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

Diary: November 22 2008

I will start tonight’s preview at Ascot and the handicap hurdle at 12.45. Fairoak Lad was a progressive young hurdler last season and should be sharper for his run at Perth where he was 3rd to Valerius. Arrayou ran consistently over hurdles last season and has dropped a couple of pounds in the handicap since finishing 3rd in a better race at Cheltenham. These would be my main fancies with a preference for Fairoak Lad.

The 1.55 features a numbers of horses with Champion or World Hurdle pretensions and it should be an informative race. Crack Away Jack was giving over a stone to Squadron when winning at Chepstow and Alan King’s horse has since franked the form. Chomba Womba ran out a most impressive winner at Wincanton and comes from a stable in sublime form. Franchoek is most likely to go down the World Hurdle route as he needs at least two miles. He won 4 times last season and also ran well at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals. Paul Nicholls saddles Elusive Dream who has won 5 times over hurdles and will love the trip and ground. Not an easy one to solve this but for my tip I am going with Chomba Womba.

In the 2.30 Poquelin is likely to be popular but I am inclined to take him on with the unexposed Cheating Chance. He won nicely at Stratford last month and is open to further improvement.

Red Harbour showed a turn of foot to win a point in May and is well regarded by trained Paul Nicholls. He is my tentative choice for the bumper that closes the Ascot programme at 3.40.


There are only 5 runners in the 12.30 at Haydock but a case could be made for them all. Dolessthanme was a dual bumper winner last season and got off the mark at the first time of asking over hurdles at Kelso. He has AP McCoy in the saddle and gets my selection.

According to Pete has plenty going for him in the handicap hurdle at 1.05. He was 3rd in a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last season and has already won twice this season in novice chases at Hexham. He has a pretty sound chance but I am going to nominate a couple of others that I like. Victor Dartnall had a winner today with Lodge Lane and I expect his runner, Russian Trigger to go well. He is a real chasing sort that could one day develop into a Grand National contender. He won twice over hurdles last season though and I expect him to give a good account of himself tomorrow. Bluegun, a former Irish point to point winner is another that will be going chasing before too long one suspects. He won over hurdles at Uttoxeter last season and finished 2nd back at the same track on his seasonal reappearance. Very lightly raced he is an interesting contender here. You can never ignore Paul Nicholls and the Ditcheat handler has Oberon Moon in this off a low weight with Harry Skelton taking off a further 5 lbs. A dour stayer who likes good ground he should be in the frame.

The 1.40 should be a penalty kick for Binocular while Kauto Star is hard to oppose in the 2.15. Cloudy Lane represents my list to follow and while he is a good horse he has plenty to find against the front 2.

Nirvana Swing won 3 races over fences for Sue Smith last season. He was pulled up on his return to the track at Cheltenham but is generally a good jumper that handles most types of ground and he has a bit of an each way squeak in the 2.45.

In the Huntingdon 12.05 Presenting Forever is an interesting runner. He could hardly be better bred. His sire is also responsible for War of Attrition and Denman while on the dam’s side he is related to Andy Pandy, Therealbandit and The Bajan Bandit. All of which means that 3 miles or more over fences is likely to be his game and anything g he does over the smaller obstacles will be a bonus. He may well pay his way over hurdles this season though.

katy huntingdon

Grancore Girl won bumpers at Clonmel and Limerick and makes her hurdles bow in the 1.10 at Gowran Park tomorrow. She looks fair value at around 8/1. I am also quite interested in Drumconvis in the 2.50. There are races to be won with him this season although he may want further that the 2.5 miles of tomorrow’s race.

Today’s pictures are by courtesy of the artist Katy Sodeau.  See my links for further examples of her work.

Bye for now.

Diary: November 21 2008

One winner from 3 selections this afternoon so the weeks decent strike arte continues.

There are 3 jumps meetings tomorrow and hopefully all will go ahead in spite of the frost that is predicted.

Starting at Ascot Nicky Henderson’s Mad Max makes his belated appearance having injured himself before his scheduled debut when head butting his horse box! He won both his bumpers last season, the second of which was a strong looking event at Newbury. Nicky Henderson has said that he has never trained a bigger horse and the future for Mad Max will no doubt be as a staying chaser. The Henderson team could hardly be in better form and it would be no surprise if Mad Max were to win tomorrow on his hurdling debut in the 12.55. If he is going to start at odds on though he is hardly going to be a value bet.


Five of the 9 runners in the 2.05 come into the race on the back of a win so it looks quite a hot little contest. The two I like are Bakbenscher and Shoreacres. Bakbenscher won 2 of his 3 bumpers last season but had to work hard to win on his hurdles bow at Stratford. He is well regarded by his trainer Alan King and is quite probably better than he looked that day. Shoreacres also has solid bumper form, having finished 4th in the Cheltenham Festival bumper. He won well first time over hurdles beating a well regarded runner from Nicky Henderson’s yard by 10 lengths. These are my two against the field with Shoreacres the narrow pick if I have to nominate one horse.

Soleil Fix, who runs in the 2.40, is a real fun horse. He is always ridden by his owner and has won 4 races. I think he will add to his tally at some stage of the season, possibly at Fontwell the scene of all his wins so far. I will give him a miss tomorrow.

In the 3.15 Mokum will have both track and ground in his favour and could go well at a nice price. Another that should appreciate the good going is the consistent Cornas. He is my selection in the 3.50.

Fistral Beach is apparently quite high in the novice hurdle pecking order at the Paul Nicholls yard and he can make a winning start to his campaign over timber in the 1.05 at Exeter.

There are some promising novice chasers in the 1.40. Wichita Lineman got off the mark over fences at the first time of asking at Chepstow last month. He was rated 156 over hurdles and is clearly potentially useful. Lodge Lane has won 5 of his 7 starts and now sets out on a career over fences. He looks an exciting prospect. Pancake represents the stable that has won this race for the last couple of seasons. Pancake has more experience over fences than Wichita Lineman and is a serious contender. I am going to work on the basis that Lodge Lane will need the run and given soft ground Pancake may be the value bet.

Buck the Legend remains a maiden after 12 races which is a bit of a worry but he shaped with promise on his debut over fences at Chepstow and he looks interesting in the 2.50. Pistol Desbois won his last two starts over hurdles last season. He fell on his only previous effort over fences but was running a promising race at the time. He is lightly raced and looks the type to do well over fences. Buck the Legend and Pistol Desbois are my two fancies in this race.


A winning pointer in Ireland Putney Bridge won bumpers at Galway and Stratford last season. Trained by up and coming handler Tim Vaughan he should go well in the 12.15 at Kelso where the other one I like is Bogside Theatre. Trained by George Moore Bogside Theatre won twice on the flat but also ran well in defeat notably when 3rd in the Northumberland plate.

The ex Italian Signalman is another winner from the flat. He made an encouraging hurdles bow when beaten a neck at Newcastle. He can gain compensation in the 12.45.

My best bet at Newcastle is Naiad de Misselot in the 1.50. He won the Coral Cup last season over hurdles and was most impressive when going down to Rightway Star by a head at Haydock on his debut over fences.

Today’s pictures are courtesy of the artist Karen Davies.  See links for more example of her work.

That is it for tonight.