Diary: February 28 2009

I wasn’t too far away with my tips last night so let’s see if we can have more of the same.

Fairoak Lad has not been at his best this season but he has crept down the weights a little and should have the ground in his favour tomorrow in the Doncaster 2.55. The stable are in good form which is another plus.

In the 3.25 both Alderburn and Noir et Vert will like the ground. Of the two I slightly prefer the latter who was a shade unlucky last time out.

In th bumper at 4.00 there is a good word for Alan King’s Lidar. Fidelis, a beaten favourite on his only previous start might be interesting at a bigger price.

I suppose West End Rocker is the likely winner of the 4.35 although I am not over keen on the race to be honest. I would be tempted to support Nom de Guerre but for the fact that he failed to get round last time.

 best mate

Beggar’s Cap really likes a sound surface with 3 of his 4 career wins having come on good to firm, quite unusual for a winter jumper. If he gets his ground he would be interesting in the 5.10.

Kelso next and I hope that Open de L’Isle will give us a run for our money in the 2.00. He has put in a couple of fair runs over hurdles since the turn of the year and is back over fences tomorrow.

In the 3.35 Cloudy Lane looks the pick at the weights. Money Trix has plenty to do based on official ratings but has always been held in high regard by his trainer and may well be better than he has shown in his few runs to date. Evens about Cloudy Lane though looks a good bet if you can get it.

Dolessthanme and Knockara Beau represent my list to follow in the 4.10. Dolessthanme is the selection. He looks over priced at around 10/1.

Down at Kempton I am going to take a chance with King Brex in the 1.45. He is still a maiden but he has been getting closer and should appreciate the better ground after his 2nd to Den of Iniquity on heavy last time out.

In the 2.20 the pair I like are Captain Americo and Missoula. Captain Americo was a nice winner at Wincanton a couple of weeks back and looked a horse on the upgrade. Missoula, a very useful stayer on the flat was a winner at Fontwell but then failed to sparkle when beaten at Kempton on Boxing Day.

rooster booster

Free World has not quite been getting home in his races but he is a bold jumping front runner and the track at Kempton should suit him. I think he will be able to get out in front and stay there in the 4.30.

At Newbury I have 3 horses in mind for the 3.10, Ouzbeck, Hold Em and Money Order. Ouzbeck will like the ground but needs to come back from an early fall last week. Hold Em has been running consistently and last week was 3rd in the arcing post chase. The drying ground will suit both of these two. Money Order is a lightly raced type and is a course winner. My concern is that the trip might just be on the short side for him. Hold Em, with Richard Johnson on board, is my selection.

My only selection at Navan is Let Yourself Go each way in the 3.15.

As the Cheltenham Festival creeps ever nearer today’s illustrations are of triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate and the grey Rooster Booster, a past winner of the Champion Hurdle.  My thanks to the artist Lisa Miller for permission to use these.

Diary: February 27 2009


One of the highlights of tomorrow’s jumps racing will be the reappearance of Gold Award in the 2.00 at Doncaster. Nicky Henderson’s 6 year old won twice in bumpers before finishing 9th to Cousin Vinny in the Cheltenham Festival bumper. He makes his hurdles debut tomorrow where the good going predicted should help his cause.

Otage de Brion’s 3 career wins have all come on ground officially described as good so conditions may also be in his favour in the 3.05.

In the 3.40 Argento Luna sets the standard with Lindeman an alternative at a likely bigger price.

In the 4.45 Overbranch has winning form at the track and came good at this time last season. An each way chance.

Master Minded - Champion Chase winner

Turning to Newbury Very Cool is well handicapped in the 3.15. He is prone to the odd blunder but if he can put in a decent round of jumping he will be hard to beat.

There are a couple of runners from my list to follow in the 3.50. Lordsbridge put in a couple of decent efforts in the autumn but has been a bit disappointing since and I will burden Pterodactyl with my selection with the stable being in good form.

My thanks to Kate Tann for the photo of one of the stars of last year’s Cheltenham Festival, Master Minded.


Diary: February 26 2009

Not surprisingly the pre Cheltenham midweek racing is pretty low key stuff with Ludlow and Taunton supplying the action on Thursday.

Starting at Ludlow with the 2.50 Raysrock is progressing slowly but surely over fences and should be up to winning soon after a series of placed efforts.


In the final race on the card, the 5.20, Eradicate is likely to be a warm order after an impressive debut win over hurdles. Formerly rated 100+ on the flat he will be hard to beat. I see that Wahoo Sam makes his hurdles bow in this race. A winner 14 times on the flat mainly over a mile it would be no big surprise if he were to win a hurdle race or two, probably on an easy track on decent ground.

At Taunton Vodka Brook seeks to follow up an easy win Wincanton. He should go close in the 2.30.

The 3.00 is an interesting looking heat. Mark the Book has always looked to have a future over fences. He was a beaten favourite last time out at Towcester but is probably worth another chance. Quickbeam has had some problems with his jumping but if he can brush up in that department he would certainly be in with a shout. Another that needs to improve his fencing is Sir Winston but he does have ability, a good jumping pedigree and certainly looks the part. He has been brought along patiently and is another I would not rule out. If pushed for a selection I would side with Mark the Book.

our vic

With the Pipe stable back to form the former Irish points winner Another Display could be interesting in the 3.30 while the Paul Nicholls runner Qozak looks the one to be on in the 4.30.

Late update – Solid Silver has a chance in the Ludlow 2.20 where he is dropped in class.

Continuing the Cheltenham Festival theme with my illustrations today I am featuring a couple of former Ryanair Chase winners, Fondmort (top) and Our Vic. Both paintings are by kind permission of the artist Lisa Miller.


Diary: February 25 2009


Not much to say about Wednesday’s racing.

At Bangor I fancy Razor Royale in the 2.20 while in the 4.50 my two against the field would be Cadoudalas and Or D’Oudairies.


At Folkestone The Old Pretender represents my list to follow in the 2.10 and has a good chance with the main danger possibly Lord Tomnoddy.

Buffalo Bob is a tentative suggestion in the 3.40 while Irememberyou and Russian Trigger should go well in the 4.10.

Carrying on the Cheltenham theme this week the picture is of Moscow Flyer by permission of the artist Karen Davies.

Diary: February 24 2009


There isn’t a lot to say about tomorrow’s racing.

There are a trio of under achievers in the 4.10 at Catterick. Chief Dan George was a useful hurdler but is yet to get off the mark over fences in 3 attempts. In fact he hasn’t won anything since getting the better of Wichita Lineman and Imperial Commander over hurdles at Aintree. That was on good ground so maybe the improving conditions will help him. Great Approach has disappointed over fences in his 2 starts but did win over hurdles at Catterick. Master Builder was a distant 3rd at Ayr last time out but has run well on sharp tracks before.

Chief Dan George looks sure to go off favourite but I am going to take a chance that Great Approach will have learned from his first couple of runs over fences and that we will see some improvement from him.

At Leicester in the 2.20 Song of Songs looks the answer. I was impressed with his 3rd at Newbury behind Planet of Sound where he travelled and jumped well.


Rightway Star, Jaunty Flight and Backbord represent my list to follow in the Leicester 3.50. Backbord isn’t the most consistent but when things drop right for him he is capable enough as he showed when winning at Fakenham in November. He was pulled up on his last start over hurdles at Southwell but is out again quickly and the stable are in good form. Jaunty Flight disappointed over a shorter trip last week but she looked good when winning at Newbury before that. Rightway Star was a winner at Haydock on good ground in November and there may have been excuses for his subsequent defeat as he was reported to have bled.

Lightning Strike is the obvious danger but he didn’t jump too fluently on his latest start and I will go with Jaunty Flight to regain winning ways.

Continuing the Cheltenham theme with my illustrations today’s picture, courtesy of the artist Jane Dunn, is of Kauto Star.

Diary: February 23 2009


Not at all a bad haul from last night’s preview with winners aplenty at both Naas and Fontwell. Kicks for Free though proved that there is no such thing as a certainty!

Tomorrow we have meetings at Hereford and Plumpton.

In the first race at Hereford, the 2.30, Alan King gives a hurdles debut to the dual bumper winner Calafacial. Those bumper wins both came on the all weather surface at Lingfield so the drying ground should be a point in his favour.

I have a feeling that Carrickmines may be quite well handicapped in the 3.00. He has form on good ground as well so could be interesting.


Rippling Ring, a winner on the flat in South Africa looked a decent hurdles prospect when 5th in the Supreme Novices at the Festival last year but has been a big disappointment on his two starts this season. He remains on the same handicap mark in the 4.00 tomorrow so will have to improve on his earlier efforts this season. He clearly has ability and may well come good but will have to overcome Carrickboy who was a most impressive winner at Market Rasen last week.

Aureate is a recent winner on the flat on the all weather at Southwell. I see that Tony McCoy has been booked to ride him in the 3.50 at Plumpton which looks significant. At least we know the horse is fit and well and will get every assistance from the saddle. Also in thus race is Temple Place who deserves a mention. Although he has a fairly ordinary wins to runs ration backing him blindly throughout his career would have reaped dividends as his wins have come at odds of 20/1, 12/1, 8/1, 50/1 and 7/1.


A word of warning about the 4.20. Chopneyev is an admirable animal and has been one of my favourites over the years. He does relish the mud however so beware of supporting him in the 4.20 if the ground dries out. Teamgeist is an interesting runner in this. He has always looked a potential chaser on appearance and should have benefitted from his chase debut at Folkestone last month.

The photograph of Hereford racecourse is courtesy of Ruth S Harris while the painting, based on a scene at Plumpton is by kind permission of the artist Katy Sodeau.

That is about it for tonight.

Diary: February 22 2009

Well we had a smattering of winners and placed horses from those mentioned in last night’s write up. Hopefully we can add to that tally at Fontwell and Naas tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Countryside race day at Fontwell Park with the main event being the National Spirit Hurdle at 3.45. Lough Derg is a worthy favourite after some heroic exploits this season and there is every chance that he will once again be very difficult to peg back. Afsoun is the obvious danger but he does seem to find one too good for him a lot of the time and Lough Derg looks a better bet. Paul Nicholls has Pierrot Lunaire who was a very smart juvenile last season but has fallen on both his starts this term. He was only beaten a length and a quarter by Binocular last season at Kempton and then went on to beat Blue Bajan at Aintree. He may well be a spring horse and could be the danger to David Pipe’s runner. Pouvoir is an interesting runner. He has had injury problems and may well need this outing. If he comes out of this race OK he may be aimed at one of the handicaps at Cheltenham in a couple of weeks.

Paul Nicholls sends a strong team to Fontwell and his Alfie Sherrin, a Chepstow bumper winner will be fancied to win on his hurdles bow in the 2.10. His main rivals look to be Ballycarney and Richard’s Sundance.

Other likely Nicholls winners are Kicks for Free (2.40), Royal Auclair (4.15) and Oamaru Stone (5.15).

Moorcroft Boy

There is also a good card over in Ireland at Naas.

In the 2.15 Jaffonnien and Smoking Aces would be my each way fancies. The former was below par at Punchestown but has been given a break and is better than he showed on that occasion. Smoking Aces was runner up at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and the form of that race has worked out well.

Zaarito was 3rd in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season behind Cousin Vinny and got off the mark over hurdles last time out at Punchestown. He looks an exciting prospect and is the one they all have to beat on the 2.45. The strong travelling Go Native is the main danger. He has been first or second on his last 6 starts but does not always find much off the bridle. In Paul Carberry though he has the ideal pilot.

I am going to go for a couple of outsiders in the 3.15. Joncol is a big strong sort and has won 3 of his 5 career starts all on heavy ground. Given the right underfoot conditions he should go well. Good Fella was an easy winner at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day and has been second a couple of times since then. He has taken well to fences and shown a taking attitude.

In the 4.50 Limestone Cowboy is my each way selection. He was 3rd in a handicap at Fairyhouse last week.

Points winner Early Doors is an interesting runner in the bumper at 5.20. He won his point to point in good style and I will be following his career under rules with interest.

That is about it for tonight. After searching for a suitable illustration I decided on a painting of Moorcroft Boy by the artist Trudy Redfern. The Fontwell 4.50 is names after Moorcroft Boy, a former winner of the Scottish National at Ayr who is now one of the horses cared for by The Racehorse Sanctuary.

Trudy Redfern has connections with Fontwell Park. You can see more examples of her work by following the link below.

Trudy Redfern

Diary: February 20 2009

The best race this afternoon was the KIlbrittain Castle Novices Chase at Sandown which provided an exciting 3 way finish. I fancied Cornas and Gauvain for this but didn’t give them a strong enough write up last night, mainly because none of the experts went for them. There is a lesson to be learned there that you should always back your own judgement perhaps!

Anyway, turning to tomorrow’s racing there are a couple of big handicap chases to try and unravel.

Kempton stages the Racing Post Chase at 3.10. Paul Nicholls won the race last season and has 4 runners this time round. Silverburn, a full brother to Denman has rather flattered to deceive in his career so far. Both his runs this season have been disappointing despite him having a breathing operation in the summer. He has yet to win over 3 miles so he does have his stamina to prove although Kempton is an easy track. I am still convinced that he is better than he has looked in his races this season and he could be a good each way bet. Ruby Walsh has elected to ride the in form Big Fella Thanks who comes here on the back of an impressive win at Doncaster last month. He stays and jumps well and with the ground in his favour he looks the percentage call. The other one I quite like is Hold Em who was 3rd behind Stan at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He does not look badly handicapped and is another that will be suited by the ground. A small each way saver of Nacarat might be worth considering.

Honest John got off the mark over hurdles last month at the expense of subsequent winner Gee Dee Nen at Catterick. He handles good ground as he showed when winning the Aintree bumper last season and looks the one to beat in the Kempton 1.30. King Jack unseated when in contention last time and with his trainer in good form looks the threat. Tony McCoy has been booked to ride Lady Pilot which could be significant and any market support for this one would be worth noting.

It will be interesting to see how Conflictofinterest gets on in the 2.05. He started the season as one of the most exciting prospects in the powerful Paul Nicholls team but could only finish 4th on his seasonal reappearance at Wincanton and has undergone surgery for his breathing since. He clearly has ability and should be suited by the flat track. The ground was pretty tacky when Dee Ee Williams was beaten by Alfie Flits at Haydock and Nick Giffords runner may well improve on that performance tomorrow.

Herecomesthetruth comes into the 2.35 looking for a 4th successive win and will probably be all the rage. He has obvious claims but I am going to oppose him with Alan King’s Ouzbeck who will appreciate the ground and has won 5 of his last 7 races. In fact all his career wins have come on good or good to firm.


At Newcastle the big event is the long distance Eider Chase at 3.30. My 2 against the field are Merigo amd Iwillrememberyou. Merigo looked a thorough stayer when winning over 3 miles at Doncaster in December, he acts on the ground and warmed up for this race with a second over hurdles. Timmy Murphy should be the ideal jockey for him and of course he rode the winner of the race last season. Iwillrememberyou is described by his trainer as a plodder but that is what may be required over 4 miles in testing ground. He finished runner up to the progressive Coe on his last start and that form looks solid.

The Newcastle card gets under way with a handicap chase at 1.50. Daldini and Silver by Nature both come here on the back of a win, have shown thst they are in good form and look worth considering.

Ernst Blofeld looks the likely winner of the 2.55 while in the 4.00 I am torn between Best Lover and Catch Bob. Best Lover was runner up to the well regarded Steady Tiger last month and can be expected to have learned a lot from that. He is related to a number of winners and has to be one for the short list. Catch Bob is another that seems to be going the right way. Some sloppy jumping let him down when eh was 2nd at Sedgefield on his last start and if he can improve in that department, he fell the time before, he would be a serious contender.

Skippers Brig has a very good record in heavy ground and looks the one to be on in the 4.35.

There are a couple of runners in the Chepstow 1.40 that I like. Joker’s Legacy, a dual bumper winner stepped up on previous efforts over hurdles when 2nd at Taunton at the end of January. This was his first run for trainer Tim Vaughan and any further improvement would put him in with a good chance tomorrow.

Cypress Grove had Joker’s Legacy behind him when the pair were 3rd and 5th at Newbury in December and the runner up has since won.

Scrum V who is related to Mysylv is my selection in the bumper at 5.00.

Carrying on the Cheltenham theme with my illustrations today’s picture is of Katchit last years’ Champion Hurdle winner. This is by the artist Lisa Miller.

Diary: February 20 2009


I have highlighted quite a few winners in these pages this week, albeit at skinny prices in the main.  One that I missed was Kitski who is on my list to follow and won at 11/1 but I didn’t give him a mention last night.  He was given a super ride by Graham Lee.  With that win in the bag it might be worth taking special note of Ferdy Murphy’s runners now as the trainer often hits a good run of form in the spring.

Elsewhere today the grey Pasco, bred in Switzerland, and there can’t be many Swiss bred steeplechasers about, put in an enthusiastic round of jumping to justify favouritism.  A flat track seems to suit him.

katy sandown

Talking of Ferdy Murphy and Graham Lee they have an interesting runner up at Musselburgh tomorrow in Noir et Vert.  The key to this horse is the ground as all his career wins have come on good or good to firm.  He looks to be in with a live chance in the 3.45.  Another that will probably appreciate the ground is Striking Article in the 2.35.  His jumping has been a bit patchy this season but he runs here in preference to an engagement in Graded company on Saturday and that is perhaps a hint in itself.

The other runner from my list to follow in action at the Scottish track is Pakineo Des Pictons in the 2.00, another Ferdy Murphy runner again partnered by Graham Lee.  A winner of a Hexham bumper last season this 6 year old has had a disappointing campaign and is probably best watched for the time being.

There is an interesting novice chase at Sandown (3.20).  Doctor David has some very solid form.  He was a decent hurdler last season beating Planet of Sound in a handicap at Haydock.  His chase form stands up to scrutiny as well as he beat subsequent winner Kalahari King at Haydock and then finished a creditable second to I’msingingtheblues on his last start.  I prefer him to Free World who disappointed at Ascot recently. The two outsiders Cornas and Gauvain could well run better than their odds suggest.

katy warwick

Nicto de Beauchene has already done his job for my list to follow with a win at 14/1.  He runs in the 4.30 He is not without a chance but I am reluctant to advise him each way in a field of 7 runners.

In the bumper at 5.05 Prior’s Glen could well be the answer.  Trained by Emma Lavelle he was only beaten a head at Newbury at the end of December and should have learned a lot from that run.

Emma Lavelle also has a fancied runner in the 1.50 at Warwick with Vagrant Emperor who was second to the highly rated Bensalem at Leicester on his hurdles debut.

With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner I intend to feature some past festival heroes over the next couple of weeks. Pictured below, courtesy of Kate Tann, is the former Triumph Hurdle winner Penzance, who was recently retired.


If you are looking for some Cheltenham pointers you could do a lot worse than invest in an excellent little book by one of my favourite racing pundits, John Morris.  Follow the link below for details.

John Morris book

The two paintings featured today are by kind permission of the artist Katy Sodeau.