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March 13th

Cheltenham (Soft, Good to Soft in Places)

Triumph Hurdle (2m179y)
An absolute puzzle of a race where the form of the English runners appears above that of the Irish. There was sure to be plenty of pace on with so many front runners and it could be a case of a few of them burning each other out. Goshen has won his last six starts, three flat and three hurdles. all three hurdle victories have been by wide margins. He does make mistakes and has a tendency to jump to his right at times. In this better quality field it might tell against him. Solo is still an entire and won his only start for connections when racing away from the field to win the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton. Stablemate Zarkander  took the same route when winning this in 2011. Allmankind is a keen running front runner who beat Cerebus by 9l at Chepstow on Heavy ground in December too run up a hat trick. This is his first start since then. Aspire Tower looked special when making all to beat subsequent winner Wolf Prince by 18l in a grade 2 at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting with A Wave Of The Sea a further 17l back in third. The latter had cheek pieces fitted that day but were left off next run. It was a different picture next time in the Grade 1 Juvenile at the Dublin Festival where Aspire Tower was strongly pressed by Cerebus going to the last and fell and A Wave Of The Sea came past the latter to win by just over 1l from Wolf Prince. Sir Psycho was probably flattered by the winning margin on his penultimate start as the odds on favourite stopped very quickly as if something was wrong. He then came to Haydock on heavy ground where he beat a French raider who had won his previous four starts. Burning Victory has had just one start over hurdles winning a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse despite a number of mistakes. Stablemate Hook Up was 5l behind that day and was also making her hurdles debut. Both get the fillies allowance. Navajo Pass has won two of his three starts but the form doesn't look strong enough. Solo won and was placed on his two stars in France in the Autumn and might be able to do it here. 
Selection; Solo
Best Alternative; A Wave Of The Sea

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Nineteen runners go to post for this test of stamina for Novices. Latest Exhibition has progressed all season  culminating in Grade 1 success at the Dublin Festival over 2m6f. With a stronger pace that day he might have won further and will appreciate the step up in trip here. Thyme Hill has won all three starts over hurdles including over 2m5f on the Old Course here on his penultimate start. Monkfish was beaten on hurdles debut over 2m4f but won his subsequent two starts  having stepped up in trip. Fury Road was 5l behind Latest Exhibition last time and probably needs more rain. Cobbler's Way  was 2l behind Latest Exhibition last time and can't be discounted. The latter had Sempo 2l behind at Christmas and Sempo went on to win at thurles next time on Good to Yielding. Harry Senior has some terrific form and has won his last two including over 2m4f here on his last start in January however the stables runners have disappointed this week. Ramses De Teillee reverted to Hurdles after finishing fourth in a Chase around here over an extended 3m3f and won his next two over hurdles the latter on Heavy ground 4 weeks ago at Haydock. He can't be discounted and could appeal to Each Way backers. The race can throw up some big price winners. Redford Road disappointed the last day but has some decent form and is a course and distance winner in a Grade 2 here in December. It's a wide open race and can throw up surprise results but Latest Exhibition gets the nod.
Selection; Latest Exhibition
Best Alternative; Monkfish

Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f70y)
Last years winner Al Boum Photo attempts to win for a second time and has followed the same preparation as last year with just the one run in Tramore on New Year's Day and is favourite to repeat that victory. Delta Work improved for what was disappointing seasonal debut when winning the grade 1 Savills Chase by a head from Monalee whose rider lost her irons. Gordon Elliott had left plenty to work on in that seasonal debut and he improved again for the Savills win in the Irish Gold Cup beating Kemboy who himself had improved for that belated seasonal debut. Santini wears cheekpieces for the first time having tasted success in his first start back after a wind op when beating Bristol De Mai over an extended 3m1f here in January. If the ground dries out it should help him. Lostintranslation had a wind op after making a noise and been pulled up in the King George. Prior to that he had beaten Bristol De Mai in the Betfair at Haydock. He's won on soft but his trainer feels he'd be better off on better ground. He was in my notebook for this after the Betfair where he travelled beautifully into the race off a patient ride but I'm reluctant now after that op. Clan Des Obeaux comes here fresher than last year where he ran in and won the Denman chase in Mid February following the King George victory. This time he's been given a break since his Boxing Day repeat but the question stills remains as to whether he stays the extra two furlongs. Kemboy probably needs the ground to dry out but should improve again for that February run. Presenting Percy has slipped in under the radar which probably suits connections who are convinced he is in better form than last year. He was beaten 4l and a slight bit more by Delta Work in those races at Christmas and February. He might be an each way bet. Henry De Bromhead has always thought Monalee was a stayer and that was a great run at Leopardstown at Christmas. He's been kept fresh since then and could be each way value. Chris's Dream has improved hugely thugs season and won the Troytown at Navan impressively  in November before winning the Red Mills at Gowran last month over 2m4f. To me Monalee looks over priced. Henry de Bromhead is a master at getting these horse ready for this meeting and with 25/1 freely available I'm going to make him an Each Way selection.
Selection; Monalee (Each Way 25/1 freely available)
Best Alternative; Delta Work














March 12th

Cheltenham (Soft)

Marsh Novices Chase (2m3f168y)
It's been a tough couple of days but we've been here before and the worm will always turn. Twelve face the starter for this Grade 1 also known as the Golden Miller. Faugheen is one of four Willie Mullins' runners and will have his supporters having won his three starts over fences. On his last start he beat Easy Game at Leopardstown but that one was a long way behind yesterday when falling at the last in the RSA. At 12yo he's vulnerable to younger horses. Itchy Feet won a Grade 1 the last time having hosed in on chase debut. He's believed to have come on from that win and although the Ground appears to be drying out his trainer feels it won't be a worry. After a couple of disappointments Samcro has been given a wind op and Gordon Elliott believes there are some big days left in him. The drying ground will help Mister Fisher from the Nicky Henderson yard which is flying this week. After his last win which was over 2m at Doncaster he was immediately promoted to favourite for this. Melon finished 3l behind Fakir D'Oudairies at Navan on chase debut, won next time out but was well beaten by Notebook last time. Annie Mc has won her three starts and gets the 7lb allowance while Bapaume has been inconsistent. Reserve Tank hasn't been seen since finishing second to Danny Whizzbang in November. His best form is in the Spring and he won four hurdles on the trot last year between February and May. The stables runners have been disappointing this week. Tornado Flyer has been inconsistent while Midnight Shadow has a few lengths to find with Itchy Feet. Slight preference is for Mister Fisher who comes from the stable in form.
Selection; Mister Fisher
Best Alternative; Itchy Feet

Ryanair Chase (2m4f127y)
A Plus Tard was a bit disappointing on seasonal debut but no doubt his trainer left plenty to work on. He beat Chacun Pour Soi over 2m1f at Christmas and comes here with plenty of confidence behind him having won the Novice Handicap here over 2m4f last year. Min has had the misfortune to have come up against Altior her in the last three years however his best form has been over 2m4f where he has won four of his five starts and was second to Politilogue in the other and he beat that one over the trip at Aintree last April. Last year's winner Frodon was well beaten on his first two starts this season before getting back on track with a win a Kempton in January. Apparently he had bad ulcers when suffering theise defeats. Riders On the Storm has improved massively this season winning all three starts including a Grade 1 last time but he needs to find more to figure here. Saint Calvados hasn't fulfilled his early promise although wind surgery he had over summer may have brought some improvement as did a step up in trip last time. Aso, Duc Des Genievres and Shattered Love have to find more. I give Min a chance here and he is the selection.
Selection; Min
Best Alternative; Plus Tard
 
Stayers Hurdle (2m7f213y)
Paisley Park is all the rage for this but at odds on most will be looking for a bit of each way value. Last year'r winner is unbeaten in his last seven start and last time out bet the rejuvenated Summerville Boy, who was having his first start over this trip, by just over 1l. The latter went for it early in the straight as if there was no doubt about his stamina but a mistake at the last cost him momentum and Paisley Park ran out the winner.
Emitom was second to Champ in the 3m Grade 1 at Aintree last year and after a disappointing effort behind Summerville Boy here in January came out and won easily on heavy ground at Haydockfour weeks ago. A return to lasts Season's form would put him in the money. City Island won the Ballymore here last yearend has reverted to hurdles here after two disappointing chase starts. Penhill, the winner of the 2018 renewal of this, is a big gross horse who takes time to get fit. He has three disappointing runs this season before improving to finish second to Cracking Smart at Navan in February. Bacardys and Apple's Jade, who wears first time blinkers, don't inspire me on there overall form this season. Summerville Boy looks great each way value and is the selection and is available at 9/1 with Coral and William Hill. 
Selection; Summerville Boy (Each Way 9/1 available Corals and William Hill)
Best Alternative; Emitom (Each Way)

Dawn Run Mares Novice Hurdle (2m179y)
Twenty two runners go to post for this and it's not a race I'd put the house on. Minella Melody has won her three starts this season the last one over 2m2f where she beat the useful Colreevy just over 2l with Dolcita close behind. She drops back in trip for the first time over hurdles and in a race like this is pretty short in the betting. Concertista was beaten a short head in this last year. Her trainer Willie Mullins has won the four renewals of this and has a big chance here. This filly has had three runs this season and ran a big race in a Mares Handicap conceding weight to most of her rivals to finish 5l behind Black Tears who ran a cracker to be second in the big handicap yesterday. At the end of last season Colreevy beat Abracadabras 1l in Punchestown Grade 1 Bumper and has won once and placed second twice in three starts this one. Dolcita lacks experience having had just four runs, the last two for Mullins. Floressa got involved in a tactical battle last time and in a sprint got badly hampered to finish third behind Lady Buttons. It's quite possible the winner could come from the bigger priced horses but unless there is money for something else these are the one's I think will be in the shake up. Floressa looks each way value from the stable in form and 8/1 is available at Corals.
Selection; Floressa (Each Way 8/1 available at Corals)
Best Alternative; Concertista









March 10th

Cheltenham (Going; Soft)

Supreme Novices Hurdle (2m87y)
A terrific contest to start the Festival with sixteen going to post. There is less than a point between the top two in the betting and depending on the Going on the day there could be each way value down the card. The Donnelly family have the first two in the betting, Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge. The Nicky Henderson trained Shiskin had already won a Point and a Bumper when he lined up at Newbury for his Hurdles debut. It didn't go to plan however and he fell at the second. He returned to the same track a month later and was very impressive when winning easily despite running keenly. He again took a keen hold on his next and final run but still ran out a comfortable winner over an extended 2m3f. This race is a lot tougher than the two he has won, he goes on any ground would appear but he might find a couple two sharp for him over this 2m trip. Willie Mullins trains the other Donnelly runner Asterion Forlonge. This horse has won all four starts vis a vis a Point, Bumper , Maiden Hurdle and on his last start a Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. The latter was impressive as he made all to coast home by over 9l in a very quick time. He seems to be adaptable ground wise. He does jump right at times but it doesn't seem to affect him. Abracadabras is another with terrific form. He was beaten about 6l in the bumper here last year and could be considered unlucky at Punchestown. He reappeared at Gowran in October and won a moderate Maiden Hurdle and stepped up next time to beat Latest Exhibition, who probably needed further,  in a 2m Grade 3 at Navan before going down buy just over 1l to Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. On his next and final start he beat three runners in a Grade 1 over 2m at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival. His action suggests he might prefer better ground and this will tell us a lot about him. Chantry House is another who is highly regarded by connections. He wouldn't want it to turn into a bog however. He has had just the two starts this season and the form of the first one is pretty strong. The second, Stolen Silver, subsequently beat Edwardstone a neck in a Grade 2 while the latter having finished 3l behind Chantry House in a Bumper last March went on to beat Fiddlerontheroof and Harry Senior on his first two starts this season. Fiddlerontheroof has impressed on his subsequent two starts since. winning a Novice impressively and then staying on strongly to win the Grade 1 Tolworth by 6l. Captain Guinness won his maiden before going down by under 1l to Andy Dufresne. and lacks the experience of some of the others. Trainer Alan King suggests Edwardstone goes on heavy but will probably need better ground to be effective in this Grade and will be hoping it gets to Good to Soft. With more rain forecast for Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning Asterion Forlonge just shades it for me.
Selection; Asterion Forlonge
Best Alternative; Fiddlerontheroof (EW)

Arkle Novices Chase (1m7f199y)
Another terrific contest in store with eleven runners going to post and Notebook heads the market following his impressive win in the grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. That was four from four over fences for the Gigginstown owned horse. Prior to that he had beaten Fakir D'Oudairies by over 1l in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice at Leopardstown over Christmas.. If his jockey Mark Walsh got the chance to ride it again he might let him stride on like he did when winning and jumping impressively in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse. Brewin'upastorm hasn't been seen in public since winning a novice chase at Taunton in mid November. This was his second win from two starts over fences following a wind op over the summer. Although he did win a Bumper on soft ground back in January 2018 all his best form since has been on ground with good in the description. Cash Back put up a great performance when going down by a neck to Notebook in the Dublin Festival. He had won his only other two starts over fences. Maire Banrigh gets the 7lb Mares allowance which brings her into the reckoning on ratings. Since wind surgery back in January 2018 she has won all six starts, the last four over the larger obstacles, but this is her toughest task to date. Esprit Du Large has taken a big step forward in winning his last two starts and will appreciate the ground. Global Citizen beat Rouge Vis on his last start in a Grade 2 over Christmas and the latter came out next time and won a Grade 2 at Warwick last month. Put The Kettle won around here on her last start in November on Soft Ground beating Al Dancer who also looks held on his form with Global Citizen in December. I think a change of tactics will see Fakir D'oudairies win this.
Selection; Fakir D'Oudairies
Best Alternative; Cash Back

Champion Hurdler (2m87y)
This year's renewal looks a wide open affair. Epatante was reported to be coughing recently but is now said to be over it. She was beaten over 9l here last year in the Mares Novice but Nicky Henderson puts that down to the Flu vaccine. Apart from that she has done nothing wrong winning her four other Uk starts plus two from three in France. On her last start she won the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton in impressive fashion. The third horse, Ballyandy, has since come out and won the Grade 2 Trial Hurdle at Haydock beating Pentland Hills by a nose. The latter has had a wind op since and is second favourite behind Epatante. He had a fantastic Spring last year winning the two Grade 1's at Cheltenham, beating Couer Sublime 3l, and Aintree, beating Fakir D'Oudairies a neck. Cilaos Emery was supplemented for this after reverting to Hurdling and winning the Grade 3 Red Mills at Gowran last month. Having won three chases in a row between January last tear and December he fell next time at the Dublin Festival prompting a return to the smaller obstacles. It was a sizeable amount the run him here and he must have a chance. He won't mind more rain. Darver Star will be attempting to give Gavin Cromwell a follow up win in the race following last years success with Espoir S'Allen. Darver Star ran up four on the spin from August to October in Novice Company before going down by 4l to Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond. He followed that up with a battling half length second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion. Sharjah was very disappointing in the Irish Champion beaten 11l having beaten a revitalised Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown in a Grade 1 previously. He needs to find the form that saw him beat Supasundae at Leopardstown in December 2018. The latter has had just one start this season finishing almost 5l behind Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion. He will come on for that and it looks like this has been his target all season. Coeur Sublime has had wind surgery since disappointing behind Sharjah at Christmas and also wears a tongue tie for the first time. Prior to that he had been very impressive when the Grade 2 WKD at Down Royal in November however he is unproven on Soft ground. Fusil Raffles is another who probably needs better ground while Ballyandy is held by Epatante. It cost £22,500 to supplement Cilaos Emery for the race and it could be money well spent.
Selection; Cilaos Emery
Best Alternative; Supasundae

Mares Hurdle (2m3f200y)
Henry de Bromhead has decided to take on Benie Des Dieux with his unbeaten Mare Honeysuckle and bookies are calling it a two horse race. Benie Des Dieux was unlucky in this last year when falling at the last when in command. She has shown no ill effects from that by winning her three starts since the latest on seasonal debut at Gowran in January when cantering home by 21l from Penhill over 3m. Dropping back won't be a problem as she won he Mares Grade 1 at Punchestown over 2m4f on Good to Yielding. Honeysuckle has won her three starts this season and if Darver Star runs well in the Champion Hurdle but might be a pointer here.  She was impressive in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse but there were question marks about those behind. Roksana was fortunate to win last year and has been third three times in four starts since while Stormy Island who finished just over 2l behind Roksana here last year was over 9l behind Benie Des Dieux next time at Punchestown. Benie Des Dieux for me.
Selection; Benie Des Dieux
Best Alternative; Honeysuckle

National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices Chase (3m5f201y)
After last years debacle the distance has been shortened by two furlongs and horses have to meet a certain criteria. Fourteen go to post with Willie Mullins horse, Carefully Selected, a strong favourite. He's won his three starts since returning in November starting off with a victory over Lord Schnitzel over 2m5f and winning two Grade 3's the latest at Naas over six weeks ago over 3m beating Forza Milan by 4l with the latter now 6lb worse off. He's the second highest rated horse in the field at 152 one behind Lord Du Mesnil who is having his seventh run since the 31st October. He has won three of those starts and on his last start twenty four days ago he tried to make a lot of the running and was caught inside the final furlong in a Haydock bog. He finished 19l ahead of the third horse and that was his third run on Heavy ground in his last four starts. He's risen 38lbs in the ratings since October and you would wonder if there is any more to come after such a gruelling run the last day. He won't lack from the saddle with Sam Waley- Cohen in the plate. Ravenhill fell in the Troytown at Navan on Soft ground back in November, his last start. Prior to that he had been beaten a head in the Kerry national at Listowel and been 5l back in fifth in the Galway Plate the time before that. He did win on Soft in a point four years ago this month but was pulled up in heavy in a down Royal Hurdle two runs later. It might be significant that he has had two summer campaigns since all on Good or Yielding.  Springfield Fox has won his last two starts on Heavy Ground the last coming just eighteen days ago with a bloodless 17l victory. He fell on his first start under rules in a Hurdle race in November and was second in two subsequent Hurdle races before winning on Chase debut at Chepstow at the end of February. Newtide has won his last three the latest  which was a Grade 2 over 3m in Soft at Wetherby and he wears a first time tongue tie. On ratings and form it's hard to see anything else getting into it but it is Cheltenham over an extreme distance in what could be testing conditions. Carefully Selected was just 3l behind Minella Indo in a grade 1 Hurdle at Punchestown last May and should improve again for his three starts since.
Selection; Carefully Selected
best Alternative; Springfield Fox

March 11th

Cheltenham (Going; Soft)

Ballymore Novices Hurdle (2m5f)
The eagerly awaited appearance of Envoi Allen who will be a banker for many at the Festival. Winner of all his eight starts under all codes it's hard to pick any holes in his form. He won the Bumper here last year so we know he acts on the course and ground won't be an issue. Sporting John has won all four starts the last three over hurdles. On the first of those he beat Harry Senior by a couple of lengths at the start of November and the latter has franked the form since. Sporting John the won at Exeter and the second won a maiden last week. Sporting John then stepped up in trip beating Pipesmoker 6l with Master Debonair the same distance back in third. He has beaten decent horses and will have his supporters. However all his runs have been on soft and if the ground dries out by Wednesday the market should be noted. The Big Breakaway has won his two hurdle races in impressive fashion but this is a big step up in class. The Big Getaway (don't mix them up) was a beaten favourite on his hurdles debut at Christmas finishing almost 4l behind Cobbler's Way. He then blitzed the field by 17l in a Maiden at Naas at the end of January. The runner up won a Maiden next time up. Longhouse Poet was beaten 7l by Envoi Allen on his penultimate start on Good to Yielding and was just over 2l behind Latest Exhibition on his last start. Easywork won his first two hurdles on Heavy ground but finished a 9l second to Asterion Forlonge. There is always the chance of a surprise with something coming out of the pack but Envoi Allen has the form so gets the Selection.
Selection; Envoi Allen
Best Alternative; Sporting John

RSA Novices Chase (3m80y)
Ten runners are due to face the starter for what could be a cracking contest. As I write last years Albert Bartlett winner Minella Indo shades favouritism  from Champ. Having been beaten over an inadequate trip at Gowran on seasonal debut he stepped up to 3m on his next and last start to beat Captain CJ just over 1l. The latter then returned to Navan to win the Grade 2 Ten Up. Minella Indo finished lasts season beating Allaho, whom he also beat in the Albert Bartlett, in a Grade 1 Novice hurdle at Punchestown having been beaten by the same horse back in February. Champ was runner up in the Ballymore last year and got his chase career of to the perfect start winning his first two both at Newbury and was going well around here in the Dipper in January when falling at the second last. It's always a worry coming back after a fall and he has made the odd mistake in his previous two starts. Allaho was beaten on his chase debut by just over 1l by Easy Game at Leopardstown at Christmas. That race brought him on a good bit and he trashed the field on his next and only other start in a Beginners chase at Fairyhouse at the end of January over an extended 2m5f where he made all. He tends to race keenly and whether he can last the pace off does is the question. Copperhead got people talking when stepped up from two wins in Handicap Chases to win the Grade 2 Reynoldstown by 17l. A terrific jumper he travels strongly and is still improving. Battleoverdoyen was weakening when he took a tired looking fall at the last in the Grade 1 Flogas at the Dublin Festival. Trainer Gordon Elliott has been quoted as saying he'd rather not travel him so it's a surprise to see him here. Easy Game steps up to this trip for the first time having been beaten half a length on his last start. Slate House was pulled up the last time when his chance had gone. He had won his two previous starts and might appeal to Each Way backers. I've been flip flopping on these for a while but I'll take a chance with Copperhead.
Selection; Copperhead
Best Alternative; Allaho

Queen Mother Champion Chase (1m7f199y)
Seven have been declared and there might be a doubt about Altior who is been treated for a splint. Defi Du Seuil has dropped back to 2m this season and has run up a hat trick, his only starts. Having been beaten on his first start, over 2m, last season he was stepped up in trip and won three of his four starts. He was dropped back to 2m at Punchestown but finished a 4l second to Chacun Pour Soi. The latter needed the run when returning at Christmas going down to A Plus Tard and then beat Min almost 4l over 2m1f at the Dublin Festival. He very little mileage on the clock and the only possible negative is that he has had only 5 runs over fences in his career. Altior paid the price for going up in trip when beaten by Cyrname in November and didn't reappear until last month when accounting for Sceau Royal and Dynamite Dollars in the Game Spirit. At 10yo he could be vulnerable to an improving younger horse. Sceau Royal will need better ground to be effective while Dynamite Dollars was having his first run since January 2019 and should improve  as he was a promising Novice in the Autumn of 2018. Bun Doran fell early in the Game Spirit but prior to that had won the Grade 2 at Kempton over Christmas while Politilogue has been beaten on his two starts this season by Defi Du SeuilChacun Pour Soi should have further improvement and gets the selection.
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Defi Du Seuil

Weatherby's Champion Bumper (2m87y)
Twenty three go to post for the final race on the second day and the Willie Mullins trained Appreciate It is a strong favourite with Bookies going 13/8 on him and 7/1 and better the rest. He was third beaten 11l in a point to Envoi Allen back in February 2018 on his first appearance in Public and followed up with a win in his next the following month. He didn't reappear until last November when finishing third to the useful Assemble and Eskylane who will have the assistance of Davy Russell here. He the won his subsequent two starts including the Grade 2 at the Dublin Festival where he beat previous winners Risk Factor and Lieutenant Colonel by 7l and the same. He was a strong favourite that day. He has a high cruising speed which will help maintain a good position and Mullins thinks he's one of their best chances for the week. However favourites don't have a good record in the race with only two of the last ten winning. Jamie Codd takes the mount on Queens Brook for Gordon Elliot. She won a point back in November and reappeared on the track twenty five days ago to have an effortless win in a Gowran Bumper hosing in by 21l. A year ago on her only other start she was third in a point behind Cill Anna who has won her last three starts for Paul Nicholls. Ferny Hollow is the second Mullins runner and won last time at he third attempt  having finished 2l behind Eric Bloodaxe on debut last December. However the latter was well beaten in the Grade 2 at the Dublin Festival although he may have finished lame. Israel Champ has won two Bumpers on Soft and Heavy ground but hasn't run since December. He won his point back in March and wore ear plugs for his first start this season where he was a 5l sixth. He has been fitted with a hood and tongue tie last two starts so may have a bit of a temperament problem. Panic Attack changed hands after winning a Market Rasen Bumper by 10l for Willie Mullins but might lack experience having just had one run. It's unusual for Gigginstown to have an entry in this and Darling Daughter comes here on the back of a hat tick, a point and two Bumpers including the Mares Grade 2 at the Dublin Festival with the runner up winning next time. It's possible given the profile of previous winners that something else can come out of the pack but I'll take a chance with Queens Brook who could be a bit of Each Way value.
Selection; Queens Brook
Best alternative; Appreciate It










February 29th

Kelso (Going; Heavy, Soft in Places)

Premier Novices Hurdle (2m2f25y)
With more showers forecast the Going could be really testing at Kelso this Saturday. Seven runners are due to face the starter for this Grade 2 and form on this ground will be important and Paul Nicholls' Calva D'Auge is one of those that has. He has plenty of experience having run six times over hurdles in France failing to win any and he was one from seven on the flat over there. The Nicholls' magic sees to have worked as he won on English debut back in November although those behind haven't advertised the form. He then finished 5l behind the Bannerking in a Haydock Listed Hurdle and then finished 22l behind Fiddleronthehoof in the Tolworth at Sandown. He reappeared sixteen days later to win a Wincanton novice by a head on Soft ground and went back to Plumpton eleven days after that to win a Novice on Heavy ground bu 1l. That was nineteen days ago and this will be his fourth start in eight weeks. Clondaw Caitlin failed to complete in two of her three points and having finished runner up on her third run was bought for £40,000 which could turn out to be a bargain. Having won her Bumper at the second attempt she then went on to win her two starts over hurdles in emphatic fashion, both on soft ground. One her last start, at Newcastle, she coasted home in the last half furlong to win by 10l and while it's hard to know what she beat it was the manner in which she did it that impressed. Cheddleton won his only bumper start and has since won the last two of his three starts over hurdles. The last win was on Heavy going over 2m but he went clear after the last and should stay. The third in that race, beaten 15l, has gone on to win next time. Elf De Re has had three starts over hurdles, all around here. He was third on his hurdle and seasonal debut in October but came out and won next time also over 2m by 21l in what was probably a moderate race. Still he could do no more than win as he liked. He then stepped up to an extended 2m6f he led until headed at the last but rallied again and just failed by half a length. That was on heavy ground and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the drop back in trip. Ebony Jewel is obviously held in high regard by connections as he has started favourite in his four hurdle starts. He might have needed the first as the winner turned bumper form with him on it's head. He then finished a 5l third to Marie's Rock who won a Listed race next time and then got home in front by three parts of a length at Haydock from a previous winner. In his last start he got beaten a neck in a protracted battle with the first two drawing well clear of the rest. This is his first start at this trip. Multellie improved for the step up in trip the last day but has to find a bit more on ratings while Ubetya was well beaten over 2m4f onHeavy ground on his hurdling debut and dropped back in trip next time, his only other hurdles start, to win on Heavy. Clondaw Caitlin has look impressive on her two wins over hurdles and with the 7lb Mares allowance can go close.
Selection; Clondaw Caitlin
Best Alternative; Cheddleton








Naas (Going; Soft)

Paddy Power Novices Hurdle (1m7f170y)
Ten runners declared for this contest with Andy Dufresne likely to go off the favourite. Winner of four of his five starts his only defeat came at the hands of Latest Exhibition who went on to win the Grade 1 Novice at The Leopardstown Dublin Festival. He showed a willingness to battle the last day to beat Captain Guinness over 2m age Punchestown. Beacon Edge has some decent Graded form. A year ago he finished just over 3l to Envoi Allen in a Grade 2 Bumper at the big Leopardstown Festival and then went down by 2l to Colreevy in the Punchestown Grade 1 in May. He reappeared in Punchestown in October where he was left clear at the last to win by 10l. Exit Poll was 21l behind Mt Leinster at Christmas on Soft before winning his Maiden on Yielding at Fairyhouse. His best form has been on a sounder surface than Soft. Mt Leinster was 13l behind Asterion Forlonge in the 2m Grade 1 at Leopardstown Dublin Festival Yielding with Jason The Militant a further 76l back Both were probably inconvenienced by the ground as Mt Leinster had looked impressive the previous time beating Entoucas 9l on Soft. Pakens Rock is useful enough who has won three times this season. He was 11l behind Abracadabras in a Grade 3 at Navan where he had to concede 5lb to the winner. Department Of War was brought down at the first on his hurdling debut at Christmas and then went to Down Royal where he beat Port Stanley easily at 100/1. He was a bit fortunate as the runner up made a mess of the last but nonetheless he could be useful having 84 on the flat where he won first time out. he has had his problems and has had only six career starts. Envoi Allen's half brother Fighting Allen has his first start for Gordon Elliott having won his only start in France and the market should be watched. Another Elliott runner Grangeclare Native makes his Hurdling debut having won his only start in a Bumper and his sole point. Tiger Tap Tap was well beaten in a big handicap hurdle at the Dublin Festival on Yielding but had won his two previous starts on soft and heavy. He wears ahold for the first time but jockey bookings suggest he's the stables second choice. Slight preference is for Andy Dufresne who doesn't hold a Cheltenham entry.
Selection; Andy Dufresne
Best Alternative; Mt Leinster

Fontwell (Going; Soft)

National Spirit Hurdle (2m3f49y)
Quel Destin was nominated for this after winning at Sandown on February 1st but was then declared for the postponed Kingwell Hurdle last week and swerved the opportunity to go in the renewal yesterday in favour of this. In that last run he beat Call Me Lord by 3l over 2m. He had started off the season in fine style winning over 2m at Cheltenham but then was well beaten in the Greatwood over the same course and again by Summerville Boy over 2m4f. After his last run Paul Nicholls nominated this as his target and felt he would come on for the run. Thomas Darby beat Song For Freedom over an extended 2m3f the last day where he took a keen hold but kept on strongly. He had started the campaign with two starts over fences but flopped on his second start.  He finished last season with a 4l second in the Supreme and the previous October had beaten the useful Elixir De Nutz. William Henry finished over 3l behind Summerville Boy and over 5l ahead of Quel Destin on New Years Day but then finished last behind PaisleyPark in the Cleeve Hurdle over 3m. The 10yo has only had sixteen starts in his career and has had a couple of wind surgeries, the latest prior to this season. Monsieur Lecoq steps up to this trip for the first time. He was disappointing behind Honeysuckle at Leopardstown earlier this month but had some decent form prior to that. He was beaten half a length by Harambe who was receiving 5lb in the Greatwood and then just over 4l behind Call Me A Lord in a Cheltenham Grade 2. Paul Nicholls is in great form and the fact he decided on this instead of the Kingwell could be a pointer to Quel Destin
Selection; Quel Destin
Best Alternative; Thomas Darby









February 22nd

Kempton (Going; Soft. Possibly Good To Soft by post time)

Pencil Novices Chase (2m4f110y)
Seven go to post for this Grade 2 and it's a tricky little contest. Commanche Red came good last time at third attempt over fences when beating a two time winner Simply The Betts by 9l and the latter has won again since. Prior to that Commanche Red had gone down by over 7l to Reserve Tank (2m4f) and by 5l to Nube Negra (2m). Master Tommnytucker has fallen on two of his three starts over fences having won his only two starts over hurdle. Having fallen when traveling strongly at Chepstow on his Chase debut at Chepstow in October 2018 and suffering a knee fracture he wasn't seen until last November when he beat Who Dares Win a half length. He reappeared at Kempton over Christmas where he jumped left a few times and eventually fell four from home. He's undoubtedly a talented horse but jumping is a worry. The latters trainer, Paul Nicholls, also runs Southfield Stone. According to the trainer this horse came back from his summer break very fat and took some time to get fit. He was second twice and third on his first three starts  before making the long trip to Musselburgh and running out an easy winner of a three horse race that Frodon also won last year although as far as I know this lad has no Cheltenham entries. A worry is that his best form appears to be on a sound surface and has jumped to the left on occasions. Having worn them on the flat, Cheekpieces are back on Who Dares Wins in an effort to see if it's worthwhile pursuing a Cheltenham path. He's been beaten a half length and a neck on his two starts over fences. Erik Le Rouge won his first start over fences back kin October but was well beaten in two subsequent starts before a change of tactics saw him ridden up with the pace to win a Handicap Chase around this Course and Distance. Pistol Whipped was a comfortable winner of his chase debut at Leicester back in December over an extended 2m6f where he took a keen hold. He returned to that venue last month but fell at the first having again taken a keen hold. Paul Nicholls is in terrific form at the moment with a strike rate of 29% for the last 14 days and he could provide the winner here. With the prospect of the ground drying to Good To Soft Southfield Stone might sneak this.
Selection; Southfield Stone
Best Alternative; Who Dares Win

Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
Nine go to post but bookies seem to have narrowed it down to a match between Solo (Paul Nicholls) and Fujimoto Flyer (Emmet Mullins). Solo has had just the two starts, both at Auteuil. He won the second  in November by 15l after which he changed hands and joined Nicholls. He must be showing plenty at home to justify his price so any more market moves should be noted. Fujimoto Flyer wears a hood for the first time. Having shown little form in seven starts on the Flat for Mullins she made her hurdling debut in August at Killarney where she hosed in by 18l on yielding to soft with the runner up winning next time albeit on better ground. Mullins then took the bold step to bring her to Auteuil where she was a comfortable 9l winner in a Listed fillies race with the runner up, Want Of A Nail, winning three of her next four starts including a Grade 2 and Grade 3. Alan King has two in the race with Blame It On Sally making a belated start over hurdles. He's reported to have come on in recent weeks but is probably best watched. The other King runner is Tremwedge who has had one run for the trainer since arriving from Ireland where he had two runs over hurdles the last  in which he finished a 6l third having survived a bad mistake at the last although he was probably beaten at that stage. On his sole start in the UK having been purchased for £80,000 his trainer was disappointed with his 11l seventh behind Chantry House although in hindsight that might not be a bad race. Fantastic Ms Fox unseated first time over hurdles  in a Listed Mares race before winning her subsequent two starts. However ratings suggest she has to improve a fair bit. Fujimoto Flyer, with the advantage of the 7lb Fillies allowance, can justify the trip across the Irish Sea.
Selection; Fujimoto Flyer
Best Alternative; Solo

Kingwelll Hurdle (2m)
Transferred here from the abandoned Wincanton meeting last week, Quel Destin has declined the offer and instead Paul Nicholls has thrown in Diego Du Charmil who hasn't run over hurdles since March 2017. He's had two runs since wind surgery over the summer and was involved in a bizarre last fence incident at Ascot first time up when winning and the finishing 12l second behind his victim from the previous race, both at Ascot. He's had a break of ninety one days since then. Ch'tibello was beaten just over 1l by Call Me A Lord on his seasonal debut at Cheltenham in December before finishing 14l behind Epatante at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle. Elgin hasn't run since July 2018 and has had a Wind Op and is best watched. Song For Someone was beaten 1l by Thomas Darby while in receipt of 7lb at Ascot last time  and got a 5lb hike in the ratings for his troubles. He gets 4lb from Ch'tibello but whether he can justify the rating remains to be seen. Quick Grabim had some useful form in Ireland but looks held by Ch'tibello on the Christmas form although that was his first start since June while Zambella, who won three times in France, would have to improve on her two UK starts
Selection; Ch'tibello
Best Alternative; Quick Grabim

Dovecote Novices Hurdle (2m)
Nine go to post for a wide open race. Buzz has won his two starts over hurdles, both by a neck margin. In the first he beat Sir Galahad at Taunton and the latter went on to win a Grade 2 at Cheltenham. Buzz then went to Doncaster sixteen days ago and was pushed out to win. Bathseda Boy was rated in the high eighties on the flat. He's had a wind op since joining Paul Nicholls and had a year off before his hurdles debut. He was well beaten on his first two starts and while he has won twice since the form doesn't look that strong. Nonetheless he has to be respected coming from this yard. Benson won a bumper in four starts and on is hurdles debut was in with a chance when he appeared to put the breaks on going into the second last and unseated his rider. Fair Part Sivola won his bumper on debut and then finished a 6l sixth in what may have been a hot Bumper around here at this meeting last year. He wasn't seen again until December when caused a surprise winning his novice hurdle by 6l from odds on favourite Trincomalee who won next time out. He then went to Wincanton where he took a keen hold but kept on well on the run in to go down by a head to a Nicholls hot pot who won next time out. Highway One O Two has won his last two starts on Soft and Heavy going by an aggregate of 30l. He'd failed to win in four Bumper starts all with Good in the going description. Whether it was the ground or the hurdles that brought about the apparent improvement we'll know more tomorrow. West Cork won his only start in a point back in November 2018 before joining Dan Skelton. He reappeared last October and went off favourite but finished runner up to a three time previous winner who wen=t on to win again next time. He was again favourite next time and found one too good for him. Punters didn't give up on him and he went off favourite again at Huntingdon on his third start and got home by just under 2l  from a subsequent winner. He returned to Huntingdon for his fourth and latest start over hurdles where he was probably helped by the odds on favourite going off like a scalded cat and ran out an easy winner. Kid Commando won a Point and a Bumper by wide margins and got his hurdling career off to a good start with a 11l victory at plump ton last month. Gary Clermont beat the useful odds on favourite Langer Dan at Ludlow last time. That was his fourth hurdle start having won his second and been third the other two times. In what looks a wide e open contest Faire Part Sivola might be worthy an each way bet and 10/1 is available with Paddy Power and a couple of others
Selection; Faire Part Sivola (1pt Each Way 10/1 Paddy Power and others)
Best Alternative; West Cork (EachWay 13/2 Paddy Power)









February 21st

Warwick (Going; Heavy) Inspection 8am

Jane Seymour Mares Novice Hurdle (2m3f)
This race was rescheduled for here after last weeks meeting at Sandown was abandoned but only a couple have taken up the offer. Still we have seven going to post in what is an open enough contest. Vienna Court is the early favourite having won her last start by a comfortable 9l in a Novice Mares Handicap at Taunton nineteen days ago. She's stepping up in trip here. Deja Vue has won two of her seven starts under rules and also won point. She stepped up to 3m the last day and a mistake at the last and the concession of 8lb proved to much. Nonetheless she battled all the way to the line and just gave way in the last 50 yards. She'll relish the conditions. Emmas Joy ia a course winner over 2m and was a half length second over 2m5f here on her penultimate start. Desaray Girl won over this trip in a Haydock bog on her penultimate start in December in a Listed Mares and then hosed in by 13l over 2m4f at Sedgefield. The heavy ground seems to have brought out the best in her. Flow Away was over 10l behind Desaray Girl at Haydock and is 5lb better off here. Fontaine Collonges makes her hurdling debut here having won her last two starts, a French Bumper over 1m4f back in May and a Mares Bumper at Ludlow over 2m forty four days ago both on Soft. Rayna's World is still a maiden but her trainer Phil Kirby, who also trains Desaray Girl thinks she's useful and the object here is to get a bit of black Type or preserve her maiden status for next season. Connections paid £180,000 for Fontaine Collonges who is by a top class sire out of a Dam who is a half sister to the high class Neptune Collonges, who won the 2012 Grand National three Grade 1's and numerous other races. Her trainer, Venetia Williams, is on fire with four of her last five runners winning and might be a bit of value at 12/1 which is freely available.
Selection; Fontaine Collonges (Recommended 1pt win @ 12/1)
Best Alternative; Desaray Girl








February 16th

Navan (Going; Heavy)

Boyne Hurdle (2m5f)
Clerk of the Course Paddy Graffin seems confident that racing will go ahead and if it does it will be extremely testing. Ten have been declared for this although Darasso is unlikely to run after appearing at Gowran today. Kilfenora has risen up the ratings having won his two starts this season he had been disappointing over fences and dropping back to the smaller obstacles has rejuvenated him. Having won a Handicap hurdle on Soft to Heavy at Naas in November he had a break until mid January before conceding weight all around and winning a valuable Handicap around here over 2m4f by over 1l from Alfa Mix. Magic Of Light has been a wonderful servant for connections and has won two of her three starts this season. She was well beaten on her return here in November over 2m4f and her two wins have been over 3m. According to Gordon Elliott Tiger Roll has only been back cantering since January 1st and the plan is to run him out the back and hopefully pass a few horses and enjoy himself. Bachasson was a 159 rated chaser but fell in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham two years ago. He was off until that December when he won a hurdle at Punchestown and then finished behind Tiger Roll in last year's renewal of this race. Her acts on the ground but jockey bookings suggest Penhill is the stable choice. The latter looked badly in need of the run at Fairyhouse in the Hatton Grace in December. He was then a 21l third to Apple's Jade at Leopardstown and the same distance behind Benie Des Dieux at Gowran. His jockey, Paul Townend, is quoted in the Racing Post as saying he doesn't seem to be back to his best yet. Cracking Smart disappointed over fences and on a line through Alfa Mix has a fair bit to find with Kilfenora. Killultagh Vic looks held on his form with Penhil this season while Brace Yourself is looking for a confidence boost having fallen in a novice chase last time. Questions about quite a few of them so I'll go with the market and make Kilfenora the selection. 
Selection; Kilfenora
Best Alternative; Magic Of Light

Ten Up Novice Chase (3m)
Speak Easy comes here on the back of a last fence fall all at Punchestown five weeks ago where it looked as if he was destined for second place at best behind Carefully Selected over 2m4f. That was just his second starts over fences on a racecourse although he did win his only start in a  point. On his chase debut at Fairyhouse in November he finished third, a neck behind Captain CJ who himself was 8l behind the winner Ronald Pump over 2m5f. Captain CJ then finished a 5l third to Carefully Selected over the same course and distance a few weeks later before falling five fences from home at Punchestown at the end of December. His best run was probably his last around this course and distance when going down by just over 1l to Minella Indo with First Approach 6l further back. That was the latter Chase debut and he should improve. Minella Fair had a tough race in the Thyestes at Gowran just over three weeks ago having pulled ups at Leopardstown over Christmas. On a line through Carefully Selected, Elwood has a few lengths to find with Captain CJ while Discordantly fell two out when disputing a close second last time having been beaten on his previous two starts over fences. In what will be a test of stamina Captain CJ gets the nod.
Selection; Captain CJ
Best Alternative; First Approach








February 15th

Gowran Park (Going; Heavy)

Red Mills Chase (2m4f)
Chris's Dream won on his chase debut over this trip at Navan in December 2018. His five subsequent runs have all been over 3m or more. His third and fourth runs came at the back end of last season and were disappointing, beaten 26l at Aintree and pulled up at Punchestown, both Grade 1's . He had a break over the summer and returned with a win the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan in November by 9l which Wass enough for the handicapper to give him a 14lb lift in the ratings. He hasn't been seen since but we know he can win off a break and he acts on heavy. Real Steel has been excellent in his three starts this season. He got off to a great start trouncing Secret Investor in the Grade 2 at Down Royal in November before finishing a 4l fourth to Min in the John Durkin. He then trounced Footpad in a Thurles Grade 2. On the John Durkin form he holds Snow Falcon who was 12l behind him that day. The latter had won the PWC at Gowran in October but was beaten 28l in the Down Royal Grade 1 won by stablemate Road To Respect. Tout Est Permis has been hurdling recently having been well beaten when behind Douvan at Clonmel in November. His last win came in he Thurles Grade 2 January 2019. Kaiser Black hasn't been seen in public since beating Camelia De Cotte in a Grade 3 at Naas last March. Prior to that he had finished a close second to La Bague Au Roi in the Grade 1 Novice at The Dublin Festival in Leopardstown. A negative is that he was beaten coming back from a similar break in 2018. Death Duty had his first run in twenty five months when finishing a 45l fourth of fifth at Gowran three weeks ago in the Galmoy Hurdle. A return to his form of 2017 here would put him in the mix and market moves should be noted. Shattered Love wears cheek pieces for the first time in an attempt to recapture the form of 2018. She did win a listed mares chase at Clonmel in Novemberon Soft To Heavy but her two runs since have disappointed as did her three before. Chris's Dream has to justify the Handicapper's mark and preference is for Real Steel provided he handles the ground.
Selection; Real Steel
Best Alternative; Snow Falcon

Ascot (Going; Soft) Precautionary Inspection 8am

Reynoldstown Novices Chase (2m7f180y)
Sam Brown defied a two year absence to win as he liked at Lingield on Heavy ground in January and repeated the dose over 2m4f at Haydock in a Grade 2 eleven days later. He had excellent Bumper form three years ago and if he can stay sound who knows how far he can go. Pym has won his last to starts, both in Novice Chases. The penultimate race was on soft ground but his trainer Nicky Henderson has previously said he would like a nice surface. Both Pym and Sam Brown are rated 152 by the handicapper. Copperhead improved from his first start over fences, when he raced keenly and was well beaten in the end, to win his next two starts where he conceded weight to most of his opponents. This is a step up in class but his trainer, Colin Tizzard is confident there is more to come. Danny Whizzbang was the outsider of three when winning on his chase debut beating the odds on Reserve Tank in the process. On his next start he was hampered four fences from home when he appeared to be travelling okay in the Kempton Grade 1 at Christmas. He's been very lightly raced and this will be a proper test. Two For Gold has improved in each of his three starts over fences. On his last win, at Warwick, he had Highest Sun over 18l behind and the latter had got to within 3l of Pym two runs previously. If Sam Brown performs as he did in his previous two starts he could be hard to beat.
Selection; Sam Brown
Best Alternative; Two For Gold

Ascot Chase (2m5f8y)
Just four go to post and Cyrname is pretty short to add another Ascot victory to his total. The hard race with Altior here in November might have left his tolls he was well beaten in the King George although the 3m distance may have played a part also. The ground is likely to turn heavy with overnight rain and Cyrname has never raced on heavy. He's had over seven weeks to get over that last run and with 13lbs in hand on ratings will be hard to beatify he brings his A Game. Riders Onthe Storm is a horse I put into my notebook some years ago after he caught my eye. He wasn't the most consistent but it could be that he needed a bit of time and his new connections who paid £50,000 for him at offs Spring Sale in Doncaster may have got a bargain as he has won his two starts for them collecting over £80k in the process. He's attracted some money for the Ryanair at Cheltenham and he has his ground here. Janika won the Haldon Cup back in November but has been three times since while Traffic Fluide has his first run since November 2018. If Cyrname turns up in top form he should win. 
Selection; Cyrname
Best Alternative; Riders On the Storm

Haydock (Going; Heavy) Inspection 8am

Rendlesham Hurdle (3m58y)
Six will face the starter for this Grade 2 stamina test and a test it will be in the Haydock Heavy Ground. The Worlds End beat Unowhatimeanharry on his seasonal debut then went down by 7l to Paisley Park before beating L'Ami Serge a couple of lengths at Ascot in a Grade 1 before Christmas. He has to give 6lb's to his rivals here. West Approach jumped eighteen of the twenty five fences in the Welsh National before pulling up on what was testing ground. He reverts to hurdles here. He's had a few tough races this season and while the heavy ground should help him. Emitom was very disaoppointing on his only run this season at Cheltenham on New Year's Day where he never jumped a hurdle. He's been Schooling well since and connections believe he will be much improved. He's won on Soft but Heavy is unknown. Clyne has winning form on Heavy but hasn't got his head in front in nine starts since March 2018 while One Night In Milan has his best form on Good ground and takes a big step up in class. I'm going to give Emitom another chance.
Selection; Emitom
Best Alternative; Clyne

Prestige Novices Hurdle (3m58y)
Six runners and the favourite Ramses De Teillee looks rejuvenated for a return to Hurdles and a wind op before his last run where he demolished a field in a Grade 2. Kalooki reappears quickly after hosing in from two opponents at Wetherby. He wasn't tested by inferior opponents and it probably took nothing out of him. He won a fifteen runner maiden by 15l the run before that with both those wins coming on Soft ground. Overthetop won his novice Hurdle before being well beaten (21l) behind Enrilo in a grade 2 at Sandown and then won  another novice. Those were over 2m4f and he could benefit for the step up in trip in this higher class. Port Of Mars like Overthetop is trained by Olly Murphy and was soundly beaten by another stable companion Oscar Academy on rules debut before winning his maiden at Chepstow four weeks ago on Heavy ground. The old warrior Jerpeck won a big pot in a Veteran'sChase at Sandown last time. He's won three of his four starts this season but could be vulnerable to improvers at 11yo. Kalooki could be anything and gets a chance here.
Selection; Kalooki
Best Alternative; Ramses De Teillee

Wincanton (Going; Soft) Inspection 8am








February 14th

Sandown ( Heavy) ABANDONED

Jane Seymour Mares Novices' Hurdle (2m3f173y)
Just six go to post for what looks on paper to be an open enough contest. Paul Nicholls relies on the likely favourite Cill Anna instead of highly rated (147) Silver Forever who would have been a shoe in at these weights. Cill Anna has had just five starts under rules and a winning start in a point. She's won the last two of her starts under rules the latter one at Wincanton impressively earning a 12lb hike from the handicapper. Both those wins were on soft but she's yet to race on heavy. Deja Vue has won two of her seven starts under rules and also won her point. Those two wins came in the space of a few weeks at Ffos Las November/December. She was then well beaten in a Taunton Listed Mares race that may have come a bit quick. Those runs were over 2m and her latest start was in a 3m Handicap Hurdle when she had to give weight away and finished a 4l third on Heavy. Rosie And Millie went down by a neck to Desaray Girl in a Listed Mares race at Haydock in December. The latter gets a 5lb penalty for that . Rosie And Millie had won her previous start by 15l at Ayr. The win for Desaray Girl was the middle of a Hat trick the first in which she beat Mayode Lady by 3l and the latest a 13l win a Sedgefgield. Botani travels over from Ireland which is interesting in itself. She started off with Willie Mullins and won on her second attempt on soft ground at Kilbeggan in a Bumper. She had two more runs on Good ground where she finished unplaced before being transferred to the care of Colm Murphy. On her first start the Wexford trainer she was beaten 11l in a 2m Ladies maiden and then had a break of one hundred and thirty three days before reappearing in a hot maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. she was out the back for much of the 2m contest but made significant progress out of the back straight and was not knocked about unduly staying on at same pace to finish 6th. She then went to Thurles for a Listed Mares onYielding ground and was beaten 6l into fourth but showed enough to suggest she could win a race. In what's a wide open contest Botani at 12/1 with Bet 365 looks a sporting bet.
Selection; Botani (1pt win 12/1 Bet365)
Best Alternative; Rosie And Millie







February 8th

Warwick (Going; Good To Soft, soft in Places)

Kingmaker Novices Chase (2m54y)
Dan and Harry Skelton are leading the stats for leading trainer and jockey here for the last five years with 24% and 26% strike rate respectively and they have the favourite for this in Nube Negra. He was a winner on his seasonal debut here in October  in impressive fashion travelling strongly to win going clear from the last. He followed that up with a 10l win at Fakenham and the winner and third in that race have won since to give that form some strength. The ground was probably too soft next time at Sandown where he was second in a Grade 1. Rouge Vif has his second run back after a wind op and wears a first time tongue tie. He was second to Global citizen in the Grade 2 at Kempton over Christmas. Grand Sancy was 1l away third but he was well beaten at Sandown last Saturday and on a line through him Rouge Vif has plenty to fid with Nube Negra . Precious Cargo was beaten by Moonlighter a short head at Newbury twenty four days ago having won his previous start on his chase debut. He's a good looking horse who has won on good to soft over hurdles and he should improve further. Torpillo was about 20l behind Nube Negro in the above mentioned Sandown race in December but prior to that had beaten Mister Fisher 3l around here while Djingle was an awful long way behind Notebook at Leopardstown over Christmas. Nube Negra has been impressive and gets the nod
Selection; Nube Negra
Best Alternative; Precious Cargo

Newbury (Going; Good)

The Game Spirit Chase (2m92)
Nicke Henderson did his best to frighten off the opposition with his effusive praise of Altior's recent work in a recent interview. Nonetheless he has five challengers here tomorrow although the one rated nearest to him, Sceau Royal, has 13lb to find with the odds on favourite. Altior was very disappointing last time finishing very tired on his first attempt over 2m5f. The race, which was his first back after wind surgery, took a toll on him and it has taken a long time for him to recover. Dropping back to 2m will help and if fit enough he should win. Dynamite Dollars won four of his five starts last season but has been off for three hundred and seventy eight days and will probablyy need this run. Sceau Royal will benefit from going left handed and on better ground than he ran one in two starts this season. He ran Altior to just over 2l at Sandown last April. Kalshnikov was very disappointing the last day and might prefer this sounder surface  but is dropping back in trip. Bun Doran won the Grade 2 at Kempton at Christmas with Sceau Royal, who lost a shoe, just over 3l behind. I fully expect the latter to reverse that form as outlined above. If he's recovered from his last run Altior should prevail.
Selection; Altior
Best Alternative; Sceau Royal

Denman Chase (2m7f86)
The conditions of the race give Native River a huge chance here. The only on close to him on ratings, Might Bite, has pulled up twice and unseated rider on his last three starts. Native River got his season off to a flying start when he trounced Black Corton at Aintree in December. He should have improved for that run. The better ground here should help Secret Investor who was beaten out of sight in a handicap last time having finished second to Real Steel at Down Royal before that. A Toi Phil was off loaded by Gigginstown after winning at Listowel in September costing current connections £70,000 and has his first run since then. It's hard to see anything else getting involved. Native River should win this.
Selection; Native River
Best Alternative; Secret Investor










February 2nd

Leopardstown (Going; Yielding)

There is a brisk drying wind blowing at Leopardstown and the will be doing selective watering on the chase course over night to go with the bit of rain (approx 5mm) due to fall overnight and hopefully there will be no withdrawals due to the ground as unfortunately A Plus Tard has been taken out today. (Saturday 12.40pm)

Spring Juvenile Hurdle (2m)
It's hard to see past Aspire Tower who beat subsequent winner Wolf Prince 18l into second place with previous winner Wave Of The Sea another 17l back in third. Cerebus had beaten the latter by a couple of lengths at Fairyhouse in a grade 3 in December before finishing a 9l second in a Chepstow Grade 1 at Christmas. Never Do Nothing was rated 91 on the flat and cost current connections 135,000 Guineas at Sales in October. He's had just one run for them when winning a hurdle race at Musselburgh where the third and fourth have won since. 
Selection; Aspire Tower
Best Alternative; Never Do Nothing

Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (2m)
Tricky enough contest with some fancied horses unproven on better ground. Easywork has won his last three starts the latter two over hurdles. On his only other start when making his racecourse debut he ran a bit free when finishing third of four in a decent Bumper. On his penultimate start he showed the benefit of a run when beating Mt Leinster at Gowran Park before hosing in in heavy ground at Limerick where he beat a previous winner by 22l. Mt Leinster himself showed the benefit of that Gowran run when, with the last hurdle omitted because of the sun, he stormed clear up the straight to win by 9l. He promised a lot after winning on his debut back in September 2018 he had the misfortune to come up against some very good horses subsequently but ran some nice races nonetheless. Interestingly his trainer thinks he might be seen at his best on nice ground in the spring. Asterion Forlange is another Mullins runner. He has been touted as a stayer and Mullins stated that he would be going out in trip with him after an impressive win over 2m in a Naas maiden. Blue Sari, the third Mullins runner, was reported to have blown hard after finishing last of four 40l behind Abracadabras here over Christmas. He had beaten subsequent winner The Bosses Oscar at Punchestown in November on this seasonal debut. His last run before that was when going down by less than a length to Envoi Allen in the Cheltenham Bumper. Jason The Militant was beaten 4l at Fairyhouse in November on his first run since finishing over 10l behind Envoi Allen on good ground at Fairyhouse in December 2018 and then went to Limerick at Christmas where he won by a neck on Heavy Ground so the going could be a concern. I'll take a chance with Mt Leinster.
Selection; Mt Leinster
Best Alternative; Asterion Forlange

Flogas Novices Chase (2m5f)
Faugheen rolled back the years when starting out belatedly on a Chasing career. He's won his two races impressively although Samcro folded pretty quickly in Limerick on the latest. Battleoverdoyen is three from three over fences and if his last win was a bit of a farce with four of the intended starters withdrawn because of the ground leaving us with virtually a match between himself and Champagne Classic. Easy Game beat subsequent winner Allaho  here at Christmas on his only start over fences having finished an 11l second to Honeysuckle at Fairyhouse in November. Tornado Flyer was reported to have an infection when pulled up at Naas last time but had won his previous two starts this season including a Grade 3 at Navan. Easy Game is only a 6yo so should have more improvement in him, will be suited by the ground and could be a bit of value.
Selection; Easy Game
Best Alternative; Faugheen

Irish Gold Cup (3m)
Nine are due to face the starter for one of the showpieces of the season and hopefully the ground can be kept yielding. Delta Work got up on the line to win a fantastic Savills Chase over this course and distance at Christmas. Just 4l covered the first five home and the fourth, Kemboy and fifth, Presenting Percy re-oppose. Gordon Elliott had left plenty to work on with the winner prior to a disappointing run in the Down Royal Grade 1 in November so this was a big step forward. Kemboy was having his first run since beating Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at Punchestown on May 1st. Like a lot of the stables runners he is expected to come win for that run. Presenting Percy had two quick runs in December finishing third to Min in the John Durkin, his first start since March, and then twenty days later in the Savillls where he was a bit one paced after the last. Connections decided not to run in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran in favour of this and if he comes on again for his last run he is in with a shout. Chris's Dream won the Troytown at Navan in November putting over 9l between himself and the runner up Fitzhenry. His form tailed off last season after he won two of his first three starts and was then beaten 25l by Lostintranslation in a Grade 1 in Aintree and then pulled up in the Novice Grade 1 at Punchestown. Bellshill won this last year but has disappointed in three runs since and will have a first time tongue tie. La Bague Au Roi hasn't hit the heights of previous seasons in her three runs this term although she has finished third in her last two starts. If Kemboy has improved from the Savills Chase I think he'll be hard to beat.
Selection; Kemboy
Best Alternative; Delta Work

Irish EBF Mares I.N.H. Flat Race (2m)
Bigbadandbeautiful is short enough in the market for this. She's won the last three of her five starts the latest by 6l at Navan in November with the runner up, Dreamingandhoping, winning at Punchestown two runs later. She was second in this on her second start last year and it's noteworthy that Jamie Codd  was impressed enough after winning on her in Clonmel last May to tell Gordon Elliott he wouldn't have too many better mares than this one. Castra Vetera won his only start when staying on strongly to win by 7l with the runner up, Carrigeen Lotus, winning at Cork next time beating The West Awaits by over 8l. Jeremys Jewel was second on her only start to a surprise 66/1 winner. She wasn't unfenced that day. Lady Temperance won her only start back in mid December while Mind Sunday, who is wearing a tongue tie for her first start, is a half sister to the great French star Master Dino and it's interesting that Pat Doyle throws her in here.  Darling Daughter has won a point and a Mares bumper while Politesse was a 6l third behind Longhouse Poet in a bumper back in May. The favourite is quite short and it might be significant that Patrick Mullins sticks with Lady Temperance for Mags Mullins and a little each way might be worth it.
Selection; Lady Temperance (Half point Each Way)
Best Alternative; Castra Vetera








February 1st

Leopardstown (Going; Yielding To Soft)

Nathaniel & Lacy Novice Hurdle (2m6f)
Great racing at Leopardstown this weekend and it gets off to a cracking start with this Grade 1. Eight face the starter and there is just three quarters of a point between the top three in the betting. Latest Exhibition heads the market and he has the form in the book. Having beaten Braeside at Naas a year ago he was left off until October in Galway where he won his Maiden over an extended 2m. He then went to Navan where he was beaten by Abracadabras over 2m although he was flattered by the 3l distance between them. He then beat Andy Dufresne over 2m4f at Navan although there are questions over the form. In fairness they went pretty hard for a long way out and finished pretty tired. Elixir D'ainay won after a long break when he beat Longhouse Poet  by almost 2l at Naas before going to Naas in the Garde 1 Lawlor Hurdle  where he went down by just over 3l to Envoi Allen with Longhouse Poet a further 4l behind. In between the above mentioned races Longhouse Poet won his maiden by an extended margin although it's doubtful if he had much to beat on the day. Cobbler's Way was 11l behind Andy Dufresne at Navan when returning  after a long break and then was a slightly fortunate winner at Leopardstown over Christmas when The Big Getaway made a bad mistake at the last when looking like the winner. Assemble is held by Cobbler's Way on Bumper form and won a Limerick maiden at Christmas while Home by The Lee finished over 1l to Tiger Tap Tap at Naas in December after a 6 month break before beating Alone at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day. Money has come for Elixir D'ainay but I think Latest Exhibition will tough it out.
Selection; Latest Exhibition
Best Alternative; Elixir D'ainay

Dublin Chase (2m1f)
Another eight runner field with four from Willie Mullins, three from Henry de Bromhead and Pat Fahy with a 150/1 outsider making up the field. Chacun Pour Soi needed the run at Leopardstown at Christmas having been off since Punchestown in May. He is a beautiful jumper and having jumped the last upsides he was beaten by A Plus Tard who had the benefit of a previous run. The latter won at Cheltenham over 2m4f which is probably his best trip. Min is the highest rated horse in the race and beat Hardline on his seasonal debut in the John Durkin at Punchestown in December and has won the last two renewals of this. Cilaos Emery has been lightly raced the last three ears. Having been off for over a year he won his chase debut in January 2019. He was off until November when he won a Grade 3 at Naas beating Ornua and then won the Grade 2 Hilly Way at Cork where Ballyoisin, on unsuitable ground, was 7l back and the only other finisher. At 11/2 he might be a bet to nothing each way. Duc Des Genievres has disappointed since winning the Arkle at Cheltenham but showed signs of form at Kempton over Christmas.  Chacun Pour Soi will come on plenty for his last run and gets the nod.
Selection; Chacun Pour Soi
Best Alternative; Min

Arkle Novice Chase (2m1f)
Seven go to post and Notebook and Fakir D'oudairies resume battle after there scrap here at Christmas. Fakir D'oudairies probably didn't get the run of the race with the gap up the rail closing as he went to make a move and having been switched out his jockey, Mark Walsh, lost an iron. He didn't jump the last as well as he can and just couldn't close on the Winner on the run to the line. The winner jumped beautifully and is a big burly type who is now three from three over fences. The runner up's jumping when he won the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in December had been spectacular at times and I expect slightly different tactics on Saturday. Bapaume is one of four from the Mullins yard but was disappointing on his first chase start at Fairyhouse when coming in a long way behind Ronald Pump. He was reported to have got very tired that day and he improved at Naas a month later when comfortably beating Spyglass Hill who ran well until falling next time. Cash Back had a nice chasing debut when despite a few errors he was a clear winner at Navan. He then went on to Naas at the beginning of January where he easily accounted for a couple of useful types in Zero Ten and Dunvegan. He is likely to make the running which could lead to a great spectacle. Melon was set a tough task trying to give 8lb to Fakir D'oudairies at Navan in November but only went down by 3l and then survived a horrific blunder at the last in Leopardstown at Christmas to get back up and beat Gallant John Joe. The latter's form over hurdles was way behind that of Melon's so it's hard to put value on what was his first run over fences. His trainer Oliver McKienan is in cracking form at present. Fakir D'oudairies with different tactics can reverse the form of Christmas.
Selection; Fakir D'oudairies
Best Alternative; Cash Back 

Irish Champion Hurdle (2m)
Sharjah versus Honeysuckle with Klassical Dream trying for redemption is the narrative for this with former winners Supasundae and Petit Mouchoir adding to it. Sharjah repeated his win of 2018 in the Grade 1 in Leopardstown at Christmas when beating a resurgent Petit Mouchoir by almost 4l. He has to give 7lb to Honeysuckle but the latter, who is unbeaten, is dropping back in trip and has to prove she can do it at this level over 2m. It's hard to believe Supasundae (25/1) and Petit Mouchoir (20/1) are so big in the betting. As I write Klassical Dream appears to have been taken out of the betting but if he runs he will need it soft and is unlikely to get it so for me Sharjah is the one proven at this level over the trip and gets the selection.
Selection; Sharjah
Best Alternative; Honeysuckle

Future Star I.N.H. Flat Race
Another eight runner field and another Mullins favourite. On a strict line through Ragnor Lodbrok there is little between Eric Bloodaxe and Appreciate It but dig deeper and the latter won his race far more easily. If I had a reservation it is that his Bumper win came over 2m4f and both have to concede weight. Eric Bloodaxe has won his two starts beating Wide Receiver in the latest one over this course and distance and the latter is now 3lb better off for a 2l beating. Having been runner up twice Risk Factor got his head in from around here at Christmas with the third, Good Time Jonny 8l behind,  going on to beat a two time winner convincingly in Musselburgh nest time. Lieutenant Command won his only start in a Bumper having fallen in his only point. The win came when he easily accounted for his rivals in deep ground in Limerick at Christmas when he travelled beautifully. Fantasio D'alene beat Good Time Jonny a head back in October but has been beaten twice since while Shakespeare's Word should improve for his debut second place at Naas. the top two have to concede weight and Risk Factor could be the benefactor. With plenty of these open to improvement it's a tricky affair but Risk Factor might be worth a chance with Champion Point To Point rider Bon O'Neill doing the steering.
Selection; Risk Factor
Best Alternative; Wide Receiver 

Sandown (Soft)

Scilly Isles Novices Chase (2m4f)
Laurina bled before being pulled up in the Grade 1 Novice in Leopardtown at Christmas. Prior to that she had beaten Minella Indo on Chase debut at Gowran in November. The latter was probably running over a trip too short and won next time over 3m. Prior to that race at Leopardstown she had only tasted defeat once in eight starts since coming over from France. One of those wins came in a listed Mares Hurdle over this course twelve months ago. Good Boy Bobby has shown his best form over this trip and had a career best when finishing just over 1l to Mister Fisher last time at Cheltenham in a Novice Chase back in December. Grand Sancy was always touted as a chaser by connections and in two starts has finished third, the first in a grade 1 over 2m here and then over 2m at Kempton where it looked like he needed to step up in trip. Itchy Feet has some useful hurdle form in Graded company and won on his chase debut when he won as he was entitled to by 26l from his two opponents. A repeat of his hurdle form would put him in the mix. Vision Des Flos won a two horse 3m race last time beating a vastly inferior rated opponent. On his two starts prior to that this season he raced over today's trip. The first one he went down by half a length to Top Notch before going to Newbury for a Grade 2 but clouted the third last when in contention and finished 8l behind Champ and was found to be lame post race by the vet. He also ran very freely that day and I think this is his best trip. Midnight Shadow travels down from West Yorkshire and has run two decent races since falling at Carlisle three runs ago. On his penultimate start he was just beaten by Keepers Hill who was conceding 11lb and then won a grade 2 Novice at Cheltenham in race where the odds on favourite Champ fell. He probably didn't beat a whole lot that day but I don't think they would be travelling for the experience. Vision Des Flos might be a bit of value and gets a selection.
Selection; Vision Des Flos
Best Alternative; Grand Sancy

Wetherby (Soft)

Towton Novices Chase (3m45y)
Boldmere has won his last two starts very easily in Handicap company and has got a big hike in the ratings. The ground is a worry as his best form has come on Good To Soft.  Dominateur has won his last two at Chepstow on Heavy and Soft ground over 3m and steps up in Grade here.  Newtide won his only start this season when winning a three runner affair on Soft ground at Ffos Las in November. He should improve for that. Ardlethen got his season off to a winning start accounting for Lisnagar Oscar by a new at Chepstow on Good To Soft and then finished a 4l runner up to Sam Spinner. However he's failed to progress in his next two starts being particularly disappointing last time and prior to that looked like he failed to stay over an extended 2m7f in first time cheek pieces. Wears first time blinkers here. Chapel Stile got home by a neck on his last start over fences with then runner up going on to win since. It's a race to thread carefully in and I don't have a strong opinion on it but Dominateur might handle conditions best of all.
Selection; Dominateur
Best Alternative; Newtide















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