Next Race Preview

January 25th

Doncaster ( Good To Soft)

Lightening Novices Chase (2m78y)
Only four runners but a tricky little contest. Al Dancer got his chasing career off to the prefect start when winning at Cheltenham he had Getaway Trump about 6l behind that day and he confirmed that form with the latter when finishing second over the same course next time. On his third and last start over fences in a Grade 2 at Kempton over Christmas he was unable to quicken and made a mistake at the last and weakened on the run to the line to finish 4l back in fourth. Mister Fisher had Lisp a couple of lengths behind when finishing second on his chase debut at Warwick last Novemnber with Not That Fuisse a further 21l behind. On a strict line with the latter he has the beating of Al Dancer. Mister Fisher then went to Cheltenham and had a comfortable win over 2m4f. Le Patriote makes a belated chase debut having been well beaten in two Grade 2's before Christmas while Lisp was an easy winner at Plumpton having finishing third behind Torpillo at Warwick. Nicky Henderson has always said that Mister Fisher would be a better chaser and he is the selection.
Selection; Mister Fisher
Best Alternative; Lisp

River Don Novices Hurdle (3m84y)
The unbeaten Boss Man Fred is the early favourite for this Grade 2. On his last start he beat the Graded winner Snow Leopardess by 9l  in a Handicap Hurdle with some more previous winners behind. That was just his fourth start and he could improve again. Champagne Well has plenty of experience but has only won once in eight starts over hurdles but has been second four times with his 3l runner up effort behind Thyme Hill probably his best run. Ramses De Teillee has his first run since having a wind operation after his last run in November when he was a long way behind West Approach. That was only his sixth start since a previous wind op in July 2018. He needed the first run back then and it's quite possible he might need this albeit he won first time up this season in October after a long break. That run was over hurdles but he had been chasing since November 2017 up until that. A useful sort on his day market moves should be noted. Thomas Macdonagh steps up in class having completed a hat trick of wins in December while Eva's Oscar won a Handicap under a light weight at Chepstow last time. A repeat of the run behind Thyme Hill might be good enough for Champagne Well.
Selection; Champagne Well
Best Alternative; Boss Man Fred

Yorkshire Rose Mares' Hurdle (2m128y)
Floressa was an impressive winner on her Seasonal and Hurdling debut at Worcester in November and could be considered an unlucky loser next time at Newbury before going back to that track and reversing the placings emphatically at the end of November. As a 5yo there should be plenty more improvement from her. Lady Buttons is no stranger to the winners circle at Doncaster with four of her fourteen wins coming here. Her latest win came in a chase here at the end of December when she came out the winner of a great battle by a head. Irish Roe has a few lengths to find on Lady Buttons on previous form although she gets 6lb here. Litterale Ci will appreciate the better ground and drops back in trip having been well beaten over 2m5f last time. She gets 6lb from Lady Buttons which puts her in the frame on ratings. Timetochill has won her last two and gone up 12lb in the ratings but still has plenty to find with the others. Floressa can justify the Henderson confidence.
Selection; Floressa
Best Alternative; Litterale Ci


Cheltenham  (Going; Soft)

The Finesse Juvenile Hurdle (2m179y)
There's not a lot of form to go on for the six runners but Monte Cristo, who won on his last start in France, has to be respected coming from the powerful Nicky Henderson, Simon Munir, Isaac Souede team. Rowland Ward was rated 85 on the flat and having taken a heavy fall on his hurdling debut he went to Kempton at Christmas and started on the best to win from a few more fancied opponents. Galahad Quest was beaten a neck in a Maiden Hurdle at Taunton earlier this month having finished way behind on his previous start which was his first. Jockey booking of Harry Cobden could be significant. Gerolamo Cardano won his Maiden hurdle by 11l having run respectably on his only other start in a Bumper. Night Edition was well beaten on his only start over hurdles but won prior to that on the flat in France. Monte Cristo gets the nod although his price is bit skinny.
Selection; Monte Cristo
Best Alternative; Rowland Ward

Cotswold Chase (3m1f56y)
Santini has his first run following wind surgery that he had after winning by a head at Newbury in November. Prior to that he had run Topofthegame to half a length in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival. Bristol De Mai was beaten just over 1l in the Betfair at Haydock his first start since Aintree.  That came after a decent run in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham where he was 6l back in third. Slate House has been turned inside out this season and but for falling here in November could well be four wins from four. On his last start he won a Grade 1 at Kempton at Christmas beating Black Op. On ratings he has a bit to find. Top Ville Ben got back to winning ways at Wetherby last month winning by 8l for which he got a hike of 10lb in the ratings while De Rasher Counter won the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) at Newbury but that form hasn't worked out since. Mister Whitaker was pulled up won his only start over this distance in the Grade 3 here last March. If Santini is over the wind op he has the form to win
Selection; Santini
Best Alternative; Bristol De Mai

The Classic Novices' Hurdle (2m4f56y)
Protektorat won a protracted battle here on New Years Day but was disqualified harshly and rightfully won the appeal. That was a tough enough race and he has to carry a 5lb penalty here. He probably wouldn't want the ground to dry out any further. King Roland has won three of his four starts under rules with his only defeat coming when going down by1l to Son Of Camas on his penultimate start. His latest win was an emphatic 19l at Exeter. Harry Senior won his Maiden at the fourth attempt but had top form in his two previous starts having gone down by almost 2l to Sporting John (with the latter going on to win next time also) before finishing 1l behind Edwardstone, who had previously beaten Fiddleronthehoof, over 2m1f. His win came over 2m3f110y and the step up has obviously helped. Time Flies By was beaten by Master Debonair on his hurdling debut last month and market moves should be noted. House Island got a big hike for finishing runner up to Enrilo the last day having won the previous time at Ludlow. Rocket Lad is interesting having travelled over from Ireland for the shrewd Emmet Mullins. He won his penultimate start in Gowran in October but finished lame at Cork next time when tailing of last of five. Ruthless Article has won his last two but this is a step up and got a big hike for his last win. Harry Senior looks good value at 9/2.
Selection; Harry Senior
Best Alternative; King Roland

Cleeve Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Paisley Park is odds on to get his seventh consecutive win. He won his only start this season at Newbury in November beating Thistlecrack by 1l when needing the run. Connections have taken a different route to Cheltenham this year in their quest to train the Stayers title. He should have improved plenty for that run but he might not have it all his own way. If The Cap Fits won his only start this season at Ascot back in November over 2m4f and is rated just 3lb below the favourite. Summerville Boy sprang a bit of a surprise at cheltenham last time in a Grade 2 over 2m4f but is unexposed over this trip. If he stays the trip I think he can be in the mix particularly as he seems to have regained the form he showed as a Novice. The rest look to have a lot to do. Paisley Park is pretty short but he looks the real deal.
Selection; Paisley Park
Best Alternative; If The Cap Fits








January 19th

Thurles (Going; Yielding To Soft)

Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (2m4f110y)
Just five go to post for this and Willie Mullins has three of them. Footpad had a nice seasonal return here in November when putting in a very impressive performance  travelling and jumping with enthusiasm. He was stepped up in trip in the King George but having been right there turning in he soon cried enough and this drop back in trip should be ideal. He's top rated in the race and gets wight from all his rivals which, if he is 100%, should give him a great chance and the Owners retained jockey, Daryl Jacob, travels over for the ride. Real Steel is the second Mullins horse. He won the Grade 2 Chase at Down Royal in November before running a respectable race behind Min in the John Durkan last month when finishing almost 4l behind the winner. He's the preferred mount of Paul Townend. Hardline gave Min fight in the John Durkan before going down by 2l. He then fell at the last when beaten in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown while back in May he was over 6l back in second behind Real Steel. Voix Du Reve ran no sort of race in Tramore on New Years Day and prior to that had been beaten over 6l in the John Durkan. Jetz was well beaten by Footpad at Thurles and was out with the washing at Leopardstown. The conditions of the race favour Footpad and should be hard to beat.
Selection; Footpad
Best Alternative; Real Steel

Mares Novice Chase (2m4f91y)
Seven go to post for this and again that man Willie Mullins looks to have a strong hand with Elimay leading the market from stablemate Cut The Mustard.The former got her season off to a good start on her Chase debut at Cork last month when beating Augusta Gold by a comfortable 5l. That was over 2m but the step up in trip should not be a problem as she has won over it while Hurdling. She is entitled to improve for that run which was her first since winning at Kilarney in May and will benefit from the step back up in trip having won over course and distance back in October. She wears first time cheek pieces. Cut The Mustard made her Chase and seasonal debut at Limerick three weeks ago and strolled home in front as she was probably entitled to given the opposition. She was rated 8lb behind her stablemate over hurdles and at 8yo might not have as much improvement in her as Elimay who is a 6yo. Tintangle and Grey Waters were a long way behind Elimay at Cork while Western Victory, a point winner, makes her Chasing debut. Caravation was probably a bit fortunate to win the last day having been left clear in from at the third last when the odds on favourite fell. She'll be looking to pick up pieces again. Elimay for me.
Selection; Elimay
Best Alternative; Augusta Gold











January 18th

Ascot (Going; Heavy)

The Warefield Mares' Hurdle (2m7f118y)
Magic Of Light won last year's renewal and followed the same path for this race starting off with a disappointing run behind Bacardy's at Navan in a Grade 2 hurdle on Soft To Heavy and then was left to come home alone when her nearest rival unseated at the last in a Listed Mares'Chase at Newbury. She finished up last season with a terrific second place behind Tiger Roll in the Aintree National. She would possibly prefer better ground. Papagana has gone up by 30lb in the ratings since December 2018. She won a listed mares hurdle at Doncaster by 12l in March and again at Kempton on her seasonal return before finishing third just over 3l behind The World's End in a Grade 1 at Ascot. Those three runs were over a furlong further than here but she has won on Heavy. Sensulano won a Chase by 16l on her second start this season with the runner up going on to win her next two. She then went on to win a listed Mares'Chase at Warwick. This is her first attempt at this trip and on ratings has a bit to find. Coded Message won by 10l over an extended 3m at Kempton three weeks ago and has winning form on heavy. However on ratings she has a lot to find and has drifted in the betting today. Culture De Sivola looks well held on her last two runs behind Papagana and Coded Message while she was also 10l behind the winner last year. The run last time here gives Papagana a great chance
Selection; Papagana
Best Alternative; Magic Of Light

Clarence House Chase (2m167y)
Just five going to post for this Grade 5 but it could be a terrific race with Defi De Seuil and Un De Sceaux matching up after their tremendous battle in the Tingle Creek. Ddefi Du Seuil won that battle by a neck however Un De Sceaux was having his first start of the season against an opponent who had a previous run. This race is over 1f further and Un De Sceaux was coming back with every stride the last day and was in front a couple of strides past the line. Add in the fact that Un De Sceaux will relish the ground while Defi De Seuil has never raced on Heavy. Janika won the Haldon Cup at Exeter in November but was 9l behind in the Tingle Creek while he was beaten 7l in a Grade 2 Hurdle at Cheltenham on his last start. He wears a first time tongue tie. Capeland and Marracudja look to have too much to do on ratings. The Heavy ground swings it in favour of Un De Sceaux who is available at 11/8
Selection; Un De Sceaux
Best Alternative; Defi De Seuil

Haydock (Going; Heavy)

Altcar Novices' Chase (2m3f203y)
It will be hard work at Haydock this Saturday and we have just four runners in three of our featured races. Windsor Avenue heads the market and we can discount his disappointing run last month behind Sam Spinner as he was reported to have scoped badly after it. He had impressed on his two other starts this season winning impressively over 2m4f. He has won on heavy ground and is held in high regard by his trainer. Rough Start won a handicap on his penultimate start around here over 2m and then won over 2m in a handicap at Warwick. This is a step up in class and he has to find 12lb with Windsor Avenue. Sam Brown is a lightly raced 8yo and won eleven days ago on his first start since December 2017 never getting out of second gear when cruising home by 22l. He's won four of his five starts. The heavy ground won't inconvenience him and if he avoids the dreaded bounce he could be in the mix. Knight In Dubai has won his two starts impressively this season, a comfortable 12l at Bangor and 6l at Doncaster. He fell on his first start over fences back in October 2018 and had three runs over hurdles before reverting to the bigger obstacles. Has to be respected coming from the Skelton yard. Windsor Avenue just shades it for me. 
Selection; Windsor Avenue
Best Altrenative; Knight In Dubai

Rosington Main Novices Hurdle (1m7f144y)
Edwardstone has raced pretty freely in his starts but it didn't stop him on his two runs this season beating subsequent winner Harry Senior at Aintree last month and prior to that beating the outstanding Fiddleronthehoof at Wincanton. He wears a hood this time to help him settle but his trainer has concerns about the ground. Thebannerkingrebel has to carry a 5lb penalty for a win around here in a Listed Hurdle on his last start in November having fallen on his previous start. His jumping could be a concern but on the plus side he won a Bumper at Bangor on Heavy ground. Stolen Silver had a tough task on his hands the last day trying to give 6lb to Chantry House who beat Edwardstone in a bumper previously. On his penultimate start he had won by 17l in the soft at Flos Las after unseating on hurdles debut at Cheltenham. Snookered has gone up 30lbs in the ratings and this will be his fifteenth start since March having been kept going over the summer. He was disappointing the last day where the track was too sharp but he had won his previous four starts. If the hood works Edwardstone could well continue his good run.
Selection; Edwardstone
Best Alternative; Thebannerkingrebel

Peter Marsh Handicap Chase (3m1f125y)
The ten runners in this will know they've been in a race having completed this war of attrition. Acting Lass is favourite and put up a good performance when second in a valuable handicap at Ascot last month having won at Chepstow fourteen days previously. If none the worse for those exertions he will relish the conditions and seems to have benefitted from cheekpieces on his last two starts. The negatives are his weight of 11-4 and horses carrying more than 11st have only won three of the last ten while favourites have only one once in ten and that was Bristol De Mai. Definitely Red is top rated and has to carry 11-10 and his sights are probably set on Aintree in April. Geronimo is a lightly raced 9yo who has had just ten starts since his debut in February 2018. He's won three of those and been second five times. His only disappointing run was when pulling up lame in the Scottish National last year having blundered his way around on unsuitable ground. Midnight Tune won his last two, the penultimate one at Uttoxeter on heavy ground by 32l. Prime Venture hasn't won since November 2017. He stayed on to be fourth in the Welsh National last month in first time cheek pieces and with the trainers competent daughter taking 7lb off he's not without a chance as he'll be staying on when others are crying enough. Won a big handicap off this mark over course and distance in November 2018. On his last start over course and distance in December he had to concede 21lb to the first two  with the 13l winner a bit of a belter who  who carried a 10lb penalty to a 9l victory nine days later and will be running of 147 next time a full 20lb more than when he beat vintage clouds. Champers On Ice has not run over fences since March 2017. He's had a few long breaks since then and seems to have found a bit of form this season winning two of his three starts over hurdles. Red Indian has won three times from fifteen starts, the first on his racecourse debut and twice after breaks of two hundred and twenty days or more.  The negative is the two times he's gone further than 2m5f he's been well beaten. Flying Angel seemed to be struggling off his mark before being dropped to 140 and winning at Ascot on penultimate start. He's never won beyond 2m5f. Claud and Goldie is a lightly raced 11yo with just ten starts, three of them in points. He's running off a career high here and has drifted out in the betting. Sue Smiths horses have started to show a bit of form and owner Trevor Hemmings likes to win at his local tracks so I'll take a chance with Vintage Clouds
Selection; Vintage Clouds
Best Alternative; Geronimo

The Champion Hurdle Trial (1m7f144y)
A disappointing field of four for this and Pentland Hills is the slight favourite Pentland Hill jumped the last in front in the International hurdle on seasonal debut at Cheltenham last month but having run very freely he died up the hill in the last 100 yards and faded to fifth. He had won his three starts in juvenile hurdles last season including the Triumph and the Grade 1 at Aintree. He's never run on heavy but his trainer is desperate to run him. Darasso finished last season winning a Grade 3 Hurdle and then  beating subsequent Topham winner Cadmium. Apparently he needs very soft ground so conditions will be ideal for him. He also holds entries in the Champion Hurdles at Leopardstown and cheltenham along with the Ryanair Chase. Ballyandy was a neck second in the International at Cheltenham and ran well behind Epatante at Kempton at Christmas. Cornerstone will relish the conditions having won the Fighting Fifth on Heavy in November his last start. He may have been fortunate given the injury to Buveur D'Air and he has to carry a penalty for it. Hopefully Darasso will be fit enough and he gets the nod.
Selection; Darasso
Best Alternative; Cornerstone





January 12th

Punchestown (Going; Yielding To Soft)

Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (2m65y)
I don't know hw up to date the going report is but there has been a lot of rain about today and don't be surprised if it changes. Andy Dufresne was a bit disappointing the last day at Navan when he appeared to have been outstayed by Latest Exhibition who is a decent sort himself. Prior to that he had been lightly raced with just three career starts starting with his maiden point win in March 2018, a Bumper win in January 2019 and a maiden hurdle win last November. He has never raced over 2m so it is interesting to see him drop back in trip. He appears to have plenty of speed and he did win the 4yo Point in the fastest time of the day. Captain Guinness benefitted from the fall of Blackbow in the race before Andy Dufresne's Navan defeat with the runner up looking like winning next time out at Cork when falling. That was the only race Captain Guinness has run so he can be expected to improve and it may be significant that Henry De Bromhead runs him here. Anything Will Do has won four from five starts but this is a step up and he is bred to be a chaser while his stable companion, Meticulous, was beaten just over 1l by Envoi Allen at Leopardstown last February on Good to Yielding but was 17l behind the same horse on Soft Ground in the Cheltenham bumper so would probably appreciate a sounder surface than he might get here. Trainer Gordon Elliott seems pretty confident in the ability of Andy Dufresne at the minimum distance and with no Mullins Runners here it's a good chance to put more Euro's in the satchel in his efforts to be leading Trainer.
Selection; Andy Dufresne
Best Alternative; Anything Will Do





January 11th

Kempton (Good To Soft, Soft in Places)

Silviniaco Conti Chase (2m4f110y)
Five go to post for this Grade 1 that created its own drama during the week with the messing about with Altior. The incident doesn't reflect well on the relationships between Boolmakers and Trainers and it may cause the BHA to take some action. The IRHB are a step ahead of them with this and have been having meetings with the Trainer's and Jockey Groups. Top Notch won this race last year and Daryl Jacob returns from injury just in time to resume the partnership with his favourite horse. He won his two starts this season, over hurdles in November when beating Roksana at Aintree and then a Grade 2 at Huntingdon last Month. He's reported to have worked well the other day. Frodon hasn't been at his best in his two starts this season. He's become a bit of a Cheltenham specialist with four of his las five wins coming there. He is a course and distance winner here before but connections will be looking for improvement here. Kauto Riko was 100/1 when second to Top notch at Huntingdon and it's possible the first time tongue tie helped. Born Survivor has a bit to do at the ratings and was 7l behind Top Notch at Huntingdon. The trip looks too long and the ground too soft for Keeper Hill. I'll stick with Top Notch here.
Selection; Top Notch
Best Alternative; Frodon.

Warwick (Going; Soft)

Hampton Novices Chase (3m)
Highest Sun was third to Champ on Chase debut at Newbury in November before finishing second to Pym at Ascot the same month. The winner subsequently won easily at Cheltenham to boost the form and Winter Sun then went and won a two runner affair at Plumpton in December beaten a 144 rated horse who had won three of his previous four starts. Two For Gold has won his two starts over fences. He jumped to the right the last time at Kelso but should improve from that run. Ardlethen won first time out this season hanging on by a neck but the runner up has disappointed twice since. Ardlethen then came up short in his next two starts albeit he was in good company finishing second to Sam Spinner and third of three to Danny Whizzbang. Roll Again joined current connections from Willie Mullins during the summer. He won a handicap on his second start for the yard but then fell at Kempton two weeks ago. It's a big step up in class here. Hold The Note was pulled up at Kempton two weeks ago after been badly hampered and unable to recover lost ground. He was third on his only other starts over fences and should improve for those two runs but has a lot to do. Whatmore steps up to 3m for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he copes.
Selection; Highest Sun
Best Alternative; Ardlethen

Leamington Novices Hurdle (2m5f)
Harry Senior has top form to recommend him. On his second start over hurdles he finished just over 1l behind Sporting John who won easily next time. The third , fourth and fifth also won next time. Harry Senior then went to Aintree where he was second, beaten 1l, to Edwardstone who had gone down by three parts of a length to Fiddleronthehoof the previous time. Shan Blue hosed in by 20l at Southwell last time although it was probably a moderate affair as the runner up had been beaten by over 20l on each of his three previous starts. He had fallen three out on his previous start when disputing second spot. Mossy Fen was a 7l fourth in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last time having won his previous two starts in Novice company. Decor Irlandais has won three of his five starts under rules. The Irish trained horse has race in England for four of them. He won on the bridle last time at Catterick and on ratings could be in the mix here. Keen On is two from two over hurdles and should improve further. He can't be ignored coming from Nicky Henderson. Whatsupwithyou won his only start over hurdles when reappearing for the first time since winning a point last January in a Maiden Hurdle at Ascot last month. He'll no doubt improve for the run and the stable won it back in 2017. It's Harry Senior for me.
Selection; Harry Senior
Best Alternative; Mossy Fen








January 5th

Naas (Going; Yielding, Good to Yielding in places)

Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle (2m4f)
Seven runners go to post for this Grade 1 and it could be a cracking contest with the horse with the Grade 1 form against some opponents of huge potential. Envoi Allen has won all his six starts under rules and his only start in a point. His latest win came in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse where he beat Abracadabras who went on to win the 2m Grade 1 Novice at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting. Envoi Allen steps up to this trip for the first time under rules but you would hope that having won a point over 2m4f and the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham it would not be a problem. He's pretty short in the betting at 4/11 and 7/1 and better the rest. While a lot of us won't be playing at the price it might pay to have the notebook ready as there are a lot of promising types here who will be turning up at the numerous festivals between now and the end of the season at Punchestown. Elixir D'ainay has had just the four starts and all have been well spaced out. After two runs in France, the second in November '17,  he joined Willie Mullins but didn't reappear until January last year where he was seconding a Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown. He didn't come out again until last November when he beat Longhouse Poet by a couple of lengths 2m3f here at Naas. The latter went on to Navan in December where he won his Maiden. Midnight Run was going backwards before the second last in the Royal Bond when he got a bump, made a terrible mistake and was then eased. That was just his second start over hurdles having comfortably won his first on Soft ground at Cork. He finished almost 5l behind Envoi Allen in a Listed Bumper at Navan in December 2018. Anything Will Do has won four of his five starts but this is a big step up while Conflated has won a Bumper and a Maiden Hurdle from nine starts. French Dynamite is interesting having had just the two starts, winning his point and a Maiden Hurdle at Thurles. He must be impressing his trainer Mouse Morris and it's interesting that he ran Sams Profile to finish second in this last year albeit he had slightly more experience. Given a clear run it's hard to see Envoi Allen losing here.
Selection; Envoi Alen
Best Alternative; Elixir D'ainay








January 4th

Sandown (Going; Soft; Heavy in Places)

Tolworth Novices Hurdle (1m7f216y)
Just seven go to post for this Grade 1 and it's a case of form versus potential. Fiddlerontheroof won a Navan Bumper last March and was bought by current connections at Aintree the following month for £200k. He was thrown in at the deep end on his hurdling debut when coming up against Thyme Hill in the Persian War at Chepstow in October over 2m4f. He finished a creditable second to Thyme Hill who has gone on to further graded success. He was dropped back in trip next time and went down by less than 1l at Wincanton and then won very easily over today's course and distance  last month. This race has been the plan for a long time for a trainer who has won two of the last three running. Nicky Henderson has won it four times in the last ten runnings and has Son Of Camas here. Highly thought of he made his debut at Punchestown last April but disappointed and was beaten out of sight with the vet reporting that he was clinically abnormal after the race. He has had two runs over hurdles both at Newbury last November. In the first he beat stablemate Timberman 2l but the latter was beaten 17l next time up by Fiddlerontheroof at Sandown. He then beat King Roland 1l and the latter then hosed in by 19l at foggy Exeter on Wednesday. Hang In There steps up in Grade. He's been dropped back in trip since joining his current yard having finished a close second on bis hurdles debut over 2m4f at Fairyhouse' He unseated on his next start and has won his two subsequent starts beating a 140 rated horse, Pacify, in the last. Silver Hallmark won his only hurdle race when turning the form around with McFabulous. The form hasn't worked out that well . Jeremys Flame gets the mares allowance and was last seen going down by just over 1l to the useful Floresssa in a Listed hurdle at Newbury in November. It's interesting that Gavin Cromwell travels her over to England for this and if she runs to her mark she could be in the shake up. Calva D'Auge has had just the two starts for current connections since arriving from France and has won and been second. This is a big step up here. Hopefully there'll be a bit of pace in the race and if there is then Fiddlerontheroof can win.
Selection; Fiddlerontheroof
Best Alternative; Son Of Camas








January 1st

Cheltenham (Going; Soft, Good To Soft in Places)

Dipper Novices Chase (2m4f127)
Happy New Year to everyone and lets hope we can finish off seven days of terrific racing with a few more winners to add to our nice profit made over the Christmas. Champ gave his supporters a bit of a scare the last day when almost going the wrong side of the rails half way up the run in at Newbury. He was starting to pull away from his rivals and this caused him some momentum. Third approaching the last fence he showed a nice turn of foot to close up and quicken away, something he showed also in his only other start over the larger obstacles. The runner up in that last Newbury race, Black Op, was also runner up in the Grade 1 Novice at Kempton on the 26th December. Deyrann De Carjac was third in that Newbury race and gets a 5lb pull at the weights here for a 6l beating but I can't see him winning provided Champ gets a clear round. Midnight Shadow was rated higher than Champ over hurdles and won the Relkeel Hurdle at this meeting last year. He finished third two Brewin'upastorm on his chase debut beaten 16l then took a heavy fall at Carlisle when it looked like he was the winner and then was then involved in a dour battle up the Haydock straight before going down a half length to Keeper Hill thirty nine days ago. That race was run over one furlong further than this and the shorter trip could suit him better. The rest look outclassed. Champ is hard to oppose given luck in running.
Selection; Champ
Best Alternative; Midnight Shadow

Relkeel Hurdle (2m4f56y)
Janika has had six starts over fences since arriving over from France last Autumn and his only success from those starts has come in a Grade 2 at Exeter back in November and latterly was a 9l fourth to Defi Du Seuil in the Tingle Creek. His only success over hurdles came at Auteuil two years ago and he had three further wins over fences in France.He's currently 9/4 favourite but I'm not convinced although he has to be respected coming from the Nicky Henderson yard. Emitom has won five of his six starts via two bumpers and three hurdles. His only defeat came when he went down by 3l to Champ in the 3m Grade 1 Novice at Aintree last April. He won is first two hurdle races very easily as he was probably entitled to as they looked poor enough fields while his third win came over 2m4f at Newbury when he beat a couple of Henderson runners among others. He had a bit of a setback with a hock infection in October but this has been the plan since then. Roksana was a fortunate winner of the Grade 1 Mares at Cheltenham in March but put in a career best at Aintree in April when going down by a head to If The Cap Fits in the stayers. She had a tough race on season reappearance going down by a neck to Top Notch and may have been feeling the effects when disappointing at Ascot two weeks later. It's been tough going for Summerville Boy since wining the Supreme Novices at the Festival in 2018. He had only four more runs up to the end of last season and they were disappointing. A wind op over the summer seems to have worked as he beat First Flow on his return and Chase debut but fell on his only other start at Sandown. He reverts to Hurdles here but is unproven at the distance. Having won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, William Henry finished an 11l fourth in the Aintree stayers. He's had a wind op over the summer and this is his first start since Aintree and he also has a 4lb penalty. Quel Destin was a top juvenile hurdler and won on heavy ground over 2m on the old course here in October but was well beaten over the same Course and distance last time. He steps up to this trip for the first time. Emitom is only 6yo so should have more improvement in him, has won on his two previous seasonal reappearances and gets the vote.
Selection; Emitom
Best Alternative; Quel Destin 









December 29th

Leopardstown (Yielding)

Neville Hotels Novice Chase (3m)
We've a terrific contest in store in this Grade 1. Apart from pulling up at Cheltenham in March, Battleoverdoyen has won all six starts. On his Chasing debut at Galway in October he was entitled to win as comfortably as he dis beating horse who were inferior to him over hurdles. Nonetheless it was the manner in which he did it that impressed, making the running and jumping well. In truth the winning margin could have been way more than the official 8l. He then came out in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Chase over 2m6f140y at Punchestown where despite getting bumped two out he took the lead, responded well for pressure and went on to win by 5l. The extra distance here will play to its strengths. Minella Indo was rated 6lb higher than Battleoverdoyen over hurdles. He won the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and followed up winning the Grade 1 3m Novice at Punchestown. Staying is is game and I wasn't unduly worried when he was well beaten by Laurina over 2m4f at Gowran last month as he looked like a horse that would improve for the run and a step up in trip. Champagne Classic had two placed runs over fences last spring which were his first runs since Punchestown in April 2017 when he won the Grade 1 3m Novice beating Penhill. He returned in October winning at Fairyhouse and then winning a Listed Chase at Wexford getting 5lb from the runner up Discorama. Carefully Selected was just over 3l behind mineral Indo in the Grade 1 Punchestown race last May having won his only other start over hurdles. He reappeared at Fairyhouse last month where despite a bad mistake at the second which almost brought him to a standstill he got going again and was starting to pull away by he line with Lord Scnitzel back in second. That was over 2m5f and the extra distance here should play to his stamina.  Speak Easy was third 8l behind Ronald Pump over 2m5f at Fairyhouse last month. He should improve for the run and step up in trip but the market (33/1) suggests this won't be his day. The Elliott and De Bromhead stables are in great form at the moment and Minella Indo might just shade this from Battleoverdoyen
Selection; Minella Indo
Best Alternative; Battleoverdoyen

Matheson Festival Hurdle (2m)
Klassical Dream was disappointing on his return in the Morgiana at Punchestown last month. He was on his toes beforehand and faded from the last. He should come on for the run. Couer Sublime was very impressive at Down Royal bolting up by 15l and could improve more. Sharjah was behind Klassical Dream in the Morgiana but this horse has surprised us before when winning this last year. Darasso won over fences back in March at Navan and won over hurdles at Gowran in February. lack of a run is against him. Petit Mouchoir was second in the Morgiana and maybe 2m is  his best trip as his 4l fourth to Buveur D'Air might indicate. Aramon was well beaten by Klassical Dream last two times they met but ran him to a head here in the Grade 1 in February however he hasn't run since April. Couer Sublime looks good value to me.
Selection; Couer Sublime
Best Alternative; Klassical Dream





December 28th

Newbury (Going; Soft)

Challow Novices Hurdle (2m4f118y)
Just five will face the starter for this Grade 1 and Thyme Hill is favourite to get the hat trick of wins following his wins at Chepstow and Cheltenham, both Grade 2 races. The form is strong and particularly the Cheltenham Bumper where he was third to Envoi Allen with the next two behind him going on to win Graded races. Enrilo has won two of his three hurdles the defeat coming when he hung badly left going right handed at Ludlow. His latest win came in a Grade 2 at Sandown where he was driven out to hold off House Island by three parts of a length. Happygolucky who was 7l further back had previously finished almost four lengths behind Thyme Hill while receiving 5lb. The Cashel Man was rated 92 over hurdles but having transferred to Nicky Henderson was off the track from the end of May 2017 to January this year. He had three runs over hurdles in the Spring finishing second each time before having a couple of runs on the flat. He then won his maiden hurdle in July before trying 2m4f134y 0n the flat inn the Goodwood Cup acquitting himself well finishing 3l behind the winner at the end off July. He wasn't seen again until the end of November when winning a valuable handicap hurdle over this course and distance with ease off 10-6 which didn't impress the handicapper as he raised him 13lb. Eclair Surf cost connections £140k after winning a point last March and has had just the one start since wining a Novices Hurdle at Exeter last month with ease  by over 3l. The second has been well beaten since. Stick With Bill won his Maiden Hurdle last month on Heavy ground but this is a big step up. Slight preference is for Thyme Hill
Selection; Thyme Hill
Best Alternative; Enrilo

Leopardstown (Soft)

Christmas Hurdle (3m)
Having fallen three times from six starts over fences connections decided that Bacardys would be better off back over hurdles. A two time Grade 1 winner back in his novice days he showed a return to form in his final start of last season finishing a 3l second to Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 1 stayers at Punchestown. He got this season off to the perfect start beating Apple's Jade by almost 10l over 2m4f in Navan before proving no match for Honeysuckle in the Hatton's Grace over 2m4f at Fairyhouse finishing a 9l second. Apples Jade got 5l closer to Bacardys at Fairyhouse than at Navan but it's hard to have confidence in her although I did feel after Fairyhouse she needed to step up in trip. She has the cheek pieces on for the first time. Penhill looked to be carrying plenty of condition at Fairyhouse and finished all of 34l last behind Honeysuckle. That was his first run since April 2018 and he should come on for it. Unowhatimeanharry was 25l behind Paisley Park at Newbury  having been a 5l second to The Worlds End at Wetherby on return. He's rising 12yo and others are preferred. The rest would appear to have a lot to do. Bacardys gets the nod here.
Selection; Bacardys
Best Alternative; Apple's Jade

Savills Chase (3m)
Last years winner Kemboy heads the market for this Grade 1. He's been training away while the problems over the Syndicate that owned him have been resolved. He unseated early in the Gold Cup and then beat Clan Des Obeaux fun a Grade 1 at Aintree and finished off the season by beating Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo by 2l. Presenting Percy was favourite for the Gold Cup but went lame during the race. He reappeared in the John Durkin earlier this month and went down by just over 3l at a trip that is probably a bit short or him these days. Road To Respect was behind Kemboy here last year having met trouble in running twice at crucial stages and finished further behind him at Aintree. He reappeared at Down Royal in November repeating his previous years win in the JN Wine Chase where he had Clan Des Obeaux, who probably needed the run, 4l behind. Delta Work was very disappointing in Down Royal where he made numerous mistakes. He did need the run and Keith Donoghue wasn't hard on him when his chance was gone. I would expect a much better showing here from this three times Grade 1 Novice winner. Having won the Grade 1 at The Dublin festival in February, Bellshill's jumping went to pieces on his next two starts at Cheltenham and Punchestown. He's best watched here on his first start since May. Runner up in this last year Monalee ran a decent race in the Ryanair at Cheltenham and then pulled up at Punchestown. He reappeared at Clonmel last month but was a disappointing 17l third to Douvan. However given the form the stable is in this week he cannot be discounted. Anibale Fly finished second in the Gold Cup in March. However he struggled over 2m4f in the John Durkin on return beaten 62l. Kemboy is plenty short in the betting for me and holes can be picked in the others so it might be worth while going with Delta Work who can be somewhat forgiven for Down Royal and at 6yo should have plenty more improvement in him
Selection; Delta Work
Best Alternative; Road To Respect




December 27th

Leopardstown (Going; Hurdle Course - Soft; Chase Course - Yielding)

Paddy Rewards Club Chase (2m1f)
Chacun Pour Soi is at pretty short odds for this Grade 1 considering he hasn't seen a racecourse since Punchestown last May where he beat Defi Du Seuil by just over 4l having hosed in by 21l at Naas in March, his only two starts in Ireland. A Plus Tard won by 16l at the Cheltenham Festival but was well beaten subsequently at Punchestown in a Grade 1. He returned at Navan last month but despite being in receipt of 9lb from the winner he was beaten almost 3l by Ballyoisin. The winner had fitness benefit and A Plus Tard who Hardline 11l behind should come on for that. The negative for me is that his best form has come over longer trips. Hardline came out again at Punchestown in the John Durkin and finished just over 2l behind the winner Min which was a career best. Cadmium has his first start since winning the Topham at Aintree in April while Simply Ned, who always runs well around here, showed he was no back number getting to within 6l of Defi Du Seuil last month. The others have a lot to do.  
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Hardline

Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2m)
Abracadabras has been in terrific form this season winning his first two and then going down fighting, beaten just over 1l, to the classy Envoi Allen. The form of the second win was given a boost at Navan last month when the second, Latest Exhibition beat the highly regarded Andy Dufresne. Having won his bumper on his first attempt Blue Sari went down by just under 1l to Envoi Allen in the Cheltenham bumper. He returned to action last month at Punchestown beating The Bosses Oscar by half a length. The remaining three look to have it all to do. Abracadabras looks the part here
Selection; Abracadabras 
Best Alternative; Blue Sari

Limerick (Going; Heavy)

Jaguar Landrover Novice Hurdle (2m7f)
Fury Road is unbeaten in his two starts this season winning by an aggregate of 28l. Well Set Up has won three of her last four starts, the latest a Grade 3 at Cork and gets the 7lb Mares allowance but whether the form is good enough remains to be seen. Vis Ta Loi was just over 2l behind Well Set Up in Cork while Zola has won her last three but the runner up in the last was subsequently beaten out of sight by Well Set Up. The could well be a belter among the rest but Fury Road sets the standard.
Selection; Fury Road
Best Alternative; Well Set Up

Chepstow (Going; Soft)

Finale Juvenile Hurdle (2m11y)
Nine go to post for this Grade 1. Allmankind was rated 90 on the flat and won in a hack by 37l on his jumps debut at Warwick. He followed that up at Cheltenham in a Grade 2 last month when, despite losing a shoe, he beat the useful Botox Has by just over 2l finding plenty fore pressure. The runner up came out tow weeks ago and beat the useful Langer Dan. Cerebus looked a classy type on his last two starts at Fairyhouse winning the first by 19l and then accounting for A Wave Of The Sea, who had beaten him previously. The latter might have been feeling his seasons efforts when beaten a long way into third today at Leopardstown. Cerebus jumped quickly and accurately from the front that day but the gallop wasn't that quick. Tavus made his debut at Newcastle four weeks ago and Navajo Pass by a neck. The latter has since won a Grade 2 at Doncaster. Elysian Flame looks held on a a line through Botox Has. Allmankind just gets the nod
Selection; Allmankind
Best Alternative; Tavus

Kempton (Going; Soft)

Wayward Lad Novices Chase (2m)
Fanion D'Estruval was a comfortable winner on his British debut a Newbury four weeks ago in time less than a second outside standard. He had won six of his seven starts in France the last two over fences. Al Dancer won on his chase debut in October but the second has been well beaten twice since. He was then beaten on his latest start by Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham with Rouge Vif further back. Th latter had some decent hurdle form and won on chase debut but is having his first run back after a wind op. Grand Sancy has had just the one start over fences and ran very keenly before finishing 15l back in third. On his best hurdling form he would be in the mix. Global Citizen disappointed on his chase debut and wears a first time tongue tie. He's another one who could be in the mix if finding his hurdles form. Fanion D'Estruval looks a class act.
Selection; Fanion D'Estruval
Best Alternative; Grand Sancy

Desert Orchid Chase (2m)
The Arkle Chase winner Duc Des Genievres has been very disappointing on his two starts this season and wears a tongue tie for the first time. It's hard to have confidence in him at the moment but market moves should be noted. as the bookies are only going 3/1 on him. Sceau Royal was very disappointing in the Tingle Creek and his trainer thinks it's because he had been waiting to run for some time. He wouldn't want anymore rain although it looks to be set fair for tomorrow. Capeland was involved in a bizarre incident at Ascot back at the beginning of November and disqualified but made amends next time winning readily at the same course. He still has a fair bit to find on ratings but their could dstill be improvement and it's interesting that he takes his chance here. Bun Doran steps up from Handicap and is another with a bit to find. Caid Du Lin looks out of it. With question marks about a few it might pay to take a chance with Capeland
Selection; Capeland
Best Alternative; Duc Des Genièvres 











December 26th

Terrific racing in store over the next few days and as Christmas Day has passed we can now use that other "C" word, Cheltenham and there will be plenty of pointers to the Festival over the next week. Lots of eyes will be on Kempton where there are three terrific Grade 1's topped by the King George but there are a few quality horses in the Novice Chase at Leopardstown while down in Limerick Samcro seeks redemption but has a resurgent Faugheen to beat.

Kempton (Going; Soft)

Feltham Chase (3m)
Seven runners face the starter for this Grade 1 Novice. Black Op is a Grade 1 winner over Hurdles who didn't really fire on his first two starts over fences and reverted to Hurdles but again disappointed in three starts. He reappeared at Stratford in October with a bloodless win over 2m5f in a Novice chase he was entitled to win given the form of those behind him since. He then went to Newbury and put up a great performance going down to Champ by under to lengths when not fluent at the last and hampered on the run in. He won a point over 3m but his two starts over the distance over hurdles were disappointing. Slate House is another who has turned his form inside out this season and is starting to show the ability that made connections fork out £260k for him after winning his point. He won a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle on his second start for connections two years ago but his form really tailed off last year and a wind op over the summer seems to have done the trick. He won on his return over 2m4f at Cheltenham in October but fell when coming to win his race next time at the same course. Connections then found him a confidence booster at Huntingdon and while it was a bit of a struggle he was conceding 10lb to the runner up who had shown promise in his three runs and could be useful. Master Tommytucker has had just four runs, winning three but falling on his penultimate start when travelling strongly four fences from home. He won over 2m2f around here last month and appears the stables first choice with Danny Whizzbang to be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. The latter won his point at the second time of asking and then won his three starts for Nicholls. In his latest win he beat the useful Reserve Tank while in receipt of 5lb at Newbury. The trainer is quoted as saying he will stay forever but Kempton isn't his ideal track, which begs the question "why run here". Jarveys Plate was very disappointing the last time having beaten Reserve Tank by over 4l off level weights. Redzor and The Mighty Don would appear to have a lot to do. I've been a fan of Slate House ever since he won his point at the Louth Hunt in TattersallFarm three years ago and my faith has been restored this season and I think he might shade it from Master Tommytucker who wears a first time tongue tie.
Selection; Slate House
Best Alternative; Master Tommytucker

Christmas Hurdle (2m)
A good sized field of ten for this race in which Verdana Blue caused a surprise when beating odds on stablemate Buveur D'Air. The ground is very different this rear and this mare, who was sold to Michael Tabor for £370k earlier this month, may not act as well on the current soft ground. She also hasn't run since May which is another negative. Having scraped home at Wincanton on his return last month, Fusil Raffles has reportedly come on dramatically for that run. He hosed in around here last February and beat Fakir D'oudairies in a grade 1 at Punchestown in May. Epatante is a third runner from Nicky Henderson and gets the Mares allowance. Since going Seven Barrows she's won three of her four starts with the only disappointment coming at Cheltenham last March when apparently there were excuses for her. She returned in November to win a Listed Handicap Hurdle in fine style at Newbury. She's reported to have improved physically and is an interesting runner here in the colours of J.P. McManus. Getaway Trump reverts to Hurdles after two decent efforts in Chases this Autumn although his trainer felt he was struggling a tiny bit with his jumping. He finished up last season with two Hurdle wins and having won two Novice events he went down by a just over 2l to Champ in a Grade 1 at Newbury. Ch'tibello put up a good performance at Cheltenham two weeks ago when finishing a close third to Call Me A Lord. He finished last season strongly and if he runs to his rating he will be in the mix. Ground could be an issue for Silver Streak although he surprised his handler finishing third in the Fighting Fifth. Ballyandy was second in that Cheltenham race two weeks ago behind Call Me A Lord but might  find this sharp track a bit quick and will be hoping for more rain to make it a test. Elixir De Nutz ran with the choke out ink the aforementioned Cheltenham hurdle two weeks ago and his jockey looked after him. That was his first run since January so he should improve but this might come a bit quick for him. Epatante was reportedly one of Henderson's best chances at the last Cheltenham Festival and reports of her well being are encouraging so the 7lb allowance could be the clincher in what is an open race.
Selection; Epatante
Best Alternative; Fusil Raffles

King George VI Chase (3m)
Just the six runners but a cracking race in prospect and Harry Cobden has ditched last years winner Clan Des Obeaux in favour of stablemate Cyrname purely, according to him, on the basis that the latter is higher rated by the handicapper. It suggests connections think there is nothing between them. Clan Des Obeaux has been trained specially for this race and had a warm up at Down Royal eight weeks ago. He improved huge amount between his first two runs last year and the word is Team Ditcheat are expecting similar improvement this time. There is also a theory that he is better going right handed. Cyrname has never won over 3m with the furthest he's gone 2m5f and while Paul Nicholls thinks that he'll get the trip he doesn't thing he could do the extra distance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup so this has been the target. Since they decided to let him make the running he has been a revelation and completed a hat trick of wins on his return when beating Altior over 2m5f at Ascot. Lostintranslation travelled beautifully in behind the field in the Betfair at Haydock and Robbie Power produced him beautifully to catch Bristol De Mai. He's not short of pace either as can be seen from his runs with Defi Du Seuil over 2m4f last season. But 3m is now his distance and the Betfair completed a hat trick for him. Footpad goes 3m for the first time and warmed up for this when winning easily over 2m6f at Thurles. He injured himself on his return last season in early November and then just got collared by Simply Ned at Leopardstown over Christmas where he probably needed the run and then he broke a blood vessel at Cheltenham in the Ryanair. The 2016 winner Thistlecrack  has only had seven starts since and has had his problems. However he put in a great performance in last years renewal going down by less than 2l to the winner. He had is preparation for this in a Grade 2 Hurdle at Newbury last month going down by 1l to Paisley Park. Aso was very disappointing the last day. There's a suggestion that he's better going left handed so he has a big task on here. I was very impressed with Lostintranslation at Haydock and he gets the nod as I think he will be able to tuck in behind, travel through the race and make his move in the home straight.
Selection; Lostintranslation
Best Alternative; Clan Des Obeaux


Leopardstown (Going; Soft)

Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Aspire Tower was very impressive at Punchestown on his hurdling debut last month finishing 15l clear of his nearest rival and the third, Wolf Prince, has won since. He was rated 86 on the flat winning once and out of the places just twice in eleven starts. Aramax has his first start for J.P. McManus having arrived from France where he won on his last start in July. He's a half brother to the Willie Mullins trained Aramon who won the Grade 1 Novice on the second day here last year. Mark Walsh prefers him to the other mcManus runner Wave Of The Sea. The latter has won two of his four starts over hurdles and been second in the others. Last time at Fairyhouse his stablemate Cerebus, who was 4lb better off, overturned their previous form winning by over 2l. Wave Of The Sea's jumping was not a slick as the winner and cheek pieces are now fitted. Brendan Duke has been talking up Clemencia recently and this won bolted in at Cork earlier this month beating Pasley by 15l. This was a big improvement on his run at Down Royal and it's possible the soft ground at Cork suited him better than the good at the Northern venue. Echoes Of Rain has her first start for connections. She wears a hood for the first time, gets the fillies allowance and can't be discounted coming from the Mullins yard. The race Wolf Prince won at Fairyhouse was probably a weak one as he confirmed form with those who finished behind him and Aspire Tower previously so he needs a big improvement to win here. On a line through Instant Return, Saccoandvanzetti has a bit to find also despite winning two of his three hurdle starts. Zarkareva looks to be second choice of the De Bromhead runners behind Aspire Tower who gets the selection while any move in the betting market for Aramax should be noted.
Selection; Aspire Tower
Best Alternative; Aramax

Racing Post Novice Chase (2m1f)
Just five going to post for this Grade 1and the bookies are going Laurina 6/5 and Fakir D'oudairies 6/4 with Notebook 8/1. Laurina was rated 159 over hurdles and won her first six starts for connections before finishing 17l behind in the Champion Hurdle. She won on her debut over fences at Gowran Park beating a useful horse by 8l. That was over 2m4f on Heavy ground so it will be interesting to see how her jumping holds up here over the shorter trip where they will probably be going a stride or two quicker. Fakir D'oudairies drew a few gasps of awe from the stands at Fairyhouse with his jumping in the Drinmore earlier this month. He comfortably beat Melon first time over fences at Navan and his quick and accurate jumping could cause his rivals a few problems. Notebook has won his first two starts over fences beating Moon Over Germany in a Grade 2 at Punchestown the last day by 5l. Like a lot of Gigginstown horses he's proving better over fences than Hurdles so he could be progressive. Royal Rendezvous and Djingle will need plenty of luck to figure. I hope I'm not giving him the kiss of death but Fakir D'oudairies jumping could win this for him.
Selection; Fakir D'oudairies
Best Alternative; Laurina


Limerick (Heavy)

Greenmount Park Novice Chase (2m3f160y)
Seven go to post for this and it looks like a match between Samcro and Faugheen. Samcro will be out to atone for his fall in the Drinmore after his facile win in Down Royal told us little. My own view is he would have been second at FairyhouseFaugheen survived a huge mistake at Punchestown to win convincingly on his only start over fences last month. He'll probably come on for the run as well and trip and ground won't be a problem. Castlebrook is a huge horse who won on Chase debut at Wexford in October in Heavy ground and then went on to be third, 3l behind Getabird, at Gowran. He probably needs further than this and I expect he'll make the running as he did in his previous two chase starts which were both over this trip which could set it up nicely for the main two. It looks like the rest will be fighting for crumbs and I'll take a chance with Faugheen.
Selection; Faugheen
Best Alternative; Samcro








December 21st

Ascot (Heavy) Inspection at 8.00am

Long Walk Hurdle (3m97y)
Six runners and it's the winner of last year's renewal Paisley Park 1/4 and 12/1 and bigger the rest. So it's the favourites to lose. L'Ami Aerge is a Grade 1 winner but he hasn't been seen since finishing down the field at Auteuil in May 2018. Tobefair has improved all year having reverted to Hurdling and having run in the Pretemps Final at Cheltenham off a mark of 136 in March where he was a neck runner up he has gone on to win his two starts this season and now runs off 154. That's still a fair bit behind the favourite but he does act in the heavy ground. The Worlds End was 7l back in third behind Paisley Park at Newbury last month and it's hard to see him reversing form as he went there with the benefit of a run when he beat Unowhatimeanharry at Wetherby. Paisley Park should improve for that seasonal debut and it's hard to see him losing.
Selection; Paisley Park
Best Akternative; Tobefair





December 20th

Ascot (Heavy)

Noel Novices Chase (2m5f)
Just two going to post for this which is a big disappointment and Angels Breath is likely to be a short priced favourite. Nicky Henderson's charge won his only start in a point when trained by Pat Doyle before moving to Seven Barrows and reappeared at this meeting last year winning his Maiden Hurdle by 4l. He was then beaten half a length in a Grade 2 at Kempton by the Nicholls trained Southfield Stone. he was subsequently well beaten in the Supreme at Cheltenham and went down by 5l in the Aintree Grade 1 Novice. He reappeared last month and impressed when he only had to be pushed out to beat First Flow and stablemate Birchdale. Mont Des Avaloirs represents Paul Nicholls and had his seasonal  debut at Newbury three weeks ago where he finished just over 7l behind Champ. The was his first run back after a wind op and generally the Nicholls horses have needed their first run. He won a Bumper and a couple of Novice Hurdles from six starts, one on Heavy Ground Aintree, and then made his Chasing debut in October 2018 when beaten 9l into third by the useful Maria's Benefit. He then had four runs in Handicap Hurdles without any success. Conditions are going to be testing and more heavy rain is forecast for the South of England so it will be a severe test for these Novices. Paul Nicholls has given his horse a long break over the summer and as he's quite a big horse this might have stood to him so I think it's worth while having a little bet on him for the interest.
Selection; Mont Des Avaloirs

The Kennel Gate Novices Hurdle
Just four declared for this NoviceHurdle but it's an intriguing contest. Master Debonair got his career off to a great start in may last year winning his Bumper on debut and then two runs later betting Then Hill a neck in a Listed Bumper at Cheltenham. Those wins came with Good in the ground description and Cheltenham and Aintree he was well beaten on Soft. He reappeared at Cheltenham in October going down by 2l on his Hurdling debut before coming here to Ascot four weeks ago where he beat a number of previous winners by 7l. He had the benefit of a run and might have been flattered by the margin so it'll be interesting to see how he gets on here and if he will make the running again. McFabulous has won three of his five starts twice on soft. His latest run came on his first start of the season and his Hurdles debut at Chepstow last month when he went down by 4l to Silver Hallmark who had finished 7l behind McFabulous in a bumper last March. Mc Fabulous had been beaten a long way by Master Debonair at Cheltenham in November 2018 but he struggled down the hill and returned with sore shins. Ribble Valley has won four of his five starts with his only defeat coming in the Cheltenham Bumper won by Master Debonair. He's impressed in his two starts over hurdles this season the first one coming on Heavy Ground. Time Flies By makes his Hurdling Debut here having won his first Bumper and placed second next time his only start. His trainer, Nicky Henderson has won this four times since 2011 but I think he's best watched unless there is serious money for him. Ribble Valley is proven in the ground and gets the vote.
Selection; Ribble Valley
Best Alternative; McFabulous





December 15th

Navan (Soft)

Navan Novice Hurdle (2m4f)
Andy Dufresne appears to have frightened off the opposition with just three others turning up to oppose him and almost incredibly no runner from Willie Mullins.. He bolted up here the last day confirming the good impression he had made in his point and Bumper. Conflated and Latest Exhibition step up in trip but it's hard to see anything trouble the odds on favourite.
Selection; Andy Dufresne
Best Alternate; Latest Exhibition

December 14th

Doncaster (Good To Soft)

December Novices Chase (2m7f214y)
There's not a lot between Windsor Avenue and Sam Spinner in the betting although the former has attracted a bit of support to go a shade of odds on. Aye Right is the outsider of the three that go to post. Of the two favourites Sam Spinner was by far the better hurdler and he has started off his Chasing career with victory in his two starts, both at Wetherby. Windsor Avenue is held in very high regard by his handler Brian Ellison and has won his two starts over fences by a combined total of 33l. He's just had the nine starts under rules so should be open to plenty of improvement. The third runner Aye Right might appeal to those who believe in the "outsider of three" advice. However while he should be race fit following two good runs in hurdles this season, he has his first start over fences here. I was leaning towards Windsor Avenue earlier and the market support for him has tipped me in his favour.
Selection; Windsor Avenue
Best Alternative; Sam Spinner



Summit Juvenile Hurdle (2m128y)
Just six go to post for this Grade 2. Nicky Henderson has won this twice before with horses in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and Tombee Du Ciel makes her debut for the yard having had three starts in France where she was placed twice, the latest in April. She must be showing them plenty in her work at home to be as short as she is, coming up against a few who have wins under their belt this season. One of those is Navajo Pass for Donald McCain who had just the five runs on the flat reaching a highest rating of 85 and won by 20l 0n his hurdling debut at Bangor before going down by a neck at Newcastle fourteen days ago. Lord Lamington reappears quickly after winning at Market Rasen on December 5th and despite the winning margin being just 1l he was a comfortable winner. Paseo won on his last start a handicap hurdle which is unusual for a 3yo but his form with Prefontaine wouldn't inspire and  despite the JonJo O'Neill stable being in good form the latter doesn't appeal. Tombee Du Ciel gets a valuable 7lb fillies allowance and the betting market suggests she has a great chance.
Selection; Tombée Du Ciel
Best Alternative; Navajo Pass


Cheltenham (Going; Soft)

The Bristol Novice Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Eight go to post for this Grade 2 and Champagne Well is the early favourite based on his good 3l second to Thyme Hill where his jockey reported that he stumbled going to the second last around the Old Course here. Prior to that he had won on season debut around the same course. The stable is in great form with a 26% wins to rounds over the last 14 days. Igor won on season debut at Ascot last month having finished twice in two of his only three starts prior to that. Having fallen in his first start in a point, Mossy Fen went on to win his next start at Loughbrickland and was subsequently bought for £60k by current connections for whom he's won his only two starts beating Dolphin Square by 5l first time up and the latter going on to beat Kiltealy Briggs by a short head. Valtor has reverted to hurdles this season and won his only start last month beating Redford Road by 2l. He put up a smart performance at Ascot last December when giving Jammin Masters 12lb and an 8l beating in a Listed Handicap Chase at Ascot. That was his first start since arriving from France having been transferred to Nicky Henderson. His final start last season was the Aintree Grand National where he was a long way behind Tiger Roll. Having finished runner up to DolphinSquare, Kiltealy Briggs went out and won a Novice Hurdle by 36l. The Mulcair won his point at the third time of asking last April and then came out and won his maiden first time up by 11l last month beating a short price d favourite who had won previously. He looks a useful recruit and his dam is a half sister Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander whose sire Flemensfirth is also the sire of The Mulcair. Saint Xavier has his first start in Britain for his enthusiastic owner rider David Maxwell and it's interesting that Paul Nicholls throws him in here as he is still a maiden over hurdles having won two chases. He's having his first start after a wind op. In what is a fascinating contest slight preference is for Champagne Well
Selection; Champagne Well
Best Alternative; Kiltealy Briggs

International Hurdle (2m179y)
Another intriguing contest with Nicky Henderson providing the top two in the betting. Pentland Hills was the Champion Juvenile last season winning at Cheltenham and Aintree in the Spring. He steps up with the older horses here. Call Me Lord drops back to 2m but there has always been a suspicion with connections that he doesn't go left handed. He's been lightly raced this last twelve months and had a warm up for this at Ascot last month where he went down by a small margin to If The Cap Fits. Apparently Ch'tibello has been aimed at this but it is his first start of the season. He came back to form at the Cheltenham Festival after a wind op, winning a Grade 3 handicap hurdle before going down by under 2l to Supasundae over 2m4f at Aintree in a Grade 1. The trainer says that he's ready for this. Elixir Du Nutz has his first start since suffering an injury after winning a Grade 1 at Sandown last January. Connections say he'll improve for the run but is ready to go and is showing his old spark. The remainder look to have it all to do with the above. It's hard to get away from Pentland Hills 
Selection; Pentland Hills 
Best Alternative; Ch'tibello


December 8th

Punchestown (Going; Yielding To Soft)

John Durkan Punchestown Chase (2m4f40y)
Min won three of his five starts last season including this race. His two defeats came at the minimum distance and tomorrow he will have conditions in his favour.His best performance of the season was probably his penultimate run where he put the field to the sword at Aintree coming home 20l clear of Politologue. Presenting Percy will probably find this trip on the short side. He only has two starts last season and finished lame in the Gold Cup. With nine going to post Real Steel will appeal to each way backers. Having fallen at Leopardstown in late December he won three of his next five starts. He reappeared at Down Royal in November and hosed home by 14l from Secret Investor who is no back number. Shattered Love finished just over 1l behind Min in last years renewal but was well beaten in three subsequent starts. She started this season off with a 10l fifth behind Snow Falcon in the grade 2 at Gowran in October and then destroyed a field of mares in a Listed race at Clonmel. Duc Des Genievres was a somewhat surprising winner of the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham winning by 13l. He then disappointed at Punchestown and on his return at Navan last month was 35l behind Ballyoisin in a Grade 2. Having won the Gowran Grade 2 in October Snow Falcon stepped up in trip in the Grade 1 at Down Royal but finished a long way behind stablemate Road To Respect. Dropping back in trip will suit him better but he has taken a big walk in the market. Anibale Fly makes his season reappearance but is crying out for further. Hardline had some decent form around this time last season but looks held on his run behind Real Steel at Punchestown last May and on his return at Navan in November was 14l behind Ballyoisin. Voix Du Reve has wins over Hardline and Real Steelthe latter in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse in April but in between he fell and unseated in Grade 1's and was well behind Chacun Pour Soi at Punchestown in May at the end of a long season. Best watched here. Min's nearest rivals in the ratings probably need further than this and if it enough he should win this.
Selection; Min
Best Alternative; Real Steel (E.W.)

Huntingdon (Good To Soft)

Peterborough Chase (2m3f189y)
Just six go to post for this and three of them stand out from the rest. Top Notch has been mixing Hurdles and Fences for a while and warmed up for this with a hard earned win over hurdles on his first start of the season at Aintree last month. He's been lightly raced the last two years but his career total over fences is eight from thirteen. La Bague Au Roi was reportedly in season when pulled up at Wetherby last month in the Charlie Hall. She ran up a four timer last season before going down by just over 1l to Kalshnikov at Aintree. Aso was third in the aforementioned Charlie Hall and they made plenty of use of him on soft ground given that his stamina was suspect. He finished just over 1l behind Frodon in the Ryanair at Cheltenhamlast March having disappointed behind Cyrname at Ascot. He won two chases prior to that  and appeared to need his run before those wins. He's the highest rated horse in the field. Born Survivor has his second start after a wind op but has a fair bit to find on ratings while Charbel seems to have lost his way. I've been flip flopping on this all day but Aso ran with a lot of promise at Wetherby and gets the nod.
Selection; Aso
Best Alternative; La Bague Au Roi

Cork (Yielding To Soft)

Hilly Way Chase (2m160y)
Just four go to post for this and Willie Mullins has two of them with one them Great Field carrying the colours of J.P. McManus who also has Ballyoisin. The latter had his first run since December at Killarney at the end of August winning a Handicap Chase over 2m5f. He then went to Listowel where he was a 2l fifth in a Handicap Hurdle and was then a big disappointment a Grade 3 Hurdle at Tipperary. However he put that behind him at Navan in the grade 2 Fortria Chase beating A Plus Tard by an eased down 3l. Cilaos Emery reappeared for his first start since January when easily accounting for Ornua in a Grade 3 at Naas in early November. He's had his problems and this is only his fifth start in two years. Nonetheless although he lascks experience over fences he shares favouritism at the moment with Ballyoisin. Great Field has also had his problems but won six of his seven starts from February 2016 to March 2018. He fell on two of his last three starts and was lasts even in April at punches town finishing a long way behind Un De Scaeaux. Having disappointed over 2n4f in his last three starts, Us And Them drops back in trip and it's worth noting that he has finished runner up in four consecutive Grade 1's last season. However he has a bit to find on ratings. Slight preference is for Balllyoisin
Selection; Ballyoisin
Best Alternative; Cilaos Emery





December 7th

Aintree (Going; Good To Soft)

Many Clouds Chase (3m210y)
Just four go to post for this Grade 2 but it probably boils down to three of them. The 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River just had three starts last season but came up short in them. He's an out and out stayer and probably needs more juice in the ground to be seen at his best. Nonetheless he gets 6lb from Black Corton who is rated 4lb below him so technically is 9lb worse off than in a Handicap' The latter has the benefit of a recent run when he pleased connections when a 6l third to Vindication at Ascot. He ran blinder to finish second in the Galway Plate. It's a surprise to see him here as his target had originally been the Peterborough Chase on Sunday. Might Bite was very disappointing last season. The wind op before the Gold Cup didn't do much as he pulled up and he wears cheekpieces for the first time. Outlander is the complete outsider at 50/1 which is a sorry tale for this former three times Grade 1 winner who is rising 12yo and has been discarded by Gigginstown. Native River wears the blinkers for the first time but doesn't appeal at odds on while Might Bite is on a recovery mission so I'll take a chance with Black Corton
Selection; Black Corton
Best Alternative; Might Bite

Sandown  (Soft)

Henry VIII Novices Chase (1m7f119y)
Nuba Negra has performed better over fences than he probably did over hurdles winning both his starts although he was probably entitled to. Torpillo appears reasonably quickly after winning his first start over fences when accounting for Mister fisher at Warwick seventeen days ago. That was his third start since October 11th so if he has come out of his last run ok he will be fairly fit. Summerville Boy has his second start since wind surgery and his first start was impressive when winning by 4l at Uttoxeter five weeks ago. The form of that race looks reasonable and if he returns to the form he showed a top Novice Hurdler two seasons ago he could take high order. Grand Sancy has his first start over fences having run twice over hurdles this season and on his last start gave the useful Fusil Raffles a run for his money at Wincanton. Esprit Du Large takes a big step up in class but did win on his only start over fences. However that was over 2m3f and the drop back in trip could catch him out. Return Ticket looks to have it all to do. Summerville Boy might be the one here.
Selection; Summerville Boy
Best Alternative; Nuba Negra

Tingle Creek Chase (1m7f119y)
Eight runners go to post for one of the season's classic races. Defi Du Seuil was one of the best novices last season. Having won here at Sandown and the JLT at Cheltenham both over 2m4f he was beaten over 2m at Punchestown. However that was at the end of a hard season against a horse who was fresh. He resumed at Cheltenham last month where he beat Politologue by just over 1l over 2m. Politologue re-opposes here on his second start after a wind op and is 3lb better off but Defi Du Seuil might have room for more improvement as he is only a 6yo. Un De Sceaux won this back in 2016 and was runner up to Altior last year. He's rising 12yo but put up his best performance for a while when beating stablemate Min at Punchestown last April. He's the highest rated horse in the race but there are a few improvers who will test him. The ground would probably want to dry out a bit more for Sceau Royal who got bogged down in the soft here last year. Janika was a consistent handicapper last season and stepped up to Graded company at Exeter last month when winning the Grade 2 Haldon Cup where he beat Dolos just over 2l. Daryl Jacob the retained Jockey for the owners prefers their other horse Sceau Royal. Waiting Patiently was disappointing last season having run up a sequence of seven consecutive wins over a two year period culminating in a Grade 1 success at Ascot in February 2018 when he beat Cue Card. Dolos and Ornua have a lot to do on ratings but did run well here in the Grade 1 Novice two years ago. It's interesting that Henry De Bromhead sends him over from Ireland. He could be an interesting each way bet. Defi De Seuil can continue his rise up the rankings. 
Selection; Defi Du Seuil
Best Alternative; Politologue










December 6th

Sandown (Going; Soft)

Winter Novices Hurdle (2m3f173y)
A tricky race to start off a busy weekend with seven runners going to post. These Novice Hurdles can be hard to figure out with horses able to win a Maiden Hurdle with apparent ease but eventually the form doesn't amount to much. I'm not saying this is the case here but it's something to bare in mine. Happygolucky will probably go off favourite on the back of his fine third behind the impressive Thyme Hill at Cheltenham last month. That followed a win on his first start under rules at Stratford. Overrthetop has won all three of his starts so far, a point, Bumper and Novice Hurdle. He cost connections £150,000 after his Point win. The runner up in that point went on to win twice between the flags but hasn't pulled any trees in four starts under rules. Overthetop won his Novice Hurdle on his seasonal debut by 12L at Carlisle October where he showed a good turn of foot to quicken away from the rest of the field. He's sure to improve and is one to watch. Having pulled up in his first two starts in points Ofalltheginjoints got off the mark at Monksgrange last April. The runner up won by 18l next time. He won first time up for new connections at Chepstow in October before going down by a neck to Boss Man Fred who won again at Southwell on Tuesday. The latter had an entry in this but his trainer Dan Skelton relies on the mare Emmas Jay who got off the mark over hurdles at the second attempt when hosing in by 13l at Warwick last month. This is a step up in trip but she did win a point at 3m and a Bumper so you would expect here to get the trip. She also gets a valuable 7lb allowance. Up The Straight was a maiden after five starts in Point to Points but sprung a 33/1 surprise on his rules debut when winning  easily in a Lingfield maiden Hurdle. It's possible that the heavy ground was the difference as his last four starts in points had been on Good or Good to Firm ground. It will be interesting to see if he can back up that win here. Enrilo is held in high regard by Paul Nicholls and having won his Bumper at the third time of asking he was put away for the Summer. He reappeared at Wincanton in October where he justified his odds on price when winning a Novice Hurdle. Next time up he hung badly at Ludlow and was beaten a long way by House Island having hung badly left. That run was too bad to be true and it looked to me like there was a bit of a tack malfunction. He had beaten House Island in a Kempton Bumper last February. it's interesting that Nicholls is not afraid to take the winner on here nor go left handed again. House Island has to carry a 3lb penalty for that win at Ludlow but apart from a disappointing effort in a Grade 1 Bumper at Punchestown last May he has been consistent enough finishing second twice in Bumpers before winning a Listed one at Newbury in March and finishing second on his hurdling debut in October. Enrilo might but worth a second chance here and 10/1 is available with Sky Bet and Unibet.
Selection; Enrilo
Best Alternative; Overthetop








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