Diary; December 2, 3 & 4 2006

My Way de Solzen could not have been more impressive on his chase debut at Lingfield and he will take some beating if lining up in the Grade 2 novice chase at Sandown (2.05) on Saturday.  If he is an absentee then Paul Nicholl’s ex French New Little Bric who is apparently well thought of at home and won easily on his UK debut would be my selection.

  

In the Tingle Creek at 2.35 it is impossible to oppose the in form Kauto Star.  He won this last season and is rated well in excess of his rivals.  The interesting one is Arkle winner Voy Por Ustedes who would have been my selection but for the presence of Kauto Star.  Alan King’s up and coming star handles soft ground and if anything is going to give Kauto Star a race he is likely to be the one. 

  In the 12.20 at Wetherby look out for Double Default and Ossmoses.  Double Default won between the flags at Tallow and was promptly snapped up by Sir Robert Ogden.  He is well thought of by connections.  Ossmoses will no doubt be contesting some of the better long distance staying chases but he should go well if taking his chance in this modest looking hurdle race, especially if the conditions are testing.  

Mr Pointment has already made an impressive winning debut over fences and looks very much a horse to follow.  He is entered in the 2.55.

  

Sunday

  

Kelso 1.00 According to John, Ungaru and Mr Pointment, from our list to follow are all entered in this.

  

3.00 Scarvagh Diamond has been running well in bumpers and has recently moved to Nicky Richard’s yard.

  

At Warwick on Sunday I see that Snakebite (2.10) and Sound Accord (3.40) are entered from our list to follow.

  

In the novice hurdle at 1.40 David Pipe’s Scotland Yard looks the type to do well over hurdles.  He won twice on the flat at Ripon.

  

In the Hattan Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse (2.05) I fancy Asian Maze who should find the trip ideal.  Incidentally the race is named after the horse that won the Champion Hurdle in 1949, 1950 and 1951 when trained by Vincent O’Brien.

  

There are a number of horses from our list to follow entered in the Drinmore Novice Chase but without knowing riding plans or ground conditions I do not have any strong views.

  

There is racing at Fakenham on Monday and I would fancy Alan King’s Kandjar D’Allier if he lines up in the 2.20.

  

A few more pointers

  

Carryon on the theme of some old favourites likely to be seen in point to points and hunter chases this season here are a few more names for the notebook.

  

Paul Hogarth, who trains at Lower Withington in Cheshire has acquired a couple of familiar names.  Cordilla looked a possible future star not so long ago when trained by Nicky Richards. He won over both hurdles and fences but tended to have problems with his jumping.  Europa, a winner of 10 races used to be with Ferdy Murphy.  He can boast some smart form on his CV.  For example he was 3rd behind Monkerhostin and Thisthatandtother at Cheltenham a couple of years back, with Armaturk, Fondmort and Impek behind him.

   

Limerick Leader is now with Patrick Hutchinson, having been bought out of Phillip Hobbs yard and looks the type to do well between the flags, while King Eider is with David Kemp who trains in Norfolk.  King Eider is a member of a fairly exclusive club in that he has won on the flat, over hurdles and fences. He has had injury problems so it may be touch and go whether he makes it to the course.

  

Double Honour is another member of that exclusive club, in fact he has a listed contest to his credit on the flat and he has been placed in some of the top staying chases. Marie McGuiness trains Double Honour.  She and her husband run a satellite yard for Phillip Hobbs who trained Double Honour under rules.

  

Spring Grove and Telemoss have both appeared on my lists to follow down the years.  Both had there injury problems over the years. Andy Old, whose wife runs a satellite yard for Robert Alner will be training Spring Grove while Nicky Richards will be aiming Telemoss at the better hunter chases. Telemoss was a useful hurdler with his biggest win coming in the John Smith’s hurdle at Wetherby two years ago.  He won a few novice chases after going chasing quite late in his career but ran into injury problems. Another that will probably be seen in the top hunter chases is Drombeag who is trained by Jonjo O’Neill.

  

Gunther McBride won the Racing Post Chase in 2002.  He will be trained by Mike Tuckey and will be going hunter chasing.

  

Foly Pleasant is now with Karen Waldron.  He was 2nd in the Foxhunters at the 2005 Cheltenham Festival.

   

Lord Atterbury used to be trained by Martin Pipe and was 3rd in the Grand National in 2004 but fell at the first the following year.  He is now trained by Gina Weare and may end up in hunter chases.

  

Barryscourt Lad is another that used to be trained by Martin Pipe.  His biggest win came in the Great Yorkshire Chase in 2003.  Ben Woodhouse trains the 12 year old in Yorkshire.

  The UK point to point season gets under way earlier this season.  The first meeting is at the Black Forest Club in the west country on Sunday.  

I will be back on Monday evening – have a good weekend.

 

Continue reading “Diary; December 2, 3 & 4 2006”

Diary: December 1 2006

Of the horses mentioned in last night’s update Liberate and Flash Cummins were odds on winners while Conkering was 4th having drifted markedly in the betting.  Reach for the Top was second to the horse pointed out as the main danger.

  

Down at Exeter tomorrow Richard Phillips gives a debut run to Lennie the Blade in the novice hurdle at 1.10.  He is by a Derby runner up out of Limelight, who was a winner over hurdles.  The stable are not in the best of form but I think this could be a horse worth keeping an eye on in the longer term.

  

David Pipe’s horses are in top form and I fancy his Doc Row in the Exeter 2.15. He should be fit after a run 3 weeks ago and will be well suited by the soft ground.

  

Just for Men refused last time at Chepstow and is probably not straightforward.  He has first time blinkers in the 3.20 and might be worth one more chance.

  

A multiple winner in France, Granit Jack was a bit disappointing when only 3rd on his UK debut.  He is apparently held in high regard by connections and gets a chance to atone for his defeat in the 2.05 at Sandown. The 2 horses that finished in front of him on his last outing have both won since.  I see that Paul Nichools has won this race for the last 2 years with Ladalko and Neptune Collonges.

  

Star de Mohaison and The Listener represent our list to follow in the 2.35.  The Listener beat the Paul Nicholls trained chaser twice last season.  However, he has fallen on his last two starts and Star de Mohaison has the benefit of a winning run over hurdles already this season so he gets the selection.

 

On the all weather at Lingfield there is a very strongt whisper for the unraced Sweeney in the 1.55.

 

 

  Good luck  

Continue reading “Diary: December 1 2006”

Diary: November 30 2006

Our 3 list runners ran with credit this afternoon.  Paddy Brennan took no prisoners aboard longs odds on favourite Astarador making all and pulling well clear with the rest in a different parish.

  

Harmony Brig has always looked a chasing sort and apart from ballooning the first few he warmed to the task when tackled by Percussionist and looks a bright prospect.  There was an eyecatching run from King Revo in third.  He jumped bet of all and made late headway to suggest he will be spot on next time.

  

Finally, Sir Boreus Hawk put in a pleasing display when 2nd to an impressive winner in the bumper at Catterick.

  

We have just one list runner tomorrow and that is Reach for the Top in the 3.00 at Leicester.  Reach for the Top, who is trained by Henrietta Knight and a half brother to Rosslea was 4th on his chase debut behind Mr Pointment. That was an encouraging start and he should run well tomorrow.  The main threat is likely to come from David Pipe’s An Accordion who is a half brother to Horus, who has had some big wins over fences for the Pipe team.

  

James Fanshawe does well with a small team of jumpers.  His 3 year old Conkering has his first run over hurdles in the 1.00 at Leicester.  He won on soft ground over a mile on the flat at Ripon so hopefully will handle what are likely to be testing conditions.  Tony McCoy has the ride.

  

Flash Cummins came over from Ireland with a tall reputation but didn’t live up to expectations last season.  He has already registered a win this term and may be finding his feet.  He runs in the 2.00.

  

Liberate won 4 times on the flat for Sir Mark Prescott.  He made a winning debut for new trainer Phillip Hobbs a fortnight ago and seeks to follow up in the 3.40 at Wincanton.  Liberate was a facile winner at Hereford and should be able to defy a penalty. 

 

Continue reading “Diary: November 30 2006”

Diary: November 29 2006

The best jumps racing on Wednesday is at Ayr.

  

Astarador scored on his hurdles debut at Wetherby in the soft and stands a good chance of following up under a penalty in the 1.30.

  

The novice chase at 2.30 is a fascinating contest even though there are only 4 runners.  Harmony Brig is one of our list to follow.  He won three times over hurdles last term.  He may well be ridden from the front here.  Both Percussionist and King Revo were on last season’s list so I have a strong interest in them too. Percussionist was classy on the flat as evidenced by his 4th in the 2004 Derby.  He didn’t seem to take to hurdling but won on his chase debut at Wetherby.  King Revo has recorded 8 wins on the flat and over hurdles.  He won at Cheltenham in December 2004 and that set a record for his trainer, as it meant he had trained a winner at each of the 59 British courses.  Tony McCoy has said he thinks King Revo will make a good chaser.  Needs to defy a long absence here. 

  

I am not totally convinced about Percussionist’s jumping while King Revo must have some fitness doubts so I will go with Harmony Brig.

  

At Catterick in the 3.25 Alan Swinbank runs the highly rated Sir Boreas Hawk.  I do not really like supporting horses running in bumpers with a penalty so I won’t say too much about him.  I feel he will make up into a useful hurdler though, regardless of the result tomorrow.

  

Orange Touch makes his hurdles debut in the 12.30 at Plumpton.  The trainer has a good strike rate at the track.

 

Continue reading “Diary: November 29 2006”

Diary: November 27 2006

Saturday had its successes on the tipping front.

  

v     I fancy Silverburn to come on for his earlier run and win this. (WON)

  

v     [Opera Mundi] and if he is good as people say he will be hard to beat.  (WON)

  

v     Keep an eye also on Saintsaire the change of scenery might just do the trick for him. (WON)

  

v     Strictly speaking our old friend Inglis Drever should prevail here. (WON)

  

v     If pushed for a selection I would go for State of Play and Idle Power. (State of Play WON)

   

v     Our other runner is Afsoun. He gets the nod here. (WON)

  

v     Aces Four won here last time out and the step up to 3 miles in the 1.25 should be in his favour. (WON)

  

v     If the promised rain does materialise this will suit Neptune Collonges.  He stays really well and should have come on for his second to Our Vic in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby. (WON)

  

v     I am going with Straw Bear for my selection. (WON)

  

Sorry about the trumpet blowing – I don’t often get the opportunity!

  

I see that Denman won again this afternoon at Newbury.  He looks a high class chaser and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.  He is by the way a full brother to Silverburn.

  

There is only one runner from our list to follow running on Monday.

  

In 1955 Jimmy Shand recorded the hit single "Bluebell Polka" which reached number 20 in the charts and earned him an appearance on a BBC television "Pop Music" programme.  You live and learn on this site! 

  

Well the horse names after the popular accordionist, Sir Jimmy Shand, runs in the 1.30 at Folkestone.  He won bumpers at Ludlow and Huntingdon before failing in the Aintree Festival bumper.  He is well bred along strong jumping lines and I am hopeful that he will pay his way over hurdles this season.

  

A few pointers

  

I thought readers might be interested in hearing about some of the horses featured in these pages in recent years who are now point to pointing or will be hunter chasing.

  

Arnold Layne was the name of Pink Floyd’s first hit single.  It was actually banned by the BBC because of the “offensive” lyrics.  Pretty harmless stuff viewed from today’s perspective.

  

The horse of the same name, a gelding by Roselier, won a bumper for Richard Phillips in April 2005 and was placed in a couple of hurdles.  He is now trained by Gerald Bailey in Northamptonshire and will be running in point to points.

  

Mouseski, Patches, Whitenzo, and Le Passing were all with Paul Nicholls and are being trained by Richard Barber who actually runs a satellite yard for the champion rules trainer.  They are all likely to go hunter chasing.

  

I seem to remember that Ballylusky was owned by Channel 4 pundit Jim McGrath at one time.  He once won a handicap chase at Aintree a few years back and a handicap hurdle at Haydock later in the same year.  He is now trained by Sheila Crow, an experienced point to pointy trainer from Shropshire.  Go For Bust is also with the same yard.  He won a handicap hurdle at 18/1 when on my list to follow last season, when he was with Nicky Henderson.

  

David Easterby is the son of veteran trainer Mick.  He has Kadarann under his charge.  This horse was pretty decent under rules when he was trained by Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls.  He won a couple of Grade 2 chases.

  

Ivanoph is a horse I had on my list to follow a few years back.  He was a winner at Auteil before moving to Paul Nicholls and he went on to win 3 times in the UK.  He is with Steve Flook now, a former trotting driving champion.  Ivanoph has had a few problems but has always had ability.

  

The website Furlongtogo used to publish an excellent list of horses to follow.  They seem to have stopped doing it now; I think the guy who did a lot of the research may have been ill.  Anyway, I think I got the idea of following a horse called Stamparland Hill fom Furlongtogo. He won a couple of chases and was placed a fair few times.  He probably didn’t live up to his early promise.  He tended to race a bit keen I seem to remember.  He is now trained by Gary Hanmer in Cheshire.

  

We might see a couple of classy types from Nicky Henderson’s yard in hunter chases this season.

  

There were really high hopes for First Love at one time.  He was never out of the first 2 in his first 13 outings and although he has not scaled the heights once envisaged he has won 9 times for his owner who just happens to be The Queen!  Amateur Jamie Snowden has partnered First Love for his last 3 wins and clearly gets on well with the horse.  For obvious reasons he will probably be aimed at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Memorial Hunters' Chase in March, a race he won easily last season.

  

I best remember Scots Grey for a terrific finish he was involved in at Kempton at Christmas time in 2003 when he just pipped Hand Inn Hand by a short head.  Scots Grey has been a decent chaser in his day and his mixed it with some of the best.  He was 3rd in the Mildmay of Flete at the 2003 Cheltenham Festival. Is appears that he may go hunter chasing and should do well in that sphere.

  

I will return to this topic in a day or two.

 

Continue reading “Diary: November 27 2006”

Diary: November 25 2006

This afternoon was largely disappointing from my point of view with most of the runners from our list to follow putting in below par displays.  Killaghey Castle and Briareus are exempt from that criticism though as they fought out the finish of an excellent novice chase at Newbury.  Briareus, 6th in the Champion Hurdle was much the better of the two over timber but given the larger obstacles Killaghey Castle, ridden by Leighton Aspell got the better of the argument.  He looks a bright prospect.  There was plenty to like about the runner up as well and hopefully there will be races to be won with both of them as the season unfolds.

  

Sadly Missed

  

There has been a spate of serious injuries to horses over the last week or so.  The latest was a fatal accident to Missed That.  The 7 year old had won the bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2005.  He went straight over fences last season and while not always fluent he won 2 Grade 1s at Leopardstown and a Grade 2 at Punchestown.  There was almost certainly more to come and he is a tragic loss.

  

Looking back to last weekend you had to be impressed with Kauto Star’s win at Haydock. The opposition in the King George will be stiffer and Racing Demon may prove to be his biggest threat but Kempton should suit the Nicholls runner.  When it comes to the Gold Cup in March we will have to see if the extra 2 furlongs catch Kauto Star out as they have others before him.

  

The Betfair Chase is the first leg of a treble that would land Kauto Star’s connections a cool £million if he goes on to complete the hat trick.  There is plenty of racing to come before we will know the answer to that one though.  The Betfair Chase had its inaugural running last season but is registered as the Lancashire Chase which does have a history.  A race of that name used to be run at the old Manchester track that ceased to exist in the mid sixties.  In those days the race was run on Easter Monday and was one of the most important steeplechases on the calendar. In the 50s it was won by a couple of Grand National winners, ESB and Sundew.

  

Writing about defunct tracks got me onto another train of thought.  I first began to take an interest in Racing in the late 50s and early 60s as I grew up in the Isle of Wight.  On the Island “the Festival” came to mean the pop variety rather than the jumping one.

  

The Isle of Wight Festival?

  

At the height of the flower-power era, hundreds of thousands of music fans came from all over the world to chill out in the fields of the Isle of Wight.

 

They packed onto the Isle of Wight ferry from the mainland for up to five days (although some stayed considerably longer) of live rock, communal living, free love and mind-bending substances.

 

Besides all the peace, love and latrines, there was the music – non-stop performances from some of the greatest pop musicians of any era.

 

I was never really into the dodgy substances and much of the free love sadly seemed to pass me by.  I remember the latrines though!

 

There used to be horse racing on the Island however.  In the 19th century there was racing just over the downs from my hometown of Ventnor at the other end of Rew Lane, but more recently there was a course at Ashey near Ryde. The last meeting there was held in June 1930 (after that the grandstand burnt down!)  There was a “Ventnor Handicap Hurdle” at that meeting with prize money of £63.  The last race of the day was a hurdle race won by a horse called Copacabana (and that was before Barry Manilow had been invented!)

  

After that brief meander down memory lane let’s get bang up to date and have a look at what are some quality races tomorrow.

  

Newbury

  

The first race at Newbury is a novice hurdle at 12.30.  We have a runner from our list to follow in Silverburn from Paul Nicholl’s yard.  Silverburn won the 2nd of his 2 bumpers at Wincanton last season ansd was runner up to Wichita Lineman on his hurdling debut at Aintree.   Silverburn is a full brother to stablemate Denman and generally has a very strong national hunt pedigree.  The thing that would concern me in this race is that the trip might be a bit on the short side for him.  He is up against some ex flat horses including the Andrew Balding trained Albinus who showed a bit of a wayward side at times on the level but had plenty of ability.  I fancy Silverburn to come on for his earlier run and win this.

  

Paul Nicholls has something of a “talking horse” in the 1.05.  There have been glowing reports of the ex French Opera Mundi and if he is good as people say he will be hard to beat.  As a 4 year old he gets a handy weight allowance.  The stable won this race last season with Taranis.

  

Our list representative in the 1.35 is the grey Locksmith. He has been looking a touch difficult to place but has been dropped 5 lbs in the handicap which should make him more competitive.  Keep an eye also on Saintsaire who used to be trained by Nicky Henderson but is now with Paul Nicholls.  Saintsaire has been something of an under achiever but has ability and the change of scenery might just do the trick for him.

  

Dom D’Orgeval is our list runner in the 2.05.  He was most progressive last term winning 3 handicaps being placed in better company.  He deserves to take his place in this field but would need to step up again to take a hand in the finish.  Plenty of rain would help his cause. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him embark on a novice chasing career before the season is out.  Strictly speaking our old friend Inglis Drever should prevail here.

  

The big race of the day is the Hennessy at 2.40, one of the most prestigious chases of the season it celebrates its 50th birthday tomorrow.  My theory about this race is that you need a second season chaser, without too much weight who stays really well.

  

There are 4 runners from our list to follow but they all carry more than 11 stone.  That is not ideal although Trabolgan humped 11 stone 10 to victory last season.  Turpin Green carries 11 stone 10 but he did beat subsequent Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Exotic Dancer out of sight on his last outing.   He is a horse with plenty of ability but has a lot of weight.  Sate of Play is well fancied by many.  He did well for Evan Williams last season winning 3 times over fences.  He jumps and stays and should appreciate the track.  He has a big chance.

  

There was a loud whisper for Idle Talk at Cheltenham on Paddy Power day and he finished an excellent second to My Will following a long drawn-out battle. I can see him running well again, but I just wonder if he might have done better if coming straight here. That race a fortnight ago may have left its mark.

  

The last of our quartet is Montgermont.  He is owned by his former trainer Lavinia Taylor and is now trained by Charlie Egerton.  His jumping has sometimes been a bit suspect but he is another with scope for improvement.

  

Cornish Rebel was 3rd in the race last year and runs well in these big staying handicaps.  Ruby Walsh rides Cornish Rebel but I think the stable’s other runner Napolitain looks worthy of a second look at well.  He is at the right end of the handicap, has a claimer reduces the weight further and had consistent form as a novice last season.

  

If pushed form a selection I would go for State of Play and Idle Power.

  

The Newbury card finishes with a 10 runner hurdle where we have a couple of runners from our list.  Midas Way has had a recent run on the flat so should be fit.  He won his only start over hurdles last season and based on his flat form does not look unreasonably treated here.  Our other runner is Afsoun who changed hands for 270,000 gns in May.  He had some fair form last season and goes well fresh.  I expect him to go over fences eventually.  He gets the nod here with Midas Way next best.  If you want an each way outsider you could try Anemix.

Newcastle   

I have scribbled the name of Trison’s Star in my trusty notebook.  He runs in the Newcastle 12.20.  The trip should suit but I would rather the mud was flying for this horse and I think I will keep a watching brief on this occasion.

  

Nicky Richards has a strong team this season and runs an interesting new signing in the 12.55 at Newcastle.  Cheating Chance has a good pedigree and won an Irish point to point.

  

Aces Four won here last time out and the step up to 3 miles in the 1.25 should be in his favour.  Heavy rain is forecast which could be a problem as good ground is important to him.

  

The Rehearsal Chase at 3.00 looks one to savour.  The top two in the weights, Neptune Collonges and Fundamentalist represent our list to follow.  If the promised rain does materialise this will suit Neptune Collonges.  He stays really well and should have come on for his second to Our Vic in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.  Liam Heard takes 3 lbs off.  Fundamentalist has lost his way somewhat for one reason or another but he looked a serious horse in the making when beating Inglis Drever at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival.  There was a glimmer of a return to form when he was a close second to Cornish Sett at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago.  He would be very interesting if he can recapture his old form.  Of the rest I would be very keen on the chances of a couple of list horses from last season, Bob Bob Bobbin and King Killone.   

  

King Killone is a real old fashioned chasing type who has a good novice campaign last season.  He has already won this term beating Silver Knight and subsequent winner Jungle Jinks at Wetherby a fortnight ago.  Bob Bob Bobbin is another thorough stayer who got the better of Distant Thunder to score at Bangor on his reappearance.  Seems to act on any ground. King Killone and Bob Bob Bobbin should go well.

  

The big hurdle race of the day is the Fighting Fifth at 3.30.  Although Desert Quest will take all the beating, especially if the rain stays away I am hopeful for our two list runners, Noble Request and Straw Bear.  Noble Request ran a bit flat last time so I am going with Straw Bear for my selection.    His second to Iktitaf at Punchestown is starting to look very smart form indeed.   

Towcester

  

At Towcester Good Citizen could be value in the 12.45.   He is a big imposing sort who could leave his hurdles form behind now he is tried over fences.  Blue Splash was second at Chepstow in the week and looks the one to beat in the 2.15.  Finally I have received a tip for Mole’s Chamber in the bumper at 3.25.  

  

I will be back tomorrow evening for a look at Sunday’s racing

 

Continue reading “Diary: November 25 2006”

Diary: November 24 2006

Ouninpohja was a comfortable winner today on his hurdles debut and I will be following his progress with interest.

  

There is some good quality racing at Newbury tomorrow.  The beginners chase at 1.35 features 3 runners from our list to follow.  Briareus won the Grade 2 Kingwell  last season by 14 lengths after making all.  He should be an exciting prospect over fences and will be expected to go very well here.  Briareus is trained by Andrew Balding, son of Ian Balding who trained Mill Reef. Killaghey Castle is also trained by the son of a famous father, Nick Gifford, son of Josh.  Killaghey Castle won twice over hurdles last season including the valuable EBF final at Sandown in March. Wogan is the third runner from our list.  He was 5th to Killaghey Castle at Sandown last season over hurdles and was also 5th on his chase debut in a race won by Denman 13 days ago.  The big danger to these three is the Paul Nicholls trained O’Maley who is owned by Sir Robert Ogden.  He won over hurdles at Auteil (Paris) last season and is reportedly a big chasing type.

  

Over this trip I would fancy Briareus as long as the ground is not too testing.  If we were to get a lot of rain then Killaghey Castle could be interesting.  Any market move for the Nicholls runner should be noted.

  

The handicap hurdle at 2.10 looks a tricky one to solve.  Mr Ed has been a great servant to connections.  All his wins over hurdles or fences have come when ridden by Tony McCoy.  He has a pretty good substitute tomorrow in rising star Tom O’Brien but there is only one AP McCoy.  Mr Ed has to carry top weight and his most recent run was a bit disappointing. Karanja and Oscar Park both warrant respect and I would not deter you from backing either of these.  I see also that One Knight makes his seasonal debut.  He is very interesting as he is off a 21 lower mark than his chase rating.  He goes well fresh as well.  Apart from Mr Ed our other list runner is Zipalong Lad.  He is a relentless galloper who will be well suited by this test of stamina.  He has left Peter Bowen’s yard since I decided to put him on the list and that worries me slightly.

  

In the 2.40 Gungadu should continue Paul Nicholls excellent start to the season and maintain his 100% record over fences.

 

In the 3.45 Opus Cafe has his second run for Emma Lavelle.  This gelding was quite an impressive winner of a point to point at Lismore in February and is one to keep tabs on.

  

At Musselburgh Elverys represents the list to follow in the 12.50.  I had this one down as a good prospect for handicap hurdles having qualified by virtue of 3 runs in novice events.  It is interesting that connections have elected to send him over fences.

  

Prince of Slane, trained by Alan Swinbank looked a progressive staying chaser last season winning twice at Catterick.  He runs in a handicap hurdle tomorrow in the 1.20 where he goes off a 34 lbs lower mark than his chasing rating.  Must have a good chance.  Gets on well with pilot Dougie Costello.  Main danger may be Noir et Vert. This ex French hurdler is a tough individual who has an abundance of stamina.  He is a chaser in the making.

  

Of the rest King’s Quay can make it a hat trick of wins over hurdles in the 2.30.

  

See you tomorrow for a bumper edition of the racing diary – don’t miss it!

 

Continue reading “Diary: November 24 2006”

Azertyuiop

Azertyuiop 3/4/1997 Baby Turk – Tamara (Fr) (Rex Magna (Fr)) 

 

 

 

Paul Nicholls wrested the champion trainers crown from Martin Pipe in 2006 thus ending a period of complete domination by the team from Castleshayne.  One of the key components of the rise in the fortunes of the Nicholl’s yard has been his recruits from France through bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley.

  

Azertyuiop, the horse with the near unpronounceable name was one to come by this route. A four time winner in France he was a high class hurdler but chasing was always ultimately going to be his game.

  

On his first start in this country he won the Axminster Hurdle at Wincanton in February 2001, beating the subsequent Champion Hurdler Hors La Loi.  The following season he won the Elite Hurdle, a Grade 2, at Wincanton but following a disappointing run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton he was found to be coughing and his form tailed off that season with defeats in his remaining two runs.

  

He found his true calling when sent over fences and in this sphere he won 8 of his 15 starts, finishing runner up on 4 occasions.  The only real blemish on his record was when he unseated his rider at the very first fence in the 2003 Haldon Chase at Exeter but that apart he combined speed with agility and his jumping was fluent.

  

His impressive victory in the 2003 Arkle where he accounted for Impek and Isio stamped him as a future contender for the Champion Chase, won that season by the great Moscow Flyer.  The following season Azrtyuiop won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury beating his stable companion Armaturk by 12 lengths and his head to head with Moscow Flyer  at the Cheltenham Festival was eagerly awaited.  The big race was something of an anti climax when the Irish raider unseated 4 out leaving Azertyuiop with a bloodless victory.

  

By the start of the 2004/5 season another top 2 mile chaser had emerged in the shape of the Martin Pipe trained Well Chief, who had won the 2004 Arkle, beating Kicking king who was to go on to Gold Cup glory the season after.  A mouthwatering 3 way battle for the top honours looked on the cards between Nicholl’s star, Moscow Flyer and Well Chief.

  

Azertyuiop started the season by winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.  The first clash between the big 3 was the Tingle Creek at Sandown at the start of December.  Moscow Flyer might have ben approaching the veteran stage but he had the measure of the younger pair here, prevailing by a length and a half.  Azertyuiop just held off the gutsy Well Chief for third.

  

Rather surprisingly Azertyuiop then went for the King George, possibly against his trainer’s better judgement. Although he didn’t stay his undoubted class won him third place behind Kicking King and Kingscliffe.

  

Azertyuiop, back at 2 miles, accounted for the 6 year old Well Chief in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury with an exemplary round of quick and accurate jumping.  The “holy trinity” as they were nicknamed headed for Cheltenham and the top prize for 2 mile chasers, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  This proved a disappointment for Azertyuiop.  Never gong well, he left his trailing leg in the water and was not able to get competitive.  Leaving his old rival Moscow Flyer to come home in front of Well Chief.

  

Five weeks later, on the last day of the season at Sandown, Azertyuiop was not at his best, and was beaten by Well Chief and that proved to be his last race.  He had apparently struck into himself during the Sandown race and injury prevented him from returning to action throughout the 2005/6 season. In the summer of 2006 connections were not happy with his fitness and a decision was taken that the best thing for the horse would be to retire him.

  

His owner was quoted as saying: "It's sad news but it's also a relief because he would not have been able to perform to the level he showed before his injury."

 

Azertyuiop won 11 of his 22 starts over fences including the 2003 Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, as well as the Queen Mother Champion Chase the following season.

 

My lasting memory of Azertyuiop though is his tremendous battle with another another ex French horse, Isio, in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot.  In a driving finish Azertyuiop only went down by a neck close home, despite conceding 19lbs to his useful rival.

 

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