Diary: November 1 2008

Notebook – Next time out *** New feature ***

I am currently waiting for the following horses to reappear as all impressed me on their last run; Crack Away Jack, Lordsbridge, Pakineo Des Pictons, Merrydown, Door Boy and Snap Tie.


I was quite pleased with yesterday’s preview which pointed the way to a few winners. Tomorrow there is a mixture of flat and jumps racing.

The main flat meeting is at Newmarket where there is an early start with the first race at 11.50. In the opener I am interested in a newcomer from Michael Jarvis’ stable called Cartoon. I have a good memory for my winning bets, there aren’t that many of them! A few years ago I was on a horse called Smirk when he won a Goodwood handicap at 12/1. Smirk went on to win in listed company and is out of a mare that has produced several winners. Smirk’s half sister Cartoon could not be in better hands.

Catigo showed some signs of ability when 7th on his debut a fortnight ago. He runs in the 12.20 over 7 furlongs and his pedigree suggests that the extra distance will be in his favour.

Splashdown, a daughter of first season sire Falbrav, won nicely at Kempton on her debut in a 7 furlong maiden. Much more will be required of she is to figure in the Montrose Stakes at 2.10 but her trainer would not run her if she didn’t have some sort of chance and she could run well at a fair price.

lille 626

There are 2 runners from my list to follow in the 2.45. Lang Shining has run two really good races and a fair number of rather moderate ones. He won the Newbury Spring Cup back at the start of the season and split the in form pair of Ask the Butler and Swop in a heritage handicap at Sandown at the end of August. He still only has two career wins and has not done enough to persuade me to tip him tomorrow. Duncan has only had 4 runs in his life and may well be open to improvement. I am just not sure that 10 furlongs is his ideal trip though so I think I will look elsewhere. Mutajarred and Smokey Oakey both like soft ground and should be considered if we should have plenty of rain. Jack Dawkins won a couple of nursery handicaps last season and ran well in second after a long layoff at Pontefract and he could be a bit of a dark horse here. For my selection though I am going with Kirklees, the mount of Frankie Dettori. Kirklees was a close up 3rd in the Group 3 Darley Stakes on his last start and shouldn’t be far away on that form.

There are some old favourites in the 3.20 with the likes of Zero Tolerance, Unshakable and Flipando. Of the trip Flipando looks to have the most solid credentials. Whistledownwind was only beaten a neck by Centennial and if he can recover that sort of form could be in with a shout.

Bankable should win the 3.55 but then I have been tipping him to win races for the past few months with a remarkable lack of success. In fact he has finished runner up on his last 5 runs and he started favourite in 4 of these. He has been beaten a length by Raven’s Pass and a head by Eagle Mountain so he really ought to be up to winning a listed race – shouldn’t he? Calming Influence has won twice in listed company, at Newmarket where he beat Stimulation, and Deauville. He was 6th in the Joel Stakes when Bankable was beaten by Eagle Mountain and there doesn’t seem any good reason why he should reverse the form. Don’t Panic looked set for a profitable season when landing a Doncaster handicap back in March in a race that has worked out remarkably well. However he has failed to win in Group and listed company since. Without a Prayer is certainly not without one. She surprised a few when winning a conditions race over course and distance on good to firm before putting up a fair effort in a listed race at Ascot. Bankable has to be the selection yet again though.


Fantasy Fighter was second in a mile handicap at Great Leighs a couple of weeks ago and is back there tomorrow in the 6.20. He is no great shakes but is entitled to win a little race of this nature. Young Jamie Kyne, who has the ride on Fantasy Fighter is well worth his 7 lbs claim which could be a crucial factor.

Rose Dobbin, wife of the former jockey Tony, rides Modicum in the 1.05 at Ascot tomorrow. The horse/jockey combination did consistently well last season, including a very respectable 3rd behind Tidal Bay. Given his favoured good ground Modicum has an each way chance. The Wicketkeeper is 10 lbs higher than when winning the race last season which gives him a tough task. Moon Over Miami seems a highly strung, quirky type but he has plenty of ability and he would be a danger if on song but I will stick with Modicum.

In the 1.35 Paul Nicholls has the probable favourite in recent Cheltenham winner Font. Although he has been raised 13 lbs for that win he sets the standard here and will be difficult to beat. The main dangers may be the pair at the head of the weights, Blue Bajan and The Polomoche. The Polomoche has gone up a fair bit in the weights for his recent win at Stratford but he may well have plenty of improvement in him. Blue Bajan won the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May and comes from a stable that has really been firing in the winners of late. Of the rest Nicky Henderson’s apparent second string Working Title and King’s Revenge are the two I like most. Font gets the selection with perhaps a small each way saver on Kings Revenge.

I don’t have a particularly strong view on the 2.05. Air Force One was a leading novice last season and I would be inclined to go with him.

In the 2.40 my selection is Mad Max. This giant of a horse was a dual bumper winner last season and his future will be over fences. He should be capable of winning over hurdles as well and hopefully tomorrow’s 2 miles trip will not be too harp for this imposing individual with a stamina laden pedigree.

In the 3.50 I fancy Riverside Theatre. He won a Kempton bumper and then ran third in a bumper at Newbury. The first and second in that race have both won over hurdles this season and Riverside Theatre looks to have a bright future. Emma Lavelle has her horses in great form and her runner, Kangaroo Court could be interesting. This former Irish point to point winner is from the family of high class chaser Buck House.


Lease End put in a promising display when 4th in a decent novice chase at Carlisle and should benefit from that experience in the Wetherby 12.40.

The 1.15 has gone to Howard Johnson runners in the last 2 seasons and the same trainer looks likely to make it a hat trick with Glencree tomorrow. This son of Presenting cost connections £230,000 and comes with something of a reputation for the Irish pointing field.

Winsley Hill is a nice horse to follow as he rarely runs a bad race. He is my each way choice in the 2.20.

You could make a case for most of the runners in the 3.00. Pettifour has only raced twice over hurdles but he won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree in April and seems to be on an upward curve. He would be my tentative suggestion to get the better of his more exposed rivals. Liberate has the ground he likes and is fit from his efforts on the flat. He could be the main danger.

The Charlie Hall Chase at 3.35 is quite tricky. Ollie Magern has won this race twice and goes well fresh. He has an obvious chance but I will go for Turko from the all conquering Paul Nicholls yard. I know it is a boring selection but I am working on the basis – if you are not sure side with the Paul Nicholls horse!

Arc Bleu ran a cracker to finish 2nd in the Cesarewitch and he could be hard to beat in the 2.00 at Down Royal. He looks well treated off a mark of 104. The main attraction at Down Royal will be the reappearance of Kauto Star in the 2.30, a race won twice in the past by Beef or Salmon.

That is about all for tonight. The next update will probably be tomorrow evening.

My thanks to the artist Jenny Lupton for allowing me to use her wonderful portrait of Beef or Salmon.


Diary: October 31 2008


Last night’s preview yielded 3 winners thanks to Bakbenscher, Bridgewater Boys and Crescent Island, making up for my lack of faith in the chances of Tropical Paradise on Tuesday!

Looking forward to the racing tomorrow Swiss Diva sets the standard in the Newmarket opener at 12.05. She has posted some creditable efforts in her 3 runs and is the obvious choice. She may of course be vulnerable to one of the newcomers of which Emirates Sports and Raaeidd look the most likely.

It is a similar story in the 12.40 where Emirates Roadshow has the form in the book. Ithinkbest and Libel Law look the dangers.

I will settle for the experience of Swiss Diva and Emirates Roadshow in the first two races but in the 1.15 I will take a chance with the unraced Hilbre Point. He is by Giant’s Causeway out of an Oaks winner and the stable are quite capable of getting one ready first time out.

In the 2.25 the lightly raced Island Vista could be on a lenient mark and gets the selection.

At the evening meeting at Wolverhampton Wing Play is the only runner from my list to follow. He has already earned his place on the list with a 14/1 win last time out. I am not sure that he is exactly guaranteed to follow up as he has looked a trifle quirky on occasions but I will stick with him.

My only selection at Down Royal is Jered in the 2.40.

I put Yes Sir in my notebook after his recent run behind Ouzbeck at Cheltenham and on ground that suits him he should go well in the 2.45 at Wetherby.  See picture below of Yes Sir chasing home Ouzbeck (courtesy of Kate Tann)

yes sir

There are 3 runners from my list to follow in the Uttoxeter 1.25. Great Endeavour , an Irish points winner got off the mark over hurdles at Southwell last month. There are slight concerns over the form of the stable however. The Hollinwell has some very solid form in bumpers and is a horse I fully expect to win races this season over timber. He might be worth a small each way interest at 12/1 but what just tempers my enthusiasm is that runners from this yard often need their first race. Bluegun is another Irish point to point winner who won over course and distance on his rules debut last season. His future will be over fences but in the meantime he has a serious chance here.

Philip Hobbs who trains Bluegun has another with a very good chance in the 2.00 with the unusually marked Pancake (pictured below courtesy of Turfpix).


Pancake has already had a couple of runs over fences, finishing third in good company both times and with further schooling at home since then should be good enough to win this. What a Friend is the danger.





I met a traveller from an antique land
  Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
  Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,
  Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
  And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
  Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
  Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
  The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
  And on the pedestal these words appear:
  "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
  Look on my works ye mighty and despair!"
  Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
  Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
  The lone and level sands stretch far away.

          — Percy Bysshe Shelley

Diary: October 30 2008

I can’t find much to comment on in Thursday’s racing, so this will be a short update.

In the 6.50 General Tufto is dropped to selling company for the first time but he is hardly one to rely on. Bridgewater Boys has a good record at Lingfield and may be worth supporting there in the 1.10.

Over the jumps at Stratford Predateur is sure to be a warm order in the 1.50. If there are any chinks in his armour first time out then Crescent Island, with the benefit of a couple of recent runs could be the one to give him a race.

My best hope for tomorrow though is Bakbenscher in the 4.20. This 5 year old won 2 of his 3 starts in bumpers last season and is well thought of by connections. My only concern would be fitness on his hurdles debut as some of Alan King’s horses have needed their first run of the season.


Diary: October 29 2008

There was some informative jumps racing over the weekend at Aintree and Chepstow.

The Polomoche impressed me the first time I saw him in “in the flesh” when he narrowly got the better of Calgary Bay in a Ludlow bumper in May 2007. I wasn’t too surprised that he won off a mark of 130 over the weekend and there may be more to come from him over hurdles before he switches to fences. Hora, another from the Henderson yard kept her unbeaten record, defying a mark of 120 in the extended 3 mile handicap hurdle at Aintree. Formerly a winner on the flat for Sir Mark Prescott she stays very well. Felix de Giles gave her a good ride I thought and she is another worth following.

Paul Nicholls runners are winning a lot more than they are losing and Tatenen looked pretty good on his chase bow, although he may not have beaten a great deal. Striking Article jumped poorly and the others were never going to trouble the Nicholls runner. Nonetheless Tatenen is as good as anything we have seen thus far in the novice chase department.

Another French recruit American Trilogy won on his UK debut and looks yet another Nicholls star in making. One shock winner for the Nicholls yard was Hell’s Bay who was allowed to start at 16/1. There were a number in behind him that showed promise and that race should throw up a few winners over the coming weeks.

Not all the Nicholls runners were an unqualified success of course and Rippling Ring and Conflictofinterest were a couple, of fancied runners that failed to deliver. Better ground may see both of them in a better light however.

One more runner from the weekend that I must mention is Micheal Flips, a former Irish points winner who scored most impressively at Stratford. In fact Andy Turnell has his horses in great form and was responsible for a couple of winners highlighted in my weekend previews in Cheating Chance and High Jack.

The runners mentioned in my preview of Monday and Tuesday didn’t do too badly with Harlech Castle winning at Catterick and most of the others placed at good odds.

Basanti and Smarterthanuthink are a couple of runners that interest me in the Great Leighs 5.00 tomorrow. Basanti won a maiden at Bath last month and had earlier shown some promise over longer trips. Smarterthanuthink, a winner at Hamilton earlier in the year was runner up at Lingfield on his last start and is another that stays further than this 10 furlongs. Both have made the running in the past and there is a risk that they will take each other on or set things up for a fast finisher. Both have a reasonable each way chance though and I have a very slight preference for Basanti.

At Kempton in the 7.50 Tropical Paradise who won at Windsor in August makes some appeal. She was a beaten favourite at Doncaster last month but that was over an extra half a furlong and on soft ground. With the stable in very good form however Film Set might take some beating in this.

Dvinski, who runs in the 8.50 as done well for me in the past. In fact I tipped him on his last start when he won over course and distance. I would just worry that he might find his new handicap rating tricky to win from and I will give him a miss this time.

Nottingham have an inspection planned so the meeting is in some doubt. Hereford Boy is the only runner there from my list to follow. He goes in the 2.10. I thought he might win when blinkered first time at Lingfield last week and I fear that his chance may have gone for the time being.

At Punchestown I fancy Pandorama (1.45) and Forpadydeplasterer (3.15).

Today’s pictures are by kind permission of the artist Julie Whitwham.

Be lucky

Diary: October 27 & 28 2008


With less than a fortnight left in the season there are half a dozen low key flat meetings over the next couple of days.

Swiss Diva has had two runs and done enough to suggest she can win a race. She runs in the 4.00 at Leicester tomorrow. Down at Kempton Michael Bell saddles Eddie Boy who is a full brother to Sweet Lily. Barry Hills has the obvious favourite in the race but Eddie Boy, the mount of Hayley Turner, has an each way chance at around 6/1.

The Bell/Turner partnership is responsible for another two year old in the 1.40 at Yarmouth on Tuesday in the shape of Halfway House. This one has shaped with promise in both runs so far but may be seen to best effect as a 3 year old.

I will be hoping that Harlech Castle can notch another win for the Elite Racing Club in the 2.30 at Catterick on Tuesday. He has gone up 4 lbs for a recent win at Nottingham and I would be hopeful of a big run as long as the ground is not too soft.


There are just 2 runners from my list to follow entered in the next couple of days. Piverina runs in the Kempton 2.40 on Monday, while on Tuesday Charles Parnell is entered in the 3.40 at Yarmouth.

Finally, there is a good word for Taareb in the Yarmouth 3.10 on Tuesday.

The next update will be on Tuesday evening when I will be reflecting on the jumps action at Aintree and elsewhere over the last two days.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Jo Stockdale.  See links for more examples of her work.


Diary: October 25 & 26 2008

There is more than enough racing to go at in the UK this weekend so I will not comment on the Breeder’s Cup over at Santa Anita – not that I know enough about the American form anyway!

Who needs Santa Anita when there is jumping action at Aintree. Rippling Ring (pictured below) brings an international flavour to the first race at the Merseyside track at 1.05. The Paul Nicholls trained 5 year old was a winner on the flat in South Africa and he made an instant impression when coming to the UK, winning at Doncaster. He then ran 5th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. He is open to plenty of improvement and should go well on a track that ought to play to his strengths, although a quoted price of 7/4, with 10/1 the field seems pretty skinny.


The champion trainer looks likely to have another short priced favourite in the novice chase at 1.35. Tatenen was a winner over hurdles in France before joining Nicholls and he ran 2nd to Franchoek in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Chepstow at Christmas with some decent horses behind him. Reckoned as a likely Arkle horse Tatenen looks the one to beat here. He seems best suited by soft ground. His main rival is likely to be Howard Johnson’s recent Hexham winner Striking Article. The stable won this race with Lennon in 2006.

Graham Wylie has admitted that buying El Vaquero a couple of years ago may have been a mistake. A winner of the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown when trained by Henrietta Knight El Vaquero has had injury problems since joining Howard Johnson and is yet to win for his new trainer. He runs in the veterans chase at 2.05 along with some other old favourites. Fundementalist is another trying to recapture former glories, although he did put up one excellent performance last season when 3rd in the Racing Post Plate. Rambling Minster is a solid stayer who won the Border’s Nation at Kelso last December. Alan King’s grey D’Argent is a good jumper that stays really well. He is a bit of a Warwick specialist having won there 4 times but he ran well in the Grand National before unseating his rider 4 out. He could take some pegging back in this if he gets into a rhythm in front. Kitski, trained by Ferdy Murphy hasn’t run since April 2007 but does not look badly handicapped if he is fit enough to do himself justice. He is a thorough stayer.

Alan King also has a leading chance in the 2.40 where his Black Jacari looks likely to improve on his recent second at Market Rasen. The Barbury Castle trainer picked this one out as a horse to follow in a pre season interview.

I fancy the Paul Nicholls 4 year old American Trilogy in the 3.15. He was a smart performer on the flat in France where he won a listed race over 12 furlongs. He looks an exciting prospect and from his runs in France he clearly handles soft ground.

Buying horses that were trained on the flat by Sir Mark Prescott has paid dividends in recent seasons for the top national hunt trainers. One of the latest recruits is Hora who won a couple of times over 2 miles on the flat and has already made a promising start to his hurdle career fro Nicky Henderson. Stamina is her strength and the ext6ended 3 miles of the 4.25 tomorrow looks very much her bag of oats.


Moving on to Chepstow the opener at 1.20 looks very competitive. There are several recent winners including Diablo who won well at Cheltenham last week and looks open to plenty of improvement. Khachaturian put in a very professional display to beat Diablo’s stable companion Quail at Bangor earlier this month while Grey Mountain, Tarablaze and Winged D’Argent all come here on the back of recent successes. No Panic did some travelling last season, winning at venue’s as far apart as Newton Abbot and Cartmel while he also ran with credit at Galway and Kelso. Good ground seems to be the key to this horse so if the rain stays away he could well be interesting. Tony McCoy rides him for the first which will do his chances no harm. Junior remains a novice despite running some crackers, notably when 3rd in the Coral Cup. He gets weight from the previous winners and if fully wound up on his debut he could be a big danger. Throw in A Paul Nicholls runner Hell’s Bay and it is clear that this race will take some winning. It is worth noting that Nigel Twiston-Davies, who trains Diablo, has an impressive record in this race.

There are plenty with chances but Junior could well be the pick at the weights.

The big stables are represented in the 1.50 and this time I am going to side with a Philip Hobbs runner, Lead On. He was 2nd in this race last season but there is evidence to show that he has improved since then.

Wichita Lineman won the Brit Insurance Novice Hurdle in 2007 but rather lost his way lasts season. A campaign over fences has been mapped out for him this season and he has always looked a grand chasing type. With the stable among the winners recently he is an intriguing runner in the 2.20. He is up against the highly rated Big Fella Thanks, who is in the same ownership as Denman. A big galloping sort Big Fella Thanks clearly likes a trip and soft ground. The main danger to the big two will probably be Alan King’s West End Rocker. A former English point to point winner West End Rocker is a winner over hurdles at Chepstow and is another likely to be suited by soft ground. Big Fella Thanks looks the type to thrive over fences and he gets the selection.


Paul Nicholls saddles two in the 2.50 where I prefer Forest Pennant to Mr Pointment. He was impressive when winning a listed handicap hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting last season, he stays well and has apparently pleased connections with his preparation.

In the 3.25 there are a couple of runners looking to put disappointing recent efforts behind them. The Real Deal never looked like getting into the race on his reappearance at Chepstow a fortnight ago and finished last of 11 in the race won by Emma Lavelles’s Seymar Lad. After a stuttering start he looked progressive over fences last season when winning at Haydock and Uttoxeter. I also had high hopes for Sprosser but he put in a really lacklustre effort at Bangor despite having conditions in his favour. Buck the Legend is still a maiden after 14 starts in bumpers and over hurdles but he may well be a very different proposition over fences. He gives the impression that he is an out and out stayer and he comes here on the back of a couple of very respectable efforts over hurdles so he will be race fit. The other runner to mention in this race is The Apprentice. He is trained by Victor Dartnall who rarely wastes his ammunition and looks the sort to improve for jumping fences. This looks a very open race and both Buck the Legend and The Real Deal warrant plenty of respect. I would be inclined to take a chance with Sprosser and The Apprentice at around 10/1 each though.

Having gone for some favourites in the races discussed up to now I will chance a bit of an outsider in the 4.35. De Welsh Wizzard has had injury problems but showed some promise when 4th in a Newbury bumper last season. If his problems are behind him he could be in with an each way shout.

There is some top flat racing from Doncaster where the spotlight falls mainly on two year olds. I am hoping that Greensward can build on his win at Newmarket in August in the nursery at 1.55. This colt comes from a family I have followed over the years being out of Frizzante and related to both Firenze and Zidane.

The sprint handicap at 2.25 is wide open. I am going to take a chance with Fantasy Explorer who comes to the race in fair form and has an apprentice taking 7 lbs off his back. Aegean Dancer has slipped down the weights and could run well at a big price but Fantasy Explorer is the selection.

The big race on the flat is the Racing Post Trophy at 3.35. Over the last 7 years 3 winners of this race have gone on to win the Derby the following season. My two against the field are Crowded House and Jukebox Jury. Crowded House bolted up in a maiden at Kempton and followed up with an excellent 2nd at Newmarket. Jukebox Jury won the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot. One that could go well at a bigger price is the unattractively named Skanky Biscuit who takes a step up in class after winning a Newbury maiden.


newbury small

There are two runners from my list to follow in the 4.10. Birkside owes me nothing as he has won 3 times since I started following him. He has had a remarkably busy campaign but has kept his form pretty well and has actually been dropped 4 lbs by the assessor since his last run. Joe Fanning rides him for the first time and you couldn’t rule him out. Full Speed won a handicap at York in May but was disappointing in his next couple of runs and has been off the track since the end of July.

Kiwi Bay fairly romped home in a weak race back in June but struggled after that until a more encouraging 3rd at Wolverhampton on his latest start. He has an each way chance in the 5.15.

Newbury next and John Gosden introduces a well regarded two year old, London Bridge, in the 1.10. He is a half brother to 5 winners.

Splendorinthegrass is a sister to Etlaala and Selective and should come on for her 7th on her debut at Newbury last month. She runs in the 2.10 back at the Berkshire track tomorrow.

Ask put in a taking performance when 6th in the Arc at Longchamp and is the class act in the 2.45.

Danae has already done her bit for my list to follow having won at 16/1 at Newmarket. She was then 2nd at Leicester but has not run since the beginning of June. She has run well fresh and with underfoot conditions likely to suit she might be worth a small interest at around 8/1.

The classy hurdler Blazing Bailey is likely to start as favourite in the lady jockeys’ race at 4.30. In search of better value I am inclined to oppose the jolly with recent Newcastle runner up Harry the Hawk.

William Blake and Throne of Power represent my list to follow in the 5.05 but William Blake looks in the grip of the handicapper while Throne of Power has done nothing recently to suggest that he can win this.

miller over the last

Border Tale has done me a favour or two over the years, not least when winning at Huntingdon last time out. He is certainly in fine fettle at the moment but the handicapper may just have got his measure now and I prefer The Polomoche in the Stratford 3.05. I watched his racecourse debut when he just got the better of Calgary Bay in a Ludlow bumper and I have followed the progress of both animals since. In the 4.50 at Stratford Cheating Chance makes some appeal at around 10/1. He is yet to win over fences but was 2nd at Kempton last March and went on to win over hurdles.

The only runner from my list to follow in action at Wolverhampton is Peruvian Prince in the 6.15.

At Naas I fancy Smoking Aces in the 2.10. He looked a fair prospect in bumpers last season winning at Thurles before finishing second, giving weight to all his rivals, at Limerick where his rider lost his whip in the finish.


Day 2 of the Aintree meeting on Sunday opens with a novice hurdle at 1.0. What a Buzz won at Bangor two weeks ago over 2 miles 1 furlong and the additional 3 furlongs on Sunday will suit the horse. A more likely winner though is Howard Johnson’s On Raglan Road. He won his only Irish point tp point and a bumper at Punchestown and was purchased for serious money by Graham and Andrea Wylie. On his UK debut he won a little race at Hexham by 38 lengths and may well be a serious horse. Philip Hobbs saddles Copper Bleu, a half brother to presenting Copper who won a Cork bumper before finishing 5th in the Aintree Champion Bumper. His sire is also the sire of Snap Tie. Another to consider is Knockara Beau another with very solid bumper form. He won at Kelso before finishing runner up in a strong race up at Ayr and then won at Aintree in May. Lastly, Paul Nicholls has Massasoit in this. He only had one run last season before suffering a setback and is expected to return to winning form this season.

How’s Business is yet to finish out of the first two over hurdles. She is one of only two 4 year olds in the race and no horse of that age has won the race in the last 7 years. I am sure that there are races to be won with her as the season progresses but I will keep a watching brief this time.

The 2.10 pitches two highly rated hurdlers Kicks for Free and Special Envoy against each other on their chase debuts. Kicks for Free was only beaten a short head in the Coral Cup and has always been considered a chaser. Special Envoy has been an unlucky horse, twice falling at the last with valuable handicap hurdle prizes in his grasp. This is a fascinating battle but my money would be on the Paul Nicholls horse given the form of the stable.

In the 2.40 Pierrot Lunaire is another probable winner for the Paul Nicholls team. A smart novice last season Pierrot Lunaire (pictured below)  is being talked about as a Champion Hurdle contender and will eb at short odds to win this. The one to give him most to think about should be Squadron who was runner up to Crack Away Jack a couple of weeks ago.


The Old Roan Chase at 3.15 is one to savour with Monet’s Garden trying to repeat last season’s win when he made the weights difference tell against Kauto Star. This time he si getting weight from the likes of Voy Por Ustedes and Exotic Dancer. Monet’s Garden usually runs well at Aintree where he has form figures of 21114. Voy Por Ustedes is himself a course and distance winner though and was most impressive when accounting for Master Minded at the track last April. The Donald McCain pair of Cloudy Lane and Regal Heights are probably taking this race in on the way to other more realistic targets while the valiant Mister McGoldrick is not quite up to the standard of the main contenders. I feel that Voy Por Ustedes (pictued below) might have the best of the argument here despite giving away weight all round.

Voy Por Ustedes

The well related Beggar’s Cap won a couple of novice chases last season and may have further improvement in him. Graham Lee rides him for Ferdy Murphy in the 3.50.

I wouldn’t get too heavily involved in the bumper at 4.25 but I would recommend that you take a close look at China Gold, Cloudy Times and The Portonion.

The first race at Towcester is at 12.50 where I fancy the Alan King runner Nulato. He is already a bumper winner at Towcester and he has the look of a thorough stayer who should be suited by this 3 miles on his hurdles bow. Christian Williams has the ride.

Towcester racecourse

In the 3.40 course winner High Jack looks potentially well handicapped as he is 11 lbs lower in the ratings over fences compared to his hurdles mark. He is a half brother to Bible Lord.

Quail should come on for his run when 2nd to Khachaturian at Bangor and he is my selection in the Wincanton 1.15. In the 2.20 I am hoping for a big run from Cornas who is a course and distance winner.

Finally, in the 4.35 Conflictofinterest looks the one they all have to beat with Keki Buku, Quaddick Lane and Simply Blue the best of the rest.

Acknowledgements;  All paintings are by Lisa Miller (see links).  My thanks to Tracy Roberts for the pictures of the two Paul Nicholls horses (see Turfpix link) and to Kate Tann  for the photos of Voy Por Ustedes and Towcester racecourse.

Good luck! I may try and post any late thoughts during the weekend.

Diary: October 24 2008


It wasn’t much of a day from my selections today but I was pleased to see Tot O’Whiskey get off the mark over fences. He jumped well and certainly proved his stamina in testing ground at Carlisle.

Roman Republic was a very well backed favourite when he made his debut at Newbury but it soon became apparent that he wasn’t going to be involved in the finish and he could only finish 7th. You would have to imagine that he had shown something in his work at home to attract such strong support and he may be worth a second chance in the Doncaster 1.50.

There are a couple of runners from our list to follow in the 3.30. Dhaular Dhar has had an excellent season despite only winning once. He has also picked up some significant prize money by finishing runner up in a couple of big Ascot handicaps. Tomorrow he is 10 lbs higher in the weights than his previous highest winning mark so he needs a personal best. Celtic Sultan won his first start of the season in a handicap at Chester but has done very little in 5 subsequent runs. He has slipped down the weights and is also down in trip over 6 furlongs. The stable have run into a bit of form recently. Of the rest Skhilling Spirit has run some good races this season including a 5th in the Ayr Gold Cup. Any rain would help his cause tomorrow although he may be better over 7 furlongs rather than 6. Artimino comes here in good form. He ran well in second behind Knot in Wood at Kempton 3 weeks ago.

the tatling

In the 4.05 Cape Tribulation could be worth an interest. This dual bumper winner won a Nottingham maiden earlier this month and the stable are in decent form. West With the Wind, from the same stable as Celtic Sultan may benefit from the step up from 12 to 14 furlongs.

I tipped Majeen when he won at Windsor last month and I will stick with him in the 4.40 tomorrow.

At Wolverhampton I like the look of course and distance winner Recession Proof in the 7.50. Let’s hope he lives up to his name!

Over the sticks at Fakenham The Good Guy represents our list to follow in the 3.50. He has been quite consistent over hurdles winning twice but is built like a chaser and hopefully he will make a good start to his career over fences tomorrow.

I fancy Midsummer Magic in the bumper at 5.25 with Tony McCoy riding for Nicky Henderson.

Today’s picture is by the artist Lisa Miller and features The Tatling who won at Brighton this afternoon. This was the 11 year old’s 12th career success – a grand old campaigner.


Diary: October 23 2008

The 2.40 at Carlisle looks an interesting race tomorrow. Astarador won over course and distance a couple of weeks ago and he sets the standard. He came back from serious injury to win the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh beating Border Tale who was getting more than a stone from the winner. Raysrock, a winner over hurdles at Kelso and Hexham last season, looks the main threat and I wouldn’t rule out Lease End either. He fell two out in the fixed brush hurdles final at Haydock last season and had earlier won over hurdles at Wetherby and Doncaster.

Super Road Train has a good record at Carlisle and should go well in the 3.45.

Tot O’Whiskey jumped well when second over two and a half miles at Carlisle recently. He finished strongly that day and the extra distance in the 4.15 should suit him. An intriguing runner in this race is Nine de Sivola who missed last season through injury. The season before though he had finished runner up in the Eider Chase, and the Irish and Scottish Nationals so he is some novice. He is coming back from a long absence from the track however.


I tipped Max Bygraves when he won at Kelso earlier in the month but he has not been done any favours by the handicapper and he looks to have a lot on his plate off top weight in the Ludlow 5.30. Earlier on the Ludlow card Bid Art could run well in the 2.20 at a big price.

Wing Play is the only runner from my flat list to follow. He goes in the 9.20 at Great Leighs.

Over at Thurles Let Yourself Go is my section in the 2.15. He is very highly rated by connections and is fit from a run of the flat. Carrigeen King should come on from his recent 4th at Limerick and gets my vote in the 2.45.

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