Next Race Preview

January 17th

Punchestown (Going; Heavy)

Moscow Flyer Hurdle (2m30y)

It's disappointing that Master McShee has had to be withdrawn but nonetheless it's an interesting race. Willie Mullins has the Favourite in Ganapathi who has had just two career starts, the first when winning a Flat race in France and then in Cork last Novemebr when he won a Maiden hurdle on heavy ground at Cork by just under 2l with the first two pulling 13l clear of the third. The runner up, Rajsalad, was beaten by a very useful horse Kalkas at Limerick next time up. Ganapathi has a couple of entries for the Dublin Racing Festival in three weeks time. It's also worth noting that Willie Mullins has won this six times in the last ten years. The man who has trained the winners of the last two renewals, Gordon Elliott, has Magic Tricks for J.P. McManus. This one went clear on the run in to win his maiden hurdle at the first time of asking at Navan last month winning by 8l. The runner up and the third have been well beaten since. It's hard to know how good Dreal Deal is. He's on a six timer having started his winning sequence off a mark of 84 in a Handicap Hurdle at Navan and runs off a mark of 141 tomorrow having been raised 30lb for his latest win at Cork in November. He also has to concede 2lb to the above two. Power Of Pause is another Mullins runner. He's won his last two both on Heavy ground but jockey bookings suggest he's third choice of the stable. Fire Attack is still a Maiden over hurdles but did win his Bumper in December 2019 beating the useful Julies Stowaway 2l. His two starts this season have resulted in a half length runner up to Fakeira in the Monksfield Hurdle at Navan in November but was 23l behind Appreciate It at Leopardstown. It's hard to believe Gua Du Large is 10/1. He was beaten a neck by Queen's Brook at Fairyhouse in November and then won his maiden at Thurles the same month beating Landa Beach 23l. Echoes In Rain has her second start form Mullins since arriving from France. She was well beaten by Aspire Tower on her first run after a seven month break at Christmas 2019 and wasn' t seen again until last month when running out a 15l winner of a Maiden Hurdle at Naas. Not a lot to go on so I'll take a chance with Ganapathi

Selection; Ganapathi

Best Alternative; Magic Tricks

January 16th

Warwick (Going; Soft, Heavy in places)

Hampton Novices Chase (3m)

With some snow showers forecast over night conditions could be very testing come post time tomorrow. Just three runners go to post for this Grade 2. Next Destination was top class as a hurdler but met with a setback and was off two and a half years before resuming at Wetherby last October and running a respectable race to be an 8l second to Roksana. He was then thrown in at the deep end in November at Newbury for his Chase debut but he jumped beautifully and only had to get a couple of reminders after the last to run out the winner. I'd imagine he'd improve from that but he does have to carry a 5lb penalty. Ground won't be a problem. Connections of Fiddleronthehoof had the intention of going down the 2m4f route with him this season and he got off to a promising start finishing second to If The Cap Fits at Ffos Las and then winning at Exeter on Ground that wasn't really suitable after which connections said the Dipper was his target. He then had two runner up spots in Grade 2's at Newbury and Ascot in both races starting Favourite but appearing to lack a turn of foot so it's no surprise to see him stepping up in trip here. Golan Fortune was beaten 8l by Shan Blue in the Grade 1 Novices at Kempton over Christmas with The Big Breakaway and If The Cap Fits just in front of him. He won his previous start, his chase debut, beating Champagne Well by over 8l. I'd have a worry about him in this ground at this Grade. Three horse races can be tricky but I'll chance Next Destination.

Selection; Next Destination

Best Alternative; Fiddleronthehoof

Leamington Novices Hurdle (2m5f)

Twelve runners are due to face the starter for this Grade 2 and to me it seems to be a bit more wide open than the early betting suggests. Make Me A Believer fell three out on his only start in a point in a race won by Adrimel. He won two of his nest three starts the last after a wind op following a second place to the unbeaten Bear Ghrylis. His two wins came over 2m and 2m1f and the defeat came over an extended 2m3f. Adrimel has only been beate once in six starts. That came in the Champion Bumper last March where he finished a remote sixteenth after which he had a wind op. His two hurdle wins have come over the minimum trip but having won his point this trip should be no problem nor should the ground and he wears cheek pieces for the first time to go with the regular tongue tie. The Tizzard stable looks to be out of form at the moment with just three out of fourteen runners in the first three in the last fortnight. Lots of trainers administer the flu vaccine in January so that could be a reason and stableform can turn in the link of an eye. They run Oscar Elite here and he won his point at the third time of asking last March. He reappeared at Chepstow in October and ran out a comfortable 20l winner of a maiden hurdle over an extended 2m3f. He returned to the course last month and won a three horse race over the extended 2m7f. This is a big step up to those two runs. Jay Be Why won his only point in October 2019 and was then sold to current connections for £68k. He had his next start at Newbury twelve months ago but ran disappointingly and was given a wind op. His next start was last month around here and he surprised connections winning by over 9l over this distance beating the odds on favourite who ran very keenly. Midnight River had a couple of placed runs in Bumpers before being put away last February. He reappeared last October at Uttoxeter he won his maiden over 2m4f beating Shantou Express just over 1l with the first two pulling over 30l clear of the third. The latter won his next two and had some pretty decent Bumper form. Midnight River then went to Cheltenham later in the month and was beaten almost 5l into second place by Does He Know who went on to win what was probably a weak Grade 2 at the same track next time. Midnight River then went to Leicester where he won a Novice Hurdle with the first two pulling well clear. Pure Bliss won her point and a Bumper before pulling up next time after which she had a wind op. She reappeared last November and won a Novice over 2m before repeating that win next time over 2m2f. This is a big step up but she may be able to get a bit of black type. Mint Condition seems to be an improving horse this season. Having failed to win in four starts lasts season he's won three of his four starts since resuming last October all in Handicap Hurdles and rising 20lb in the ratings. Ground won't be an issue. Lord Kerak has had just the three runs, all over hurdles, finishing runner up in the first two both over 2m and then stepping up in trip and winning over 2m4f at Uttoxeter last month. He was beaten over 3l by Adrimel on his second start but the stable is coming into form and he might be good each way value. Optimise Prime has won two Hereford Novice Hurdles but this is a big step up although his trainer is confident he'll run a big race. It's unusual to see a Nicholls horse at 18/1 in a Graded race. Was third of three last time in a race that developed into a sprint from the last. Prior to that he had won a Maiden at Ffos Las by 9l, a victory that made the handicapper give him a rating of 137. The trainer also reckons he'll be better going left handed. A tricky affair that could be made even more difficult by the rain that's due. It's a race not to get too involved in and I'm going for a little each way on Midnight River who has been laid out for the race

Selection; Midnight River E.W. (10/1 available with Paddy Power)

Best Alternative; Adrimel

January 13th

Naas (Going; Heavy)

Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle (2m4f)

Eight due to go to post for this Grade 1 that used to be known as the Slaney Hurdle and it has been monopolised over the last ten years by Mullins and Elliott with the score 5-3 to Willie Mullins with a stellar roll of honour. Ashdale Bob caused a bit of a surprise at Navan on his last start back in December running out a 6l winner of the Grade 2 at odds of 14/1 with Gabynako, who pulled hard, back 6l in third. Prior to that Ashdale Bob had Wide Receiver 1l back in second in a Maiden Hurdle at Navan back in November. Blue Lord has had just the one run since arriving from France where he won his last of three starts. He followed up on his debut here for Willie Mullins getting the better of Julies Stowaway, who went off evens favourite, by half a length although in the end he only had to be pushed out hands and heels after getting a couple of cracks after jumping the last. He looked like he would improve for a step up in trip having been pushed along turning in and jumping upsides the leaders at the last. Bob Olinger has made a big impression. He won his point impressively first time out and then went to Gowran where he sluiced home in a 2m2f Bumper. He was laid off until November when he was beaten 1l by Ferny Hollow over 2m at Gowran in a Maiden Hurdle with the two pulling well clear of the rest. Crosshill was an easy winner of his Maiden beating subsequent winner, Vanillier, by 11l with the latter then going on to finish second in a Grade 2 at Limerick over Christmas. Flanking Maneuver got off the mark at the third attempt in Bumpers at Downpatrick in October before taking two goes to win over Hurdles when he beat Folcano 6l at Fairyhouse earlier this month on Heavy ground. Gabynako did himself no favours the last day where he pulled hard at Navan. He had won his previous start at Naas over 2m having been beaten less than 1l on his previous two starts behind Fakieras and Eskylane. Ragnor Ladbrok wears first time cheekpieces. He's finished runner up in his last two runs, both over 3m, by 8l and 7l. On his run prior to those he had won his maiden at Galway over 2m3f. He looks the second pick of the Elliott pair. Wide Receiver won his maiden having been dropped back to 2m after finishing 1l behind Ashdale Bob last November. With further rain forecast on Ground already Heavy conditions will be really testing at Naas. Bob Olinger will probably go off favourite but I think Blue Lord is entitled to come on a lot for his first run in fourteen months and it could be significant that he is Willie Mullins' only runner in a race he targets

Selection; Blue Lord

Best Alternative; Bob Olinger

January 9th

Chepstow (Going; Heavy)

Precautionary Inspection 8am

Juvenile Hurdle (2m11y)

Eight have been declared to face the starter for this Grade 1 and Nassalam is even money favourite on the back of two monstrous wins at Fontwell in November and December. Prior to those starts he had one run in France where he was runner up. It's fair to say that he didn't beat a whole lot at Fontwell and you could pick one or two holes in the form of the French race but visually he was very impressive in Fontwell. It's interesting that Paul Nicholls introduces Houx Gris for his British debut in a Grade 1. He's had four runs in France, winning a 1m4f Bumper first time out and ending with a win at Auteuil last October on Heavy ground over and extended 2m1f. Adagio is another French import who won on the Flat prior to coming across the Channel. He made a wining Hurdling debut on Good ground in November and then ran in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham finishing a 5l runner up to Duffle Coat on Good to Soft before going back to Cheltenham last month and winning a Trial Hurdle comfortably by 5l. Elham Valley ran nine times on the flat with a highest rating of 75 following two wins. He won on his only start over hurdles last month on Heavy ground with a battling win at Sandown where he got home by just under 2l with Yggdrasil, who was making his racecourse debut, another 4l back in third. Bannister is a horse who races keenly and on his last three starts has made all winning the first of them, on Good ground, where his nearest challenger unseated at last. I'll have to go with Nassalam.

Selection; Nassalam

Best Alternative; Houx Gris

Wincanton (Going; Soft, Good to Soft in places)

Precautionary Inspection 8am

Dipper Novices Chase (2m4f35y)

Just three runners for his Grade 2 and Protektorat is a short price favourite to back up his two impressive wins over fences the latter which he won by 17l from Southfield Theatre. His trainer Dan Skelton is very bullish about his chances saying that he would be disappointed if he got beaten. Although he is highest rated in the race (154) he has to concede 3lb to Messire Des Obeaux (147). The latter was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles back in December 2016 and was placed in two other Grade 1's that season while also winning a Grade 2. He's only raced twice since April 2017 the first last February when he faded and was beaten 24l and then last month when when winning a Novice Handicap chase by just over 2l conceding the runner up 7lb. His jumping was good, he was clever at the second last and he just had to be pushed out to win very comfortably. I think he can improve more provided he stays sound and he could be worth taking on the favourite with. Lieutenant Rocco is the outsider of three but has a decent bit of form in hi last run when he got to within three and three part lengths of Fusil Raffles last month. His two wins, both over hurdles, have come on Heavy ground which is a concern.

Selection; Messire Des Obeaux

Best Alternative; Protektorat

Kempton (Going; Hurdle Soft, Good to soft in places; Chase; Good to soft, Soft in places)

Inspection 8am

Relkeel Hurdle (2m5f)

A decent field of seven go to post for this Grade 2. Having won three on the trot over hurdles including a Grade 3 last March here at Kempton and the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow in October McFabulous was stepped up to 3m in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last November but was beaten just over 1l and 5l by Thyme Hill and Paisley Park having hung right handed throughout and fading on the run in to lose second. Those three wins came on Good and Good to Soft (twice). He had won a Grade 2 Bumper on soft at Aintree so Going, Trip and course should be fine. Younevercall progressed from Handicap hurdles to winning a Grade 2 at Sandown in April 2019, a win that came about after wind surgery. Having been well beaten at Royal Ascot in his next start in June 2019 he had a wind op and wasn't seen until last November when he went down by a nose conceding 36lb to the winner who got up on the line. He then went to Ascot last month and was beaten 7l by Paisley Park. The drop back in trip should suit but his best form has come on Good or Good to Soft and at 10yo might be vulnerable to younger improvers. Summerville Boy has been very consistent over the last twelve months winning two of his six starts both over 2m5f. He put up a fine performance at Cheltenham in December in the International Hurdle over 2m1f going down by just over 3l to Song For Someone. Thomas Darby was beaten over 4l by Summerville Boy on his seasonal start at Aintree last November and hasn't been seen since. He did beat Song For Someone at Ascot twelve months ago conceding 7lb which is a fair bit of form. Call Me Lord won the International last season but was over 7l behind this seasons winner. He was also beaten almost 8l behind Summerville Boy over 2m4f at Aintree last November. There's not a lot between most of these on ratings but Mc Fabulous might have more room for improvement and gets the nod.

Selection; McFabulous

Best Alternative; Summerville Boy

Silviniaco Conti Chase (2m4f110y)

Just four runners for this Grade 2 and Imperial Order is slight odds on to continue his winning run. He's never been out of the first three in eleven starts winning seven including his last three. He was very impressive on his last start when he stepped up to Grade 2 class for the first time. He has to concede 6lb to Master Tommytucker who's jumping can be an issue. He was in contention the last day but hit two out and faded. The other worry is that he has fallen on his last two starts here. Riders Onthe Storm won three on the bounce last season before falling three out in the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival after which he was put away until November when he finished 57 l behind Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham over 2m. He went up 22lb in the ratings last season but will have to improve on that last run to figure. Clondaw Castle has improved in three sgtarts this season finishing second in the Old Roan, then winning at Newbury concedeing weight in a handicap and then finishing just over 7l to Master Fisher in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham. Imperial Aura for me.

Selection; Imperial Aura

Best Alternative; Riders Onthe Storm

January 2nd

Sandown (Going; Heavy)

Tolworth Novices Hurdle (1m7f216y)

Metier is the highest rated horse in the race with a mark of 140 following two impressive wins over hurdles. He was rated 90 on the flat is Ireland and cost connections 150,000 guineas. Flat speed and winning on heavy make him attractive here. Galice Macalo, who gets a valuable 7lb Mare's allowance, won her first two starts back in October on Good and Good To Soft but found nothing when challenged by the winner on Heavy over Course and Distance last month. Do Your Job won a point in October 2019 but took three runs to register over hurdles and then followed up at Ayr in October by over 9l with the runner up winning his nest two. Do Your Job led in a Haydock Listed race next time but jumped right at the last and wandered left before finding nothing extra going down by just over 3l. The winner was a 3l runner up in a Grade 2 behind My Drago next. Shakem Up'Arry looks as this is his trip having been beaten over further however he has it all to do on ratings while Smurphy Enki, who was imperessive on his second Hurdle start, could be an improver.

Selection; Metier

Best Alternative; Galice Macalo

December 29th

Limerick (Going; Heavy)

Grant Thornton Hurdle (2m)

Just six declared for this Grade 2 for 4yo's and Galopin Des Champs from the all conquering Willie Mullins stable heads the betting. He's had just the one start for the stable having won on his only start in France. His Irish debut came at Gowran Park last month which was his first run since May. The Gowran race was 2m on heavy ground and having taken the lead two out he eventually went down by half a length to Sea Ducor who was receiving 7lb. The latter ran a big race in a Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown Sunday behind Master McShee. The third in the Gowran race Get My Drift won a Maiden on Saturday and the fourth, Mighty Blue, was 3l second in a Listed Mares to the impressive Gauloise. A lot of the Mullins team have come on for their first run and with the form of that race working out he must ahve a big chance. Grand Roi cost current connections £400,000 when bought out of Nicky Henderson at the UK Summer Sales. He ran four times for Henderson having ran twice in France. He won a Warwick Bumper by 15l from Audacity but finished a1l fourth behind that one in a Listed Cheltenham Bumper. He then won two minor hurdle races by 7l and 13l respctively before being sold. He was thrown in at the deep end by Gordon Elliott running in a Grade 3 Hurdle at Galway in October and acquitted himself well in his first start since February finishing just over 5l behind the winner Beacon Edge although he was probably flattered by the margin as the winner was eased on the run in. He was given a rating of 138 after that. Wolf Prince had some decent form last season finishing with a runner up spot in the Grade 1 Hurdle at the Dublin Festival, beaten just over 1l by Wave Of The Sea. He's had plenty of jumping experience and on his last run he was beaten almost 2l into second by Call Me Lyreen with the two finishing about 30l clear of the rest. The form of that race was let down yesterday with the latter finishing 30l back of Appreciate It. Gua Du Large has had just two runs over hurdles winning at the second attempt at Thurles last month his task made easier when Gjoumi fell at the last. On his previous start he had gone down by a neck to Queens Brook at Fairyhouse. Indiana Jones was 42l behind Call Me Lyreen in a Grade 2 at Naas last month having won his maiden on his Irish debut at Cork November 1st. Lunar Display fell at the on her penultimate start when still in touch. That was her second start over hurdles having finshed down the field on her seasonal debut in October. She had won a Leopardstown Bumper on her racecourse debut back in March on what was her only other start. There are some nice types here but I think Galopin Des Champs can add to the Mullins tally.

Selection; Galopin Des Champs

Best Alternative; Grand Roi

Leopardstown (Going; Hurdles, Soft; Chase, Yielding)

Neville Hotels Novice Chase (3m)

Just six are due to face the starter for this Grade 1 and Monkfish is odds on to confirm the good impression he made on his Chasing debut at Fairyhouse last month when he beat stablemate Ontheropes in a canter over 2m5f. He renews rivaly with Latest Exhibition who was a neck second to him in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March. The latter got his chasing career off to a good start when he won going away by 2l. He disappointed next time out going down by 7l to Pencillfulloflead in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl and the latter finished second in the Grade 1 at Limerick on Saturday. Connections of Latest Exhibition believe that last race may have come a bit to quick after his debut as he ran a bit flat. Conflated beat Opposites Attract 17l over 2m4f at Navan with the disappointing odds on favourite The Big Getaway a further 4l back in fourth. The runner up had finished just over 2l behind Latest Exhibition at Punchestown in October over 2m6f.. Prior to that Conflated had been a 6l second to Asterion Forlonge over an extended 2m3f. This is his first attempt at 3m. Eurobot won an Andover point and Cork maiden hurdle, both over 2m. He got his season off to a start last month when having his task made easy by fall from his main rivals at the 3rd and second last while Foxy Jacks and Heaven Help Us will be looking for crumbs. Latest Exhibition looks a bit of value and is the selection

Selection; Latest Exhibition

Best Alternative; Conflated

Matheson Hurdle (2m)

Saint Roi, having won impressively at Tipperary in October, got into all sorts of trouble in the Morgiana but rallied to get to within a neck of Abracadabras. Willie Mullins is quoted in the Racing Post saying " we need to have our tactics better than we did last time. We didn't get things right but hopefully we'll do better and get it right with him last time". He took a keen hold that day and made a mistake two out, dropped to last , was short of room yet still finished where he did. Abracadabras was all out at the finish having probably hit the front a bit sooner than Jack Kennedy wanted and his jumping will have to improve as well. Aspire Tower was one of the top juveniles last season winning twice by extended margins before falling at the last in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. He then finished second in the Triumph despite poor jumping and reappeared at Down Royal in October where he made all and a good jump at the last saw him go clear to beat Abracadabras by over 4l. If he brings his A game and jumps he could be in with a shout. Sharjah has won the last two renewals of this. He was well beaten by Honeysuckle at the Dublin Festival but improved on that to be a 3l second to Epatante in gthe Champion Hurdle. He then had two runs on the flat over the summer the best probably when just over 4l behind Princess Zoe in a big handicap at Galway in July. He doesn't have the advantage of a recent run as he did for the previous two renewals which is a concern. Saldier hasn't been seen since winning the Morgiana in 2019 which was his first run in a year so he is capable of winning after a long absence. However others are preferred. Having beaten Minella Melody in a Grade 3 over 2m4f at Galway, Beacon Edge finished a three parts of a length third to Honeysuckle in the Hattons Grace over 2m4f. He was just beaten a nose by Jason The Militant at Naas in February but dropping back in trip in this class might be a problem. Petite Mouchoir, the 2016 winner, was almost 4l back in second here last year before gong down by 1l to Honeysuckle at the Dublin Festival. He was a respectable fifth in the Champion Hurdle but hasn't been seen since finishing a 4l third to Aramon in the Galway Hurdle. Coueur Sublime was over 6l behind the winner in the Morgiana and was a 12l third here last year. It has the makings of a cracking race and slight preference is for Saint Roi.

Selection; Saint Roi

Best Alternative; Aspire Tower

Newbury (Going; Soft. Precautionary Inspection)

Challow Novices Hurdle (2m4f118y)

Six go to post for this Grade 1 which has a terrific roll of honour with Thyme Hill and Champ winning the last two renewals. Star Gate cost connections £140,000 after winning his Point at Belharbour back in February. He reappeared in October at Chepstow winning a maiden hurdle over an extended 2m3f with the second and third winning since. He then won the Grade 2 Winter Novices Hurdle at Sandown beating a couple of previous winners easily. Paul Nicholls is afraid the ground might be against Bravemansgame. He won his Point on Yielding To Soft and his two wins have come on Good ground. He was well beaten a year ago on Heavy. He has been very impressive on his last two runs which were his only wins in three hurdles starts having been beaten in two Bumpers on soft and heavy. Glancing Queen had good form in the Spring last year finishing Fifth in the Champion Bumper and then winning the Grade 2 Aintree Mares one from Minella Melody. She finished down the Field in the Champion Bumper this year. She then had two spins on the flat at Kempton over the summer before making her hurdling debut at Warwick last month and winning a Mares Novice comfortably which was her last start. Does He Know has won his last three, the last one a Grade 2 at Cheltenham over 2m5f on Good To Soft. His previous two wins have come on Good and Good To Firm. It's hard to know how good the form of that Grade 2 is but you can only beat what's in front of you and he beat a decent sort on his previous win. Wilde About Oscar has had two bloodless victories in his two starts this season winning the last one by 16l. You wouldn't rule him out coming from the Skelton team and the trainer says there will be no excuses. Star Gate comes from a good staying family and just shades it for me.

Selection; Star Gate

Best Alternative; Wilde About Oscar

December 28th

Leopardstown (Going; Hurdles, Soft. Chase, Yielding)b ?bgc

Plenty of disquiet among current and retired jockeys re the Going on the Chase Course at Leopardstown. Hopefully the rain forecast for over night, between 4mm and 5mm, will give a little more ease in it and we won't have any issue with late withdrawals which has sometimes been the case.

Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle (3m)

Nine runners are due to post for this Grade 1 and it looks highly competitive. Sire Du Berlais won the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time last March and didn't reappear until Navan in early November in the Lismullen Hurdle where he went second on the way to the last and stayed on strongly to beat French Dynamite, who was receiving 3lb, by half a length with Sixshooter over 3l further back in third. Ronald Pump was still in it having been switched to the rail going to the last but he never took off and ran right through the Hurdle and fell. That was over 2m4f which was a bit on the shortside for the winner and this trip and going will be right up his street. Fury Road got his season off to the perfect start at Punchestown last month winning a Grade 2 beating Dewcup by over 3l in Heavy Ground over 2m5f120y. Having fallen in the Liamullen Hurdle, Ronald Pump put up big performance in the Hattons Grace at Fairyhouse going down by half a length to Honeysuckle conceding the mare 7lb. Since winning a chase at Fairyhouse in November last year he's been runner up in four of his six starts, three of them in Garde 1's. He won't be inconvenienced by the Ground. The Storyteller reverts to Hurdles after his fine win in the Down Royal Grade 1 Chase in October. He won't be inconvenienced by the Ground and if he runs up to his chase mark (162) which is 9lb above his Hurdle mark (153) he will be right in the mix. French Dynamite was sold for £165,000 after winning his point at Tralee in May 2019 and won his Maiden Hurdle on his first start for his new connections in November last year. He was beaten 34l by Envoi Allen at Naas last January on his first start for his new connections and then beat The Bosses Oscar over 2m4f120y at Thurles before finishing just over 6l back in fourth in a decent Grade 3 at the same venue. However that run in the Lismullen was probably his bvest to date and stepping up in trip should suit him. He wears a first time tongue tie to go with the cheekpieces he's worn on his last three starts. Bacardy's last visted the winner's emclosure in last year's Lismullen Hurdle and finished his season three runs later with a 5l third in the Cheltenham Stayers. He reappeared in the Hattons Grace and finished 4l behind the winner Honeysuckle. He was 23l behind Apple's Jade in last years renewal of this on soft ground. Flooring Porter trounce a field of handicappers by 12l over 3m120y at Navan three weeks ago. He got a rise of 14lb in the ratings for that and will have to run well to justify a mark of 150. Sixshooter atempts this trip for the first time following his good third in the Lismullen. Prior to that he had impressed me when going at it from a long way out in Punchestown over 2m2f120y with then runner up Kilfenora suggesting he had plenty of stamina and I think testing conditions will suit him. Bapaume has been disappointing in his last three runs Chasing and has his first start over Hurdles since June 2019. It's a wide open race with a few of them overpriced in my opinion and slight preference is for Sire Du Berlais with Fury Road the danger although I thing French Dynamite and Sixshooter can be on the premises at the business end.

Selection; Sire Du Berlais

Best Alternative; Fury Road

Savills Chase (3m)

I'm struggling to remember a Grade 1 in Ireland with such a large field where 10 of the fourteen runners are rated 160 or more. Minella Indo is favourite as I write and he should be race fit following two bloodless victories in a couple of four runner Graded races, a Grade 3 at Wexford and Grade 2 at Navan. He was entitled to win a s he did but hopefully they will have set him up for this challenge. He's only been out of the first two twice in ten starts under rules, when third on debut in a Bumper and next time in a Maiden Hurdle. He's won five of those starts including two Garde 1's. He raced a bit keenly in the RSA last March and an awkward jump at the last cost him momentum and he was caught by Champ. Taking the same route as last year Delta Work needed the run when over 6l behind The Storyteller at Down Royal. He then came here and won last year's renewal beating Monalee by a head with Kemboy ove 3l back in fourt and Presenting Percy a further half a length back in fifth. Delta Work then won the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival before finishing 6l back in fifth in the Gold Cup. Presenting Percy moved to Gordon Elliott over the summer. He started off in Down Royal where he was 6l back in fourth to The Storyteller before beating Kemboy by over 6l in a Listed Tramore Chase. It will be interesting to see how he gets on here. Alaho a 2l third in the RSA last March was beaten 34l by Min in the John Durkan on his seasonal debut being eased when a mistake four out ended his effort. A Plus Tard runs in a first time tongue tie and steps up to 3m for the first time since finishing over 13l back in third behind Delta Work in Grade1 Punchestown Novice Chase in April last year after which it was decided he had to run left handed. He won then Grade 1 2m here last year and a good run will give more options. Kemboy was second behind Delta Work in the Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival but his jumping let him down in the Gold Cup and it remains to be seen if he can turn form around with a few of these on recent runs. Samcro steps into the unknown here over 3m. On his final run last season he returned to form winning the Grade 1 Marsh Chase beating Melon a nose. He reappeared at Down Royal in October finishing over 6l back in third behind stablemate Battleoverdoyen in the Grade 2 over 2m4f120y. Fakir D'oudairies finished a12l second to Notebook in a 2m Grade 2 at Naas last month. That was his third runner up spot in a row since winning the Drinmore with some spectacular jumping last December. This is his first attempt at 3m. Melon was over 7l back in third in the John Durkan and his running suggested he would benefit from a step up in trip. Tornado Flyer, 1l behind Min in the John Durkan, steps up to 3m for the first time also and jockey bookings suggest he's way down the pecking order of the five Mullins runners. Easy Game beat Allaho around here last December before going down by half a length to Faugheen at the Dublin Festival. I'm not sure he stayed the 3m in the RSA as he was weakening when falling at the last. He had a couple of runs over the summer which left him race fit for the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran and he beat Theb Storyteller 7l before a second place to Battleoverdoyen in the Grade 2 at Down Royal. The rest look out of it. Minella Indo has been very consistent and was unlucky at Cheltenham. He might just be that little bit more forward than Delta Work and gets the nod.

Selection; Minella Indo

Best Alternative; Delta Work

Limerick (Going; Heavy)

Land Rover Novice Hurdle (2m7f)

Baptism Of Fire won his point in April last year and a few winners have come from it. He struggled in a couple of Bumpers on Heavy ground last season before reappearing in October beating Wide Receiver on his first start over Hurdles on Yielding and then was thrown into a Grade 2 at Punchestown over an extended 2m5f and finishing a 6l third to Fury Road on Heavy. Costalotmore won around here over 2m5f on Heavy having been well beaten the previous run on Good ground. He should have no problems with ground or trip and could be a bit of each way value. Farouk D'alene won his point and two Bumpers on Soft and Soft To Heavy before going to Down royal and winning his Maiden Hurdle over 2m6f by 8l. His next and last run was at Navan earlier this month where he went off the even money favourite for a Grade 3 over 2m4f. He didn't jump well and and jumped right throughout and weakened on the run in to finish over 5l back in fourth. The step up in trip and going right handed here should help. Vanillier won his point a year ago and didn't run again until October at Punchestown where he was an 11l second to Crosshill before winning his maiden on his last start five weeks ago at Naas. Ragnor Lodbrok won his maiden at Galway on Soft and in his subsequent two starts, both at Cork on Soft To Heavy, he was second beaten 7l by Darrens Hope in November and then second again 8l behind the impressive Sayce Gold. Having been a 5l third in a Grade 3 Mares Hurdle over 2m6 around here last March. Darrens Hope wasn't seen again until September when she was a 3l second at Listowel over 2m4f and then stepped up to 2m6f at Ballinrobe and won a Maiden by 11l before beating Ragnor Lodbrok by 7l over 3m at Cork. She pulled up in the Sayce Gold race but the vet said that there were signs she was onn Heavy ground December 1stin season. Carrolls Cottage won around here over 2m3f on Heavy ground and as a 4yo and also won his point in October. Pepite De Belle acts on the Ground but whether her form is good enough remains to be seen and she steps up to this trip for the first time. It is going to be the survival of the fittest and Darren's Hope, who acts on the Going, gets a 7lb Mares allowance and might be worth a look with 12/1 available with Paddy Power and Betfair.

Selection; Darens Hope

Best Alternative; Costalotmore

December 27th

With Storm Bella set to sweep across Britain and Ireland this evening and overnight plenty of rain is forecast with Met Eireann forecasting 15mm for Leopardstown where at present it is yielding and over 20mm for Limerick where it is already Heavy. Over in Britain Chepstow plan a precautionary inspection with over 22mm forecast to land on already heavy ground and Kempton currently Good To Soft expecting 10mm.

Leopardstown (Going; Yielding)

Paddy's Rewards Club Chase (2m1f)

Chacun Pour Soi was a beaten odds on Favourite in this last year on what was his seasonal debut and this year he goes into the race with the benefit of run in Cork three weeks ago when he was 5l up when Cash Back and Djingle came down at the last. That run should have left him spot on for here and he is odds on Favourite. His win over Min at The Dublin Racing Festival last February was top class. On ratings he has 9lb in hand on Notebook who won two Grade 1's around here last season before disappointing at Cheltenham. He got this season off to a good start beating Fakir D'oudairies 12l at Naas last month. Put The Kettle On has won her last three starts, all around Cheltenham and has won eight of her fourteen starts. She gets the 7lb Mares allowance but still has a bit to find with the favourite and it will be interesting to see how she performs on her first visit to Leopardstown. Le Richebourg pullled up in the John Durkan three weeks ago in what was his first start since February 2019. He was a top class novice winning two Grade 1's around here. He's best watched for now. Connections for Castlegrace Paddy will be praying for a deluge as his best form is on Soft or heavy while. The Favourite's stablemate Annamix has a lot to find on ratings and lacks experience over the larger obstacles having had just the two runs, albeit winning ones, but could be a big improver.

Selection; Chacun Pour Soi

Best Alternative; Notebook

Future Champions Novice Hurdle (2m)

Ten declared for this Grade 1 but the bookies seem to think it's a two horse race with Appreciate It and Ballyadam heading the market. Ballyadam has won his two starts over hurdles first at Down Royal where he romped home by 12l and then stepping up in class to win the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last month with Cask Mate just over 1l back in second, N'golo, who took a keen hold, a further half length in third and Dewcup another 6l back in fourth. Appreciate It won two Bumpers before finishing just over 2l behind Ferny Hollow in the Cheltenham Bumper. He reappeared last month in a Cork Maiden Hurdle and won comfortably by just over 2l with the runner up winning a maiden by 8l next time. Fire Attack has had just one run over hurdles going down by half a length to Fakiera over 2m4f. Keskronisk has won his Bumper and Maiden Hurdle his only starts. However the third in the Hurdle was beaten a long way in the Leopardstown Maiden won by Wide Receiver. Call Me Lyreen has done nothing wron winning his three starts all over hurdles the latest a Grade 2 where Wolf Prince was almost 2l back in second. It's hard to see beyond the top two although N'golo might appeal to Each Way backers. Appreciate It might just shade it.

Selection; Appreciate It

Best Alternative; Ballyadam

Kempton (Going; Good To Soft)

Wayward Lad Novices Chase (2m)

Shishkin faces just three opponents in this Grade 2. He won unchallenged around here on his chase debut last month putting 23l between himself and Mick Pastor. Gumball may have been unlucky the last day, falling two out when going well at Cheltenham. He seems to have found a bit of form over fences having won on his second start back in October. Tamaroc Du Mathan won his only start over Fences on his seasonal debut with a comfortable 4l margin at Wincanton on his first start after a wind op. He has a bit to find on ratings but could well be ebetter over fences than hurdles. Elusive Belle gets the Mares allowance and the Stewards were told she appreciated the ground when winning the last day having been beaten a long way on soft at Bangor previously. As I write this punters are reeling from some odds on favourites getting beaten but Shishkin on all known form can't be opposed.

Selection; Shishkin

Best Alteernative; Tamaroc Du Mathan

Desert Orchid Chase (2m)

Altior faces five opponents and is 4/6 to win this Grade 2 after a three hundred and twenty three day break. His last run came back in February when he beat Sceau Royal in the Game Spirit Chase. Next in the beting at 11/2 comes Duc Des Genievres who has his second run back after a wind op having finished just over 1l second to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham last month. He has yet to reach the heights of his Arkle Chase victory at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Sceau Royal had the option of running in the Christmas Hurdle but connections have come here instead. It's his fifth start since mid October and his second in fifteen days when he was a 3l fourth in the International Hurdle on Soft ground. Rouge Vif impressed on his seasonal debut when running out a 7l winner of a Handicap Chase giving weight to most of his rivals but was beaten nearly 9l by Politilogue in the Tingle Creek where he looked one paced from the second last and possibly needs better ground to be seen to best effect. Nube Negra has his first run since February and is best watched while Global Citizen, who won the Wayward Lad on the card last year is the 25/1 outsider after stopping quickly at Exeter on his last start back in November. It's probably a race to avoid but if Altior turns up in good health his turn of foot after the last could swing it.

Selection; Altior

Best Alternative; Duc Des Genievres

Chepstow (Going; Heavy)

Finale Juvenile Hurdle (2m11y)

Nine have been declared for this Grade 1 with Houx Gris, having his first run for Paul Nicholls, installed as clear favourite. He had his second win from four starts on his last run in France in late October after which he was bought for €200,000 at the Arqana Sales. Elham Valley has had just one run over hurdles winning at Sandown earlier this month on Heavy ground. He was two from nine on the flat with a highest rating of 78. Marta Des Mottes has won two of three starts over hurdles in France and has her first start for her new connections here. She gets a 7lb allowance and her trainer Tom Symonds has been on fire. Yggdrasil was beaten 6l by Elham Valley on his only racecourse appearance and he took a strong hold that day and only gave way approaching the last. Bannister won by 20l on good ground in September and has run twice in France since on Heavy running well without winning. Honneur D'Ajonc has had just one run, finishing a 5l second to Monmiral at Exeter last month with the latter winning a Grade 2 by 11l next time out. He could well be over priced at 11/1. It's hard to see any of the others getting into it. I'll take a chance with Elham Valley but there is potential for a shock on desperate ground.

Selection; Elham Valley

Best Alternative; Yggdrasil

December 26


Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (2m)

Zanahiyr is hard to oppose after slamming Saint Sam on his last start at Fairyhouse last month, even though he is 7lb worse off for that 14l winning margin. He is already favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Saint Sam was odds on Favourite that day at Fairyhouse on what was his first start since Mid July when he completed a two timer in France. Paul Townend had to start niggling him before the second last and he had no answer when the winner pulled away between the last two hurdles. Willie Mullins also runs Ha D'or who is hooded for his first start for connections having won his only start in France in July. Autumn Evening had four runs on the flat with the best being a couple of third placings before winning on Hurdles debut at Cork twenty days ago on Heavy ground by three parts of a length. Busselton has his first start for Joseph O'Brien since arriving from France where he won his last start at Auteuil last May. Druid's Altar was a 48l third behind Zanahiyr at Fairyhouse having led for a long way. This looks a stiff task for Jeff Kidder. Zanahiyr is hard to oppose with Saint Sam nominated as best alternative.

Selection; Zanahiyr

Best Alternative; Saint Sam

Racing Post Novice Chase (2m1f)

Just six runner go to post for this Grade 1. Felix Desjy has impressed in his two starts over the larger obstacles, winning by 31l at Killarney on debut while at Punchestown last month he beat Sizing Pottsie by just under 2l in the Grade 2 Chase with the latter going on to win a Grade B Handicap chase impressively next time at Fairyhouse. Darver Star was a disappointing Favourite in the aforementioned Punchestown Race finishing 10l back in third and looked like he needed a step up in trip. Blackbow won two Bumpers around here but was a Maiden after four hurdles starts. He got his chase career off to a good start beating Entoucas by 4l at Navan last month. The latter was beaten 6l by Sizing Pottsie in that Grade B Fairyhouse Chase when in receipt of 11lb. On the face of it that leaves Blackbow with a lot to find but it was his first start of the season and he should improve for it. Franco De Port was rated 148 over hurdles and got his chasing career off to the perfect start winning by 6l at Thurles last month. Jockey bookings suggest he's the second choice of the Mullins' pair. Embittered beat Blackbow on his Hurdling debut at Nass in November 2019 but failed to win any of his next for starts. On his two starts so far over the larger obstacles he has filled the runner up berth twice, behind Easywork and Andy Dufresne, both by about 3l and at Navan. Benruben is the most experienced of these over fences with a rating of 138 but was 28l behind Felix Desjy at Punchestown on his last run having won his previous two starts. He might improve for a better surface as it was Soft to Heavy at Punchestown. There could be more improvement to come from Felix Desjy which should be enough to see him home here although interestingly he has never run at Leopardstown.

Selection; Felix Desjy

Best Alternative; Blackbow


Greenmount Park (Faugheen) Novice Chase (2m3f160y)

Just five runners for this valuable Grade 1 and Paul Townend travels here for just one ride, Asterion Forlonge, who should improve for his winning debut over fences at Punchestown last month. He jumped straight for most of the way having showing a tendency for some alarming movements to his right over hurdles and despite a mistake two out he ran out a 6l winner over Conflated. He won his point over 2m4f in February 2018 and his maiden hurdle impressively at Naas last January despite his alarming jumps to the right and beat Pencilfulloflead by 10l and then beat Easywork in the Novice Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. His only disappointment was when he again jumped right and finished a 14l fourth to Shishkin at Cheltenham. Pencilfulloflead has won his two chases beating Coko Beach three parts of a length and then accounted for Latest Exhibition by 7l in the Florida Pearl although connections for the latter suggested that the race came too soon after his previous start and the ground, Heavy, was probably against him. Colreevy is an interesting runner and stablemate of Asterion Forlonge. She gets a valuable 7lb Mares allowance. She put a similar allowance to good use back in May 2019 beating Abracadabras 1l in a Grade 1 Punchestown Bumper. She won her Maiden Hurdle here a year ago on Heavy ground and got her chase career off to a winning start at Punchestown last month winning by an eased up 15l. Janidil is the third Mullins runner and carries the McManus colours. He has some useful hurdle form running up a hat trick of wins subsequent to a good run on his first star for connections when he went down to Notebook by just over 1l. He won on his chase debut beating Longhouse Poet by 5l who has been well beaten by the horse who finished 8l behind him. Assemble was an 8l runner up to Envoi Allen in the Drinmore having won at the same venue earlier in the month. He won his maiden hurdle on heavy ground at this meeting last year.. It looks a cracking contest and while Asterion Forlonge made a couple of mistakes the last day he was clever enough to find a leg when stumbling two out and you would hope he could improve on that.

Selection; Asterion Forlonge

Best Alternative; Colreevy

Kempton; (Going; Good To Soft)

As I write this Kempton Park uploaded a video on twitter updating the Ground Report (Leopardstown haven't issued any ground report since the 23rd).

Feltham Novices Chase (3m)

Now known as the Kauto Star Novices Chase although he never actually won it, seven runners face the starter for what looks a great renewal. Shan Blue has been hugely impressive in his two starts over fences winning by 14l and 16l respectively. the latter over 3m. He looks a natural over fences and could take all the beating. The Big Brakaway won his first two hurdle starts impressively. He also won his point by 10l with the runner up winning a number of times since. On his last Hurdle start he was beaten over 14l by Envoi Allen with Shan Blue a further 13l back. He won first time out this season in a Cheltenham Novice Chase over an extended 3m but got beaten at long odds on next time when dropped back in trip. He has a bit to go yet to justify the €360,000 they gave for him at Punchestown in May 2019. He'l get the strongly run race connections say he requires here. If The Cap Fits beat Fiddleronthehoof at Ffos Las on his chase debut but was a beaten odds on Favourite on his next and last start at Sandown early last month. The cheekpieces he wore when winning two Garded hurdles last year are back on here. Paul Nicholls has kept Enrilo fresh since he won at Exeter over 3mearly last month that was his second start over fences having finished a neck second to thye Mighty Don on debut. One For The Team was staying but had no chance with the winner Kalooki when falling at the last on his debut at Newbury early last month but put up a fine performance next time on his last start when finishing second just over 1l behind the high class Next Destination in a Grade 2 at Newbury. Kalooki got away with jumping errors on his chase debut beating House Island by 12l and then on his next and last start in the aformentioned Grade 2 at Newbury he jumped left throughout, made a number of mistakes to finish a further 6l behind One For The Team. It's hard to see Golan Fortune winning although he won his and only Chase beating Champagne Well by over 8l. He was a decent handicap hurdler but this is a huge ask. If The Cap Fits is highest rated but it was hard not to be impressed with Shan Blue about whom trainer Dan Skelton is very bullish and he gets the selection

Selection; Blue Shan

Best Alternative; The Big Breakaway

Christmas Hurdle (2m)

Just four oppose long odds on Epatante the Champion Hurdler and winner of last years renewal of this. Silver Streak was carried out in the Fighting Fifth won by Epatante and had a hard race two weeks ago at Cheltenham. Ballyandy is well held on form and the rest are looking for crumbs on previous form with some of these.

Selection; Epatante

Best Alternative; Silver Streak

King George VI Chase (3m)

One of the highlights of the season and this renewal shouldn't disappoint. Nine go to post with the winner of the last two renewals, Clan Des Obeaux attempting the hat trick. He had Cyrname 21l back in second place in last year's renewal and this is his track as just doesn't like Cheltenham. He was going better than anything in the Betfair on his seasonal debut last month but tired between the last two on what was his first run after a wind op. The Heavy ground didn't help either and this course and going is more in his favour. Cyrname runs best when fresh and hasn't been seen since winning the Charlie Hall eight weeks ago possibly proving the doubters wrong about his stamina. Santini has been supplemented for this and if you believe Nicky Henderson there was nothing else for him to run in and he thrives on work and racing. His last run at Aintree was disappointing but there were a number of fences omitted which probably didn't help. Connections blame the Heavy ground at Haydock for a poor performance from Lostintranslation in the Betfair. He was beaten just over 1l in the Gold Cup and a repeat of that would put him in with a shout. He also has his ground here. Real Steel has a bit to find on ratings, should come on from his first run for his new Stable and wears a first time tongue tie. Saint Calvados has his first run since March and goes over this trip for the first time. He's won first time out before but this is a big ask at this level. Waiting Patiently unseated here two years ago, the only time he has run over 3m, is fragile and hasn't raced in 385 days. Somebody's €5 brought his price in from 20's to 16's but talented horse though he undoubtedly is he's probably best watched. Frodon has run well at Kempton before but has a bit to do on form. It's hard to believe Black Op is 100/1. He was second in the Feltham here a year ago and the trip in the Ladbroke last time was a bit to far his trainer thinks. He won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree in April m2018 with Lostintranslation in second place. Clan Des Obeaux just shades it for me but I fear a big run from Lostintranslation

Selection; Clan Des Obeaux

Best Alternative; Lostintranslation

December 19th

Ascot (Going; Heavy)

Long Walk Hurdle (3m97y)

Paisley Park and Thyme Hill renew rivalry after the latter prevailed by just over 1l at Newbury last month when getting 3lb from the former Stayers champion. That was Paisley Park's first run back after a health issue and his flop in the Stayers at Cheltenham. His trainer says he has improved from that run and and his jumping was electric in a schooling session Thyme Hill has had just five runs over hurdles with his only defeat coming in the Albert Bartlett last March when he could be considered a bit unlucky having been stopped in his run a couple of times in a four way finish. He ran in three Bumpers with the last one the Cheltenham one where he was just over 2l behind Envoi Allen. You would hope that there is further improvement from Thyme Hill who is only 6yo. Roksana reappeared at Wetherby in October in the Grade 2 Hurdle where he comfortably beat Next Destination by over 8l. The latter came out and won a Grade 2 Chase next time. She handles the ground and gets the 7lb Mare's allowance. Main Fact is unbeaten in nine starts this year starting off in January. Six of those came over hurdles and three on the flat. He finished last year on a mark of 98 0ver hurdles and runs off 154 here. all his wins have come on Soft or Heavy so he'll have conditions in his favour. His last run was his first time over 3m and he won the Grade 3 at Haydock going away. Younevercall won a Grade 2 at Sandown in April 2019 but has only run twice since, in the Queen Alexander at Royal Ascot that year where he was a 39l last of eleven and last month where, following a wind op in January, he went down by a nose conceding 33lb to the winner. Thistlecrack won this back in 2015 and runs here after a 386 days absence. The Worlds End has some decent form but has pulled up in his last two starts. The Jam Man couldn't manage the 19lb hike in his handicap mark finishing sixth behind Main Fact at Haydock last month while Portrush Ted has won four of his last five (he fell in the other at the last when in contention) but has it all to do at ratings. I'll stick with Thyme Hill who has the potential for more improvement in what could be his last start before Cheltenham.

Selection; Thyme Hill

Best Alternative; Paisley Park

December 18th

Navan (Going; Soft To Heavy)

Bet Victor Novice Hurdle (2m4f)

The Going is likely to change to Heavy before they go to post for this Grade 2 Novice Hurdle for which seven have been declared to go to post. Holymacapony has been installed favourite on the tissue. He was a big raw horse when winning on debut in a Kirkistown Point last February, surviving numerous errors to win by 7l with the runner up winning his next start last October with the runner up of that sold subsequently for £80k. Holymacapony was then put away until appearing last month where he beat the favourite by 8l with the third a further 19l behind over 2m4f120y in a Punchestown Maiden Hurdle on Soft To Heavy. As a 4yo he gets up to 7lb from his rivals. Fighter Allen was well backed at Punchestown last month on his debut for the Mullins Team having been moved from Elliott's by his owner. In the end he won by just under 1l in the Heavy ground but seemed to idle when going clear at the last. Prior to that he had finished 22l behind over 2m at Naas in a Grade 2 on Soft To Heavy. He had won his only other start in French Bumper when favourite. Following two fourth places in Bumpers, Fakiera had three runner up spots in Maiden Hurdles before literally getting his nose in front when beating Gabynako over 2m at Fairyhouse in a Maiden Hurdle before going to Navan for his last start and winning a Grade 3 over this course and distance beating Fire Attack by half a length in what was a muddling race. Eskylane wears a tongue tie for the first time having been a 6l fifth behind N'golo in a Grade 3 over 2m here last month on Soft To Heavy although he did win a Bumper in those conditions. Prior to that Navan run he had beaten Gabynako by half a length in a Punchestown Maiden over 2m. It's his first time stepping up to this trip under rules though he did win a Point over 3m in May 19 at the fifth time of asking. Gabynako is rated 1lb behind Fakiera who has to concede 3lb to him giving the former an advantage not reflected in the betting. Following on that run behind the latter Gabynako went to Naas and won a Maiden Hurdle by more than 6l. Steps up in trip for the first time under rules. Ashdale Bob appeared not to stay the extended 2m6f on Heavy ground at Fairyhouse last February when going off a short priced favourit and finishing 25l behind the winner. He wasn't seen again until last Month over this course and distance when he beat Wide Receiver by 1l. He had decent form in his only other two starts in November and December 2019. Lieutenant Command has a lot to do to turnaround Navan form with Fakiera. Holymacapony created a big impression when winning his point and there's no telling how good he could be so he is the selection.

Selection; Holymacapony

Best Alternative; Gabynako

Ascot; (Going; Soft, Heavy in places)

The Kennel Gate Hurdle ( 1m7f152y)

The Going Stick reading is 4.3 and with showers forecast the Going is unlikely to improve. Six go to post for this Grade 2 and it's a tricky affair with four of them closely matched in the early betting. Llandinabo Lad had some useful form in three Bumpers finishing second twice and a 5l fourth to Chantry House on his debut. He was off the track from November 2019 to late October this year when he made his Hurdles debut with an impressive 5l win at Bangor over an extended 2m. The runner up, Minella Drama has come out and won twice since by 11l and 12l respectively. Llandinabo Lad then went to Haydock for a Listed Hurdle winning by over 4l and was subsequently given a rating of 141. He has to be respected coming from the red hot stable of Tom Symonds. No Ordinary Joe is by Getaway out of an unraced sister to numerous winner such as As You Like It, Corkskeagh Royale and Shadow Eile, all by Beneficial. He's raced just once winning a Sandown Bumper last month by 3l comfortably. He'd obviously being showing something at home as he went off 11/10 Favourite. Soaring Glory was coming to win his race at Wetherby last month when falling two out. Prior to that he had finished second to the promising Dusart who won going away by a comfortable two and a half lengths. On his Hurdling debut at Chepstow in October he had beaten Bravemansgame by half a length with the third a further 11l behind. The latter has won his next two starts and is now rated 143. Soaring Glory won two of his three Bumpers and was runner up in the other. My Drago was second in his Bumper at Cheltenham in October and then went to November twenty one days ago where he won a Maiden Hurdle, his only two starts, where the odds on Flinter Sacre failed to shine. The runner up Saggaza had been beaten 43l by Bravemansgame on his previous start. Shantou Express started his Hurdling career with a couple of runner up spots before getting off the mark at Exeter in October winning by 23l. He then went to Sedgefield fourteen days ago and beat a 135 rated horse by 12l. He was given a rating of 134 after this win. Press Your Luck has won his two starts over hurdles. At Newton Abbott in October he kept on well to win by almost 3l with the third a further 13l back. Both the second and third have won since. All in all it looks a wide open race and Llandinabo Lad has to carry a 5lb penalty so slight preference is for Soaring Glory.

Selection; Soaring Glory

Best Alternative; Llandinabo Lad

Noel Novices Chase (2m2f175y)

Just six runners go to post for this Grade 2 and Fiddleronthehoof finally gets his ground. He won two hurdle races at Sandown last season on Soft and Heavy (Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle). I'm prepared to forgive his run in the Supreme at Cheltenham as the stables horse, in most cases, failed to fire that week. He's run well in his three chases so far finishing second and first before coming up against one in Caribean Boy on Good ground where he was a 4l second. Alltart makes his Seasonal and Chasing debut. It's worth noting that on his Seasonal and Hurdling debut in November 2019 he pulled hard and fell at the first. However his trainer Nicky Henderson claims he jumps brilliantly at home. He won his next two hurdle races before finishing 15l behind Shishkin in the Supreme. Pic D'Orhy fell around here the last time and was a beaten odds on favourite the time before, his seasonal debut. He won on his final start last season but was well beaten here on heavy ground last January. His trainers says he should run a nice race if he handles the ground having schooled plenty since his fall. Bold Plan has to give 3lb to his rivals following his victory over The Big Breakaway at Exeter fourteen days ago over 2m3f on Soft ground. Prior to that he had finished over 12l behind Gumball over 2m at Uttoxeter. He has a turn of foot at the end of his races but whether he can produce it on this ground remains to be seen. Once again the Skeltons' throw an unlikely runner in a Graded race but the trainer believes Antunes will outrun his odds. He's just had the two starts over the larger obstacles finishing second to a horse who was rated 146 over an extended 2m1f and then got a confidence booster when winning at Cheltenham earning a rating of 137. Kiltealy Briggs got his Chasing career of to a promising start in a Graduation Chase over 2m at Carlisle in November when going down by 1l to Whoshotthesheriff but the latter has been well beaten in a Handicap chase since. He'll benefit from the steo back up in trip as his best form came at 2m4f and over on Heavy ground. All in all a trappy little contest with slight preference for Fiddleronthehoof.

Selection; Fiddleronthehoof

Best Alternative; Pic D'Orhy

December 12th

Doncaster (Going; Good To Soft)

December Novices Chase (2m7f214y)

Ofalltheginjoints is favourite for this 2m7f214y Grade 2 on the back of two progressive runs this season. He started off the season at Aintree in October where he took a keen hold and was going easily three out when leading but according to connections got tired in the soft ground and wasn't fluid at the last dropping back to third on the run in. He improved for that when going to Exeter last month where he settled better and was held up and took up the lead two out going on to win having been steadied up going to the last which made the result look a lot closer than it was. House Island got his season off with a 12l second to Kalooki at Newbury over 2m6f with the winner going on to finish 8l third behind Next Destination in a Grade 2 next time. House Island then went to Ludlow and beat an inferior field over 2m4f. He was well beaten in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival over 3m. Hurricane Harvey beat Emitom a Neck on his seasonal and Chase debut at Uttoxeter over 2m4f on Good To Soft in early October though the form hasn't exactly worked out. He then went to Wincanton for the Grade 2 Rising Stars and was beaten 22l into second in a three horse race by the impressive Ga Law. He's fairly consistent and has never been out of the first three under rules winning three. He seems to act on any ground but maybe his best ground could be soft. The Mighty Don has plenty experience over fences having raced nine times over the larger obstacles but has only won once. His win came on his seasonal debut when he beat Enrilo by a neck at Chepstow over an extended 2m7f on Good ground. He looked a bit one paced next time at Exeter on Soft ground but is obviously held in high regard as he was highly tried as a Novice Hurdler. Milanford ran six times in Points for Bloodstock Agent and former Jockey Tom Malone breaking his duck on the last of them by 7l. The runner up that day is only rated 102 under rules but Milanford then changed hands and went to Exeter for his next start last month finishing almost 2l behind the winner L'Air Du Vent who is rated 132, with The Mighty Don who ran of a mark of 142 another 8l back in third. It's hard to know what to make of the form of that with a few fancied ones disappointing but the Handicapper raised the winner 6lb. So on face value, with improvement from that seasonal debut, you would expect further improvement and Market Moves for Milanford should be noted. Novice Chases are fraught with danger but I'll take a chance with Ofalltheginjoints to continue his improvement with Hurricane Harvey the danger.

Selection; Ofalltheginjoints

Best Alternative; Hurricane Harvey

Summit Juvenile Hurdle (2m128y)

Monmiral won in Auteul last March with the runner up winning impressively next time. Monmiral then joined Paul Nicholls and made his debut at Exeter last month winning impressively by over 5l. The trainer said that was his prep race for this. Gordon Elliott is well served i the Juvenile Hurdle Division and Glorious Zoff got off the mark on his Hurdles debut at Sligo in October easily beating Crassus by 12l. The runner up went on to win next time and had earlier been beaten 6l by Duffle Coat. Glorious Zoff then went to Sedgefield and went down by just over 1l to Le Magnifique who was getting 5lb with Gold Desert another 3l back in third. The latter had won previously and won next time out. Cloud Thunder is thrown in at the deep end making his debut over hurdles having finished second on his last three flat starts reaching a rating of 76. Mistersister has his first run foe connections having arrived from France where he won his final start there last August. He was little over 1l behind Nassalam woh was second in a Conditions race in Clairefontaine in June and the latter has won his two starts for Gary Moore by the aggregate total of 108l. He wears a first time tongue tie and his trainer says he goes well at home. Monmiral has to concede 5lb to his rivals but Paul Nicholls has won two of the last four runnings of this and I'm reluctant to take him on as the money seems to be for him. Glorious Zoff is the danger.

Selection; Monmiral

Best Alternative; Glorious Zoff

Cheltenham (Going; Soft; Good To Soft in places)

The Bristol Novices Hurdle (2m7f213y)

Eight go to post for this Grade 2 and Ashtown Lad shades favouritism on the back of his comfortable win last time stepping up to an extended 2m7f. He had won his previous start, over 2m3f and on his seasonal debut had finished second, just over 1l behind Ask A Honey Bee. The latter has been runner up twice since that win the latest by a Head to Getaround over 2m6f and steps up to this trip for the first time under rules although she did win a point over the trip. Danny Kirwan has been a bit frustrating since winning his Point and Bumper. He's been a bit fragile and has never before had more than two runs before an extended break. He's a big galloper and the softer the better. After his seasonal debut at Aintree he won easily over 2m3f at Ascot in a Maiden. The step up in trip should suit. Wynn House has won her two starts over Hurdles having won once and placed second twice in Bumpers. This is a big step up in Grade and in trip. John McConnell has his string in great form and he steps Make Good up from 2m to 3m. He won impressively last time on Heavy ground at Gowran. He's rated 131 in Ireland. Took The Lot has won his last two starts, both at Bangor over 2m3f and steps up in trip for the first time. Pat's Fancy won his maiden last time but this is a big step up while Promising Man who won his only Point by 6l last month and was sold for €70k a few days later has his first start since in this and is best watched. It's a wide open race but Ashtown Lad looks to be going the right way and is sure to stay the trip and gets the selection with Ask A Honey Bee next best.

Selection; Ashtown Lad

Best Alternative; Ask A Honey Bee

International Hurdle (2m179y)

Goshen, so unlucky in the Triumph Hurdle, resumes his National Hunt career after what some claim was two disappointing runs on the flat. His trainer is pretty bullish about his chances but hurdles seemed to light a fire under him last season. Song For Someone put money in the bank for us last time when winning the Grade 2 Ascot Hurdle for us impressively over 2m3f. His previous run had been when winning the Kingwell at Kempton over 2m. He should come on for his last run and have the pace to lie up close enough to Goshen. Sceau Royal has been in great form over hurdles thus season after Chasing last year. However unless the ground dries out a bit I fear his chance has gone. Silver Streak got carried out by the loose horse at the second in the Fighting Fifth having won on seasonal debut beating Verdana Blue in a Listed Hurdle at Kempton. Ch'tibello was third in this last year. He was second on his return this season having had a wind op finishing half a length behind Summerville Boy over 2m4f at Aintree. On his penultimate start he had finished three parts of a length third behind Song For Someone in Kempton in February. He is 10lb better off at the weights here. However as a 9yo, he could be vulnerable to younger improvers. Ballyandy was runner up in this last year and loves the track and has finished runner up in two big handicaps this year. It's interesting to see Summerville Boy dropping back in trip although he won over it in a Chase in November 2029. Last year's winner Call Me Lord is 22/1 having had two poor runs, the latest behind Song For Someone at Ascot while stablemate the former's stablemate Verdana Blue has been a beaten odds on favourite on her last two starts. Goshen is clear favourite but I'm going to take him on with Song For Someone who is improving all the time.

Selection; Song For Someone

Best Alternative; Ballyandy (Each Way)

December 11th

Cheltenham (Good To Soft)

The Peterborough Chase (2m3f168y)

Eight runners for this Grade 2 transferred from Huntingdon last Sunday. Kalashnikov is the early favvorite on the tissue and if back to his best could be thereabouts. His form tailed off at the end of lasts season having started off brightly with a couple of runner up spots , in the Old Roan and a big handicap at Newbury, where he failed to give Orangewood 20lb when going down by a nose. his next two runs were disappointing and he had a wind op over the a summer. He resumed with a warm up in a Hurdle race over a trip probably too far (3m) and he must be showing something at home to attract favouritism. In four starts last summer, Mister Fisher started off with a 3l second at Warwick before two wins, at Cheltenham over this course and a Grade 2 at Doncaster beating Al Dancer 1l. He then finished 4l behind Samcro at Cheltenham. The surface obviously didn't suit on his reappearance last month here and he reportedly lost a shoe and pulled up after three out. Top Notch has won this twice at Huntingdon in 2017 and 2019. He has been off since beaten 8l by Frodon in a Grade 2 at Sandown in January. He has had a small precautionary wind op since and if he is fit can give a good account of himself. Fanion D'Estruval won three on the bounce in France lasts eason then came over to Venetia Williams and continued with a win at Newbury and finished up in December losing by 5l to Global Citizen in a Grade 2 at Kempton over Christmas. He resumed last month beaten just over 2l in a Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. He's an improving 5yo so could be in the mix stepping up in trip. Clondaw Castle looks to be improving following a couple of good runs this season. He looked a decent handicapper up to this but at Aintree in the Old roan in October he was second beaten just over 1l by Nuts Well and then went to Newbury where he beat a decent field in a valuable Handicap chase. He would not want any more rain as his trainer, Tom George, maintains he's better on good ground. Dolos has never won beyond 2m2f and he has been well beaten on three vIsits to Cheltenham and some suggest he's better going right handed. He has his second run back after after a wind op following his penultimate start in February He was beaten 10l here last time over 2m and if he copes going left handed he could be in the mix as he is the highest rated horse in the race. It's hard to have confidence in Glen Forsa whose form for his last six starts reads 11UP3F. The third came in November 2019 when he was just under 3l behind Kalshnikov. His trainer says he's come to himself now but others are preferred. Bun Doran is stepping into the unknown going up in trip and has been disappointing since winning the Grade 2 at Kempton last Christmas. In a wide open race Mister Fisher might be worth a shout provided there is no change in the Going.

Selection; Mister Fisher

Best Alternative; Top Notch

December 6th

Cork (Soft To Heavy)

Hilly Way Chase (2m160y)

Paul Townend turns down the chance to ride i the Grade 1 John Durkan at Punchestown to ride Chacun Pour Soi in this Garde 2. He's rated 16lb better than his nearest rivals but has to carry a penalty which means conceding 8lb to them. He beat Defi Du Seuil in a Grade 1 at Punchestown May 2019, was beaten almost 4l by A Plus Tard in a Leopardstown Grade 1 last Christmas on Soft and won the Grade 1 Dublin Chase in February beating Min 3l. He was injured the morning of the Champion Chase but reports coming from Closutton are encouraging. Cash Back fell at the first at Naas on his reappearance fifteen days ago having fallen when well beaten in the Arkle at Chelgtenham. Prior to that he had finished second to Notebook beaten less than 1l in te Novice Grade 1 at the Dublin Festival. That followed to impressive wins in Novice Chases. I'd like to see him put in a clear round before investing in him. Since winning the Novice Grade 3 at the Cheltenham Festival, Chosen Mate has been unplaced in two Grade 3 Hurdles eitheer side of a Maiden Flat win in Killarney. Having beaten Cadmium in a Grade 2 at Navan in March 2019 Darasso was off the course until January this year and was unsuccessful in four starts, the last coming at Thurles where he was 32l and last of four over 2m6f behind Presenting Percy. He's back to probably his ideal trip here and he'll like the ground and wears first time cheek pieces. Daly Tiger got his toothache sorted and beat Tornado Flyer at Punchestown last month getting 13lb from the latter. He's always been held in high regard by his trainer but needs a career best to figure here. Sizing Pottsie and Djingle have race fitness but barring accidents all they can hope for are the crumbs. It's hard to oppose Chacun Pour Soi giving the jockey booking.

Selection; Chacun Pour Soi

Best Alternative; Darasso