Diary: September 1 2008


Quite a few of the horses mentioned in my preview on Friday ran well yesterday but alas no winners. Dr Sharp (10/1), Bo McGinty (6/1) Nexus (100/30) and Lang Shining (12/1) came 2nd, while Swop (6/1), Prime Mood (5/6) and Northern Fling (11/2) finished 3rd. The near thing trend continued into Sunday with Hel’s Bay (9/2) finishing runner up.

There are a few points of interest on Monday and I will as usual concentrate mainly on horses from my list to follow. Starting with the 3.50 at Hamilton the Mick Easterby trained Hurlingham heads the weights. He did my list to follow a good turn at Haydock last month winning at 10/1. He has not looked a straightforward ride but won with a bit to spare in the soft ground at Haydock. He has gone up 6 lbs in the weights but given similar underfoot conditions he should be in the shake up.

Keisha Kayleigh has had a successful campaign with 2 wins and 2 seconds. He runs in the 4.20 at Hamilton but he is now on a mark of 72 which might make life difficult for him.

Rossini’s Dancer has been a beaten favourite 4 times this season so I can’t realistically put him forward as a likely winner in the 4.50. He is on the same mark as when 3rd at the Scottish track last time.

The Gallops Lambourne

At Kempton the newcomer Rio Carnival takes the eye in the 4.30. Trained by John Gosden her dam won the French 1,000 Guineas and is a half sister to the top sprinter Oasis Dream.

Reclamation has run consistently this season with form figures reading 122. She has gone up 15 lbs since the start of the season so will need to find further improvement in the Kempton 5.30. Not out of it though.

Apache Fort is something of a Lingfield specialist. His form figures there are 01231211. He runs in the 2.40.

Today’s picture is by courtesy of the artist Matthew Hillier.


Diary: August 30 & 31 2008


I am going to tackle the weekend’s racing in alphabetical order which means starting at Bath.

If I turned the page of my racing calendar a couple of days early there would be a picture of Harlech Castle for September. Paul Cole’s 3 year old won a nursery at Newbury last season thereby keeping up a family tradition as his dam has produced 6 winners in all. Harlech Castle has not had the best of seasons this time round and is yet to win in 5 starts. He has been running over distances of 6, 7 and 8 furlongs but is dropped down to the minimum trip in the 6.45 at Bath tomorrow. He is probably on a winnable mark if he still retains his enthusiasm for the game and the drying ground is in his favour but he is not well drawn.

There is only one runner from my list to follow in action at Bath and that is the Roger Charlton trained Barricado. His form figures this year of 22433 probably tell the story as he does not seem to be 100% genuine. He runs in the 7.15 which does not look a very strong heat. He clearly has a good chance on the form book if he puts his best foot forward – but there is the rub! An interesting runner earlier on the card at 6.15 is the 12 year old Nimello. He has been predominantly an all weather type and has not run on turf for over 3 years. He won the Lincoln Handicap back in 2001 though when to be honest the draw favoured him. He came out of stall 1 that day when stalls 1 to 6 all finished in the first 7. He has won 16 races in all with 10 of them either at Wolverhampton or Southwell. Off a mark of 46 he would pick these up and carry them on his form of yesteryear.


Bo McGinty is something of an old favourite of mine and has featured on these pages many times over the years. He has found something of a new lease of life in 2008 with 3 wins this year. His last win came at Chester and he returns to the Cheshire track tomorrow for the 2.20. When he won last time he had a better draw so he may find it more difficult tomorrow. He is a bit of a character though and on a going day is capable enough. His jockey Frederick Tylacki is a talented apprentice, one of several around at the moment.

Speed Gifted has always looked a talented individual but has not always impressed with his attitude. He is probably capable of winning the 2.50 at Chester if he can overcome a poor draw and his suspect temperament. Another horse in this race that could be interesting is Solent, who dead heated for first place last season in a listed race at Ascot. He has since changed stables and is with John Quinn who won with him over hurdles at Bangor recently. I know that a win over hurdles is not necessarily an indicator for a listed race on the flat but it might just show that the horse is on good terms with himself and fighting fit.

The 3.25 is a bit of a frustrating race as the horses that I fancy are all badly drawn. The last two winners of the race, Vanderlin and Ordnance Row both line up again. Vanderlin is 9 now and perhaps past his best but Ordnance Row is a definite contender. He comes here on the back of a Group 3 success at Salisbury but as a result carries top weight. He runs off a mark of 109 which could make this a tall order from stall 12. When he won the race in 2006 he was off a mark of 89.

Celtic Sultan likes to front run and won at the May Chester meeting and is off the same mark tomorrow. He is probably best on quickish ground, unlike Ordnance Row who prefers some give underfoot.

Adversity justified favouritism to win at Chester in June but went up 12 lbs as a result and could only finish 8th next time out at Goodwood. He has a 5 lbs claimer on board tomorrow which may indicate that the stable think he is a bit high in the weights. Dream Lodge was 3rd behind Celtic Sultan at Chester and has since run well in non handicap company. He is much worse off at the weights with Celtic Sultan and he is drawn 17 of 17. Pawan would be a popular victor for his trainer/jockey Ann Stokell and he is not badly drawn in stall 3. He is high enough in the weights though.

Carcinetti is perhaps best known as an all weather horse having won 6 times at Wolverhampton. She won on turf at Newmarket last month though and was far from disgraced in a listed race at Chester when 5th behind Green Manalishi over 6 furlongs. She ran yesterday when 3rd at Great Leighs over 6 furlongs. This is a tricky race and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of those mentioned were to win. If pushed for a tip I would just favour Adversity, with the tough mare Carcinetto an each way shot at a bigger price.

I thought about Dr Sharp for the 5.05. He is a course and distance winner and well handicapped on the pick of his form. He must have soft ground though.

Moving on to Ripon Bryan Smart’s Prime Mood should finally break his duck in the 2.10 after finishing runner up on both his starts so far.

In the sprint handicap at 3.50 you have to respect the chances of the Dandy Nicholls team. Northern Fling is a course and distance winner and ran well from a bad draw when 8th in the Stewards Cup, where his stable companion Machinist was 4th. Joseph Henry has only won once since 2004 but you just get the feeling that he is about to pop up at a big price. His form has been a bit in and out this season but he has put in some creditable efforts, including a 4th behind the in form Valery Borzov at Haydock. Apart from the Nicholls trained trio you can’t rule out Barney McGrew who has Valery Borzov behind him when 4th in a valuable handicap at Hamilton in July.

The 3 year old Nexus makes his debut for Godolphin in the 4.55 at Ripon. He is a half brother to George Washington so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.


Lang Shining started the season in style winning the Newbury Spring Cup but he has been on a downward spiral since then. He is not getting any respite from the handicapper and it is difficult to drum up a case for him. One possible line to take is that he could be unsuited by the fast ground he has encountered since his Newbury win so rain might help his chances in the 3.10 at Sandown. Another interesting runner in the same race is the Luca Cumani trained Swop, a lightly raced 5 year old who is yet to finish out of the first 2. The drying ground should suit him and if he gets the trip he should go well.

I am going to take a bit of a chance in the 3.45 with Matsunosuke each way. He likes fast ground, is a course and distance winner and has come down a few pounds in the handicap.

Moving on to the meetings on Sunday, I had hopes for Regal Step at the start of the season but she has failed to sparkle. She runs in the Folkestone 2.40 and I notice that the handicapper has dropped her 5 lbs which may enable her to get a bit closer to the business end of the race.

Banjo Patterson is named after the man who wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda. His supporters have had little to sing about in recent times though and he is not the force of a few years back. He runs in sellers these days but his last run when 2nd at Brighton puts him in with a shout in the 3.40.

Free Offer seeks to repeat his success last season in the 5.10 where he is 5 lbs higher in the weights, while in the 5.40 his stable companion Fearless Warrior represents my list to follow. I am hoping that first time blinkers will enable him to improve on recent efforts.

At Musselburgh Ann Duffield’s Hel’s Angel (picture below courtesy of Ann Duffield Racing) deserves to win a small race after finishing 3rd on both starts so far.

hels angel

Aleatricis won 5 races in July in the space of 24 days but then came unstuck at Windsor when beaten into second spot. With Seb Sanders back in the saddle he might be able to pick up the winning thread in the 3.20.

Rossini’s Dancer has been a frustrating horse to follow this season and has been a beaten favourite in 4 of his last 8 starts. He runs in the 5.20 where he will be looking to lose his maiden tag but he does not look one to trust.

Paintings displayed by kind permission of the artist Nick Fegan.

That is about all for tonight. Have a good weekend.


Diary: August 29 2008


There are two runners from my list to follow in the Chester 4.40 and both look likely to start at big prices. Navajo Joe was a winner at Lingfield in June but then finished last in a valuable handicap at Ascot where he showed some signs of temperament. He is a full brother to Indian Ink and as such is likely to be best suited by soft ground. Bigfanofthat won his only start as a juvenile on quickish ground at Ayr but then suffered a setback. He returned to the track in April when he finished way down the field behind Perks at Doncaster. He showed signs of ability in that race at Ayr but has clearly had his problems.

The only runner from my list to follow up at Hamilton is Scanno in the 3.40. He is named after a rather attractive little town in Italy but on form he does not have much to commend him.

Rock Peak is still without a win after 7 attempts but has shown some promise, especially when 3rd at Windsor over a mile and a half. He has run over 14 furlongs twice since then without really showing any great improvement but stays over that longer trip in the 7.40 at Salisbury tomorrow. He has dropped a few pounds in the handicap which may enable him to get more competitive. This does not look a particularly strong contest and he has an each way chance.


Glass Harmonium makes his debut for Sir Michael Stoute in the 3.20 at Sandown, a race that the stable won last season. This colt is related to such useful types as Hard Top and Conduit.

There is an evening meeting on the all weather at Wolverhampton where the one eyed Gilded Cove runs in the 7.20. The 8 year old has won 13 times in his career with 10 of those successes coming at Wolverhampton.

Over in Ireland the meeting at Wexford goes ahead after an inspection. The very first race staged at Wexford was a handicap hurdle and the winning jockey was Jimmy Eddery, father of Pat. Today’s picture, appropriately entitled “Wexford Races” is courtesy of the artist Lisa Miller.


Diary: August 28 2008

The Woolston Ferry was a sort of floating bridge across the River Itchen in Southampton – in fact it might still be there for all I know as it is many years since I lived in that neck of the woods. I remember watching “You only live twice” at the old Woolston Cinema (that has probably gone) just up the road from the ferry – one of the better Bond theme songs nicely done by Nancy Sinatra. Anyway the horse Woolston Ferry, appropriately trained by the former hero of The Dell Mick Channon, carries top weight in the 4.50 at Lingfield. He has been gelded since his last rather disappointing run at Haydock. Based on some of his earlier placed efforts he comes into this race with a chance.

I have been following the progress of the 5 year old Charles Parnell all season but although he has ran well enough on occasions he is yet to record a win. He was second on his latest run at Newcastle and he is proving difficult to win with as he is going up the weights without actually getting his head in front. He runs in the Ayr 4.40 tomorrow where he has usually run well in the past. He has an each way chance.


Tighnabruaich won a Newbury maiden in April and then ran creditably when 4th at Chester before disappointing in a handicap at Haydock. He returns to action in the 3.30 at Great Leighs tomorrow after a break of 54 days over a trip of 14 furlongs. He is lightly raced and as his dam was a half sister to two Gold Cup winners he should appreciate the extra distance. If we ignore his last run as being too bad to be true he would ceratinly come into the reckoning here.

There is racing at Bellewstown and Tipperary in Ireland. Bellewstown, which is about 23 miles north of Dublin, has a strong connection with the great Arkle, as his dam, Bright Cherry, won the Drogheda Tradesman’s Chase there in 1950.  Tipperary also has its claims to fame – not least that both Hawk Wing and High Chaparral won their maidens there.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Karen Davies.

Bye for now


Diary: August 27 2008


Most of the horses mentioned on last night’s preview finished in the frame and some of them actually won! Flushed with such unprecedented success let’s have a look at the prospects for Wednesday.

I am going to start with the meeting at Ayr tomorrow and the 2 year old maiden at 2.10. 10 of the 14 starters have already had a run and therefore have the considerable advantage of previous experience. One of the unraced horses that catches my eye though is Olympian Order. Trainer Alan Swinbank picked this one out as a horse to follow in a stable interview at the start of the season. Now Alan Swinbank always used to develop his horses slowly and debut juvenile winners were pretty scarce. However that trend has changed recently and he has started to have some winners first time out, often at big prices. He is an interesting runner and one to keep an eye on win or lose tomorrow.

In the 2.40 Fantastic Lass has an each way chance. She has winning form on soft ground, is not badly handicapped and has an apprentice on board taking off 7 lbs.

Moheeb won 3 times last season but after some placed efforts early on this season has had a few disappointing performances. He did win this time last year (August 22) and has come down the weights so may be in with some sort of chance in the 3.40.

Tarkheena Prince has done well for my list to follow stats winning 2 of his 4 starts at rewarding odds of 6/1 and 11/2. He runs in the 4.10 but will need to overcome the trends as no 3 year old has won the race in recent times. The stable won the race in 2006 though and the horse has proven form on soft ground.

workriders1 sally martin

Moving south a little there is also flat racing at Catterick where Mr Crystal represents my list to follow in the 3.20. He won first time out this season and was subsequently placed on his next 2 starts. He is higher in the weights as a result of his win but still looks to be in with a shout after having had a break. One word of caution though; all his winning form has come on good to firm going.

As a member of the Elite Racing Club I will be hoping that Harlech Castle can return to form in the 3.30 at Great Leighs although a poor draw, 15 of 15, is not going to help his cause. There is also a runner from my list to follow in this, Film Maker who was an easy winner of a Redcar maiden earlier in the season. He seems to be in the grip of the handicapper at the moment though.

Riggins won on his debut at Wolverhampton last year but then suffered a broken pastern. He returns to the track tomorrow in the 4.30 at Great Leighs. He was held in high regard by his trainer and looks an interesting runner.

Trip the Light has been one of the successes from my list to follow with 3 wins to date. He runs in the 5.00 tomorrow and although he is going up in the handicap he is tackling 2 miles for the first time which may well suit him. Not without a chance.

That is about all for now.

Today’s picture is by kind permission of the artist Sally Martin


Diary: August 26 2008


After a busy weekend in the world of horse racing things quieten down a shade for the remainder of the week. There is racing at Ripon tomorrow though, as well as all weather action at Great Leighs and racing in the north west of Ireland in the evening at Sligo, the town where the poet W B Yeats spent his childhood.

Sligo stages the Terry Casey Memorial Maiden Hurdle at 7.35. Casey is best remembered for training the winner of the 1996 Grand National, Rough Quest. He also rode another Grand National winner, Grittar, twice successfully over hurdles. He sadly died in 2001. The likely winner of the race looks to be Caim Hill who won a competitive bumper at Galway earlier this month.  If he jumps OK he will be hard to beat.


Great Leigh’s became the first new racecourse in the UK since Taunton in 1927 when the track opened earlier this year. The course is situated in Essex, near Chelmsford. Racing is not new to the area as there used to be a race track at Chelmsford in times gone by, well two miles south of the town in truth, in a village called Galleywood. The great Golden Miller ran there twice in 1931, not surprisingly winning on both occasions.

Back to the present there is a runner from my list to follow entered in the 3.30 at Great Leighs. City Stable ran 3 times as a juvenile and was placed each time. As his dam is a half sister to the high class Gamut he looked a fair bet to improve as a 3 year old when tackling middle distances. In the event he is probably only moderate and on his second start this season was second in a maiden at Catterick. He should be up to winning a race somewhere but following Sir Michael Stoute maidens at Great Leighs is unlikely to make anyone rich.  Quite the opposite I would imagine!

One of the interesting things about the flat racing season is to see how the first season sires get on. Needwood Blade was a decent sprinter without being out of the top drawer and is now at stud. There are 65 of his progeny in training this season and there are a couple of them in action at Ripon tomorrow. Needwood Lad runs in the 2.45 and looks likely to start favourite on the basis of his win in a Newcastle maiden on soft ground. Looking at the opposition the Ann Duffield runner Firebet (pictured below) caught my eye. He won on his debut on soft ground at Carlisle before running too freely in better company at Newbury. Joint champion jockey Seb Sanders is booked to ride this one which may be significant.


In the maiden at 4.15 Blades Princess, a daughter of Needwood Blade, looks to have the best form having finished runner up on her debut on fast ground at Beverley. She is a late foal and may have scope for further improvement. She also showed a battling attitude at Beverley and could well go one better tomorrow. Once again Ann Duffield provides one of the main dangers in the shape of Whispering Spirit (pictured below) who was second at Carlisle on her racecourse debut.

whispering spirit

The two photographs today are by courtesy of Ann Duffield Racing and I am also grateful to the artist Nick Fegan for allowing me to use his painting "The Final Furlong." (See links)

Diary: August 25 2008


I was pleased to see the 9 year old Unshakable take the 10 furlong handicap at Newmarket on Saturday. He is one of those horses that always seem to win at a decent price, his last 5 wins coming at 8/1, 7/1, 7/1, 10/1 & now 20/1. This might have something to do with the fact that he comes from an unfashionable stable.

Although there are plenty of meetings tomorrow there isn’t much that catches my eye. Dan Chillingworth was runner up the last time he ran on the all weather over 6 furlongs and has an each way chance back at that trip in the Kempton 3.20.

The 3.55 looks a competitive handicap and the 3 on my shortlist would be Oldjoesaid, Mastership and Chrystany. Oldjoesaid has plenty of ability but has not won at 6 furlongs before. Mastership is proven on the all weather and with a first time visor might well come good. Chrystany has been shaping well this season. She has recently moved from Henry Cecil to Ed Dunlop. Like Mastership she is well drawn and at 14/1 looks a little overpriced. Mastership would be my first choice.

Mountain Pride has done well for my list to follow as he has already won at 20/1. He runs in the Ripon Rowels Handicap at 4.10 tomorrow. He has won twice over a mile and is probably each way value at 12/1.

Today’s illustration is courtesy of the artist Julie Whitwham.