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December 1st

Fairyhouse (Going; Soft)

A terrific days racing is in store at Fairyhouse this Sunday with three Grade 1's up for decision and a host of top class horses giving us competitive racing throughout the card.

Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (2m)
A cracking contest in store with nine runners who have all run races. Envoi Allen was very impressive when winning over what many though an inadequate trip of 2m. But he hardly came off the bridle when beating Front View, who won next time out and Entoucas who was just chinned on the line at Navan last week. Those two runs gave a boost to the form and while Gordon Elliott believes he will improve when stepped up in trip. Abracadabras was almost 6L behind Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. He has won his two starts over hurdles this season. He was not fluent in his jumping in the first at Gowran and jumped a lot better at Navan. He looks to have plenty of speed and as both himself and Envoi Allen are trained by Gordon Elliott and market moves should be noted. Midnight Run beat Colreevy by 9l at Cork on his only start this season and can't be discounted. Soviet Pimpernel was just held by Quel Destin at Cheltenham in October and before that had won a Bumper in September and his Maiden Hurdle in October. His trainer Peter Fahy says he would like the Ground to dry out a bit more. Embittered beat the odds-on Blackbow, who probably needs further, over 2m in a Maiden at Naas three weeks ago and has finished 3L behind Envoi Allen in a Leopardstown Grade 2 Bumper. Foveros has won three of his four starts since arriving from France. He is rated 140 so probably needs to improve. Daveros has won his four starts this season, all over hurdles and loses his Novice status after this. His last two wins have come over longer trips so he might be vulnerable here. Fast Buck struggled in testing ground at Navan behind Abracadabras while TurnpikeTrip probably needs to improve. I was impressed with Envoi Allen at Down Royal and think he might have enough class to win here.
Selection; Envoi Allen
Best Alternative; Abracadabras

Drinmore Novice Chase (2m4f)
Just six runners for this and it promises to be a cracker. Once described at the "second coming" Samcro had a disappointing time last season and connections decided to pull stumps after Leopardstown at Christmas. He re-appeared at Down Royal and in a poor field he had little trouble in rolling home by 15l. That will have done his confidence good but this is a tougher test. Fakir D'oudairies is just a 4yo but a lot of these French breeds are quite mature and he ran in two Chases there as a 3yo. He was still a maiden when he arrived at Joseph O'Brien'sand he started off in fine style winning his first two starts. He then had the misfortune to come uo against Klassical Dream, Pentland Hills and Fusil Raffles in his next three starts and although he didn't win he was not disgraced. He reappeared at Navan early November where he was very impressive when beating Melon by a comfortable 3L. It cost connections €8,000 to supplement Ronald Pump who won on his seasonal and chase debut at Fairyhouse nineteen days ago where he had the useful Captain Cj 8L back in second. He's done nothing but improve over the last twelve months winning five of his six starts.  This is a big step up though. Irish National winner, Burrows Saint, makes his seasonal debut and while he won over this trip at Gowran last March this could prove a bit sharp for him. Chef Des Obeaux has his first start for Willie Mullins having joined from Nicky Henderson but will probably need further while Tintangle probably has a lot to do. Fakir D'oudairies gets an invaluable 8LB here and as connections felt he would improve a lot before his last run I give him a great chance here.
Selection; Fakir D'oudairies
Best Alternative; Samcro

Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2m4)
Apple's Jade has won the last three renewals of this famous race and last years performance was scintillating. She won her next two starts by a total of 42L but that was as good as it got and she was beaten in her next three starts prior to her summer break. She reappeared at Navan last month and having gone off at odds of 1/4 was beaten over 9L by Bacardys. Gordon Elliott thinks she's coming back to herself but it's hard to be confident in here. Since winning her point in April 2018, Honeysuckle has done nothing but improve winning her five starts under rules. On her seasonal debut at Fairyhouse she beat the useful Easy Game by a very easy 11L. That was around the inner course but her previous win was over the course and distance here and she is a bit of a Fairyhouse specialist as four of her wins have come here. Having disappointed over fences, Bacardys seems to have got his mojo back over hurdles having disappointed in a couple of chases. He seems to be the pick of the stable's runners with Paul Townend getting the leg up. Pendil has been off since April 2018 and is best watched over a rip that's probably a bit short. Davids Charm has been mixing it on the flat and hurdles. This is his tenth start since April and if we were to take the form of his penultimate start in a Grade 3 at Tipperary in October  where he had Petite Mouchoir 23l behind he would have a chance. However the feeling is that a lot of the field ran below their best. Killultagh Vic hasn't won in two years and starts his season here with more hope than expectation. There is probably more to come from Honeysuckle who gets the nod here.
Selection; Honeysuckle
Best Alternative; Apple's Jade

November 30th

Newcastle (Going; Heavy)

Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2m46y)
Newcastle face an 8am Inspection ahead of racing tomorrow with temperature expected to drop below freezing tonight. The course is covered so hopefully racing goes ahead. Buveur D'Air has won the last two renewals of this race and is long odds on to complete the hat trick in a race that is lacking in a bit of quality. He fell early in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and was then beaten by Supasundae over 2m4f at Aintree before winning the Grade 1 at Punchestown in May. Silver Streak was over 40l behind Buveur D'Air in the Aintree race which was on Soft ground. He reappeared in October and won a Listed Hurdle at Kempton where he had Beat The Judge 8l back in second on Good ground and it's noticeable that apart from his first start on a race course all his best form has come with good in the going description. On ratings he has 13lb to find with the favourite although he has the benefit of a run. Lady Buttons gets the 7lb mares allowance and wears cheekpieces for the first time. She won here first four starts last season before her form tailed of a bit on her last two runs. She reappeared at Wetherby four weeks ago and despite idling towards the finish won readily. The first time cheekpieces should help. Again she is one who has a bit to find on ratings being 14lb behind when they are adjusted while she is also declared for Newbury 3.40 her second preference. Cornerstone Lad and Nelson River look outclassed. Buveur D'Air is hard to oppose.
Selection; Buveur D'Air
Best Alternative; Lady Buttons
Newbury (Good To Soft)

John Francome Novices Chase (2m7f86y)
Just the three point to post for this Grade 2 but it's an interesting contest despite short priced favourite in Reserve Tank who has two starts over fences finishing second at chepstow last month and then winning at Wincanton three weeks ago in impressive fashion. He ran up a four timer on his last starts over hurdles beating Brewin'upastorm on his penultimate start in an Aintree Grade 1 before capping off the season with the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. The trainer of the runner up in the aforementioned Wincanton race, Paul Nicholls opposes the favourite with Donnny Whizzbang who is having his first start of the season. He won his point in Ireland back in April 2018 beating Ask Ben who has gone on to win a couple of hurdle races and last week finished 3l behind an impressive Stoney Mountain. Donny Whizzbang has also had a wind op over the summer which to some might seem strange having won his only two starts last season but it's not unusual at Ditcheat. The trainer has been very patient with him and it's interesting that he is thrown in here. Ardlethen has had two starts over fences winning first time up and then finishing a 4l second to Sam Spinner at Wetherby at the beginning of the month. He also won his point back in May 2018. Reserve Tank is untried over this trip although his Dam won a point at 3m. However he doesn't appeal at 4/9 and I'll take a chance with Donny Whizzbang 
Selection; Donny Whizzbang
Best Alternative; Ardlethen

November 29th

Newbury (Going; Soft)

The Berkshire Chase (2m3f187y)
Champ was a top class Novice Hurdler winning two Grade 1's last season including one around this course over 2m4f. He got his chasing career off o a great start earlier this month around here over 2m6f120y and despite taking a keen hold he cruised up to the last and won readily. His jumping on the whole was good with one minor error but it was a performance full of class. I wouldn't be worried about dropping back in trip as he has a bit of pace about him. Dashel Dancer was behind him the last day and I can't see him turning the tables. Black Op was a high class hurdler two seasons ago where he had Lostintranslation among his victims in an Aintree Grade 1. He was earlier beaten less than a length by Santini in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham  before going down by 3l to Samcro at the Festival. He had two reasonable efforts over fences last season before reverting to hurdles where his form seemed to disappear. A wind Op over the summer seems to have rejuvenated him as he bolted in by 15l in a beginner's Chase at Stratford last month There is nothing between him and Champ on ratings. Following his one run over fences last season where he unseated Vision Des Flos reverted to hurdles and had some decent after wind surgery in December. He was runner up to Buveur D'Air at Sandown, ran a fine race been third just over 1L behind Grand Sancy at Wincantoin in a Grade 2 and beat If The Cap Fits at Fontwell before a couple of disappointing runs to round off a busy season. He had another wind op over the summer and showed the benefit of it when having lead on the run in, he got run out of it to go down a couple of necks to Top Notch and Roksana three weeks ago at Aintree. Reverting back to fences here is interesting. Alan King writes a great column in the Racing Post Weekender during the season and in this weeks edition he was hoping the ground wouldn't get too testing for Deyran De Carjac who was impressive in winning his two starts over fences, the second one coming on his seasonal debut earlier this month. Mont Des Avaloirs reverted to hurdling after his only start over fences last October. He was well beaten on his final three starts and had a wind op during the summer. Probably best watch on his seasonal debut but market moves should be noted. Champ gets the nod.
Selection; Champ
Best Alternative; Black Op

Long Distance Hurdle (3m52)
The more I look at this race the trickier it gets. Emma Lavelle was quoted during the week as saying that Paisley Park had come back in after the summer very fat and it had taken a long time to get it off. She says he's ready to start but will come on for the run which makes me thingk hat the 4/7 available as I write is pretty short. He has plenty in hand at the ratings with most of his rivals bar Thistlecrack who is rated just 2LB below the Champion Stayer. Paisley Park could do no wrong last season running up a fiver timer while remaining unbeaten and his final win at the Cheltenham Festival  was impressive in the way he drew away up the hill. The Worlds End was campaigned over fences last season and showed promise early on winning two of his first three starts by impressive margins. However his form tailed off completely in his next three and he was put away for the summer. He looked a different horse when beating Unowhatimeanharry on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Hurdle at Wetherby twenty seven days ago. He has a bit to find on ratings but has the benefit of that run as does Unowhatimeanharry who surprised a lot of people with his win in the grade 1 stayers at the Punchestown Festival last May. The latter's form in his previous two starts to that win had been disappointing although he might have lost confidence after a fall at Ascot in December. He won this last year but is now rising 12yo. Thistlecrack is another rising 12yo and also returns to Hurdling. He only had the three starts last season when his best performance was in the King George where he was second just over 1L behind the winner Clan Des Obeaux. He pulled up in the Gold Cup. He has attracted some money in the market. He was beaten a long way by Beer Goggles in this two years ago but the latter has been off for almost two years and is best watched having changes stables. The Worlds End might cause a surprise.
Selection; The Worlds End
Best Alternative; Unowhatimeanharry

November 23rd

Haydock (Going; Good To Soft)

Betfair Lancashire Chase (3m1f125y)
Bristol De Mai is four from four around Haycock and has won the last two runnings of this prestigious race. It's disappointing that he only has to face three rivals but it has the makings of a cracking contest. He surprised me a bit by winning on Good ground last year having won on heavy the previous year. His form in recent years suggests he's a better horse at this time of the year and connections say he is in the same form as he was before last years race. Lostintranslation was one of the best novices around last season and improved from race to race. Having beaten Defi Du Seuil in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on his third start over the larger obstacles he finished second to the latter on psi next two starts in Grade 1's over 2m4f at Sandown and Cheltenham before putting up an impressive performance when stepped up to 3m1f at Aintree in another Grade 1. The horse he beat that day by 6L, Topofthegame, had won the RSA at the Cheltenham festival. He reappeared at Carlilse three weeks ago putting in a polished jumping performance and was eased towards the finish winning by just over 2l. Frodon won four of his five starts last season finishing off with a win in the Grade 1 Ryanair chase at Cheltenham. He reappeared at Aintree last month but he needed that race and finished 15L behind the winner. He's reportedly tightened up for that although connections have said they don't want conditions to be too testing. Ballyoptic has won his two starts this season including the Grade 2 Charlie Hall at Wetherby three weeks ago. However he's up against some smart horses here. I'm going to take a chance with Lostintranslation.
Selection; Lostintranslation
Best Alternative; Bristol De Mai

Ascot (Going; Soft)

Christy 1965 Chase (2m5f8y)
A disappointing field of three for this and in truth it's a match between Altior and Cyrname with both having their first run back after having wind ops over the summer. Altior has won his last nineteen starts but is having his first run over this distance with 2m2f the furthest he has gone before. That might be a negative and add in the fact that his previous tendency to jump left resurfaced in his final race last season could be a worry. He looked beaten to me going to the last in the Champion Chase before rallying up the hill. Cyrname disappointed in a Handicap Chase last year before reappearing in the new Year and putting his opponents to the sword in a Handicap Chase over course and distance and winning a Grade 1 by 17L in February. He's been off since which is a bit of a worry. Solomon Grey is on a recovery mission according to his trainer after going off too quickly before fading badly at Wincanton. That was his first run back after a wind op. It's probably a race to watch rather than play in but if you do have a bet then a small one on Cyrname will give you a run for your money given his from running tactics which will test the stamina of Altior
Selection; Cyrname
Best Alternative; Altior 

The Ascot Hurdle (2m3f85y)
Six runners go to post for this Grade 2 and it's a tricky enough contest. Call Me Lord is a lightly raced 6yo who has won three of his five starts around Sandown and five in all from eleven starts. He won't mind the testing conditions. The worry is he has had only two starts since April 2018 when he ran out a 16L winner of a Grade 2 Hurdle at Sandown with Lil Rockerfeller back in second. His last start was in March this year when he was a 5L third to Malaya. He has tightened up in the betting and any more market moves should be noted. Roksana was very unlucky the last day in my opinion when coming to win her race she blundered badly at the last, losing a few lengths before coming back to just go down by a neck to Top Notch over 2m4f on Soft. On her final start last season she went down by a head to If The Cap Fits over 3m at Aintree. The latter won this race last year but has to carry the 6LB penalty here. Le Patriote is a course and distance winner here when successful in first time cheekpieces in a handicap hurdle back in February 2018. He ended up last season with a hat tick of wins , the last on a Grade 3 at Haycock. Lil Rockerfeller won this two years ago and has mixed chasing and hurdling this last year winning three chases on the trot this time last year. He reappeared at Chepstow where he went down by 9L to Ballyoptic  over 2m7f in a Chase. Roksana was unlucky the last day and could improve for the run.
Selection; Roksana
Best Alternative; Le Patriote