02 June 2020

 

Racing's Back!

"The wait is over!" cried commentator, Darren Owen, as the stalls crashed open for the Betway Welcome Back British Racing Handicap at Newcastle yesterday. This was the first race of the strangest Flat fixture ever staged. There were no spectators and admission was restricted to 'key personnel' who had done an online course in Covid-19, completed a medical questionnaire and passed a temperature check when they entered the track. The jockeys followed a one-way system on the ground floor of the stand, which had been converted into a weighing room with the space to allow two-metre social distancing and strode into the parade ring where there just a few key personnel wearing masks. Racing organisers were quick out of the stalls after permission was given to resume racing behind 'closed doors', beating all other major professional sports to the mark. Its equine athletes had not missed a day's work-out on the gallops, other sportsmen such as footballers and rugby players had had to come to terms with socially distanced training. 102 seconds after the off, the fast-starting Zodiakos, trained by Roger Fell and ridden by James Sullivan became the first winner of a British horse race for 76 days.

 

01 June 2020

 

It's Racing, Jim, but not as we know it”!

Well, the long wait (since March 18) is finally over. British horse racing is back at a 10-race meeting on the Newcastle all-weather track, but not quite as we're used to. It will be, as they say, 'behind closed doors'. An unusual use of the phrase as it normally means 'taking place secretly or without public knowledge'. The public certainly know about it all right but are not allowed to be present to cheer on the runners and place their bets. Nor are owners, just jockeys, trainers, stable staff and other officials wearing PPE or a suitable face covering. It will be interesting to see how it is received.

 

13 April 2020

 

All Racing Off

There will be no more horse racing in Britain until May at the earliest. The BHA produced this dramatic response to the coronavirus pandemic and gave no indication when tracks will be open again. This reaction follows wholesale cancellations and postponements that have have been taking place across the world of sport since last week due to the impact of Covid-19. No sector of racing has been unaffected by Covid-19. All racing personnel are worried about whether their businesses will survive. Bookmaking companies have even called for government help. Bloodstock auctions have been postponed and charity events called off or put back until the situation becomes clearer.

 

 

17 March 2020

 

Secret Racing?

The British Horseracing Authority has announced that, due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus COV 19, from today, horse racing in Britain will take place be 'behind closed doors'. By that they obviously mean that there will be no spectators. 'Behind closed doors', strictly speaking normally means taking place secretly or without public knowledge. That clearly is not the case! Everyone knows about it and can watch on TV or in the betting shop. The National Hunt meetings at Taunton and Wetherby will be the first in England to take place without spectators. This arrangement will be in force until the end of March at the earliest, while there are also likely to be changes to the current fixture list in what is described as a "fluid situation".

 

It won't be Grand!

Jockey Club Racecourses have also issued a statement, backed by bookmakers, that they have decided to cancel this year's Grand National because of the ongoing worldwide crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Michael Shinners, Head of Sports PR at Sky Bet, said: "In terms of betting turnover the Grand National is by far the biggest race of the year but we fully support the decision to cancel it this year. It was the right one given the threat posed by the coronavirus and the evolving measures being announced by the government."

 

Kentucky Derby Off

The Kentucky Derby, scheduled for May, has been postponed until September due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time since World War II, the Derby will not take place on the first Saturday in May. September 5 is the revised date. The Kentucky Derby, the first jewel of American horse racing’s Triple Crown, became the latest sporting event to be postpone because of coronavirus fears. The world-famous event usually attracts as many as 150,000 spectators.

 

16 March 2020

 

A Photo finish!

It's seventeen years since Best Mate won back-to-back renewals of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Willie Mullins-trained Al Boum Photo emulated this feat on Friday. The eight-year-old Buck's Boum gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, was ahead of his eleven rivals when taking the last fence. Only the Nico De Boinville-ridden Santini switched to the centre of the track to pose another challenge to the leader as they galloped up the notorious hill and began to get close in the final 50 yards but Al Boum Photo wasn't to be caught and won by a neck.

 

Burning Victory

The JCB Triumph Hurdle was billed as one of the strongest renewals in recent years but it developed into a one-horse race on the turn into the straight. The Gary Moore-trained Goshen galloped clear with a huge burst of acceleration and put twelve lengths between him and the rest of the field. He only had the one hurdle to jump but, unfortunately, clipped the top bar and unseated the trainer's son, Jamie. Dan Skelton's Allmankind who had made most of the early running, was suddenly left in front after this incident. It was, however, the 12/1 shot, Burning Victory, ridden patiently by Paul Townend, who profited most from this opportunity and won by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Saints above!

JP McManus' horses have won every handicap hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and yesterday saw another such victory when Saint Roi landed the Randox Health County Hurdle. On only his fourth career start, the five-year-old Coastal Path gelding, ridden by Barry Geraghty, went into the lead after jumping the last hurdle and and zoomed up the hill to beat stable companion, Aramon, by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

14 March 2020

 

A Photo finish!

It's seventeen years since Best Mate won back-to-back renewals of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Willie Mullins-trained Al Boum Photo went into the record books yesterday by doing the same. The eight-year-old Buck's Boum gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, was ahead of his eleven rivals when taking the last fence. Only the Nico De Boinville-ridden Santini switched to the centre of the track to pose another challenge to the leader as they galloped up the notorious hill and began to close in the final 50 yards but Al Boum Photo wasn't to be caught and won by a neck.

 

Burning Victory

Yesterday's JCB Triumph Hurdle was billed as one of the strongest renewals in recent years but it developed into a one-horse race on the turn into the straight. The Gary Moore-trained Goshen galloped clear with a huge burst of acceleration and put twelve lengths between him and the rest of the field. He only had the one hurdle to jump but, unfortunately, clipped the top bar and unseated the trainer's son, Jamie. Dan Skelton's Allmankind who had made most of the early running, was suddenly left in front after this incident. It was, however, the 12/1 shot, Burning Victory, ridden patiently by Paul Townend, who profited most from this opportunity and won by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Saints above!

JP McManus' horses have won every handicap hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and yesterday saw another such victory when Saint Roi landed the Randox Health County Hurdle.

On only his fourth career start, the five-year-old Coastal Path gelding, ridden by Barry Geraghty, went into the lead after jumping the last hurdle and and zoomed up the hill to beat stable companion, Aramon, by four-and-a-half lengths.

 

13 March 2020

 

50/1 Winner!

The Rebecca Curtis-trained Lisnagar Oscar, 50/1 outsider, denied victory to odds-on favourite and reigning champion, Paisley Park, in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle. The latter, a dominant force in the staying division, could only manage seventh place. The Oscar gelding moved noticeably well amid the 14 runners as they closed the gap on long-time leader Apple's Jade. Adam Wedge then steered Lisnagar Oscar well over the last hurdle and on to the line two lengths ahead of Ronald Pump, with the strong-travelling Bacardys another three lengths back in third.

 

Just a Min!

Willie Mullins' Min won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham. Runner-up in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, this Walk In The Park gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, travelled strongly up front as the eight-strong field turned for home. Market rival, A Plus Tard, wasn't as fluent over the fences as he usually is but he still battled on, with Saint Calvados close on his heels. The latter was clearly the main threat in the final strides but Min just managed to score by a neck.

 

Sam plays it again

The Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro just beat Willie Mullins' Melon by a nose in the Marsh Novices' Chase with with the County Carlow trainer's other runner, Faugheen a length behind in third. This trio had the race between them at the last and Samcro led into the final 100 yards. The eventual runner-up rallied strongly and the pair flashed past the post together. It took the judge a couple of minutes to separate them with the verdict going to the Davy Russell-ridden Samcro.

 

12 March 2020

 

Unexpected Result

The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase was not won by the red-hot favourite but by a 6/1 shot. The Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue out-jumped his four rivals, including the well-backed Defi Du Seuil, who never really got his act together and finished last but one. Runner-up in the race last year, the Poliglote gelding was ridden by Harry Skelton, who was lucky to pick up this choice spare ride. Dynamite Dollars rallied up the hill to claim second place nine-and-a-half lengths behind.

 

A real Champ

The Nicky Henderson-trained Champ, who was about 10 lengths adrift at the final fence, but caught the leader, Minella Indo, in the dying strides of the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase at Cheltenham. The eight-year-old King's Theatre gelding, named after 20-time champion jockey Tony McCoy, made several mistakes throughout the race and had an impossible task as the ten-strong field turned for home, with pace-setters, Allaho and Minella Indo well clear at the foot of the hill. Rachael Blackmore, riding the Henry De Bromhead-trained Minella Indo was going strongly but got too close to the last fence and then seemed to run out of steam, giving Allaho another chance. But then out of the blue came the fast-finishing Barry Geraghty on Champ who galloped between his chief market rivals to win by a length.

 

Young Blood

Gordon Elliott's dual Grand National winner, Tiger Roll, was denied his fifth Cheltenham Festival success by a French Gentlewave gelding. The David Cottin-trained Easysland was the impressive winner of the Glenfarclas Chase over the cross-country course. Ten-year-old Tiger Roll was sent off the 8/11 favourite to win this race for a third successive time but this time it seemed that a four-year-old rival was too fast for him. The Authorized progeny was given every chance by Keith Donoghue but was unable to catch the long-time leader who, ridden by Jonathan Plouganou, coasted home to win by 17 lengths.

 

11 March 2020

 

Amazing's the Name

The Unibet Champion Hurdle was won by the 2/1 favourite Epatante, trained by Nicky Henderson, owned by JP McManus and ridden by Barry Geraghty. Winner of the Christmas Hurdle, this No Risk At All mare was always travelling strongly throughout this two-mile contest and eventually overtook the leader, Darver Star, at the last hurdle. After that it was plain sailing for Epatante who galloped up the hill to become the fifth mare to win hurdling's blue riband.

 

Race of the Day

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle turned out to be the one of the most exciting races on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival. The contest was dominated by Shishkin and Abacadabras. The latter had been the ante-post favourite for the last three weeks, whereas the Nicky Henderson-trained Sholokhov gelding had few supporters and was sent-off at 6/1. When the Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras took over the lead approaching the last hurdle, his supporters were probably already counting their winnings. But the chickens weren't hatched yet, however. Nico De Boinville urged Shishkin to produce a powerful challenge and the pair battled it out the notorious hill and Shishkin claimed the prize by a head.

 

Just Like Honey!

Henry De Bromhead's Sulamani mare beat the odds-on favourite, Benie Des Dieux, in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham and, thereby, maintained her unbeaten record. Winner of The Irish Champion Hurdle, Honeysuckle, with Rachael Blackmore aboard, jumped well throughout and produced an impressive burst of speed as the nine runners rounded for home. Benie Des Dieux, ridden by Paul Townend, made a strong challenge approaching the last hurdle but Honeysuckle made a good long jump and stuck to the task to win by half a length.

 

10 March 2020

 

Defying the virus

So the Cheltenham Festival goes ahead after all, despite doubts earlier in the week. The organisers have announced that have put extra measures in place at Prestbury Park to help combat the dreaded coronavirus outbreak. More wash basins have been installed and hand sanitiser stations have been introduced for the first time, as crowds (estimated at around 60,000 each day) arrive in the Cotswolds from Britain, Ireland and France for the first day of the world-renowed Festival. Ian Renton, regional Head of Racing South-west for Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: "We have been liaising very closely with the Government over the last fortnight and listening to them and listening to their advice and they have been extremely helpful in telling us what they believe is the right thing to do.”

 

Hughes on third base!

Brian Hughes, apparently, was a great admirer of Tony McCoy's unrivalled skills in the saddle. Today the 29-year-old jockey is on course to emulate his hero and create history in the process. As Cheltenham gets underway, Brian Hughes leads in the British jump jockeys championship. This may be a surprise to sum but not to those who have followed his more recent consistent success, claiming 100-plus British winners in each of the last six years. This season he is 21 wins ahead of his nearest rival, Richard Johnson, who has been Champion Jockey for the last four years. Unfortunately the latter broke his arm as a result of a fall in January when he was just three winners behind in the battle for the crown. This gap widened in the month while 42-year-old was out of action recuperating but all is not over until that certain lady sings, as they say. There could still be a action-filled battle on the cards over the next couple of months.

 

Fakir is for real!

Victory over three-time festival runner-up Melon at Navan on soft to heavy round, the Joseph O'Brien-trained Fakir D'Oudairies was an accomplished hurdler and has really improved over fences this season, particularly on soft ground. The five-year-old then went on to beat Matthew Smith's Ronald Pump by 22 lengths in the Grade 1 baroneracing.com Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December. So the JP McManus-owned Fakir D'Oudairies is certainly a force to be reckoned in today's Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, particularly as the going is listed as soft and he won his only start on heavy and two of his three starts on soft since joining Joseph O'Brien's yard.

 

9 March 2020

 

Who's after Ruby?

No-one has had a greater impact on the Cheltenham Festival than Ruby Walsh, the top jockey at 11 renewals of the Prestbury Park celebration between 2004 and 2017, notching up a record seven winners on two occasions. The 40-year-old Kill-born rider retired last May, seven weeks after riding his 59th and final Festival winner on Klassical Dream in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Now his former colleagues will compete for the Ruby Walsh Trophy at this year's meeting. Ruby Walsh was just an 18-year-old amateur when he rode Alexander Banquet to victory land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 1998 Festival. When he took over the lead after two furlongs down on the Willie Mullins-trained gelding to beat Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey, Conor O'Dwyer, on Joe Mac, the amateur already revealed of the qualities of his later his career: composure on big occasions, tactical awareness and brute strength and a rare finesse. When Ruby Walsh won the Champion Bumper for Mullins again on Missed That in 2005, he had achieved the majority of his Festival victories on the first third of his career on British-trained horses.

 

Iconic Triumph.

The Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon returned in triumph in the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton. The four-year-old Cityscape colt came nowhere in his five starts last season but, having come eighth in last year's 2000 Guineas and fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, meant that he had the strongest form in this ten-runner, seven-furlong Listed contest. Sent off the 2/1 favourite and ridden by Ryan Moore, Urban Icon managed to get the better of Kevin Frost's Documenting by three-quarters of a length.

 

New Racing League

A new initiative for racing on the Flat this Summer, called Racing League, was announced in London this week. The directors of Championship Horse Racing are hoping that the team-based league format will "bring increased levels of innovation, fan engagement and accessibility" to the sport. The plan is for 12 teams, each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a string of 30 horses, will compete for a total of £1.8million in prize money and also as an overall prize to the team that wins the league title. Racing League will be held over six consecutive evening race meetings in July and August and will take place at four race tracks - Doncaster, Lingfield, Newcastle and Windsor. Racing in their own specific colours, the 12 teams will take part in 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000. The Racing League's first meeting is due to be held on July 16. Each of the six races will be over distances between five furlongs and a mile and a half.

 

8 March 2020

 

On the Town!

The Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon returned in triumph in the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton. The four-year-old Cityscape colt came nowhere in his five starts last season but, having come eighth in last year's 2000 Guineas and fourth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, meant that he had the strongest form in this ten-runner, seven-furlong Listed contest. Sent off the 2/1 favourite and ridden by Ryan Moore, Urban Icon managed to get the better of Kevin Frost's Documenting by three-quarters of a length.

 

Ruby's Successor?

No-one has had a greater impact on the Cheltenham Festival than Ruby Walsh, the top jockey at 11 renewals of the Prestbury Park celebration between 2004 and 2017, notching up a record seven winners on two occasions. The 40-year-old Kill-born rider retired last May, seven weeks after riding his 59th and final Festival winner on Klassical Dream in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Now his former colleagues will compete for the Ruby Walsh Trophy at this year's meeting. Ruby Walsh was just an 18-year-old amateur when he rode Alexander Banquet to victory land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 1998 Festival. When he took over the lead after two furlongs down on the Willie Mullins-trained gelding to beat Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey, Conor O'Dwyer, on Joe Mac, the amateur already revealed of the qualities of his later his career: composure on big occasions, tactical awareness and brute strength and a rare finesse. When Ruby Walsh won the Champion Bumper for Mullins again on Missed That in 2005, he had achieved the majority of his Festival victories on the first third of his career on British-trained horses.

 

New Racing League

A new initiative for racing on the Flat this Summer, called Racing League, was announced in London this week. The directors of Championship Horse Racing are hoping that the team-based league format will "bring increased levels of innovation, fan engagement and accessibility" to the sport. The plan is for 12 teams, each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a string of 30 horses, will compete for a total of £1.8million in prize money and also as an overall prize to the team that wins the league title. Racing League will be held over six consecutive evening race meetings in July and August and will take place at four race tracks - Doncaster, Lingfield, Newcastle and Windsor.

Racing in their own specific colours, the 12 teams will take part in 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000. The Racing League's first meeting is due to be held on July 16. Each of the six races will be over distances between five furlongs and a mile and a half.

 

7 March 2020

 

Ruby's Trophy

No-one has had a greater impact on the Cheltenham Festival than Ruby Walsh, the top jockey at 11 renewals of the Prestbury Park celebration between 2004 and 2017, notching up a record seven winners on two occasions. The 40-year-old Kill-born rider retired last May, seven weeks after riding his 59th and final Festival winner on Klassical Dream in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Now his former colleagues will compete for the Ruby Walsh Trophy at this year's meeting. Ruby Walsh was just an 18-year-old amateur when he rode Alexander Banquet to victory land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 1998 Festival. When he took over the lead after two furlongs down on the Willie Mullins-trained gelding to beat Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey, Conor O'Dwyer, on Joe Mac, the amateur already revealed of the qualities of his later his career: composure on big occasions, tactical awareness and brute strength and a rare finesse. When Ruby Walsh won the Champion Bumper for Mullins again on Missed That in 2005, he had achieved the majority of his Festival victories on the first third of his career on British-trained horses.

 

Boum Boum!

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo, had a schooling session after racing at Navan and proved he's in good form to defend his crown next week. This Buck's Boum gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, was in a group of four along with stable companions - Kemboy, ridden by Patrick Mullins, Duc Des Genievres (Robbie Power) and Melon (Danny Mullins).

 

New Racing League

A new initiative for racing on the Flat this Summer, called Racing League, was announced in London this week. The directors of Championship Horse Racing are hoping that the team-based league format will "bring increased levels of innovation, fan engagement and accessibility" to the sport. The plan is for 12 teams, each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a string of 30 horses, will compete for a total of £1.8million in prize money and also as an overall prize to the team that wins the league title. Racing League will be held over six consecutive evening race meetings in July and August and will take place at four race tracks - Doncaster, Lingfield, Newcastle and Windsor.

Racing in their own specific colours, the 12 teams will take part in 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000. The Racing League's first meeting is due to be held on July 16. Each of the six races will be over distances between five furlongs and a mile and a half.

 

5 March 2020

 

New Racing League

A new initiative for racing on the Flat this Summer, called Racing League, was announced in London this week. The directors of Championship Horse Racing are hoping that the team-based league format will "bring increased levels of innovation, fan engagement and accessibility" to the sport. The plan is for 12 teams, each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a string of 30 horses, will compete for a total of £1.8million in prize money and also as an overall prize to the team that wins the league title. Racing League will be held over six consecutive evening race meetings in July and August and will take place at four race tracks - Doncaster, Lingfield, Newcastle and Windsor. Racing in their own specific colours, the 12 teams will take part in 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000. The Racing League's first meeting is due to be held on July 16. Each of the six races will be over distances between five furlongs and a mile and a half.

 

A successful step-up

The Jessica Harrington-trained Kapgarde gelding successfully moved up to Grade Three level with with an easy win in the Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan. Sizing Pottsie unseated his rider on his debut over fences at Leopardstown in December but then went on to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase by 15 lengths at Fairyhouse eleven days ago, thus earning yesterday's step up in class. Willie Mullins' favourite, Cut The Mustard, seemed to have everything under control at the top of the home straight but Sizing Pottsie, ridden by Robbie Power, soon got the better of him, winning by 12 lengths.

 

A Picture of fitness

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo, had a schooling session after racing at Navan yesterday and proved he's in good form to defend his crown next week. This Buck's Boum gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, was in a group of four along with stable companions - Kemboy, ridden by Patrick Mullins, Duc Des Genievres (Robbie Power) and Melon (Danny Mullins).

 

4 March 2020

 

A successful step-up

The Jessica Harrington-trained Kapgarde gelding successfully moved up to Grade Three level with with an easy win in the Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan. Sizing Pottsie unseated his rider on his debut over fences at Leopardstown in December but then went on to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase by 15 lengths at Fairyhouse eleven days ago, thus earning yesterday's step up in class. Willie Mullins' favourite, Cut The Mustard, seemed to have everything under control at the top of the home straight but Sizing Pottsie, ridden by Robbie Power, soon got the better of him, winning by 12 lengths.

 

New Racing League

A new initiative for racing on the Flat this Summer, called Racing League, was announced in London this week. The directors of Championship Horse Racing are hoping that the team-based league format will "bring increased levels of innovation, fan engagement and accessibility" to the sport. The plan is for 12 teams, each consisting of two to four trainers working together, three jockeys, stable staff and a string of 30 horses, will compete for a total of £1.8million in prize money and also as an overall prize to the team that wins the league title. Racing League will be held over six consecutive evening race meetings in July and August and will take place at four race tracks - Doncaster, Lingfield, Newcastle and Windsor.

Racing in their own specific colours, the 12 teams will take part in 36 handicap races, each worth £50,000. The Racing League's first meeting is due to be held on July 16. Each of the six races will be over distances between five furlongs and a mile and a half.

 

A Picture of fitness

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo, had a schooling session after racing at Navan yesterday and proved he's in good form to defend his crown next week. This Buck's Boum gelding, ridden by Paul Townend, was in a group of four along with stable companions - Kemboy, ridden by Patrick Mullins, Duc Des Genievres (Robbie Power) and Melon (Danny Mullins).

 

2 March 2020

 

Nice Shot

Gun Digger got back into winning ways in the TRI Equestrian Handicap Chase at Leopardstown. Eight runners went to post at the Dublin track, with last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, Anibale Fly, noticeable by his absence. The Henry de Bromhead-trained Poker Party was the 13/8 favourite but, from a long way out, it was clear that this was not his day. Gun Digger and Mortal, both owned by the Gigginstown House Stud, led the field as they came round the home turn. Gun Digger had been pulled up on four of his last five starts but it was clear that there'd be no stopping him this time as he galloped all the way to the line to score by three lengths, making it his first win since December 2018.

 

Maximum Effort

This Jason Servis-trained colt hung on to win the first-time running of the Saudi Cup, the world's most valuable race, in Riyadh. This victory went some way to erase the pain of losing the Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security was the first horse ever to be disqualified from first place for causing interference. Twice a winner in Grade One company since that day in May last year, success did not look on the cards for most of the nine-furlong contest. Mucho Gusto travelled strongly into the lead but Maximum Security clearly wasn't going to give up, although it didn't look like he would catch the leader, until Mucho Gusto began to wander close to the finish.

 

Champion's chances in doubt

Brian Hughes restored his lead to 18 over Richard Johnson in the jockeys' title race when the pair clashed at Sedgefield yesterday. Richard Johnson's mount, Strong Glance, was the 1/5 favourite to win the 2m4f novices' hurdle but it was Brian Hughes who scored Baron De Midleton. The two jockeys came up against each other the first time since the champion jockey's return from injury. Richard Johnson has won the championship for the last four seasons but is second favourite this time, having broken his arm in a fall at Exeter which may have ruined his chance of securing the title again

 

1 March 2020

 

Anna ranna good one!

The 888Sport Take 'Em On Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster was won by a very determined Imperial Monarch mare. The Paul Nicholls-trained Cill Anna, ridden by Harry Cobden, had to battle all the way against s P J Brennan-ridden Ziggy Rose who wasn't going to give up too easily in this extended three-mile contest. Cill Anna, however, kept finding more and evebtually triumphed by half a length.

 

Dead Wrong!

The High Court has refused to extend an injunction to prevent a 'dead' horse from racing. The Kilkenny-based Thistle Bloodstock Limited had previously obtained an injunction to stop The Tartan Spartan from running as it was believed that the horse had been euthanised in 2019, after suffering a tendon injury. Andrew Hughes, the manager of Thistle Bloodstock, first learned that this Carbon Unit gelding was still alive this month when he read in a newspaper that the 7-year-old, now trained by Philip Fenton, was entered for a race at Naas.

 

Chaos reigns

The Dan Skelton-trained Captain Chaos landed a well-earned victory in the 888Sport Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster. This Golan gelding had previously been placed in a string of big staying races but this time the nine-year-old came home unchallenged and scored by an impressive 54 lengths. Pulling further and further away in the straight, he was eased down on the run-in by the trainer's brother, Harry.

 

29 February 2020

 

Kentucky Derby Hopeful

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Crossfirehurricane won the Listed Woodford Reserve Patton Stakes at Dundalk and, thereby, picked up points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. The unbeaten Kitten's Joy colt, ridden by Shane Crosse, tracked his stable companion, Choice Of Mine, into the straight, and the two of them battled it out right to the final two furlongs. Crossfirehurricane, however, began to dominate as they approached the finishing post and had enough in reserve to go on to win by half a length in this seven-furlong event.

 

A Double and no trouble

Having been out of action since suffering a broken arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21, the four-times champion jockey made a perfect return to the saddle with a Musselburgh double. Richard Johnson was booked by trainer Olly Murphy for two rides at the Scottish track. Made For You was the 7/4 favourite for the Meetings That Matter On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle. It needed all of the champion's riding skills, however, to get the Cape Cross gelding to make a strong challenge on the run-in and beat Vino's Choice by a neck in the final strides. The 42-year-old jockey then went on to claim the double on Dubai Guest in the last race of the day, the Racing Post Go North Weekend 20-22 March Standard Open NH Flat Race. At the time of his injury Richard Johnson was just three wins behind his rival Brian Hughes but, before yesterday's race, the tally had increased to 20, 131 winners to 111.

 

Still Alive!

Yesterday the High Court refused to extend an injunction to prevent a 'dead' horse from racing. The Kilkenny-based Thistle Bloodstock Limited had previously obtained an injunction to stop The Tartan Spartan from running as it was believed the horse had been euthanised in 2019, after suffering a tendon injury. Andrew Hughes, the manager of Thistle Bloodstock, first learned that this Carbon Unit gelding was still alive this month when he read in a newspaper that the 7-year-old, now trained by Philip Fenton, was entered for a race at Naas.

 

28 February 2020

 

A Win Win Day

Having been out of action since suffering a broken arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21, the four-times champion jockey made a perfect return to the saddle with a Musselburgh double. Richard Johnson was booked by trainer Olly Murphy for two rides at the Scottish track. Made For You was the 7/4 favourite for the Meetings That Matter On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle. It needed all of the champion's riding skills, however, to get the Cape Cross gelding to make a strong challenge on the run-in and beat Vino's Choice by a neck in the final strides. The 42-year-old jockey then went on to claim the double on Dubai Guest in the last race of the day, the Racing Post Go North Weekend 20-22 March Standard Open NH Flat Race. At the time of his injury Richard Johnson was just three wins behind his rival Brian Hughes but, before yesterday's race, the tally had increased to 20, 131 winners to 111.

 

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

After the latest forfeit stage, Tiger Roll heads the 89 remaining contenders for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 4. Those who have pulled out include Tiger Roll's stable companion Delta Work, Chris's Dream, Missed Approach, the injured Native River and Noble Endeavor. A historic occasion for Gordon Elliott's impressive 10-year-old, Tiger Roll, who is set to complete his preparations at the Cheltenham Festival when he will bid to win there for a fifth time.

 

Aintree not Sandown

The Chris Gordon-trained Highway One O Two, the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle winner, won't run in the Imperial Cup at Sandown but go for the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in April instead. The Shirocco gelding maintained his unbeaten record over fences in the Grade Two Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday. As a result, the handicapper put him up 11lb, so Chris, after winning the biggest race of his career, is happy to skip next week's Sandown race.

 

27 February 2020

 

Let battle commence!

Richard Johnson gets back to business at Musselburgh today with two rides for trainer Olly Murphy. The four-times champion jockey has been sidelined since breaking his arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21. The 42-year-old Hereford-born jockey rides the Warwickshire-based trainer's Made For You in the Meetings That Matter On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle and then Dubai Guest in the last race of the day, the Racing Post Go North Weekend 20-22 March Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. Richard Johnson admitted that he was "up against it" in this year's title race as he has 111 wins to Brian Hughes' 130 but he is hoping to get back in the winner's enclosure at the Scottish track.

 

A Gordon for me!

The Chris Gordon-trained Highway One O Two, the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle winner, won't run in the Imperial Cup at Sandown but go for the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in April instead. The Shirocco gelding maintained his unbeaten record over fences in the Grade Two Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday. As a result, the handicapper put him up 11lb, so Chris, after winning the biggest race of his career, is happy to skip next week's Sandown race.

 

On a Roll

After the latest forfeit stage, Tiger Roll heads the 89 remaining contenders for the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 4. Those who have pulled out include Tiger Roll's stable companion Delta Work, Chris's Dream, Missed Approach, the injured Native River and Noble Endeavor. A historic occasion for Gordon Elliott's impressive 10-year-old, Tiger Roll, who is set to complete his preparations at the Cheltenham Festival when he will bid to win there for a fifth time.

 

26 February 2020

 

Wasn't Andy

The favourite Andy Dufresne only managed third in a thrilling climax to the Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle at Naas. The Gordon Elliott-trained Doyen gelding, who won the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last month, was the 6/5 market leader to double his Grade Two score, ridden by Mark Walsh. However, while he travelled well for much of the two-mile contest, his finishing effort was disappointing. Henry Bromhead's Jason The Militant led from the start under Rachael Blackmore, with Beacon Edge and Denis O'Regan always in hot pursuit. Beacon Edge made a mistake at the final hurdle and, although he tried hard to get back in the picture, even managing to join Jason The Militant as they crossed the line, the judge confirmed De Bromhead's runner had held on by a nose.

 

Resuming the fight

Richard Johnson is due to return to racing tomorrow at either Ludlow or Musselburgh. The four-time champion jockey has been out of action since breaking his right arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21. At that time he was just three winners behind Brian Hughes in the contest for the championship and that tally has risen to 19 in his absence, currently 111 for him and 130 for his rival. Richard Johnson was always confident he would be back in time for next month's Cheltenham Festival and has not given up hope of retaining the championship.

 

Off for Aspell!

Despite there being no fairytale farewell victory, Leighton Aspell still received a winner's send-off at Fontwell after coming second with his last ride on Itsnotwhatyouthink in the Watt Fences Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race. The dual Grand National-winning jockey had announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire for the second time, the last time in 2007. The Westerner gelding stayed on well in this extended two-mile-one bumper but even the retiring jockey could not get his mount past Jetaway Joey who won by three lengths.

 

25 February 2020

 

Back in the saddle

Richard Johnson is due to return to racing on Thursday at either Ludlow or Musselburgh. The four-time champion jockey has been out of action since breaking his right arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21. At that time he was just three winners behind Brian Hughes in the contest for the championship and that tally has risen to 19 in his absence, currently 111 for him and 130 for his rival. Richard Johnson was always confident he would be back in time for next month's Cheltenham Festival and has not given up hope of retaining the championship.

 

No Redemption for Andy

The favourite Andy Dufresne only managed third in a thrilling climax to the Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle at Naas. The Gordon Elliott-trained Doyen gelding, who won the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last month, was the 6/5 market leader to double his Grade Two score, ridden by Mark Walsh. However, while he travelled well for much of the two-mile contest, his finishing effort was disappointing. Henry Bromhead's Jason The Militant led from the start under Rachael Blackmore, with Beacon Edge and Denis O'Regan always in hot pursuit. Beacon Edge made a mistake at the final hurdle and, although he tried hard to get back in the picture, even managing to join Jason The Militant as they crossed the line, the judge confirmed De Bromhead's runner had held on by a nose.

 

Off for good this time?

Despite there being no fairytale farewell victory, Leighton Aspell still received a winner's send-off at Fontwell after coming second with his last ride on Itsnotwhatyouthink in the Watt Fences Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race. The dual Grand National-winning jockey had announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire for the second time, the last time in 2007. The Westerner gelding stayed on well in this extended two-mile-one bumper but even the retiring jockey could not get his mount past Jetaway Joey who won by three lengths.

 

24 February 2020

 

Retired for a second time

Despite there being no fairytale farewell victory, Leighton Aspell still received a winner's send-off at Fontwell after coming second with his last ride on Itsnotwhatyouthink in the Watt Fences Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race. The dual Grand National-winning jockey had announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire for the second time, the last time in 2007. The Westerner gelding stayed on well in this extended two-mile-one bumper but even the retiring jockey could not get his mount past Jetaway Joey who won by three. 

 

No Redemption for Andy

The favourite Andy Dufresne only managed third in a thrilling climax to the Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle at Naas. The Gordon Elliott-trained Doyen gelding, who won the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last month, was the 6/5 market leader to double his Grade Two score, ridden by Mark Walsh. However, while he travelled well for much of the two-mile contest, his finishing effort was disappointing. Henry Bromhead's Jason The Militant led from the start under Rachael Blackmore, with Beacon Edge and Denis O'Regan always in hot pursuit. Beacon Edge made a mistake at the final hurdle and, although he tried hard to get back in the picture, even managing to join Jason The Militant as they crossed the line, the judge confirmed De Bromhead's runner had held on by a nose.

 

A Cheltenham Hopeful

After winning the Panoramic Restaurant At Naas Handicap Hurdle yesterday Jessica Harrington may have decided that Instant Return should join her select team for Cheltenham. This could be because Sky Bet has already cut the Elzaam gelding to 14/1 from 25s for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Prestbury Park on 11th March

 

23 February 2020

 

Retiring for a second time

Leighton Aspell, twice winner of the Grand National, hangs up his saddle today, after partnering the Nick Gifford-trained Itsnotwhatyouthink in the Watt Fences Ltd Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race at Fontwell. The 43-year-old jockey retired for the first time back in 2007 but returned to the weighing room in 2009. This decision proved to be a highly lucrative one as some of best days on the track were yet to come. Leighton Aspell won two Welsh Grand Nationals during his first racing stint but his second period provided him with back-to-back victories in the Aintree world-famous contest.

 

A Solo Race

The Paul Nicholls-trained Solo dominated in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton yesterday. The Ditcheat handler saddled Zarkandar in this two-mile feature race in 2011 and he went on to win the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The Kapgarde colt travelled strongly in front and left his eight rivals behind in the straight to win by 13 lengths.

 

A  Double Cannon

Tom Cannon scored on the Alan King-trained Who Dares Wins in the Betway Pendil Novices' Chase and then and went on to make it a Grade Two double when, three races later, the Chris Gordon-trained Highway One O Two was the clear winner of the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle. The 4/1 shot Shirocco gelding up front throughout this two-mile race. Dan Skelton's West Cork tried to challenge over the last two obstacles but Highway One O Two was too strong for him and won by four-and-three-quarter lengths. The five-year-old remains unbeaten in three starts over hurdles.

 

22 February 2020

 

Four in with a chance

It's five years since Paul Nicholls won the Betway Handicap Chase with Rocky Creek. Today he's entered four runnersat Kempton in a bid to claim the prestigious prize again. The one that has caught the market's eye is Adrien Du Pont, especially as he will be ridden by stable jockey, Harry Cobden. The Califet gelding came third in this three-mile, Grade 3 contest last year. Black Corton and Sametegal, however, should not beignored. Neither should Romain De Senam who could well produce a surprise performance in his build-up to the Grand National.

 

The Whip Hand

Later this year penalties for misuse of the whip are set to be increased after a "clear, minimum recommendation" was published in the independent Horse Welfare Board's five-year strategy for the sport. This document contains 20 recommendations, including how the sport can engage with the public to address any misconceptions about whip use and it is recommended that decisions about jockeys' use of the whip should be taken "as quickly as possible and ideally by the end of October 2020". As part of the consultation period undertaken by the British Horseracing Authority, the HWB urged "particular consideration" should be given to "use of the whip over shoulder height, where evidence suggests that greater deterrents are required, and whip modification offences, penalties for which are felt to be inadequate". Increased penalties for repeat/multiple offences by the same jockey should also be considered.

 

Just for Learners?

Eddie O’Leary, spokesman for Gigginstown Stud would like this year's Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham to be restricted to amateur riders. He has never been too keen about running Gigginstown’s best young horses in this race although he hasn’t ruled out having runners this time. In fact, yesterday he pronounced Darling Daughter, the shock 25/1 winner of the Grade Two mares’ bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month, as a possible runner.

 

21 February 2020

 

Still below par

The Willie Mullins-trained Laurina could only finish third behind her stable companion, Elfile, in the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. The two inmates had the five-strong race between them after three hurdles out but then Laurina's challenge ran out of steam on the run-in. Elfile was too strong for the Spanish Moon mare and pulled away to win by two-and-a-half lengths from Gordon Elliott's Black Tears, who stayed on to claim second place by three-quarters of a length. Laurina claimed this Grade Three prize last year but it wasn't to be this time.

 

Right as rain

It seems dehydration was the cause of One For Arthur's being pulled up suffering from a fibrillating heart in Saturday's Unibet Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday. The 11-year-old, trained by Lucinda Russell, was fitted with a 24-hour ECG monitor which analysed to see if there is any reason the problem might surface again. The 2017 Aintree winner given a clean bill of health on Monday after a scan showed no physical issue with his heart.

 

Catch me if you can!

The BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown was a close thing when the Willie Mullins-trained Ifyoucatchmenow denied Agusta Gold the prize by a head. Running in a handicap for the first time, this Westerner mare was urged by Conor McNamara to make a last-minute challenge. The 14/1 shot was in third position when she jumped the last but made up ground very quickly.

 

19 February 2020

 

Not to be caught

The BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown was a close thing when the Willie Mullins-trained Ifyoucatchmenow denied Agusta Gold the prize by a head. Running in a handicap for the first time, this Westerner mare was urged by Conor McNamara to make a last-minute challenge. The 14/1 shot was in third position when she jumped the last but made up ground very quickly.

 

Back over hurdles

Connections are hoping that another Willie Mullins-trained mare will put two previous disappointing performances behind her. Laurina is bidding for back-to-back victories in the Quevega (Mares) Hurdle at Punchestown today. The talented seven-year-old was pulled up in her last two starts over fences, in Grade One company at Leopardstown and Sandown, after starting the season in good style by winning in a beginners' chase at Gowran. The County Carlow-based trainer has decided to put Laurina back over hurdles before deciding what her options are at Cheltenham Festival plans.

 

A Clean bill of health

It seems dehydration was the cause of One For Arthur's being pulled up suffering from a fibrillating heart in Saturday's Unibet Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday. The 11-year-old, trained by Lucinda Russell, was fitted with a 24-hour ECG monitor which analysed to see whether there is any reason the problem might surface again. The 2017 Aintree winner was given a clean bill of health on Monday after a scan showed no physical issue with his heart.

 

18 February 2020

 

Gold Well

Warren Greatrex's Emitom travelled well and got back to winning form in the Unibet Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock. This Gold Well gelding was a top novice last season and finished second in a Grade One at Aintree but he disappointed on his seasonal return at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. The six-year-old didn't jump well that day but he certainly made amends in this Grade Two contest. Gavin Sheehan got him jumping well from the start and he travelled better than his five rivals who began to struggle in the testing conditions. Emitom had no problems, however, and came home with eight lengths to spare.

 

Riding the Storm

There was plenty of drama in the Betfair Ascot Chase. Riders Onthe Storm had won both his previous two races in Britain after coming over from Tom Taaffe's County Kildare yard but they were Class 2 contests so this Grade One heat represented a huge step up in class. As expected, the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname was sent off the 4/11 favourite but things didn't seem to be going well for him when Riders Onthe Storm came alongside in the back straight. The latter soon dominated and Cyrname started to have problems. Then the 50/1 outsider, Traffic Fluide, came on the scene and appeared to be finishing with real purpose but then fell at the last. A weary Cyrname also took a heavy fall further back as the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Riders Onthe Storm cruised home to a 14-length victory.

 

Head of the Field

Copperhead, trained by Colin Tizzard, was an impressive winner of the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot. This Sulamani gelding was having his first experience of graded company after two easy handicap victories. The two market leaders, however, Sam Brown and Pym, never looked comfortable at any stage of the contest and were both pulled up a long way from home. Paul Nicholls' Danny Whizzbang made most of the running but in these testing conditions he faded early in the straight. That left Copperhead, ridden by Jonjo O'Neill jr., and Kim Bailey's Two For Gold to vie for glory. Copperhead soon seized the initiative, powering clear over the final two fences to win by 17 lengths.

17 February 2020

 

Winning Riders

There was plenty of drama in the Betfair Ascot Chase. Riders Onthe Storm had won both his previous two races in Britain after coming over from Tom Taaffe's County Kildare yard but they were Class 2 contests so this Grade One heat represented a huge step up in class. As expected, the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname was sent off the 4/11 favourite but things didn't seem to be going well for him when Riders Onthe Storm came alongside in the back straight. The latter soon dominated and Cyrname started to have problems. Then the 50/1 outsider, Traffic Fluide, came on the scene and appeared to be finishing with real purpose but then fell at the last. A weary Cyrname also took a heavy fall further back as the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Riders Onthe Storm cruised home to a 14-length victory.

 

Good as Gold

Warren Greatrex's Emitom travelled well and got back to winning form in the Unibet Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock. This Gold Well gelding was a top novice last season and finished second in a Grade One at Aintree but he disappointed on his seasonal return at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. The six-year-old didn't jump well that day but he certainly made amends in this Grade Two contest. Gavin Sheehan got him jumping well from the start and he travelled better than his five rivals who began to struggle in the testing conditions. Emitom had no problems, however, and came home with eight lengths to spare.

 

A Fair Copper

Copperhead, trained by Colin Tizzard, was an impressive winner of the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot. This Sulamani gelding was having his first experience of graded company after two easy handicap victories. The two market leaders, however, Sam Brown and Pym, never looked comfortable at any stage of the contest and were both pulled up a long way from home. Paul Nicholls' Danny Whizzbang made most of the running but in these testing conditions he faded early in the straight. That left Copperhead, ridden by Jonjo O'Neill jr., and Kim Bailey's Two For Gold to vie for glory. Copperhead soon seized the initiative, powering clear over the final two fences to win by 17 lengths.

 

16 February 2020

 

Storming home

There was plenty of drama in the Betfair Ascot Chase. Riders Onthe Storm had won both his previous two races in Britain after coming over from Tom Taaffe's County Kildare yard but they were Class 2 contests so this Grade One heat represented a huge step up in class. As expected, the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname was sent off the 4/11 favourite but things didn't seem to be going well for him when Riders Onthe Storm came alongside in the back straight. The latter soon dominated and Cyrname started to have problems. Then the 50/1 outsider, Traffic Fluide, came on the scene and appeared to be finishing with real purpose but then fell at the last. A weary Cyrname also took a heavy fall further back as the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Riders Onthe Storm cruised home to a 14-length victory.

 

Well done!

Warren Greatrex's Emitom travelled well and got back to winning form in the Unibet Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock yesterday. This Gold Well gelding was a top novice last season and finished second in a Grade One at Aintree but he disappointed on his seasonal return at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. The six-year-old didn't jump well that day but he certainly made amends in this Grade Two contest. Gavin Sheehan got him jumping well from the start and he travelled better than his five rivals who began to struggle in the testing conditions. Emitom had no problems, however, and came home with eight lengths to spare.

 

Head's he wins!

Copperhead, trained by Colin Tizzard, was an impressive winner of the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot. This Sulamani gelding was having his first experience of graded company after two easy handicap victories. The two market leaders, however, Sam Brown and Pym, never looked comfortable at any stage of the contest and were both pulled up a long way from home. Paul Nicholls' Danny Whizzbang made most of the running but in these testing conditions he faded early in the straight. That left Copperhead, ridden by Jonjo O'Neill jr. , and Kim Bailey's Two For Gold to vie for glory. Copperhead soon seized the initiative, powering clear over the final two fences to win by 17 lengths.

 

15 February 2020

 

Photo Finish?

Following the latest deadline, Reigning champion Al Boum Photo, trained by Willie Mullins, is one of 20 horses still entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The eight-year-old provided the County Carlow handler with an elusive first victory in this race last March and is clear favourite with most bookies to become the first back-to-back winner since Best Mate. Willie Mullins could also saddle Kemboy - who got the better of Al Boum Photo in a dramatic renewal of the Punchestown Gold Cup last Spring that will also be remembered the last time Ruby Walsh rode competitively.

 

Nearly Festival time

National Hunt racing fans are already counting the days until the Cheltenham Festival (March 10th to 13th). Unfortunately the early trials have raised more questions than answers. It is hoped that the King George meeting at Kempton will provide more definite clues for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. Both races now have new favourites since the start of the new season. A freak injury sadly proved fatal for reigning Champion Hurdler, Espoir d’Allen. Buveur d’Air then headed the betting for a while as the one most likely to regain the title he won in 2017 and 2018. Alas, that wasn't to be. Unfortunately Nicky Henderson's Crillon gelding has also been side-lined after sustaining a serious injury in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

 

New Approach winner

The Charlie Appleby-trained Magic Lily followed up her victory in the Cape Verdi by winning the Group Two Balanchine at Meydan. This New Approach mare didn't race for the whole of 2018 and only returned to action last Autumn with two runs, neither of which were successful.

The five-year-old seemed to enjoy being in Dubai and made a triumphant start to 2020 with a last-minute challenge to beat her old rival, Nisreen, despite being burdened with a 5lb penalty. Connections expected the step up to nine furlongs was the right thing to do and they were proved right. Magic Lily, ridden by William Buick, stayed on strongly and scored by a length and a quarter

14 February 2020

 

It's Magic

The Charlie Appleby-trained Magic Lily followed up her victory in the Cape Verdi by winning the Group Two Balanchine at Meydan. This New Approach mare didn't race for the whole of 2018 and only returned to action last Autumn with two runs, neither of which were successful. The five-year-old seemed to enjoy being in Dubai and made a triumphant start to 2020 with a last-minute challenge to beat her old rival, Nisreen, despite being burdened with a 5lb penalty. Connections expected the step up to nine furlongs was the right thing to do and they were proved right. Magic Lily, ridden by William Buick, stayed on strongly and scored by a length and a quarter

 

Photo Finish?

Following the latest deadline, Reigning champion Al Boum Photo, trained by Willie Mullins, is one of 20 horses still entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The eight-year-old provided the County Carlow handler with an elusive first victory in this race last March and is clear favourite with most bookies to become the first back-to-back winner since Best Mate. Willie Mullins could also saddle Kemboy - who got the better of Al Boum Photo in a dramatic renewal of the Punchestown Gold Cup last Spring that will also be remembered the last time Ruby Walsh rode competitively.

 

Nearly Festival time

National Hunt racing fans are already counting the days until the Cheltenham Festival (March 10th to 13th). Unfortunately the early trials have raised more questions than answers. It is hoped that the King George meeting at Kempton will provide more definite clues for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. Both races now have new favourites since the start of the new season. A freak injury sadly proved fatal for reigning Champion Hurdler, Espoir d’Allen. Buveur d’Air then headed the betting for a while as the one most likely to regain the title he won in 2017 and 2018. Alas, that wasn't to be. Unfortunately Nicky Henderson's Crillon gelding has also been side-lined after sustaining a serious injury in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

 

13 February 2020

 

Back in Form

The Nicky Henderson-trained High Chaparral gelding got back to something like his old form in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury. 10-year-old Altior won this Grade Two contest for the third time on his first racecourse appearance since being beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November. That defeat was his first ever over fences so it was decided he would not to run again over longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he has won the last two years, is his only entry at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Name the winner!

The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname will try to regain his winning form when he runs in Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase. This Nickname gelding, the highest-rated chaser, failed to live up to this accoladein the King George VI Chase when he trailed 21 lengths behind his his stable companion, Clan Des Obeaux. That's after the 8-year-old had previously ended Altior's 19-race unbeaten record over the same course and distance as this weekend. Perhaps going back to the scene of his last three victories will be an added incentive to do well.

 

Another Bite

Having failed to complete either of his first two starts this season, the Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite may nevertheless be entered in the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when he'll be up against dual Grand National winner, Tiger Roll. It appears that the Lambourn-based trainer is considering giving his multiple Grade One winner an run over the cross-country course, a contest that has already been targeted by Gordon Elliott's Aintree star. Might Bite demonstrated some of his earlier top form at Newbury last Saturday, when coming a decent third behind Native River in the Grade Two Denman Chase.

 

12 February 2020

 

The Name of the game

This Nickname gelding will try to regain his winning form when he runs in Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase. The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname, the highest-rated chaser, failed to live up to this standard in the King George VI Chase when he trailed 21 lengths behind his his stable companion, Clan Des Obeaux. The 8-year-old had previously ended Altior's 19-race unbeaten record over the same course and distance as this weekend. Perhaps going back to the scene of his last three victories will be an added incentive to do well.

 

Might could be right!

Having failed to complete either of his first two starts this season, the Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite could nevertheless be entered in the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when he'll be up against dual Grand National winner, Tiger Roll. It appears that the Lambourn-based trainer is considering giving his multiple Grade One winner an run over the cross-country course, a contest that has already been targeted by Gordon Elliott's Aintree star. Might Bite demonstrated some of his earlier top form at Newbury last Saturday, when coming a decent third behind Native River in the Grade Two Denman Chase.

 

Riding High

Nicky Henderson's Altior showed some of his old form in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury. This 10-year-old High Chaparral gelding won this Grade Two contest for the third time on his first racecourse appearance since being beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November. That defeat was his first ever over fences so it was decided he would not to run again over longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he has won the last two years, is his only entry at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

11 February 2020

 

Might could be right!

Having failed to complete either of his first two starts this season, the Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite could nevertheless be entered in the the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when he'll be up against dual Grand National winner, Tiger Roll. It appears that the Lambourn-based trainer is considering giving his multiple Grade One winner an run over the cross-country course, a contest that has already been targeted by Gordon Elliott's Aintree star. Might Bite demonstrated some of his earlier top form at Newbury last Saturday, when coming a decent third behind Native River in the Grade Two Denman Chase.

 

Riding High

Nicky Henderson's Altior showed some of his old form in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury. This 10-year-old High Chaparral gelding won this Grade Two contest for the third time on his first racecourse appearance since being beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November. That defeat was his first ever over fences so it was decided he would not to run again over longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he has won the last two years, is his only entry at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

The Name of the game

This Nickname gelding will try to regain his winning form when he runs in Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase. The Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname, the highest-rated chaser, failed to live up to this standard in the King George VI Chase when he trailed 21 lengths behind his his stable companion, Clan Des Obeaux. The 8-year-old had previously ended Altior's 19-race unbeaten record over the same course and distance as this weekend. Perhaps going back to the scene of his last three victories will be an added incentive to do well.

 

10 February 2020

 

A Touch of Rouge

Having won the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase on Itchy Feet in the Kate and Andrew Brooks colours last week, Gavin Sheehan was riding high when partnering this Sageburg gelding to a 7-length victory in the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick. Second in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton at he end of December the Harry Whittington-trained Rouge Vif was a 7/2 shot in the Grade Two contest. The pace was quite fast on drying ground, with Torpillo taking the lead but, unfortunately, his jumping wasn't up to it in the back straight. That gave Rouge Vif a chance to get a piece of the action, pursued by Harry Skelton aboard the favourite, Nube Negra. The latter, however, couldn't compete with Rouge Vif who pulled well clear after the last fence, giving his trainer a second victory in this two-mile-plus contest.

 

Back in Alt' Form

Nicky Henderson's Altior showed some of his old form in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury. This 10-year-old High Chaparral gelding won this Grade Two contest for the third time on his first racecourse appearance since being beaten by Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November. That defeat was his first ever over fences so it was decided he would not to run again over longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he has won the last two years, is his only entry at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Up River!

Native River was another 10-year-old back in form when winning the Betfair Denman Chase for the third time at Newbury. As is usually the case, when this Indian River gelding runs at Newbury he invariably wins. Sent to the front from the outset by Jonjo O'Neill Jr., deputising for the injured Richard Johnson, Native River got into a good rhythm and his jumping was solid overall. As Nicky Henderson's Might Bite was below par, Secret Investor, trained by Paul Nicholls, was left to make a final challenge after the last fence. Native River was undaunted, however, and claimed the Grade 2 contest by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

9 February 2020

 

Back in form

Nicky Henderson's Altior showed some of his old form in the Win Bigger On The Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury yesterday. This 10-year-old High Chaparral gelding won this Grade Two contest for the third time on his first racecourse appearance since being beaten by Cyrname Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November. That defeat was his first ever over fences so it was decided he would not to run again over longer trips. The Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race he has won the last two years, is his only entry at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

A Newbury Cert!

Native River was another 10-year-old back in form when winning the Betfair Denman Chase for the third time at Newbury. As is usually the case, when this Indian River gelding runs at Newbury he invariably wins. Sent to the front from the outset by Jonjo O'Neill Jr., deputising for the injured Richard Johnson, Native River got into a good rhythm and his jumping was solid overall. As Nicky Henderson's Might Bite was below par, Secret Investor, trained by Paul Nicholls, was left to make a final challenge after the last fence. Native River was undaunted, however, and claimed the Grade 2 contest by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Take it as the Red!

Having won the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase on Itchy Feet in the Kate and Andrew Brooks colours last week, Gavin Sheehan was riding high when partnering Rouge Vif to a 7-length victory in the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick. Second in the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton at he end of December the Harry Whittington-trained Sageburg gelding was a 7/2 shot in the Grade Two contest. The pace was quite fast on drying ground, with Torpillo taking the lead but, unfortunately, his jumping wasn't up to it in the back straight. That gave Rouge Vif a chance to get a piece of the action, pursued by Harry Skelton aboard the favourite, Nube Negra. The latter, however, couldn't compete with Rouge Vif who pulled well clear after the last fence, giving his trainer a second victory in this two-mile-plus contest.

 

8 February 2020

 

Race on!

The Jockey Club has just announced that it has submitted plans for a smaller-scale residential development so it seems that racing at Kempton could could continue for the foreseeable future. Three years ago it unveiled a shock proposal to close the Sunbury racetrack, offering the land for consideration as local housing. As expected, the proposal caused great consternation in the racing world, with trainer Nicky Henderson even saying he feared it would be "a nail in the National Hunt coffin" if the track were to close. The initial plans included moving the King George VI Chase to Sandown and building a new all-weather track near Newmarket.

 

Nice one, Nico!

The Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin had a comfortable victory under in the Betway Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon. The Sholokhov gelding was a faller on his hurdling debut at Newbury in December but made a big impression when scoring at the same Berkshire venue last month. Ridden by Nico De Boinville, the 1/2 favourite was a little bit keen in the early stages but settled into a nice jumping rhythm following Hang In There who took the lead in this two-mile-three-and-a-half-furlong contest. All four rivals were clearly all in trouble so Nico De Boinville decided to go into the lead at the second-last when Hang In There fell. From then on Shiskin only had to keep going to beat Shan Blue by 11 lengths.

 

Dirt Debut

Saeed bin Suroor's Dubawi progeny proved far too good for his rivals when he made his debut on dirt in the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan. A multiple Group One winner on turf, Benbatl took to the new surface effortlessly. Ridden by Christophe Soumillon the six-year-old was settled in third slot in the early stages of the extended nine-furlong contest and was always travelling smoothly before easing into the lead at the top of the straight. Then he lengthened his stride and won comfortably by two lengths.

 

7 February 2020

 

11-length win

The Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin had a comfortable victory under in the Betway Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon. The Sholokhov gelding was a faller on his hurdling debut at Newbury in December but made a big impression when scoring at the same Berkshire venue last month. Ridden by Nico De Boinville, the 1/2 favourite was a little bit keen in the earky stages but settled into a nice jumping rhythm following Hang In There who took the lead in this two-mile-three-and-a-half-furlong contest. All four rivals were clearly all in trouble and Nico De Boinville decided to go into the lead at the second-last when Hang In There fell. From then on Shiskin only had to keep going to beat Shan Blue by 11 lengths.

 

Saved – for now!

The Jockey Club has just announced that it has submitted plans for a smaller-scale residential development so it seems that racing at Kempton could could continue for the foreseeable future. Three years ago it unveiled a shock proposal to close the Sunbury racetrack, offering the land for consideration as local housing. As expected, the proposal caused great consternation in the racing world, with trainer Nicky Henderson even saying he feared it would be "a nail in the National Hunt coffin" if the track were to close. The initial plans included moving the King George VI Chase to Sandown and building a new all-weather track near Newmarket.

 

Batl commenced

Saeed bin Suroor's Dubawi progeny proved far too good for his rivals when he made his bebut on dirt debut in the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan. A multiple Group One winner on turf, Benbatl took to the new surface effortlessly. Ridden by Christophe Soumillon the six-year-old was settled in third slot in the early stages of the extended nine-furlong contest and was always travelling smoothly before easing into the lead at the top of the straight. Then he lengthened his stride and won comfortably by two lengths.

 

6 February 2020

 

Winning Network

The Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work followed up his victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of December with a second Grade One win at the Dublin track. The Network gelding faced his old rivals, Kemboy and Presenting Percy, in a thrilling renewal of the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. This trio certainly provided racegoers with an exciting race as they headed for the last jump almost in a line. It was the Jack Kennedy-ridden Delta Work who landed in front, however, and the 5/4 favourite, Kemboy, just couldn't catch him. At the line the winner was a length-and-a-half ahead of the Voix Du Nord gelding, with Presenting Percy three-and-a-quarter lengths further back in third.

 

Bidding for the Crown

Brian Hughes edges nearer and nearer to winning the champion jockey title for the first time. With Richard Johnson out of action with a broken arm, the retention of the title he has held since the retirement of Tony McCoy looks increasingly difficult. Brian Hughes, however, continued his quest for the crown with a 49/1 treble at Carlisle. The 29-year-old rider began the day with a 10-length winning ride aboard the Donald McCain-trained Goobinator in the racingtv.com Novices' Hurdle. His second success was for Irish trainer, Stuart Crawford, when Lily's Gem beat the odds-on favourite Penny Mallow in the EBF Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle. The treble came up when he was riding one of his old favourites, the James Ewart-trained Aristo Du Plessis, who made every yard of the running in the Newbiggin Handicap Hurdle to win by five lengths. Brian Hughes is now on 124 winners for the season. Richard Johnson is on 111 and hoping to get back to business in early March.

 

Age triumphs

His six rivals were half his age but that didn't seem to worry the twelve-year-old Faugheen who won the Flogas Novices' Chase at Leopardstown. The veteran Germany gelding has seems rejuvenated this season and easily overhauled the long-time leader, Battleoverdoyen, as the field turned for home. After that the only threat came from his his stable companion, Easy Game, but that proved to be serious. The width of the track separated the pair as they battled for dominance on the run-in, with Faugheen triumphing by half-a-length.

 

5 February 2020

 

Nearer the Crown

Brian Hughes edges nearer and nearer to winning the champion jockey title for the first time.

With Richard Johnson out of action with a broken arm, the retention of the title he has held since the retirement of Tony McCoy looks increasingly difficult. Brian Hughes, however, continued his quest for the crown with a 49/1 treble at Carlisle. The 29-year-old rider began the day with a 10-length winning ride aboard the Donald McCain-trained Goobinator in the racingtv.com Novices' Hurdle. His second success was for Irish trainer, Stuart Crawford, when Lily's Gem beat the odds-on favourite Penny Mallow in the EBF Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle. The treble came up when he was riding one of his old favourites, the James Ewart-trained Aristo Du Plessis, who made every yard of the running in the Newbiggin Handicap Hurdle to win by five lengths. Brian Hughes is now on 124 winners for the season. Richard Johnson is on 111 and hoping to get back to business in early March.

 

A Gordon for me!

The Gordon Elliott-trained Network gelding followed up his victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of December with a second Grade One win at the Dublin track. Delta Work faced his old rivals, Kemboy and Presenting Percy, in a thrilling renewal of the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. This trio certainly provided racegoers with an exciting race as they headed for the last jump almost in a line. It was the Jack Kennedy-ridden Delta Work who landed in front, however, and the 5/4 favourite, Kemboy, just couldn't catch him. At the line the winner was a length-and-a-half ahead of the Voix Du Nord gelding, with Presenting Percy three-and-a-quarter lengths further back in third.

 

Age no problem

His six rivals were half his age but that didn't seem to worry the twelve-year-old Faugheen who won the Flogas Novices' Chase at Leopardstown. The veteran Germany gelding has seems rejuvenated this season and easily overhauled the long-time leader, Battleoverdoyen, as the field turned for home. After that the only threat came from his his stable companion, Easy Game, but that proved to be serious. The width of the track separated the pair as they battled for dominance on the run-in, with Faugheen triumphing by half-a-length.

4 February 2020

 

A Winning Wave

The 1/3 favourite, Aspire Tower, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, made every yard of the running in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle and was challenging Cerberus at the last obstacle and, unfortunately, clipped the top of the flight and fell. That left Cerberus with a clear lead but he couldn't hold on to it. His stable companion, A Wave Of The Sea, ridden by Barry Geraghty, made a last-minute swoop and claimed the prize.

 

Nice Work!

The Gordon Elliott-trained Network gelding followed up his victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of December with a second Grade One win at the Dublin track. Delta Work faced his old rivals, Kemboy and Presenting Percy, in a thrilling renewal of the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. This trio certainly provided racegoers with an exciting race as they headed for the last jump almost in a line. It was the Jack Kennedy-ridden Delta Work who landed in front, however, and the 5/4 favourite, Kemboy, just couldn't catch him. At the line the winner was a length-and-a-half ahead of the Voix Du Nord gelding, with Presenting Percy three-and-a-quarter lengths further back in third.

 

Rolling back the years

His six rivals were half his age but that didn't seem to worry the twelve-year-old Faugheen who won the Flogas Novices' Chase at Leopardstown. The veteran Germany gelding has seems rejuvenated this season and easily overhauled the long-time leader, Battleoverdoyen, as the field turned for home. After that the only threat came from his his stable companion, Easy Game, but that proved to be serious. The width of the track separated the pair as they battled for dominance on the run-in, with Faugheen triumphing by half-a-length.

 

3 February 2020

 

Nice Work!

The Gordon Elliott-trained Network gelding followed up his victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of December with a second Grade One win at the Dublin track yesterday. Delta Work faced his old rivals, Kemboy and Presenting Percy, in a thrilling renewal of the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. This trio certainly provided racegoers with an exciting race as they headed for the last jump almost in a line. It was the Jack Kennedy-ridden Delta Work who landed in front, however, and the 5/4 favourite, Kemboy, just couldn't catch him. At the line the winner was a length-and-a-half ahead of the Voix Du Nord gelding, with Presenting Percy three-and-a-quarter lengths further back in third.

 

Rolling back the years

His six rivals were half his age but that didn't seem to worry the twelve-year-old Faugheen who won the Flogas Novices' Chase at Leopardstown. The veteran Germany gelding has seems rejuvenated this season and easily overhauled the long-time leader, Battleoverdoyen, as the field turned for home. After that the only threat came from his his stable companion, Easy Game, but that proved to be serious. The width of the track separated the pair as they battled for dominance on the run-in, with Faugheen triumphing by half-a-length.

 

A Winning Wave

The 1/3 favourite, Aspire Tower, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, made every yard of the running in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle and was challenging Cerberus at the last obstacle and, unfortunately, clipped the top of the flight and fell. That left Cerberus with a clear lead but he couldn't hold on to it. His stable companion, A Wave Of The Sea, ridden by Barry Geraghty, made a last-minute swoop and claimed the prize.

 

2 February 2020

 

Irish Cup

Delta Work, Kemboy and Presenting Percy are among nine runners declared for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown today. Gordon Elliott's Delta Work won the Savills Chase over the course and distance last month after making a last-minute lunge for the line. The Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy was fourth on what was his seasonal reappearance, with Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy just behind him in fifth. Most bookies have Kemboy as the marginal favourite and, if he claims the prize, it will be the County Carlow trainer's 11th Irish Gold Cup success. Chris's Dream may be in with a chance for Henry de Bromhead, stepping up in class after winning the Troytown Chase at Navan in November.

 

A Taste of Honey

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle had to work harder than ever to maintain her unbeaten record in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. The Sulamani mare had already notched up with six wins from six over hurdles, most recently moving up to open company and winning the two-and-a-half-mile Hatton's Grace Hurdle. The six-year-old dropp back to two miles and was sent off the 8/11 favourite. Everything was going according to plan with Rachael Blackmore tracking stable companion, Petit Mouchoir, with no visible threats from the other seven runners as they came into the straight. Honeysuckle then jumped the last hurdle very awkwardly and, thereby, passed the initiative back to Petit Mouchoir before the 20/1 outsider, Darver Star, came flying from the rear. Honeysuckle held on bravely, though, and got back up to win by half a length from Darver Star with Petit Mouchoir the same distance away in third.

 

Everyone for Himself!

Chacun Pour Soi got back into winning ways in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown. Willie Mullins' lightly-raced eight-year-old looked a potential superstar when beating Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last Spring. He did not race again, however, until December, when, surprisingly, he got beaten by Henry de Bromhead's A Plus Tard and a rematch was on the cards. A Plus Tard was withdrawn from the race at the last minute, as Henry De Bromhead felt the ground was too quick. Ironically the main danger for Chacun Pour Soi was his stable companion, Min, winner of this contest for the past two seasons. There was, however, no serious threat as the Paul Townend-ridden Chacun Pour Soi soared past him at the second last fence, going on to win by three-and-three-quarter-lengths.

 

1 February 2020

 

Up to the Mark

The Mark Johnston-trained Mildenberger won his first race since April 2018. After three runs in the last eight weeks the five-year-old, ridden by Franny Norton, took on three rivals in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Lingfield. Irish raider, Oriental Eagle, also from the Johnston stables made the running. There was no change in the order until just before the home turn when Mildenberger was brought alongside the leader to make a challenge, kicking on and eventually winning by five and a half lengths, thereby enhancing his claims to run in the Betway Marathon Championship on All-Weather Finals Day in April.

 

A First!

Arabian King won the #BetYourWay At Betway Handicap at Southwell, giving this Newmarket trainer his first-ever winner. Based at Saville House Stables, , James Ferguson who learned his trade with Charlie Appleby, Brian Meehan and Jessica Harrington, has 20-odd horses in training at the moment. He actually has a dual licence but will mainly concentrate on flat racing. Ridden by Luke Morris, Arabian King, his 12th runner, finished second on his debut for the yard earlier this month.

 

Up for the Cup

Delta Work, Kemboy and Presenting Percy are among nine runners declared for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown tomorrow. Gordon Elliott's Delta Work won the Savills Chase over the course and distance last month after making a last-minute lunge for the line. The Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy was fourth on what was his seasonal reappearance, with Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy just behind him in fifth. Most bookies have Kemboy as the marginal favourite and, if he claims the prize, it will be the County Carlow trainer's 11th Irish Gold Cup success. Chris's Dream may be in with a chance for Henry de Bromhead, stepping up in class after winning the Troytown Chase at Navan in November.

 

31 January 2020

 

Always remember the first!

Arabian King won the #BetYourWay At Betway Handicap at Southwell, giving this Newmarket trainer his first-ever winner. Based at Saville House Stables, , James Ferguson who learned his trade with Charlie Appleby, Brian Meehan and Jessica Harrington, has 20-odd horses in training at the moment. He actually has a dual licence but will mainly concentrate on flat racing. Ridden by Luke Morris, Arabian King, his 12th runner, finished second on his debut for the yard earlier this month.

 

Family Success

A member of the legendary showjumping dynasty won his debut over jumps at Newcastle. 32-year-old Joe Whitaker, whose uncles, John and Michael, won Olympic equestrian medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, was riding the favourite Ladronne, trained by Tjade Collier, in the Equine Products Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle. This Linda's Lad gelding didn't jump fluently and was held up in the rear. Three hurdles out the six-year-old still had plenty to do but kept on strongly and claimed the prize in the final strides of this two-and-three-quarter-mile contest.

 

A Treble

Calva D'Auge provided a Wincanton treble for champion trainer Paul Nicholls yesterday. The Be Wiser Novices' Hurdle was a significant drop in class for the five-year-old, who finished fourth in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown a month ago. This Air Chief Marshal gelding, ridden by Harry Cobden, Calva D'Auge was the 8/13 favourite and had as his main rival the Nick Williams-trained Faire Part Sivola and, although odds-on backers must have missed a few heartbeats, Calva D'Auge managed to claim the prize by a head. Earlier in the day the Ditcheat-based trainer and Harry Cobden got the afternoon off to a flying start by landing the opening Molson Coors EBF Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle with 5-2 chance Cill Anna and the third race, the Unique Financial Planning Handicap, with Worthy Farm.

 

30 January 2020

 

 

A Showjumping Debut

A member of the legendary showjumping dynasty won his debut over jumps at Newcastle. 32-year-old Joe Whitaker, whose uncles, John and Michael, won Olympic equestrian medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, was riding the favourite Ladronne, trained by Tjade Collier, in the Equine Products Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle. This Linda's Lad gelding didn't jump fluently and was held up in the rear. Three hurdles out the six-year-old still had plenty to do but kept on strongly and claimed the prize in the final strides of this two-and-three-quarter-mile contest.

 

Sweet Success?

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle will take on a maximum of 10 rivals in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday. This Sulamani mare is unbeaten after six starts and produced a career-best performance in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on her last appearance at the beginning of December. The six-year-old is a hot favourite to make it seven out of seven at the Dublin Racing Festival but is set to face a strong challenge from the likes of Apple's Jade and Petit Mouchoir when she drops to two miles and races left-handed for the first time.

 

One more for Arthur

Lucinda Russell's One For Arthur will run either at Kelso or Haydock next month before bidding for a second victory in the Grand National at Aintree. It is three years since this Milan gelding became only the second Scottish-trained winner of the world's greatest steeplechase. Since then the 11-year-old has only run competitively five times, including sixth place in last year's National. So far this season, One For Arthur has run with credit although not winning at Kelso. The Kinross-based trainer is reportedly pleased with her charge's progress and is keen to give him just one more run before sending him back to Merseyside. The Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso on February 13 is currently favoured over Haydock's Grand National Trial two days later.

 

29 January 2020

 

Sweet Success?

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle will take on a maximum of 10 rivals in the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday. This Sulamani mare is unbeaten after six starts and produced a career-best performance in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on her last appearance at the beginning of December. The six-year-old is a hot favourite to make it seven out of seven at the Dublin Racing Festival but is set to face a strong challenge from the likes of Apple's Jade and Petit Mouchoir when she drops to two miles and races left-handed for the first time.

 

One more before ...

Lucinda Russell's One For Arthur will run either at Kelso or Haydock next month before bidding for a second victory in the Grand National at Aintree. It is three years since this Milan gelding became only the second Scottish-trained winner of the world's greatest steeplechase. Since then the 11-year-old has only run competitively five times, including sixth place in last year's National. So far this season, One For Arthur has run with credit although not winning at Kelso. The Kinross-based trainer is reportedly pleased with her charge's progress and is keen to give him just one more run before sending him back to Merseyside. The Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso on February 13 is currently favoured over Haydock's Grand National Trial two days later.

 

A Fairytale Result

A member of the legendary showjumping dynasty won his debut over jumps at Newcastle. 32-year-old Joe Whitaker, whose uncles, John and Michael, won Olympic equestrian medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, was riding the favourite Ladronne, trained by Tjade Collier, in the Equine Products Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle. This Linda's Lad gelding didn't jump fluently and was held up in the rear. Three hurdles out the six-year-old still had plenty to do but kept on strongly and claimed the prize in the final strides of this two-and-three-quarter-mile contest.

 

28 January 2020

 

Still Hope

Nicky Henderson is still hopeful that Pentland Hills can compete in the Unibet Champion Hurdle in March. This Motivator gelding won each of his first three starts over jumps last season, including Grade One victories in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree. However, he has been beaten on each of his two outings so far this year, running well, before making a mistake and coming fifth place in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December and then being pipped at the post by Ballyandy in a Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.

 

A Stormy Victory

This Motivator mare made it three out of three after claiming the Grade Three Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas. Last season the Willie Mullins-trained Stormy Ireland was runner-up to Roksana at the Cheltenham Festival and could only make second behind stable companion, Benie Des Dieux, at Punchestown. This season, however, has gone much better for the six-year-old, who took up the running as she approached the second-last flight. Paul Townend only had to flick the reins just before the last hurdle and Stormy Ireland, after a bold leap, galloped to a six-length victory.

 

Carefully does it!

The Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected was already the ante-post favourite for the National Hunt Chase after winning a Grade Three contest over two-and-a-half-miles at Punchestown. However, updated race conditions announced last Summer stated that to qualify for the National Hunt Chase, a horse must have finished in the first four in a chase staged over an extended two miles and seven-and-a-half furlongs or further which this eight-year-old had not done. Willie Mullins, therefore, had no choice but to run this Well Chosen gelding just two weeks after his last triumph. This was in the yesterday's Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase where Carefully Selected, ridden by Paul Townend, was the 4/6 favourite. He set out to make all the running but his jumping was not always up-to-scratch. After going into the lead, Carefully Selected made a terrible mistake three fences out. He managed to survive, however, and go on to win by four lengths.

 

27 January 2020

 

A Stormy Victory

This Motivator mare made it three out of three after claiming the Grade Three Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas. Last season the Willie Mullins-trained Stormy Ireland was runner-up to Roksana at the Cheltenham Festival and could only make second behind stable companion, Benie Des Dieux, at Punchestown. This season, however, has gone much better for the six-year-old, who took up the running as she approached the second-last flight. Paul Townend only had to flick the reins just before the last hurdle and Stormy Ireland, after a bold leap, galloped to a six-length victory.

 

Carefully does it!

The Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected was already the ante-post favourite for the National Hunt Chase after winning a Grade Three contest over two-and-a-half-miles at Punchestown. However, updated race conditions announced last Summer stated that to qualify for the National Hunt Chase, a horse must have finished in the first four in a chase staged over an extended two miles and seven-and-a-half furlongs or further which this eight-year-old had not done. Willie Mullins, therefore, had no choice but to run this Well Chosen gelding just two weeks after his last triumph. This was in the yesterday's Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase where Carefully Selected, ridden by Paul Townend, was the 4/6 favourite. He set out to make all the running but his jumping was not always up-to-scratch. After going into the lead, Carefully Selected made a terrible mistake three fences out. He managed to survive, however, and go on to win by four lengths.

 

Still Hope

Nicky Henderson is still hopeful that Pentland Hills can compete in the Unibet Champion Hurdle in March. This Motivator gelding won each of his first three starts over jumps last season, including Grade One victories in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree. However, he has been beaten on each of his two outings so far this year, running well, before making a mistake and coming fifth place in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December and then being pipped at the post by Ballyandy in a Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.

 

26 January 2020

 

A Star in the making?

The winner of the Sporting Life EBF "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle at Doncaster may well be another top-class novice hurdler in the making for Nicky Henderson. Glynn, whose only other success was in a point-to-point race over three miles, was a 15/8 shot in his rules debut and won this two-and-a-half-mile contest by 11-lengths. His jockey, Jeremiah McGrath, was visibly impressed with the victory and believes the six-year-old could be the next star in the Seven Barrows trainer yard.

 

Not taken for granted

Brian Hughes stretched his lead over the injured Richard Johnson to six in the National Hunt jockeys' championship after two wins at Doncaster yesterday but the 29-year-old is level-headed enough to know that his title bid is still not assured. Pogue and Gaelik Coast's wins took his total to 117 for the season. The reigning champion for the last four years, Richard Johnson, is on the sidelines after breaking his arm in a fall at Exeter on Tuesday and the nearest challenger is Sam Twiston-Davies who trails him by 29.

 

Total Victory

The Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall got back to his old form with a vengeance when winning the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran. The race was run in thick fog, making it difficult to see the runners in certain parts of the track, and reminiscent of Kayf Aramis' victory at Bath 14 years ago, when the runners came out of the gloom at the second-last fence, Total Recall, ridden by Danny Mullins, was well in the clear. Despite a blunder at the last, victory was already assured, giving Willie Mullins his eighth triumph in the Thyestes.

 

24 January 2020

 

Willie's Trio

It has been announced that Ireland's champion trainer, Willie Mullins, is entering Kemboy, Chacun Pour Soi and Faugheen in the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown at the beginning of February. The Closutton stable will be well represented on both days of the fixture, bidding for a share of the eight Grade One prizes on offer. Kemboy, who goes for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup is set to be a leading member of the team. The eight-year-old seems to have benefited greatly from his first run of the season, when he came fourth in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.

 

Going fo Gold

The Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy was due to go for his hat-trick in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle but owner, Philip Reynolds, has now decided that next month's Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown is the next target. This Sir Percy gelding won the Galmoy Hurdle for the second time at Gowran Park last year before being sent off favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup but the nine-year-old finished a disappointing eighth at Prestbury Park. Since then he has produced two creditable performances this season, coming third in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and fifth in Leopardstown's Savills Chase in December.

 

Handicapped!

Having ended a losing run with an impressive victory in a handicap at Wetherby last month, the Dan Skelton-trained Marracudja took a huge step up in class in the Clarence House Chase and, as expected, was the 66-1 outsider of five runners. The nine-year-old, however, came home strongly to claim third place, just seven and a half lengths behind the winner Defi Du Seuil and just under five behind the runner-up, Un De Sceaux. The Warwickshire-based trainer now fears it will be a long time before this Martaline gelding returns to the winner's enclosure as he has been clobbered by a hefty rise in the weights for his superb effort.

22 January 2020

 

Change of Race

The Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy was due to go for his hat-trick in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle but owner, Philip Reynolds, has now decided that next month's Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown is the next target. This Sir Percy gelding won the Galmoy Hurdle for the second time at Gowran Park last year before being sent off favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup but the nine-year-old finished a disappointing eighth at Prestbury Park. Since then he has produced two creditable performances this season, coming third in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and fifth in Leopardstown's Savills Chase in December.

 

How 'Cudja!

Having ended a losing run with an impressive victory in a handicap at Wetherby last month, the Dan Skelton-trained Marracudja took a huge step up in class in Saturday's Ascot Grade One Clarence House Chase and, as expected, was the 66-1 outsider of five runners. The nine-year-old, however, came home strongly to claim third place, just seven and a half lengths behind the winner Defi Du Seuil and just under five behind the runner-up, Un De Sceaux. The

Warwickshire-based trainer now fears it will be a long time before this Martaline gelding returns to the winner's enclosure as he has been clobbered by a hefty rise in the weights for his superb effort.

 

Willie do it?

It has been announced that Ireland's champion trainer, Willie Mullins, is entering Kemboy, Chacun Pour Soi and Faugheen in the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown at the beginning of February. The Closutton stable will be well represented on both days of the fixture, bidding for a share of the eight Grade One prizes on offer. Kemboy, who goes for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup is set to be a leading member of the team. The eight-year-old seems to have benefited greatly from his first run of the season, when he came fourth in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.

 

21 January 2020

 

It's a Steel!

The Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles turned out to be a real steal for Willie Mullins as he claimed the one-two-three slots. The favourite was Footpad, ridden by Daryl Jacob, who after racing keenly, went into the lead in the back straight. Stable companion, Real Steel, however, passed him two fences out and went on to win by fourteen lengths with Voix Du Reve taking third, another eight-and-a-half lengths further back.

 

A Defiant Defi 

Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil one more demonstrated his superiority when claiming the Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot. The Voix Du Nord gelding narrowly beat Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month and even increased the winning distance to two-and-three-quarter lengths. Defi Du Seuil, ridden by Barry Geraghty, came alongside Un De Sceaux at the second-last fence and then went on into the lead, pulling away from his market rival between the final two fences. Willie Mullins' twelve-year-old Denham Red gelding, a three-time winner of this Grade One feature race, stuck boldly to his task and came second, four-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Marracudja.

 

Kept 'im Andy!

Ballyandy nosed his way to victory in the final strides of The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock. The Nicky Henderson-trained Pentland Hills was in the lead after the last hurdle but Sam Twiston-Davies urged his mount to a last-minute challenge and narrowly defeated last season's Triumph Hurdle winner. Cornerstone Lad had made a brave bid to lead all the way but Pentland Hills, the 2-1 favourite, was just biding his time before challenging. The Nico de Boinville-ridden Motivator gelding went into the lead but he had no answer to Ballyandy, who claimed his prize right on the line.

 

19 January 2020

 

Defi defies

Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil one more demonstrated his superiority when claiming the Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot. The Voix Du Nord gelding narrowly beat Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month and even increased the winning distance to two-and-three-quarter lengths. Defi Du Seuil, ridden by Barry Geraghty, came alongside Un De Sceaux at the second-last fence and then went on into the lead, pulling away from his market rival between the final two fences. Willie Mullins' twelve-year-old Denham Red gelding, a three-time winner of this Grade One feature race, stuck boldly to his task and came second, four-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Marracudja.

 

Bally good!

Ballyandy nosed his way to victory in the final strides of The New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock. The Nicky Henderson-trained Pentland Hills was in the lead after the last hurdle but Sam Twiston-Davies urged his mount to a last-minute challenge and narrowly defeated last season's Triumph Hurdle winner. Cornerstone Lad had made a brave bid to lead all the way but Pentland Hills, the 2-1 favourite, was just biding his time before challenging. The Nico de Boinville-ridden Motivator gelding went into the lead but he had no answer to Ballyandy, who claimed his prize right on the line.

 

It's Magic!

The Jessica Harrington-trained Magic Of Light notched up a second successive victory in the bet365 Mares' Hurdle at Ascot. This Flemensfirth mare, giving weight away all round, made a triumphant return to hurdles and, thereby, became the first back-to-back winner of this Grade Two prize. Magic Of Light, ridden by Robbie Power, was in charge from the start and beat the hat-trick-seeking Sensulano by four-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

17 January 2020

 

No Panic!

This Canford Cliffs mare, Willie Mullins' first runner at Market Rasen, scored easily in the Alan Swinbank Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race. It was Panic Attack's debut in Listed company but she travelled strongly throughout this two-mile-plus contest. Paul Townend urged her to the front early in the home straight and she readily pulled ten lengths clear of her eight rivals, who were struggling in the soft conditions.

 

Old Rivals meet again

Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux are the two star names among five runners declared for the Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot tomorrow. The Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil beat Willie Mullins' Un De Sceaux by a neck in a thrilling renewal of the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December and the duo compete against each other again in this weekend's Grade One feature. The outstanding 12-year-old Un De Sceaux has already claimed this prize on a record three occasions, completing a hat-trick between 2016 and 2018 but did not run in last year's renewal. Defi Du Seuil, however, who is the five years younger, is a short-priced favourite.

 

Gunning for victory

After being under the weather following a disappointing run at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, the Amy Murphy-trained Kalashnikov is reported to be firing on all cylinders again. The Newmarket trainer revealed that her stable star returned home 'sick' after the Prestbury Park experience. However, after treatment, Kalashnikov has now recovered and is being prepared for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

16 January 2020

 

Kept Andy

The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle at Punchestown provided the opportunity for the Gordon Elliott-trained Andy Dufresne to get back into the winning enclosure. This Doyen gelding was dropping back to two miles in this Grade Two feature race having been beaten over the longer distance at Navan last time out. As the six-strong field turned into the straight it was clear that the task wasn't going to be easy, but the six-year-old was more fluent over the last hurdle which proved to be the decisive factor. Mark Walsh then rode Andy Dufresne to a three-quarter lengths victory.

 

Rocky One

Derek O'Connor partnered Rocky's Silver to a victory in the Total Event Rental Amateur National at Punchestown. Despite finishing only sixth over hurdles at Cork just over a week ago, the James Dullea-trained Acambaro gelding was well backed and, after getting a dream run up the rail approaching the second-last fence, Rocky's Silver stuck to his task and beat off the challenge by Final List to score by a length and a half.

 

Winner Selected

The Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a powerful front-running display in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown. This Well Chosen gelding already had two bumper to his credit and was only narrowly denied a third in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. The eight-year-old raced only twice over hurdles last season - winning at Limerick and gaining a third in a Grade One at this County Kildare track. Stepping up in class for this Grade Three assignment, Carefully Selected was ridden straight into the lead by Paul Townend and was still dominant when coming into the home turn for an easy 24-length success.

 

14 January 2020

 

Carefully does it.

The Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a powerful front-running display in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown. This Well Chosen gelding already had two bumper to his credit and was only narrowly denied a third in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. The eight-year-old raced only twice over hurdles last season - winning at Limerick and gaining a third in a Grade One at this County Kildare track. Stepping up in class for this Grade Three assignment, Carefully Selected was ridden straight into the lead by Paul Townend and was still dominant when coming into the home turn for an easy 24-length success.

 

Shawshank Redemption

The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle at Punchestown provided the opportunity for the Gordon Elliott-trained Andy Dufresne to get back into the winning enclosure. This Doyen gelding was dropping back to two miles in this Grade Two feature race having been beaten over the longer distance at Navan last time out. As the six-strong field turned into the straight it was clear that the task wasn't going to be easy, but the six-year-old was more fluent over the last hurdle which proved to be the decisive factor. Mark Walsh then rode Andy Dufresne to a three-quarter lengths victory.

 

A Grey Day

Derek O'Connor partnered Rocky's Silver to a victory in the Total Event Rental Amateur National at Punchestown. Despite finishing only sixth over hurdles at Cork just over a week ago, the James Dullea-trained Acambaro gelding was well backed and, after getting a dream run up the rail approaching the second-last fence, Rocky's Silver stuck to his task and beat off the challenge by Final List to score by a length and a half.

 

13 January 2020

 

Redemption for Andy!

The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle at Punchestown provided the opportunity for the Gordon Elliott-trained Andy Dufresne to get back into the winning enclosure. This Doyen gelding was dropping back to two miles in this Grade Two feature race having been beaten over the longer distance at Navan last time out. As the six-strong field turned into the straight it was clear that the task wasn't going to be easy, but the six-year-old was more fluent over the last hurdle which proved to be the decisive factor. Mark Walsh then rode Andy Dufresne to a three-quarter lengths victory.

 

Well Selected

The Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a powerful front-running display in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown. This Well Chosen gelding already had two bumper to his credit and was only narrowly denied a third in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. The eight-year-old raced only twice over hurdles last season - winning at Limerick and gaining a third in a Grade One at this County Kildare track. Stepping up in class for this Grade Three assignment, Carefully Selected was ridden straight into the lead by Paul Townend and was still dominant when coming into the home turn for an easy 24-length success.

 

A Grey shows the way

Derek O'Connor partnered Rocky's Silver to a victory in the Total Event Rental Amateur National at Punchestown. Despite finishing only sixth over hurdles at Cork just over a week ago, the James Dullea-trained Acambaro gelding was well backed and, after getting a dream run up the rail approaching the second-last fence, Rocky's Silver stuck to his task and beat off the challenge by Final List to score by a length and a half.

 

11 January 2020

 

'Batl won!

As expected the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Benbatl easily outran his four rivals on his return to action at Meydan. This Dubawi progeny claimed the Dubai Turf, the Grosser Dallmayr Preis in Germany and Ladbrokes Stakes in Australia in 2018. There seem to have been a few problems last season, however, as he did not start racing until September. He certainly looked back to his old form when winning the Newmarket's Joel Stakes but he floundered in the mud when favourite, coming last of sixteen in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Ascot. Making his first competitive appearance since that disastrous performance, Benbatl seem to have a fairly straightforward task in the Group Two Singspiel Stakes and the result was never in doubt.

 

Winning Appeal

The owners of Protektorat, who was relegated to second place in the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle on New Year's Day, have been successful in their appeal against the decision. The Saint Des Saints gelding passed the post a head in front of the Fergal O'Brien-trained Imperial Alcazar but the stewards reversed the placings, deeming that interference had taken place at a 'critical point in the race'.

 

Little by Little

Little Bruce, trained by Phil Kirby went one better than last year in the Watt Fences North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick. With the absence of Sue Smith, who trained the last four winners, there was a chance for a new name to be added to the trophy. Despite the fact that this Yeats gelding only had his first run of the season eight days ago over hurdles, he was the clear favourite. Luck was on Little Bruce's side when Brian Boranha fell at the final fence but he seemed to be travelling the better of the two at the time and eventually won by three lengths.

 

10 January 2020

 

Back to Front!

The owners of Protektorat, who was relegated to second place in the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle on New Year's Day, have been successful in their appeal against the decision. The Saint Des Saints gelding passed the post a head in front of the Fergal O'Brien-trained Imperial Alcazar but the stewards reversed the placings, deeming that interference had taken place at a 'critical point in the race'.

 

Ben again

As expected the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Benbatl easily outran his four rivals on his return to action at Meydan. This Dubawi progeny claimed the Dubai Turf, the Grosser Dallmayr Preis in Germany and Ladbrokes Stakes in Australia in 2018. There seem to have been a few problems last season, however, as he did not start racing until September. He certainly looked back to his old form when winning the Newmarket's Joel Stakes but he floundered in the mud when favourite, coming last of sixteen in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Ascot. Making his first competitive appearance since that disastrous performance, Benbatl seem to have a fairly straightforward task in the Group Two Singspiel Stakes and the result was never in doubt.

 

Little goes a long way

Little Bruce, trained by Phil Kirby went one better than last year in the Watt Fences North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick. With the absence of Sue Smith, who trained the last four winners, there was a chance for a new name to be added to the trophy. Despite the fact that this Yeats gelding only had his first run of the season eight days ago over hurdles, he was the clear favourite. Luck was on Little Bruce's side when Brian Boranha fell at the final fence but he seemed to be travelling the better of the two at the time and eventually won by three lengths.

 

9 January 2020

 

Good to be back!

Daryl Jacob got back to business with a win aboard Dragon D'Estruval at Ludlow after, what must have been, a very frustrating time over Christmas, recovering from a hand injury. It was the Wexford-born jockey's only outing at the Shropshire track. There was certainly no doubt that he was back to top fitness in the Vobe Electrics Handicap Chase with the 3/1 joint-favourite Enrique gelding being pushed all the way to the line by Another Stowaway. The prospect of getting back on board his favourite horse, Top Notch, at Kempton on Saturday must have increase his desire for victory as he rode the Nicky Henderson-trained Dragon D'Estruval to a two-length victory.

 

Sam played it again

After being off the track for over two years recovering from injury, the Anthony Honeyball-trained Sam Brown made a winning debut over fences in the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices' Chase at Lingfield. The eight-year-old gelding, who won his hurdling maiden at Plumpton last time out, proved he had not lost any of his ability during his long absence. Ridden by Aidan Coleman, the Black Sam Bellamy progeny made just one mistake at the 14th hurdle but, apart from that, the 6/5 favourite put in a nigh-on foot-perfect round of jumping and claimed the prize by 22 lengths.

 

It's a Mysteree!

It looks like Michael Scudamore will place his hopes on Mysteree in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on Saturday. The Ross-on-Wye trainer's other entry, Some Chaos, will now, it seems, go for the Portman Cup Chase at Taunton on January 18, as the ground will be too soft for him at Hampton St. track. The Gold Well gelding is reported to be in great form and will make up for his poor performance in the Becher Chase at Aintree last month. His long-distance chase record is noteworthy and includes a victory in the 2017 Eider Chase as well as good placings in the Grand National Trial and the Midlands National.

 

8 January 2020

 

Sam's back

After being off the track for over two years recovering from injury, the Anthony Honeyball-trained Sam Brown made a winning debut over fences in the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices' Chase at Lingfield. The eight-year-old gelding, who won his hurdling maiden at Plumpton last time out, proved he had not lost any of his ability during his long absence. Ridden by Aidan Coleman, the Black Sam Bellamy progeny made just one mistake at the 14th hurdle but, apart from that, the 6/5 favourite put in a nigh-on foot-perfect round of jumping and claimed the prize by 22 lengths.

 

No Chaos!

It looks like Michael Scudamore will place his hopes on Mysteree in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on Saturday. The Ross-on-Wye trainer's other entry, Some Chaos, will now, it seems, go for the Portman Cup Chase at Taunton on January 18, as the ground will be too soft for him at Hampton St. track. The Gold Well gelding is reported to be in great form and will make up for his poor performance in the Becher Chase at Aintree last month. His long-distance chase record is noteworthy and includes a victory in the 2017 Eider Chase as well as good placings in the Grand National Trial and the Midlands National.

 

Fascinating Race

The eye-catcher of the day is the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle which is a fascinating qualifier for the All-Weather Finals Day at Lingfield in April. The five-furlong contest has established sprinters such as Royal Birth and Corinthia Knight, both Finals Day winners last year racing against less-exposed improvers such as Good Effort, Lomu and Hareem Queen. The official betting backs Corinthia Knight or Royal Birth, but not by much. It remains to be seen whether they have enough ability to beat off fresher and younger rivals?

7 January 2020

 

Haydock next?

Micky Hammond-trained Cornerstone Lad is set to run at Haydock in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial in two weeks' time. The he will bid to follow up his success in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in November, when he beat the dual champion hurdler Buveur D'Air. The Middleham-based trainer hasn't yet ruled out the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso for the Delegator gelding charge, but, overall, Haydock is his preference.

 

On Song

Colin Tizzard's Fiddlerontheroof was the emphatic winner of the Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown. This Stowaway gelding was the 5/4 favourite for the Grade One event, following up his easy victory over the course and distance last time out. Robbie Power kept the six-year-old always prominent and two hurdles from the finish Fiddlerontheroof was urged to go for home. Gavin Cromwell's Jeremys Flame made a challenge between the second last and final obstacle but the eventual winner still had enough in reserve to soar effortlessly over the final hurdle and claim the prize.

 

Just made it!

Despite being hindered by a loose horse towards the end of the race, the Anthony Honeyball-trained Jepeck came out on top in a three-way photo-finish on the line in the Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown. The 11-year-old qualified for the race in March last year and hasn't been seen over fences since as his trainer clearly wanted to protect his handicap mark. This Westerner gelding continued to do well over hurdles, though, winning two out of three, but seemed to enjoy returning to fences, as he jumped well in testing conditions. Three fences from home Jepeck looked sure to win before a rider-less Horatio Hornblower crossed his path just before the last obstacle, giving both Regal Flow and Theatre Guide a chance to get into contention. Miraculously Jepeck managed to recover on the far side and got into the photo-finish and was declared the winner, with Regal Flow beating Theatre Guide for second place.

 

6 January 2020

 

Well in tune

Colin Tizzard's Fiddlerontheroof was the emphatic winner of the Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown. This Stowaway gelding was the 5/4 favourite for the Grade One event, following up his easy victory over the course and distance last time out. Robbie Power kept the six-year-old always prominent and two hurdles from the finish Fiddlerontheroof was urged to go for home. Gavin Cromwell's Jeremys Flame made a challenge between the second last and final obstacle but the eventual winner still had enough in reserve to soar effortlessly over the final hurdle and claim the prize.

 

Three-way photo-finish

Despite being hindered by a loose horse towards the end of the race, the Anthony Honeyball-trained Jepeck came out on top in a three-way photo-finish on the line in the Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown. The 11-year-old qualified for the race in March last year and hasn't been seen over fences since as his trainer clearly wanted to protect his handicap mark. This Westerner gelding continued to do well over hurdles, though, winning two out of three, but seemed to enjoy returning to fences, as he jumped well in testing conditions. Three fences from home Jepeck looked sure to win before a rider-less Horatio Hornblower crossed his path just before the last obstacle, giving both Regal Flow and Theatre Guide a chance to get into contention. Miraculously Jepeck managed to recover on the far side and got into the photo-finish and was declared the winner, with Regal Flow beating Theatre Guide for second place.

 

Head to Head

Ayr’s feature race this afternoon - Jumping For Joy On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle – provides the scene for Brian Hughes and Richard Johnson to continue their championship dual. The latter is teaming up again with Gordon Elliott in this seven-runner contest. This trainer and jockey partnership has notched up a good record over the last five years, with 98 winners at a 30 per cent strike rate. Today they're running five-year-old Ocean Voyage, who's on his first run across the Irish sea since being trained by the County Meath-based trainer. Brian Hughes will be riding the James Ewart-trained Calix Delafayette, who is the favourite, despite the fact that he hasn't raced for over a year and a half. In his favour, however, is the fact that he is one of two horses in the race with a 100 per cent record at Ayr, the other being Ardera Cross, trained by William Young jnr.

 

5 January 2020

 

 Forever Winning

Paul Nicholls-trained Silver Forever got back into winning ways in the Unibet Mares' Hurdle at Sandown preparing the way for first venture into Graded race company. The six-year-old seemed to enjoy stepping up to two-and-a-half miles and claiming the biggest victory of her career. The 6-5 second favourite, Silver Forever, ridden by Harry Cobden, moved smoothly into contention and quickened to beat Copper Gone West by six and a half lengths.

 

They're Appealing

Connections of Protektorat are planning to appeal the decision of the stewards at Cheltenham on New Year's Day to relegate the Dan Skelton-trained gelding from first to second place in the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. This Saint Des Saints gelding passed the post a head in front of Imperial Alcazar in the first race of the day but the stewards reversed the placings, deeming that interference had taken place. Protektorat was ridden by the trainer's brother, Harry, who commented afterwards: " I was very surprised to lose the race, as were quite a lot of other people who I spoke to.”

 

Back-to-Back Bid

The Gordon Elliott-trained Envoi Allen, with two impressive victories to his credit this season, is bidding for back-to-back Grade 1 wins in the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle today. This two-and-a-half-mile event is turning into a significant race as the first five winners have triumphed in ten of their 13 subsequent starts. This Muhtathir gelding wong a maiden hurdle at Down Royal before getting beating Abacadabras in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

 

4 January 2020

 

Time for Oldies

Jepeck could be the one to beat in today's Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown. This three-mile contest event is being run this year in memory of the late Houblon Des Obeaux and gives older horses a chance to shine and that should suit the Anthony Honeyball-trained

Westerner gelding fine. The 11-year-old has not run over fences since last March, as the Dorset-based trainer has purpsefully kept him over hurdles, a decision that has produced two wins from three starts - including a 19-length victory Bangor in November. Jepeck is five pounds heavier than the last time he negotiated fences but his regular jockey, Rex Dingle, claims three pounds so all is in his favour.

 

Midnight Victory

The Nicky Henderson-trained King's Theatre gelding, the 4/9 favourite, seemed to have the Paddy Power Broken Resolutions Already Dipper Novices' Chase in the bag. His jockey, Barry Geraghty even had time to look behind to check for any threats after jumping the third fence from home. Then, unexpectedly, Champ came a cropper at the next obstacle leaving Sue Smith's Midnight Shadow in front. The latter had to be kept to the task by Danny Cook after jumping out to the right at the last but he stayed on well to win by by a length and a quarter. It was Midnight Shadow's second New Year's Day victory in succession, having claimed the 2019 renewal of the Relkeel Hurdle.

 

Winner placed second

Dan Skelton wasn't so lucky in the first race of the day, the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle when Protektorat was first past the post but disqualified and placed second after a Stewards' Enquiry. This Saint Des Saint gelding travelled and jumped noticeably from the beginning of this two-and-a-half-mile contest and made his bid at the last hurdle. Imperial Alcazar, under Paddy Brennan, was brought very wide on the downhill run to the home bend and, after switching to the centre of the track, he was hindered when Protektorat drifted right across him to the stands' side rail, and was denied victory by just a head in a photo finish. The stewards, however, decided that the interference was serious enough to overturn the result and declared Imperial Alcazar the winner and Protektorat relegated to runner-up.

 

3 January 2020

 

Three with a chance

Oldgrangewood, trained by Dan Skelton, won the Power Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in what was one of the tightest three-way finishes for a long time. This Central Park gelding challenged Saint Calvados and Lalor in a mighty gallop up the infamous Prestbury Park hill and past the post virtually as one. The stewards took quite a while the judges deliberated over the photo-finish. Eventually it was announced that Oldgrangewood, ridden by the trainer's brother, Harry, was the winner with Saint Calvados second and Lalor third.

 

Champ down

The Nicky Henderson-trained King's Theatre gelding, the 4/9 favourite, seemed to have the Paddy Power Broken Resolutions Already Dipper Novices' Chase in the bag. His jockey, Barry Geraghty even had time to look behind to check for any threats after jumping the third fence from home. Then, unexpectedly, Champ came a cropper at the next obstacle leaving Sue Smith's Midnight Shadow in front. The latter had to be kept to the task by Danny Cook after jumping out to the right at the last but he stayed on well to win by by a length and a quarter. It was Midnight Shadow's second New Year's Day victory in succession, having claimed the 2019 renewal of the Relkeel Hurdle.

 

First disqualified

Dan Skelton wasn't so lucky in the first race of the day, the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle when Protektorat was first past the post but disqualified and placed second after a Stewards' Enquiry. This Saint Des Saint gelding travelled and jumped noticeably from the beginning of this two-and-a-half-mile contest and made his bid at the last hurdle. Imperial Alcazar, under Paddy Brennan, was brought very wide on the downhill run to the home bend and, after switching to the centre of the track, he was hindered when Protektorat drifted right across him to the stands' side rail, and was denied victory by just a head in a photo finish. The stewards, however, decided that the interference was serious enough to overturn the result and declared Imperial Alcazar the winner and Protektorat relegated to runner-up.

 

2 January 2020

 

Around Midnight

The Nicky Henderson-trained Champ, the 4/9 favourite, seemed to have the the Paddy Power Broken Resolutions Already Dipper Novices' Chase in the bag. His jockey, Barry Geraghty even had time to look behind to check for any threats after jumping the third fence from home. Then, unexpectedly, the King's Theatre gelding came a cropper at the next obstacle leaving Sue Smith's Midnight Shadow in front. The latter had to be kept to the task by Danny Cook after jumping out to the right at the last but he stayed on well to win by by a length and a quarter. It was Midnight Shadow's second New Year's Day victory in succession, having claimed the 2019 renewal of the Relkeel Hurdle.

 

Three-way photo-finish

Oldgrangewood, trained by Dan Skelton, won the Power Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in what was one of the tightest three-way finishes for a long time. This Central Park gelding challenged Saint Calvados and Lalor in a mighty gallop up the infamous Prestbury Park hill and past the post virtually as one. The stewards took quite a while the judges deliberated over the photo-finish. Eventually it was announced that Oldgrangewood, ridden by the trainer's brother, Harry, was the winner with Saint Calvados second and Lalor third.

 

First but not the winner!

Dan Skelton wasn't so lucky in the first race of the day, the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle when Protektorat was first past the post but disqualified and placed second after a Stewards' Enquiry. This Saint Des Saint gelding travelled and jumped noticeably from the beginning of this two-and-a-half-mile contest and made his bid at the last hurdle. Imperial Alcazar, under Paddy Brennan, was brought very wide on the downhill run to the home bend and, after switching to the centre of the track, he was hindered when Protektorat drifted right across him to the stands' side rail, and was denied victory by just a head in a photo finish. The stewards, however, decided that the interference was of sufficient importance to overturn the result and declared Imperial Alcazar the winner and Protektorat relegated to runner-up.