Diary: January 1 2009


With the temperature around the country unlikely to rise much above freezing we might be lucky if we start the year tomorrow with any jumps racing. Cheltenham stage a god card so let’s hope they beat the freeze.

You can buy the CD of Singalongamaxmas on Amazon if such is your taste in seasonal music. Max Bygraves the horse runs in the Cheltenham 12.30. He has already justified his inclusion on my list to follow by winning at Kelso off a mark of 85. He runs off a mark of 96 tomorrow although his jockey can claim 5 lbs. This looks a competitive heat and there are other runners with stronger claims.

Character Building was just a little disappointing when 4th at Cheltenham where he raced a bit too keenly. He was a leading fancy for the Grand National last season but didn’t make the starting line up. If at his best he would be in with a good chance in the handicap chase at 1.05. Noir et Vert stays well and his stable are running into some form so if he gets his favoured good ground he would be very interesting indeed. Merigo comes here in good heart having won well at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago. He is possibly better with some give in the ground. Noir et Vert looks reasonable each way value at around 10/1.


4 of the 5runners in the Dipper Novices Chase are on my list to follow so I am rather spoiled for choice! Kealshore Boy comes from the in form Howard Johnson yard but his form in the book does not look quite good enough in this company. Kicks for Free’s current price of around 11/8 looks too short to represent value for money and I am inclined to go with either Tartak of Calgary Bay. Tartak may need testing conditions to show his best form and therefore Calgary Bay is the selection. I know that Henrietta Knight does not have many winners these days but she has been bringing this horse along carefully since he was second in a Ludlow bumper. Chasing was always going to be his game and with AP McCoy in the saddle he gets my vote.

Three Mirrors ran a sound race when 5th on the Paddy Power. His stable was not really firing at that time and he should be even better now so I am hoping for a big run from him in the 2.10. He should appreciate the ground.

My two against the field in the 2.45 are Ballydub and Tazbar. The former was a runner up to the impressive Punchestowns at Cheltenham before winning in good style at Newbury, while Tazbar ran an encouraging race on his seasonal reappearance when 3rd to United at Haydock.

Franchoek and Five Dream are likely to be the front two in the betting for the 3.20. Franchoek has claims but Five Dream could be a value bet.

How’s Business and Vodka Brook are the two runners from my list to follow in the Exeter 1.20. How’s Business has been pulled up on his last two starts but has since had a wind operation. He looks fairly handicapped if he can find his best from. Vodka Brook tackles handicap company for the first time and looks open to improvement.

I had high hopes for The Pious Prince at the start of the season. He runs in the 3.30 at Exeter but with David Pipe struggling for winners at the moment I couldn’t tip him with any confidence.

At Catterick I like the look of Grizebeck and Honest John in the 12.50. Grizebeck would be my “final answer” as I would hope that his stamina could be made to count at this trip.

Today’s picture is by courtesy of Ann Duffield Racing.

Good luck and Happy New Year.

Diary: December 31 2008


I won’t spend too much time on my preview tonight as both UK meetings are in doubt due to the frost. The following horses from my list to follow are entered;


12.40 Another Display

1.40 Negus de Beaumont


12.50 The Pious Prince

1.20 Wichita Lineman

2.20 Over Sixty

2.50 Song of Songs

3.20 Carrickmines

My selections in Ireland are, at Punchestown Taravada (1.15) and Nataani in the 3.35 at Tramore.

I would like to wish all my readers a happy new year.


Diary: December 30 2008


Today’s tips did OK for me with Planet of Sound, Dave’s Dream and Diamond Harry all winning.

I don’t have much of a view on the racing tomorrow.  It is not a very original selection but my nap of the day is Over Sixty in the Taunton 1.10. She was runner up to the useful Carol’s Legacy at Newbury last time out but the rest well beaten.  She meets nothing of that calibre at Taunton and should prevail.

Diary: December 29 2008


Planet of Sound is the first runner from my list to follow in action tomorrow. He runs in the Newbury 12.30. He has had a slight back problem since running at Sandown where he was 4th. This looks a tough little race where any one of the 5 runners could win. I am hopeful that Planet of Sound will win his share of races over fences. He should be suited by the track at Newbury.

Money Trix has always been held in high regard by trainer Nicky Richards but has been plagued by injuries. He makes a belated first appearance of the season in the 1.35 at Newbury tomorrow. He has gone well fresh before and is my selection. Trigger the Light has been let down by jumping errors in his two races this season but if he can improve in that department he could run well at a decent price.

The 2.10 could go to the unbeaten Dave’s Dream from the in form Nicky Henderson stable, with China Gold the one to chase him home.

newbury small

Nick Williams has brought the exciting prospect Diamond Harry along carefully and he is still unbeaten after 2 starts in bumpers and two runs over hurdles. He faces some stiff opposition tomorrow in the Paul Nicholls runner Massasoit but I fancy him to maintain that unbeaten record. Junior took a while to break his duck over hurdles but that win may have given him confidence and he could surprise a few in this race.

Nom de Guerre and Caldusa Caldera represent my list to follow in the 3.15 and both go into the race with each way chances.

Today’s picture of the parade ring at Newbury is by kind permission of the artist Lisa Miller.

Good luck

Diary: December 28 2008

My list to follow is going through a lean time at the moment although Wind Instrument was a winner this afternoon.

There are 5 runners from the list out tomorrow where my main hope is Neptune Collonges in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown (2.35). Although he makes the odd mistake his jumping is generally sound and he handles soft ground well.

At Leicester the unbeaten Bensalem looks to have a good chance in the 1.05. Twice a winner in bumpers he maintained his 100% record when winning on his hurdles bow at Chepstow and looks on the upgrade.


Course and distance winner Mokum has a good each way chance in the 2.35 particularly if the ground dries out a bit as he won’t want it too soft. Non de Guerre has always looked the type to do well over fences. He has put in a couple of placed efforts and must have a chance of getting his head in front in the 3.05.

My only list runner at Catterick is Orang Outan in the 1.25.

Elsewhere I fancy Trafford Lad in the Leopardstown 1.30 where Drumconvis, ridden by Ruby Walsh could be a lively outsider.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Katie Scorgie.  See links for further examples of this artist’s work.

Horses to follow – 2008/9 jumps season


miller over the last

Here is the main list of horses I will be following over the 2008/9 jumps season. As usual the list is large as I feel it helps to have a ‘core’ of horses to keep an eye on. I will be monitoring the fortunes of this “stable” over the coming months and hopefully giving a few pointers as to their chances in my daily diary.


The list is really intended to cover the full season. I find it pays to start off with a central ‘core’ of horses to watch out for, rather than having to try and remember how a horse has performed.

Most of the horses are from the more successful larger stables. This seems to make sense as they have the majority of the winners! I have also included a smattering of horses from some of the smaller stables.

I will put up a second list of horses that didn’t quite make it onto the main list.

Aigle D’Or (N Henderson)
Albinus (A Balding)
Alfie Sherrin (P Nicholls) – Winner 7/4
American Trilogy (P Nicholls) – A winner at evens
An Accordion (D Pipe)
Andytown (N Henderson) – Winner 11/4
Another Display  (D Pipe)
Ashkazar (D Pipe)
Auroras Encore (Sue Smith) 9/2 winner 
Bakbenscer (A King)) 8/11 & 11/2 
Ballydub (p Hobbs) Winner 5/4
Ballygalley Bob (O Sherwood)
Balzaccio (A King) – Winner at evens
Beat the Boy’s (N Twiston-Davies)
Bene Lad (J Goldie)
Benno’s Boy (N Richards)
Bensalem (A King) – Winner 11/4
Beshabar (P Nicholls)
Bible Lord (A Turnell)
Bid Art (J Snowden)
Binocular (N Hnederson) – winner 1/9 & evens
Big Eared Fran (D Pipe)
Big Fella Thanks (P Nicholls)
Blackpool Billy (F Murphy)
Blue Gun (P Hobbs)
Breakwater House (Lucinda Russell)
Butler’s Cabin (J J O’Neill) 
Cadoudalas (M Jefferson)
Calaficial (A King)
Calgary Bay (H Knight)
Callisto Moon (I Williams) 
Cape Tribulation (M Jefferson)  Winner 7/4

Carole’s Legacy (N Henderson) winner 11/4 & 2/5
Carrickmines (Dr Newland)
Chomba Womba (N Henderson) – Won Elite Hurdle 11/4
Cloudy Times (Sue Smith) – Won 9/4
Cockney Trucker (P Hobbs)
Coe (Sue Smith)
Conflictofinterest (P Nicholls)
Copper Bleu (P Hobbs)
Cornas (N Willaims)
Crack Away Jack (E Lavelle)
Crescent Island (N Twiston-Davies)
Crop Walker (Kate Walton)
Cruising River (J Snowden)
Cryptic (P Hobbs)
Dalmation (C Wall)
Dancing With Bubbles (A King)
Dave’s Dream (N Henderson)
Denman (P Nicholls)
Diablo (N Twiston-Davies)
Diamond Harry (N Williams)
Dolessthanme (H Johnson)
Door Boy (H Johnson)
Duc de Regniere (N Henderson)
Fairoak Lad (P Hobbs)
Fistral Beach (P Nicholls)
Forest Pennant (P Nicholls)
Fourty Acers (D Pipe)
Franchoek (A King)
Front of House (N Henderson)
Gardasee (D Pipe)
Gee Dee Nen (J Best)
General Potter (D McCain)
Glencree (H Johnson)
Gold Award (N Henderson)
Great Approach (N Richards)
Great Endeavour (D Pipe)
Greenbridge (A King)
Grizebeck (N Richards)
Gwanako (P Nicholls)
Gypsy George (T Walford)
High Jack (A Turnell)
Honest John (T Tate)
Hora (N Henderson)
How’s Business (C Mann)
Ignotus (A Swinbank)
I’msingingtheblues (P Nicholls)
Imperial Commander (N Twiston-Davies)
I’m So Lucky (D Pipe)
Island Flyer (T George)
It’s Tough (D Pipe)
Joker’s Legacy (V Dartnall)
Jorveybrook (N Richards) 
Jungleland (D McCain)
Kealshore Boy (H Johnson)
Keki Buku (P Hobbs)
Kicks for Free (P Nicholls)
King Fontaine (P Nicholls)
Kings Euro (T Vaughan)
King’s Revenge (A King)
Kingscape (J Fanshawe)
Knockara Beau (G Charlton)
Krackatara (Mrs S Gardner)
Lead On (P Hobbs)
Lease End (T Easterby)
Letalus (C Llewellyn)
Lindeman (N Henderson)
Lodge Lane (V Dartnall)
Lothian Falcon (P Maddison)
Mad Max (N Henderson)
Mahonia (P Nicholls)
Mamlook (D PIpe)
Mark the Book (P Hobbs)
Marleybow (H Johnson)
Massimo (Angela Davis)
Master Minded (P Nicholls)
Merrydown (N Richards)
Metaphoric (M Bell)
Mewstone (T George)
Micheal Flips (A Turnell)
Middleton Dene (N Richards)
Money Trix (N Richards)
Mous of Men (D Pipe)
Mr Strachan (Sue Smith)
Naiad de Misselot (F Murphy)
Negus de Beaumont (F Murphy)
Nenuphar Collonges (A King)
Neptunes Collonges (P Nicholls)
Netherley (D McCain)
New Alco (F Murphy)
Nicto de Beauchene (R Alner)
Noble Alan (N Richards)
Noir et Vert (F Murphy)
No Panic (P Bowen)
Nudge and Nurdle (N Twiston-Davies)
Oh Crick (A King)
Old Benny (A King)
Openditch (D Pipe)
Osana (D Pipe)
Oscar Gogo (L Corcoran)
Otage de Brion (C Longsden)
Pakineo des Pictons ( F Murphy)
Pasco (P Nicholls)
Pettifour (N Twiston-Davies)
Pierrot Lunaire (P Nicholls)
Planet of Sound (P Hobbs)
Pouvoir (A King)
Prince Taime (P Hobbs)
Pterodactyl (Venetia Willaims)
Punchestowns (N Henderson)
Punjabi (N Henderson)
Putney Bridge (T Vaughan)
Quaddick Lane (D Pipe)
Quail (N Twiston-Davies)
Quality Control (F Murphy)
Quarry Town (D Pipe)
Qozak (P Nicholls)
Quickbeam (Venetia Williams)
Qulinton (D Pipe) Rajeh (J Spearing)
Raysrock (P Monteith)
Razor Royale (N Twiston-Davies)
Ring the Boss (P Ho=bbs)
Ringaroses (H Knight)
Rippling Ring (P Nicholls)
Riverside Theatre (N Henderson)
Rosbay (T Easterby)
Rubipresent (M Jefferson)
Russian Trigger (V Dartnall)
Sangfroid (N Williams)
Schlindler’s Son (P Bowen)
Shalone (A King)
Shoreacres (B Powell)
Silverburn (P Nicholls)
Simply Blue (Burrough)
Sir Winston (V Dartnall)
Snap Tie (P Hobbs)
Solid Silver (K Reveley)

Somersby (H Knight)
Song of Songs (J Fanshawe)
Sporting Rebel (V Dartnall)
Sprosser (O Sherwood)
Squadron (A King)
Steady Tiger (N Richards)
Stellino (N Henderson)

Striking Article (H Johnson)
Sullumo (C Mann)
Superior Wisdom (A Hales)
Supreme Builder (F Murphy)
Takeroc (P Nicholls)
Tartak (C George)
Tatenen (P Nicholls)
Tazbar (K Reveley)
The Apprentice (V Dartnall)
The Good Guy (T Bailey)
The Great Alfie (N Twiston-Davies)
The Jazz Musician (C Tizzard)
The Nightingale (P Nicholls)
The Old Pretender (C Llewellyn)
The Pious Prince (D Pipe)
The Polomoche (N Henderson)
The Portonian (M Jefferson)
The Raglan Road (H Johnson)
The Sliotar (D Pipe)
The Tother One (P Nicholls)
The Whisperer (N Richards)  
Three Mirrors (F Murphy)
Tidal Bay (H Johnson)
Time Bandit (D Pipe)
Tom Knows (D Pipe)
Tot O’Whiskey (M Jefferson)
Touch of Irish (G A Swinbank)
Trigger the Light (A King)
Very Cool (D Pipe)
Viking Rebel (N Henderson)
Voy Por Ustedes (A King)
Whiteoak (D McCain)
Wichita Lineman (J J O’Neill)
Wind Instrument (C Llewellyn) 
Winsley Hill (N Mulholland)
Wishfull Thinking (P Hobbs)
Working Title (N Henderson)

The pictures on this page are courtesy of the artist Lisa Miller.

This is a further list of horses that I will be featuring in my daily racing diary during the jumps season.

miller harchibald

Abou Ben (T Vaughan)

Air Force One (C Mann)

Argento Luna (O Sherwood)

Arrayou (O Sherwood)

Backbord (Lucy Wadham)

Beggars Cap (F Murphy)

Bentons Choice (G Moore)

Black Exit (B De Haan)

Black Jakari (A King)

Blue Bajan (A Turnell)

Bradley Boy (C Llewellyn)

Braybrook Lady (K Bailey)

Buffalo Bob (K Bailey)

Calusa Caldera (B Powell)

Cava Bien (T Vaughan)

Character Building (J Quinn)

Cheating Chance (A Turnell)

China Gold (A King)

Circus of Dreams (O Sherwood)

Classic Cut (J Ewart)

Cloudy Lane (D McCain)

Companero (H Johnson)

Connak (R Alner)

Cornerback (N Richards)

Daldini (Sue Smith)

Den of Iniquity (C Llewellyn)

De Welsh Wizzard (E Lavelle)

Fidelis (B De Haan)

Five Dream (P Nicholls)

Frascati Park (C Llewellyn)

Free World (P Nicholls)

Halcon Generlardais (A King)

Have you seemn me (C Llewellyn)

Heart O’ the West (L Lungo)

Hello Moscow (J Best)

Inghwung (O Sherwood)

It’s a Discovery (D Mccain)

Iwillrememberyou (C Longsden)

Jack the Giant (N Henderson)

Jaunty Flight (O Sherwood)

Junior (A King)

Kalahari King (F Murphy)

Kaldouas (J Snowden)

Kanad (C Mann)

Kangaroo Cour5t (E Lavelle)

Katies Tuitor (C Mann)

Khachaturian (D McCain)

Kilmackilloge (M Todhunter)

King Brex (C Mann)

Kingston Lane (C Llewellyn)

Kitski (F Murphy)

Labelthou (E Lavelle)

Leading Attraction (P Nicholls)

Lester Leaps In (J Snowden)

Lord Generous (T Vaughan)

Lordsbridge (A Turnell)

Manitoba (GA SWinbank)

Marwan (C Longsden)

Master Bulder (F Murphy)

Master Medic (R Alner)

Master Nimbus (J J Quinn)

Matuhi (B De Haan)

Max Bygraves (K Bailey)

Melba Toast (R Alner)

Merigo (A Parker)

Midnight Haze (K Bailey)

Miss Ceka (R Alner

Miss Mitch (R Alner)

Mister McGoldrick (Sue Smith)

Mocha (J Ewart)

Modicum (N Richards)

Mokum (A W Carroll)

Monet’s Garden (N Richards)

Money Order (B Powell)

Moorlands Teri (T Vaughan)

Nadover (C Mann)

Nine de Sivoila (F Murphy)

Nirvana Swing (Sue Smith)

Noble Scholar (GA SWinbank)

Nom de Guerre (B De Haan)

Nulato ( A King)

Omega King (C Longsden)

Oneforfun (C Longsden)

Open de L’Isle (J Ewart)

Orang Outan (J Ewart)

Or D’Oudairies (J Quinn)

Oujamaflip (C Llewellyn)

Overbranch (M Jefferson)

Over Sixty (A King)

Pancake (P Hobbs)

Picture This (P Nicholls)

Pistol Desbois (R Alner)

Prairie Spirit (C Longsden)

Presenting Forever (H Johnson)

Quws Law (Lucinda Russell)

Raining Horse (J Ewart)

Ravello Bay (N Henderson)

Regal Heights (D McCain)

Regal Quote (E Lavelle)

Rightway Star (D McCain)

Romance Dance (L Corcoran)

Safari Run (T Vaughan)

Sarde (K Bailey)

Saveiro (GA Swinbank)

Scotty the Samurai (GA Swinbank)

Seefin Mountain (A Turnell)

Serabad (T Vaughan)

Seymar Lad (E Lavelle)

Shavansky (C Mann)

Sir Peter (H Daly)

Snakebite (C Llewellyn)

Soleil Fix (N Gifford)

Songe (C Longsden)

Son of a Flicka (D McCain)

Special Envoy (T Vaughan)

Super Road Train (Sue Smith)

Supreme Duke (P Hobbs)

Surface to Air (C Bealby)

Tanks for that (N Henderson)

Tara Whale (J Snowden)

The Hollinwell (F Murphy)

The Whisperer (N Richards)

Tomina (Emma Lavelle)

Treasury Counsel (N Henderson)

Twenty Nine Black (GA Swinbank)

Uffa Fox (B De Haan)

Valsad Queen (B Powell)

Van Galen (K Bailey)

Vivona Hill (GA Swinbank)

Vodka Brook (R Alner)

Warne’s Way (B Powell)

West End Rocker (A King)

What a Buzz (D McCain)

Wind Instrument (C Llewellyn)

Workbarrow Bay (R Alner)

Diary: December 27 2008

Despite 3 winners from my list to follow it was not much of a Boxing Day for my tips.

Over the years I have managed to find the winner of the Welsh National on a few occasions so here’s hoping. Halcon Generlardais is a big favourite of mine and has a very consistent record in staying chases, particularly at Chepstow. It is not difficult to see him running another big race and he should finish in the money. Miko de Beauchene won the race last season beating Halcon Generlardais by a head. Although he is set to carry more weight this time around he remains one for the shortlist. King’s Euro has been aimed at this race specifically. He has won 2 of his 4 races over fences and although he is out of the handicap he could be open to further improvement. He handles soft ground and is fit from an outing over hurdles. Nenuphar Collonges is suited to a test of stamina and comes into the race on the back of a win last time out at Bangor. I was most impressed with Beat the Boys when he ran at Cheltenham behind Joe Lively last month. He ran well for a long way on that occasion and looks the right type for this race. Gypsy George won 3 times over fences last season and warmed up for this race with a win over hurdles.

The horses mentioned above form my short list. Over the last 10 years only one horse has carried more than 10 stone 9 to victory and I will therefore concentrate on the lower weighted horses. I have concerns over the form of the Twiston-Davies runners and will pass on Beat the Boys. Of the remaining runners I just prefer Gypsy George to Nunuphar Collonges and King’s Euro.

There are two I like the look of in the Chepstow 2.40. Pepite de Soileil won a listed hurdle in France before moving to Paul Nicholl’s yard. She then won a small race at Wincanton by 51 lengths and she looks potentially smart. At a bigger price Giorgio Quercus might be worth considering. A winner at Hereford in November she was maybe brought out again a bit too soon when failing to follow up at Cheltenham 6 days later.

King Fontaine represents my list to follow in the 3.20. He was 3rd to a useful type in Bensalem over course and distance a month ago and should be in the frame again. Peppertree Lane and Michel Le Bon look big dangers. There are a couple of runners from my list to follow in the 12.20, Wind Instrument and Pancake. Both may find Nakai a tough nut to crack.

Halcon Genelardais

At Kempton Starluck sets the standard in the 1.05. The Alan King runner Balzaccio could run well at a bigger price.

There are 3 runners from my list to follow in the 2.15, Bible Lord, Seymar Lad and Big Fella Thanks. Bible Lord has been disappointing this season with his jumping letting him down. He tackles 3 miles for the first time and that may help his jumping. Seymar Lad won well at Chepstow earlier in the season. He has gone up a fair bit in the weights but has an each way chance. Big Fella Thanks has not lived up to expectations but with the Nicholls horses going so well just now I will give him a rather tentative selection.

Hora won at Aintree in the autumn but has been a shade disappointing on her subsequent starts. I wouldn’t rule her out of the 2.45 though where Theatre Diva looks the danger.

There is a small but select field for the 3.15 where I quite fancy Takeroc who has run well enough in top company on his last two runs.

The following runners from my list to follow are in action at Wetherby where Tot O’Whiskey looks my best chance.

1.20 – Lease Lend; 2.30 – Striking Article and Tot O’Whiskey; 3.00 – Daldini

At Leopardstown Hurricane Fly will take some stopping in the 1.55 with Go Native a possible threat at a bigger price. The lightly raced Dooney’s Gate has an each way shout in the 2.25.

Today’s photo is of Halcon Generlardais.  My thanks to Kate Tann for permission to use it.

Diary: December 26 2008

With no weather threat this year we should get racing at all the various meeting throughout the UK and Ireland on Boxing Day, with the main attraction being Kempton Park.

In the King George at 2.40 Kauto Star (pictured below) goes for a hat trick of wins in the race.


To some he is the best bet of the season while to others he is a horse on a downward spiral. So which is the correct view? There is no doubting his class but he has only won one of his last 4 starts and a year ago that statistic would have been unthinkable. I am inclined to take him on. Voy Por Ustedes is the obvious one I suppose as he is a proven Grade 1 performer. The question is will he stay? He is into unknown territory here and 7/2 looks a short price about a horse that has stamina questions to answer, especially as there is likely to be plenty of pace on.

Imperial Commander won the Paddy Power and that form has since been franked by the runner up. However, Imperial Commander has done most of his winning at Cheltenham and I am not sure about his effectiveness around Kempton. I would also be a little worried about the form of the stable. Our Vic beat Kauto Star at Aintree at the end of last season but David Pipe’s horses have not been firing recently. Air Force One ticks most of the right boxes. He will like the ground and the track and his stable are going well. He is quite closely matched with Snoopy Loopy on their Hennessey form but the latter is a much bigger price. At Haydock when Kauto Star fell there have been debates as to whether he would have beaten Snoopy Loopy had he stood up. In any event there would not have been much in it. Kauto Star is 5/4 and Snoopy Loopy is priced at around 20/1. At those odds the consistent Snoopy Loopy looks a fair each way proposition. Air Force One at the age of 6 could be improving, while Voy Por would be a serious contender if he stays but I will stick with Snoopy Loopy as the best value.

Nicky Henderson can do no wrong at present and he saddles the favourite Punjabi in the Christmas Hurdle at 2.05. Third to Katchit in the Champion Hurdle Punjabi showed his well being when accounting for Sublimity at Wetherby last time out. He should be fitter for this race and he looks the likely winner. Harchibald (pictured below) will have his supporters as the going and track will suit him but at the age of 9, coming on 10 am inclined to go with the younger generation.

miller harchibald

Paul Nicholls has not been capturing as many of the big prizes as looked likely at the start of the season. He saddles Pierrot Lunaire in this. A faller when beaten at Aintree in a race won by Squadron he has something to prove now. If you take one strand of his form though he is in with a cracking chance. He was only beaten 1.25 lengths over course and distance by Binocular in February and if we take that form at face value then the horse is right in there with a chance. Snap Tie beat Katchit over course and distance last time out and although Katchit has perhaps devalued that form since I still give Snap Tie a chance. He has always been held in high regard by his trainer and I would expect him to run well, especially if he gets a sound surface. Punjabi is the selection, Pierrot Lunaire and Snap Tie are respected..

The Kempton card gets under way with the 12.55; a novice hurdle with 3 runners from our list to follow. Dalmation makes his hurdles debut after three runs in bumpers where he was far from disgraced. His trainer does not run many jumpers and this horse looks over priced at 40/1. Simply Blue was a good second when well backed at Wincanton but was then a little disappointing at Newbury. The track might suit him at Kempton and he is no forlorn hope. Micheal Flips, a former winning pointer was 2nd over course and distance 44 days ago having earlier won at Stratford. He is bred to stay further than this 2 miles although he is not devoid of speed. He has the best chance of the 3.

In the 1.20 The Market Man is a likely favourite. Nicky Henderson has a good record in the race and The Market Man should go well. My selection though is Breedsbreeze who can improve for this longer trip.

Hivikos makes his chase bow in the 3.15 after a couple of runs over hurdles. Paul Nicholls clearly thinks a lot of this horse from his comments in the press and it would come as no surprise to see the 5 year old make a winning start over fences.

There are 4 runners from my list to follow in the 3.45 so I will concentrate on their chances. There can be little doubt that Butler’s Cabin will have the Grand National as his main objective and that he is running over hurdles to protect his handicap mark. He is quite well treated in this race though and with AP McCoy in the saddle is not without a chance. Lordsbridge is a frustrating horse as he needs to come from off the pace but has a habit of arriving on the scene too late. He has been expensive to follow and after tipping him a number of times I am going to leave him alone here. Dangerous I know! There were excuses for Albinus after he was pulled up on his latest start in a novice chase. This likable grey returns to hurdles tomorrow. He is 6 lbs higher than when finishing 3rd in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last season and certainly has each way claims here. Working Title fell at Ascot last time but before that had shown progressive form. With the Henderson yard in such sparkling form Working Title is my selection.

I will go through the other UK meeting in alphabetical order starting with Huntingdon. Hello Moscow has form in point to points and also ran a close second in a bumper in Ireland. He made his debut for trainer Jim Best when an encouraging 3rd at Folkestone and will be hard to keep out of the frame when lining up in the Huntingdon 12.20.

katy huntingdon

Valda’s Queen was down the field in a bumper at Cheltenham last time out but runs in a weaker mare’s only race in the Huntingdon 3.05 where she can at least run into a place.

Market Rasen stage the Lincolnshire National at 2.25. Kitski is not badly handicapped, stays well, is a course winner and has had a few runs this season to get his eye in. He will do for me.

Or D’Oudairies represents my list to follow in the 3.30. He is upped in trip which is interesting as I have always seen him as a speed horse. He needs good ground to produce his best form.

At Sedgefield River Shanakill will take some beating in the 12.15. There are a couple of runners from my list to follow in the beginner’s chase at 1.15, Auroras Encore and Master Builder. Both have potential but have not done enough to warrant a bet this time.

Moving on to Wetherby the Nicky Richards trained Jorveybrook lines up in the 12.35. He has a race in him somewhere this season but may need further and better ground.

The big race at the Yorkshire track is the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at 1.45 where Tidal Bay will be tackling 3 miles plus for the first time in his career. He is the class act in the race but is unproven at the distance and I am a bit reluctant to take a really short price about him, particularly as he did not seem right when beaten at Sandown. State of Play and Ollie Magern are both course and distance winners and they are sure to have their supporters. State of Play certainly makes plenty of appeal and should go well. I am a big fan of Mister McGoldrick and he ran a blinder at Huntingdon behind Monet’s Garden. This trip would seem to be too far for him though and I will pass him by this time. Cloudy Lane represents the in form trainer Donald McCain. He should be about right for this and I would expect him to run a big race. If Tidal Bay gets the trip he will be hard to beat even off this big weight but at the odds I just prefer Cloudy Lane.

katy wetherby

Later on the Wetherby card the Nicky Richards pair of Echo Point and Native Coral should give you a run for your money in the 2.15 and 2.50 respectively.

Wincanton next where Worbarrow Boy represents my list to follow in the opener at 12.40. This mare has had injury problems which have restricted her to just a couple of runs. She was 2nd in a Cheltenham bumper back in April ’07. On her comeback last month she finished 5th over hurdles at Lingfield which should go some way to putting her straight. At around 12/1 she has an each way chance.

Like Worbarrow Boy Nicto de Beauchene is trained by the Alners. He runs in the 2.55 which is a staying handicap chase. Jumping has proved a problem for this French import but he did at least get round in one piece on his latest start. He is yet to win over fences and 16/1 here probably equates to his chance.

The lightly raced Paquet Cadeau has each way claims in the 3.25 for the Elite Racing Club.

At Leopardstown Cousin Vinny will be a warm order in the 12.20. A champion bumper horse on both sides of the Irish Sea he jumped well on his first run over hurdles last month and should win this. Total Excitement is a half brother to a former champion bumper horse comes here fit from a run on the flat but he really needs a sound surface.

Former bumper winner Smoking Aces was 3rd at Naas on his hurdles debut in a race that has worked out well. He is my selection in the 12.50.

Tatenen has been impressive over fences so far and I can see the Paul Nicholls raider being hard to beat in the 2.25. Cooldine and Forpadytheplasterer look the pick of the home challenge.

That is about it for this whistle stop tour of the Boxing Day racing.

The pictures of Kauto Star and Harchibald are by Lisa Miller.  The other pictures used today are by Katy Sodeau.

From “The Dead” by James Joyce


Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.


Diary: December 23 2008


Of the horses features last night Stow was a 4/1 winner this afternoon.

There is only one runner from my list to follow in action tomorrow. No Panic who goes in the 2.15 at Fontwell may be able to improve on his other efforts this season. It looks to me that he needs a sound surface as he has never won with an “s” in the going description so may be worth supporting if he gets good ground.

The next update will be on Christmas Day when I will preview the Boxing Day meetings.

A white Christmas seems unlikely but I will leave you with a racing snow scene courtesy of Mark Hackett.  Have a good Christmas.

Goodwood Racecourse