Diary: December 1 2009

There are meetings at Hereford, where there is a morning inspection and Southwell tomorrow.

In the 1.40 at Hereford Call Me Mulligan runs form trainer Rebecca Curtis in the 1.40. He has run well in a couple of bumpers and looks an interesting prospect. He may not want really testing ground however.


At Southwell a couple of runners in the 1.50 caught my eye. My Shamwari, trained by former jockey Ben De Haan was runner up in a bumper on his only start so far. He is a chasing type really but should be competitive over hurdles. Mick Easterby gives a hurdles debut to the 5 year old gelding Hurlingham, 4 times a winner on the flat twice on the all weather and twice on turf. He appeals as the type that could win a race or two over timber.

Today’s picture is by courtesy of the artist Jane Dunn.

Diary: November 30 2009

There is not a lot to comment on looking at tomorrow’s meetings at Fakenham and Folkestone.

Peace Corps who runs in the Fakenham 12.50 has form on the flat. He ran 5 times and although he didn’t win a race he did finish 2nd at Sandown on his last start in a handicap at Sandown.

The Polomoche has always looked a chasing type and makes his debut over fences in the 2.50 for in form trainer Nicky Henderson. This horse goes well fresh and will be expected to win.

176596_Walking back after the race

At Folkestone the most interesting race is the 1.00. Den of Iniquity, The Jazz Musician and Numide are all worth considering. The Jazz Musician has been well regarded by connections and had good form over hurdles in the 2007/8 season. He fell on his chase debut at Kempton however and has not shown his best from for a while. Numide won the Greatwood Hurdle last season but didn’t jump too fluently when a disappointing 4th at Huntingdon on his chase bow. He does have Tony McCoy in the saddle this time though and is respected. Den of Iniquity is a lightly raced type and showed some promising signs on his chasing debut at Plumpton recently. Any one of these 3 could come good here but I will go for Den of Iniquity who will at least handle the ground.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Susan Shaw.

Diary: November 29 2009


The main interest at Carlisle tomorrow will be the hurdles debut of Washington Irvine who was 5th in the Epsom Derby last year. He runs in the 12.55.

The better racing is over in Ireland however at Fairyhouse where the highly rated Dunguib will be odds on to land the 1.00. Some Present and Sweeps Hill are the main opposition but the favourite should prevail.

In the 1.30 my short list consists of Pandorama, Pesoto, Roberto Goldback and China Rock. This looks a very competitive affair but if pushed for a selection I would go for Pesoto who was an easy winner at Limerick on his last start. In the Hattan Grace Hurdle at 2.05 I fancy Catch Me to land the prize for the second year running.

Arvika Ligeonniare is preferred to Prince of Milan in the 3.40.

Diary: November 28 2009

There is plenty of racing on tomorrow as long as the weather doesn’t intervene. Now that I am on the crematorium side of 60 perhaps my tipping skills will improve!

Starting with Newbury the card gets under way with the “Greyhounds make great pets novices’ hurdle” at 12.25. Sereth is one to look out for in this. He was a decent horse on the flat in Germany where he won at listed level and he was more recently 3rd to Darley Sun in the Cesarewitch. He made a pleasing start to his hurdles career when winning at Huntingdon and looks an interesting prospect. The other one I will put forward is Finian’s Rainbow. He was unlucky tot to win a point to point at Inch when falling at the last with the race at his mercy and he started his career under rules by winning a bumper at Kempton. In the long term he should make a chaser but it would be no surprise to see him make his mark over hurdles this season.

World Hurdle winner Big Bucks (pictured below) makes his seasonal debut in the 1.35. His ultimate target will be to defend his crown at Cheltenham come March but he should still prove too good for the opposition tomorrow even though he is unlikely to be 100% fit at this early stage of the season.

Big Buck's

The 2.05 is an open race. Isn’t That Lucky has done all his winning in the spring months which might be a bit of a negative. He was pulled up on his last start which was at Aintree which I suppose has to be another negative. Still, he is quite well treated on his best form and I will take a chance with him here.

In the Hennessy Gold Cup at 2.40 Denman is giving plenty of weight away to all his rivals. He won the race 2 years ago off a rating of 161 and needs to defy a mark of 174 if he is to repeat that success. If we could be sure that he is the Denman of 2 years ago I would fancy him but he has had his problems since then and I just think that 7/2 is a bit on the short side for him. There are plenty of interesting runners such as Grand National winners “Mon Mome (English) and Niche Market (Irish) as well as Cappa Bleu who won the Foxhunters at Cheltenham last season. The latter looked to have a big future ahead of his but was a big disappointment at Aintree last month and will need to do much better than that if he is to figure tomorrow. The Aintree race was over an inadequate trip though and upped in distance tomorrow we should see a very different animal. The other runner trained by Evan Williams, State of Play is worth considering. He won the race in 2006 and has performed with credit since in various big races although only actually winning once. He stays and he jumps and he is in with a chance.  Mon Mome (pictured below) won the Grand National at 100/1 but will find a few too good for him in this field I would think.

Mon Mome - Grand National winner

Gone to Lunch was 2nd in the Scottish National last season and should strip fitter for his recent run at Ascot . He may not want really testing conditions. Barber’s Shop will have his supporters, he was 7th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as will Ballyfitz from the Twiston-Davies yard. My Will could go well at a big price. His career record is a model of consistency and he has performed with great credit in big races. He was 5th in this race last season and occupied the same finishing position in the Gold Cup before coming 3rd in the Grand National.

All but one of the last 10 renewals have been won by 6 or 7 year olds (the other winner was 8). There are only 5 runners aged 6 or 7 and they would represent my short list. Barber’s Shop, Kornati Kid, Killyglen, Cappa Bleu and What a Friend. It is worth noting that Killyglen and Kornati Kid act well on soft ground while What a Friend is probably best on good ground. For my selection I will go for Barber’s Shop who has a touch of class. I fear Cappa Bleu who could be anything and would not want to deter you from risking a few shillings on the other 3 on my short list (but don’t forget to consider the ground).

My two against the field in the 3.15 are recent Aintree winner Nampour and Micheal Flips who was 3rd at Ascot on his last start.

The feature race at Newcastle if the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at 1.50 where Binocular and Solwhit clash. With only 7 runners this could turn into a tactical cat and mouse affair and is a race I will watch rather than bet on.

Run to Space is no world beater but he is quite consistent and I am hopeful that he will run well in the Newcastle 12.10 while Irish raider Weapon’s Amnesty is my selection in the 1.15.

Nicky Henderson runs a promising newcomer in the 2.25. Quantatitiveasing is a full brother to Grade 1 winner Asian Maze and won a bumper at Punchestown in good style last season. AP McCoy has the ride.

In the 3.25 Coe, Jass and Chief Dan George are all worth considering.

Great Endeavour won over hurdles last season and makes his chase bow at the same track tomorrow in the 2.00 He has had a recent good run over hurdles when 3rd to Lie Forrit and trainer David Pipe will have him well schooled over fences. He should win.

Jungleand is a horse to look out for this season. He runs tomorrow in the Towcester 2.35 but he has been off the track for a long time so I will keep a watching brief for the moment.

At Fairyhouse I would suggest a small interest in The Midnight Club and Jessie’s Dream in the 3.00.

My thanks to Kate Tann for use of her excellent photos.

Good luck.

Diary: November 27 2009

Another good day for the web site with 5 winners from yesterday’s selections. Riverside Theatre (4/5), Michel Le Bon (6/4), Exmoor Ranger (4/1), Oscar Whisky (8/15) and Sir Winston (7/2).

Newbury is again the main meeting tomorrow and gets under way with a novice hurdle at 1.00. Mille Chief and Royal Mix look the pair to concentrate on in this race. Royal Mix is trained by Paul Nicholls and has winning form in France where he was rated 90 on the flat. He won over 1 mile 7 furlongs at Deauville on good ground so stamina should not be a problem over hurdles. Mille Chief is another with winning form in France. He was unlucky on his UK debut for Alan King when brought down at Market Rasen. As long as that mishap has not damaged him mentally or physically I would expect him to run well and narrowly prefer him to the Nicholls runner.

The weather is about to change at Newbury

Channel 4 presenter Alistair Down nominated Lie Forrit as his horse to follow this season. He does have his quirks (the horses that is, not Mr Down) and unseated his rider when in with a winning chance at Aintree but has since shown plenty of resolution when winning at Cheltenham. He has gone up another 6 lbs for his Cheltenham success but looks a progressive sort and there may well be more to come. This is a very competitive handicap with all sorts of dangers (Halla San and Ainama spring to mind). Lie Forrit has shown his best form on soft going and if underfoot conditions are to his liking he should run well. He is the selection.

In the 2.40 it will be a big surprise if Punchestowns fails to oblige on his chase debut. Should the hot favourite fail then Red Admiral would be the one most likely to benefit.

There are some promising types in the line up for the 3.45. The quartet that appeal most are Bellvano, Black Jack Blues, Tocca Ferro and Henry King. All come into the race with solid bumper form and represent in form yards. If I had to select just one I suppose it would have to be Bellvano although I would suggest a saver of Tocca Ferro..

At Musselburgh I am hopeful of a big run from Meath All Star in the 1.45 while Luska Lad looks the one to be on in the 1.35 at Thurles.

My thanks to Kate Tann for the photo of Newbury racecourse.

Diary: November 26 2009

The first horse that I considered on tomorrow’s Newbury card was Miss Overdrive in the in the 12.25. She was a shade disappointing on her hurdling debit at Towcester and didn’t jump fluently. It may well be that stamina is her forte and she steps in trip tomorrow which may also help her jumping. The negative could be the going however as she won her bumper on good ground and her full sister Over Sixty is best suited by a sound surface. With the going likely to be soft I will reluctantly pass over Miss Overdrive in favour of Queen Poline whose bumper wins came with plenty of give in the ground.

The 12.55 is quite a difficult race to weight up with 4 horses that have claims. The Paul Nicholls runner Lady An Co is particularly tricky to assess. She has winning form over hurdles in France where she has also been placed in good races over fences. She has her first race for her new yard tomorrow. Captain Americo looks the sort to be progressive over fences and was runner up at Exeter on his second run over the larger obstacles. Tomorrow’s trip should be well within his compass. Calusa Crystal won 4 times over hurdle last season and had little chance when beaten by Crack Away Jack on her chasing debut. She has a tenacious attitude and should win races over fences as the season progresses. She appears to be best on good ground however and may not have conditions to suit her at Newbury. Riverside Theatre won 3 times last season and also performed well in top company at Aintree and Punchestown. She is the pick of these on hurdles form and as long as the ground is not too testing she may just shade it.

'Denman' - Oil on Paper 2009 by Sarah Clegg

The 2.05 features two recent winners in Bench Warrant and Pettifour as well as a highly rated Paul Nicholls runner in Michel Le Bon. The latter won twice over hurdles last season and is expected to be one of his stables better novice chases. Despite the absence of a recent run, Michel Le Bon, who is getting weight from his two main rivals, can make his chase debut a winning one.

I give Exmoor Ranger an each way chance in the 3.40.

Spirit River won over hurdles at Auteuil in March and the horse he beat went on to be placed in listed races. He looks an interesting runner in the 3.15. In the bumper at 3.45 my selection is Oscar Whisky who was an impressive winner at Newbury in March.

Sir Winston was expected to do well last season by many shrewd judges but was pretty disappointing. As a result he runs off a mark of 84 tomorrow in the Taunton 3.25 which may underrate his level of ability.

Northern Gem had some decent form on the flat and can make a winning debut over hurdles for David Pipe in the 12.15 at Uttoxeter. Ernst Blofeld should relish the testing conditions at Uttoxeter and is my suggestion in the 1.55.

Today’s picture is of Denman and is included by kind permission of the artist Sarah Clegg.  Denman is set to carry top weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.

Diary: November 25 2009

There is nothing that really catches my eye at the UK meetings tomorrow. There are a few of interest at Naas but I won’t spend too much time on them as there is an inspection tomorrow morning and will all the rain about the meeting must be in some doubt.

Luska Lad is the obvious choice in the opener at 12.25. Four wins in bumpers, two of these on heavy ground plus a winning start to his hurdling career in the soft at Galway put him in with a favourite’s chance here. Although only third on his last start this race looks a lot easier.

downwarrenhill Sally martin

The 12.55 is quite a hot race and there are several with chances. Looking for value I have gone for Sorceror who is 8/1 in the RP. He won his point to point at Ballydurn and is also a winner over hurdles on soft ground. He was third on his chase debut behind River Liane at Naas in testing conditions which was a promising effort.

In the 1.55 my tentative selection is Askthemaster. A lightly raced type he jumped well when winning at Limerick in May. He unseated on his latest outing but on the best of his form has an each way chance here.

Today’s picture is by kind permission of Sally Martin.

Review of the flat 2009 – Part 1


Just as Charles Dickens used to serialize his novels I am going to offer you my review of the flat in bite sized chunks. I have chosen 75 horses that for one reason or another caught my attention last season and they will appear on this small but perfectly formed web site in the time honoured “reverse order.” What larks as Joe Gargery used to say to Pip in Great Expectations!

Numbers 71 to 75

OK, what has crept into the end of this elite list? When compiling my list or horses to follow for the 2009 flat season I added a 7 year old called Woodsley House on the strength of a hat trick of wins in 2008. I looked up his trainer in my “Horses in training” book and found that AG Foster had about 20 in his string and operated at Cousland, Midlothian and one of my well informed friends told me that this was a stable to “look out for.” After his first 3 runs in which he did not figure prominently he lined up in a 7 furlong handicap at Musselburgh. On my web site preview I wisely commented that he had returned to his last winning mark but would appreciate some cut in the ground. Under what the racing pundits described as “an enterprising ride” by Neil Brown Woodsley House duly won at 20/1 on good to firm (how much do I know anyway!)

The assessor put Woodsley House up 3 lbs to a mark of 71 as a result of his win and I decided to keep a watching brief for a while. In the event he ran another 11 times without troubling the judge again and as during that losing sequence he came down to a mark of 63 I periodically became quite enthusiastic about his chances but sadly that success up in Scotland was not to be repeated.

The number 74 spot goes to a horse that, at the time of penning these notes, had run 125 times, and won 16 of them. There are not many 12 year olds still campaigning on the flat but evergreen sprinter The Tatling (pictured below) is still going strong. He used to contest group races at the top tracks and in October 2005 contested the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye at Longchamp with his career best win coming in the King’s Stand at Ascot in 2004. . Those heady days involving visits to Paris have gone and he often runs on the all weather now but he ran consistently in 2009 winning on turf at Bath and Newbury, not bad for a 12 year old.

the tatling

I am reliably informed that only 15% of racehorses win a race during their careers. Such is the handicapping system that winning multiple races in a season is no mean achievement. A horse called Trip The Light (by Fantastic Light pictured below) managed to win 3 times in 2008 going from a rating of 46 to 71 in the process. Now you would think that such a horse would be difficult to place the following season but Trip The Light surpassed his efforts in 2008 by winning 4 handicaps during 2009, an achieve worthy of position number 73 in my list. For those interested in such things the horse has never won a race where there was an “s” in the official going description.

fantastic light

For number 72 I have chosen Mooakada, a 3 year old trained by John Gosden. This is the only horse in my “75” that never actually won a race during the season. As a horse to follow though he came very close to being more profitable that any of the others on the list. He twice finished runner up at odds of 20/1, in listed races at Yarmouth and Doncaster.

If following Mooakada would not have made you rich the horse in the number 71 spot fared hardly any better from a profit point of view as his only win came at odds of 1/5. Given that the race took place at Wolverhampton and was worth £2,590.40 to the winner it would be fair to question to ask how La De Two has found his way onto the “75.” In reality he went into many a notebook as a juvenile as on his only start he finished second at Doncaster splitting Kite Wood and Monitor Closely who went on to finish 2nd and 3rd in the St Leger. La De Two didn’t appear in 2009 until his Wolverhampton race the day after Firework Night by which time he had gone from his original trainer Barry Hills to Godolphin. Presumably his late arrival on the scene in 2009 was the result of a problem of some sort but although he didn’t beat much at Wolverhampton he at least showed his well being and may yet be able to fulfil his potential.

The next instalment featuring numbers 61 to 70 will appear shortly. I bet you can hardly contain your excitement! My thanks to the artist Lisa Miller for use of the pictures of The Tatling and Fantastic Light.

Diary: November 23 2009

The best meeting tomorrow is at Kempton with supporting cards at Ffos Las and Ludlow.

Nicky Henderson introduces an interesting “new signing” in the novice hurdle at Kempton at 12.20 in the shape of the five year old Candy Creek. This mare won twice in 3 starts in bumpers last season with the latest success coming at Aintree in a very competitive contest. The only defeat was when 4th to the Cheltenham festival winner Dunguib at Navan. Tony McCoy rides Candy Creek and the same trainer/jockey combination has a good chance in the 12.50 with the recent Ascot winner You’re the Top who is on a 4 timer.

McCoy and Henderson team up again in the 1.25 where they have another live chance with My Petra although here they face stiff opposition from the Donald McCain runner Whiteoak. Another that could run well in this is Dansimar. Whiteoak would be my selection.

Kauto Star tracks Imperial Commander on his way to victory

Charlie Mann saddles Cast Cada in the 2.00 which is a beginner’s Chase. A former point to point winner Cast Cada won twice over hurdles last season and made a pleasing start to his career over fences when 2nd at Uttoxeter recently.

At Ludlow the 12.30 features some promising horses. Abbevilian had some decent bumper form before finishing 4th to Dave’s Dream on his hurdles debut last Christmas. He should be capable of winning races on that evidence. Royal Collonges is another to look out for. He is a half brother to the high class chaser Neptune Collonges.

Today’s picture, of Kauto Star and Imperial Commander, is by courtesy of Kate Tann.