Next Race Preview

December 10th

Huntingdon

Peterborough Chase
The frost covers are down and the Going at present is Good to Soft for this seven runner Grade 2 Chase over 2m3f189y and Top Notch looks like going off Favourite. In his eight wins over the larger obstacles he's won five, all with ease in the ground while his three places have come on good ground. He's had two runs in November one in a hurdle race and latterly winning a Grade 2 Chase by 8L. Just 6yo he should have room for more improvement. God's Own hasn't won since the Spring of 2016 and it's hard to be confident about him. Ptit Zig is pretty inconsistent but off his current mark would give the favourite something to do if at his best. Josses Hill is well held by stablemate Top Notch on their last run while Kylemore Lough and Sire De Grugy appear to have lost their way a bit. The Ground and trip should be perfect for Top Notch
Selection; Top Notch
Next Best; Ptit Zig

Cork
The weather forecast for the Munster Region isn't great between now and post time and with the ground already Soft to Heavy there must be a doubt about racing although as of yet there is no word of a precautionary inspection.

Hilly Way Chase
UnDe Sceaux is likely to go off at odds on is reported to have schooled brilliantly during the week up the Curragh. Having won over 2m5f at Auteuil and Cheltenham stamina shouldn't be an issue. Any hiccups could be exploited by Ballyoisin who seems to have got his jumping together after three falls in four runs last season. Top Gamble looks held on previous form with the favourite and while you can never discount Gordon Elliott runners Ball D'Arc and Clarcam would need the favourite to underperform. The same can be said for Woodland Opera and Alisier D'Irlande although the latter two will appreciate the going. It's hard to oppose Un De Sceaux
Selection; Un De Sceaux 
Next Best; Ballyoisin

Punchestown
With a weather warning in place for the region and a large fall of snow forecast, Punchestown plan an 8am Inspection for Sunday

John Durkin Punchestown Chase
Djakadam and Sizing John renew rivalry following their titanic battle in the Gold Cup here last April. This race is just 2m4f compared to the 3m110y of the April race. Sizing John was taken out of the Betfair Chase at Haydock because of the Heavy ground and the shorter trip here is probably the better option. But with a defence of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March a priority it may be that he won't be fully wound up for a battle. Djakadam was the winner of this race for the last two years and some would argue a slight mistake at the last was the difference between defeat and victory when going down by a short head to Sizing John here in April. Sub Lieutenant was third here last year and has the benefit of a couple of runs over the top two who make their seasonal debuts. However he had a similar advantage last year when beaten. Shaneshill still seems to be finding his feet over fences and is best watched. A Toi Phil is very inconsitent while Carlingfrd Lough is not the horse he was and will probably find the trip two short. Djakadam might be more tuned up for this than Sizing John 
Selection; Djakadam
Next Best; Sizing John




December 9th

Aintree

Many Clouds Chase
Just four go to post for this 3m1f Grade 2 Chase over the Mildmay Course and two of them, Cloudy Dream and Flying Angel are attempting this distance for the first time and the soft ground will teat their stamina to the limit. Cloudy Dream has had two starts this season at 2m when second to Fox Norton and 2m4f when second to Smad Place here at Aintree. Flying Angel beat Cloudy Dream 1L here in April but was pulled up after blundering badly and then losing touch at Ayr. His two runs this season at 2m5f wouldn't inspire and maybe the step up is what he needs. Definitey Red will have no problem staying the trip and was third behind Bristol De Mai at Wetherby albeit by 24L. He won over 3m2f at Doncaster on soft ground last March before being pulled up in the Aintree National after his saddle slipped. In hindsight, Alpha Des Obeaux was probably set an impossible task to concede 16Lb to Total Recall at Limerick in October. Nonetheless he put in a terrific round of jumping. His run at Down Royal in the JNWine suggests that he's not quite up to Grade 1 class and his Trainer Mouse Morris suggested this after he beat A Toi Phil in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase last month. Nonetheless he reached a high of 158 over hurdles and might have more improvement in him. Slight preference is for Alpha Des Obeaux.
Selection; Alpha Des Obeaux
Next Best; Definitely Red

Henry VIII Novices Chase
Although only five runners are declared this has the makings of an intriguing contest over the minimum trip (1m7f119y). Jumping will be the name of the game down the Railway fences. Brain Power was impressive generally with his jumping on his one and only start over the larger obstacles at Kempton two weeks ago. He will surely have improved for that run and it's interesting that Nicky Henderson turns him out again here thereby following the route Altior took last year. Finian's Oscar drops back in trip here after winning his two chase starts around the 2m4f trip. North Hill Harvey caught the eye with two impressive wins around Cheltenham on his only starts over fences. However he's now 5LB worse off with Sceau Royal having beaten him a neck on the first of those. Capitaine has also won his two chase starts the last by 22l. However this is a step up in class. Sceau Royal had what amounted to a public school last time beating a lowly rated solitary opponent 21l. He's weighted to reverse places with North Hill Harvey but none of them might be good enough to beat our selection Brain Power
Selection; Brain Power
Next Best; Finian's Oscar


Tingle Creek Chase
It's disappointing that Douvan will  not line up here and the bookies now make Fox Norton the 4/7 Favourit with Politologue next best at 100/30 and 14/1 bar. Among the latter is Charbel who was 6L runner up to Altior in the Novice Chase her elast year. He seems to reserve hos best for this time of year and wears cheek pieces for the first time. He had a warm up in a Grade 2 Hurdle at Wincanton last month but was a long way behind San Benedetto at Aintree last April. The latter is 4Lb worse off with stable mate Politologue to when he was beaten by him 2L at Exeter last month while Ar Mad was pulled up in that Exeter race having been off the track since last December. Sir Valentino was also pulled up in that Exeter race but won a handicap chase at Ascot fourteen days ago with San Benedetto 2L behind getting 7Lb from the winner. They meet on level weights here. Fox Norton is the class horse and is the selection.
Selection; Fox Norton
Next Best; Charbel





December 8th

Sandown

The Winter Novices Hurdle
Eight runners go to post for this 2m4f Garde 2 and each one is a winner of or more races. The Going at the moment is Good to Soft. White Moon is two from two over Hurdles, both times over 2m5f110y and both times by 6L. He's a winner of a point as well last May so staying is his game. On The Blind Side is unbeaten in three starts and is another who won his point and after his maiden hurdle victory at Aintree in October his jockey Nick De Boinville offered the opinion that the 2m4f was his trip. He went to Cheltenham last month where he won a Grade 2 from a useful field. Red River has had just one run over hurdles which he won by 13L. His only other start was when runner up in a point to point last April. He wears a tongue tie for the first time. Springtown Lake won his maiden on his second start over hurdles at Worcester in October and would have won his next start at the same track but for falling at the last. Dynamite Dollars step up to this trip for the first time having won over 2m and 2m1f before getting beaten 1L on heavy ground at Haydock over 1m7f. He looks to be improving but I'd worry about the last race taking the edge off him. Nonetheless has to be respected. Mulcahys Hill has won a Bumper and Maiden Hurdle in his last two stars. He won a Point on Heavy ground back in February 2016 but this is a step up as it is for Diamant Bleu. In a race where it difficult to match the form of these Novices slight reference is for On The Blind Side.
Selection; On The Blind Side
Next Best; White Moon




December 3rd

Fairyhouse

Royal Bond Novice Hurdle
Seven go to post for this intriguing contest the Gigginstown/Elliott team throw three at it as do the McManus team with Willie Mullins having the other runner. Mengli Khan was very impressive on his two starts over Hurdles this season, particularly when winning the Grade 3 at Navan last month. He was rated 96 on the flat in England and seems to have improved greatly from his two starts for connections last winter. Hardline despite winning his last two starts is 20/1 and this is a big step up in class. He's going the right way though. The third Elliott runner was 14L behind Mengil Khan at Navan and although he is rated 141 he is considered the outsider of the field. Le Richebourg has had a break since winning at Galway at the end of July. The form was given a boost when the runner up Twobelucky came out and won at Cheltenham in October. Le Richebourg was third, beaten 8L, behind the same owners Red Jack at Naas last January. That was on the latters debut and he has had just two more runs winning both, a  big sales Bumper at Fairyhouse in April and his maiden hurdle at Naas last month. The third McManus runner Early Doors opened his account on his debut winning a Punchestown Bumper. He then finished third to Vision Des Flos in the Land Rover Bumper. He reappeared in October winning a Wexford Hurdle and stepped up on that at Naas last month beating a useful Meri Devie. The latters stable companion Makitorix won his only start for the stable back in September taking the field apart in a Listowel Maiden hurdle on Heavy ground. Significantly his only win in France from nine starts on the flat was on Heavy ground. It's hard to know what to make of that as it was a poor field but he won by an easy 18L. In a tricky contest, Mengli Khan looks like he could improve further.
Selection; Mengli Khan
Next Best; Early Doors

Hatton's Grace Hurdle
Seven runners for this 2m4f Grade 1 and it looks a match between Nichols Canyon and Apple's Jade. Nicholls Canyon has won on his seasonal debut the last three seasons the latter two in the Morgiana Hurdle. His last run was when runner up behind Unowhatimeanhary at Punchestown in April. He is top class from 2m to 3m but he has to give Apple's Jade 7lb and the latter has had the benefit of a run when beating Jer's Girl at Naas in November. The remainder by their Trainer's admissions are hoping for a bit of place money. On adjusted ratings their is little between the top two and the benefit of a run might just swing it in Apple's Jade's favour
Selection; Apple's Jade
Next Best; Nicholls Canyon

Drinmore Chase
Just six will face the starter for the third Grade 1 on the card. Again Elliot has three, Mullins Two and Meade one. Death Duty was not that impressive when scraping hme on his chse debut at Tipperary early October but put up a more improved showing at Punchestown mid October when strolling home at his leisure with Woodland Opera, who won two runs later, 16L behind. Rathvinden has been on the go since the end of May winning four of his six starts and been placed in the other two. He's rated 150 by the Handicapper so is no mug. Dinaria Des Obeaux is two from two over fences and being a 4yo Filly gets a whopping 15lb from the Geldings. She'll handle the ground and the trip will suit . Shattered Love is another Mare who gets 7lb from the Geldings and although she's won twice against her own sex she was beaten just under 1L by stablemate Jury Duty in the Florida Pearl at Punchestown. This is a tougher task. Snow Falcon finished up last season rated 158 over hurdles and had four spins on the flat over the summer winning twice before running up to surprise 33/1 winner Mossback from the Elliott stable. This is only his second start over the larger obstacles and while he is expected by his trainer to improve for the run he mind find one or two ahead of him. Townshend looks held on his last run behind Rathvinden. Death Duty might just shade it.
Selection; Death Duty
Next Best; Dinaria Des Obeaux





December 2nd

Newbury

John Francome Novices' Chase
Just five go to post for this 2m7f83yds test of stamina and Black Corton will be well fancied to complete the six timer. The runner up that day has some decent form and the handicapper elevated him to a rating of 155. My only concern is that he's been on the go since April with a break of just over nine weeks from mid August to mid October.  Fountains Windfall beat Stowaway Magic 11L last time out after been a long way behind Colin's Sister at Wetherby. He has six lengths to find on Black Corton on adjusted ratings. Sir Ivan is coming here off the back of two wins but does have a few "F's" in his form. Wait For Me and Elegant Escape will be looking for scraps. Black Corton should continue his run here.
Selection; Black Corton
Next Best; Fountains Windfall

Newcastle

The Fighting Fifth Hurdle
Irving returns after a similar lay off prior to his victory here last year. However, he may have been a fortunate winner as Apple's Jade was hampered three out which didn't help her cause. The Champion Hurdler Buveur D'Air has won on his seasonal debut each year so his absence since April shouldn't worry us unduly. With the ground riding Soft, Heavy in Places it will be a real test but Buveur D'Air has won over 2m4f at Aintree and looks to be capable of winnig this. Flying Tiger, the Fred Winter winner has the benefit of a run last month but he, Mirasaale and Katgarry  plenty to find with our selection Buveur D'Air.
Selection; Buveur D'Air
Next Best; Flying Tiger


December 1st

Newbury

The Berkshire Novices' Chase
Just five go to post for this 2m4f Chase on Ground described as Good to Soft which shouldn't inconvenience the principles in the betting. Yanworth made a pleasing debut over the larger obstacles with a comfortable win at Exeter in October. He went back to that course just over two weeks ago where he was travelling strongly when landing too steeply at the back of the seventh fence having cleared it well and toppled over. It was a typical novice mistake and Alan King, Trainer, reports that he schooled over nine fences this week without any problem. Willoughby Court represents up and coming trainer Ben Pauling. He had to work hard for his win on his only start over fences at Huntingdon last month  but that was his first run of the season and he should improve for it. The runner up has won since. Adrien Du Pont won a Grade 1 Hurdle at Chepstow in January 2016 but was disappointing season last season. He got his career over the larger obstacles off to a good start at Fontwell in October winning by a couple of lengths. On his hurdle form he has a bit to find with the top two. Western Miller and Battle Anthem look to have it all to do. Yanworth was rated 164 over hurdles compared to Willoughby Court's 147. If Yanworth can come near that hurdle rating here he should win.
Selection; Yanworth
Next Best; Willoughby Court


Long Distance Hurdle
Just six runners for this Grade 2 Hurdle over 3m and the bookies chalk it up as a two horse race. Thistlecrack is 10/11 on the tissue with some money for him while Unowhatimeanharry drifting slightly to 2/1. Thistlecrack has been off for three hundred and seven days and connections state that his main aim is the King George at Christmas. The 2015 winner is reported to have done plenty of work and gets 6LB from Unowhatimeanharry who won this race last year. The latter reappeared at Aintree three weeks ago where he won a three horse race over an inadequate 2m4f and while the runner up struggled in the atrocious ground at Haydock last week the third, Top Notch, has gone on to win a Grade 2 Chase at Ascot. Colin's Sister got the better of Wholestone by 2L  in Soft Ground at Wetherby last month. She got 6LB off the runner up that day and is now 2LB worse of which technically would mean them dead heating. However the ground might not be soft enough for Colin's Sister to be seen at her best. Tarquin DuSeuil has a bit to find with the top two while Beer Goggles steps up in Grade from Handicap company and just might be up against it. I'm always wary of horses coming back after a long lay off through injury and although connections are happy that Thistlecrack is fit enough to run his race I prefer a watching brief with him here I'll side with Unowhatimeanharry this time.
Selection; Unowhatimeanharry
Next Best; Thistlecrack





November 25th

Haydock

Betfair Chase (The Lancashire Chase)
The question for us here is what do we do about Cue Card. Having listened to his trainer telling us how well he was before the Charlie Hall last month we went for him only to see him end up on the floor for the second time in three starts. The Jockey blamed the sun and the Owners then jocked him off. He's rising 12yo now so he may be feeling it. What's not in doubt is his love for Haydock Park where he has won three of the last four renewals of this Race. It's possible that he was flattered by last years winning distance but with the course and the ground, described as heavy at the moment, it would be folly to rule him out. Bristol De Mai is another horse who seems to love this place and the testing conditions. He has won his only two starts around the course by a total of 54L. He got this season off to the perfect start winning the aforementioned Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and should improve for the run. He is still only a 6yo so it's quite possible that the best is still to come. Outlander created a bit of a shock for punters last time in the Grade 1 JNWine at Down Royal beating Road To Respect by half a length. His run before that in October had been hugely disappointing having had an operation for kissing spines. He will love the ground and if running to his best mark could take a hand in the finish. Tea For Two is also highly rated and has won on all sorts of ground from Good to Heavy. He caused a bit of a shock at the back end of last season at Aintree beating Cue Card by a neck with Bristol De Mai a long way behind on Good Ground. However on his only start around Haydock, in the Brush Hurdle at this meeting two years ago, he was beaten an awful long way on soft ground. Traffic Fluide has had his problems and steps up to this trip for the first time. He's best watched as is Shantou Flyer who was beaten a long way in the Charlie Hall. The 3m1f125y on this Heavy ground is going to test these horse to the limit and the one I think will handle it best is Bristol De Mai 
Selection; Bristol De Mai
Next Best; Outlander

Ascot

Christy 1965 Chase
Nine runners have been declared for this 2m5f Chase on what the Clerk of The Course expects to be Good To Soft Ground. Royal Regatta seems to reserve his best form for around here. Having won last years renewal he was pulled up on three of his next four starts including his seasonal reappearance last month at Aintree. The one race he did finish was over this course and distance when a 15L third to Cue Card. Smad Place surprised a lot of people last month when winning at Aintree over 2m4f, a trip that many would consider on the sharp side for him these days. Josses Hill likes to make the running and runs well when fresh. Frodon was well beaten by stablemate Black Corton on his seasonal debut last month. He then finsihed 8L behind Might Bite at Sandown two weeks ago and though he was beaten a long way by Flying Angel at Aintree last April, that came at the back end of a busy season. Sizing Granite has been pulled up in three of his last six runs although he had his wind operated on prio to winning on his penultimate start at Punchestown. He has cheek pieces for the first time here and they can sometimes galvanise a horse. Flying Anngel fished 6L behind Frodon in Black Corton's race last month but should improve for the run. He did put up a career best at Aintree last April beating Cloudy Dream in a Grade 1 with Top Notch behind in third. The latter will appreciate the bit of ease in the Ground here and warmed up with a pleasing run behind Unowhatimeanharry at Aintree two weeks ago. He put up a great performance in the Grade 1 JLT at the Cheltenham Festival when finishing just 1L behind the winner Yorkhill having lost 3L with a mistake at the second last fence. He had run up a four timer prior to that including a course and distance win here in December. Having won two Grade 2's in the Spring of 2016, Top Gamble has found the step up to Grade 1 a bit much. He'll appreciate the step back in Grade and is an interesting prospect. Double Shuffle has a fair bit to find. Slight preference is for Top Notch who should have plenty more improvement in him. 
Selection; Top Notch
Next Best; Frodon

The Ascot Hurdle
Just five go to post for this Grade 2 over 2m3f58y and Defi Du Deuil, unbeaten since arriving in England, is likely to go off favourite. L'Ami Serge won the French Champion Hurdle over 3m on his last start in June and that is his long term target again. He's been frustrating to follow as he has to be produced at the right time. If Defi Du Seuil maked the running it might suit him as this is a bit short of his best trip. Lil Rockerfeller was runner up to Yanworth here last year but hasn't won since succesfull at Fontwell over this trip in February 2016 and probably needed the run at Wetherby three weeks ago. His best run in the meantime was probably when runner up to Nichols Canyon in the Stayers at Cheltenham. Dicosimo was culled from the Mullins/Ricci Team in September and has his first start for new connections while Wakea  will be trying to pick up some decent place money for his North County Dublin connections. With worries that the trip could be too short for his principle market rivals, preference is for Defi Du Seuil
Selection; Defi Du Seuil
Next Best; Lil Rockerfeller 






November 19th

Cheltenham

Craddockstown Novice Chase
Brelade has had the misfortune to come up against Petite Mouchoir and Footpad in his last two runs and was no match for them, watching their backsides power away from him by 7L and 11L respectively. Calino D'Airy has won both his starts over fences and both were around Galway. He jumped like a buck the last day and battled it out well to the line. Tombstone was beaten by Bamako Moriveiere at Fairyhouse six weeks ago when race fitness probably helped the winner who went on to beat Jury Service next time by 16L. Tombstone then went on to Down Royal and was handed the race with the fall of Gift Shadow with the opposition trailing a long way back.That was over 2m3f110y and I 'd have a question mark over the drop back in trip. Woodland Opera was a further 12 lengths behind Jury Service that day. Calino D'Airy's jumping might be the difference here as there is not a lot between him and Tombstone on a line through Aint Dunne Yet.
Selection; Calino D'Airy
Next Best; Tombstone

Florida Pearl Novice Chase
Ground described as Soft to Heavy and 2m6f140y will test the stamina of the five runners in this Grade 2. Arbre De Vie beat his better fabncied stable companion Shaneshill at Galway in August but disappointed on his two runs since and was reported as being distressed after the last one almost seix weeks ago. Call The Taxi has won one of his two chases but on Hurdles ratings would have a fair bit to find with some of these. Jury Duty won over the trip at Limerick on Soft but was well beaten the last day. Shattered Love gets the Mare's allowance and it's interesting that she runs here as Gordon Elliott intimated after her win on Chasing debut at Fairyhouse that she would stick to racing against her own sex. She's won her two starts over fences by 26L and 7L and could play a part. However preference is for Presenting Percy who created a huge impression on his chase debut at Galway three weeks ago. He was rated way above anything in this race over Hurdles and given a clear round should oblige
Selection; Presenting Percy
Next Best; Shattered Love

Morgiana Hurdle
The question here is, do you want to back Faugheen at odds on after a break of six hundred and sixty five days? His only defeat came here when failing by half a length to his stable mate Nichols Canyon in this race in 2015. Mark Walsh has gone for Jezki who beat Coquin Mans in a Grade 3 at Tipperary seven weeks ago. The runner up filled that spot next time out in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal behind Melon. Campeador, having fallen on his previous two starts, put in a clear round to beat Wakea who was receiving 8lb at Punchestown. The latter finished fourth 3L behind runner up Coquin Mans in the WKD. Swamp Fox just got touched off in the Galway Hurdle and failed to concede 14lb to Lagostovegas at Listowel. He won a Naas Flat Handicap two weeks ago and if regaining his form after a busy summer could be in the mix. Vroum Vroum Mag hasn't been out since April but has a pull with all but Faugheen at the weights. She's ultra consistent and has won first time out in the past. Coming back after so long from an injury raises a flag for me with Faugheen the machine and it's probably a race not to get stuck into. Campeador is only a 5yo and you would expect more improvement in him having had just six runs and might have won the two races he fell in. In a wide open contest he might be worth a small interest.
Selection; Campeador
Next Best; Vroum Vroum Mag

Cheltenham

November Novices' Chase
Heavy rain at Cheltenham this afternoon means very testing conditions for the runners on Sunday's Card. River Wylde stayed on well to win on his Chasing debut at Uttoxeter two weeks ago. He's won on soft so ground shouldn't  be a problem. North Hill Harvey is another who won on debut beating the useful Sceau Royal by a neck. He was the highest rated of these over hurdles. Capitaine has won his two starts over fences by an aggregate of 32L. However he is held by River Wylde from when they met at Kempton last February over hurdles. Ozzie The Oscar has some useful Hurdle form but would have a few lengths to find on his rating over the smaller obstacles. Nonetheless he won on his only start over fences.Slight preference is for Rive Wylde.
Selection; River Wylde
Next Best; North Hill Harvey

The Cheltenham Chase
Fox Norton has been a revelation since joining Colin Tizzard. Having just failed by a neck to  superb tactical ride on Special Tiara in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham he won at Aintree and Punchestown. He has won first time out previously and acts on soft ground. Cloudy Dream comes here having originally been entered for the wrong BetVictor Race on Saturday. He should improve for his runner up spot behind Smad Place at Aintee three weeks ago but has a bit to find on ratings. Despite beating him in the Champion Chase, Special Tara finished a long way behind Fox Norton in thisrace last year. Simply Ned was 9L behind here last year and even further behind at the Festival while Vaniteux and Sir Vaentino look to have it all to do. Fox Norton for me.
Selection; Fox Norton
Next Best; Cloudy Dream

The Sharp Novices Hurdle
Dame De Compagnie wears a hood for the first time despite winning comfortably on her British debut and gets a 7lb fillies allowance and is a 10/11 favourite on the tissue betting. Slate House won over course and distance on his racecourse debut three weeks ago. A year ago he was successful in a point in Ireland. He won very easily here last time and will need all his stamina in these conditions. Better Getalong has won on soft and heavy ground. His worst run came in the Bumper at the Festival last March. The ground could be an issue for Bedrock while Summerville Boy has won a bumper and been runner up in a hurdle, his only starts. I think the fillies allowance can swing it for Dame De Compagnie
Selection; Dame De Compagnie
Next Best; Better Getalong






November 18th

Cheltenham

The Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle
While this is the biggest weekend so far this season in terms of Graded Races we just have one race to preview Saturday with six more to come on Sunday. Apple's Jade's full sister Apple's Shakira makes her British debut having been purchased by J.P. McManus following her victory at Vichy last May when she won very easily on her only start. It's difficult to evaluate that form but if she has the ability of her sister then she could be anything and with Nicky Henderson's team in great form any significant market moves should be noted. Joseph O'Brien sends over Apparition who was flattered to finish 7L behind the impressive Espoir D'Allen who won as he liked in Down Royal two weeks ago. He should give us an indication of the relative formlines. Speedo Boy was 21L behind Gumball at Chepstow in mid October and won next time out. We highlighted that Chepstow win for Gumball in our Forum and Blogs page. Despite a number of jumping errors he powered up the hill to beat the highly regarded Malaya by 8L. His jumping on his only other start, which he won by 31L, had been perfect and he made the running in both races so looks a bit special. French trainer Emmanuelle Clayeux sends over Eh Georges who won at Vichy in September on his last run. However the second has been beaten twice since. Clayeux trained Apple's Shakira in France so maybe he knows something we don't although it's more likely that the gelding is in the shop window. Eragon De Chaney has won two of his three starts, the first one in France but  the form doesn't look strong enough. I was very impressed with Gumball at Chepstow and he is the selection.
Selection; Gumball
Next Best; Apple's Shakira


November 17th

Cheltenham

The Hyde Novices Hurdle

Having won a Bumper here last year, Poetic Rhythm failed to win on his next four starts over Hurdles. He reappeared at Chepstow last month and was forced to battle it to win in  Grade 2 Hurdle over 2m3f110y. Back in third place,6L behind, was Vision Des Flos who was having only his second career start having won the Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown last April after which he was purchased for 270,000gns by the late Alan Potts who sadly passed away this week. Having won his point in January, On The Blind Side was bought for £205,000. He wasn't seen again until October when he won a Maiden Hurdle at Aintree. Aye Aye Charlie was almost 9L behind that day and looks held. Calet Mad arrived from France last season to join Nigel Twiston-Davies and was immediately sent over Fences. While he has won his only two starts this season having reverted to hurdles these were over 3m and his best form has been over trips further than todays 2m5f. The Mare Momella won one of her two points and has won her two starts over hurdles for the Skeltons, the latter by 17L in a three runner race at Fakenham. She gets a big pull in the weights and is of interest. On the Blind Side has to be respected coming from Seven Barrows however I'm leaning towards Vision Des Flos. He pulled quite hard early on his debut at Chepstow but then traveled beautifully in the race. He should have plenty of improvement in him and is the Selection.

Selection; Vision Des Flos
Next Best; Calett Mad




November 15th

Clonmel

Clonmel Oil Chase
Just six go to post for this 2m4f110y Grade 2 Chase and four of them are owned by Gigginstown, two of whom are trained by Gordon Elliott who also has Realt Mor in the race. Balko Des Flos had A Toi Phil over 6l behind in the Galway Plate but the latter reversed placings in a Grade 2 at Gowran on 2lb better terms. However Balko Des Flos made a bad mistake three from home that day in Gowran and it conceivably cost him the race as he was traveling well at the time. Champagne West, like Balko Des Flos, is trained by Henry De Bromhead and he had pretty good form after joining the stable from Philip Hobbs last season winning two, including the Thyestes and being placed once on his first three runs before disappointing at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals. He drops back to what is probably his best trip here but hasn't run since Punchestown last April. Alpha Des Obeaux started off the season with a good second in the Munster National having to concede 16lb to the winner. He was then fourth, 17l behind Outlander, in the JNWine Chase at Down Royal. On handicap ratings he has a fair bit to find with some of the others and has reportedly bled a few times during his races. The trip is probably on the short side for Tiger Roll while Realt Mor looks outclassed. The ratings would suggest Champagne West  is best at the conditions of the race but the benefit of a run where he was a bit unlucky shades it for me in favour of Balko Des Flos who should have more room for improvement.
Selection; Balko Des Flos
Next Best; Champagne West












November 12th

Navan

Lismullen Hurdle
Just five go to post for this 2m4f Grade 2 Hurdle on what is sure to be testing ground. Early indications are that Apple's Jade will go off a short priced favourite. She has won on soft and heavy ground before but was beaten by Limini at Punchestown last February on it. Stablemate Flaxen Flare has had his problems and was off for two years before reappearing last March and is best watched. Monksland warmed up for this by winning a chase at Thurles seventeen days ago. He probably needs 3m nowadays but put up a good showing in the 2015 renewal when going down by half a length to Arctic Fire. If it come s up heavy his stamina could come into play. The third Elliott runner, Duca De Thaix, has his first run for the stable having won a 3yo Bumper and Hurdle in France last October. Jer's Girl gets a 7lb weight advantage from the top three. She reumed this season with an impressive victory on the flat at Roscommon on heavy ground. She reappeared six days later at Tipperary in a Grade 3 Hurdle and finished 5l behind Jezki. I'd forgive that run coming so quickly after Roscommon. Apple's Jade was beaten on her first two runs last season and with the benefit of two runs and a 7lb pull at the weights Jer's Girl might overturn the favourite.
Selection; Jer's Girl
Next Best; Apple's Jade

Fortria Chase
Just six are due to face the starter for this 2m Grade 2. Alisier D'Irlande was well beaten at Aintree in April but prior to that had won a Grade 3 at Naas on Hevy ground. His best form seems to be with plenty of give in the surface. Clarcam was well beaten in the above Naas contest and probably needs further. Draycott Place has run eighteen times since winning at Cork in October 2016 and while he handles the ground he has a lot to find at the ratings. Fine Rightly is another who probably needs further. The Game Changer was very disappointing last time when he was pulled up and blew very hard in a hurdle race at Punchestown and his jockey reported that he had lost his action. Prior to that he had beaten Ballycasey by a head at Listowel over 2m in September and Ted Veale by 2l in a Chase in Ballinrobe in August. Aisier D'Irlande might just be able to run them ragged here.
Selection; Alisier D'Irlande
Next Best; The Game Changer





November 11th

Wincanton

Rising Stars Novice Chase
Paul Nicholls had four of the seven entries for this race and relies on Modus in a disappointing three runner field. The latter won on his chasing and seasonal debut just eleven days ago at Bangor. He was a bit novicy early on but warmed to his task to win easily. He was rated 156 over hurdles and should be capable of winning in Graded company. Kalondra was entitled to win of his hurdle mark compared to his opponents on his chasing debut last month and did. This will be a stiffer test.  Valhalla has a huge amount to find off his hurdle mark and will be the outsider of the three. One thing that concerns me about Modus is that he has worn a hood in most of his races and it appears to have been dispensed with here. However it's hard to oppose him although he will be at prohibitive odds. 
Selection; Modus
Next Best; Kalondra


Elite Hurdle
Seven go to post for this Grade 2 Hurdle over 1m7f65y. Charbel heads the weights here reverting to hurdles after four runs over fences last season. He won first time up and then was runner up to Altior at Sandown before handing the race to the latter at Cheltenham when falling at the second last when half a length up. We can ignore his run at Aintree as a mistake at half way seemed to unnerve him. He'll make the pace here. Couer De Lion will appreciate any further ease in the ground but has plenty of weight for a 4yo. However he is fit from the flat. Zubayr looked beaten here last year when falling at the last and may have been running out of steam on his first start in 168 days. He's had a few runs on the flat over the summer and is back here after 91 days. With trainer and jockey in great form has to be respected. Flying Tiger warmed up with a terrific run in a Grade 3 Flat race at Ascot last month. He swerved the Triumph at the Cheltenham Festival in favour of the Fred Winter which he won. He was well beaten at Aintree next time by Defi Seuill and if you were to take tjat form literally he is held by Couer De Lion who was 12l closer to Defi De Seuill in the Triumph. Lough Derg Spirit is a lightly raced 5yo. He was disappointing when stepped up in trip at Aintree but reverts to the shorter distance here. Prior to Aintree he was succesfull at Musselburgh where he made all and apart from one mistake was good at his hurdles. The one negative is the 217 days since his last run. On the positive side the stable has a strike rate of 28% for the last fourteen days. Melodic Rendezvous won this back in 2013 but hasn't won since December 2014 and will find it hard here. London Prize won twice on the flat over the summer including the Northumberland Plate and was runner up in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on his last starts. His Flat rating has gone up 20lb in four Flat starts since October 2016. If he was to transfer that improvement to his Hurdling form he would be hard to beat here. His hurdle form has been consistent, winning twice and been placed twice from seven starts. He won the Imperial Cup at Sandown on soft Ground last March on only his fifth start over Hurdles. The intriguing thing is that he has been withdrawn from two races previously because of unsuitable soft ground. It's a difficult race to weigh up Alan King puts up a 10lb claimer on Couer De Lion who will benefit from the forecast overnight rain. It's hard to know what to make of London Prize's best ground while Lough Derg Spirit could have any amount of improvement in him although Nicky Henderson is reported as saying he might always prefer decent ground. With the possibility of the ground softening further I'm going to take a chance with Couer De Lion
Selection; Couer De Lion
Next Best; London Prize



November 7th

Exeter

Haldon Gold Cup.
Last years winner Sir Valentino returns to defend his crown in this 2m1f109y Limited Handicap Grade 2 Chase. Ar Mad tops the weights at 11-10 but he is having only his second run since February 2016 and his first since last December. I'd prefer to see how he gets on here before committing to him. Expect him to make the running as usual. Sir Valentino carries 14lb more this year and although he ran a couple of good races behind Special Tiara subsequently, he failed to win in four subsequent runs. Forest Bihan has risen up the ratings and is 21lb higher than this time last year, He's won four of the seven chases he's contested and been runner up twice. He flopped at Cheltenham against Altior but at Aintree he ran San Benedeto to a head in The Grade 1 Maghull Chase, just getting chinned on the line. He won on his season return at Kelso and I'd expect a strong showing here. Garde La Victoire was beaten a short head in this last year and has some decent form over fences. He warmed up for here with a runner up spot in a Listed hurdle at Auteuil five weeks ago. He tended to jump left at a few fences here last year which might not have helped on the right handed circuit. San Benedeto warmed up for this with an eye catching run behind stablemate Old Guard in a hurdle race at Kempton sixteen days ago. He on five times last season in a busy campaign and was remarkably consistent. Politologue jumped the last well in the Maghull at Aintree but stumbled and fell a few strides after it. Whether he would have beaten stablemate San Benedeto remains to be seen and there is also a question as to his best trip as he has won on 2m1f on Heavy ground to 2m5f120y on Soft. He hasn't run since that fall at Aintree which might be a negative for some people. Vibrato Valtat won this in 2015 but his form tailed off over the course of last season and he's moved from Paul Nicholls to Emma Lavelle to try and sweeten him up. The tongue tie and head gear are dispensed with here but he's best watched. Gino Trail has a nice mark on his best form last season where he was very consistent.  The more rain that falls the better for him and if he runs up to his mark he wouldn't be far behind Garde Le Victoire.  In what looks a wide open race San Benedeto caught my eye at Kempton and Paul Nicholls clams 5lb off his back with Bryony Frost who is value for her claim.
Selection; San Benedeto
Next Best; Garde Le Victoire




November 4th

Down Royal
 
JNwine.com Champion Chase
Eight go to post for the first Grade 1 of the season. Gigginstown have four and J.P. Manus two. Alpha Des Obeaux has the benefit of a run in the Munster National where he was second off a big weight. He has bled on occasions but generally consistent having been in the first three on fourteen of his twenty starts. Carlingford Lough was 47l behind Road To Respect at Punchestown sixteen days ago and wears a tongue tie for the first time. Time could be catching up on this warrior at 11yo. More Of That is reported in great form for his seasonal debut but looks held on last December's run behind Outlander at Leopardstown in the Lexus. Our Duke never stopped improving last season culminating in a runaway success in the Irish National. He went up 14lb in the handicap for that but he's meeting these off level weights and it will be interesting to see if the Handicapper got it right. It is his seasonal debut but he has won first time up the last two seasons. Outlander caused a bit of a surprise in the Lexus but that was as good as it got for him as he subsequently disappointed. On his re-appearence sixteen days ago he was 42l behind Road To Respect. The latter won the Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and followed up with a win in the Ryanair at Fairyhouse although he might have been a shade lucky with Yorkhill's antics at the last. He then put in a good performance at Punchestown last month. He has a bit of a tendency to jump left which will be a worry but he seems to be improving all the time. Sub Lietenant is 2lb worse off for being beaten just 6l by Road To Respect. He's posted two thirds and three seconds since beating Outlander in the Grade 2 Chase here last year. Zabana was a bit mistake prone last season having performed well the one before. In a wide open race I think Road To Respect, who had the option of going for the Grade 2 Chase on the card,  offers better value than the odds on Our Duke. Sub Lieutenant could offer each way value
Selection; Road To Respect
Next Best Sub Lietenant 

MyCarNeedsA.Com Chase
Eight will face the starter for this Grade 2 over 2m3f110y. Disko was an impressive winner of a Grade 1 over 3m .at the Punchestown Festival. Prior to that he was 4l third to Yorkhill at Cheltenham. He beat Our Duke over 2m5f at Leopardstown in February. A Toi Phil  reversed Galway Plate form with Balko Des Flos at Gowran the end of September when tongue tied for the first time. He finished 11l behind Disko in the Punchestown race but thsi trip might suit better. If the ground doesn't dry out any more Ball D'Arc should enjoy the conditions. He finished 5l behind Road To Respect in the Ryanair at Fairyhouse. Anibale Fly is another who will appreciate give in the ground and warmed up for this when finishing 5l behind Disko at Punchestown. There's no doubt Balko Des Flos has improved since finishing just under 8l behind Disko at Leopardstown last February. Ballyoisin seems to have got his jumping sorted out and is beginning to  fulfill the promise he showed a couple of seasons ago. Tout Est Permis is one to watch. runner up by 11l to Death Duty following his 6l defeat of Brelade hints at better things to come. It's a wide open contest but I've always liked Disko and he gets the vote
Selection; Disko
Next Best; A Toi Phil

Wetherby

The West Yorkshire Hurdle
Just seven go to post for this 3m Grade 2. Wholestone ran a respectable race over a trip short of his best at Chepstow last month when just over a length behind Court Minstrel. Connections went the same route last year with Ballyoptic and it nearly paid off. The ratings give Lil Rockerfeller a big advantage. He was third here last year and put up some great runs subsequently without winning. The best was probably when running Nicols Canyon to less than a length in the stayers at Cheltenham. Ptit Zig reverted to hurdles last season. His best run was probably when second just under 2l to L'Ami Sege at Sandown in April. He has won on seasonal debut before and it's interesting that he represents the stable rather than Silsol who won last year and was entered. The rest would have to find a fair bit to win although if anyone could spring a surprise it would be Fountains Windfall. The previous run might swing it for Wholestone.
Selection; Wholestone
Next Best; Lil Rockerfeller

Charlie Hall Chase
According to his trainer this is just a stepping stone for the Betfair Chase at Haydocl for Bristol De Mai. However if the heavy rain materialises overnight it might be a different game. This has been Cue Card's target and his latest bit of work apparently ticked all the boxes. Listening to Colin Tizzard you get the impression last years defeat is still hurting him. Definitely Red has been attracting support throughout the week. He goes well fresh and could spring a surprise. Blaklion is warming up for the Becher Chase here but it's worth noting he's 14lb better off with Definitely Red on their last meeting. Coneygree is a bit heavier than connection would like ( as per Sue Bradstock) nor has he worked on the grass yet with all his training been on the all-weather. If the ground gets too deep he may tire as he is expected to improve for the run. It's hard not to be infected by Colin Tizzard's conviction for Cue Card.
Selection; Cue Card
Next Best; Blaklion







November 3rd

Down Royal

WKD Hurdle
The season steps up a gear this weekend with Down Royal and Wetherby staging Graded races. It starts at Down Royal tomorrow where six runners go to post for the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle over 2m. Coquin Mans is one of two runners for Willie Mullins and his last run where he was second to Jezki over 2m at Tipperary in ground describes as soft to heavy stands out. Prior to that he had won a Bumper in France and three hurdle races in Ireland ( two of them over three mile) and a flat race over 1m6f. His trainer doesn't see a problem with the trip here. The second Mullins runner, Melon, was purchased in France in November '15 but didn't appear on a racecourse for connections until last January when he won a Maiden Hurdle by 10l with a number of subsequent winners behind.. He went straight to Cheltenham from that race and was beaten just over 2l by Labaik. His third and final run of the season was at Punchestown in April where he was beaten a length by stablemate Cilaos Emery who had been 14l behind him at Cheltenham. Mick Jazz hasn't been seen on a racecourse since last February when he beat the aforementioned Cilaos Emery (receiving 1lb) by a neck in a Listed Hurdle at Punchestown. Two runs before that he had been beaten just under 2l by Labaik in a Grade 3 Hurdle at Navan. Wakea ran a big race in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham. He led and was clear from the third hurdle and 15l clear three out only to be headed approaching the last. He finished 5l behind the winner Arctic Fire. He had heavy falls in his next two runs at Aintree and Bellewstown and was then given a break until September when he was just beaten a short head by Rashaan over 3m around here. Three weeks ago he was beaten just under 2l, receiving 8lb, by Campeador at Punchestown which might turn out to be not bad form. Forge Meadow looks held on form with most of these while Tellthemnuttin, even with the Mares allowance, will have to find something special. Melon looks no value at 4/7 having his first run since April and Mick Jazz has had an even longer absence. Coquin Mans will relish the conditions. However Wakea is a bit of a course specialist around here and if himself and Coquin Mans don't cut each others throats making the pace then I think Karl Thornton's horse could spring a surprise on a track that can sometimes suit front runners.
Selection; Wakea
Next Best; Coquin Mans








October 29th

Aintree

Old Roan Handicap Chase
A terrific renewal of this Grade 2 with four of the last five renewing battle and a few classy horses stepping out of Novice company. The race is a Limited Handicap which has attracted thirteen runners. Top rated God's Own was second last year, beaten just under 2l and meets the winner on the same terms here. Connections are stepping him up to 3m after this with a view to running in the King George at Kempton. He goes well when fresh but this might be only a stepping stone as the now 10yo could be vulnerable to younger improving sorts. Tea For Two would probably prefer a bit further. He hasn't be seen since winning over 3m1f here in  a Grade 1 back in April. Smad Place hasn't won since January 2016. His best form has come over 3m although he was fourth here last year beaten just over 4l. Even though he's now 8lb better off others are preferred. Aso's best run last year was in the Ryanair at Cheltenhma when he was 7l behind Un De Sceaux. He won on soft at Chepstow and it's possible that's his preferred ground. Having returned from a thirteen month absence last February, Traffic Fluide  took a few runs before putting up a good performance when just over 4l runner up to Menorah in April. He's dropped 6lb in the handicap since February and if he's regained some of the sparkle he showed before his lay off he might have a chance. Cloudy Dream has won first time out for the last two seasons.  He was admirably consistent in seven starts Novice Company last season winning three and being runner up in the rest. He comes here for the ground and his trainer says he is ready to run. Royal Regatta seems to reserve his best form for Ascot.. He was 8l behind the winner here last year but beat him by just over 18l next time at Ascot. It's hard to see him winning here. Devils Bride travels over from Ireland. He was close up when falling at the last in the Galway Plate this year and disappointed next time out in Killarney in August. Hasn't been seen since and this might just be beyond him. Last years winner Third Intention benefited from a wind operation before the race and he's had a soft palate operation this time. He showed nothing after last years win but goes well fresh and likes it here. Ballboley steps up in class from his win in a Listed chase at Market Rasen at the end of September. He has form around Aintree and might just have a bit more to come. Despite winning four of his five starts last season Trainer Neil Mulholland said he couldn't get Shantou Village right until his last win at Sandown.. He only a 7yo so should have more improvement in him. Oldgrangewood is a lightly raced 6yo who has won three of his seven starts over fences. He was third to Cloudy Dream at Ayr last April, beaten just under 6l and is now 8lb better off with that one. He had a pipe opener in a 2m Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow two weeks ago which should have left him spot on for what has been a target for him for a while. Bouvreuil had just four runs last season and disappointed on the last of them around here in April. He can't be dismissed coming from the McManus/Nicholls combination but others are preferred. It looks a wide open race with a few who show their best early on in the season. However there seems to be a few young horses who could be improvers and ahead of the handicapper. One such is Oldgrangewood who's trainer, Dan Skelton, doesn't tilt at windmills. He should have benefited from his recent run over hurdles and looks god value at the 10/1 offered by Boyle Sports. Recommend 1pt Each Way on Oldgrangewood