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.