Diary: November 27 2008

The main meeting tomorrow is at Newbury where the first race is at 12.25. Paddy Brennan will be on the recent Lingfield winner Mewstone for trainer Tom George. That win came in bottomless ground as the Lingfield meeting only went ahead after a couple of inspections. She tackles a longer trip tomorrow but stamina is unlikely to be a problem. It remains to be seen whether testing conditions are essential to her as she is yet to encounter quicker ground. Over Sixty lowered the colours of a previous winner at Southwell in October. She then lost nothing in defeat when 2nd in a strong race at Cheltenham this month. She comes from a good family as her dam is a half sister to Dublin Flyer.

Carole’s Legacy won the Aintree Festival bumper, where Over Sixty was 6th. She was made favourite on her hurdles debut but had to settle for 2nd behind Shoreacre, who has since run well at Ascot. She is a half sister to her stable companion and recent winner Mad Max. The fourth horse from my list to follow in this race is Braybrooke Lady who makes her hurdles debut here after a couple of runs in bumpers.

This is a tricky one as Mewstone, Over Sixty and Carole’s Legacy all have sound claims and come from stables in form. It is hard to knock the form of Over Sixty as she contested a hot looking race last time out and I will burden her with my selection. Very testing ground would make Mewstone an interesting proposition.

newbury small

Straw Bear and Pasco were 2nd and 3rd respectively when they met at Exeter in October. Straw Bear has run since when he was well beaten by Tatenen. Nick Gifford’s horse was a classy hurdler but does not look a natural over fences and I fancy Pasco to reverse the form. Pasco’s trainer, Paul Nicholls has won this race twice in the last 3 seasons. Jonjo O’Neill saddles Isn’t that Lucky who ran well in 4th behind I’msingingtheblues at Kempton and could well put up a bold show.

The 2.05 has gone to some good horses in the past such as Shotgun Willy, Valley Henry and Cornish Rebel. There are 3 runners from my list to follow involved in tomorrow’s renewal and Paul Nicholls has the likely favourite in The Tother One. He has won 6 of his 8 races so far and won on his chase debut at Exeter. The track at Newbury should suit him and he looks the one to beat. The main danger could be the more experienced Tartak who has had 4 runs over fences, winning the last two. Denis O’Regan, who won on him at Huntingdon has the ride again. Crescent Island was a winner at Stratford in a beginner’s chase but was then no match for Tatenen at Cheltenham over an inadequate 2 miles. He should do better over this longer trip but I prefer the other two, and in particular The Tother One!

At Taunton King Brex, trained by Charlie Mann catches my eye in the 1.05. He ran 5 times in bumpers last season and finished 3rd in the last two, at Punchestown and Clonmel. My best bet at Taunton though is in the 2.15. The Nightingale was an unlucky loser when slipping up after jumping the last at Exeter. The winner that day, Shalone, has gone on to follow up under a penalty and the form looks solid.


In the 2.50 Prairie Spirit could be an interesting recruit to the winter game. He won 5 times on the flat in France in distances ranging from a mile to an extended mile and three quarters. Mr Big won a hunter chase on firm ground at Down Royal but was well down the field in heavy going at Exeter. He may do better in the 3.25.

Miss Ceka has been really disappointing in her career so far despite being well thought of by her trainer. She has had a breathing operation over the summer. She may well be capable of better than she has shown previously. The one I quite fancy in this race though is Sangfroid. Fourth last time out he should have ground and trip in his favour and I see that he will be wearing a first time visor.

On to Uttoxeter where my main hope is Gypsy George, a progressive chaser who has won 3 of his last four starts and will like the soft ground.

Iwillrememberyou was 3rd at Carlisle on his chase bow and should be all the better for that run. Soft ground is important for this horse and if he gets conditions to suit he would be my selection in the 2.30.

Today’s pictures are by kind permission of the artist Lisa Miller.  See links for further information about this artist.

Diary: November 26 2008

There are 3 jumps meetings tomorrow and some quality racing for a mid week.

Starting at Chepstow there are a couple I like in the 12.40. Bensalem, a winner of his sole Irish point opened his account in the UK in a bumper at Sandown and looks to have plenty of potential. He is making his hurdles debut as is King Fontaine from the Paul Nicholls yard. He ran twice in bumpers last season finishing 3rd and 4th and is the type to make a chaser in time. These would be my two against the field in the Chepstow opener.

Paul Nicholls introduces another promising runner in the bumper that closes the Chepstow card at 3.55. Alfie Sherrin won a Larkhill maiden and this well bred individual could be a useful prospect.


Trainer Henrietta Knight is having a really poor run but I see she did have a winner in the bumper at Ludlow yesterday. I have her Somersby on my list to follow but I would want to see a few more signs of form from the yard before getting too enthusiastic about her runners. Somersby goes in the 12.30 at Kempton tomorrow.

Hora was raised 18 lbs for her win at Aintree and did seem rather anchored when 3rd at Wincanton. She is a likable type and of course her trainer Nicky Henderson is in great form so a return to the winner’s enclosure after the 1.30 tomorrow couldn’t be ruled out. She was beaten when running over 2 miles 6 and as she stays really well this return to a longer trip might help to counteract the big rise in the weights. One Gulp looks the danger.


Nom de Guerre ran a cracker when 3rd to Rightway Star at Haydock earlier this month. He runs in the 2.05 tomorrow where a return to a right handed track might well help him. He has a decent chance. The other one I fancy is Treasury Counsel. Things didn’t go right for him last season but he is fancied to make amends over fences this term.

Regal Quote posted an encouraging effort when 2nd at Huntingdon last month and can go one better in the 2.40 for the in form Emma Lavelle yard. He is owned by the trainer’s father.

Max Bygraves represents my list to follow in the 3.45. He is 10 lbs higher than when winning at Kelso last month and may need to get some respite from the handicapper before he wins again.

Kilmackilloge goes well fresh and could go well at a nice price in the 1.50 at Wetherby. He is probably best on genuine good ground.

Today’s pictures are courtesy of the artist Jane Dunn.  See links for further examples of this artist’s work.

See you tomorrow

Diary: November 25 2008


We had a winner today thanks to Quws Law who notched his 4th win at Ayr. The winner made all and there should be more to come from him around the northern tracks. The second, Great Approach made a bit of a hash of 3 out but was staying on at the finish. He should not be long in getting off the mark over fences.

atastretchamended malton

Turning to tomorrow there are 3 runners in action from our list to follow. Nicto de Beauchene is yet to win a race and has fallen on his last 2 starts but he does have some ability and was going well enough when falling on his last start. If he puts in a clear round he could go close. Ballygalley Bob is a dour stayer that likes the mud. He was pulled up over hurdles 3 weeks ago but should be fitter for this and in testing conditions he would be a contender.

Lease Lend has had 3 runs over fences and that experience should stand him in good stead in the 12.50 at Sedgefield. He has an each way chance at around 6/1.

Late update

Worbarrow Bay could be a bit of a dark horse in the 1.00 at Lingfield.  She was 2nd in a bumper at Cheltenham on her only previous start but missed the whole of last season through injury.  Soft ground should suit her although she may need further than 2 miles.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Ruth Buchanan. 

Diary: November 24 2008


The beginner’s chase at Ayr (1.40) looks to be between Great Approach and Quws Law. Great Approach has some good form over hurdles including a 3rd to Ballyfitz at Haydock in February. He has tried fences once before but was pulled up. Quws Law has always looked a chaser in the making and likes Ayr where his form figures in bumpers and over hurdles reads 1231PP1. He has had a wind operation since the “double P.” He was down the field at Carlisle on his chase debut last month but should come on for that run. It is difficult to pick between these two but I would just favour Quws Law.

alisonwilson vale of lune

Nicky Richards trains Great Approach and the Greystoke handler has another fancied runner in the 2.10 in Merrydown. This 5 year old gelding was runner up to the well regarded Door Boy on his first run of the season and built on that when landing a novice hurdles at Kelso in soft ground. He has to give weight away all round tomorrow but has a conditional jockey taking 3 lbs off and looks the one to beat.

The only runner from my list to follow in action at Ludlow is Lester Leaps in who runs in the 1.20.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Alison Wilson.


Diary: November 23 2008


At Aintree tomorrow I am hoping that Honest John can get us off to a winning start in the opener at 12.30. He won a strong bumper at the Liverpool track last season and looks an exciting prospect.

Quarry Town would normally be my selection in the 1.05 but my enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by the form of the David Pipe runners. Having said that there wasn’t much wrong with Tamarinbleu’s effort today.


Gwnako has proved he can handle the Aintree fences and would be one of my leading fancies for the 1.40 where perhaps the Nicholls/Thomas combination can gain some compensation for the defeat of Kauto Star. The other one on my original short list for this was Regal Heights who looks as though he has been trained with this race in mind. He would almost certainly need soft ground though as all his form has been in the mud.

Serabad won twice last season when trained by Peter Bowen. He is now with Tim Vaughan who runs him in the handicap hurdle at 2.15. He could well be open to further improvement. The same can be said of Auroras Encore from Sue Smith’s yard. These are my two against the field in this race.

Ferdy Murphy has made a slow start to the season but that is not really unusual. He does not rush his horses and one or two have been showing signs of form recently. He has Noir et Vert in the Becher Chase at 2.50 and I think this one has an each way chance at around 14/1.


Quaddick Lane and Tom Know’s are a couple that I fancy in the 3.25 but again there has to be a slight doubt over the well being of some of the David Pipe runners. Market support for either of these two would be worth noting. General Potter looks the type to improve with time and he has an each way chance.

Vodka Brook should be there or thereabouts in the 2.40 at Plumpton while my nap of the day is Pandorama in the 1.00 at Navan.

I must thank the artists responsible for my two pictures today.  The one at the top of the page is by Margaret Barrett and the second one, showing Comply or Die on his way to winning the Grand National last season is by Katie Scorgie.  Katy Scorgie was commissioned by the Spinal Injuries Association to paint this picture and it is featured on their Christmas cards.  These are available online from http://www.spinal.co.uk or by telephoning 01462 735 745