overcome a huge weight rise of twelve pounds if he is to achieve back-to-back victories in today's BetBright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster. The son of Flemensfirth is now rated 161 compared with the 149 when he won this twenty-six-furlong contest last year. Connections, however, including owners, Paul and Clare Rooney. do not seem unduly peturbed by the task confronting their eight-year-old gelding.

 

 

3 March 2017

 

A Hard-up Winner

It sounds like he doesn't have much money but when it comes to racing this son of King's Theatre certainly seems to have a lot in the bank. This was demonstrated yesterday at Taunton in the Clarke Willmott LLP Handicap Chase when the Michael Scudamore-trained Skint showed his younger rivals a clean pair of heels, winning the twenty-one furlong contest by six lengths. It wasn't all plain sailing for the eleven-year-old, however, as just after he had taken the lead, he made a bad mistake at the third fence. Fortunately, his jockey, Tom Scudamore, had everything under control and the duo survived to claim yet another victory for the in-form Ross-On-Wye trainer.

 

Ton Up!

Aidan Coleman proved yet again what a talented jockey he is by notching up 100 winners for the second successive season and carrying it off with such ease in the Forbra Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ludlow. It was nice touch that he achieved this target aboard the Venetia Williams-trained Marcilhac because the twenty-eight-year-old Innishannon-born rider used to be stable jockey for the Herefordshire-based trainer for whom he rode champion, Kayf Aramis, to victory in the 2009 Pertemps Final at Cheltenham.

 

Power Off

Back in 2010 this son of Killachy hit the headlines when, as a 100/1 outsider, he won the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. The Eddie Lynam-trained Sole Power then went on to land consecutive renewals of the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2013 and 2014, before successfully regaining his Nunthorpe crown three years ago. The multiple Group One-winning sprinter was last seen at the Dubai Carnival in which appeared in three races, unfortunately, without any distinction. Now it has been announced that the ten-year-old Sole Power has been retired, having won twelve of his sixty-five starts and after earning over two million pounds in prize money.

 

2 March 2017

 

First Lady

Horse racing history was made at Deauville yesterday when Delphine Santiago became the first female jockey to ride a winner under the new weight rules allowance of two-kilograms (4.4 pounds or a medium sized pumpkin!). The thirty-eight-year-old rider, who just missed celebrating this auspicious occasion on her birthday, the last day of February, partnered the Ana Imaz Ceca-trained Milow to a length-and-a-quarter victory in the Prix Du Cap Gris Nez, presumably benefiting from the controversial regulation which had only just come into force.

 

Not Sleeping on the Job!

A seven-pound conditional jockey had a good day at Wincanton yesterday, notching up his third career winner. Harry Reed steered the Neil Mulholland-trained Sleep Easy to a five-length victory in the Lycetts Farm And Estate Insurance Brokers Handicap Hurdle. The 6/1 shot son of Rip Van Winkle who had disappointed connections at Taunton in January made amends this time, however, quickly asserting his domination over his five rivals.

 

Nearly!

One hundred-and fifty yards to go and the Warren Greatrex-trained Bob Mahler seemed certain to achieve his first career victory in the Hugh James Novices' Hurdle at Ffos Las. But this is horse racing and one thing's for sure: nothing is certain! The son of Mahler, ridden by Gavin Sheehan, had just overhauled Evan Williams' Swift Crusador after the last hurdle when everything went pear-shaped. The five-year-old suddenly swerved to the right away from the whip and unseated his hapless rider within yards of victory.

 

1 March 2017

 

Spirited away!

The longest-running commercial sponsorship in racing history came to an end yesterday. The historic Gold Cup, after sixty years of being associated with the spirit of Hennessy, will now be called the the Ladbrokes Trophy and the prize money boosted by £50,000 when it is next run in December. The only race that will not be sponsored by Ladbrokes, in what will be called the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, is the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase which will continue to be supported by the friends of the late and great BBC commentator.

 

Weight and see!

A new chapter starts in French racing today at Deauville. France Galop ( the equivalent of the BHA) is bringing in a new weight allowance ( 2kg or 4.4lbs.) for female jockeys. There will only be four women riders at Chantilly's Meydan Trials but the symbolic event will certainly attract a lot of attention from officials in France and further afield. A few female jockeys, including Britain's Josephine Gordon and France's Pauline Prod'homme have described the innovation as 'demeaning' and even Jean-Pierre Colombu, Vice President of France Galop, has said he has been taken aback by the amount of controversy the new measure has caused.

 

The champs back!

After an enforced absence due to a fall last week at Ludlow, champion jockey, Richard Johnson, is back in the saddle for just one ride at Wincanton today, when he partners the Kerry Lee-trained Town Parks in the Lycetts Farm And Estate Insurance Brokers Handicap Hurdle .

 

28 February 2017

 

Stop by Dubai.

The Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 25 will give racegoers the chance to watch Longines World's Best Racehorse 2016 in action. The Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic in November and the inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park last month, after initial doubts about going to Dubai, has now been confirmed as a runner.

 

Bob Baffert commented: "I just got the call and we've got the green light to send him to Dubai as long as he's doing well. (The decision) came down from (owner) Prince Khalid (Abdullah).

 

That's one Song!

There's one owner who admits that victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup would be the perfect swansong for the son of King's Theatre. Jean Bishop thought her Cue Card had secured the prestigious prize at last year's Festival but, sadly, he crashed out at the third fence from home. That fall cost the eleven-year-old the £1million bonus he would have won after already triumphing in the other two stages of the contest - the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George at Kempton. The Colin Tizzard-trained gelding scored again in the Betfair Chase this year and last time out claimed the Betfair Ascot Chase by fifteen lengths. The Cheltenham Gold Cup would probably mark Cue Card's sixth and final Festival appearance, as connections think he has nothing left to prove.

 

Jean Bishop commented on her star's possible retirement: "It is a good question. I don't know - I would have to speak to Colin (Tizzard, trainer). I wouldn't want to carry on racing him and see him struggle or anything like that. He couldn't do anything else if he won the Gold Cup and there would be nothing to aim for. It would be a nice way to end his career. He has been on the go for seven years and it would probably be the best thing for him. We will have to see.

 

27 February 2017

 

About the Size of it.

It's hard to believe but this County Meath trainer has never had a runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before. One musn't tempt fate but there is a strong possibility that history will be made next month. Jessica Harrington has decided that her stable star, Sizing John, should be the one to carry the colours of his owners, Ann & Alan Potts, at Prestbury Park next month. The son of Midnight Legend had probably not even been considered a contender until he was stepped up in trip to two-and-a-half miles after Christmas and won the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Ireland Kinloch Brae Chase by two-and-a-half lengths. Then he excelled himself even further when he took on the three-and-a-half-mile Grade 1 Stan James Irish Gold Cup Chase at Leopardstown a fortnight ago and beat Gordon Elliott's Empire of Dirt and Don Poli to the post. The prospect of the Cheltenham crown looks even more tempting with the absence of Coneygree and Thistlecrack, although there is talk today that Colin Tizzard is having the latter's tendon re-examined in case there is any hope of an improvement before C-day.

 

Jessica Harrington commented: "I've never had an entry in the Gold Cup let alone a runner. Sizing John goes there with an each-way chance. I think he will settle better in the Gold Cup. If he does relax he should get the trip and in that race the main thing is to get a clear round of jumping. He's used to doing it at two mile speed, so you can pull him back and get a breather into him."

 

Stone me!

The major Cheltenham Festival races have been the subject of negative discussion in the last week or so due to a spate of significant withdrawals. So it's good to hear something positive. Trainer, Gordon Elliott, has revealed that he proposes to supplement Tombstone for the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The seven-year-old son of Robin Des Champs had the pleasure of beating the former champion, Jezki, by four lengths last time out in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran. It seems there was considerable discussion between the trainer and the owners, Gigginstown House Stud, before the final decision was made.

 

The County Meath-based trainer commented: "It looks an open race this year so we have decided to supplement Tombstone for the Champion Hurdle. He has come out of the Red Mills race in great shape so we are happy to take our chances. Obviously he needs to improve but he hasn't got many miles on the clock and the turnaround in form with Jezki was very encouraging."

 

Bodes well.

Of the three runners that Greystoke trainer, Nicky Richards, is transporting all the way from Penrith to Ayr today, one particularly catches the eye. Chidswell has performed well this winter and certainly impressed when winning the Brian Ellison Racing Novices' Chase at Sedgefield by thirty-seven lengths a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly the son of Gold Well only had one, perhaps less experienced, rival to contend with but it was more a case of how he did it not what he did. The eight-year-old really put on an impeccable display of jumping and proved that he was well able to handle heavy ground. He will certainly need these skills again today on the demanding terrain at Ayr in the Class 3 Racing Uk Now In Hd! Novices´ Limited Handicap Chase.

 

26 February 2017

 

Michael's Mysteree.

Just twenty-four hours after winning the Devon National the Eccles Wall Court team were back in the headlines again at Newcastle. The Michael Scudamore-trained Mysteree, with Robbie Dunne aboard, romped home by four lengths in the Betfred Eider Handicap Chase. It was the first time the Dublin-born jockey had partnered the son of Gold Well, who won last year's renewal of the race when he was trained by Lucinda Russell. The contest was fairly cut-and-dried with the nine-year-old travelling well on the inside until making for home at the third-last fence.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I was a bit further back at the start than I wanted to be but he soon made up the ground. I wanted to be on the inside as he can hang badly left, but he travelled well and jumped well. It's always more simple on good horses, it's getting on them that is the problem.

 

Michael Scudamore commented: "Mysteree is a very straightforward horse. He ran well in this race last year and is now a year older and a year wiser. I am grateful to his owners for sending him to me - I think they wanted him to be in a smaller yard. The Midlands National will be too soon for him, he is a horse who is best when fresh, but we will give him an entry in the Scottish one at Ayr in case it is soft there."

 

Owner, Lynne Maclennan, added: "We have had him since he was a five-year-old and he has been a great horse for us. It has been a bit frustrating this season for although he won at Haydock in November we have struggled to get him in the big races since then. He was eliminated from the Welsh National and he didn't get into the Warwick Classic either. Then he was dropped 2lb so we weren't sure he would get into this. Luckily, he did."

 

Giving his Best.

Yesterday's BetBright Chase at Kempton Park was an example of cool precision, with the jockey hardly needing his whip to steer his 25/1 outsider, trained by Neil Mulholland, to a half-a-length victory. James Best's ride on Pilgrims Bay came at the right time with the Cheltenham Festival just weeks away. Fortunately for the Cornwall-born jockey the son of Turtle Island had more speed in reserve than his sire's names suggests and when asked to go, he went, in no uncertain manner.

 

A nervous-looking winning trainer commented: "He was there too soon today! That's what [James] said. With him you just couldn't get your hopes up because he can stop in a second. Thankfully it all went to plan. I'm delighted to give James a nice winner because he's a hard worker. He rides out on a regular basis and he's a good rider. Hopefully people will see that and give him more chances. He's a real nice fella to top it off too. It's also great for Bathwick Tyres who are big supporters of racing and me."

 

A Lot to Convey

Another day, another Derby. This time at Lingfield. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Convey finally added a Group Three prize to his list of credits by claiming the Betway Winter Derby. This Dansili son used to be owned by Khalid Abdullah but was bought by Robert Ng 130,000 guineas at the end of last season. The five-year-old handsomely rewarded his new owner with over £56,000 with his last-minute victory by a neck.

 

The winning rider, Andrea Atzeni commented: "Convey did it quite well. Obviously, it was his first time over this trip - I wasn't sure that he would get it but Sir Michael was pretty positive and thought he would stay. It worked out perfectly from a bad draw. I actually lost my left iron coming out of the stalls but somehow managed to put it back on. He travelled smoothly and I didn't want to go too early because I didn't know what he was going to do in front. To be fair to the horse, he was always doing enough to win his race and saw the trip out really well.”

 

25 February 2017

 

All's Well that Kingswell!

A surprise birthday present at Exeter yesterday for this popular Ross-on-Wye-based trainer when the three-year-old son of King's Theatre narrowly won the Higos Insurance Services Devon National. The now thirty-three-year-old Michael Scudamore confessed he was pleasantly surprised when Kingswell Theatre came home by a neck. The John Murray-owned eight-year-old was an impressive winner last season in successive victories at Chepstow and Market Rasen in November and December 2015, but, thereafter, seemed to struggle to make his mark on a higher handicap. Last time out at Warwick in the middle of January, in fact, Kingswell Theatre didn't exactly cover himself with glory when finishing way down the field in the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase. Connections then decided to drop their charge in class and entered him for the £25,000 feature race at the Devon track where, sent off at 20-1, and with conditional jockey Ben Poste aboard, he travelled well on the pace and was in the lead as the field turned into the home straight. The 7/2 favourite Spookydooky, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, was the first to challenge and then the Nigel Twiston-Davies's Millicent Silver, threw down the gauntlet after the last fence but the eventual winner was more than a match for both of them and claimed the well-earned prize.

 

Michael Scudamore commented: "He's found life tough since going up in the weights after winning a couple last year, so I'm delighted to see him get his head in front again. We've always thought heavy ground suited him, but I think he's just got a bit fed up of running in testing conditions during the winter and the drier ground seems to have helped him. Maybe we've been getting him wrong all along. He's not the quickest, but a marathon test on decent ground obviously suits him well and it was great to see him battle all the way to the line today. We'll look at all those long-distance races in the spring. He might get an entry in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter, which is three weeks away, and later on we could look at something like the old Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup) at Sandown."

 

Knock on Wood!

Despite the forecast testing conditions for this four-mile marathon at Newcastle this afternoon, trainer Kim Bailey is keeping his fingers crossed that his lightly-raced Knockanrawley can successfully meet the challenge of the Betfred Eider Chase. The son of Portrait Gallery ran in this contest two years ago and came fourth to the Neil King-trained Milborough, who is back to try again. The eight-year-old has only appeared twice since that time, the last time at Warwick when finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase, well behind the Derek Fox-trained One For Arthur who is now one of the top considerations for the Grand National. Kim Bailey's Thorndale Farm had a quiet period for a while but recently has started to clock up a few winners. Another trainer hoping for at least a share of the prize money is Michael Scudamore who saddles Streets Of Promise, with conditional jockey, Ben Poste, riding again for the Ross-On-wye handler, looking for a follow-up to his Exter triumph yesterday. (See above)

 

Kim Bailey commented; “I was absolutely delighted with him at Warwick after so long off. He ran well in this race two years ago and hopefully he’s retained all of his ability. If he has most things are in his favour for him to run well.”

 

A Winning Guide

Another son of King's Theatre could today be the one to warm the cockles of the heart of the Colin Tizzard team who have had something of a tough week, to say the least. It is hoped that Theatre Guide can get back some of his last season form when he takes on twelve rivals in the three-mile BetBright Handicap Chase at Kempton Park this afternoon. The ten-year-old won this race last year by ten lengths, beating Harry Fry's Opening Batsman, who is also back again for more.

A good result from Theatre Guide would confirm his place in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race that raises the hopes for other trainers after Thistlecrack was sadly ruled out of the race due to injury.

 

24 February 2017

 

On the Up

By all accounts the Kerry Lee-trained Mountainous is the one to beat in this afternoon's feature race at Exeter, the Higos Insurance Services Devon National Handicap Chase. The son of Milan already has two Welsh National wins to his credit and loves soft ground so will have no problems if it should rain at the Devon track, although the forecast is for a partly cloudy day. Also the twelve-year-old has a handicap of 132, the same rating that he had when he was the impressive victor in the Chepstow marathon last year, winning by two-and-three-quarter lengths. On the whole Mountainous has performed reasonably well recently and after almost a year off the circuit, he made a good comeback at Hereford last month when he finished behind his stable companion, Goodtoknow. Mountainous will also have the benefit of the seven pounds claimed by his jockey, Richard Patrick, who has an impressive record of riding for the Powys-based trainer.

 

Tin has Heart

The Grade 3 At The Races Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles yesterday gave the Willie Mullins-trained Tin Soldier his second triumph in a row. This French-born son of Soldier of Fortune had already provided the County Carlow handler with a win on his first start for the Closutton stables over an extended three miles at Fairyhouse last month. This time it was decided to take on the shorter distance and clearly his jockey, Ruby Walsh, knew he had stamina in reserve on which he could call so he was quite happy to take an early lead. He was challenged with a circuit to go by Champagne Classic, Moulin A Vent and Justmemyselfandi, who proceeded to battle it out. Tin Soldier was eventually more of a match for any of them and produced powerful leap over the last to go on to a one-length victory.

 

Willie Mullins commented: "He is making good progress and while he made heavy weather of it, once Ruby made up his mind for him he made nice progress. I don't think any horse is happy on that ground today - it's tough to race on. He's a horse who never shows me much at home but he obviously has a lot more in the locker than he lets on to have. But I like horses who improve unexpectedly and he's one of those. He wants a trip and two and a half is as short as he wants - he seems to go on that ground but maybe he wants it better."

 

A Sheer Cock-up!

That was trainer, Kevin Ryan's opinion of what happened at Chelmsford City yesterday afternoon. The Essex venue certainly had its fair share of farce and drama. First the winner.co.uk Bet & Watch Handicap at 3.30pm had already been delayed as the high winds caused by Storm Doris threatened to force the abandonment of the meeting altogether after the first two races. Then it was decided that conditions were suitable to continue the rest of the day's fixture but then, after the race had been run, stewards ruled that things went wrong with the starting procedure and the contest was declared void after the Kevin Ryan-trained Nautical Haven had claimed victory. A subsequent stewards report blamed the incident on the AFO (advanced flag operator) who, it seems, mistakenly raised the recall flag, which all the runners ignored and completed the course.

 

Kevin Ryan commented: "I'm very disappointed. It was the horse's first race for a new owner and the plan was to come here. It was a sheer cock-up. All the lads carried on riding and it was just a technicality. It's a long way to travel and we should be compensated. It's not just the owner who suffers, though: apprentice Lewis Edmunds has driven there and back and misses out on a winner. Our technology is stuck in the dark ages. To rely on a flag man in this day and age is ridiculous. In France they have lights that come on [to highlight a false start]. The stewards have to take a lot of blame for pushing everyone so fast to make up the time. The starter was rushed, the flag man was rushed. That's how mistakes happen."

 

Owner, Adam Hizzett, added: “The flag lady made a mistake and we've had to pay the price. I've flown in from Malaga this morning for this and it's a bit of a shambles to be honest. I understand why they had to void the race but not the way it's been carried out as the correct procedure has not been carried out. If she wants to void a race she has to keep her flag up and blow a whistle, which she didn't do. None of the jockeys even saw her flag and none of them stopped riding at any stage in the race. They said they are going to refer it to London."

23 February 2017

 

Upset Apple-cart

Surprise result at Punchestown yesterday. The Willie Mullins-trained Limini got the better of Apple's Jade in the Quevega Mares Hurdle. The Gordon Elliott-trained 2/5 favourite, ridden by Bryan Cooper seemed to have everything cut and dried, going alongside Limini as they overhauled another Closutton hopeful, Whiteout, at about the halfway mark. From then on it became a test of fitness between these two contenders. As the race developed further, however, the daughter of Peintre Celebre showed her true colours and got the better of her main rival when they negotiated the final flight. Thereafter a superior turn of foot secured an easy victory.

 

Winning jockey Ruby Walsh scommented: "We kind of steadied up from the fourth-last, it turned into a bit of a sprint to the last and we always knew she wasn't short of pace. It was a good performance and onwards and upwards. I'd say she jumped better than last season. She was very slick and very accurate. Fingers crossed she'll come out of the race well and she can start her prep for Cheltenham next week."

 

Willie Mullins added: "The conditions didn't suit us and we didn't have a run all season, so I didn't really know what to expect. The fact that Ruby didn't even have to pick up his stick means she has improved a fair bit from last year. I'm hoping that will bring her along nicely. The mares' race (at Cheltenham) is what I have been aiming for. She has run a stone better than I thought she would."

 

Soldiering On

The BetBright Casino Juvenile Hurdle offered a successful training ground at Doncaster yesterday for Nicky Henderson's Soldier In Action, confirming his enlistment in the JCB Triumph Hurdle on the last day of the Cheltenham Festival next month. The son of Soldier of Fortune disappointed connections last time out on his hurdling debut at Musselburgh, only managing fifth out of six but this time he emerged guns blazing, bounding clear to claim the fifteen-furlong-plus Listed contest by fourteen lengths.

 

Mike Spence, son of owner Alan, commented: "It was ambitious thinking we could go up to Musselburgh and win first time out but we half-expected a performance like this as we know he's a good horse. We went up there because we'd have learned nothing if he was 1-4 favourite somewhere and we knew there'd be no messing about. However, everything went wrong up there. The track was probably too tight, the ground too quick and he was caught out wide. We needed to see if it was worth going to Cheltenham as the plan has always been for him to go back to Mark for the Flat. We've always thought two runs and then the Triumph and after that I see no reason why not.”

 

Don't Desert The Queen!

After her run at Leicester last month in the Listed Charnwood Forest Mares' Chase, Desert Queen, trained by Harry Fry, had a date with Kayf Tara over at the Overbury Stud. In that race, however, Desert Queen, although ten pounds heavier than her seven rivals, dominated the race from the start and galloped all the way to the line to claim the prize by ten lengths. It seems that connections were so impressed by their daughter of Desert King's astounding triumph that they have decided to postpone this assignation and enter her today in the 188Bet Lady Protectress Mares' Chase at Huntingdon. The nine-year-old will be up against a couple of rivals who are probably set on wreaking revenge but this contest seems almost a mirror image of the one at Leicester so it is highly likely that result could reflect that.

 

22 February 2017

 

The Here and Now

A racing feast awaits visitors to Kempton Park when a couple of well-bred horses make their debuts in the 32Red On The App Store Maiden Stakes. Out of the eight runners the first to catch the eye is the Ralph Beckett-trained Here And Now, the three-year-old son of Dansili, who, it is hoped, will do better than his older siblings, who both failed to win on their first time out. There's every chance he will succeed as his Andover-based handler has masterminded the career of a number of successful beginners. The three-year-old colt will be up against Sun Or Shade, saddled by Newmarket trainer, John Gosden. This son of Galileo will provide quite an opposition as he is a half-brother to Flawless Beauty and Diara Angel and was bought back by his vendor for 240,000gns when offered by Highclere Stud at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

 

Nicky back for Moor

There seems to be nothing trainer Nicky Henderson loves more than sending a couple of his horses up to Doncaster to take advantage of what is usually decent ground. One he has ear-marked for Town Moor track is Ericht who could be just the one to beat in the BetBright Best For Festival Betting Veterans’ Handicap Chase. The eleven-year-old was well beaten in fourth place at Kempton Park last month but that was a tough race in which the winner, Foxtail, subsequently beat Saphir Du Rheu. That defeat was nevertheless disappointing and the Seven barrows handler has obviously decided that today's race is just right for this son of Alderbrook. It's more than likely that the three times Champion trainer will have already scored earlier on in the day when he saddles Soldier In Action in the Watch Live Racing On BetBright.com Juvenile Hurdle. Rated 105 on the flat, this son of Soldier of Fortune was a bit of a disappointment on his hurdling debut, when he came five out of six in the Listed bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Musselburgh at the beginning of this month. Connections are clearly hoping for better things today.

 

Crunch at Punch

There's an interesting clash in the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown today when a runner that used to be trained by Willie Mullins confronts one currently handled by the County Carlow king. In the left-hand corner is Apple's Jade who saw off some menacing rivals the last time out at Aintree last spring when trained by Willie Mullins. This five-year-old daughter of Saddler Maker was subsequently one the horses to be removed from Closutton after the well-publicised split between the champion trainer and Michael O'Leary, boss of Gigginstown House Stud, and transferred into the care of Gordon Elliott. The five-year-old mare produced a couple of respectable seconds for her new trainer at Down Royal and Newcastle, before seeing off former stable companion Vroum Vroum Mag in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse in December.

 

Gordon Elliott commented: "I was disappointed not to see Limini declared for the Red Mills Hurdle in Gowran last weekend, but there's always going to be one. She (Apple's Jade) will definitely improve (for the run) and the Mares' Hurdle is definitely the plan."

 

In the right-hand corner is the Willie Mullins-trained Limini has already made her mark as Festival heroine when she claimed the inaugural Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last March.

 

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, added: "Limini is in good form, but I'm sure she'll come on a lot for the run. She's had no issues and has been in training plenty long enough.

"She's wrong at the weights with Apple's Jade and it will be very difficult to beat her, but we've got to start somewhere and we'll see how she goes. Whiteout beat Limini in Punchestown and has a habit of winning when she's the second string. Hopefully she'll pick up some prize-money and continue to pay her way."

 

21 February 2017

 

French Connection

Since last Thursday a surge of bets has been coming in from across the Channel for a 40/1 Queen Mother Champion Chase outsider running at the Cheltenham Festival on 15 March. Incomprehensibly the horse that 106 French punters are going for is the Tom George-trained Sir Valentino. It's true the Slad-based handler is enjoying his best season so far with fifty-four winners but the son of Early March's biggest career success to-date was last November when he won the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. He did, however, beat the likes of the Philip Hobbs-trained Garde La Victoire and Dodging Bullets, saddled by Paul Nicholls, so he has got something going for him. There is even an unlikely speculation that, as the bets arrived just after St. Valentine's Day then it's just a flutter of French lovers who have been attracted by the name. One explanation that seems to have been overlooked, however, is that the eight-year-old gelding, whose Dam was Valentine out of Double Bed, was bred in France by Mlle Camille Serveau and M. Roger Simon and it is this couple who have encouraged the Gallic gamblers.

 

A spokesman for Oddschecker commented: “Someone somewhere knows something. Someone in France to be more specific. It's pretty rare to see this number of bets on a 40/1 outsider in such a high profile race almost a month ahead of Cheltenham. It's even more peculiar the number of bets we've seen from people based in France.

 

Highly Rated

As reported yesterday, the Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois's thirty-two length victory in Sunday's Ten Up Novice Chase caused quite a stir and even Noel O'Brien, the Turf Club's senior handicapper, seems to have been taken aback by it; so much so that he has slapped a fifteen pound penalty on the seven-year-old son of Network, putting him on a mark of 158. This rating is just two pounds less than the six-year-old Willie Mullins-trained Min and three pounds short of Don Poli, who was only rated 156 before he won the RSA Chase in 2015. Acapella Bourgeois is now the highest rated horse in the RSA.

 

Noel O'Brien commented: "It was a staggering performance, and he gave the last fence plenty of light as well - he wasn't stopping. Hard to find a flaw. You can talk about the testing ground and tactics or whatever, but the other horses ran to their ratings and in sequence, and he just looked in a different league. There was nothing coasting in behind. Ruby Walsh sat closest to him on Haymount, and he paid the price. The 158 is a huge rating for a novice, although it's still lower than Min, who I have on 160."

 

On the Spur of the Moment

This son of Oasis Dream is today reunited with jockey Luke Morris, with whom he had a couple of victories last year. The Scott Dixon-trained Boots And Spurs disappointed connections last time out when he was the favourite but he did have a seven-pound claimer aboard on that occasion so better things are expected today in the sunbets.co.uk Handicap at Southwell. If only Boots And Spurs can get back to the form he displayed on New Year's Day at this Nottinghamshire track when, even three pounds heavier, he gave the Mike Easterby-trained Holiday Magic a run for his money although ultimately finishing second some three lengths adrift. It's true that the seven furlongs is a tough distance but not unfamiliar so despite the doughty opposition it looks like Boots And Spurs should be a good value each way bet.

 

20 February 2017

 

Unaccompanied Triumph

Horse racing suddenly had unexpected publicity in the Social media yesterday but not for the best of reasons. It seems that many people were not happy with the result of the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan. The bone of contention was that the Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois, who, it has to be admitted, put on a superb display of jumping and galloping from the front, and, therby, won the three-mile contest by thirty-two lengths. So there was criticism on Twitter and Facebook that the seven jockeys didn't seem to be trying hard enough to prevent the son of Network from building up such a huge lead. There was no denying, though, that winner's performance was spectacular. Jockey, Roger Loughran, was in a strong position and quite rightly took advantage of the situation to extend his lead until, from about a mile from home, it was clear that his position was unassailable. Later it was announced that the stewards had decided that an inquiry into the performance of the seven stragglers was unwarranted.

 

Hugh Hynes, the stewards' secretary, commented: "We didn't feel any need to call an inquiry. We felt that the winner jumped and stayed, that the remaining runners could make no headway on him at all, and that a lot of them were at it from a mile out. The winner just went further clear and we didn't feel that any riding offence was committed."

 

Winning trainer, Sandra Hughes added: "You'd have to say after today he'll be travelling to Cheltenham, but we will see what the ground is like. If it came up very good we might give it a miss, but if it's nice soft ground we'd have to take our chance. He's improving all the time but the ground is key. He goes on really heavy, testing ground and his jumping was superb. He showed today how good he is."

 

Place Win

It was this County Meath-based trainer's day at Navan yesterday. Gordon Elliott produced a hat-trick of winners but the race that caught the eye was the the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle in which he saddled two runners, Sutton Place and stable companion, De Plotting Shed. The 66/1 outsider, Milsean, led the nine-runner field for a good half of the contest but he had nothing left by the time they reached the home straight. The Willie Mullins-trained Thomas Hobson briefly disputed the lead before the Jack Kennedy-ridden De Plotting Shed took over at the third from home, promptly pursued by Sutton Place, Supasundae and Renneti. Ultimately it was the Elliot equines that were left as the duelling duo with Sutton Place, partnered by Barry Geraghty, producing that little extra to claim the prize by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He's a nice horse and he's a big chaser in the making, really. I'd say that ground just wasn't ideal for him, but he showed his class. We were riding him maybe a little negatively with the trip. Barry said he's a horse that you'd be better off grabbing a hold of and riding a race. He was a bit sloppy with his jumping because we wanted him relaxed. Chasing will be his game and whatever he does this year will be a bonus. There isn't a whole lot for him and we might look at the race in Fairyhouse for him (Grade Two Ballybin Hurdle)."

 

Roaring to Victory!

The Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park revealed another exciting duel between the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge and Blaklion from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard. Initially it was Gas Line Boy who made the running as far as three out before the eventual first and second took over and turned the affair into a virtual two-horse contest. The lead alternated several times all the way to the line. William Twiston-Davies, riding for his father, adroitly switched his son of Kayf Tara off the rail to throw down the gauntlet one more time. The Tom Scudamore-ridden son of Sabiango, however, gamely took up the challenge and, assisted by the fact that last year's RSA Chase winner was carrying an extra six pounds, wore down his opponent to win by three lengths.

 

David Pipe commented: "He's changed a lot, as he never used to find much at the end of his races. As a French horse he's quite a late maturer, running in the National last season [he finished seventh] made a man of him. I wasn't confident he was going to win as it's a long straight and Tom wasn't sure what he had left. He's going back to Aintree with experience over the fences and he proved today he doesn't need soft ground.

 

Tom Scudamore added: "He never used to finish off his races, but running in the National as a novice made a man of him. He was foot-perfect in the Becher and was foot-perfect today. He wasn't the greatest jumper before he ran in the National last year. We can head to the National now with confidence and a few pounds up our sleeves, we hope."

 

19 February 2017

 

A Winning Card

It was one of those occasions that racegoers will look back on and say “I was there!” The Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card rolled back the years and showed his younger stable companions how to run a race, winning by fifteen lengths. The eleven-year-old son of King's Theatre stamped his authority on the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase from the outset, tracking the leader, Royal Regatta, until his jockey, Paddy Brennan, decided it was time to challenge, which he did four fences out. It was then all over bar the shouting - which was still come when the winning duo made their way towards the winner's enclosure. Everyone strove to get a good vantage point from where to to roar their delight as their hero passed by. It was the kind of welcome that would have moved anyone vaguely connected with the noblest of animals.

 

An emotional Colin Tizzard commented: "He's such a superstar. He's surprised me all my life, he's been a brilliant horse for such a long time and deserved that [reception]. You keep worrying, he's 11 years old, can he keep doing this? I've been doing this with him for years and he was brilliant again today. He jumped fantastic and destroyed them. It was everything I could have wanted and more. After his last race ( the King George) he wasn't right behind, he had a big fat leg afterwards. He had a bit of lymphangitis - he didn't have it when he raced but you don't know if it affected him. Paddy was the instigator of this. He said to come here because over two and a half they'd go a Cheltenham pace, we wouldn't have to have three months off and it'd fire him up and keep his jumping sharp."

 

The winning jockey added: “He's changed my life the last couple of years. He's a serious machine. I was most impressed from the second last to the last, he picked up like a good horse should."

 

A Grave Victory

Things didn't go so well for another racing star, making only his second appearance after an absence of a year-and-a-half. Champion Hurdle hero, Jezki, had to content himself with being runner-up in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park yesterday after Bryan Cooper partnered the Gordon Elliott-trained Tombstone to a four-length victory. This son of Robin Des Champs got his revenge for only coming third behind Jezki last time out after making his comeback following almost a year off.

 

The winning jockey commented: “I watched the race in Navan back about 10 times and it didn't look like they went very quick, so today I was making sure of a strong-run race, I wasn't afraid to take it up at the third-last. The one thing I wanted to do was knock the speed out of Jezki, I know he stays three miles but he is still a Champion Hurdle winner and I had that in the back of my mind. One thing I do like is when he missed the last he picked up and went again, so he's definitely one to look forward to. He's got an engine and hopefully we can keep him right.”

 

Trainer Gordon Elliott added: “I felt he'd improved a lot from Navan, and we were giving Jezki weight the last day. It was a good performance. He was going to go chasing, but he had a few setbacks. He'll go over fences next year. He could step up to two and a half miles, and the race at Aintree might be a possibility. The plan was to let him roll off the back straight and if he was good enough, he was good enough.”

 

Not so Bad!

There was a thrilling finish to the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot yesterday when the Rebecca Curtis-trained Bigbadjohn got back into winning ways by a short head. This son of Vinnie Roe had been a great disappointment last time out in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase when he fell on the flat approaching the eighth fence. The narrowly defeated Flintham, trained by Mark Bradstock, made most the running in this three-mile contest and it looked as though the eight-year-old was going to claim the prize. Jockey, Jonathan Moore, however, had other ideas and was successful in persuading the eventual winner to find that little extra.

 

Rebecca Curtis commented: "We've not been running too much because of the ground. Jonathan Moore said he hated the ground and you could see he was changing his legs the whole way. He is probably better going left-handed. He has done it the hard way, but he always stays very well. He is in the four-miler (National Hunt Chase) and the RSA. We will get him home and make a plan, I guess."

 

18 February 2017

 

A Word in your Ear!”

After this son of Cape Cross disappointed connections by refusing to enter the stalls at Lingfield Park recently his trainer called on the services of a well-known horse whisperer and horse guru, Steve 'Yarmy' Dyble. There is no report of what the latter whispered to the George Scott-trained Hamelin but he behaved impeccably yesterday and put on a perfect performance when he won the £25,000 Betway Handicap at Newcastle. The seven-year-old gelding was partnered by Oisin Murphy, who had hot-footed it back from Dubai where he, twenty-four hours earlier, rode the Mick Channon-trained Opal Tiara to victory in the Group Two Balanchine at Meydan racecourse. Hamelin mounted a last-minute charge to take the extended-mile-and-a-half contest by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning trainer commented: "We were pleased with that. He obviously had a bit of a hiccup the other day at the stalls at Lingfield. Yarmy has worked his magic and the team have done a great job to get the horse back in the right frame of mind. Oisin gave him a smashing ride. The plan was to drop him in. Since he lost his way having raced for so long off the front end, the plan was to try to fill him up with a bit of confidence. He's always had a lot of ability and had nice bits of form. It's just a matter with those old horses of changing things up a bit and getting then in the right frame of mind. With the situation we were in with him not going into the gate the last time, it was just one step at a time. I'm not going to commit to anything just yet, but I think we will get an extended trip much better now we've got him relaxed. With his turn of foot he could be effective and it would give us some more options."

 

Jez back for the Crown?

The Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park today will give trainer Jessica Harrington an opportunity to decide what the chances are for this son of Milan at next month's Cheltenham Festival. The 2014 Champion Hurdle winner, Jezki, had to relinquish his crown when he came fourth to the Willie Mullins' trio, Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly on the renewal of this extended-two-mile contest last year. It is on the cards, though, that Jezki, owned by the JP McManus, may return to reclaim the honour at Prestbury Park after his impressive performance at Navan in January, following an absence of more than eighteen months. The nine-year-old is back to the two-mile trip for today's Grade Three contest where he will be up against only four rivals.

 

Jessica Harrington commented: "He worked after racing at Naas last weekend and we were very happy with him. All seems to be well and he's had plenty of time (since comeback run) and I think that's the main thing, time. I hope he is (as good as ever) and Saturday will tell us a lot more."

 

Statue AP?

Not only famous horses have a statue raised in their honour at racetracks, it has been revealed. Next month at the Cheltenham Festival a life-size bronze statue of Tony McCoy will be unveiled. Paul Ferriter, whose other works include Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition as well as jockeys Martin and Tim Molony, has had the honour of carrying out this commission. The Dublin-based sculptor spent six months working on the statue, which is to be placed on the Best Mate Plaza at the Northern entrance to the racecourse and will be unveiled on 14 March, Champions' Day.

 

The former champion jockey commented: “I thought most people got a statue when they were dead! I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit. His ( Paul Ferriter's) dedication to getting it right was really outstanding, from measuring me to videoing me and when I was standing for him. Some of my friends were wondering whether the statue was going to be the old or new me — the 10-stone one or the 12-stone one! Paul has done really well in sculpturing me as a jockey and it was a very enjoyable working with him. I last saw Paul’s work about seven weeks ago, just before it was about to get bronzed and it looked very, very good. I took some videos and showed them to friends who agreed that Paul has really captured my likeness.”

 

Paul Ferriter added: “For me, as a sculptor, he was a brilliant subject. AP has a really great face with incredible cheekbones, a great jaw and chin as well as really good hair. He is also a really funny guy and was incredibly obliging throughout the process. In terms of the piece, what I really wanted to try and capture was the kind of intensity that AP has, his total dedication. I have basically produced the classic AP pose – standing with his arms folded and the whip under his arm, with an intense look on his face. It is a pre-race pose, lost in maybe that pre-race anxiety and always looking to the future.”

 

17 February 2017

 

Saphir on Fire

This eight-year-old grey hadn't had a win since November 2015 so connections were obviously hoping for a change of fortune yesterday at Kelso and they weren't disappointed. The Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu had no trouble dealing with his three rivals in the nigh-on three-mile Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso. With Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, the 1/7 favourite was kept hard on the heels of the pace-making Bernardelli, trained by Nicky Richards, until going clear from the twelfth fence and thereafter well ahead of a struggling field to put fifteen lengths between him and the Brian Hughes-ridden Firth Of The Clyde.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: “He needed a confidence booster and won as he should have done. He jumped well and travelled well. He's starting to get his act together now. He's in everything - a handicap at Cheltenham, the Gold Cup, the Grand National. He could go back to Kelso on March 4 for another race like that (Premier Chase). I'll have a chat with Andy (Stewart, owner), but he's quite keen to run him in the Gold Cup. We'll make a plan, but basically nothing's ruled in and nothing's ruled out.'

 

Sister Act

The Weatherbys GSB Goes Online Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Sandown looks like another opportunity for the Fergal O'Brien-trained Colin's Sister to continue onwards and upwards. It took the six-year-old mare five shots at bumpers before achieving a close second result at Sandown in March last year. There were no problems when she moved up to hurdles, though. She won three out of three at Chepstow, Warwick and Haydock, the last success being in December when the daughter of Central Park graduated to Listed class with honours. Conditions are going to be very testing at the Esher track today but that shouldn't be a problem for who should be able to dispose of her four rivals with the help of her partner, Paddy Brennan.

 

Cue for Paddy

Paddy Brennan's back in action tomorrow at Ascot but this time he'll be aboard the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card in the six-strong Betfair Ascot Chase. The son of King's Theatre won this race back in 2013 but since then has been aimed at three-mile-plus contests, producing seven wins from nineteen races, his latest being the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day when he was runner-up to his stable companion, Thistlecrack. Word has it that the Milton Port-based trainer is using tomorrow's contest as a preparation for another shot at the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in which the eleven-year-old fell at the third-last fence last March when it looked like the race was his for the taking. A particular threat could be the Rebecca Curtis-trained Irish Cavalier, who won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October, in which Cue Card could only manage third.

 

16 February 2017

 

Paddy Power

Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham Festival is a complete sell-out, the Jockey Club has just announced. Such a thing is not unusual for one of the biggest days in the racing calendar but this year's fixture has reached that point two weeks earlier than last year's and that was deemed a record. One of the reasons for this state of affairs must be that day four of the Prestbury Park Pageant – Gold Cup Day – just happens to fall on March 17 and that, of course, is St Patrick's Day!

 

Regional Director for the South West region of The Jockey Club, Ian Renton, commented: “All three enclosures on Gold Cup Day are sold out and this has happened significantly earlier than in 2016. We have seen strong demand for badges and tickets across all four days of The Festival, not just Gold Cup Day, and look forward to welcoming racegoers in March.”

 

Grand Thoughts

With the aim of making some last-minute preparations for the Grand National Pat Griffin saddles Maggio in today's Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso. The now twelve-year-old son of Trempolino failed to get into the Aintree spectacular last year and ran in the Betfred Handicap Chase instead, which he went on to win by twelve lengths. A result that must have made connections wonder what might have happened. With that in mind the emphasis of the twelve-year-old's training programme this year has centred on his possible performance in the National, for which, this time around, he has a guaranteed place. Maggio is up against it at Kelso though, in this four-runner contest, particularly as the takes on the Paul Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard.

 

James Griffin, the trainer's son and assistant, commented: "He's always runs above himself when he's wrong at the weights, like when he won the Premier Chase a couple of years ago. I'm not really that bothered about what else is in the race, if he runs as well as he seems at home he'll go very close. We could probably do with a bit of rain to put a bit of life in the ground, that's all. Derek Fox has won on him before and he's fit and well. Fingers crossed, he comes back safe and then it's on to Aintree."

 

Andy Stewart Saphir Du Rheu's owner, added: "I asked Paul what race he was going to run in at Cheltenham and he can't win a handicap off his mark, so he's going for the Gold Cup," said Stewart. Paul said we may as well go to Kelso - it's worth £25,000, the race usually cuts up and we'll put Sam (Twiston-Davies) back on him. We know we can't beat Thistlecrack, but hopefully if he stands up this will be a nice confidence booster. I'd have thought the Grand National is a year too early for him. I actually thought he was going to win the race I sponsor at Cheltenham last time out, but he was giving so much weight to the winner (Foxtail Hill) he just couldn't catch him up the hill."

 

A lot to Swallow

The Ben Pauling-trained Two Swallows, despite almost two years' absence, made it two out of three at Towcester yesterday when she won the Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors Mares' Handicap Hurdle. Connections were clearly so impressed that it appears they are considering a possible quick return to action at Ascot on Saturday. The seven-year-old Kayf Tara daughter, partnered by Nico de Boinville, dominated the race being two lengths ahead as the field approached the third from home and easily saw off any challenge from the Anthony Honeyball-trained co-joint-favourite Act Now to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

The winning trainer commented: "She's not the biggest, but she's as tough as old boots. She loves her job and that was a competitive little race, so I'm very pleased with how she ran. She jumped brilliantly and handled the ground which was great and she's progressing nicely. She was beaten at Wetherby by a horse that was very well-in (Happy Diva). She's back on an upward curve and is a very nice little horse and one we can look forward to at the end of the season. She might run on Saturday, but she's only small and would have to carry a 7lb penalty which would not be ideal. We'll see how she comes out of this race and make a decision in the next couple of days."

 

15 February 2017

 

Flying after Flu

The champion jockey has been sidelined since Saturday, recovering from the virus that has been laying everyone low this Winter – influenza. Richard Johnson had certainly shrugged off the viral influence with alacrity as he went to Fontwell Park and notched up a double. The Hereford-born jockey got off the mark in the second race of the day, the Porto Racing Specialist Horse Racing Saddlery Novices' Hurdle when he partnered the Philip Hobbs-trained Kayf Adventure to an astounding fourteen-length victory. This result was a double delight as the winning rider also bred this son of Kayf Tara

 

Richard Johnson commented: "He won his bumper really well a couple of years ago and he had niggly problems last year. He's big, so a bit of time wouldn't have done him any harm. Hopefully he's come on a bit for his run back at Exeter and he did it pretty well. He travelled super through the second half of the race, but then I wasn't sure what he would find but he picked up nicely from two out. I've got his half-sister to breed from, so there's a few more in the pipeline."

 

Two races later Richard Johnson was back in the winner's enclosure again on another Philip Hobbs-trained runner, Casper King, who triumphed in the European Breeders' Fund 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle, this time by five lengths.

 

The champion jockey commented: "It was great to get him off the mark last time as he'd had a few seconds and you were starting to think was there anything untoward, but he'd just jumped into some quite nice horses. Now he's won two novice hurdles, I'm sure the EBF Final is an option, we'll see what Philip thinks. Hopefully he's a staying chaser in time."

 

Life's a Beach!

On the face of it this son of Dunkerque shouldn't be the 5/4 favourite in this evening's 32Red Handicap at Kempton Park as he only won one of his eleven starts in France. The Ralph Beckett-trained Cherbourg, did, however, show some promise on the Lingfield Polytrack last time on his debut this side of the Channel. The five-year-old, ridden by Patrick O'Donnell, defied the widest of draws to come within a neck of winning the Sun Bets On The App Store Handicap. The draw (10) is again somewhat stacked against Cherbourg this evening but to offset that disadvantage he only carries an extra pound for his last performance, although he does lose the five-pound claim of his previous jockey, as George Baker will be in the saddle. Another plus is that trainer Ralph Beckett is the one to watch at this Sunbury-on-Thames track.

 

Worth the Wait

The Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday could give the leading contender for the Stan James Champion Hurdle the opportunity to get in a bit of practice before Cheltenham. The Alan King-trained Yanworth missed Sandown earlier this month due to a muscle problem. All seems back on course again, though, now and the JP McManus-owned Christmas Hurdle hero seems set to do business.

 

Alan King commented: "We worked Yanworth this morning on the grass and it's all systems go for Saturday. We really appreciated that Barry Johnson (Wincanton's clerk of the course) brought forward the Kingwell Hurdle to 2.45pm to provide these Champion Hurdle contenders with first dibs of the hurdle track."

 

14th February 2017

 

A New Adventure

Today is only the fourth outing for this son of Kayf Tara since coming fourth in a bumper at Kempton Park two years ago. The Philip Hobbs-trained Kayf Adventure then went on to win his next National Hunt Flat race at Warwick a month later before taking on hurdles. This was the race that demonstrated that the four-year-old gelding was one to keep an eye on for the future because he beat the Dan Skelton-trained Knockgraffon by an incredible nineteen lengths. Then, for some reason, Kayf Adventure was not seen for the whole of last season. Suddenly he was in action again on New Year's Day when he competed on equal terms, although coming third, with the likes of Harry Fry's Neon Wolf, one of the best novices in the country. The Minehead-based trainer has clearly bided his time before making the next move and this afternoon's Class 4 Porto Racing Specialist Horse Racing Saddlery Novices' Hurdle appears to be the one to see how his charge has developed. Champion jockey, Richard Johnson, takes the ride in this two-and-a-half-mile-plus contest.

 

Where there's a Will ...

The son of a former jockey-turned-trainer, brought up on The Curragh reached fifty yesterday. No not his age! He's only twenty-nine! Will Kennedy notched up a half-century of winners for the first time in his career when he rode the Donald McCain-trained Raise A Spark to victory in the racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle at Catterick. He only just reached a personal best of forty-seven wins at Bangor on Friday, when he struck again twice with Same Circus and Raise A Spark, both from the Cholmondeley yard.

 

The Cheshire-based winning trainer commented: "That was Will's first 50. He is a very hard worker and is always in the right places when riding them. He is very enthusiastic and good with he (Raise a Spark) wants, two miles on that sort of ground. He went up quite a bit for his win at Bangor then he ran well at Haydock and went up again. He was slightly down in grade today, but he deserved that. He has his own ideas but he is tough when he gets to the races. We might just take our chance in a better race off a light weight with him next."

 

Hey Big Spender!

Racing fans from Ireland spent over nineteen million pounds at last year's Cheltenham Festival. The Economic Impact Analysis, compiled from 810 completed questionnaires and data by the University of Gloucestershire, calculated that this sum was spread across travel, accommodation, tickets and entertainment. The study revealed that some 57,375 tickets were purchased by the visitors from the Emerald Isle. That amounts to thirty per cent of all the tickets sold for this prestigious Prestbury Park phenomenon. On average, over fourteen thousand visitors from Ireland attended each day of the four-day Festival. Furthermore the number of Irish visitors to the Festival has gone up by twenty-two per cent since 2010. The average spend per Irish racegoer was £479 on entertainment, £437 on a tour package, £361 on accommodation and £322 on food and drink.

 

The regional director of the South West region of The Jockey Club, Ian Renton, commented: The Festival is one the biggest and most successful sporting occasions of the year involving Britain and Ireland. Over the years, it has become synonymous with Ireland through the participation of its great horses, trainers, jockeys, owners and staff. Irish fans make up close to one-third of our attendance over the week, helping to create a truly unique atmosphere and experience for all racegoers. Ireland has long had a love affair with Cheltenham because they put on a wonderful festival where we see the best National Hunt horses in the world taking each other on," said Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland. The importance of Cheltenham to Ireland goes beyond just the punters and racegoers as winning there is of vital importance to owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys and can be the highlight of a career, or the making of a horse's pedigree."

 

13th February 2017

 

Finian win again

At Exeter yesterday this son of Oscar gave further evidence why he's the favourite to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. The Colin Tizzard-trained Finian's Oscar sailed home by four-and-a-half lengths in the Free Bet At 188Bet Novices' Hurdle. The Ann and Alan Potts-owned five-year-old, carrying an eight-pound penalty, after his eighteen-length triumph at kempton Park just after Christmas, dominated the contest and easily beat off any challenge from the David Pipe-trained Taws to clinch his third victory in a row.

 

The winning trainer commented: "There was not a lot to be gleaned from that as all the others were frightened off by him and it hasn't really told us anything we didn't already know.

It's showed us he is well within himself and he will go to Cheltenham for either the Supreme or the Neptune - it will have to be talked about in the coming days which one he will run in. Native River won this race back in 2015 and if this horse turns out to be as good we will all be very happy."

 

About the Size of it

A double at Leopardstown yesterday. Trainer Jessica Harrington's saddled her first runner in the Irish Gold Cup and her stable star, Sizing John, was attempting his first three-mile trip. The son of Midnight Legend, partnered by Robbie Power, claimed the three-mile Grade 1 contest by three-quarters of a length, thus cutting his odds to for the Gold Cup from 40/1 to 8/1.

 

Jessica Harrington, who hasn't had an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, either, commented: "I will have to talk to Ann and Alan and see what they want to do. He's in three races at the festival but there's no point in taking on Douvan, who has beaten our horse seven times, in the Champion Chase, so it will come down to the Gold Cup or Ryanair. He wasn't stopping at the end of three miles today, so we might go the Gold Cup route. We don't know whether he'll get three and a quarter miles, but on better ground he might. I think he's a horse who would prefer better ground," she said. "Robbie was convinced he'd get the trip, and he does look like a stayer. That was only his third run of the season so he's still a fresh horse."

 

Heir we go!

The mooted heir to the throne vacated by Sprinter Sacre, made a further claim when winning the Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury by thirteen lengths. The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior threw off his novice status to take on three rivals in this Grade Two contest, including the 2015 Champion Chase victor, Dodging Bullets, trained by Paul Nicholls. The son of High Chaparral, with Nico De Boinville on his back for the first time since winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last march, produced an excellent round of jumping and delighted the crowd by clearing the fourth fence from home very comfortably to assure his victory.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "It's a pity he has had to go round again on his own. He is starting to show off a bit too now. The nice thing is he found that easy and handled the ground. I remember him getting beaten in a bumper one day behind Barters Hill and Buveur D'Air. He was third and I was disappointed. I thought he was very special then. Now he looks like what I thought he was. This year he has not put a foot wrong. He is a genuine two-miler and he doesn't need to go any further. If it comes up soft now, we don't have to panic. We are going to stay in the Arkle for sure.”

 

11th February 2017

 

Going Native

What today's Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality, as two red-hot rivals for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup go eye-ball to eye-ball. The Tizzard-trained Native River whose odds are currently evens to 10/11 takes on 5/4 shot Bristol De Mai, trained by Nigel Twiston- Davies. The handicapper has rated them only two pounds apart, 168 for the former and 166 for the latter after the duo's immaculate performances in handicaps this winter. Native River is no stranger to Newbury, having already scored there twice, most memorably when claiming the Hennessy Gold Cup. The son of Indian River also went on to take the Coral Welsh Grand National off the same mark under his partner of today, champion jockey, Richard Johnson.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "If we're going to go down the Gold Cup route we really have to win. After the Welsh National we gave him an easy fortnight. Since then we've prepared him as we would for any race. I'm not saying he'll improve for it, as I don't think he will. He'd probably be better on slightly springier ground but he put any ground worries to bed at Chepstow. His form has been good and we know he likes the course. This is a good, honest staying horse and he's running in a lovely race."

 

Time for Three?

Racegoers are keenly looking forward to Irish racing’s most prestigious Grade One event, the Irish Gold Cup tomorrow at Leopardstown. On the surface this contest is looked upon as an indicator of what might happen at the Cheltenham Festival but beneath the surface it's all about whether the John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough can notch up a hat-trick. As the eleven-year-old son of King's Theatre isn't running in that Cheltenham contest, connections would like to celebrate tomorrow's race as his own personal ‘Gold Cup’. Perhaps the one horse that could put a spoke in the wheel is Don Poli, trained by Gordon Elliott, although he hasn't won a race since claiming the Lexus Chase in December 2015.

 

Worth the Wait

Connections are hoping that the Philip Hobbs-train today. The seven-year-old has been a little disappointing so far this year but a certain optimism prevails this the son of Optimism has what it takes to make his mark in one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps. After showing great promise when coming third behind Moon Racer in the 2015 Cheltenham Champion Bumper, Wait For Me didn't really impress when he switched to hurdles but, nevertheless, notched up a couple of victories over this course and distance. In his favour, though, is a rating of 138 which undervalues his potential and the soft ground which should suit him fine. The bonus of having champion jockey, Richard Johnson, aboard makes the race worth waiting for.

 

10th February 2017

A Two-horse Test

On the face of it, Kempton's Matchbook Traders Conference Graduation Chase for five-year-olds plus, who have previously won fewer than three chases should have them queueing at the gate. This year, for example, there's almost £20,000 in prize money on offer and there are payouts down to sixth place. For some reason, however, this two-and-a-half-mile event has attracted no more than seven runners in the last eight renewals, with only four horses lining up in the last three years. Today's entries reach a new low with only two contestants and it seems a bit of a David and Goliath confrontation. In the left-hand corner there is the Dan Skelton-trained Pain Au Chocolat who won his last novices' chase back in February 2016 and was pulled up last time out at Musselburg in January; in the right-hand corner stands the Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue, already tipped for the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, who almost claimed three in a row at Haydock last time out when runner-up in the Grade 2 Star Sports Cheltenham Preview Evening Novices' Chase.

 

BHA racing manager, Stuart Middleton, commented: "It's always disappointing when a race achieves a small field and we will pick this up with Kempton Park during our strategic review of the programme for next year. We're still committed to the concept of graduation chases as a race type as they do provide a genuine developmental opportunity for a certain profile of horse, albeit that on this occasion we might review the positioning of this race within the season."

 

Harry Derham, Paul Nicholls' assistant trainer added: "Paul [Nicholls] has always been a big supporter of graduation chases because these types of races are very important to give novices like Politologue some more experience. Politologue is absolutely fine and it's a nice stepping stone towards Cheltenham. We're hoping the first-time hood will relax him a little bit more."

 

Tom Messenger, assistant trainer to Dan Skelton gave his view: "There's always the danger, particularly leading up to Cheltenham, that people want to protect their handicap marks and it's disappointing that a race offering such money can only attract two runners. Politologue is a very good horse and will be hard to beat but you'd like to think our lad has got a nice prize in him as he seems progressive. He didn't travel very well up to Musselburgh so you can put a line through that run."

 

Pique Performance

Today at Dundalk this son of Martaline, absent from racing since last June due to injury, will try to get his career back on track whe he lines up in the ASM Chartered Accountants Race. The Willie Mullins-trained Pique Sous probably enjoyed his finest hour when he transported Ryan Moore to victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2014. prior to that the ten-year-old grey proved himself to be a top-class competitor in National Hunt flat races, even coming an impressive third to his stable companion, Champagne Fever in the Weatherby' Champion Bumper. Clearly his County Carlow handler has taken his time finding a suuitable race for a comeback.

 

Steve Massey for the Supreme Horse Racing Club, owners of Pique Sous commented: He has had a couple of niggles, nothing serious. We are happy with him now and it is great to have him back. He owes us nothing after his Royal Ascot win, although we feel there are a few big races left in him as he has very low mileage for a 10-year-old. He has got plenty of speed, which he showed in bumpers. You need speed to win bumpers in Ireland, especially under a penalty."

 

Bite Size

The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite, who fell at the last fence in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, was certainly back on form at Doncaster yesterday when he claimed the three-strong Soar Enterprises Online Ltd Novices' Chase by ninety-nine lengths. The son of Scorpion was the odds-on favourite and justifiably so as the result was never in doubt.

 

The Lambourn trainer commented: "That was just what we wanted to see him do. It didn't look as if the fall has had a lasting effect, anyway. Without talking to Nico I can't give a detailed description, but his jumping looked good. We've not really learned anything about him, but it was good for his confidence."

 

Winning jockey, Nico De Boinville, added: "I enjoyed that, it was lovely and we just need him to get his confidence back. I think he is the sort of horse who will be better in a better race. You can be more aggressive on him and his jumping comes to hand the stronger he goes. He's got an awful lot of potential and is going the right way. We just need to keep his jumping low and flat."

 

9th FEBRUARY 2017

Sunday, Sunday.

This weekend Exeter race track presents its annual event - Super Sunday - which is used by many trainers of Cheltenham hopefuls as a useful last-minute preparation for the Festival at Prestbury Park. There are entries from many top class horses and trainers, demonstrating once again that this Devon venue is the place to be. For example, Colin Tizzard will saddle Alary who, disappointingly, was pulled up in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock last month so will be hoping to get his act in order in time for the Timico Gold Cup when he partners Aidan Coleman in the 188bet.co.uk Graduation Chase. The Sherborne-based trainer has also entered Finian’s Oscar, a leading contender for the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle, in the Listed Freebet at Bet188 Novices’ Hurdle, a race previously won by his Coral Welsh National and Hennessy star, Native River. Jockey, Lizzie Kelly, who achieved the first Grade One success for a female rider in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing day 2015, will be hoping to ride the same horse, Tea For Two, to victory in the 188bet.co.uk Graduation Chase. And the hits keep on coming! Check out the racecard for the other exciting runners.

 

Daniel Thompson, the General manager of the Exter Racecourse commented: “We are over the moon with the entries, and we are very hopeful that many of them will stand their ground. Super Sunday at Exeter is a fantastic opportunity for local racegoers to see top class horses in action. It’s a day to savour with many previous winners, such as Native River, going on to register success at the very highest level.”

 

This Horse All Right

Short-odds betting is not everyone's cup of tea, although popular with many dedicated punters who always bet on the favourite. Occasionally, however, an opportunity arises when all the conditions seem overwhelming. In the Betway Handicap at Lingfield today, for instance, there is a runner who ticks all the right boxes, with the best recent form, top ratings and, what is more with, arguably, the best rider aboard. The horse in question is the David Simcock-trained Starboard who was in the winner's enclosure just a week ago when scoring in the toteplacepot Six Places In Six Races Apprentice Handicap at Cheltenham, his best run since getting his head in front at Chepstow in August 2015. The eight-year-old's quick return to the track is possibly a clear indication connections think all the right things have cone together – their horse is top rated and gets four good positives, including his handler's 24% and his 22% over Course and Distance. There appeared originally to be some doubt whether Starboard would be able to manage the extra two furlongs but he did win over this distance at Longchamp when he was a three-year-old but that was five years ago. An additional bonus is that the son of Zamindar has been entered in a Lady Amateur Jockey's contest, where he will have the benefit of the equestrian skills of none other than Sarah Brotherton who has notched up a 22% winning strike rate over the last four seasons, better than any of the other riders in the event.

 

New Comer

It has just been announced that the Comer Group International (previously known as the Palmerstown House) Irish St Leger, the highlight of of the second day of Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh on September 10th, will now have €500,000 (just over £425,000) prize money on offer as part of an extended sponsorship deal. This is the race where the Willie Mullins produced a surprise win with his Wicklow Brave beat Ascot Gold Cup winner, Order Of St George trained by Aidan O'Brien. The Irish St Leger is the final leg of a series of races sponsored by the Comer Group, which also includes the Comer Group International Curragh Cup and the Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial.

 

Luke Comer commented: "We are delighted to renew our support of the Curragh as they embark on their very exciting redevelopment. We look forward to working with the team at the racecourse helping to ensure that the Irish St Leger remains one of the most prestigious and important Classic races in Europe".

8th February 2017

 

Cut to the Chase

The Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday could see an interesting contest between the 166-rated, twenty-two-length winner of the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock last month and the 168-rated victor of the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow just after Christmas. The former, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai, takes on Native River in this two-mile-seven-furlong contest. Currently the market appears to be with the son of Indian River, trained by Colin Tizzard. Interestingly the latter also gets the vote of trainer Paul Nicholls, who saddles Le Mercurey in the five-runner field.

 

The Ditcheat handler commented: "I dare say Native River will be hard to beat and I think he is the one for everyone to beat in the Gold Cup and that's always been my opinion. I thought that when he won the Welsh National because that was a real staying performance carrying top-weight and it will be interesting to see how he runs against Bristol De Mai.”

 

Mad not Bad

Gary Moore, it appears, is in no hurry to make any decision about the possibility of Ar Mad's running at next month's Cheltenham Festival where he is, currently, entered for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase. The West Sussex-based trainer has already decided that the seven-year-old son of Tiger Groom will not be taking up his place in the Ascot Chase a week on Saturday. Connections are clearly pinning their hopes to their stable star's recovery in time for the Prestbury Park bonanza.

 

Gary Moore commented: "He is okay but we are just taking it day by day with him. He definitely won't make Ascot, so it will be a case of getting him ready for Cheltenham. I don't know which race he will go for there yet. We will take each day as it comes with him. These horses are animals and not machines."

 

Going for Gold

It's the Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday and the John Kiely-trained son of King's Theatre will be bidding for his third victory in this three-mile Grade 1 contest. Carlingford Lough, who was unable to cut it against the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki a couple of weeks ago, when he finished fourth, sevemn lengths adrift, will be up against some fearsome opposition such as the likes of Djakadam and Don Poli, who is currently the 5/2 ante-post favourite after finishing and impressive runner-up to his stable companion, Outlander in the Lexus Chase at the end of December. The latter is also in the line-up to prove his last success wasn't a fluke. Carlingford Lough is owned by JP McManus and his familiar green and gold colours will also be sported by Minella Rocco and More Of That, both trained by Jonjo O'Neill so a race with an interesting clash of talent and loyalties.

 

7th February 2017

 

It's a bit Ricci!

What owners and trainers have to put up with! First a Champion Hurdler and now an up-and-coming Grade 1 winner, both Mrs S Ricci-owned, will not be appearing at the Cheltenham Festival. The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen won the Stan James Champion Hurdle in 2015 but after triumphing in the 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle it was discovered that the son of Germany had sustained an injury during the contest and was prevented from defending his Cheltenham crown. Further minor complications this season meant that the nine-year-old was scratched form the Leopardstown event at the eleventh hour, due, it was thought, to a muscle problem it was later revealed that it was something more serious.

 

Willie Mullins commented: “We had hoped Faugheen had just tweaked a muscle, but we’ve had it checked out and it’s a stress fracture.”

 

It was also on the cards that Min would go for the Irish Arkle at 
the end of January last month but that wasn't to be and it has now been confirmed that the six-year-old son of Walk In The Park won't make it to Prestbury Park, either.

 

The County Carlow handler added: “Min has a bruise. Hopefully both will still make the track this season. It’s a real shame with Faugheen, we needed everything to go right and obviously it hasn’t. There are options at Fairyhouse and Punchestown for Min, hopefully he makes one of them, while we’ll try to get Faugheen ready for Punchestown.”

 

Having the Edge at Sedge

It wasn't all down beat news yesterday, however. A Pembrokeshire-based trainer transported three horses three-hundred miles to Sedgefield and scored with one of them, coming home with the five-thousand-pound prize. Peter Bowen saddled Dr Robin in the JG Paxtons Handicap Chase and his son, Sean, rode him to a one-and-three-quarter length victory. The latter, who also rides for Paul Nicholls, kept the seven-year-old son of Robin Des Pres aon the heels of the leaders for most of the race and, although the duo looked hard pressed after the third fence from home, they stayed on gamely to throw down the gauntlet at the last and snatch victory from the Susan Smith-trained Wolf Sword.

 

The winning jockey commented: "It helps when they jump as well as he does. The one in front just got tired and my lad kept galloping. It will make the journey home shorter."

 

Bowling a Maiden Over

When the BHA decided to convert the majority of two-year-old maiden races into novice contests, it wasn't well received. After a successful trial , however, this initiative will be extended the entire 2017 Flat season. Original critics were sceptical that all that would happen would be that trainers would take advantage of the new arrangement to bag a lot of prize money. As it happened, there was an augmentation of the numbers of runners and starting prices increased. The trial, which ran from the start of the Flat turf season to July last year, will now be extended through the second half of the season when it is intended that 442 races, or 82 per cent of maidens, will also be amended. Two-year-olds will now now have to win twice rather than once before receiving a handicap mark which will allow them to compete in a nursery handicap, in which they still qualify after three runs whatever the result. Additional changes will involve two-year-old handicap ratings being published prior to the beginning of programme of nursery handicaps.

 

6th FEBRUARY 2017

 

Name of the Game

The Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon made all in the Scottish Future Champions Novices' Chase at Musselburgh yesterday, resulting in a nine-length victory, the first of a treble for the Ditcheat handler. The son of Nickname didn't appear too composed at the start but his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, soon got him to settle down. The race was a bit of a disappointment really because the other three runners hardly got a look-in, as the five-year-old Frodon produced an immaculate round of jumping, clinching his fifth victory of the season, the highlight of which was his triumph in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December and the lowlight his fall two weeks later at Kempton Park in the Grade 1 32Red Kauto Star Novices' Chase.

 

The winning jockey commented on his mount's antics at the start: "He gets like that sometimes. It's been a while since his last run so he was good and fresh. He is a horse that loves his racing, as you saw by the way he was at the start. It was as good a ground he's run on for a long time. He could have done with a bit more cut, but he put up a good performance today and jumped brilliant."

 

Harry Derham, the winning trainer's assistant added: "He'd won some good races but tired last time when he fell. He was really good today. Today was a stepping stone to bigger things. We knew he was going to improve for today, so we're really pleased. He's a horse I love. He's so professional. He's only five, but when you think what he's achieved already, he's a fantastic little horse."

 

A Walk in the Park

Douvan's win in the Grade 2 Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown yesterday provided a tantalising taster for what to expect at Cheltenham next month in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Although not the most inspiring of contests for the son of Walk In The Park, his jockey, Ruby Walsh, described it as the “perfect warm-up” for Prestbury Park. Douvan came home six-and-a-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival, the Gordon Elliott-trained Realt Mor, making it fourteen straight wins in a row races for the seven-year-old, nine of them over fences.

 

Ruby Walsh commented: “Deadly, isn’t he? He just sauntered along at his own speed. I gave him a squeeze before the second last and he jumped out of the bridle. He has a huge amount of natural ability and is a pleasure to ride. You just have to sit there. The jumping is up to him. You tactically ride the race, the horse does the jumping. It’s a lovely prize in its own right but it was also a perfect warm-up for next month. He won as he liked – or how you would have expected him to really. He is a wonderful horse and it’s great to see people coming out to watch him. Cork had a great crowd when he turned up there and then Leopardstown and here.”

 

Winning trainer, Willie Mullins added: “I’m relieved that’s over. He’s probably not showed anything that he hasn’t showed us before.”

 

That's the Spirit!

Nico de Boinville, back in the saddle again after three months' absence due to injury, returned to the winner's enclosure again, after steering Lough Derg Spirit to victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices' Hurdle at Musselburgh yesterday. The five-length advantage the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old landed up with at turn for home proved to be decisive as, from there on, all the son of Westerner had to do was maintain his gallop for the line, leaving Neil Mulholland's Peter The Mayo Man some two-and-a-half lengths in his wake.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I'd seen there was a bit of a golden highway from the front round here, so I thought we may as well be positive. We had to find a pound somewhere to beat Peter The Mayo Man, so that's what we did. He's slick at his hurdles and he came out of my hands at a couple of them. He is good and knows what he's doing."

 

Nicky Henderson added: "I just thought after Burbank in the first race the track was sharp enough. His hurdling is very slick so I said to Nico we had to grab this a bit and be very positive. He gave him a good ride. It was good because you have to be sharp round here. It was a good performance, but we'll have a think about what we do next. He's still a baby and his life's in front of him. We'll see what the owners want to do."

 

5th FEBRUARY 2017

 

Flyer's a Trier

The six-year-old son of Westerner gave an impressive performance on his last outing when he won the Broadway & Horton Cricket Club Maiden Hurdle at Taunton by twenty-two lengths, his first run in the UK after racing in Australia. Now the Paul Nicholls-trained Overland Flyer is aiming to add to these successes when he lines up in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Novices' Hurdle at Musselburgh this afternoon. It's already on the cards that the six-year-old will feature at the Cheltenham Festival next month so a victory here will be a taste of what's to come. There are only three rivals in today's Class 2 contest but this is a bigger test for the previous successful point-to-pointer but his redord indicates that jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies could well add to his current seventeen percent strike rate.

 

Top-notch Victory.

Yesterday's Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown provided an opportunity for the Nicky Henderson-trained Top Notch to increase his winning run over fences to four, thereby confirming he'll run in the Cheltenham Festival, where he might take on the JLT Novices' Chase. The proceedings in the initial stages were dominated by Amore Alato and Baron Alco but the other three runners were always handy in this challenging Grade One contest. The son of Poliglote, with Daryl Jacob aboard, put on an impressive jumping display throughout but it was the superb leap over the final fence that clinched it. From there on Top Notch galloped gamely up the hill to win by five lengths.

 

Daryl Jacob, who has now won this race for three years running, commented: "It was a great performance. That was a real test for him. He's not the biggest in the world but he makes up for it with his heart. He deserves it. He's very, very consistent and he always tries his heart out. This was a big step and it told us a lot."

 

Nicky Henderson added: "This is a real favourite. He's nearer a pet than a racehorse. He came as a juvenile hurdler and I thought that was all he ever would be. He had a good year last year. He won the Morebattle (Kelso) and was fifth in the Champion (Hurdle) and had nowhere to go so we tried him over a fence. He was beaten first time out (over fences). Then we found him two lovely, easy races and you could see him grow in stature and confidence. Daryl says the two and a half miles suits him well. It will probably be the JLT he'll go for at Cheltenham. He is still in the Champion Hurdle but after the last two races that is probably not the plan for Top Notch. His jumping to start with was good but it was hard work as he has not got the scope. I'd say the JLT is what we've got to go to. It just gives him that little bit more time with his jumping. He was a very good hurdler in his own right but he looks to be a better chaser now, which we never dreamt of."

 

Coming up for Air

A decisive win in the Betfred "Follow Us On Twitter" Contenders Hurdle at Sandown yesterday fully justified connections' decision to return their Grade 1-winning novice hurdler Buveur D'Air to the smaller obstacles. The six-year-old son of Crillon triumphed without even coming off the bridle, and the way he flashed by Grade 2 winner Rayvin Black and dual Grade 1 winner Irving proved that he's the one to keep an eye on in the Champion Hurdle.

 

The Seven Barrows trainer commented: "I said to Barry (Geraghty) at Cheltenham last week that I wanted to switch Buveur D'Air back to hurdles before they announced Faugheen was out [of the Irish Champion]. We've talked about it throughout the week and he hasn't proven anything to anybody today, we know that, because on those terms he should have won like that. I think at this stage of his life I think he might just be a sharper hurdler than he is a chaser. Barry said he can make a length at his hurdles but he can't do that over fences. He's very quick, very slick, and very pacy too. Barry said he took a fair few blows but that doesn't surprise me as there's room to get him fitter. That is the road we are now going to take, you can take it that's where he's going to go. I don't think we're suddenly going to bounce him back to the Arkle."

 

4th FEBRUARY 2017

 

Winning on the Sly

With yesterday's two wins at Catterick this Peterborough-based trainer has now notched up five winners from just twelve starters over the last five years. Pam Sly had just two runners on the card at the North Yorkshire track - Walsingham Grange and Actinpieces. The latter was bred and is owned by the Cambridgeshire handler so there was a double pleasure when the six-year-old grey claimed the feature of the day, the Happy Birthday Barbara Ramshay Mares' Handicap Chase by three and a quarter lengths from the Nicky Richards-trained Conquer Gold. The result didn't quite turn out as anticipated because Total Assets looked like winning but made a bad mistake at the final fence. The Act One mare, however, ridden by amateur jockey, Gina Andrews, already throwing down the gauntlet, had no such problems and jumped it cleanly to go on to score.

 

Pam Sly commented: "Gina gave her a splendid ride. She's so good with her and I think we'd have won anyway. Actinpieces gets the three miles well. The ground had dried out a shade which was a help probably, especially with that weight (12st 2lb)."

 

The double pleasure was doubled again when the 5/6 favourite, Walsingham Grange, partnered by Kielan Woods, triumphed in the first race of the day, the opening Racing To School Juvenile Hurdle. There was no doubt about this victory. The four-year-old son of Paddy O'prado made most of the running and, despite a short period of losing concentration in the closing stages, made it across the line two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Michael Blake's Moon Arrow.

 

The winning trainer added: "He's a bit lairy and was wandering all over the place," said Sly.

 

Mayo or Mayo not.

Tomorrow at Musselburgh trainer, Neil Mulholland, will be hoping that Peter The Mayo Man is up to maintaining his top-of-the-form season in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices' Hurdle. This son of Dylan Thomas was snapped up at an auction for £120,000, after scoring in an Irish bumper at Fairyhouse in April 2015 but owners, Masterson Holdings Limited, must have wondered whether they had got a bargain because his first couple of races over jumps were less than satisfactory, to say the least. Then suddenly, after returning from his Summer break, the seven-year-old chestnut gelding decided to get his his act together and produced three wins on the trot ( or gallop!) at Worcester, Warwick and Newbury.

 

The Somerset-based trainer commented: "He's a nice horse and is coming back from a break. He's going there fresh and well, hopefully he'll run a nice and we'll learn a bit more abut him."

 

Throwing their weight around!

France Galop, France's equivalent of the BHA, has declared a new rule whereby female jockeys will be allowed to carry less weight (2kg – 4.4lbs) than their male counterparts, with the aim of encouraging the booking of more female riders. It is estimated that about 90% of races in France will be subject to this new rule change but, for some reason, listed and group races will be exempt. Already this initiative has attracted comments such as "unfair", "offensive" and "patronising". Even Group One-winning jockey Hayley Turner thinks that there should be a "more subtle" way of dealing with the situation as "It seems a bit unfair on the lads."

The British Horseracing Authority says it has made a note of the amendment but has no plans currently to take any similar action. The Vice president of France Galop, Jean-Pierre Colombu, says he is convinced that the rule change will provide a real opportunity for female riders in France. In the UK apprentice and conditional jockeys are given a weight allowance, aimed at offsetting their inexperience by reducing the burden on a horse.

 

Top jockey Adam Kirby commented: "It's ridiculous, isn't it? 4lbs is two lengths. I appreciate women might not be as strong as boys, but riding in races is not about strength, it's about positioning, rhythm and things like that."

3rd FEBRUARY 2017

 

All Fired Up

This Kayf Tara daughter is looking to make it four hits in a row when she lines up in today's Happy Birthday Barbara Ramshay Mares' Handicap Chase at Catterick, even though the eight-year-old is carrying an extra seven pounds after her win last time out at Kelso in the EBF/TBA Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase. The Michael Scudmore-trained Two Smokin Barrels, however, has already proved that she can handle a step-up in rating on previous occasions. Therefore there is every confidence that the Martin Jones-owned mare will deal with this challenge just as impressively. There is the added bonus that the Ross-on-Wye trainer is currently enjoying a thirty percent strike record with his horses over fences.

 

Winner goes free!

The Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield Park on Saturday has, as expected, attracted a batch of highly talented runners. Part of the appeal is clearly that the winner is guaranteed a free run after winning this ten-furlong Polytrack contest, which is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday. Two of the competitors that catch the eye are Group Three winners Arab Spring and Decorated Knight. The former, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, to be ridden by Ryan Moore, was unbeaten in his two starts on the All-Weather. Particularly impressive was the seven-year-old's victory in the mile-and-a-half Group Three September Stakes on the Kempton Polytrack. The son of Monsun has also won thirteen times on turf, triumphing in the 2014 Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot, following that up with a victory in the 2015 Group Three John Porter Stakes at Newbury. For the Roger Charlton-trained Decorated Knight, to be partnered by Andrea Atzeni, however, this will be the first time on the All-Weather and, in fact, his first appearance since winning the nine-furlong Group Three Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in July. This five-year-old Galileo son has notched up four wins from 10 starts and had the misfortune of being pipped at the post by the Andrew Balding-trained Tullius in the Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes over an extended mile at Epsom in June.

 

Musseling in on the Act!

Another racing attraction takes place this weekend. It's the Scottish Cheltenham Trials fixture and, quite naturally, with more than £260,000 prize money on offer, quite a few of the UK’s leading trainers are making a bee-line there. Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Charlie Longsdon and Donald McCain have set their sights on this day as well as local Scottish trainer, Lucinda Russell. Tomorrow will also feature the first-ever running of the £40,000 Bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase, a four-mile preparation race for the Grand National. Saturday's most valuable race, the £50,000 Bet365 Scottish County Hurdle will mark a a rare appearance at Musselburgh by Somerset-based trainer, Jeremy Scott, who saddles his seven-year-old Unison, who seems to be in top form lately. Paul Nicholls runs his Cliffs of Dover, winner of six of his last seven starts over hurdles, in the Bet365 Scottish Triumph Juvenile Hurdle. Not to be left out, Royal trainer, Charlie Longsdon, saddles the Queen’s horse, Forth Bridge, returning to this track after his success in December in the Racing UK Anywhere Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.

 

Musselburgh Chief Executive, Bill Farnsworth, , commented: “We like to try new things and the Edinburgh National will be the longest race ever staged at Musselburgh Racecourse. We usually have good ground, even in the winter, so this gives trainers a chance to run horses over four miles without the extra burden of facing soft or even heavy ground, which can be very demanding. With 20 entries it has been well supported by owners and trainers.”

 

2nd FEBRUARY 2017

 

(It's Groundhog Day! - Again!)

 

McNamara - the Leader of the Band?

The Micro Dog ID Steeplechase at Clonmel this afternoon could provide a surprise winner for this multiple Grade One-winning rider who only embarked on his new career as a trainer just one year ago. Andrew McNamara saddles Val De Ferbet in this two-and-a-half mile race in which there are only three rivals. Teaming up with a former weighing room colleague, Sean McDermott, the Limerick handler has a great opportunity to bag a share of this relatively lucrative event where prize money is available to fifth place. There's over £600 available for coming last! The son of Voix Du Nord is not exactly everyone's choice for a winner as he hasn't had a really successful career thus far, although he did win at Limerick over Christmas and he has enjoyed a few good placings. In the eight-year-old's favour, however, is that the other runners really haven't got much to write home about.

 

A winner with bells on!

Trainer, Fergal O'Brien, made the hundred-and-forty-mile round trip from Cheltenham to Leicester with just one horse but he didn't come back empty-handed. The Naunton-based handler saddled Bells 'N' Banjos in the H.A.C. Pipeline Supplies Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. Ironically the son of Indian River's main rival was the Kim Bailey-trained Duelling Banjos and, as expected, the duo struck a chord with each other from the word go. The latter was in the lead until around the fifth fence but eventually lost the duel on the run-in by a length and a quarter.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm delighted. He's won twice here now on different ground, but Paddy (Brennan) said he doesn't want extremes, so he went wide all the way in search of better ground. He'll have a little break. I'll have a word with the owners, but I'd like to go to Cheltenham for the four-miler (National Hunt Chase). He jumps well and he stays well. He's very straightforward."

 

The old one-two!

The feature race, the 188Bet Handicap Chase at Hereford yesterday was dominated by a Herefordshire-based trainer. Kerry Lee once more proved that she's got what it takes when it comes to training staying chasers when she saddled both Goodtoknow and his stable companion, Mountainous, in the three-mile-plus contest and they came first and second. The former, the 4/1 favourite, was runner-up last time out in the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase. The latter, however, who seems to love soft ground, was struggling from quite some way out and was never really going to be a threat to the eventual seven-length winner. Ultimately the heavy conditions took their toll and only three finished from the original eleven starters, with the Michael Scudamore-trained Streets Of Promise finishing way way back in third.

 

Kerry lee commented: "I'm absolutely thrilled and they've both run to their best form. Both jockeys (Jake Greenall and Richard Patrick) were excellent, they were given very clever rides. I had no idea which one would win as they had both been in good form at home, working nicely. I was asked this morning which one I fancied the most and because I couldn't choose I told them to do a reverse exacta! (same bet both ways). Goodtoknow will hopefully go up enough now to get in the Grand National, that's where I'd like to go with him."

1st FEBRUARY 2017

 

Never too Late

A twelve-year-old gelding, who only started racing last July and did no better than fourth in six hurdle contests, has finally scored over fences at Down Royal on the third time of asking. The John “Shark” Hanlon-trained Honest Robber went into the lead after the last obstacle and won the St.Patrick’s Punter Pack Handicap Chase by three lengths. The son of Court Cave, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, was a high as a 20/1 shot in the early part of the day but, by the time the race started, punters had an inkling for some reason that this was his day and his odds were down to 8/1 at the off.

 

The winning jockey commented: “It’s a fair training performance to get a twelve-year-old to win as a maiden. The ground is hard work out there, but he seemed to relish it.”

 

This unexpected success obviously brought luck to the Hanlon/Blackmore because they went on to score their double later on in the fixture when six-year-old Camlann claimed the Bet With The Tote Handicap Hurdle by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Rachael Blackmore added: “It’s always a good day when you have a double! So it’s a great day. He’s been consistent and deserved this.”

 

Power and the Glory

Lee Power, Swindon Town's chairman, clearly hopes that his success at Lingfield Park will be a lucky omen for his club on Sunday when they play Oxford United. Yesterday his Good Man Hughie, trained by Gary Moore, won the Racing Welfare 24 Hour Support Line 08006300443 Handicap Hurdle by one-and-quarter lengths although his owner must have missed a few heart beats when the son of Flemensfirth made a bad mistake at the last obstacle and stumbled badly on landing. All was not lost , however, as the the 7/2 favourite recovered and enough in reserve to beat off the challenge by the Michael Roberts-trained Sea The Springs by a length and quarter, providing jockey, Jamie Moore with a welcome 32nd birthday present.

 

The winning owner commented: "That might buy us a new striker! I wish the football was going as well as the horses, as things are not going well and the supporters are not happy. He has always had problems, but we have just persevered with him. He cost us £25,000 and we have had him for just over two years but never seem to get him right. Jamie gave him an unbelievable ride and I thought he was beat to be fair."

 

Mountain Range

Australia is set to stage the world's most valuable race. On October 14, Randwick racetrack will initiate a six-furlong sprint, worth A$10million (just over £6m), to be called The Everest, which will be run similarly to the Pegasus World Cup in America. Owners will have to pay a A$600,000 entry fee to take part in the twelve-horse field. The Everest is a joint venture between Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club.

 

Russel Balding, Chairman of Racing NSW, commented: "The Everest will be a game-changer for racing in Sydney and provide a stage for showcasing the best Australian sprinters against leading international contenders.”

 

Laurie Macri, Australian Turf Club Chairman, added: "The Everest is a joint venture between Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club, who share a vision to see more Sydney racing on the world stage. Royal Randwick itself is an international landmark, and it will now rightly showcase the world's richest sprint over one of the best but most testing 1200-metre courses anywhere in racing."

 

31st JANUARY 2017

 

Economy's Strong!

This trainer is based just half-an-hour's drive from Ayr racetrack and the fourteen-mile trip certainly paid off yesterday. Mike Smith, who handles about twenty-five horses in his stables in Galston, notched up a surprising double at Whitletts Road. His first success came in the first race of the day, the racinguk.com 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle. Strong Economy, a regular at this venue, had given notice last time out, when he was runner-up in the Racing UK Maiden Hurdle at the beginning of this month, that his time had come. And so it proved. The five-year-old son of Sandmason gave jockey, Stephen Mulqueen, an energetic ride, easlily leavin the Lucinda Russell-trained Vertigo trailing six lengths in his wake.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He was very impressive. He likes it at Ayr, so we'll see if we can find another race for him here. He'll be fine on any galloping track. I think he's really next year's horse and he'll be a better horse over a fence."

 

Mike Smith was not resting on his laurels just yet, however, for he was, perhaps unexpectedly, back in the winner's enclosure after the next race, the Racing UK Novices' Hurdle, in which he saddled Glingerside, with Henry Brooke aboard. Unexpectedly because it was assumed that the the 1/4 favourite, David O'Meara-trained Fattsota would easily add to his recent Musselburgh triumph. But the son of Milan had other ideas and struck for home in the straight and the favourite had no response but suffer a two and a half length defeat.

 

Mike Smith commented: "He was bought for quite a lot of money (48,000 euro) and then they threw him away at the sales and we bought him for £800. Coming to a smaller yard has maybe helped him. I knew coming into the race today he was coming right and I'm delighted to see him win. I have some very good staff and some loyal owners who have stood by me. I shoot from the hip and tell them how it is, but things are going well at the moment and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."

 

Caller not a Faller

Yesterday's win in the Bill Cornford Memorial Maiden Hurdle at Plumpton gave Gavin Sheehan the chance to prove he's back at the top of his game after fracturing a wrist in a nocices' handicap at Newbury on New Year's Eve. The twenty-four-old jockey was aboard the Warren Greatrex-trained The Caller in this nine-runner Class 5 event. He came close when finishing second on Cole Harden in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. The son of Yeats, had been beaten on his previous two starts over hurdles but that was all forgotten when he trounced 1/4 favourite ,Oscars Boss, by eight lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It is great to have him (Gavin) back. I've been very lucky that everyone has helped out. Leighton Aspell and Andrew Tinkler have done a great job filling in while he has been away and doing the schooling. Gav has had a nice break and has come back raring to go. "The Caller has got a good pedigree. He wants further and he hates that ground. I'm very happy with him, but I think the race was not very good at all. In time he will get three miles. He is not very big, though, so maybe he won't be a chaser."

 

Mother of all Wins!

What lovely boots you have, Grandma!”

All the better for riding in, my dear.”

"What a lovely horse you have, Grandma!”

"All the better for winning on, my dear!”

 

Yesterday at at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, great-grandmother, Sue Martin, partnered Blue Haze Of Fire, trained by her husband, Wayne, to a surprise victory. Equibase credits Sue Martin with riding her first race in 1976 but it actually happened in 1973 at Les Bois Park in Idaho. The sixty-two-year-old then went on to score for the first time in the following year the Coeur d'Alene Turf Club in the Gem State. Monday's triumph was, in fact, the first since 2014 for the rider, who has seven children, eighteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

 

Sue Martin commented: “I didn't know how she would like going a mile (and 40 yards), but she's been training really well. The Lord keeps putting me together - I've broken every bone in my body, I have a titanium leg and I have a plate and screws in my arm. I just follow the lead of the Lord and try to be obedient. I don't want to retire, and I think I have the mount back on Blue (Haze Of Fire).”

 

30th JANUARY 2017

 

Hurrah for Henry!

This was certainly the week for a special County Waterford trainer. He had already saddled the winner at Gowran Park on Thursday in the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase when Champagne West stormed home by seven-and-half lengths. Then at Leopardstown yesterday he was a little lucky when his nine-year-old Some Plan was offered the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase on a plate after two of the four runners unseated their rider and the likely winner fell at the last fence. There was no luck, however, about Henry de Bromhead's victory, however, in the Grade 1 BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, in which, coincidentally, there were also only four contestants. Ryanair Hurdle champion, Petit Mouchoir set about his business from the word go, accompanied by the Willie Mullins-trained Nichols Canyon, leaving Footpad and Ivanovich Gorbatov way back down the field. Nichols Canyon started to put the pressure on as they entered the home turn but the son of Al Namix was well on top of his game and, when Nichols Canyon said goodbye at the last fence, he had enough left to beat off the strong challenge from Footpad.

 

Henry de Bromhead commented: "It's been a fantastic week for us winning the two Grade 1s here today and the Thyestes Chase on Thursday. We're having an excellent season and I'm absolutely delighted that Petit Mouchoir has now won two Grade 1s. It's hard to do what he has now done twice - go a strong pace from the front and keep going. He's not a fast horse at home but he is a great galloper."

 

Fruits of Victory

The first race of the day at Leopardstown was claimed by the Willie Mullins/ Ruby Walsh partnership. Melon put down a marker for the future when he scored on his debut over jumps in the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle. Another French import to the County Carlow yard, this son of Medicean didn't take long to show his twelve rivals who was boss. Ruby Walsh kept his mount in a handy third position, leaving the Gordon Elliott-trained Broken Soul to make the running, before going for home after the second-last flight. Melon made his only serious mistake as he took the last hurdle but he got over that quickly and sealed victory by a lead of ten lengths.

 

Ruby Walsh commented: "He did it well. He travelled well and jumped well at a good gallop.

"He was a bit long at the last but it was a maiden hurdle. How much more we learned, I don't know. The only other horse in the race with form was the Gigginstown horse (Broken Soul) and he's beaten him. It was a good start. Talkers tend not to gallop, but thankfully he galloped today."

 

Statue Fly?

Dublin's Leopardstown racecourse now has a bronze monument of one of Northern Ireland's best-loved racehorses. A bronze statue of Twice Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner, Hurricane Fly, now stands at the racecourse where he enjoyed some of his most famous victories. The thirteen years old son of Montjeu, now retired, holds the world record for most Grade 1 (or Group 1) races won by any racehorse. Eight of his Grade 1 triumphs were at Punchestown and another two at Fairyhouse but Hurricane Fly seemed to always save his best performances for Leopardstown, where he proved to be invincible over ten Grade 1 starts. The owners, the Boyd and Creighton families, commissioned the bronze statue from the celebrated renowned Irish equine sculptor, Siobhan Bulfin.

 

A spokesman for the owners commented: "Year after year 'The Fly' gave so many great and thrilling moments - winning in his own way. The affection and support of the Leopardstown racegoers was unique. We are honoured that the 'people's champion' will have a permanent base at Leopardstown and will always be part of the Leopardstown story," he said.

 

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, added: "We are delighted that, thanks to the generosity of the Boyd and Creighton families, Hurricane Fly will be coming back to Leopardstown. His statue will be there to remind us and future generations of his wonderful achievements."

29th JANUARY 2017

 

Lacklustre Chrome 

The Bob Baffert-trained Breeders' Cup Classic winner has now claimed the $12m (£9.56m) Pegasus World Cup - the world's richest race. Arrogate, ridden by Mike Smith, seemed initially in no hurry to get the job done but once he got going there was no stopping him as he powered his way to victory at Gulfstream Park in Florida. This impressive win follows the son of Unbridled's Song's being named Longines World's Best Racehorse after scoring a rating of 134 after his half-length victory over California Chrome at Santa Anita in November. Unfortunately the much anticipated rematch with California Chrome, competing in his final race, just didn't happen as the son of Lucky Pulpit produced the weakest performance of his career.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm so relieved. He (California Chrome) just didn't bring his race so that match-up never came about. It's great to be here. I never thought I'd be here in a $12m race. I'm a little emotional."

 

Mike Smith added: “ Arrogate has just produced another incredible performance to secure the $7m (£5.58m) first prize. Sad. Though. That's not the California Chrome I know. He didn't fire."

 

Hanky Panky

Today's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown will now have to do without the Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen who was withdrawn at the eleventh hour. That means there are only four runners in this Grade 1 two-mile contest and the favourite is now Henry de Bromhead-trained Petit Mouchoir. This son of Al Namix clearly likes this Dublin race track as he demonstrated last time out in December when he won the Ryanair Hurdle by seven lengths. Petit Mouchoir, it is hoped, will give his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, a first success in the race, and his handler a second victory since his win with Sizing Europe in 2008. Ironically, Petit Mouchoir used to be trained by Willie Mullins before Michael O'Leary decided to take his horses away from the County Carlow trainer. The latter, who has won the last six renewals of this prestigious fixture, now has to pin his hopes on Nichols Canyon and Footpad.

 

Henry De Bromhead commented: "Petit Mouchoir He won very well at Christmas and all has gone well with him since. He's in great form and we're looking forward to another good performance."

 

Willie Mullins added: "It's most unfortunate Faugheen misses the race, but he wasn't right yesterday morning and seems to have a muscle problem in his hindquarters. We still have two good horses to represent us and we think Nichols Canyon, who didn't perform when beaten by Petit Mouchoir at Christmas, is back in better form now. As a seven-time Grade 1 winner, he fully deserves a shot at the race. We'll see how things go before deciding whether we keep him to two miles or go back up in trip. Footpad, who won two Grade 1s as a juvenile last season, is difficult to place. While he was well beaten behind Petit Mouchoir and Nichols Canyon in the Ryanair Hurdle last time, we decided to let him take his chance as there is nice prize-money to be won."

 

A Mean Performance

The Harry Fry-trained Unowhatimeanharry increased his unbeaten run yesterday at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle which he won comfortably by one-and-three-quarter lengths. The son of Sir Harry Lewis was following up his Ascot victory when he claimed the JLT Long Walk Hurdle. His jockey, Barry Geraghty, admitted that last race was challenging and he was ready for some of the same again but was clearly relieved that this race was less complicated. He kept his mount always in a handy position, stalking the leaders before taking over the lead between the last two hurdles. There was a bit of an alarming moment when Unowhatimeanharry seemed to think the job was done and slowed down as they approached the line. The County Meath rider was used to these kind of tricks, however, and soon coaxed the eventual winner back into the game to win by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "Typically he only does what he has to do and pulled himself up in front but Barry was always confident. Noel Fehily came in and said what a ferocious gallop it was but Barry said he travelled brilliant in the soft ground. By pulling up, hopefully he's saving something in the tank. We've given Cole Harden 4lb as well so it was a very good performance. That's his third win of the season and eighth on the bounce; it's just incredible for all the team. It's a tried and tested route to the Stayers' Hurdle and all being well that's where we're heading. He's versatile with the ground but Barry was enthusing how well he travelled today, so soft ground would be perfect."

 

Barry Geraghty added: "He's a pleasure to ride. There's only so long you can wait and I felt I was outstaying my welcome. At every other stage he travelled so well."

28th JANUARY 2017

 

Another Crack?

Seven horses line up for the Grade 2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham today and, inevitably, all attention appears to be focussed on one particular runner. It seems to be general accepted that this son of Kayf Tara will maintain his unbeaten record over fences. It may be a taller order, this time, however, for the Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack, as he will be taking on some of the best in the business, such as 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds, and, especially last year's winner, Smad Place, who left the latter trailing twelve lengths in his wake. Statistics might also be against the John and Heather Snook-owned nine-year-old as the favourite hasn't claimed this three-furlong-plus contest since 1999 when Martin Pipe accompanied Cyfor Malta into the winner's enclosure. This event also has a history of giving some very good horses a difficult time: Dawn Run, for instance, fell in 1986. It also has to be remembered that Thistlecrack didn't seem entirely in control of his jumping when he last appeared at this track last November in the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase. So it wil be one of th most interesting contests at Prestbury Park.

 

So Sceaux!

Another runner at Cheltenham attracting a lot of attention is the Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux who takes on six rivals in the Grade 1 Spectra Cyber Security Solutions Clarence House Chase, which he won last year by five lengths. The son of Denham Red today renews acquaintance with the Henry De Bromhead-trained Special Tiara who was only a nose behind him in third place in the Grade 1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase last March.

 

Willie Mullins commented: We’re happy with Un De Sceaux, but he was in Ascot last week, he came home, rode out a couple of days and did a bit of work which told us he was in good form. But he has now travelled back to Cheltenham, and who knows what effect that will have on him. The ground will be a little better here than it would have been had it got the go-ahead at Ascot, but they have frost covers on here, and it makes the ground very dead, so it’ll be slower than people think. It’ll be tacky, holding ground. You’d imagine he’ll take all the beating.”

 

Adam Good Show!

Hot-footing it back from a whistle-stop trip to Dubai, Adam Kirby, went straight back into action at Lingfield yesterday and notched up a treble, clearly throwing dow the gauntlet in his bid for the All Weather Jockeys Championship. Just twenty-four hours after winning on both of the Charlie Appleby-trained runners, Gold Trail and Baccarat at Meydan, the Group One-winning jockey partnered the William Haggas-trained Dandy Flame to a length victory in the 32RedSport.com Claiming Stakes.

 

After that victory Adam Kirby commented: "He just needed to settle and the first half of the race he settled well. He toughed it out and picked up nicely enough. He made me work for it, but he is a tough horse that tries."

 

Three races later trainer Anabel Murphy had the pleasure of seeing her Krazy Paving finally make it into the winner's enclosure after eighteen attempts in the Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Handicap.

 

The winning jockey commented: "They went slow. As I turned in, I had one to aim at and it all went well really. It was nice for him to get his head in front. Hopefully he can gain a bit of confidence."

The would-be All-Weather Champion jockey wasn't finished yet, however. In the very next race he was aboard the Simon Dow-trained Emenem, who just beat another rise in the weights as a result of his recent victory at Wolverhampton. The Sir Percy colt seemed determined to score as he managed to squeeze through close to the rail and claim the 10 Free At 32Red.com Handicap by half a length, thus making it three wins for the day for Adam Kirby.

 

Simon Dow commented: "Today was one of the final mile-and-a-quarter options open to him to run off this mark in this grade. I thought we would find out whether he stayed and although he did, it was not a proper test. I'm not entirely sure what we learnt apart from that he is brave."

 

27th JANUARY 2017

 

SPARKLING SUCCESS

The winner of yesterday's Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase, after taking over the lead from the first fence, turned the event into a 'follow my leader' contest. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Champagne West, gave his jockey, David Mullins, a faultless ride apart from one mistake down the back straight on the second circuit. It's strange to recall now that not so long ago this son of Westerner looked as though a jumping career wasn't for him as his performance was so weak. All that was forgotten yesterday, however. The nine-year-old's jumping agility and dexterity gave his rivals a lot to contend with right from early on in the race. When Champagne West turned for home, the only horse he hadn't yet completely shaken off was the Gordon Elliott-trained Ucello Conti, (one of seven horses the County Meath handler had saddled in this contest!) who was hoping to improve on the third position he attained last year. There was a moment near to the last-but-one fence when Daryl Jacob was able to get his son of Martaline within striking distance of Champagne West but the eventual winner just nonchalantly increased his speed and galloped to win by seven-and-a-half lengths.

 

The winning jockey: "He's run away with me for at least 2m6f. He has a serious engine. I've no doubt he'll improve on softer ground, it was gluey out there."

 

Henry De Bromhead commented:"David [Mullins] gave him a brilliant ride. He is not easy because of his jumping, but he just sat so quietly on him and we hoped that would be the key to him. Bar the fourth last, I thought he jumped really well. We have done a fair bit of work with him but it is there, it is as much confidence with him. You try not to interfere, leave him do it, and in fairness bar the fourth-last, he was brilliant. He guessed at that a little bit but all credit to David, he is not an easy ride and I thought he gave him a fantastic ride."

 

BACK FOR MOORE

The Longines World's Best Jockey of 2016 is back in Britain. The three-time British champion jockey, Ryan Moore, is scheduled to be aboard the John Gosden-trained American History in the 32Red Casino Maiden Stakes at Lingfield today, followed by a partnership an hour later with Ocean Drive, trained by William Haggas in the ten-furlong 10 Free At 32Red.com Handicap. That's it for this week but the thirty-three-year-old Brighton-born rider will most likely the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Arab Spring in the Winter Derby Trial at this Surrey track next week.

 

Tony Hind, Ryan Moore's agent commented: "Ryan spent Christmas with his family and is back at Lingfield but beyond that it depends on what comes along. I think Arab Spring may be running shortly but I'm not sure if he's around then our not."

 

BIN THERE. GOT 200TH WIN!

It was a Very Special win at Meydan for trainer, Saeed bin Suroor as it marked his 200th Dubai Carnival winner. Not only that but the Lope De Vega daughter also made it a victory two years running in the Cape Verdi Empowered By Cepsa. The five-year-old mare has been off the track since last July when she was runner-up to Aidan O'Brien's Alice Springs in the Group 1 Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes. Very Special, with Champion Jockey, Jim Crowley, aboard, seemed to take longer than usual to get into her stride but, when she did, she easily fended off Muffri'Ha inside the final furlong and left challenger, Opal Tiara, half a length behind at the post.

 

Jim Crowley commented: "I didn't force her and I just sat where she was happy. The pace slackened quite a bit turning for home, but she had the gears to get out of trouble. Another furlong wouldn't be a problem for her. She is lively and that is why she wears the hood. It was her first run of the year, she was a little bit fresh in the race which she is entitled to be. You would like to think there is a fair bit of improvement."

 

26th JANUARY 2017

 

FLASH GORDON

One trainer's name has dominated the headlines when it comes to graded handicap chases in Ireland this season and that is Gordon Elliott. With winnings so far of well over £85,000 the County Meath-based is strengthening his bid for eight wins in the division by sending seven runners to Gowran Park today, all running in the same contest - Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase. This prestigious three-mile-plus handicap has eluded Gordon Elliott so far and today he clearly hopes to setthe record straight. Three of his prominent representatives are Roi Des Francs, Clarcam and Prince Of Scars, from Gigginstown House Stud, who own six of the trainer's seven big handicap chase winners this season. The four other members from the Cullentra House Stables are Jetstream Jack, running in a handicap for the first time, Bless The Wings, Ucello Conti and Shadow Catcher.

 

Gordon Elliott commented: “Roi Des Francs has plenty of weight, so we're claiming 7lb. If he came back to his best he'd have every chance. Clarcam came out of Leopardstown on Sunday well and takes his chance, going back up in trip. Ucello Conti is in good order. The ground was probably quicker than ideal for him at Leopardstown last time but he ran very well in the race last year and we're happy with him. Jetstream Jack will like the ground and while it's his first run in a handicap, he definitely has a chance. Prince Of Scars would prefer slower ground and that's a bit of a concern. Bless The Wings is an out-and-out stayer with plenty of experience and he has a nice low weight while we're taking the blinkers off Shadow Catcher where he was pulled up after making a couple of mistakes.”

 

VERY SPECIAL DAY

Today at Meydan, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Very Special will be attempting to add to her already excellent record after over half-a-year's absence. Already a dual Group Two winner at this Dubai track, the Lope De Vega mare, ridden by Jim Crowley, will be seeking to add another prestigious prize to her collection – the Cape Verdi Empowered By Cepsa, An IPIC Group Company Group 2 Stakes. The five-year-old daughter last raced at Newmarket in the Falmouth Stakes when she was runner-up to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Alice Springs.

 

Saeed Bin Suroor commented: "Very Special is a very tough mare. She won twice out in Dubai last year before running well at Group One level, including at Newmarket on her latest start. She has been working nicely and I am looking for another good effort from her."

 

YOUNG ENTERPRISE

Another leading trainer's son seems to have what it takes to become a successful jockey, at least according to trainer, Seamus Durack, whose Just Joelliott triumphed in the ROA/Racing Post Owners Jackpot Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle at Ludlow yesterday. The young jockey in question is Jonjo O'Neill jnr, son of twice champion jockey and now leading trainer. The way the seven pound claimer urged the seven-year-old son of Great Exhibition to a half-length victory in a handicap hurdle for amateur riders certainly proves he's a chip off the old block. In fact this Jonjo O'Neill was notching up just his third National Hunt success in Britain to add to his winners in Ireland and on the Flat.

 

The winning Hungerford-based trainer commented: "He got a nice little ride there. They went very quick early on, but Jonjo was cool and he didn't panic. He was nice and composed and was strong enough in the finish. He also talks a fair bit of sense and has definitely got the basics to be a very decent jockey. I was hoping that stepping up in trip and getting the right conditions would see him come into his own. Putting a tongue-tie on him and riding him like that was also beneficial. He's always looked like a stayer, so this now opens up a few more options."

25th JANUARY 2017

 

IT IS THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE THAT COUNTS”

This Galileo colt won five of his six starts, including the National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Churchill has now been crowned top juvenile at a rating of 122 and is the ninth European champion two-year-old to have been trained by the Ballydoyle king in the last eighteen years. As such Churchill emulates previous champions Air Force Blue (124), Dawn Approach (124), New Approach (126) and Teofilo (123).

 

Mark Bird, Irish Turf Club handicapper commented: "Churchill's final rating of 122 sits just marginally below this century's par rating for a European Champion two-year-old of 123. However, the progressive nature of his form allied to his obvious physical scope and impressive pedigree give rise to hope that his early career may be just the launch pad to greater success as a three-year-old. As his namesake once stated, 'the price of greatness is responsibility', so we hope and expect that Churchill will live up to his reputation in 2017. It was quite a close-run thing this year, with Lady Aurelia on one hand and Churchill on the other. We debated and then came to the unanimous decision that we would prefer to have Churchill ahead of Lady Aurelia. His rating essentially comes from the run in the Dewhurst, which is working out to be very strong form. I suppose looking forward for Churchill, it will be interesting to see what happens next year in terms of form. He looks very progressive and has improved from run to run. His breeding is a major plus factor for him and he looks to have the physical size and scope. He looks to have ticked all the boxes. He does look a worthy champion in our view.”

 

DATE DELAYED

An impressive front-running performance at Leicester yesterday by Desert Queen in the Listed Charnwood Forest Mares' Chase may have persuaded her owners, The Jago Family Partnership, to delay sending her for motherly duties. The Harry Fry-trained nine-year-old had a planned assignation with champion sire, Kayf Tara, at the Overbury Stud but, despite being ten pounds heavier than the rest of her seven rivals, she put on an immaculate display of jumping to win the richest jumps race (£30,000) held at the Midlands' track.

 

Harry Fry commented: "We were talking with the owner beforehand and she was due to be visiting Kayf Tara before too long, but we may have to postpone those plans for a little while," said Fry. The better ground helped her today as two and three-quarter miles is probably her best trip. These races are very good and she's now won two of them. She's not that easy and does things her way. She's done more than we expected her to do and she's naturally a better chaser."

 

SIRE'S DOUBLE

It is understandable why owners are keen to have their mares covered by this Sadler's Wells son. The six-time champion jump stallion, Kayf Tara, produced two more examples of his siring capabilities when two of his offspring won at Leicester yesterday. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballyarthur was the first to score, when, after leading all the way, he carried his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies to a nine-length victory in the Croxton Park Novices' Hurdle.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He is a nice horse, but I think the favourite ran a bit below par. He'd had a hard race in the Tolworth 17 days ago. He's a chaser for the future. We'll just keep chipping away with him and see what we've got. He'd been pretty unlucky this year. He had a fall, so deserved that."

 

The second success of the day for the champion sire came two races later when the Richard Phillips-trained Master Vintage, a 16/1 shot, despite being absent for almost two years, lead from start to finish in the Humberstone Handicap Hurdle and was steered by Danny Hiskett. To a six-length victory.

 

Richard Phillips commented: "A few of the family have been hard-pullers. In the past we've held him up, but having been off for so long we thought we'd pop him off in front and try to settle him that way.”

 

24th JANUARY 2017

 

KERRY ON WINNING

Eleven runners are listed in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase featured at Cheltenham on Saturday. One horse attracting a lot of attention is naturally the Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack, who, after his impressive performance in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is currently the star of National Hunt racing scene. After that victory, the Sherborne-based handler was quick to state that this imminent three-mile-plus contest would be a good Gold Cup preparation for the nine-year-old son of Kayf Tara. One trainer who may have other ideas about the outcome of Saturday's race is Kerry Lee. Her Grade One winner, Kylemore Lough, was scheduled to appear at Ascot last weekend but the weather put paid to that plan and a hasty re-think was in order. The eight-year-old son of Revoque consequently has two entries on the nine-race card fixture at Prestbury Park on the 28th - the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase and the Hugo's Restaurant Barbados Trophy Handicap Chase.

 

The Herefordshire-based trainer: "I know it means stepping up to three miles for the first time and it's a massive step up in class, but he's got a Gold Cup entry so we need to know if we're going to use it or not. At this stage it's just an entry, we'll just see who goes where."

 

CATHY CAME HOME

Last January's PPORA (Look it up on Google!) jockey of the month went one better when she rode the son of Overbury to a five-length victory in the sunbets.co.uk 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Newcastle yesterday. The James Walton-trained Catchamat was clocking up her second victory this season at this High Gosforth Park track. The eight-year-old mare, was given a brave ride by the trainer's step-daughter, Catherine, managing to outrun the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Dubai Angel, partnered by Brian Hughes.

 

The winning Northumberland-based handler commented: "We're very happy. The race went to plan. We'll take her home and see how she is and then see what the handicapper does. I might try to find a mares' race somewhere for her. That might be the way to go."

 

A GORDON FOR ME

Winning the Sky Bet Chase, which has its renewal at Doncaster on Saturday has been something of this family's tradition. The late great Gordon Richards claimed this three-mile contest three times in his illustrious career, with Playlord in 1969, Addington Boy in 1996 and General Command in 1997. Now his son, Nicky, is hoping that it is his turn and that he can can win this prestigious prize for the first time. In the hope of strengthening his chances, the Penrith-based trainer plans to saddle two hopefuls, Ballyboker Breeze and Looking Well.

 

Nicky Richards commented: “It’s a lovely race with a lot of tradition. Hopefully, we’ll have a good week with Ballyboker Breeze. He seems well and fine so I’ll discuss it with Jason (Maguire, racing manager to owners Paul and Clare Rooney) in the next day or two, but I suppose the plan is to run him. He’s in grand order. The going is good to soft, good in places at the minute. I’d say that would be fine. Looking Well has not run for a while because the only races for him have been on soft to heavy ground and that wouldn’t be his cup of tea.”

 

23rd JANUARY 2017

 

UP HILL!

At odds of 1/5 this son of Presenting certainly seemed about to deliver a somewhat measly reward to punters in the Grade 3 "Money Back On Fallers" At Coral.ie Novice Chase at Leopardstown yesterday and there seemed no way that they would qualify for their money back if he fell. The Willie Mullins-trained Yorkhill, the sixth in an illustrious line of entrants for this race, gave his jockey, Ruby Walsh, not much more to do than stay on. The duo went into the lead more than a mile from home and by the last-but-one fence the other four runners were all ining up for their share of the action. The County Kildare rider, however, didn't seem over-concerned about all this attention and calmly steered the six-year-old chestnut gelding to a length-and-a-quarter victory without even having recourse to his whip,

 

Willie Mullins commented: "He was very strong with Ruby there. He had a tendency to jump left again but he seemed to be all right. We thought we would get a lead from the two horses in front but obviously his cruising speed is greater than theirs. He might run again before Cheltenham as the experience would do him no harm."

 

CHROME COMES HOME

The US horse of the year for 2016 is set to make the $12million Pegasus World Cup in Florida on Saturday his finale. California Chrome has just received the prestigious 46th annual Eclipse Awards which honour excellence in North American racing. The son of Lucky Pulpit, also winner of the 2014 award, triumphed in seven of his eight starts last year, winning the Dubai World Cup and the Pacific Classic, thus accumulating more than 14.5 million dollars in prize money and establishing himself as the top North American money earner of all-time. The Art Sherman-trained six-year-old, who sadly never finally made it to Royal Ascot in 2015, was denied victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic by the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate at Santa Anita in November and this son of Unbridled's Song, voted the US's outstanding three-year-old male, seems set on repeating that triumph when he goes eyeball to eyeball again with America's Horse of the Year at Gulfstream Park.

 

NOT GOODBYE TO DUBAI!

The Malcolm Jefferson-trained Dubai Angel is only on his seventh career outing but he seems to be the one that has caught the eye in the sunbets.co.uk "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle at Newcastle today. The son of Dubai Destination made his mark last time out in December when, ridden by Brian Hughes, he made all in the Happy 19th Birthday Emily Robson 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Sedgefield and won by a comfortable two lengths. The fact that, as a result of that last victory, the handicapper has clobbered him with a daunting 14-pound penalty, doesn't seem to have deterred his odds-on backing supporters. Connections seemalso confident that their budding star will deliver the goods and qualify for a step-up in grade thereafter.

22nd JANUARY 2017

 

JEZ AMAZING!

Not bad, winning Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle at Navan yesterday after over a year-and-half's absence from racing but that's the 2014 Champion Hurdle winner, Jezki, for you. It didn't seem any effort, either. So much so that his trainer, Jessica Harrington, is now even considering another stab at the prestigious hurdling crown at Cheltenham in March. Up to now, the plan seemed to be to run the son of Milan in the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle but he performed so well yesterday in the two-mile contest, ridden by Barry Geraghty, that connections have confidently raised their horizons. The J P Mcmanus-owned nine-year-old seemed just like his old self again, always travelling strongly throughout the race and taking the lead between the final two hurdles. The magnificent jump over the final obstacle clinched the deal, demonstrating that that the minimum trip is his for the asking and victory was his by a length-and-three-quarters.

 

The jubilant winning trainer commented: "Barry [Geraghty] said he took a blow going down the back, blew up again after the second-last and then just filled up and went away. That was great and you couldn't ask for any more," said Harrington. We had him ready to run at Christmas and he got a little bit of a setback. Every time you go you worry about whether you have done too much or not done enough and whether he has his old spark. He was very settled there and was really good. I'll have to talk to JP [McManus] and Frank Berry and see where we go, but it might well be the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran [over 2m]. We know he gets three miles so we have options which is great. The Red Mills will be another stepping stone and he gets into it without a penalty. There isn't really another alternative race."

 

A GREY DAY!

The dark horse for the Gold Cup was the one everyone was rooting for in yesterday's Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock but it was a galloping grey who won the day and made his own claim for National Hunt Racing's most coveted prize. Bristol De Mai, a 66/1 shot at the start of the day, is now down as low as 14/1 after an immaculate display of galloping and jumping, leaving the rest of the field straggling behind him. The Colin Tizzard-trained Alary, probably one of France's best chasers, was out of it with still three fences still to jump, having virtually sacrificed any hope of success after a couple of bad leaps earlier on in the race. The six-year-old son of Saddle Maker, on the other hand, partnered by his regular rider, Daryl Jacob, was excellence personified as he went clear just under halfway down the straight, not even seeming to struggle on the testing ground.

 

The winning trainer commented: “You get worried when the last fence looms, but he was as brilliant at the last as he was at all the others. In the early days, he was very buzzy and he used to go flat out everywhere, but now he’s settled and you can put him anywhere you want in a race. Whether we’re quite the class of Thistlecrack [the Gold Cup favourite], we’ll have to see, but we’ll be going for one of them. I’d be leaning towards the Gold Cup because today was three miles in heavy ground, so it looks like he’s a stayer now, but it will be up to the owners. He’s a year older and hopefully he’s improved and strengthened. That was his best performance for us, his jumping was just superb all the way round. You mustn’t get your head turned [by a horse like Alary]. The fences are different, and when I’ve had horses from Ireland and France, they take time to acclimatise.”

 

THIRSTY FOR SUCCESS

This owner/trainer/ jockey partnership was not content with their outstanding triumph with Jezki, and went on to land a double at Navan yesterday. JP McManus, Jessica Harrington and Barry Geraghty were again the successful trio when their Thirsty Work claimed the 2017 Navan Membership Rated Novice Hurdle by an impressive five-and-half lengths, making it two victories in a row.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He'll make a smashing chaser, and will get further, which is great. There is a novice-rated hurdle up to 130 coming up, which would be ideal for him. We'll take little steps for the moment. The three-mile novice handicap later on at Fairyhouse could be a race for him."

 

21st JANUARY 2017

 

GOT ALL HIS MARBLES?

The Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle at Haydock today should give an indication as to whether this Duke of Marmalade son has got what it takes to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The Alan King-trained Elgin is considered a 20/1 shot for that prestigious prize after winning his last two contests. The Elite racing Club-owned five year-old, however, is clobbered with an additional seven-pound burden after his Kempton Park outrunning of the Dan Skelton-trained Mohaayed who is, by the way, back again today, presumably out for revenge.

 

Alan King commented: "He's a progressive young horse. He did well at Kempton on Boxing Day and Haydock would probably tell us more again. He's certainly going the right way. He's pretty highly regarded. Stepping up in class will help tell us whether the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham is a realistic aim."

 

JUST SEE JEZKI!

The Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki is back in action today in the Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle at Navan – a much anticipated return. This 2014 Champion Hurdle winner has been absent from the track since the 2015 Punchestown Festival when he triumphed over his old rival, Hurricane Fly, in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle in April 2015. Originally it was planned that the JP McManus-owned nine-year-old would make his comeback in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown a week on Sunday. Connections, however, have clearly decided it's better not to pose too heavier task on their son of Milan after such a long period of absence and have opted for a less challenging task at the County Meath track.

 

Jessica Harrington commented: "I'm very happy with him at the moment and this race is for horses who haven't won more than one since May 3, 2015. He hasn't run since then, so he can get in. It's a good place to take him, he's got to start somewhere and it's a lovely race rather than starting him off in the Irish Champion Hurdle. We had him ready for Christmas, but he just got a little niggle right before he was due to run, otherwise he'd have been out then. We want to get him out now and hopefully he'll have another run before Cheltenham. He's entered in the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers' Hurdle and we'll see how he gets on.

 

TRAINER SWITCH

The six-year-old son of Mastercraftsman was in the hands of Thirsk-based trainer, Kevin Ryan, for whom he ran twenty-two times, yielding four Wins, eight Seconds and one Third, including the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in 2014. All-in-all, The Grey Gatsby has earned more than £2.7 million in win and place prize-money. Now owner, Frank Gillespie, has decided to ship his star middle-distance performer across the sea to Ireland to join the Dermot Weld stables based in the Curragh.

 

Dermot Weld commented: "He has been a grand horse and perhaps he has been unlucky a few times. We beat him by a short-head one day in Royal Ascot with Free Eagle and sometimes the ground didn't go his way. He just needs a bit of luck. He arrived in great condition. I have no definite plans - we'll see how he settles in.”

20th JANUARY 2017

 

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT? ALFIE!

The veteran son of Alflora hadn't had a race since the beginning of last March but it didn't show yesterday at Wincanton. The twelve-year-old Alfie Spinner, trained by Kerry Lee, was ahead of his younger rivals in this extended three-and-a-quarter-mile stamina test, the Higos Insurance Services Somerset National Handicap Chase and was four lengths to the good when three fences from home. Events then took a dramatic turn when the David Dennis-trained Cyclops took a crashing fall, leaving Alfie spinner to remove the challenge of Abracadabra Sivola in the home straight, which he did splendidly with two bold leaps over the final two fences to claim the prize by three lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "That was absolutely fantastic. It was 100 per cent job satisfaction. The horse has had his problems. He came to us at the beginning of last season and has only run twice and he is now two from two. He really enjoyed it as he jumped well and galloped them into submission. Credit to Jamie Moore, as he gave him an absolutely beautiful ride. It really was a 'wow' moment at the second-last. It is just a testament to how much he enjoys racing. He is a horse that loves life. I think he was out of love with racing when he came to us and we have just reignited him. We will have to see where we go now, but Higos Insurance Services also sponsor the Devon National, so we may take him to Exeter and try to win some more of their prize-money there. We are pretty pleased with him. It has taken us a long time to get him right, but it just shows what patience can do."

 

CAN'T TRAIN BECAUSE OF TRAIN

For seven years this Staffordshire-based handler has battled against plans to construct the proposed new London to Birmingham high-speed railway (HS2), right across his land at Horsley Brook Farm, Lichfield. Yesterday Ed McMahon, who was assistant trainer to his father Bryan for 20 years before taking on the training licence at the current premises, announced to owners and staff that he had finally yielded to the inevitable and that Mysterious Look will be his last runner at next week's fixture at Southwell. Appropriately this Look Here's Carol mare was his first winner at Haydock in 2005.

 

The disillusioned trainer commented: "Unfortunately, it's correct that I'm stopping. I've always tried to keep HS2 low profile because it was affecting the business, but it's got to a point now it’s just not sustainable. When you know it’s coming to an end you can’t invest as you will never get that money back, so there’s only one way out. It was like a cancer."

 

QUITE A STAYER!

No not the horse. The rider! Yesterday at Thurles in the Matty Ryan Memorial Handicap Hurdle the Gordon Elliot-trained Bilko made a bad mistake at the first obstacle and almost, but not quite, unseated his rider. Seventeen-year-old Jack Kennedy, however, was determined not to be got rid of so easily. With the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old galloping at full throttle, the brave (or foolhardy!) jockey hung on for grim death and for quite a while was literally lying in a horizontal position across his mount. Then the Dingle-born Jack Kennedy carried out an incredible feat of acrobatics and somehow managed to get back into the saddle. Unfortunately it was to no avail. Bilko had nothing left after these exploits and was pulled up three out.

 

Watch the incredible stunt, courtesy of At The Races and Irish Examiner:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/sport/worth-the-entrance-fee-alone-17-year-old-irish-jockey-performs-incredible-save-to-stay-on-his-horse-773267.html

19th JANUARY 2017

 

AT LAST. VICTORY IN THE AYR!

Most owners accept the expense of keeping a horse in training for the pleasure it gives them when enjoying a day out at the races but they also harbour the hope that one day, in the not-too-distant future, they will see their colours paraded in first slot in the winner's enclosure. Most owners, however, would not expect to have to wait over a quarter of a century for this to happen! This was precisely the unusual situation at Lingfield Park. Owner-breeder, Bill Davis, has kept horses in training for twenty-six years and has never had a winner. His luck changed yesterday, however, when his Ayr Of Elegance, trained by Philip Hide, won the one-and-a-half-mile Betway Median Auction Maiden Stakes. There are even more startling facts leading up to this ultimate victory. The Motivator mare did, in fact, get her head in front in the Menzies Distribution Ltd Handicap at this track last May only to be denied victory after an appeal. Then, in August, it was expected that the then four-year-old would get a good result as she was joint-favourite in the Follow Us On Twitter At 188bet Handicap but, fate intervened again and she unfortunately got her head caught in the gate. The process of extricating herself meant she was away very slowly and was soon pulled up.

 

The jubilant owner commented: "It's fantastic, it's so wonderful. I just enjoyed [owning horses] but the end product is you want a winner. At last I won one, but I never had a penny on it."

 

The winning trainer added: "I'm sweaty. You just worry what will go wrong. You can't believe anyone would keep horses for 26 years without a winner, it's madness!”

 

A WING AND A PRAYER

The Higos Insurance Services Somerset National at Wincanton today could provide the son of Antonius Pius with another victory following on from his triumph in the At The Races Sussex National Handicap Chase at Plumpton at the beginning of this month. Today the Charlie Mann-trained Morney Wing faces ten rivals in this three-mile-plus contest. Even though the Plumpton success at odds of 12/1 seems to have come as something of a surprise to his connections, the eight-year-old has been far from disappointing this season, particularly when coming third behind the Paul Nicholls-trained Rocky Creek in the Betfair London National Handicap Chase at Sandown at the beginning of December. As a result of his recent performances the handicapper has slapped an additional five pounds on his back but Morney Wing looks like he could take it in his stride.

 

ABOVE AND BEYOND

The Nicky Henderson-trained Beyond Conceit hasn't had a race since July 2013, when he came fourth in the UBS Goodwood Stakes so a lot was expected of him. The Galileo son, however, didn't disappoint connections in the Betfred 'Goals Galore' Novices' Hurdle at Newbury yesterday. Apart from the last hurdle when the eight-year-old wasn't particularly fluent, the extended two-mile contest seemed right up his street and he duly conveyed his jockey, Barry Geraghty, to a comfortable ten-length victory.

 

The winning owner commented: "I think the owner's patience has to be congratulated. He had tendon problems before we had him, then he fractured his pelvis in the summer. It is lovely to see him come back and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. He had got some form on soft ground, which helped us a little bit. He has done plenty of work, but he is so laid-back. Barry said the way he tanked around there is no need to be doing two and a half. I suppose he will get an entry in the Supreme (Novices' Hurdle, at Cheltenham)."

 

18th JANUARY 2017

 

WORTH THE TRIP?

This trainer made an 800-mile round trip to Ayr racecourse yesterday with two horses and both of them won. Evan Williams, based at Llancarfan. South Wales, got off the mark in the first race of the day, the Racing UK 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle, when Paul Moloney partnered the 10/11 favourite, De Dollar Man to an easy seven-length victory. Half-an-hour later the duo were back in the winner's enclosure again with BillyBronco but perhaps this time more due to luck than skill. The Stuart Crawford-trained Elusive Theatre, with Craig Nichol aboard, had made all in the three-mile Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Maiden Hurdle and was about twenty-two lengths ahead of his nearest rival by the time he reached the second hurdle from home. Then the King's Theatre mare fell, thereby handing the prize to the son of Central Park. The total prize money earned was close on £5,000 so there might have been a little left for the owners after paying fees and expenses.

 

STANDING ORDER

The celebrated son of Sadler's Wells enjoyed another memorable season, particularly at last year's Cheltenham Festival with a trio of winners, such as Champion Bumper victor, Ballyandy, Blaklion, winner of the RSA Chase winner and, of course, Thistlecrack who claimed the World Hurdle by seven lengths and then went on to score in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. Keen Kayf Tara followers will also recall that one of his prominent early offspring, Kayf Aramis, went on to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in 2009. As a result of all this successful siring the Overbury Stud management has decided that their star will now stand at a career-high fee of £10,000 this year, double last year's amount.

 

Overbury Stud owner, Simon Sweeting, commented: "Kayf Tara’s been a great servant to National Hunt breeders and we are indebted to them for their steadfast support over his long career. He’s been the UK’s champion National Hunt sire no fewer than seven times and Britain has never had so dominant a jumps stallion! He is the game’s most successful stallion ever here, going great guns again in the 2016-17 season. Thistlecrack is his masterpiece and confirmation that Kayf Tara can sire a horse of the very greatest talent, as well as delivering winners and sales successes from all manner of mares. We are very fortunate that he is hale and hearty at the age of 23 and we dearly hope he stays that way, as his book is full for 2017."

 

AYR WE GO AGAIN!

A good day for another trainer/jockey partnership at Ayr yesterday. The David Pipe-trained Starchitect finally got off the mark in the racinguk.com Novices' Chase, after coming third on two previous attempts. The son of Sea The Stars attained a rating as high as 150 when racing over hurdles but the six-year-old was unlucky to be faced with a couple of talented runners on his debut over bigger obstacles. So the Somerset-based trainer also had to make the big decision to take the Paul and Clare Rooney-owned six-year-old on the the 800-mile-plus round trip in search of an easier opportunity and found it in this fifteen-furlong Class 4 event. Bookies and punters must have realised what was going on as jockey, Tom Scudamore, found himself aboard the 11/10 favourite but was still keen to give his mount as easy a race as he could, holding him in the rear for the first part of the race and then goimg into the lead at the last fence. The day's plan paid off, career- if not money-wise. Starchitect broke his duck over fences and connections shared £4,000 for their trouble.

 

David Pipe commented: "It was all about giving him some confidence. He'd run well in two novice chases this season, but it is very hard to find an 'easy' novice chase these days. We've had to go a long way but it looked like, on ratings at least, that if he jumped well he'd take all the beating. He did jump nicely and he did what we expected him to do. He used to wear blinkers and be aggressively ridden, but he settled nicely today and relaxed. It might be that a truly-run two miles on a galloping track is just what he needs. I think we'd probably run him again before Cheltenham, now his confidence is going the right way."

17th JANUARY 2017

 

LOVE FINDS A WAY

It seems incredible but video evidence shows a jockey steering his horse into the path of other runners so that his girlfriend could go on to win the race. Josh Cartwright, aboard the 50/1 outsider, Senior Council, is clearly seen looking over his right shoulder before deliberately setting out to stop two other horses, Go The Journey and House of Wax, from catching his Norwegian partner, Anna Jordsjo who went on to ride Murti to a half-length victory. Racing authorities, after initially banning the jockey from racing, have now launched a full investigation into the incident at South Australia’s Morphettville track near Adelaide and it is mooted that the twenty-two-year-old' s career is in the balance.

 

John Peacock, trainer of Josh Cartwright's horse, Senior Council, commented: “I don’t know what was going on at the time, but it is a shocking thing he has done. When he got off the horse he said it had just shied out and I just accepted what he said.”

 

A former trainer, Jamie Edwards, added: “That was totally out of character. It must have just been a brain fade. I can’t work it out. He was a hard-working, very pleasant boy when he was down here and I just feel it’s totally out of character.”

 

GO GODOLPHIN!

As expected the first two home in yesterday's Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton were owned by Godolphin. The Charlie Appleby-trained Antiquarium, winner of last year's Northumberland Plate, who was on his first outing since his underwhelming performance in the Ebor at York in August, certainly made it up to connections and deservedly claimed his automatic place in the fourth All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. In the number two slot was Famous Kid, trained by Saeed bin Suror, who was determined to go for it from the start and make all the running but, when push came to shove, he just couldn't outrun the Adam Kirby-ridden son of New Approach who went on to score by a length and three-quarters.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I'm very pleased with him. He's an easy-actioned horse. He's very clear-winded and easy to ride. We went a good pace. They steadied up with a circuit to go but we got going again. He didn't pull, he was relaxed and is the perfect horse for the all-weather. He stays and there's no point complicating things. He gave me a great feel and he'll be there or thereabouts on Good Friday. He should be a major player."

 

FIT FOR A KING

The Alan King-trained son of Panoramic broadened his horizons even further by maintaining his unbeaten record, after winning the Download The Timeform App Novices' Hurdle at Plumpton yesterday. The 10/11 favourite, Bastien, partnered by Wayne Hutchinson, finally and decisively overhauled the early leader, Not Never, as he made for the the second-last hurdle and went on to win by a comfortable eleven lengths.

 

Ollie Wardle, Alan King's assistant trainer, commented: "He is just a lovely, genuine young horse. He is very straightforward and uncomplicated. It was good effort to defy a penalty on soft ground. He will definitely get further and his stamina has kicked in and won him the race. We will possibly give him a couple more races. He will be much stronger with another summer on his back."

16th JANUARY 2017

 

NOT QUITE THERE!

It's been nigh on three years since this English National Hunt amateur jockey scored at Kelso so Sam Waley-Cohen was clearly overjoyed to be back in the number one slot on his only ride of the day. He was aboard the Warren Greatrex-trained Black Thunder in the last race of the day, the Eildon Hill Stables Open Hunters' Chase which he won under slightly peculiar circumstances. It looked as though Ben Pauling's Dolatulo would do the honours but in the last ten yards his jockey, Dougie Gittins, appeared suddenly to stand up in his stirrups and virtually stop riding just before the line. It seems the amateur rider may have mistaken the starter's rostrum for the winning post. An expensive error as it cost him a ten-day ban. The stewards' take on the situation was that Dougie Gittins, who works as Ben Pauling's PR and marketing manager and was having only his third ride under Rules, was "guilty of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to obtain the best possible placing in that he failed to ride out on a horse that could possibly have been placed first".

 

Ben Pauling commented: "The idea was for Dougie to have fun and enjoy himself and he certainly did. He did everything right but then mistook the line - I think it was the starter's stand on the left which he mistook for the post. He had given Dolatulo a very patient ride, getting into a lovely rhythm, letting the other two get on with it and when they tired he nearly did it. He will learn from the mistake and won't do it again. It looks a tough ban and I don't know whether to appeal."

 

SECOND CAME FIRST!

Ted Walsh-trained son of Oscar secured his second successive career victory when getting his nose in front in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Any Second Now had already shocked the racing world when, as a 66/1 outsider, he won the Kells Maiden Hurdle on his debut at Navan last month, so bookies and punters were more aware of his capabilities and placed him as second-favourite in this Grade Two contest. As expected, the Willie Mullins-trained Crack Mome was the clear favourite at 4/11 as the betting community was convinced that the County Carlow king would claim the prize again as he had already saddled six of the last eight winners -including Mikael D'Haguenet (2009), Vautour (2014) and Douvan (2015). The six-strong field was led along by Dr Mikey for much of of the two-mile journey but he ran out of steam as they went round the home turn, providing an opportunity for Crack Mome and Runfordave to take over. The former looked to have got the measure of his rival as they galloped for final flight but, surprisingly he landed awkwardly and Mark Walsh, aboard the eventual winner, didn't need asking twice as he produced a well-timed challenge which paid off with a length-and-a-quarter win. .

 

Ted Walsh commented: “Not as big a surprise as the first time. You’d be disappointed if he didn’t run well, but turning into the straight I was quite happy that he was going to be a good third. They were two fair horses in front of him and when he got by Gordon’s horse I thought Ruby had a bit more in the tank, but he joined him at the last and did it well. It’s a sharp old two around here. It’s tight on the inside and I was worried about that. It was down to be a Grade Two but it was a winners of one really, but he did it nicely, his jumping was very good, I thought he was going as quick as he wanted to be going. He could be a very good horse. He’s a big raw sort of a horse. I’ll leave it to Frank [Berry] and JP [McManus] I’m sure they’ll have loads of ammunition for Cheltenham, we won’t be rushing. We could maybe look at the Deloitte, which is five weeks away. We'll keep him to the better tracks, the likes of here, Leopardstown, Naas, Navan or Fairyhouse."

 

TAKES TWO TO TANGO

Wolverhampton is the scene for an interesting fast-track qualifier this afternoon when seven runners do battle in the Betway Conditions Stakes. As usual Godolphin has two strong contenders in the form of Famous Kid and Antiquarium, both available at short odds. The former, trained by Saaed bin Suroor, overdid it last time he ran over this distance and if he proves too fresh in the early stages he could have the same problem again. The Charlie Appleby-trained Antiquarium, on the other hand, can handle this kind of contest as he proved when winning the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle in June. On his last outing at Newcastle in August things didn't go so well for him in the Betfred Ebor Heritage Handicap when he finished way down the field. This race, however, could well turn out to be more competitive than the bookies think. One runner seems to be under-rated and that is the Karl Burke-trained Intense Tango who is currently a 20/1 shot. The Mastercraftsman mare will certainly have her work cut out when she takes on the two market leaders but, notably, she does have a five-pound advantage which could come in handy if she decides to go for it from the front. The six-year-old has proved she has the speed over shorter distances but whether she will have the stamina for the step-up in trip remains to be seen.

 

15th JANUARY 2017

 

ONE FOR THE ROAD

Yesterday must surely be the day that the connections of this son of Milan dared even to dream that they might have a contender for the Grand National in their possession. One for Arthur, trained by Lucinda Russell, won the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick by six lengths, having taken a clear lead from two fences from home. The two Golf Widows'-owned eight-year-old had already made his mark when coming fifth, only some two-and-a-half lengths behind the winner in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree at the beginning of December, holding his own against the likes of Highland Lodge, Ucello Conti and The last Samuri.

 

Lucinda Russell commented: "He jumps fantastically, but was unfortunate when he was interfered with in the Becher and I thought the same would happen there. But Derek took his time and let him get back into the race. If he goes up enough he might be a National horse this year, but he'll definitely be one next year. I wouldn't want to run him on good to firm ground, but Aintree won't let it get like that. I'm delighted as the owners are lovely, proper National Hunt people."

 

MODUS OPERANDI

This son of Motivator has frustrated many a punter with his performances in recent months and, indeed, hasn't had a win since November 2015. The Paul Nicholls-trained Modus, however, made up for lost opportunities by claiming the 32Red Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle by two-and-three-quarter lengths at Kempton yesterday, beating the well-backed Templeross. His rider, Barry Geraghty, wearing the familiar JP McManus colours, was clearly delighted with the decisive victory by his mount who proved he could well handle the step-up in trip to twenty-one furlongs, having only taken on seventeen before.

 

The winning jockey commented: “He seemed to lack the pace for the race at Ascot last time [over two miles] so I was happy enough he would get the trip today. He travelled well and the ground was probably slower than ideal and I wasn't sure how much I had under me, but in fairness he picked up."

 

The winning trainer's assistant, Harry Derham, added: "The step up in trip has worked the oracle," Derham said. "The ground was softer than ideal but he is a high-class horse - we've always thought that. He kept hitting the crossbar over two miles and I was fairly certain he would stay, to be honest. I rode him work on Thursday and he felt fantastic. I've never questioned his attitude because the only thing he's done wrong is be a bit keen - and to me that means he just wants to go and do it! It's great for him to win a nice pot."

 

KEEPING CAVE

Making it two wins in a row over the movable obstacles, this Ben Pauling-trained son of Court Cave, ran his rivals ragged in the Neptune Investment Hurdle at Warwick yesterday. With David Bass for company, Willoughby Court demonstrated again that he rather likes this Midlands' track, the scene of his last success in December and and proved it by galloping off immediately the flag fell. The six-year-old's jumping proved generally good and was, indeed, particularly exemplary five hurdles from home when he produced a huge leap after which it was all over bar the shouting. In fact, by the time he reached the home turn, it was a fait accompli and a couple of good jumps over the last two sealed his success.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He was really impressive. I can't believe how much he's improved from the run here before. He got into a really good rhythm and on this ground he's relentless. He just gallops and jumps. He's an improving horse, so I wouldn't be surprised if he could handle better conditions as well. Fair play to Ben, he really fancied him."

 

Jason Maguire, racing manager for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, added: "Ben was very keen to come. Off a mark of 127 you'd think he'd be up against it on official ratings, but he obviously loves this track - he's won a bumper and two hurdle races now - and it was a good performance. Whether he's ground dependent, I'd like to think he's not. He handles this ground better than some. Where he goes I don't know. Obviously there's the Festival. Ben's been great with him, he's been so patient."

 

14th JANUARY 2017

 

A WINDFALL RESULT?

Today's National Hunt fixture will provide just one reminder, if such is needed, of what the racing world will be missing if plans to bulldoze the Sunbury-on-Thames track are given the go-ahead. Fifty-odd runners and countless racegoers will be making their way to Kempton Park to enjoy an attractive day's racing. The feature race of the day is the 32Red Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle which has attracted many top trainers and jockeys. After a freezing cold night it looks like the ground conditions are likely to be very testing after the frost protection is taken off. One runner that is being disregarded in the run-up to this two-and-a-half-mile-plus contest is the Anthony Honeyball-trained Fountains Windfall who could well carry the day as he's well handicapped and has already proved that he has the stamina for such a challenge. This son of Passing Glance, it's true, is still a novice he only removed his maiden tag on his last outing and that was some 230 days ago, in May. The Dorset-based trainer, however, reports that the seven-year-old is in great shape, despite his long absence. One clue for this runner is that it was decided to pitch him into a challenging first handicap race rather than stay reasonably comfortably in novices' company. He was, in fact, also entered for the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Warwick but was withdrawn. It should be an interesting contest.

 

SUCCESS THE SECOND TIME AROUND?

The main event at Warwick this afternoon is the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Chase and the second-fence faller in this race last year is back in an attempt to set the record straight. While the Alan King-trained Sego Success seemed not really affected by that experience at the time, he does appear to have lost some of his sparkle as a result. As proof, this son of Beneficial could do no better than finish fourth last March in the BetBright Grimthorpe Chase. He fared a little better at Bangor in November when he finished third in the Anne Duchess Of Westminster Memorial Handicap Chase but then blotted his copybook again when landing up outside the frame in the bet365.com Handicap Chase at Doncaster last month. It's more than likely that the nine-year-old gelding was not enamoured of the good ground but, in his favour, as a result of his recent poor performances, he has slipped down the handicap ratings. As a result is a good six pounds lighter than when he failed to make the grade last time so connections and punters must be crossing heir fingers that this is the day for redemption.

 

KEEPING AT BAY

Another big question mark looms over the Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick this afternoon. Seven runners line up in this Class One Three-mile contest and four of them scored last time out. One of the entrants is looking for three in a row over fences and that's the Evan William-trained Pobbles Bay, who, in any one's book, didn't particularly excel himself over hurdles, but it was a different story when he he went for the fixed obstacles. Then this son of Oscar impressed everyone on his chasing debut with a sixteen-length victory in the Wychwood Hobgoblin Chase at Uttoxeter in November and followed that up with a decisive win in the coral.co.uk Money Back If Your Horse Falls Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at Chepstow just after Christmas. The plan then, it seems, was to give the seven-year-old a well-earned rest but, as he still seemed to be in great form, it was decided to give him another run just eighteen days after his last outing.

 

Evan Williams commented; "He's a lovely horse, I couldn't think he'd be doing what he is because he wasn't that good a hurdler. He wasn't half as good as he's looked over fences already. In time he's going to be a lovely staying chaser, but quite how classy he is, I don't know. He won what looked just an ordinary race at Uttoxeter at the time, but the form worked out incredibly well. Then last time at Chepstow he beat a Cheltenham Festival winner (Ibis Du Rheu) rather easy. I was going to give him a break but he came out of it so well I thought if he's in good nick we may as well run. I don't know if he's up to this, but we may as well find out."

 

13th JANUARY 2017

 

KNIGHT ON A DAY LIKE THIS!

Formerly trained by Mark Johnston on the Flat, this son of Mastercraftsman was acquired by Paul Chapman for £16,500 at the Doncaster sales last September and put in the hands of trainer Gary Moore. Templier was first given a run on the all-weather at Kempton Park in November where he didn't seem entirely at home so it was decided to put him over the hurdles at Plumpton in December. This proved to be a good move as the then three-year-old claimed the J H Builders Novices' Hurdle by eight lengths. Today he lines up with six rivals in the Equimark Horseboxes Sport Pro Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle at Huntingdon which marks a step-up to Class Two on only his second run over obstacles. Currently rated as a number three favourite at 6/1, clearly punters are expecting Templier to take the contest in his stride.

 

WHAT'S UP DOC?

Nine horses competed for a guaranteed place in the line-up on All-Weather Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday when they lined up in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle yesterday. The David Evans-trained Gracious John, the 5/4 favourite was clearly keen to get on with the job as he closely pursued the Irish raider Chiclet who was quick to dominate the pace. When the latter weakened as he entered the final furlong, the son of Dandy Man looked all set to make this Class Two contest his own but somehow he seemed to have nothing left at this stage and quickly dropped out of contention, leaving Justice Good and Doc Sportello to take it up inside the final furlong. The latter hit the front first but Shane Kelly was well prepared aboard Justice Good and briefly urged his mount ahead by about a nose. The Michael Herrington-trained Doc Sportello, however, provided a bit more for jockey Robert Winston and the they came home victorious by a short head.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I purposely took him out of the race because he can get racing with you a bit too much. He switched off beautiful once I took him a couple of lengths behind and then landed in front too soon, but once he saw the other horse he produced the goods. He's a lightly-raced horse and was a nice buy for the connections."

 

Michael Herrington added: "I can't tell you much as I was at the start to put him in the stalls!

He has a history of being a bit naughty in the stalls. When Eddie Lynam had him in Ireland he had a bit of trouble I think. Then when he ran at Chester in September he laid down under the stalls, so Adam West (previous trainer) spent loads of time sorting him out and got him to win a claimer here. Fortunately for me he was a good claim (£10,000). It's unbelievable. We thought he'd run well and he's got an engine. It's only his sixth run and he can only get better if we can keep his mind right."

 

PADDY AT SEVENTY!

No. not his age! He's only thirty-six! This is Paddy Brennan's number of winners for the season so far after notching up a double at Leicester yesterday. The County Galway jockey kicked off the day in the first race when he was aboard the Tom George-trained Baraza in the Groby Novices' Handicap Chase. Having never scored over hurdles, this son of Smadoun successfully negotiated his debut over fences, jumping into the lead at the fourth-last obstacle and producing an easy three-length win.

 

Tom George commented: "He probably takes after his elder brother, he's a very good jumper and hopefully we can get him to start improving now. He's got quite a long way to go to catch up with Nacarat, but he jumped nicely. Hurdles weren't his thing. He'll go for another little handicap like this. He'll probably come back here because he does like the better ground. You'd hope one day he might progress like his brother did, but we're not there yet. This was the first step. We took him to Uttoxeter last time, but he was lost there - he couldn't cope with the ground. He's a winter good-ground horse."

 

Three races later, Paddy Brennan once more demonstrated his equine skills when he steered another novice over fences for the first time. The Fergal O'Brien-trained Bells 'N' Banjos had been off key since his victory in the Chancellor Of The FormChecker Handicap Hurdle at Fontwell Park in November 2105 so the son of Indian River owed his connections one. The seven-year-old was obviusly aware of what was expected of him in the Leicester Annual Badge Holders Chase and produced an immaculate round of jumping and from the ninth fence victory was in the bag by three lengths.

 

12th JANUARY 2017

 

WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?

The Jockey Club is the largest commercial organisation in British horse racing. The Organisation was founded in 1750 by a group of gentlemen brought together by a shared passion for horse racing. Its members were some of the most influential people in the country. Initially meeting in London at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall and also in St. James’ Street and Hyde Park, the Club soon relocated to Newmarket. The Club is governed by Royal Charter and, as such, all profits it makes are reinvested back into the sport. The jockey Club owns fifteen race tracks in the UK, including Aintree, Epsom Downs, Newmarket and, of course, Kempton Park which is very much in the news as there is an intention to sell this Sunbury-on-Thames racecourse for housing development, The purpose, it is said, is to raise further money for a bigger investment in British racing. Implicit in the current proposals is that Newmarket would get a third (all-weather) track, to which all Kempton fixtures would be transferred, meaning that the Suffolk town could enjoy the sport of kings all the year round. Newmarket is considered to be the home of racing and is the main beneficiary of a £500 million investment by the the Jockey Club. The new all-weather floodlit track, if approved, would be in addition to the Rowley Mile and July courses. There would, of course, also be a huge commercial benefit to the local community in the way of new jobs.

 

Amy Starkey, the Jockey Club's regional director commented: "At its highest point there are 3,300 racehorses training in the town, so we are working to market forces. The best location for a new all weather race track within the jockey club group is here at Newmarket. It provides an all-year-round racing product."

 

DON GONE

Following further delays in recovery from a tendon injury it has been announced that the 2015 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has been retired. The Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack, owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, suffered the injury when he was getting ready to compete in the Punchestown Festival but there was still hope that he would return to the fray in February. The son of Sholokhov was only beaten just twice from twelve races since taking to the track in October 2014. The ten-year-old came third in last year's Ryanair Chase and, unfortunately took a dive in the 2015 King George VI Chase (at you know where!) when it looked as though he would claim the prestigious prize. Connections had never stopped publicly making confident comments about their champion's return but made it clear that that if there were any complications Don Cossack would be retired.

 

The County Meath-based trainer commented: "I am very sad to report that Don Cossack has suffered a setback and will now be retired. We found that he had a bit of heat in his leg yesterday and we've made the decision to call time. It's a real sickener for Gigginstown, myself, Bryan Cooper and the whole yard. We knew it was never certain we would get him back to the racecourse and even after that, to get him back to his best, but we were hopeful and he was on track for a run at Gowran Park next month. He's a horse of a lifetime and he owes us nothing. I said all season that if he had any sort of setback at all we would not abuse him and retire him straight away. He's won Grade Ones at Cheltenham, Aintree, Punchestown, Fairyhouse and Down Royal. He was the top-rated horse in Britain and Ireland for the last two seasons running and we'd have loved to see him take on Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup. It would have been a cracking race. That's racing, as they say, and we have to let that go now and find something else to take on Thistlecrack.”

 

A WINNING FLYER

The Broadway & Horton Cricket Club Maiden Hurdle at Taunton yesterday saw the winner live up to his name and run the rest of the field ragged in his first race over obstacles. The Paul Nicholls-trained Overland Flyer, joint-second favourite at 3/1, made virtually all with hardly any challenges, going clear well before two from home and transporting his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, to a twenty-two length victory. As a result the six-year-old son of Westerner was already getting quotes of 20/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

 

The jubilant winning rider commented: "He must be a fair animal. Hopefully he's a nice horse for the future."

 

11th JANUARY 2017

 

OFF COURSE

No doubt what news is grabbing the headlines today. The Jockey Club has just announced that it plans to sell this popular Sunbury-on-Thames racetrack. Kempton Park, which had its inaugural race in 1878, is to make room for the building of 3,000 homes as, purportedly, part of a scheme to raise £500 million for future investment in horse racing. If the proposal goes ahead the world-famous King George VI Chase would be relocated to Sandown, some six miles away. Racing will continue at Kempton Park for at least another four years and the redevelopment will only be agreed if more than £100 million is raised from the sale and the proposed all-weather track at Newcastle gets the go-ahead. It has been revealed that the proposal was a response to Spelthorne Borough Council's local plan for 2020, highlighting where housing development could take place in the area.

 

Roger Weatherby, the Jockey Club's senior steward commented: "We must show leadership with the assets we have and, where merited, take tough decisions to help our sport to keep improving."

 

Trainer Nicky Henderson was one of the first to comment: "The King George isn't the same race at Sandown. Kempton is a track National Hunt racing cannot afford to lose. It's that simple. Very sad news indeed."

 

Jockey Andrew Thornton added: "There wasn't even a muttering around the weighing rooms of this coming. That worries me. Why haven't trainers and individuals had a say? It seems very close knit. From a jockey's point of view, it is one of the greatest tracks in the country."

 

Kempton Park isn't the first track to succumb to this kind of development. Others include:

 

Bromford Bridge, Birmingham. First race: 14 June 1895. Last race: 21 June 1965

Alexandra Park, London. First race: 30 June, 1868. Last race: 8 September, 1970

Castle Irwell, Salford. First race: 26 May 1847. Closed: 1867 - 1896 - racing was held at New Barns, Salford, now the site of Media City. Reopened: Easter 1902. Last race: 9 November. 1963

Hurst Park, Surrey. First race: 19 March 1890. Last race: 10 October 1962.

Gatwick racecourse. First race: 7 October, 1891. Last race: 21 April 1948

 

ON TRACK

Along with the sad news about Kempton Park the Jockey Club has announced plans for a new all-weather course at Newmarket. This has disturbed trainers who regularly visit Chelmsford City's all-weather track. Although this track is about an hour's drive away from their racing yards,a new all-weather course in Newmarket would provide stiff competition. So Chelmsford management have come up with their own adventurous plans. They have been granted planning permission for a casino to be part of the planned Racetrack Grandstand which will house the first UK 'Racino.' The new plans will also include major new facilities for the horses and a new turf course on the inside of the existing all-weather surface. Work on the grandstand and turf track has been scheduled for the beginning of this year. Officials are confident that the plan to build a turf track will enhance Chelmsford City Racecourse's position in Europe as it will include the first floodlit turf track.

 

Racecourse Chairman, Joe Scanlon, commented: "This is fantastic news. Over the course of the last few years, the leading casinos across the world have been changing into multi-purpose complexes offering a full range of leisure facilities to complement their gambling options. Here at Chelmsford City Racecourse, we will be the first to offer a fully integrated racecourse 'resort' or leisure destination with entertainment. In a very short time, we expect to become the leading leisure offer in this region, providing high class entertainment and facilities to meet all tastes."

 

A CLASS WINNER?

The Betway Amateur Riders' Handicap at Newcastle today could provide this son of Champs Elysees with his first win since May 2015 The Alan Swinbank-trained Genres, previously with John Gosden, is strongly expected to start writing a new chapter in his racing history. Connections' optimism is based on their then four-year-old's last outing at Newcastle at the end of December, when better late than never, Joe Fanning was able to coax his mount into a last-minute charge in the final furlong and finish fourth. That was his best performance for quite a while so something appears to have stirred in the Brian Valentine-owned gelding. The current trainer has also made the brave decision to go for a step-up in trip to a mile and a half and, perhaps more importantly, he has booked Simon Walker for the first time, an amateur jockey very much in demand for such a race.

 

10th JANUARY 2017

 

DOUBLE SEVEN

This son of Cape Cross hasn't had a win since December 2015 so one can imagine how trainer and connections must have felt when their five-year-old claimed the Betway Middle Handicap at Wolverhampton yesteday and by three-and-a-half lengths. Neil Mulholland-trained Seven Clans seems to have learnt something in his various defeats because this time he stayed on well from the rear of the field and, when asked to do so by his jockey, Adam Kirby, strode on to register his second victory from thirteen outings, thereby also presenting his Limpley Stoke trainer with his first success on the Flat in the current season.

 

Neil Mulholland commented: "The blinkers helped him last time as he can be a bit lazy and the drop back into a claimer also probably helped his confidence. His hurdle runs didn't work out very well and I think that knocked his confidence. Adam gave him a great ride and hopefully he is on his way back again."

 

AWESOME OWNERS!

Two owners who are popping up in the winner's enclosure more and more are Mike Grech and Stuart Parkin. Yesterday proved no exception. They have twelve horses being trained by Nicky Henderson in Lambourn. Two of these were sent up to Doncaster and the two came back winners. They kicked off the day with a victory in the first race of the day, the sunbets.co.uk Maiden Hurdle, when Lough Derg Farmer, ridden by Jeremiah McGrath, won the two-and-half-mile contest by an easy six lengths. Then three races later, not to be outdone, their Stowaway Magic, this time with Daryl Jacob aboard, triumphed by nine lengths in the Karl Smith Men's Grooming 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle. Together with Sunday's success with Constantine Bay at Chepstow that means that the dynamic duo has seven winners under their belt this season with six individual winners from the eleven runners who have appeared so far.

 

GOLAN HEIGHTS?

The Warren Greatrex-trained son of Golan certainly lived up (or down!) to his name when making his debut over fences in the Bathwick Tyres Novices' Chase at Exeter in November when he finished some twenty lengths behind the winner in fourth position. Connections must now be praying that their Missed Approach has learnt a few things ready for his appearance in the in the Lingfield Park Novices' Chase at the Surrey racetrack this afternoon. It's difficult to forget his poor performance last time out. one thing is for sure, however. The Hungerford-based trainer is not one to give up that easily and he will certainly have engaged the seven-year-old in plenty of schooling in readiness for his challenge later on today. So, although there are a few ifs and buts about Missed Approach, it seems about time he came into his own. That is, if he gets his approach right!

 

9th JANUARY 2017

 

RESERVOIR OF TALENT

This son of Kapgarde first caught the eye with his impressive performances in both the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and the Setanta Sports Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown but then unfortunately had a fall on his chasing debut at Fakenham, enforcing a good nine months' absence. The Nicky Henderson-trained Hammersly Lake seems back to his previous top form after two good runs at Cheltenham and Ascot in November and December, respectively and lines up in the grandnational2017.com Novices' Chase at Doncaster this afternoon. The nine-year-old is the highest-rated runner in this field at 142 and, with the forecast suggesting that the ground is how he likes it – good – there's a strong chance that jockey, David Mullins, will have a successful ride and notch up another win on his first ride on this Michael Buckley-owned gelding.

 

SAFE BET

The Noel Meade-trained Art Of Security finally had the chance to show what he's made of. Winner of a bumper at Navan last season, this High Chaparral gelding failed to make his mark on his first two starts over hurdles but made amends by coming third at Leopardstown over the Christmas period. In yesterday's the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle at Naas, as expected the 3/1 joint-favourite, Turbojet, accompanied by the Henry De Bromhead-trained Arvico Bleu, was determined to make all the running but he started to look decidedly uncomfortable when he approached the final flight. Art Of Security had made good ground and was virtually alongside when they took this obstacle and picked up well on the run-in to score by two and three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I thought he'd win as he ran very well in Leopardstown. Sean thought the ground was a bit quick for him then and said he was flat out from the second-last. He won a bumper on soft ground and I think he's a reasonable horse. I suppose he'll go for a winner's race, but we'll see what way the handicapper rates him. It's so difficult at the moment because no matter what race you go for, a Grade Three or a Grade One, they are all the same and you run into the same horses. It's the same for any of those horses that win. The next step is a big one."

 

GREAT FEAT BY PETE!

A true veteran, one of two 13-year-olds in the race, claimed the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown. The Charlie Longsdon-trained Pete The Feat, running off bottom weight as he hadn't scored for over three years, put on a remarkable show when he saw off the fancied winner, Theatrical Star, trained by Colin Tizzard. Sent off at 20/1 the son of King's Theatre, with Aidan Coleman aboard, was given a patient ride in the testing conditions but his low weight proved to be the deciding factor.

 

Charlie Longsdon commented: "We haven't had a winner since December 14, they've been running well but not winning so it's a relief. Pete The Feat has been a legend for years, it's the 10th win of his career. "Loose Chips (stable companion) ran a blinder as well. He's missed three weeks since his last win and only been in training 10 days."

 

Aidan Coleman added: "He doesn't ride like he's 13, he rides like a four-year-old, you're always trying to retain his enthusiasm. He just absolutely loves it. He travelled great and I loved it as well, his enthusiasm made him a pleasure to ride. He had a low weight so I was quite anxious to kick on turning in as I knew he'd gallop to the line. It's strange, the longer the race here, the more pace there is. It's peculiar, we all wanted to go a good gallop. I'd have been happy to make it but I was just as happy to sit third or fourth, it makes it a great race to ride in."

8th JANUARY 2017

 

END OF AN ERA

This eleven-year-old son of Martaline had his last competitive race yesterday at Sandown yesterday when, although seeming to have everything in his favour, including a generous handicapper's rating, he only managed to come seventh, some eighteen lengths behind the winner in the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase. The David Pipe-trained Dynaste will, his owner John White was keen to stress, after announcing his horse's immediate retirement, will continue to enjoy the same five-star treatment meted out to him throughout his distinguished racing career, reaping in that tine nigh on £600,000 in prize money.

 

John White reflected on the highlights of his champion: "For me it was a combination of his win in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock, when we realised we had a bloody good horse, and that win in the Ryanair. I've got his full brother and half sister, both so far unraced, and if you said either would be half as good we would take that now. They are something to look forward to anyway. Hard to find another one like him. Whatever he does now, he'll have five star treatment like he's had at David's all of the way".

 

David Pipe added: "Dynaste has been very good for my career and also for Tom Scu's, and he can stay with me as long as he likes. Every stable needs a flagship horse and he's been ours for a few years. It will be hard to find another one like him, let alone at that price. He only cost €8,000."

 

A BIRTHDAY BONANZA

Yesterday's win in the Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown Park was a fitting sixty-first birthday present for this Sherborne-based trainer. Finian's Oscar presented Colin Tizzard with his a fourth top-ranking win of the season and his third since Christmas. The result was perhaps not a complete surprise, however, as the Venn farm Racing boss had made no secret of the fact that he regarded this son of Oscar as one of his best horses due for future glory. It was certainly a dream of a birthday present following closely the successes of Thistlecrack, Cue Card, Royal Vacation and, of course, Native River in the Welsh National. It also means that Colin Tizzard has another strong Cheltenham contender.

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "He's a beautiful young horse. We didn't know he was going to do that – he's only won a point-to-point and a novice hurdle at Hereford – but the way he did it at Hereford we thought there was no point in wasting him in another little race when he could have a go at this. It's worked out beautifully. It was a brilliant performance and he obviously handles this sort of ground as well. He looked in control most of the way and then soon went five lengths clear. He stuttered a bit going into the last, but when Tom [O'Brien] got busy with him he went on again. He's a good horse."

 

GOING, GOING, ALMOST GONE!

What do Classic winners such as Troy, Pilsudski, Golan, North Light, the legendary Arkle and most of the big-race winners, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, have in common? They all emanated from the County Meath-based Ballymacoll Stud, owned by the Weinstock family since the 1960s. The sad news is that unless a private buyer is found very soon the stud farm will probably put up for public auction and the fifty or so horses sold off.

 

Peter Reynolds, Ballymacoll Stud's General Manager commented: "I've been trying to sell the stud and horses as one lot, and there is still a little bit of time for that to happen. If we don't receive an acceptable offer for the farm by mid-February then we will have to consider public auction. We have about 50 horses to sell - some of them as yet unborn - and are likely to go the dispersal sale route with them. By the end of the year we will most likely be closed down. We just need to get things moving along now on behalf of the owners."

7th JANUARY 2017

 

SUCCESS FOR SUCCESSION?

A year has gone by already since the inaugural running of the £100,000 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown and seventeen runners line up today for the three-mile contest. Last year David Pipe saddled Sol who narrowly claimed the prize which now appears to have become something of an annual coveted target for the Somerset-based trainer. This time it's Dynaste, also ridden by Tom Scudamore, on whom he pins his hopes. As a sign of advancing years, perhaps, this eleven-year-old son of Martaline competes off a mark of 145 compared with as high as 169 when he was in his prime.

 

David Pipe commented: "If he runs like he did in the Charlie Hall he'll run well. If he runs like he did last time at Kelso he has it to do. We go there hopeful rather than confident."

 

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!

The Ditcheat handler will be hoping for a fifth victory at Sandown today when he saddles Capitaine in the 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle. The Paul Nicholls-trained grey failed narrowly to keep his record intact when he lost out to the Richard Hobson-trained Tahira in the Listed Betfair Ready Newton Novices' Hurdle at Haydock Park in November. The five-year-old made up for that disappointment, however, with an impressive frontrunning display in the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Ascot last month.

 

Paul Nicholls, who last won this contest back in 2008, commented: "Hopefully he is up there with my past winners as he is a proper horse. As I said before, we got the tactics totally wrong at Haydock when he got beat there but we've always thought a lot of him. We let him bowl along in front last time and he was very good. He wouldn't want too much rain. Hopefully he will run well again. He is another horse for the future."

 

TODAY'S QUEEN

After presenting her Blewbury-based trainer with his first first winner at Cheltenham in the OLBG Mares' Handicap Hurdle in December connections believe that the Noel Williams-trained Briery Queen is well capable of upping the ante in today's 32Red.com Mares' Hurdle at Sandown when Leighton Aspell this time does the steering.

 

Noel Williams commented: "It's a competitive race, as you would expect, but when I saw the entries it looked a winnable one. I was pretty sure she had improved over the summer, but how much was the question. I was confident she would run a good race at Cheltenham. What was so taking was how she went through the race and travelled through the race and just quickened up as soon as Barry Geraghty said, 'Go'. I'm under no illusions as she needs to step up again and continue on her upward curve if she wants to keep winning. I think she has come out of Cheltenham well and I'm very happy with her. She is better on better ground but it should be fine as long as it doesn't get tacky. The aim with her is that hopefully she will be good enough for the mares' race at the Cheltenham Festival without being a back-number. We will get a fair judge if she is good enough for Cheltenham after Saturday."

 

6th JANUARY 2017

 

DIVA ON SONG

The Today's Racing Just 10 Mares' Handicap Hurdle at Wetherby, despite its name, only has seven mares competing in this three-mile contest. So it depends whether you want to have a drink of Bells on Sunday and Two Swallows at the Bull and Bush or be Fresh By Nature and go to Lyme Park in Midnight Silver with Happy Diva. On balance it is difficult to oppose the latter, who is well tuned up and going for a back-to-back encore. The Kerry Lee-trained daughter of King's Theatre took the stage for her handicap debut at Fontwell in the Butlins Bognor Regis Mares' Handicap Hurdle on Boxing Day and treated the handicapper's rating of 114 with disdain and romped home to an eighteen-length victory. The six-year-old today, however, pays the price for that bit of horsey haughtiness by being lumbered with an extra sixteen pounds, albeit alleviated by the seven pounds claim by her jockey, Richard Patrick.

 

BRIDGING THE GAP

The County Dublin-based trainer wasn't about to rest on his laurels after his Wednesday win at Wolverhampton. Adrian McGuinness was back again at Dunstall Park when he saddled Pivot Bridge in the first race of the day, the Betway Marathon Handicap. The nine-year-old son of Pivotal hadn't had a win since March 2015, although getting the odd good placing. The Ralph Beckett-trained Remember The Man seemed keen to get on with the job and was soon leading the way after the one-furlong pole, going more than four lengths clear but soon ran out of steam in the home straight. That left the way for the Adam Kirby-ridden Pivot Bridge to come through and win comfortably by six lengths.

 

Adrian McGuinness commented: "He had been a bit disappointing on his last couple of runs, so we gave him a break and he came back fresh and well. We knew he was in great order going into the race today, so we were expecting a big run and thankfully he's come good. He's a half-brother to the 1000 Guineas winner Speciosa and was a good hurdler at one time, but he had a very bad fall at Wexford one day early last year and it took him a long time to get his confidence back. There's a nice race back here for him next week, so we'll have a look at that if he comes out of the race well. It's nice to make the trip worthwhile. The owner is a big supporter of mine and it's great when it all works out.”

 

PRIZE SURPRISE!

It's just been announced that the Cheltenham Festival in March is to receive an extra £190,000 for prize money, taking the total on offer over the four days at Prestbury Park to £4,305,000. The main beneficiaries of this new injection of cash will be the four main novice chases, the Racing Post Arkle, and the RSA Chase each receiving an additional £25,000, making a total of £175,000 apiece. The JLT and the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase hare in line for a boost of £20,000, bringing them to £150,000 and £120,000 respectively.

 

There is no change in prize money, however, for the five biggest races, the Timico Gold Cup (£575,000), The Stan James Champion Hurdle (£400,000), the Betway Champion Chase (£350,000), the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle (£300,000) and the Ryanair Chase (£300,000).

 

Ian Renton, the Jockey Club Racecourses' regional director commented: “It’s a combination of the Jockey Club and our sponsors. We lifted the Gold Cup last year and feel many of our top Grade Ones are at a competitive level but we’re happier with the level of prize-money for the novice chases now. We’re up 10 per cent in total since 2015 so we’re going in the right direction.”

5th JANUARY 2017

 

WARREN PEACE!

This son of Westerner was beaten by five lengths on his hurdling debut at Ffos Las at the beginning of November, although he did make amends next time out by comfortably winning the Bangor On Dee Church Roof Fund Novices' Hurdle. So trainer Warren Greatrex was obviously pleased with Keeper Hill's five-length victory at Hereford yesterday in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Novices' Hurdle. Deputising for the injured regular jockey, Gavin Sheehan, Wayne Hutchinson kept his mount always prominent urging him to throw down the gauntlet three hurdles form home and from there it was clear sailing to the line.

 

The Hungerford-based trainer commented: "I was a bit worried about the ground as it was testing all day, but Wayne said he coped with it very easily and he's done it very well.

"He's a horse who is getting stronger all the time and his jumping is improving all the time.

"We'll have to step up now and before this race I had in my mind was the Sidney Banks (Novices' Hurdle) at Huntingdon (February 9). It's a race we won last year with Ma Du Fou, it's a track I like and this horse could be the ideal candidate. I hope he's a progressive horse with a very bright future. Huntingdon will tell us where we're going, but he has everything you need (in a Cheltenham horse) as he travels well in his races, his jumping is getting better and he has a turn of foot. He's a horse we've always liked at home and it's nice to see it paying off now."

 

RIDING HIGH

There are nine entries for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 21st and this Racing Post Arkle favourite figures amongst them. The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior seems set to take his chances outside novice company after preceding his career over the larger obstacles with three wins from three starts, including last year's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. The seven-year-old son of High Chaparral will certainly have his work cut out on this occasion as he will be up against the last three winners of this premier Ascot attraction - Un De Sceaux, Dodging Bullets and Sire De Grugy.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: "An entry has been made for him in the Clarence House, which does not mean he's going to run but we just like to keep our options open. The Game Spirit is an alternative."

 

DUBAI NOW!

Tonight sees the start of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse when Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge is the feature event on the seven-race card. This evening's attraction is especially interesting as locally-trained Le Bernadin will be seeking to make history by becoming the first horse to win the US$250,000 Group 2 contest twice. So tempting is the chance of scooping a slice of the US$10,925,000 prize money that some of the world’s top race horses will be spending their winter in Dubai to get a share of the rewards available across the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival, which will stage eleven meeting every Thursday night at Meydan through until 23rd February. These fixtures will then be followed by the Super Saturday programme on March 4th and the Dubai World Cup card three weeks later on March 25th.

4th JANUARY 2017

 

SAM PLAYS IT AGAIN!

This Guisley-based trainer started off the New Year as she finished the Old. Former jockey Sam(antha) Drake, now England, scored at Bangor just three days after her Uttoxeter triumph on December 31st. The eight-year-old Cabragh, ridden by the trainer's new husband, Jonathan England, won the three-mile Stella Artois Supporting Bangor Handicap Chase by six lengths. The son of Old Vic was urged into the lead as early as the third fence and successfully headed off a not-too-serious challenge from the Ben Pauling-trained Pithivier and despite not being completely fluent over the last obstacle kept on well to duly deserve the nigh-on £5,000 prize.

 

The winning trainer commented: "That was good. The horses are running well. I'm not complaining. I'll see what else there is that comes up for him."

 

TREBLE ENCORE

This North Yorkshire-based jockey has done well this season North of the Border. After notching up a treble at Ayr on Monday Brian Hughes went to Musselburgh yesterday and performed an encore. The Ulster-born twenty-nine-year-old is no stranger to this East Lothian track, either, as last November he secured an incredible five-timer. His first success yesterday came aboard the James Moffat-trained Idder, in the racinguk.com/hd Maiden Hurdle. Here the six-year-old son of Authorized had luck on his side when victory was virtually handed to him on a plate when the front-running Stipulate, ridden by Henry Brooke, who ended up runner-up, almost copped it at the third from home.

 

Brian Hughes commented: "I think I might have won anyway as I was going very well when the other horse made a mistake. To be fair, he was idling all the way up the straight. He was a decent horse on the Flat. Jimmy Moffatt's picked him up and he'll be a good, fun horse."

 

This triumph was quickly followed up in the next race, the racinguk.com/hd Maiden Hurdle when Brian Hughes partnered the David O'Meara-trained Fattsota to a one-and-three-quarter-length victory.

 

Here the winning jockey's comments were: "David (O'Meara) said to try get something to go with him over the first but he's a good Flat horse and it would have taken a decent one to get by him. He could defy a penalty but I'll leave it up to the trainer to place him."

 

The treble came in the closing bumper, the racinguk.com Standard Open NH Flat Race when Beyond The Clouds, trained by Kevin Ryan, outclassed and outran the other eleven runners, leaving them struggling at least twelve lengths in his wake.

 

A FRIEND INDEED

The Stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock in seventeen days' time could be the next assignment for the Nicky Henderson-trained for L'Ami Serge. The latter, back over hurdles in the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year's Day looked to have the race in the bag half-way up the run-in but was caught by the Nick Williams-trained Agrapart in the last strides of the contest. It seems the decision to put the seven-year-old son of King's Theatre back over timbers is soundly based on his past successes such as coming fourth to Douvan in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2015.

 

Anthony Bromley, owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede's Racing Manager commented: "The feeling is he seemed to enjoy being back over hurdles. He did everything right bar win at Cheltenham and I think the idea is to stay over hurdles. Possibly he could go for the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock which is only three weeks away but could fit in nicely before the National Spirit at Fontwell. He's versatile, trip-wise, and I just think he doesn't need to be in front too soon. Those are our thoughts, but obviously Nicky needs to be happy with him in the meantime. It was nice to see him go with relish after his first run over fences this season. I don't think he wants to be going further than two and a half miles, but he goes in heavy ground, which is why Haydock could be possible."

3rd JANUARY 2017

 

STAMP DUTY

For over fifty years the Royal Mail has commemorated anniversaries and celebrated events in British heritage and life in its special stamp programmes. Obviously with an eye on the estimated 2.5 million stamp collectors in Britain, it will feature in April a series called 'Racehorse Legends'. It has not been revealed who has been giving advice on the selections as there are many equine superstars that could be suggested for such a collection. All that is known at this stage is that eight horses - four from Flat racing and four from National Hunt, from the past sixty years will be honoured with an original-artwork stamp. At this stage one legendary name has been released - Desert Orchid who will be shown on his way to winning the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup, although the artist could equally have chosen many other highlights of 'Dessie's career, including his 1990 triumph in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. It will be interesting to learn the names of the other seven legends. Significantly, one famous horse-owner and breeder approves all UK stamp designs before they are issued - the Queen!

 

TA EVER SO!

A seemingly grateful Irish jockey is very much looking forward to being aboard this James Bethell-trained Lucky Story mare at Musselburgh this afternoon. Riding high after a treble at Ayr yesterday, Brian Hughes will partner Thankyou Very Much in the Kilmany Cup Handicap Chase. The seven-year-old is out to make it three out of three, after her previous wins at Leicester in December and at this Mid-Lothian track in November.

 

The forty-three-year-old Lambourn-based rider commented: "Thankyou Very Much is in great form after her wins at Leicester at course and distance. She is very well and there is no problem with the track, the trip or the ground. There is no reason why she shouldn't go close again as she has taken very well to fences."

 

It's interesting to note that Musselburgh first opened its National Hunt circuit on January 5th 1987 and one of the trainers, Chris Grant, who rode on the card on that historic occasion, will be saddling Robins Legend for Brian Hughes' fifth ride of the day

 

LOVE STORY

It was a successful comeback story at Musselburgh on New Year's Day. The last time the Dan Skelton-trained Superb Story was seen was in the Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap when he had to be pulled up in what seemed to be his race. The six-year-old son of Duke of Marmalade, however, was able to put that experience behind him and conveyed his jockey, the trainer's brother, Harry, to an easy victory.

 

The winning Warwickshire-based trainer commented: "We were really happy with him on Sunday. Galway was a bit of a disaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong that day, so it was nice to see him bounce back. I think we'll probably go straight to Cheltenham now and we'll give him entries in the County Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle. The Champion Hurdle would obviously be a big step up, but we'll see how the picture is looking nearer the time."

2nd JANUARY 2017

 

FIVE TIMES A LADY!

The New Year augurs well for female jockeys, four of whom celebrated success across the country. At Cheltenham Lizzie Kelly made the headlines by notching up a double, starting off in the first race of the day, when she rode the Nick Williams-trained Coo Star Sivola to a four-and-a-half length victory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle . Three hours later she was back with the Devon-based trainer after winning the Grade 2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle aboard the 16/1 shot, Agrapart despite the pressure from last year's one, two and three, Cole Harden, Lil rockerfeller and Camping Ground. Whilst this was going on, Megan Carberry dominated her only ride of the day at Musselburgh when she partnered the Brian Ellison-trained Dominada in the Collect totepool Winnings At Betfred Shops Handicap Hurdle, winning by seven lengths. Meanwhile 450 miles South in Exeter, Lucy Gardner scored a first and two seconds for her mother, trainer Sue Gardner. The victory was courtesy of Only Gorgeous who claimed the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase by three-and-three-quarter lengths. Catterick was subsequently the scene for the remaining two of the quintessential quintet. With only one ride apiece Bridget Andrews steered the Dan Skelton-trained The Bay Oak to victory in the three-mile-plus Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Novices' Hurdle whilst in the last race of the day, Racing Again 12th January Handicap Hurdle Lucy Alexander accompanied trainer, James Ewart into the winner's enclosure aboard Touch of Steel.

 

Megan Carberry commented: "I've now won three times from four starts on him and he's definitely a real favourite - we get on so well together. I checked on Twitter and saw people talking about it, and it's great to see people taking notice. It's especially good it happened on a big day like this, when a lot of people will be watching the racing. It's brilliant and should give us all a boost."

 

WILLIE'S BACK!

At the Cheltenham Festival five years ago Baby Run unseated his jockey just two from home leaving his teenage rider not only in tears but in hospital. Such memories must have been uppermost in his mind yesterday when Willy Twiston-Davies, switching back to hurdles aboard Cogry, trained by his father, Nigel, in the BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle, had sufficient strength to beat off the hard-pressed challenge from the Tom George-trained Rocklander and claim his first Cheltenham victory by just a neck. The Gloucestershire-born rider had decided years ago to be a Flat jockey, enduring all the strict dietary regimes in order to get his weight down to 8st 9lb, which is quite a feat for a six-footer-plus chap. It was also very much a family occasion because his brother, Sam, was one of the first to offer his congratulations, having been fortunately spared the possibility of competing against his younger sibling as his mount, the Paul Nicholls-trained Rainy City was a non-runner.

 

Willie Twiston-Davies commented: "It's really really special. If I can make National Hunt racing work I would like to stick with it.”

 

TO CAP IT ALL!

Cheltenham's New Year's Day fixture was somewhat unexpectedly plunged into the doldrums, not by the weather but as a consequence of a tense and lengthy stewards' enquiry after the last race of the day. The problem was that in a photo-finish for the EBF Stallions & Cheltenham Pony Club NH Flat Race it was revealed that the Fergal O'Brien-trained Cap Soleil, the declared winner, had made contact with Nicky Henderson's runner-up, Daphne De Clos, and the stewards had to decide whether this had cost the latter the race. It is generally considered that the longer a stewards enquiry goes on, the more likely it is for the original placings to be reversed and, it goes without saying, that a tense and nervy wait ensued and tempers were inevitably becoming a little frayed. Suddenly the air was filled with noisy celebrations when it was announced that Cap Soleil was re-confirmed as the winner.

 

Fergal O'Brien commented: "I would have been disappointed to lose it. The other one came in on us. Paddy (Brennan) and Daryl (Jacob) had their stick in the wrong hand. They (the stewards) had to take a look. They (the horses) are four-year-olds, it's very soft ground and I think it would have been harsh if they had took (stet!) it off her. We went to Newbury and Paddy said it wasn't the strongest race but it was effortless. We are very lucky to have her."

1st JANUARY 2017

 

KING FOR THE DAY

The Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury yesterday gave a chance for the Alan King-trained 100/30 second favourite to produce a victory of note. Messire Des Obeaux, ridden by Daryl Jacob, won the Grade 1 novice hurdle by a comfortable couple of lengths. There was a little drama at the third last when the Dan Skelton-trained Robin Roe fell heavily just when it looked as though he had a good chance. Afterwards it was revealed that the son of Robin Des Champs had cracked a bone in his knee but jockey Harry Skelton seemed none the worse for wear.

 

The winning trainer commented: "He travelled very well. The last time was the first time he had to battle and he's really learned from that. I'm delighted with him today. It seemed an awful long way from the last but he's held on. I thought he'd run well. He'll definitely get three miles but we don't need to be in a rush. He travels very well. I hope he's got a big future."

 

A RE-RUN?

Today at Cheltenham sees the renewal of the Grade Two Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle which looks almost like a re-run of last year's event because the first three on New Year's Day 2016 are back to do it all over again. Twelve months ago, in heavy conditions, it was the Robert Walford-trained Camping Ground who came in first, eleven lengths ahead of Lil Rockerfeller with Warren Greatrex-trained Cole Harden a further nine lengths adrift in third. The ground conditions today are reported to be much faster so it looks like the 2015 World Hurdle winner, Cole Harden, is in with a chance, particularly as he's eight pounds lighter than his two old rivals on this occasion. There's no doubt that Camping Ground runs at his best when there is plenty of cut in the track. A potential threat will come from the Neil King-trained Lil Rockerfeller, who, this season, has mixed it with the likes of Silsol, Yanworth and Unowhatimeanharry. The only problem for this son of Hard Spun is that he is probably more used to running three miles plus and today's race is a good half a mile shorter.