Fantastic couple of days – where to start? Well almost completed the update:

For those who want full Tote Ten to Follow List with updated Notes n Figures n Dosage n as much as I can cram in in the time give. [Updated Master Sheet] Here:

Qualifiers on a little system put out by On Course Profits (Feb edition) I think all qualify as long as they don’t run between now and the festival: The rules: [I’ll have to revisit this closer to the time and check entries etc]

Jessica Harrington’s

Moonshine Bay

Morosini
Jett
Emily Moon
Supasundae

Willie Mullins‘ – Asterion Forlonge & Appreciate It, best quals, Easy Game as good as one & Chacun Pour Soi, a couple of years too old but who knows? Quite impressive?

Gordon Elliott’s – these have to be <11/s

Bigbadandbeautiful
Fantasio D’alene
Darling Daughter
Surin
Conflated
Oak Park
Column Of Fire
Easywork
Braeside

Off the top of my head, I don’t think we saw the Gold Cup or Triumph Hurdle winner at this meeting. Perhaps the Champion Hurdler, Supreme, Arkle, RSA and Bumper possibles? One thing I was taken with, was the jockey, Kevin Brouder, two big wins with a different style of ride in each. Should keep an eye on his rides?

Off to a slow start – 12.50 Gt1 Nov Hurdle AB Trial?
“A dour performance from the winner in a race that was not really a satisfactory Albert Bartlett trial.
LATEST EXHIBITION raced close to a pace that was quite a dawdling one for the first two miles, but as it developed into a battle this horse came into his own, especially from the final flight where he recovered well from a jump which was not the most fluent. One would imagine a race run at a stronger gallop over further would probably suit him. He’s a Grade 1 winner now, and it would seem that whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus compared to what he does over fences.Cobbler’s Way ran a blinder and was given a terrific ride by Rachael Blackmore. She made the running at a pretty sedate pace, she had her rivals stacked up behind her turning out of the back straight and the horse found a bit after a good jump at the second last. He just wasn’t good enough to cope with the winner but he kept battling and deserved to be second. It might just be worth putting him away for the Grade 1 at Punchestown.Longhouse Poet ran a solid race, but he wanted to go a stride quicker through the race and it might just have told after the last. He came there to win his race before the last but his effort just flattened out.Fury Road disappointed Is a qualifier if turns up <11/s @Chelt?Elixir D’ainay was held up here in contrast to the front-running tactics employed to good effect at Naas previously. He was too keen through the race and couldn’t pick up. It might have been interesting had he been sent to the front inside the last mile.” [Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: LATEST EXHIBITION digs deep and I’m delighted the way he did that. He’s not the sort of horse that will kick away and win 10 lengths, he’s always a horse that will work no matter what the trip. We’ll talk to the owners but I imagine he’ll go to the Albert Bartlett – Paul Nolan, trainer.
1.25 Gr1 Chase XoM 0.20co3 c’s – Hard to argue with the analysis?
“A race that certainly saw more of the Chacun Pour Soi we saw last year with more to come.
Chacun Pour Soi couldn’t really have done this much better than he did against a very highly-rated Grade 1-winning stable companion, while giving the impression, or at least the hope, that there is more to come. He chased the good pace which was guaranteed, he mostly jumped with fluency and when he went to the front after the second last it seemed that he would go away and win well. The fact that he didn’t is a testament to the ability of the runner-up. This horse was always in command though and he didn’t allow Min to make any impression on him. He will be at his peak in March and April, not in the first week of February, the rematch between him and Defi Du Seuil will be one of the highlights of Cheltenham week.Min did well over a trip probably short of his best now. He took it up in the back straight before the winner eased past him two out. To his credit he never stopped battling and kept the winner honest. The Ryanair certainly looks the race for him and one he should take plenty of beating in.Duc Des Genievres ran well for a long way in pursuit of his stable companions but he looked booked for a respectable third when falling two out. [Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: Chacun Pour Soi was so slick and fast down the back and he just arrived upsides Min. It just shows how much he has improved since Christmas. He looks the horse of the future – Willie Mullins, trainer
2.00 Gr1 Nov c – A case of not having to be at his best to win – quite taken with the 3rd. 
“The winner remains unbeaten over fences and keeps repelling every challenge.
NOTEBOOK just embodies everything that gives pleasure in watching horses jump fences. He gallops, attacks his fences with relish, and up against a rival that can jump extravagantly too, he just looked far more of a natural and he just floats over them. The runner-up looked to have him in trouble for a few strides on the long run between the final two fences, but he got on top with a good jump at the last and had his ears pricked in the last fifty yards despite the narrow margin of victory. He just gave the impression that there was a bit more in the tank had Rachael needed it. Whether he can win an Arkle or not remains to be seen, there certainly won’t be a better jumper in the race than him.Cash Back came of age here too and followed up on his improved effort at Naas last time. He can jump extravagantly, but he just doesn’t seem to be as natural a jumper as NOTEBOOK. He gave him plenty to think about though and he initially responded well when the winner came alongside him at the second last. He just wasn’t quite good enough on the day but he is improving with experience and would be fully worthy of a place in the Arkle at Cheltenham.Gallant John Joe is versatile as to trip but in this sort of company he wants further. He was ridden to pick up any pieces if the race collapsed in front, and between the last two fences he briefly looked like he had half a chance but it didn’t transpire. He ran very well.Melon didn’t jump that well and it certainly affected his chance of staying in contention. His chance went after a mistake at the third last. He is likely to still go to Cheltenham one would imagine, such is his record at that venue.” [Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: NOTEBOOK had to tough it out but he jumped brilliantly. He was very good today. He has just improved so much over fences, he just seems to love it. He goes straight for the Arkle now – Henry De Bromhead, trainer
2.25 60k c (0- – The interesting thing about this race was that it was ran at a decent pace giving some worthiness to the ratings of the above and making them more solid candidates for their prospective races?

The sort of race that seems well suited to novices and the winner did it well.
ECLAIR DE BEAUFEU had come up against some good novices, including Notebook twice, and found this sort of race perhaps that little bit less taxing. His jumping was good, he was never far from the pace in a race that not many horses got involved in, and Sean O’Keeffe timed his challenge well as he sent him to the front at the final fence. He kept on well despite wandering a bit. He will be campaigned in similar handicap chases one would imagine.Paloma Blue might have been a fraction unlucky, although he seemed to make his own bad luck. He was never that far from the pace and made his ground steadily on the inner to have a chance coming to the last, but he seemed to jump to his right at that fence and collided with one of his rivals who jumped left. It cost him a fair bit of momentum. He stayed on well to be second.Charlie Stout is versatile as to trip but this might just be as short as he wants it. He raced just off the pace and he didn’t really get going until about the final fence. He stayed on to very good effect.Goulane Chosen helped set a good enough gallop in the front rank until he was left in front at the second last. His effort was starting to peter out when he collided with the runner-up at the final fence. He had little left after that but he certainly deserved some share of the spoils.
[Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: He tried Graded company and wasn’t good enough so it’s nice to win a good handicap – Gordon Elliott, trainer
3.10 – The new Queen Bee? Had it all to prove & did so! XoM as hurdler but Fig of Meet as in behind!
“A race that leaves as many questions as answers, but you cannot deny the class or the attitude of the winner.
HONEYSUCKLE is a top-class mare, whether she is a Champion Hurdle-winning mare is the question that is left after this. She has no problem going the gallop, she might even have been a little bit keen, it was her jumping that was the issue here. She made mistakes at the last two, made one early in the race too, but even when she didn’t make mistakes, she was neither quick nor fluent. The opposite side of that coin is that she had to be good enough to win despite that, and she came back both after the second last and again after the last to win the race. There is a decision to be made and probably plenty of schooling to be done in the meantime but she will grace any race she runs in at Cheltenham and ground is not an issue.Darver Star ran a cracker on his first run outside of novice status. He chased the pace, needed to pick up after the second last if he was going to have a chance and eventually he did, staying on really strongly from the last. It is hard to believe that this horse started off winning off 106 at Wexford last Spring and now looks a genuine Champion Hurdle contender. He doesn’t need to improve much to be a potential winner of the race looking at the potential line-up. Considering his run in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in December, it also strengthens the voices of this that might want to see Envoi Allen run in the Champion Hurdle.Petit Mouchoir tried to make all, jumped really fluently and that gave him a chance after the last. He was held on the run-in but he is a useful yardstick and if stable companion HONEYSUCKLE could jump like he does there is no doubt which race she would go for.Supasundae was outpaced here from some way out but perseverance did no harm as he just stayed on. It was an encouraging effort and might put the Stayers Hurdle on the agenda. If he can stay a little more effectively than he has in the past he might get into the frame.Aramon travelled well for most of the journey. He just couldn’t make any impression at a vital stage but he kept going well.” [Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: HONEYSUCKLE just looked like she got a bit lonely going to the last. She’s so tough and the lady on top of her is so tough. She really battled it out. We’ll enjoy today. We’ve won the Irish Champion Hurdle and we can discuss Cheltenham in time. I’m delighted to get today behind us – Henry De Bromhead, trainer
3.45 – 90k H’cap Hurdle – Impressed with the jockey as much as anything!
“An extremely notable feat for Charles Byrnes as he won this race for the third consecutive year with an unheralded performer that might be a force in similar contests for some time to come.
THOSEDAYSAREGONE was given a grand patient ride by Kevin Brouder. He was nearer last than first towards the end of the back straight in a steadily enough run race, and Brouder did well to find the gaps as well as he did. Some trouble in running was inevitable, but it was brief and didn’t cost his mount any real momentum. He really picked up well after the last. One would imagine that handicaps like this will be his future for the remainder of this season anyway.Golden Jewel ran a cracker and might have been denied enough luck in running to make a difference. Held up at the back of the field, he began to make ground on the very long run from the second last but the little bit of interference he met before the last forced him to switch. The manner in which he came home from the last suggested it might just have made the difference.You Raised Me Up recovered from an early mistake to take close order behind the leaders, was driven through to challenge and lead jumping the last but he just couldn’t hold on. It was a fair effort from a horse running in his first handicap, and indeed from a maiden. He can win a nice handicap.Eglantine Du Seuil was held up off the pace and came with one run to try and challenge after the last. His effort flattened out as soon as he got there but there were more positives than negatives.Buildmeupbuttercup was ridden with extreme patience and she had the pace to travel easily into contention, but she was unable to overcome her jumping errors. The biggest one was at the last after she got to the front and it cost her, particularly her position on the inner. She has all the ability in the world but her jumping lets her down.Embittered didn’t get the run of the race but he proved one-paced in the end. He can do better in similar handicaps, perhaps over further.Scheu Time was held up well off the pace, was never a factor, but he did some eye-catching late work.QUOTES: THOSEDAYSAREGONE was going to go to Ascot but the English handicapper stuck him up 6lb for no reason so I said I’d stay at home then. I thought if he was close enough coming to the last that he would be hard to beat. He loves nice ground as well which was a plus. We’ll consider something like the Coral Cup and there is a big bonus there now so that would twist my arm towards that race – Charles Byrnes, trainer
Gr2 nhf – The winner a Qualifier for Cheltenham being a young Mullins horse – gets a 140p from me!
Seriously impressive performance: https://twitter.com/Jimbo_JumpsMan/status/1223672951490465793
“A mightily impressive performance from the winner as he took apart the best bumper field of the season.
APPRECIATE IT was dropping back from 2m4f on quicker ground but it seemed to suit him ideally. He travelled strongly and his rider could not have been more full of confidence as he moved up turning into the straight, and what he found when asked to go a bit quicker did not disappoint, indeed it might have exceeded expectations. This horse has plenty of gears and the good ground, for a son of Jeremy, seemed to suit ideally. He deserves his position at the head of the market for the Champion Bumper on this evidence.Risk Factor is an improver and was a clear second best here. He tracked the pace, took it up before the end of the back straight and he kept galloping. He didn’t have the gears of the winner but there appeared to be no disgrace in that.Lieutenant Command is not a bad horse and this was probably the equal at least of his easy win on more testing ground at Limerick. He responded to pressure to move into third place over a furlong out and kept going. He should appreciate further, at least on better ground.Fantasio D’alene set the gallop, which wasn’t breakneck but steadily increased. He had no extra when he was headed inside the three and just kept going.Shakespeare’s Word is certainly promising and the Listed 4-y-o bumper at Limerick later in the spring might be the race for him. He was settled towards the rear and could make no headway when the pace increased, but he kept going.” [Justin O’Hanlon]QUOTES: APPRECIATE IT was very impressive. The way he put away a field of what looked the best bumper horses in Ireland did surprise me but Patrick had way more confidence in him than I had. He was keen on him all the time. I thought it was a very tough race. He looked like a Cheltenham type for me anyway – Willie Mullins, trainer

& Sunday: 

Laughable RP ts88, the great Faugheen and an OR 156 ? After running 20lb better than Gold Cup hope who gets an rpr 173 ? ? He may’ve been all out to win but he seemed to enjoy himself after? Maybe it was his Gold Cup, enjoy today, says his trainer:

Graeme North: “Pace maps from Leopardstown, Taunton and Musselburgh today. Faugheen’s race finished faster than expected despite good pace. Not convinced about Delta Work for Gold Cup – principals should have been finishing faster than they did. Asterion Forlonge the standout over hurdles”

I’m in total agreement with young Dan “DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL – THE FORGOTTEN HORSE

6l’s clear of 148 rated 3rd, just what could Easy Game achieve after this, his 2nd only start? I’m for the RSA!

12.55  M’s 60k H (0- – 1st & 3rd here were 2nd 66/1 & 4th 25/1, in the Gr2 Mares’ Novice. Black Tears is 25/1 for the Gr1 Mares’ Hurdle this year and the more lightly raced Concertista, is 40/s for the Supreme, whilst holding other entries. Jockey Danny Mullins is 3/3 placed on her and that Cheltenham 2nd is still her best from only four runs?
“Yielding ground for the second day of the meeting. On paper this had looked one of the most competitive handicaps of the season – a tribute to a high standard among the Irish-trained mares – and it boiled down to a four-cornered battle, won by one of the class-acts. A visual impression suggests the course was riding a bit slow, with many of the runners finishing tired, and the first six coming home well clear of the remainder.
BLACK TEARS, fourth in last season’s mares’ novice event at Cheltenham, got a perfect run up the inside after the last to win this valuable contest with a bit to spare. One of ten handicap debutantes in the field, she is an experienced mare who has kept good company at all times, though it has taken her a while to find her best form this season.Our Roxane, who was still a maiden until just days before her official ninth birthday, maintained the notable progression shown in winning successive handicaps at Limerick and Gowran. She got a bit revved-up beforehand but gave a really spirited display, to the fore throughout. Perhaps if she had not jumped a bit to the right at the last she would not have given the winner the chance to challenge on her inner, but she was beaten on merit in the end.Concertista proved best of an eight-strong Willie Mullins squad. She was fully entitled to be in the mix here on the strength of a terrific second in the mares’ novice at Cheltenham (BLACK TEARS fourth), but had failed to reproduce that form in two maiden outings this term. She could be a big player at Cheltenham again.Spruced Up, raised 13lb for a wide-margin Fairyhouse win, was produced with perfect timing at the last by Aine O’Connor. She was a little awkward on landing, costing her the momentum she needed to maintain her challenge.Strange Notions has been running well without yet managing to win. On this evidence she should be a near-certainy to open her account in an average mares’ maiden.Emily Moon was back near her best after two below-par showings in conditions events. Her cause was not helped by interference three out and again at the second-last. The bare form can be upgraded.Andalusa was badly hampered at the third-last and met another touch of interference between the last two. [Alan Sweetman]QUOTES: She’s been a great honest mare that’s been to every dogfight – she deserved it. After being placed in numerous Graded races it’s nice that she got her day in the sun. It was a great pot to win and she’s got a good pedigree so she’s a valuable broodmare now. Davy gave her a good ride, she was probably lucky to get the split up the inside. Gordon Elliott, trainer of BLACK TEARS.
1.25 Gr1 Juv Hurdle – Tiger Roll beaten here 2nd start & including him, 5 of the last 10 winners of the Triumph ran in this race. While the 1st3 achieved personal bests, not so sure we saw anything Triumph winner worthy? The ⅓ favourite while joined, was driven but still every chance? Nah! Still 5lb shy of the best Brits imho. 5th home Oak Park, a Gordon Elliott Qualifier if he gets to be <11/s for Fred Winter say?
“A reverse for the ante-post favourite for the Triumph whose exit at the last changed the complexion. He had a real fight on his hands at the time. Once again a good many of them finished tired, confirming the impression that the ground was riding slow.
A WAVE OF THE SEA made it three from six over hurdles, reversing the form of a course and distance Grade 2 clash with the runner-up after the long odds-on favourite crashed out at the last. He stayed on strongly in the closing stages, maintaining his effort more effectively than his third-placed (and shorter-priced) stablemate, who beat him in Grade 3 Fairyhouse contest at the beginning of December. The O’Brien-trained pair are entitled to take their chance in the Triumph.Wolf Prince had won two of his previous four starts over hurdles, but it had appeared befoerehand as if the most relevant aspect of his form was that he had twice been comprehensively beaten by Aspire Tower. Allowing for the fact that he got the second-last wrong he did well to get back into serrious contention, keeping on well to split the O’Brien-trained pair.Cerberus seemed to have been presented with the race when the favourite fell. However, he began to get lonely in front and weakened late as his stablemate asserted. Unable to sustain momentum, he was just run out of second.Aspire Tower, who made all to beat Wolf Prince and A WAVE OF THE SEA convincingly in a Grade 2 over the course and trip at Christmas, looked comfortable enough for much of the way, finding plenty when an intitial challenge was presented on the approach to two out. However, by the time it came to the last Rachael Blackmore knew she needed a good jump and went for it, only for him to hit the top of the hurdle and come down. This puts a dent in his Triumph credentials, but he remaimns one of the stronger contenders on overall form.” [Alan Sweetman]
1.55 Gr1 Nov Hurdle: Another Mullins qualifier and this one set for the Supreme, Clocks 20lb of next best hurdle race….
A couple of reputations were damaged here, as the lightly-raced winner emerged as a leading contender for the Supreme Novices’. A seventh winner of this event in eight years for Willie Mullins.ASTERION FORLONGE, a point-to-point winner who made fairly heavy weather of landing the odds in a Thurles bumper in November, has come a long way in a short time, and can now be seen as a leading Supreme Novices’ contender after just two runs over hurdles. Though he betrayed his inexperience by jumping to the right at times he won this with a notable degree of authority. Less than five weeks on from a maiden success at Fairyhouse this was impressive. Still unbeaten, he comes from the stable responsible for four of the last seven winners of the Supreme Novices‘.Easywork, favourite to maintain an unbeaten seasonal record, seemed to travel well but failed to respond when tackled between the last two. He was well held when making a mistake at the last but was able to secure second quite comfortably, ahead of the horse who was his immediate victim in a maiden hurdle at Gowran in November.Mt Leinster, who improved from his Gowran second to win a course and distance maiden at Christmas, made a couple of errors in the early part of the race and another at the second-last. He is a more experienced sort than the winner, and as such he can be viewed as much less progressive.Conflated seemed to struggle in the first half of the race. He stayed on late in a manner suggesting he needs further.Blue Sari, last season’s Cheltenham bumper runner-up, has now flopped for one reason or another in three consecutive races. He will need to provide some reassurance before being considered a betting proposition again. [Alan Sweetman]
2.30 60k H (0- 24gs – 1st2 might just get in the Pertemps raised 10lb for this… Another great pace judgemental ride by winning jockey, yet to clock a decent figure from 4 wins? 3rd home, Column Of Fire, would be another Elliott qualifier if turns up at the Festival <11/s?
“A gallant front-running performance by the progressive winner in a race in which the first three drew well clear, again indicative of ground-conditions more testing than the official “yielding” description. Both winner and second are from small stables.
TREACYSENNISCORTHY made every yard to complete a remarkable handicap four-timer for his small County Waterford yard. He was 9lb higher here than when winning the Pertemps qualifier in December and may have done enough to squeeze into the Cheltenham final. A couple of minor errors amounted to only a slight blemish on an admirable display.The Jam Man, who built on three wins in Britain last summer when making it four in a row at Navan in December, continues in superb form, a credit to his small Northern Ireland yard. He is versatile in terms of ground conditions and is a thorough stayer.Column Of Fire looked like one of the less exposed runners here, making his handicap debut after winning a 2m4f maiden by a big margin and stepping up to 3m for the first time. He saw it out well and might have gone even closer but for a slightly untidy jump at the last. With his stamina established there should be plenty of options for him.Tout Est Permis is much more effective as a chaser. His recent form over hurdles ties in with both the winner and second, and Noel Meade may feel it is worth giving him another chance to exploit his much lower hurdles rating.High Sparrow took the same placing as he had done in the Pertemps qualifier, but the margin was greater on this occasion. He is proving to be a fairly dependable staying type.Cabaret Queen, who has a much higher chase rating, was one of the main disappointments of the race.Gardens Of Babylon was unable to produce an effort in keeping with his good form in Graded races over 2m.You Can Call Me Al was still in touch when falling four out. [Alan Sweetman]
3.00 Gr1 Nov c – 1st4 Mullins 6-12yo’s? Looking at my Cheltenham Trends SpreadSheet I think the 2nd should go for the RSA, he has too much stamina in his Dosage Profile and is a better ‘fit’ for that race than the Marsh where more points in the Classic department is required.
The winner’s late-blossoming career as a novice chaser continued with a gutsy display. Perhaps this does not say a great deal for the younger generation of Irish novices, but hard not to appreciate one of the outstanding performers of recent years. A clean sweep of the four placings for Willie Mullins.FAUGHEEN maintained his unbeaten record over fences, supplementing a wide-margin Grade 1 victory over Samcro at Limerick. It was a lot closer against a junior stablemate this time, but there is no doubting his continuing relish for battle at the age of 12. Despite slight mistakes at the second-last and the last he maintained his effort under strong pressure. Realistically, the former Champion Hurdle winner may well find a few younger rivals too strong at Cheltenham, but as a latecomer to chasing he has done all that has been asked of hin so far.Easy Game, a 142-rated hurdler having only his second run over fences, put in a strong finish on the near-side to press his twice-the-age stablemate all the way to the line. With this experience under his belt he could turn the tables if Willie Mullins allows the pair to clash again in the Marsh Novice Chase at Cheltenham. The 2m4f race would appear to be the logical target for the pair.Tornado Flyer made a crucial mistake when well positioned in third at the second-last and did not see out the trip as effectively as his two shorter-priced stablemates.Battleoverdoyen, who had beaten his sole rival of consequence in a 3m Grade 1 event at the venue at Christmas, led or disputed most of the way. He found surprisingly little when headed and was beaten in fourth when falling at the last. There was nothing wrong with his jumping and this was tame in the circumstances. [Alan Sweetman]
3.30 Irish Gold Cup – slow compared to above?
“The market made this effectively a three-horse race, and it panned out along those lines. The winner, the youngest horse in the race, put himself to the forefront of Ireland’s Cheltenham Gold Cup challenge with a smart staying performance, marked by a battling attitude which augurs well.
DELTA WORK enhanced his reputation with a performance that surpassed his narrow Savills Chase victory at the Christmas meeting. This time he had to deal with a favourite who was closer to the top of his game, and he did so in determined style after brushing through the last. He has developed into a strong Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate, and at seven he is the same age as the two most recent Irish-trained winners of the event, Sizing John and Al Boum Photo.
Kemboy, who ended last season on a major high with a wide-margin victory in the Betway Bowl at Aintree and a defeat of stablemate Al Boum Photo at Punchestown, took a step forward from his seasonal debut when fourth behind DELTA WORK in the Savills Chase. However, an erratic round of jumping provides some grounds for concern as he heads back to Cheltenham where he unseated at the first in last year’s Gold Cup. To his credit, he stuck to his task, but this was still a bit removed from the form of his Punchestown triumph.
Presenting Percy produced a livelier effort than at Christmas, more in keeping with his pleasing reappearance in the John Durkan. At the same time, one could argue that his challenge petered out a bit too quickly, and he will return to Cheltenham with a slightly lower profile than last year.
Jett ran a fine race, though perhaps his relative proximity could be viewed as something of a negative in respect of the principals. He was not far off the placed horses in the end, despite having dropped out of serious contention early in the straight” .[Alan Sweetman]
4.00 90k c (0- 2 33/1 shots 5l’s clear of the 3rd – 2x 2 system qualifiers on their next 3 starts, Cheltenham or not!
“A large field and a finish dominated by two outsiders. Another highly competitive handicap at a fixture which has featured several similar contests.
GLAMORGAN DUKE deserves a great deal of credit for landing this valuable prize on only his fifth start over fences. He did it the hard way from the front, and had to pull out all the stops after being headed at roughly the point of the bypassed last fence. In the short time he has spent over fences he has taken on some smart opponents, with the result that he started off in handicaps 10lb higher than his hurdles rating, underlining the merit of this win.Trainwreck is a second-season novice still seeking his first win over fences. He was only just denied here, but it would be harsh to blame the rider’s inability to utilise his full 7lb claim, for which he represents good value. With a rating of 136 he should be a near-certainty for an average beginners’ chase at this stage of the season, if connections wish to boost his confidence.Any Second Now has not had the best of fortune since winning last season’s Kim Muir, so this represented a good outcome under a hefty burden. He stayed on well from the bypassed last fence to prove best of his owner’s big contingent.Blazer was making only his second appearance after a lengthy break and stepped up from his run over a shorter trip at Fairyhouse. His only chase win was gained as a novice in 2017.Robin Des Foret faded in the closing stages but is running well enough in good races to suggest there may be another day for him at the age of ten.At The Acorn was well enough placed behind the leaders when badly hampered at the normal second-last. Up 15lb for a Fairyhouse win, he remains an interesting horse for the future.Articulum was let down by his jumping for the third time in a row. If only he could eliminate the errors he has the capacity to win a big handicap. [Alan Sweetman]
4.35 Gr2 M’s nhf – Not as impressive as yesterday’s but 2 more Elliott qualifiers if they turn up at less than 11/s at Cheltenham… Think Mullins got the Bumper sewn up again but….
“An interesting Grade 2 contest. Gordon Elliott supplied the long-priced winner and the beaten favourite. Small stables got in on the act with the placed horses.
DARLING DAUGHTER, a former Cormac Doyle-trained point winner, made it two from two in bumpers, giving a stylish display in relegating her strongly-fancied stablemate to fourth. On this evidence she is worth a shot at the Champion Bumper, won by the stable with the mare Fayonagh in 2017 and with the brilliant Envoi Allen in 2019.Politesse ran a blinder, confirming the promise she had shown when third at the Punchestown festival on her only start last season. She came with a strong late run to take second, adding to a fine week for her small stable who enjoyed a 66/1 winner at Down Royal. She is closely related to the top-class Don Poli and can be rated a fine prospect.Carrigeen Lotus set a steady enough pace and travelled well for a long way. She was unable to match the winner’s turn of foot but kept at it in game fashion, rallying well and only just denied the runner-up spot by a strong finisher. Her stout pedigree suggests a bright future as a staying jumper.Bigbadandbeautiful, second in this event last year and bidding for the unusual feat of winning four bumpers, raced a bit too keenly and ran out of steam as her stablemate quickened away to put the race to bed quickly. She remains a high-class prospect.Jeremys Jewel coped encouragingly in this company for a mare with only one previous race under her belt. [Alan Sweetman]

Did some ratings from the Xmas meets – Free Lay Tips?

Image result for lord du mesnil
Lord Du Mesnil, ridden by Alain Cawley

Since becoming a level-weights contest in 2010, the National Hunt chase has been a happy hunting ground for relatively experienced novices.

Heading into this race, the last 10 winners had an average of 7.1 starts over fences. The exact breakdown of prior runs over fences is as follows: 11,9,5,3,4,10,4,10,10,5.

If you look at all runners in the past ten renewals, just 22 lined up with nine or more chase starts to their name. Of those, five have won and a further two placed while Atlanta Ablaze looked set to enhance that impressive record in last year’s renewal before falling at the 2nd last.

It’s no surprise that experience comes to the fore here given the questions this race poses to a novice and I doubt that the two-furlong reduction in distance will change that.

If lining up, few (if any) will have more experience than LORD DU MESNIL.

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Reviewing SANDOWN

12.40 C3 Nov Hurdle 16hy – 

Won by 4yo Palladium – got a 144p from me has an OR 124 atm – check back Tues but I not the only one who immediately thought ‘Fred Winter.’

From the rpa: “PALLADIUM was always close up and gradually stamped his authority on proceedings from the second-last. Narrowly beaten on his hurdles debut at Warwick in December, he’d won a weak race well over this C&D last month and appeared to take another step forward on this occasion. He was keener than ideal early on, but he was a fair maiden on the Flat at up to 1m6f and his stamina really came to the fore in the straight. He’s being aimed at the Fred Winter at the festival next month and will appreciate the likely strong gallop.. [Marcus Buckland]

QUOTES: I had to come and run to get PALLADIUM up a bit for the Fred Winter [Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle] and that should do it. Once he gets to the front he’s a very good jumper and to gallop through that ground like he did was a good performance.
– Nicky Henderson, trainer
1.15 C2 (0- c – 
Winner Dolos (Fr) earned XoM & 171p – will be back here rather than Cheltenham:

second successive win in the race by Dolos. Only three of the six finished. Dolos, who’d finished second in this in 2018 prior to winning it last year off an 8lb lower mark, travelled best and did just enough on the run-in to repel the late rally of the runner-up. Back into a handicap after being outclassed in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek over C&D in December, he appeared to be idling after the last and may well have found extra had the second got upsides. This was another PB from him and connections will now consider giving him a break and bringing him back for a crack in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase in the season finale in April. [Marcus Buckland]]

QUOTES: Dolos is a hard horse to place because he’s just shy of Grade 1 level but he loves it around here and that was a fair performance. There’s nothing obvious to run him in next and we might leave him for the Celebration Chase back here at the end of season. He’s good fresh and is a lovely horse.
– Paul Nicholls, trainer
1.50 Listed Contenders Hurdle – Big, chasing type, Quel Destin wins but has no pretentions of being Champion – Clocked ‘Time of the Meet as hurdler but:

QUOTES: I just thought that although QUEL DESTIN would enjoy the ground, he might come on a bit for this run. That will put him right and Fontwell for the National Spirit [on February 23] looks his race. He’s going to be an awesome chaser next season. – Paul Nicholls, trainer
2.25 Scilly Isles Novice Chase Gr1 20s – probably most significant race of meet regarding the Cheltenham Festival. Not far of Time of the Meet: Winner earned 167p Watch video

From rpa: “This Grade 1 Novices’ Chase has a rich history and was won last year by subsequent Cheltenham Festival, Tingle Creek and Clarence House Chase winner, Defi Du Seuil. This was a fascinating renewal, though with star hurdler Laurina again disappointing, it was left to Itchy Feet to land a first Grade 1 success for Olly Murphy.

Image
Happy connections

Itchy Feet, having just his second start over fences having won by a wide margin at Leicester over Christmas, saw this out strongly and strode clear from the last to give Olly Murphy his first win at the highest level. A high-class novice hurdler (he beat Grand Sancy in Listed company at Kempton in October 2018), he’d run his best race when third to Klassical Dream in the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival. He’d been below that level in two subsequent hurdle outings, but has been revitalised by a switch to chasing and must now be considered a leading contender for the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at the festival (formerly the JLT), a double completed last season by Defi Du Seuil. He’s a general 10-1 chance for that contest and is 14s for the Arkle.

Midnight Shadow, arguably a fortunate winner of the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham last time, had no answers to Itchy Feet from the last, though kept on admirably to put 15l between himself and the third. Last season’s Relkeel Hurdle winner didn’t have the speed for 2m over fences earlier this season and has really thrived since being stepped up in trip.Champagne Platinum looked up against on all known form but he made good progress towards the leaders approaching two out and outran his inflated odds. He emptied on the run-in, suggesting a return to shorter may pay dividends. He would like nicely treated in handicaps off his current mark. [Marcus Buckland]QUOTES: I’ve always had faith in this lad and he got a masterclass of a ride from Gavin Sheehan. It was only Itchy Feet‘s second run over fences but he’s got a big engine and this has been a well-executed plan. We’ll let the dust settle but I’d imagine all being well we’ll go for the Marsh. – Olly Murphy, trainer
3.00 Gr3 3m hy (0- Hurdle
4th Agrapart – Bit of an Eye-Catcher earning Figure of the Meet & not far below his PB under a 5lb Claim – still life in this 9yo…

& ffs! He’s only a Sadler’s Wells inbred:

3.35 C2 c (0- 24s – Better note the winner because aside from the above, his revised mark might just put him at the foot of the weights in a Festival Handicap:

Rpr “DEISE ABA swept clear from the last to win convincingly. An all-the-way winner over 3m1f in novice company at Catterick last time, he was ridden far more patiently on this occasion and crept steadily into it on the final circuit. He didn’t fence particularly well but he had the runner-up firmly in his sights from three out and recovered quickly from an untimely mistake at the second-last. This was an impressive start for him in handicaps and he’s clearly some way ahead of his mark.” As above Marcus Buckland, ty

– We have suggestions for JLT, RSA, Pertemps & Coral Cup & of course the SDS of the bumper world…

Like Kempton’s National Hunt, I’ve a separate file for Cheltenham, this will include previous winners of last 10 year’s worth of festival races by around Monday evening 6th Jan20 – Plz bare with me in this race against time to have a launchable project ready for this March. My new motto ‘Under construction – work in progress!’ Just hoping I’ll have better luck than British Rail and don’t have to charge you so much lol
As another aside: I did nick the Tote Ten To Follow Master List Final 500 & after every major meet I’m updating, so if u go Master Updated & sort rpr descending u should get a comparison of my ratings against theirs. 

All much of a muchness this meet, best chase runs ran in defeat? So Champ as good as Cogry when he stands up and would’ve earned ‘Time of the Meet – XoM’ His overall figure possibly puts him alongside Lalor in Oldgrangewood’s race and about 8lb short of Saint Calvados [pic] who gets outright Figure of the Meet, 171+

[Pic: The @Harry_Whitt trained Saint Calvados after his brave effort in defeat under @gavsheehan92 @CheltenhamRaces ]

2.00 – Race of the Day! 
[A cracking finish to this competitive handicap chase with two noses separating the first three. Rock-solid form. – 
OLDGRANGEWOOD, [156 PB] a narrow winner over Kalashnikov off 7lb lower at Newbury, had no trouble confirming form with that disappointing rival, but he again really had to work for it, indeed it briefly looked as though he’d finish third as three of them flashed past the post together. He got it on the angle, though, and this tough 9yo looks to be at the peak of his career. He’ll presumably return for the festival in March, bidding to improve on his pulled up effort in the 2018 Plate and ninth in last year’s Ultima.Saint Calvados [171 PB] is a high-class handicapper who just seems to be found out in a higher grade. He ran a cracker on this step up in trip, hanging left but battling right to the line, and it was he who looked to have his head down at the right time crossing the line, but it wasn’t the case. He’s probably worth another go at graded level over this trip.Lalor [163+] was always struggling in the Haldon Gold Cup on reappearance and this step up in trip very much looked in his favour. He showed what he is capable of, putting in a good round of jumping in the first-time cheekpieces and really knuckling down having been headed to put himself in the three-way photo. He’s a good-ground horse who could land a big handicap in the spring.Ex Patriot, [156+] a smart sort in Ireland who was just over 8l behind Battleoverdoyen last time, had won his only previous handicap and he ran well for a long way, just backing out of it after a late mistake. There’s a decent prize in him.Mister Whitaker [158 =PB] likes it here, but was reappearing from a career-high mark and he just looked in need of it. He isn’t easy to place off this sort of mark, but can do better than this.Cepage failed to reproduce the form on his last-time-out Caspain Caviar run and shall remain vulnerable from this sort of mark.Magic Saint appreciated a good test at 2m last time but was up 7lb in a better race returned to a longer trip and he failed to shine. He’ll presumably in the Grand Annual at the festival.Kalashnikov, just denied by OLDGRANGEWOOD at Newbury, was up 6lb and looked vulnerable from a mark of 161, but still he ought to have done better, making a couple of mistakes before dropping away. He’s clearly better than this, but another who isn’t easy to place.Ok Corral looked the type to be suited by the drop in trip and he was still going along nicely until blundering and then getting hampered at the fence on the top of the hill. He was unable to recover, so looks worth another chance. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: OLDGRANGEWOOD had a wind op in the summer, which he needed and Dan said he thought it made the difference. Getting the headgear and sticking to 2m4f also helped, while he had an interrupted season last term. We’d love to come back here for the festival. He looks great and is the right age now, so this could be his season – Chris Giles, part-owner.

1.25 – I’m just wondering what will happen to Paint The Dream’s handicap mark?
Late drama in this Grade 2 novice with red-hot favourite Champ [163+] falling two out when seemingly on his way to a convincing win.MIDNIGHT SHADOW was winning at the fourth attempt over fences, although he enjoyed a large slice of fortune with Champ coming down. He was under pressure and keeping on, but wouldn’t have won anymore than bustled up the favourite. He’s a useful novice who will presumably be trained with the JLT in mind.Paint The Dream, [156] runner-up from a mark of 127 at Sandown last time, ran above himself on this rise in grade, although it was a bit of a strange performance as having led early then dropped well off the leaders, he finished strongly up the straight to nab second. He was likely flattered, but is clearly progressing.Deyrann De Carjac [155] is a strong-traveller who ideally wants good ground and a flatter track. He ran okay, but wasn’t going to run to quite the same level as when a close-up third to Champ at Newbury. There’ll be other days for him in the spring.Champ, bidding to make it 3-3 over fences, had taken well to the more positive tactics and threw in a few fine jumps that saw him go into a clear lead, but he got two out wrong and paid the price. This was a most unfortunate spill for the ante-post RSA favourite, and connections will presumably seek to get another run into him now before the festival. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: Champ was brilliant through the race, but just rolled around a bit going to the second-last and I’d say he was looking at the stands and not what was in front of him. It was a novicey fall. Hopefully he’s okay and that (the novicey fall) was all it was – otherwise he was brilliant – Barry Geraghty, jockey.

12.50 – A fair staying chase, no more, and the form horses came to the fore.
DOING FINE [148] ‘winner’ of the well documented void race at Sandown last time, had next to no weight on his back and gained compensation in good style, moving into it gradually and really racing away from the last. He’s long been a useful sort on his day and, although now 12, should remain competitive in similar events.Cogry [162p], winner of a better race over a similar trip at the course last time, was up 4lb and ran okay considering he was conceding a ton of weight to the winner. He ran on again having hit a flat spot, but was never in with a chance of touching the winner.9yo > Like The Sound [158e] fared even better than the result suggests, defying 33-1 odds to take over going best only to fade from the last. He’s proven over further, so stamina shouldn’t have been an issue, but still this run shows he’s capable from this sort of mark.Militarian recovered from a notable early mistake and several more that followed, to hold a chance racing down the hill, but he understandably ran out of puff in the straight.Equus Secretus ran okay up to a point on this second run back, although he appears to have little in hand from his current mark.

Of the hurdles, I know Matt Chapman wasn’t happy and this as good as it got 141p the front two and perhaps a contender for the Coral Cup:

12.15 – Not a particularly strong Listed novice, especially with the standard setting favourite disappointing, and there was controversy with the Stewards flipping the result after original first past the post Protektorat edged across Imperial Alcazar on the run-in.Imperial Alcazar, upset by a 66-1 shot at Newcastle last time, had a first-time tongue-tie added and his rider wisely took a wider route on fresh ground for much of the race. He needed assistance from the Stewards, but this big, galloping sort was undeniably done few favours as Protektorat edged across him, forcing him to switch, and he nearly got back up anyway. Chasing will very much be his game in time and he’s a really useful prospect.Protektorat appeared to have finally broken a frustrating sequence of runner-up efforts, relishing the step up in trip and holding on well, but the Stewards felt the interference caused was significant enough to have altered the outcome and he was demoted. Some will argue it was harsh, indeed horses have done much worse yet been allowed to keep a race, but compensation will surely be had before long and he could develop into a leading Coral Cup contender.Welsh Saint, a 15l winner at Warwick, came up short against a much higher grade of opponent, a mistake two out sealing his fate. He’s one for decent handicaps later in the season.Ofalltheginjoints, well beaten in a Grade 2 at Sandown, again came up a fair way short and he’s another for whom handicaps will suit, especially once upped to 3m. Chasing will be his game in time.Redford Road set the standard on last month’s 3m Grade 2 win here, even under a penalty, and he was understandably ridden forward, but he made mistakes late and faded rather disappointingly in the straight. Perhaps the change in tactics didn’t suit, but regardless it was a disappointing effort.Grand Mogul got warm beforehand and was beaten a long way. He’s failed to shine in two starts since joining Nicky Henderson, but is a good-looker who will no doubt figure it out eventually. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: I’m not going to focus on the stewards’ inquiry. I was delighted with how Imperial Alcazar ran. I don’t care how he won it, he’s come out on top. Stewards’ inquiries are like penalties, you win some you lose some. Today was our day. I’ve lost plenty in the past so we’ll enjoy today. I think the best horse won the day – Fergal O’Brien, trainer.We’ve had to give Protektorat a bit of time and it hasn’t happened overnight for him. He came to France with a big reputation and is quite headstrong. He’s probably not as quick as he thinks he is so Harry has had to educate him every time he’s ridden him and drop him in. We’ve been unlucky losers twice this year but everything we’ve done for the horse is for the future. Hopefully he can keep progressing – Tom Messenger, assistant.

So it’s Skandiburg for the Pertemps? Not really backed up by the clock this race?

& his Dosage is all wrong: 

Would be a rarity on that alone? DP = 2-4-3-3-0 (12) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.42 – 

2.35 – A useful staying hurdle and the right horses came to the fore. Sound form.
SKANDIBURG, up 6lb for a win over the trip at Aintree, didn’t always look to be going that well, but he really came strong in the straight and ultimately got well on top. A useful and progressive 6yo, stamina is clearly his strong suit there should be more to come. He ought to make a nice novice chaser in time, but the Pertemps will be his big aim this season.Rapper, up 11lb for winning at Market Rasen, was never far away and very much enjoyed the run of the race. He stayed on well, but couldn’t repel the winner late. He has a similar race in him from this sort of mark.Kilbricken Storm, winner of the 2018 Albert Bartlett, has had his struggles since yet connections still held high hopes for him heading into this season. He ran well, holding every chance down to the last.The Jam Man has been on a roll but a 16lb higher mark for this return to Britain proved beyond him, already being beaten when hampered late. It was still a good run.Constantine Bay ran about as well as could have been expected in what looked a hot race for him returned to hurdles.Mason Jar is high enough in the weights now and his stamina didn’t last over this new trip.Who’s My Jockey, ex-Philip Hobbs and off since winning over fences in the summer, was returning in a first-time tongue-tie and he ran well for a long way, perhaps just needing it. He’ll be of some interest next time.Beware The Bear, fourth in the Hennessy, is on a tough mark over fences now but he doesn’t have the speed to win over hurdles.Might Bite stopped quickly late on and his career remains off track.Goodbye Dancer, up 10lb for winning over C&D last month, had crept into contention going well and looked set to play a big hand in the finish until getting the last all wrong. Hopefully his confidence won’t be dented by the spill. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: Don’t underestimate the ride SKANDIBURG got. Gavin kept nudging along and never went for his stick. If he’d got another few pounds at Aintree we wouldn’t have even been here. I’d have saved him for the Pertemps. We’ll freshen him up for that now and he won’t be far away in March. I think he’ll thrive in a big-field handicap – Olly Murphy, trainer.

3.50 : A muddling Listed bumper, the form of which looks ordinary.AUDACITY, [129+] hammered by Grand Roi at Wincanton, being beaten 15l at the line, went from the front himself this time, down slightly in trip, and he kept going under a strong ride to notch an all-the-way success. The form is questionable, but he looks the sort to do well hurdling in time.Ocean Wind, a surprise winner at Huntingdon on November’s debut, moved into it from off the pace and threw down a strong challenge, but he was always just being held. He’s Flat-bred, so could go on the level at some stage, although there is a winning jumper in the family too.Genola, a dual AQPS winner in her native France, like the runner-up made nice progress to challenge but couldn’t quite get past the enterprisingly ridden winner.Grand Roi made all and really pressed on when slamming the winner by 15l at Wincanton, but he didn’t go from the front this time, despite the drop in trip, and he simply didn’t have the required pace once in line for home. He’s the best long-term prospect of these and will appreciate going hurdling sooner rather than later.Fair Star, a winner at Market Rasen on debut, performed admirably against stiffer opposition on this second run. He’s another Flat-bred with options moving forward.Belle De Manech, a winner over the trip at Warwick on debut, had a tongue-tie on for the first time but came up well short, like the favourite being readily done for speed in the straight. She’ll be happier over 2m and then once hurdling a little further down the road. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: AUDACITY has experience and has run a bit green the last twice. I thought that was having horses around him, so we kicked him out and let him roll. He stays very well and Gavin is the best rider in a bumper from the front; he’s head and shoulders above everybody. He’s cute and they think they’re getting to him, but he’s saving a bit. I’d say we’ll stay in bumpers and he’s got plenty of ability. He jumps well and he could run on the Flat – Warren Greatrex, trainer.

3.10 – Putting a dampener on the whole meet imho as this was the 2nd fastest hurdle on the card. 
“Bit of a turn up in what looked a fairly weak edition of the race, although the first three home were all past festival winners. The pace steady enough.
SUMMERVILLE BOY, the 2018 Supreme winner, has generally struggled since and was a faller over fences last time. He made every yard returning to hurdles, though, relishing the return to 2m4f and showing a good attitude. He did enjoy the run of the race, though, and future targets are unclear, with him having a few different routes on the table.Roksana, winner of last season’s Mares’ Hurdle, bounced back from a disappointing run at Ascot and emerges with plenty of credit considering she had a penalty. A better ground would have suited and she’ll likely go well attempting to defend her crown in March.William Henry, winner of last season’s Coral Cup, could have done with a truer gallop but still emerges with loads of credit at the weights. It was his first start since April, so he should come on.

I don’t do ante-post much (maybe if I see something that hasn’t run yet in the Triumph Hurdle E’s in Feb) but Timeform got a portfolio going:
Recommended bets:
Back CHANTRY HOUSE at 16/1 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle
Back SLATE HOUSE at 14/1 for the RSA Chase
Prices available at time of writing.
Previously recommended bets:
DELTA WORK at 20/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup (now 10/1)
DEFI DU SEUIL at 10/1 for the Champion Chase (now 4/1)

Four to follow for year from itv team


Tolworth Hurdle Saturday – Trends:

8/10 – won last time

9/10 – ran in December

8/10 – won ptp or bumper

7/10 – 7/2 or shorter

Plenty of bubbles burst over these two days, Fusil Raffles, Fanion D’Estruval, Cyrname and Lostintranslation to name a few but

A good thing to remember: ‘the one with the least doubts about.’ Clan Des Obeaux made it onto my ITV7 and now Thistlecrack was out, was a stand alone, well clear #cdg on stats & figures. 

Cyrname, stepping up to 3 miles for the first time, a major doubt? And Lostintranslation, yet to clock a decent figure and Irish bred at a course where the French dominate. As it transpired Cyrname was hassled for the lead by Aso, I think that put him off. 

There’s separate spreadsheet for Kempton as it is such a specialist track – updated after most meetings or after significant times where the racing not so so classy. 


Paddy Brennan on Global Citizen, another #cdg & another to keep the itv7’s in level stake profit over the two days.
3.05 XoM 180+e A potentially top-class edition of the race, even with the withdrawal of Thistlecrack, and it saw Clan Des Obeaux emphatically follow up last year’s breakthrough win in the race. However, with Cyrname lacking his usual zest and Lostintranslation pulling up after mistakes, there has to be a doubt as to whether the winners 21l romp was as great as it looks on paper.
Clan Des Obeaux, ridden with confidence when a ready winner from Thistlecrack a year ago, had since come up short in the Gold Cup and was beaten at Down Royal on his reappearance, but there was little doubt that this race has long been the plan again and, despite being deserted by Harry Cobden, aboard a year ago, he looked overpriced in his bid for a follow-up. Always going well and jumping big and bold, it was clear a fair way out he was the likeliest winner and, having jumped to the front past toiling stablemate Cyrname two from home, he quickly stormed clear, flying the last and being eased late on. Even with doubts over the validity of the form, this could be his year, with Nicholls saying he’s a stronger horse again, and don’t be surprised if he fares much better in the Gold Cup this time around, for which he’s a general 6-1 chance. He’s best fresh and there’s a strong chance he’ll head straight to the festival.Cyrname has been a revelation in the past 11 months and entered the race as the highest-rated chaser in training following his reappearance defeat of Altior. The choice of Harry Cobden over the winner, he had competition for the lead in Aso, but took a lead early before working his way to the front. He was lacking his usual spark, though, with Cobden having to nudge along at times whereas one might have expected him to be pulling the rider’s arms out considering it was his first try at 3m, and he was little more than a sitting duck for his stable companion off the last bend. He did keep going for second, but, with another potential doubtful stayer in third that may not have been any great achievement, and one would expect to see him given a break now, with the Ascot Chase in February (a race he won last year) his next likely target. His want/need to go right-handed means he may again miss the major spring festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, although his bold trainer may be more willing to give it a bash this time around.Footpad has long seemed likely to be suited by this sort of trip and he returned with an impressive performance over 2m6f. That was against far inferior opposition to what he faced here, though, and after travelling well, he was still close enough off the last bend, but then he seemed to cry enough. 2m4f looks to be his ideal trip and he’ll presumably be aimed at the Ryanair once more, a race he was pulled up in last season having burst a blood vessel.Aso, runner-up in last season’s Ryanair, was the least likely winner of the five and, having set off in front, he was forced to take a lead from the fifth and only plodded on well adrift late. He continues to perform below last season’s best and don’t be surprised to see him given a break now before Cheltenham.Lostintranslation, the winner of the Betfair Chase and towards the head of the Gold Cup betting coming into this, never looked entirely happy on the track, being a little keen early before dropping to last and having to be niggled at various stages of the race. He did come there going well on the far side, but two mistakes in fairly quick succession halted his forward progress and his rider wisely called it a day on him before the first in the straight. His trainer reported afterwards that he had a breathing problem on the soft ground, something that is an obvious concern, but there’s plenty of time between now and March to get that sorted and he was pushed out to no bigger than 8-1 in places for the Gold Cup, a race that is much more likely to suit than this flat, right-handed 3m test. [David Orton]QUOTES: The last thing Paul said before we went out was to try not to hit the front too soon – but when I turned in travelling so well I was thinking, how can I try keep this as smooth as I can without doing anything silly? I decided that once we got over two out we would just have to go. Luckily Clan Des Obeaux winged the last and did it really well – Sam Twiston-Davies, jockey.

2.30 Another that made my ITV7 and XoM as hurdler 160+ – 
Not a typical edition of the race in that there was a double-figure field and it looked relatively open. Although the pace was pretty steady, an impressive winner emerged, with the strongly-backed mare Epatante putting herself firmly in the Champion Hurdle picture.Epatante has done nothing but impress since joining Nicky Henderson, a blip in the mares’ novice at last year’s festival aside, but she’s now firmly in the conversation for the Champion Hurdle. A taking winner from a mark of 137 at Newbury on reappearance, she was thrown in against some established Grade 1 performers here but there was nothing but confidence in her from those connected and she proved quite the gamble. Always going strongly, she was going much the best two out and pinged the last before racing clear. Improving fast, she promises to be even better suited by a truly run 2m and it’s not hard to see why Paddy Power now have her at 7-2 and disputing favouritism for the big race in March.Silver Streak, third in last year’s Champion Hurdle, failed to run to his best in the Fighting Fifth last time but this was more like it and he can be used as a reliable guide to the form. He could have done with a stronger gallop an will presumably continue to take his chance in the top hurdle races.Ballyandy, just denied by Cal Me Lord in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham last time, again ran well but failed to make it enough of a test to bring his stamina into play. He also tended to shift left at his hurdles, but dropping to 2m seems to have suited him of late and returning to a stiffer track will suit.Verdana Blue, who toppled stablemate Buveur D’Air in the race 12 months ago, has since done pretty well on the Flat but the ground had gone against her this time around and, despite briefly moving into contention going okay, she couldn’t match her stablemate in the straight. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: Epatante was impressive wasn’t she? I’ve even got to admit it myself, it was very good. We came straight from the Gerry Feilden, I wanted to go to Ascot but it’s a good job we didn’t. JP (McManus, owner) always wanted to come here and he got it right. He must’ve had more faith than me. I thought she was our best chance at Cheltenham last year but she didn’t run her race. She did everything right up until then, and has done everything right up until now. She’s lovely, has a great temperament and has a good attitude – Nicky Henderson, trainer.

Me not the only one impressed as Graeme North of Jumps Pace Maps says:

“Pace map from Kempton today. Epatante showed a new side to herself, very comf with faster pace mid race; Commanche Red finished 3 lengths faster than expected despite solo last 2f, the only signif positive from chases; other chases fell apart to diff degrees.”

1.20: This an interesting races as 1st3 all scored Personal Bests : 162+ the easy winner..
The ground was changed to ‘soft’ all over following this race. A decent chase run at a good gallop, although less than half of the field finished, with the key moment coming seven from the finish as the favourite Roll Again fell, badly hampering Hold The Note.COMMANCHE RED, third on both previous chase starts, including at Grade 2 level (weak race for the race) last time, looked on a fair mark switching to handicaps and he ran out a clear-cut winner, albeit in a race that didn’t take as much winning as had once looked likely. He’s a progressive 6yo with more to offer, although the handicapper is sure to have his say.Simply The Betts had won a pair of 2m handicaps since sent chasing and was up another 8lb in his bid for a hat-trick. He wasn’t seen to best effect, tending to jump away to his left and also being less than fluent on occasions, but he put in some good late work to claim second (despite slipping late) and can be rated better than the result. The longer trip didn’t look an issue and he has more to offer.On The Slopes, runner-up to Doctor Dex at Ascot, had a clear crack at it and again ran well, just proving unable to race on with the winner from two out. He’ll find an opening at some stage.Mr Mcgo remains a maiden over fences, but he ran well for a long way on this rise in grade, doing more than enough to suggest an opening will appear at some stage.Muratello, well held on November’s chasing debit, has since undergone a wind operation and this was a creditable effort. His jumping should improve as he gains further experience.Roll Again, up 13lb after winning over 3m at Ludlow, was 6lb well in under his penalty and still looked to be going nicely in front when coming down seven from the finish. Hopefully his confidence won’t dented too badly.Hold The Note was going well in behind the favourite when that one fell, badly hampering him and effectively putting him out of the race. His rider wasted little time in pulling him up and there’ll be other days. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: It’s incredible, a dream come true. It doesn’t get any better to have a winner on a day like this, it’s fantastic. We nearly pulled COMMANCHE RED out this morning, we think he wants good to soft rather than on softer side. We’ve always loved him and he beat Beakstown and Getaway Trump. I’m not sure what Chris (Gordon, trainer) is thinking but you’d probably have to to think about a Graded race – Richard Cheshire, part-owner.

12.50 Possibly not Graded performers yet, good handicappers? Early days, 1st3 all lightly raced clocking personal bests, so Promising bunch?
[Often a useful novice, Nicky Henderson won it for the fifth time since 2011, although not with the one the market expected. They pace was a steady one in the conditions.
FRED [145+] had twice disappointed since arriving from France, but the return to 2m on testing ground seemed to suit him ideally and he came strong over the last two hurdles, taking over at the last and running on well. He’s not a Graded performer, at present anyway, and perhaps good-quality handicaps will be his next port of call.Ecco [148e]was disappointing when upped to Grade 2 level at Cheltenham last time and faced no easy task conceding weight all round on this drop in grade. He ran a fine race, but had just been headed when making a mistake at the last and that was that. He has scope for further progress and emerges with almost equal credit to the winner at the weights.Getaway FRED [137+], a good winner on similar ground at Chepstow, enjoyed the run of the race but wasn’t good enough to race on with the front two when it mattered. He too was conceding weight to the winner and will find easier tasks. [Mark Brown]QUOTES: Daryl (Jacob) didn’t want to run him in really heavy ground so we aimed for here but it’s normally quite a hot race and we weren’t sure if he was quite going to be good enough for it. When FRED was pulled out into the straight and suddenly he came alive. We’ve always thought he was a nice horse so it’s pleasing – Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

Day Two Friday 27th – Once again only one GA used by RP, chuffing useless!

Or, in the case of Miranda, how to disguise a good run?

1.20 – Time of the Meet & 0.27spf Clear of Card given 174+ Global Citizen video. Performance of the week by a Novice, pretty much! 
[Sprinter Sacre, Altior and Cyrname are among the winners of this Grade 2 in recent seasons, with five of the last eight winners going on to land the Racing Post Arkle. Global Citizen set what appeared to be a sound pace and the order hardly changed. The time was very respectable, only 6sec outside the standard and 4.1sec quicker than the Desert Orchid Chase. .Global Citizen stepped up considerably on the form of his chasing debut at Carlisle two months ago, when the Ben Pauling string was having a quiet time. Fitted with a first-time tongue tie, he again shifted slightly to his left at many of the obstacles, but found plenty to hold off his pursuers. Likely to be kept until the spring, he clearly deserves consideration for the Arkle, although all wins have all come on flat tracks. The Maghull at Aintree could be ideal.Rouge Vif, who has had a wind operation, was without a hood for the first time in over a year. Chasing the winner all the way and keeping on to the line, this was a very solid performance and he turned around Cheltenham form with Al Dancer.Grand Sancy represented a stable which had won four of the last six renewals of this event. Less experienced over fences than his principal rivals, he was beaten between the last two obstacles but did rally on the run-in, giving the impression that he might be worth a try over further at some stage. Before long his connections might have to decide whether to preserve his novice status for another season.Al Dancer, runner-up in this grade at Cheltenham, again went without a hood. He ran very creditably at the weights and might have held on to third had he taken the final fence cleanly.Fanion D’estruval impressed on his British debut at Newbury, after which his BHA mark rose 12lb, but that form has taken a few knocks. He seemed to find things happening a little too quickly for him and his jumping wasn’t as slick as some, but he stayed on and was beaten under five lengths. [Richard Lowther]QUOTES: Had Global Citizen not won today he would probably have gone back to the Champion Hurdle, hence the fact we threw him in at the deep end here. He is good fresh as well, so you might not see him now until the spring – Ben Pauling, trainer.]

3.35 – Time of the meet as hurdler and 0.27 spf Clear of 3 – Officially rated 124 winner gets ts58 ?
Gets a 152p from me upped 9lb for the win & the 2nd upped 2, should still be capable of winning a similar race: The video:
The first three came away and this looks quite strong form.MIRANDA had been held in her two previous ventures into handicap company, but was found to be in season after the one at Wincanton in the spring, when the ground was too quick for her, and she was entitled to need her reappearance at Sandown. A fluent winner, she has posted all her hurdling victories on right-handed tracks and the Imperial Cup is a possible target for her.Elusive Belle came in for strong support, her Newbury third behind stablemate Epatante having been boosted in the Christmas Hurdle. She ran a solid race, but late mistakes didn’t help and she ran into an unexposed filly.Eddiemaurice figured on a decent mark and had his chance, taking his record in this event to 5213.Beltor, in a reapplied visor, was caught on heels on the home turn but stuck on. This was his best effort for a while.American Gigolo hadn’t run since July 2018 and shaped with promise on ground likely to have been too soft for him. He wasn’t knocked about when the leaders got away from him on the turn into the straight and is one to keep an eye on.Chance A Tune was well beaten on this handicap debut, which was just his third run over hurdles. Nigel Twiston-Davies could offer no explanation. [Richard Lowther]QUOTES: MIRANDA does need to go right-handed and a flat track probably suits her well, she’s won at Ludlow, Wincanton and here now. Last year we got her off the Flat and she was almost too fit and lean so she had the summer off and almost came back too late and had done too well so we’ve had to run her back into form. She’s a good fun mare and did that quite tidily, there’s probably a fun race in her somewhere. She might creep into the Betfair Hurdle, she’ll certainly have an entry, but the Imperial Cup might suit her as Harry said she wants to go right-handed – Paul Nicholls, trainer.

Newbury December – The later meeting in between xmas/NY

A lot easier to rate up – even while the RP still only use one GA when there’s quite a gap in the Going Stick readings? Whatever! A lot going on at this meet, possible contenders for Supreme, Albert Bartlett or Ballymore Properties, RSA Chase and Champion Hurdle. 

A sound edition of this staying handicap chase, which was first run in 1963 and was won twice in its early years by the brilliant Mill House.

The rapidly improving Copperhead [162+] proved much the best.Copperhead came back on the bridle when jumping to the front two out and won this as he liked. A rapid improver over the last 12 months, winning three of his last four starts, he’s taken extremely well to fences and made light of the 9lb rise he’d incurred for winning at Wincanton at the start of the month. Now 2-3 over fences, he’s an impressive individual, who could well make up into a serious RSA Novices’ Chase contender.Moving In Style stuck well to his task in the straight and was steadily gaining on Indy Five when that rival slithered to the ground at the last. He’s been revitalised by the switch to Robert Walford this winter and remains on a fair mark.Forgot To Ask was held up and never got into it. His three career wins have all come on good ground.Antony, who repeatedly jumped to his left, is 4lb above his last winning mark and found this a struggle from 2 out.Indy Five, pulled up on both starts this season since returning from a lengthy absence, was in the process of running a fine race and took an undeserving fall at the last. This was his third fall in only nine starts over fences, though he’d not put a foot wrong at all prior to his coming down.Boughtbeforelunch, a regular bridesmaid over fences, departed at the first.Polydora, bidding to give his trainer a third win on the day, made a mistake at the second and never looked happy prior to pulling up. He reportedly broke a blood vessel. [Marcus Buckland]
The Cashel Man vs Thyme Hill

Easily the fastest hurdle race & I still think The Cashel Man could turn out Champion Hurdle material:

3.00 –  A small but select field was assembled for this Grade 1 contest. The Cashel Man ensured it was a proper test and the favourite stayed on best to oblige.
THYME HILL, third in last season’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and a winner of a couple of Grade 2s over hurdles this season, maintained his unbeaten record with a first win at the highest level. It was not plain sailing for him but he stays extremely well and gradually took the measure of the game runner-up in the final half-furlong, despite a sloppy jump at the last. He’s not at all flashy but he’s tough and genuine and is now just 8-1 for the Ballymore and 6-1 for the Albert Bartlett at the festival in March. The ground will likely determine which race he tackles.The Cashel Man, an impressive winner of a good C&D handicap last month, ensured a sound gallop and proved a tough nut to crack in the straight. A mistake at the third-last and a stumble on landing at the next did little to help his cause but he kept responding and was only seen off in the final 100 yards or so. This ground was probably as soft as he’d want it.Enrilo was only rated 6lb behind THYME HILL and 2lb behind The Cashel Man, but he was in trouble from 3 out here and failed to run up to expectations. A Grade 2 winner at Sandown last time, he seems unable to put two good runs together. Connections were pleased with this however, and he’s expected to come into his own when tackling fences next season.Eclair Surf stopped quickly and came down at the last when well adrift. [Marcus Buckland]QUOTES: THYME HILL stays well and only dossed when he got to the front. His jumping wasn’t what it can be and that’s what concerned me a bit, but Richard said he was just dossing in behind the others and when he pulled him wide in the straight he was slap bang on the bridle. I think Cheltenham will be ground dependent. Soft and he’ll probably go for the Ballymore and goodish ground he’ll probably go for the Albert Bartlett. My first reaction is to go straight to Cheltenham as he’s not the sort of horse to be running every week. – Philip Hobbs, trainerThe Cashel Man has run a superb race but I’m sure he will be better on better ground because he’s a Flat horse. Mind you, he loves his jumping and he’s really enjoying himself now. – Nicky Henderson, trainerEnrilo ran well, there’s two very good horses in front of him and Harry [Cobden] thinks that for all he’s a little bit behind them over hurdles, over fences he’s going to be a really serious horse. So we’ll just look after him this year and go chasing next year. – Harry Derham, assistant trainer

12.40 – a HOT little ‘Introductory,’ Hurdle me thinks, some nice lightly raced types & the first 6 clear:
An informative event and the winner looks a potentially smart recruit.MISTER COFFEY, an easy winner of a Huntingdon bumper for Harry Whittington, made his challenge on the bridle two out and, despite looking green when striking the front at the last, he knuckled down and got the job done in good style. A £340,000 purchased and a good looking individual, he raced with plenty of enthusiasm throughout and looks a high-class prospect. He’s been given a 33-1 quote for the Supreme Novices‘ Hurdle but Nicky Henderson, who believes he’ll develop into a “spectacular horse”, is mindful not to over race him this season and is already thinking of going novice chasing with him next term.Shakem Up’arry, a faller when odds-on for his hurdles bow at Leicester 17 days earlier, showed no ill effects and briefly gave favourite backers a scare on the run-in. This was a really pleasing effort and a win in something similar in the coming weeks should be a formality.On To Victory, who’d unseated at the last when holding every chance on his hurdles debut at Haydock earlier this month, did plenty right here but lacked the gears from two out. A talented stayer on the Flat (currently rated 100), it’s likely he’ll need 2m4f over hurdles to be seen at his best.Scorched Earth, the only 3yo in the line-up and shouldering a penalty for winning on debut at Catterick, wasn’t disgraced in this much deeper race against older opposition.Buzz De Turcoing, back from a breathing operation with a fist-time hood employed alongside a tongue-tie, went well for a long way. He lost two places in the final furlong and may have just needed this after 255 days off.Stimulating Song, who’d gone close in a couple of bumpers on good ground and had run with encouragement on his hurdles introduction at Haydock, ran around before three out here and didn’t look entirely straightforward. [Marcus Buckland]QUOTES: MISTER COFFEY is a lovely horse. He is going to be a spectacular horse. Lady Bamford said there was no rush, to mind him, as you could see Nico was trying to do. He didn’t know he’d been in a race and it was a lovely introduction. He’s got there on the bridle and just had to be squeezed. A couple of weeks ago I was saying I’d love to have him as a maiden for next season, but he’s got to race. You could go chasing next season, but I don’t want to do too much with him this term. He’s won his maiden so we can’t put him to bed now. If anything he was too keen and he’s got plenty of pace; you wouldn’t want him going any further at the moment – Nicky Henderson, trainer

1.15 – This looked competitive beforehand and it didn’t disappoint with the first three serving up a pulsating finish.
DEFI SACRE is in the form of his life at present and gamely defied this new career-high mark in a thrilling three-way photograph. Up a total of 12lb for his wins at Musselburgh and over C&D ten days earlier, he jumped superbly, travelled strongly and gamely fought off a host of challengers in the straight. This is strong form and, given he handles all types of ground, he looks a chaser going places. He’ll now be given a break.Amoola Gold, weak in the market, found plenty for pressure and just failed. Nearly off the course approaching the elbow, his rider was forced to take some evasive action and that led to him interfering with both the winner and third, though the places remained unaffected following a lengthy stewards’ enquiry. He showed a good attitude in the circumstances and likely ran right up to his best. He’s been placed both starts here and seems well suited by this track.Vado Forte was a disappointment at Southwell last time but was back on his A-game this time and just lost out in a bobbing finish under his big weight. He was arguably the chief sufferer in some notable interference at the elbow and can be considered a shade unfortunate.Monsieur D’arque, a stablemate of the runner-up, was quickly left behind by the principals from two out, though seemed happier back in trip, having been well beaten over 2m3f at Catterick last time. He showed an tendency to hang left under pressure.Ardmayle made several mistakes and was soon left behind between the final couple of fences.Go Long, easy to back, appeared to have the stuffing knocked out of him when blundering at the third-last. [Marcus Buckland]QUOTES: “DEFI SACRE travelled with such ease and I was just praying James would just sent him on and go and get the race won! His head was in the right place at the finish. I’m not normally into running them back this quickly but he’s been in such good order, all of ours have, we’ve won six of our last eight races including one in France, and I felt while they’re in such good order I’ll run them and think about giving them a break after. He needed that season in England last term to acclimatise and he was always going to improve for a fence. We’ll give him a break now after that hard race, and then might take him up to Musselburgh for that trials day. I’d say we are where we are with his mark today. There’s a £30,000 2m4f handicap chase and he will step up in trip, having stayed it here over hurdles last season so that wouldn’t be a concern.” – Richard Hobson, trainer

The Racing Post have used only one going allowance and the going stick readings of 6.7 & 6.6 suggest they’re within the right to do so. I’ve used two and think the hurdles track may’ve actually been slower. Even with one, the fastest hurdle race of One Touch, I would be dishing out a 136p but with two he gets a lofty 149e? As his trainer is considering a go at the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham, I’m happy to let the first five from the race run and see how it transpires and downgrade later if needed. So:

One GA or two?
Boss Man Fred3m½f6m 6.50s 15.03s+21.00s +0.86s98Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f124138e
H (6.7)
Maire Banrigh1512m½f4m 6.15s 15.05s+9.15s +0.56s133Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f141160pXoMC (6.6)
Fantastic Ms Fox2m½f4m 14.03s 15.32s+24.03s +1.45s38Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f??

Lady Buttons2m4½f5m 10.50s 15.13s+16.50s +0.80s103Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f149130p

One Touch2m3½f4m 46.65s 14.78s+13.65s +0.70s109Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f?149exom as h
Boldmere3m6m 11.00s 15.48s+17.00s +0.71s121Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f133148e

Gunnery2m½f4m 8.22s 14.97s+18.22s +1.10s80Gd-SftGd-Sft-0.6s/f115120p

While Lady Buttons was claiming all the attention in winning the feature for the 2nd year running, it was another mare, Maire Banrigh, for the Skelton’s, who was clocking the fastest time on the card and enhancing her highly progressive profile. Over a trip which may in time prove to be short of her best:

12.25: What had looked a tight contest before the off was won easily by an improving mare.
[ XoM 160+e – interestingly, for me at least, exactly the same Dosage profile but with different Supreme Leader mare as mum as recent dual Gr3 handicap 3m 2f’s winner at Cheltenham, Cogry ]
(Ire) King’s Theatre (11.6f)Supreme Leader (12.5f)Even Spread! As Cogry! (5×5) ND(Can) & CrepelloDP = 6-0-6-6-0 (18) DI = 1.00 CD = 0.33
MAIRE BANRIGH, back into handicap company, gained a fifth win in succession in good style. Leading early, she was hassled for that position by the favourite before the halfway stage but shook him off heading to three out and wasn’t troubled to pull away. Giving weight to all of her rivals, she’s starting to show why she was such an expensive purchase four days after winning a point in 2017 and, considering she likes a sound surface, one would imagine the spring festivals are starting to creep into connections’ thoughts.Baddesley Knight, given wind surgery since winning at Wincanton 38 days previously, travelled powerfully for a long way but was reported by the vet to have bled from the nose.Grey Diamond, a fair hurdler at his best, was attempting chasing for the first time without his usual hood and ran perfectly well in what may turn out to have been an above-average contest.Lust For Glory didn’t jump with much fluency on her chasing debut.Eskendash was keeping on nicely, possibly into second place finish when falling at the second-last. He was carrying a low weight but it was still going to be a fine effort. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: MAIRE BANRIGH‘s form is very good and she hasn’t looked back since having a wind op. She’s a big, imposing mare and what pleased me most today was the way she stayed and galloped all the way up the straight. Like a lot of ours she’ll have a flu vaccination and will be given January off and then we’ll start to make a plan for the spring – Harry Skelton, rider.

11.55: A decent-looking contest for the level.
BOSS MAN FRED, 138me making his handicap debut, kept his unbeaten status intact but did it in workmanlike style rather than anything more flashy. The one thing that is clear is he’s a resolute stayer, and he has the scope to win off higher marks.Snow Leopardess, well beaten on her return to action at the end of last month following a 794 day absence, travelled nicely for quite a while but didn’t pick up as well as the two in front of her after three out. She did rally a little in the closing stages to get into second, and this was more positive.Little Bruce, off since April, looked well treated in this discipline when comparing it to his chasing mark, and made a fine comeback, pushing the winner down the home straight before fading slightly after the last. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s kept to hurdles for the short-term.Alrightjack, below his best when last seen at Newbury in early November, which was his first attempt at 3m, never got out of the rear division. The representative of Jamie Snowden reported that the gelding had a breathing problem.Divine Spear, returned to hurdling, remains out of form, as he was struggling some way from home here. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: It’s a hard track for an inexperienced horse as they get racing a long way out, but the further BOSS MAN FRED goes the better he goes. He has a good attitude and a nice way of going. He’s a 3m chaser in the making and we’ll look after him this season – Tom Messenger, assistant to trainer Dan Skelton.

1.35: Using official figures as a guide, this was one the strongest runnings of this race considering it contained two mares with marks in the 150s and three more on 149. It produced an exciting finish.
[I fluffed up here: while still reacquainting myself with the depths of the Racing Post website, seems I was missing a figure for Lady Buttons only her best one which would have put her as top-rated for this. I don’t think she had to be at her best to win this, just had more in reserve to quicken off a moderate pace?] 130p me
LADY BUTTONS, back chasing having claimed fourth (wearing first-time cheekpieces) in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, won this last year and was moving powerfully on the bridle as the front three cleared two out. However, her rider was keen to keep a hold of his mount for longer and she only got going again well after the last, poking her nose ahead as the line approached, taking her record at Doncaster to 41111.Happy Diva, given a small break since landing the Betvictor Gold Cup, gained a clear advantage around half a furlong from home but was caught in the final strides, giving everything in defeat. This could have been a new career best.La Bague Au Roi came into this having finished third in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase and was soon sent to the front. She put in some fine leaps at various stages but was joined soon after three out and couldn’t pull out a bit extra, for all that she never gave up.Casablanca Mix, who’d won her last three starts, the last two Listed events, needed to be shaken up some way from home and couldn’t remain in touch with the first three. This was some way below her best.Dalila Du Seuil refused to settle, so was never going to have a great deal left for the end.Queen’s Magic unseated her rider three out when he hadn’t gone for everything just behind the principals. It’s reasonable to think she’d have struggled to make a telling impact in the final stages on these terms but she has possibly improved a bit and will be of interest in a weaker event than this. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: LADY BUTTONS is an absolute star who owes us nothing. I’d say this is her best performance, she’s put it in and done everything right. I wonder whether the cheekpieces have helped her a little bit. She’s been in front a lot of times and there’s been something to come and get her. She’s only run over hurdles this season and we switch her back and forth and she keeps doing it – over different trips as well. Not many horses can do that. She’s odds-on to come back here for the Graded mares’ hurdle in January, which she won last year – Phil Kirby, trainer.La Bague Au Roi has run well. Dickie was critical of himself in that he felt he should have kept kicking after winging four-out and then she’s made a mistake at the wrong time. She battled back and he said she felt the best she has all season – Warren Greatrex, trainer.

2.10: 149e? Xom as h 
Some nicely bred lightly raced types 6th placed Vinnie got 109 from me here against his OR125. All those in front of him could be worth a second look next time for a while?
ONE TOUCH, well beaten on his first try over hurdles 26 days previously, was upped in trip for this and went straight to the front, racing enthusiastically. His rivals tried to close in off the final bend, but he found plenty more and wasn’t hard pressed to extend away. The slightly better ground may have helped and he’s a nice prospect.
Corrany showed more than enough at Ludlow last time to have leading claims in this, but bumped into one here. There will be other days for him.Demachine seemed to improve plenty from his 40-1 debut effort at Chepstow 53 days previously, for all that the winner was well in front of him.Sometimes Always, who’d finished fourth on his hurdling debut late last month, a race that had produced a few subsequent winners, raced a little keenly early on and then made a mistake three out. It was an okay effort and he emerges with a couple of excuses.Eclair On Line ran more in keeping with his rules debut having been given wind surgery, and is one to note in a weak handicap.Vinnie Dev wasn’t at his best here, not finding a great deal for pressure in the home straight. He’s much better than this. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: I think ONE TOUCH is quite useful and he showed that today. Our horses were just coming back when he was fourth at Southwell last time. We’ll have a look at the Ballymore race on trials day at Cheltenham next month – Ben Pauling, trainer.
2.45: 148+e BOLDMERE, 10lb higher than when winning over 2m4f at Leicester, found plenty when getting into the lead and won comfortably, seeing the new trip out really well. His mark is clearly going to creep up again, but he’s young and unexposed as a stayer, so may handle the rise. Perhaps the Listed chase over C&D in late January can be an ideal target. 
Bob Mahler managed to complete last time after pulling up twice before that and ran well again, albeit not always looking a straightforward ride in front.Slanelough wasn’t a threat to the first two for the majority of the home straight, but he kept on going gamely enough. He does, however, remain a maiden at a chaser.Catamaran Du Seuil, up in trip and with cheekpieces returning for the first time since arriving from France, moved to the front going well after four out but didn’t go on when challenged by the winner. He’s on a fair mark and might pop up again soon.Spider’s Bite stopped quickly in the final stages. However, it’s worth noting that he collided with the rail and unseated its rider on the way to post. He then cantered loose for a short distance before being caught. Having been examined by the doctor and the vet at the start, both the rider and horse were deemed fit to race. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: Sean [Bowen] jumped off and said we could have another Crosspark [160+e won 4m Eider Newc]. That would be lovely but BOLDMERE is only a novice. He’s progressing and has a wonderful temperament, and going left-handed suits him better – Caroline Bailey, trainer.
3.20: A competitive-looking event, featuring some unexposed types.
GUNNERY didn’t settle on his handicap debut last time when in midfield, but was more amenable this time at the head of affairs and bolted up. He’d looked useful in the early part of his Flat career (gaining an RPR of 98 at one stage) so always had the potential to be chucked in off this mark as a hurdler, and should be able to hold his own in better races than this. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of race connections find for him next, but something on a flat track might be ideal.The Twisler put in his best performance for a while, off a mark 2lb below his last winning one, albeit he never threatened to get to the front.Reverend Jacobs sat alongside the winner for a lot of the early stages but had nothing like the change of gear that rival possessed. There will be easier tasks than this for him.Shanroe Tic Tec ran well on his first start for 223 days. He was reported to have lost his left-fore shoe.Twin Star, on handicap debut, took a long time to hit top gear and might benefit for going up in trip. He was reported to have lost his left-fore shoe.Yaa Salaam, tried in cheekpieces for his handicap debut, was outpaced at a crucial stage and couldn’t make any impact.Successor didn’t look a straightforward ride, tending to throw his head around, but kept going forward. He has a very hit or miss profile. [Dave Toft]QUOTES: GUNNERY is a lovely horse who has really travelled and did it nicely. He was a good horse on the Flat and entitled to win off that mark and I’m sure the handicapper will have his say – Nico de Boinville, rider.
1.00:  They didn’t seem to go that quick early on, so this may not be overly strong form.
FANTASTIC MS FOX, now in a hood, unseated her rider four from home while being hampered on her hurdling debut in a Listed event but managed to avoid any similar problems here and, after switching from one side of the track to the other, stormed home after the last to surge to the front. She was largely consistent at a modest level on the Flat at up to 1m6f, so can stay further in this discipline.

Boxing Day’s Selection Box

Posted: December 26, 2019 in Previews
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Tired of having one winner on the itv7, putting together my own accumulator, bet on races I would rather, as opposed to ones they want to me to bet in, h’mmm…. Wish me luck…


11.55 Weth – Hawthorn Cottage decent figs & 5lb Clm 15/s

12.30 DRo – Farsideofthemoon – 23/s is a Swib, is fresh again, better overall stats than fav & “could easily improve for jumping hurdles.” Not a strong race by any means on the figs bar fav?

1.00 Weth Wor Verge Jock 5lb helps 12/s

2.50 W-aw – Abadie 13/s fresh 1Tip

12.50 K – Red Force One 10/s

1.20 K – Solomon Grey 12/s cdg – (we’ll have that from itv7)

3.40 K – Jenkins 29/s 1st4 ?

Leop – 

1.10 – Gr2 Juvenile – 

Footpad was a beaten joint favourite in this race in 2015 – 

Will be interesting to see how Brendan W Duke’s Clemencia – who, besides Goshen, I think, have given the highest rating to so far this season – gets on amongst some of Ireland’s best Juveniles so far. 

He is also, along with Sacchoandvanzetti, a Sadler’s Wells inbred. 

Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick – 

Lake View Lad – a qualifier on the Dominant Stamina Stayer w Weight method, another work in progress… 7/s

ITV Races: There’s usually one decent priced winner but which one? Hard to tell…

1.20 K – Solomon Grey 12/s cdg – 

1.55 K – Master Tommytucker 3/s 

2.10 WDidero Vallis rpr+Claim, 10/s Lake View Lad, wcr+ 11/2

2.30 K – Epatante 5/s tho should be going Fusil for the winner me thinks?

2.45 WDubai Angel cdg*+ trnr stats better t’ Ozzy 7/s

3.05 Kempton’s King George – Could be wrong but fav’s too short, Clan Des Obeaux on this 5/s but Thistlecrack EW fun bet? 15/s & Footpad (new Sadler’s Wells project qualifier so rooting for him too?)

3.20 W Show And Go 12/s lot going for – 

It just keeps getting better as I putting Friday’s extension together:

Lol, so while I’ve been avidly noting Sadler’s Wells(USA) inbreds and adding to a spreadsheet – no fewer than three of his predecessors’ as Sire in Chief – Northern Dancer(Can) had a field day at this meet. The fact that the 11yo Regal Encore(ire), has been and done it here before – gives hope to his younger, proteges, 1st and last race winners, Flowing Cadenza and Not So Sleepy, that they too could follow in his hoofprints. 

Probably the most interesting thing from this meeting is the Timeform Time Figure alloted to The World’s End of 107 because they adhere very closely to the Official handicap scale. I have no access to the rest of the card according to Timeform Time Figures but I would be very interested in seeing what they gave to Nor So Sleepy – because according to the Racing Post’s standards – Not So Sleepy ran 58lb better than that ‘107’

‘Where’s the ceiling?’ ‘Leaving a ‘stone’ in the bank?’ Who on earth will understand?

I initially gave Not So Sleepy 152p, then upped to 154p within the RP site but that 107 & 58lb – read alongside the comments below, I may well have left ‘10lb to a stone in the bank?’

154 suggests the 4th home Turnpike Trip ran to within a pound of the figure I gave him last time in his native Ireland and that Monsieur Lecoq(Fr) ran a well clear Figure Of the Meet, with or without his jockey claim – I’ll have to go and #RacetoFollow this one…..

1.15 – Always a decent chase and the form looks sound. Another big step forward from the impressive winner.
RIDERS ONTHE STORM put this to bed in fine style and is clearly a fast-improving chaser. He came in after an admin error forced him to sit out the Caspian Caviar at Cheltenham a week earlier. The 6yo’s jumping was particularly impressive and it’s not hard to see why he’s the apple of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ eye. The Ryanair in March is the big target, for which he’s a best price 16-1.On The Blind Side couldn’t live with the winner after the second-last and probably did bump into one here. It puts him back on track, although he’s not simple to place.Paloma Blue failed to raise his game and seemed to find this too testing.Adrien Du Pont likes it here and is very useful on his day, although doesn’t want the ground this deep. [David Orton]QUOTES: The Ryanair is definitely on the agenda for RIDERS ONTHE STORM. He may come back here for the Ascot Chase in February. He’s looking like a very cheap buy and is our most exciting horse. He settled well and jumped his way to the front. He doesn’t quite settle enough to go further yet but he will do. It’s really exciting and he wasn’t stopping at all at the line. His jumping was superb – Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer.

3.35 – Add 16yds. A cracking prize. Predictably there was a solid gallop on and it proved one-way traffic. The winner closed in on the level expected from his Flat form.
NOT SO SLEEPY was still attractively treated on Flat form despite a 5lb higher mark and the classy 7yo took this apart with another outstanding effort from the front. He needs to dominate, but wasn’t quite as headstrong this time, getting in a breather around three out. That proved crucial, but handicaps like this are rarely won with such ease and he has to be a huge player for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury now.Monsieur Lecoq was turning out quickly again and gave the winner 23lb back in a handicap. He had his ground, did well to run on for second after being hampered and rates a rock-solid benchmark.Sir Valentine tanked along under a patient ride and turned in a respectable effort. The 6yo should learn from the experience and has kicked off in handicaps on a workable mark.Turnpike Trip, fourth in the Royal Bond 20 days earlier, looked a big player turning in. He lacked a change of gear nearing two out, however, and looks worthy of a step up in trip.Whoshotthesheriff, back down in distance, flattened out in between the last two flights and likely paid for a wide trip. He’s not one to give up on.Quoi De Neuf, popular in the ante-post market, had still to be asked any sort of question when brought down. [David Orton]QUOTES: I thought NOT SO SLEEPY was going well turning the bend so off he went and trounced them. He jumped fantastically at Henrietta Knight’s last week but struggled a bit early in the race because of the ground. It’s up to the horse how fast he goes and he wasn’t silly. He won it really well and moved beautifully across the ground. He won the Dee Stakes on bottomless ground in 2015 and I suspect this was deeper. We won this race 18 years ago with Marble Arch who disappointed at Newbury and then came second in the Champion Hurdle so you can only but dream that’s the ultimate objective. He didn’t carry a lot of weight but he won with a stone in hand. Why not look forward? He’s eight so there’s no point messing around with novices and handicap hurdles – Hughie Morrison, trainer.

1.50 – This looked highly competitive on paper, but the winner proved far too good. The third sets a decent level.
ESPOIR DE GUYE made a mockery of his 9lb hike for landing the odds at Exeter 15 days earlier and provided his red-hot stable with another winner. The young chaser is firmly on an upward curve and looks just the type for the novice handicap on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival in March, although soft ground could be important to his cause.My Way did all his best work from the second-last on this drop back in trip and there’s no doubt a fair pot in him back over a stiffer test.First Flow proved a sitting duck for the highly progressive winner but wasn’t at all disgraced on this quick return. The consistent 7yo again shaped as though reverting to a left-handed circuit might prove ideal.Cap Du Nord was never a serious player, but ideally needs a sounder surface. [David Orton]QUOTES: ESPOIR DE GUYE has the action for the ground. This was a step up from what he had done before. Having a look where to go next will be exciting – Venetia Williams, trainer.

Navan Calling

Posted: December 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

How dare someone interrupt the 40th birthday celebrations of The Clash’s London Calling with a quality racecard….

11.30 – 12.00 I not the only one taken with the winner of the opening Maiden Hurdle as Graeme North says:

“Pace maps from Fairyhouse/Navan this weekend. Easily the best faster-than-expected finish was posted by @HenrydeBromhead‘s Captain Guinness. Finish in Latest Exhibition/Andy Dufresne race was slower than it should have been so hard to view form too highly”

And I like cartography but what the rest of it means? Interestingly, an opposing view form Timeform regarding Latest Exhibition, as they gave out a Time Figure of 144 – these ‘Tfigs’ can prove quite reliable and I’m quite intrigued as to what they gave Captain Guinness as he evidently stole a march on the remaining hurdles races according to the Racing Post standards. What a terrific racecourse debut! He obviously likes a good pace to run at and absolutely loves it when said pacesetter falls at the last. You have to feel a little for Willie Mullins’ (& those poor punters who backed) 2/9f favourite, Blackbow, who would probably have won?

2.35 Time of the meet regards the chasers, Mick The Jiver, takes the honours – marginally, as it could have been closer has Kevin Brouder had a bigger claim and for me, the 2nd, Wonderoftheworld, being two years younger than the winner who had been here before and won, was making his Navan debut and will know more next time?

3.10 That ‘Future Champions,’ Listed Bumper… Crikey!

Only 7 runners and I could nearly write a book (& I’m wondering if Pogue won today) a song and a dance…

& he doesn’t even mention the last home, Buck Rogers, who is a half brother to Champion Bumper winner, Fayonagh – last today but one for the Notebook to be making his debut in a such a race as this, ie. Listed Class