Diary: December 31 2009


It would have been nice to have ended the decade with a winner but sadly my 3 selections yesterday were all disappointing.

The cold weather continues to disrupt the national hunt racing programme but hopefully the meetings at Cheltenham and Exeter will beat the freeze.

At Cheltenham there is a tricky looking handicap chase at5 1.05 where Sue Smith sends down 3 runners. Turpin Green has his second run for the stable and is very well handicapped on the pick of his form. He was 3rd to Kauto Star in the 2007 Gold Cup and now runs off a mark of 145. He is an inconsistent sort but ran well enough on his seasonal reappearance ay Haydock in November when 4th to Shining Gale. If the change of scenery has brought him back to anything like his best he would be well in here but he has always been inconsistent and is not one to rely on. Mr Strachan might be a safer bet. He missed most of last season but has come back well. After finishing 3rd behind subsequent Welsh National runner up Silver by Nature he won at Hexham on heavy ground. He generally jumps well, is in form and acts on the ground. Jass is going to land a decent handicap at some stage I am sure. He has plenty of stamina and might even want a stiffer test . Double Dizzy will act on the ground and ran well last time when 5th in the cross country race at Cheltenham. The stable have been in good form of late which is another plus. My two against the field would be Mr Strachan and Double Dizzy.


Punchestowns looks an exciting prospect over fences and takes a step up in class in the 1.40. He looks the most likely winner but the opposition are no mugs and he will probably be a short price. A race to watch rather than bet on perhaps as taking short prices in novice chases is probably only going to lead to penury!

The 2.10 is another competitive handicap chase where Razor Royale and Chapoturgeon, 2nd and 4th respectively in the Boylesports Gold Cup would have to be on the short list. Private Be, runner up at Chepstow over Christmas and Newbury winner Exmoor Ranger are others to consider. Chapoturgeon is the selection.

In the 2.45 course and distance winner Time for Rupert can defy top weight while I expect Mr Thriller to get the better of Katchit and Sentry Duty in the 3.20.

I have two selections at Exeter, in the 12.50 Wishfull Thinking and in the 3.35 Tocca Ferro.

Finally I would like to wish you all a prosperous 2010 and thank you for taking time to read these pages during 2009.

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

Review of the flat 2009 – Part 3

At number 60 on my list is the sprinter Hitchens. Good enouh to finish second in the Goffs Million at the Curragh as a juvenile this 4 year old son of Acclamation rediscovered his form after a move to the stable of David Barron. He started the season with a win in a 4 runner conditions event at Thirsk beating Knot in Wood then followed a run of 7 defeats. A drop in the ratings from 110 to 95 put him on an interesting mark come the autumn and he duly landed the Manchester Evening News handicap at Haydock in September by a short head at 7/1. Perhaps my write up the night before could have been a little more confident – “Hitchens continues to creep back down the weights and has an each way squeak in the 3.00” but I will still claim a winning tip!

Hitchens ended the season with 2 wins from 10 starts. The horse at number 59 was more consistent finishing the season with form figures of 22211. Blue Nymph had gone into my notebook having made late headway into 5th place in a Nottingham maiden, his only run as a two year old. After having to settle for the runners up slot he was not winning out of turn when landing the odds in a 12 furlong Kempton maiden in September. He followed up with a win in handicap company, again on the all weather but this time on the “other” surface at Southwell and over 2 furlongs further.

I was reading an article by Ian Carnaby the other day about horses with cleverly thought out names. He cites Gary Moore’s Wait for the Will, who is by Seeking the Gold out of You’d Be Surprised as one of his favourites. I rather like Cloudy Start who is by an Alleged mare called Set Fair and lived up to his name by taking a couple of runs last season before reaching the winner’s enclosure. In the end he proved a very profitable horse to follow though as he won twice at the rewarding odds of 5/1 and 10/1. The first win came in a handicap at Epsom where he was ridden by Tom Queally who had such a good season and he followed up in a decent conditions event at my lucky track, Kempton Park. He failed to add to his winning tally in 3 subsequent efforts but anyone following him would have ended the season very much on the right side.

Cloudy Start is number 58 and at 57 I have chosen Nehaam. John Gosden’s colt gave me an early season winner when accounting for Monitor Closely in the valuable Tattersalls’ Timefrom 3 year old Trophy at 8/1. After a couple of disappointing runs he returned to Newmarket at the end of the season to finish runner up in both the Noel Murless Stakes and the Group 3 Jockey Club Cup.

Shamali went into a few notebooks when winning at Wolverhampton in November ’08. He only ran 4 times during the turf season but continued to progress winning his last two starts, both in Ascot handicaps.

Ruth Car took over the trainer’s license from her grandfather David Chapman a couple of years ago and has enjoyed a successful start to her training career. She did particularly well with the likes of Ninth House and Raccoon but my favourite from the yard was Moheeb (pictured below with trainer and jockey)  who landed handicaps at Haydock, Thirsk and Ripon. With the wins coming at 13/2, 6/1 and 7/1 he proved a very profitable horse to follow.


Shamali is number 56 and Moheeb is 55. For the number 54 slot I have chosen Apple Charlotte, a horse that featured in my 2008 article on unraced 2 year olds, a year in which she won her only start. The Royal Applause filly won her first two races as a 3 year old, the second a listed race at Newbury and she returned to the Berkshire venue only losing out to Splashdown by a short head. She was only out of the first 3 once when contesting the American Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Willie Haggas enjoyed another successful campaign in 2009 and his fast ground performer Musaalem is number 53 on my roll of honour. The sort of horse that you need to catch on a going day he is always likely to pop up at decent odds. He was an easy winner of a 7 furlong handicap at Doncaster in July, a track that seems to suit him but disappointed in his next race when last of 15. He finished his campaign well though. After a promising 4th in a strong Doncaster handicap he won the listed Guisborough Stakes over 7 furlongs at Redcar at 14/1 on his favoured fast ground.

Judge ‘n Jury was one of the most improved handicappers in training in 2008 and I was hopeful that he would pay to follow again in 2009. In the event he proved not quite up to listed or Group 3 level although he ran 2nd to Reverence in a Group 3 at the Curragh in soggy conditions. He did pay his way though as he landed a heritage handicap at Ascot at 14/1 when the handicapper dropped him a few pounds. He is number 52.

At 51 I have chosen another sprinter in Amour Propre, trained by Henry Candy. A winner of his last 3 starts as a juvenile, including the Cornwallis Stakes he got his 3 year old career off to a flying start when winning the Palace House Stakes, a Group 3, at Newmarket. He drew clear of his field staying on strongly despite drifting in the market to 7/1. He was found to have ripped a front shoe off when below form in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next run but he travelled well for a long way when 5th to Borderlescott in the Nunthorpe on his third and final start of the season when he reportedly returned with bruised feet.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Carr Racing.

Diary: December 31 2009

Sona Sasta won a point to point at Sligo over 3 miles before joining the David Pipe stable. He ran 3 times over hurdles at Taunton last season over shorter trips and showed some promise, particularly on the third run when 4th behind Carrick Boy. He runs in the 12.50 at Warwick tomorrow where the longer trip should be in his favour. His mark of 93 does not look unreasonable.

176596_Walking back after the race

Carrickmines may well defy the handicapper and complete a hat trick in the 2.50 while Miss Overdrive, runner up on her last two starts can get off the mark over hurdles in the 2.20.

Today’s picture is by kind permission of the artist Susan Shaw.

Diary: December 29 2009

I will stick with Cooldine to get the better of Joncol in the Lexus Chase tomorrow with Cloudy Lane and perhaps Money Trix the each way value. Elsewhere on the Leopardstown card I am hoping that Solwhit can come back from his defeat in the Fighting Fifth to win the 2.00.

Other selections at Leopardstown; 12.30 – Liss Na Tintri (ew); 2.30 – Jessies Dream; Limerick 12.10; Ballyburke.

At Newbury I fancy Dave’s Dream in the 12.00 where Den of Iniquity could run well at a decent price.


Quantitativeeasing looks something of a banker in the 1.30. He was most impressive when winning at Newcastle last month.

The 2.05 sees an intriguing clash between Finian’s Rainbow, Manyriverstocross and Reve De Sivola. The form of Finian’s Rainbow’s win at Newbury last month looks solid and I would just give him the edge.

The Long Walk Hurdle at 2.40 sees reigning World Hurdle Champion take on the fast improving Diamond Harry. Big Bucks sets a very high standard and will be hard to beat. Karaback will be suited by the trip and is not out of it. Big Bucks has to be the likely winner.

Diary: December 28 2009

The highlights tomorrow are the Welsh National at Chepstow and the Grade 1 Lexus Chase from Leopardstown.

I am going to start at Chepstow where there is a strong line up for the marathon chase. There are two previous winners of the race in Halcon Generlardaias and Miko De Beauchene as well as Cornish Sett who was runner up last year. Also in the field is the 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome and two Scottish National winners in Hello Bud and Iris De Balme. Kilbeggan Blade has twice won the London National, Gone to Lunch was runner up in the Scottish National last season while Flintoff was second in the 2009 Midlands National. Add in 4 winners last time out and this is clearly a strong renewal.

The conditions are likely to be testing which brings in Silver By Nature who won at Carlisle on heavy ground on his last start. The 3rd that day, Mr Strachan, has since franked the form. Coe has been runner up on both his starts this season. He handles the ground and stays well as he showed when 2nd in the Blue Square Gold Cup at Haydock last season on heavy ground. Old Benny is a past winner of the National Hunt Chase over 4 miles at Cheltenham and finished 4th in the Scottish National in 2008. He has won on heavy ground over hurdles. The ground will probably be too soft for Gone To Lunch who would otherwise have been my selection. Halcon Generlardais has a tremendous record in the race and the ground will suit. He is possibly slightly past his best though.


My 2 against the field though are Kornati Kid and The Tother One. Kornati Kid acts on soft ground, should stay and was 6th behind Denman in the Hennessy at Newbury. Paul Nicholls has a good record in the race and The Tother One, runner up in the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton, looks sure to go well. He has a very good record on soft and heavy ground.

There are promising reports about the Paul Nicholls newcomer Sang Bleu in the 2.45.

In the opener at Leicester (12.50) Sandynow could be interesting. He was a gutsy winner at Warwick last time out and will handle the ground.

Jaffonnien won a bumper on his only previous visit to Leopardstown and this two mile specialist can take the opener at the Irish track. He is fitted with a tongue tie for the first time and this 2 mile specialist looks value at 13/2.


A case could be made for Pandorama, Catch Me, Weapons Amnesty, Lenabane and China Rock in the 1.30. It is hard to find fault with Pandorama who should be suited by both the trip and track and he is the selection. The progressive Lie Forritt should prove too strong for the home team in the 2.00.

The Lexus Chase at 2.35 sees a clash between two of the most promising chasers in Ireland, Cooldine and Joncol. Cooldine was an impressive winner of the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last March while Joncol took the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown earlier this month. Also in the field is the Welsh National and Guinness Gold Cup winner Notre Pere and there is a strong English challenge with Voy Por Ustedes, Money Trix, Cloudy Lane and What a Friend. It is hard to separate Joncol and Cooldine but my narrow preference is for the latter with Ruby Walsh on board. Cloudy Lane at 20/1 looks each way value.

My best bet at Limerick is Hugo De Vindecy in the 1.45.

Today’s pictures are of Silver Birch, former winner of the Welsh National (artist Sarah Clegg) and Beef or Salmon three times winner of the Lexus Chase (artist Jenny Lupton).

Diary: December 27 2009


Selections for Sunday;

KEMPTON: 1.00 – Mille Chief; 1.30 – Riverside Theatre; 2.05 – Argento Luna; 2.40 – Crack Away Jack (ew); 3.15 – Little Josh.

LEOPARDSTOWN: 1.25 – Forpadytheplasterer;1.55 – Some Present; 3.05 – Dooney’s Gate.


LIMERICK: 3.50 – Prudent Honour.

DOWN ROYAL: 3.00 – Top Twig.

Just a few random thoughts to add to the above.  In the 2.05 at Kempton both Dansimar (stable in form) and Inghwung look over priced while in the 3.45 Numide and Right Stuff could go well at decent prices.

Diary: December 26 2009

If the main meetings go ahead on Boxing Day there will be plenty of quality racing for the National Hunt enthusiasts and some tricky puzzles to solve from a punting angle.

Kempton seems the obvious place to start and I will tackle the races in race card order. Dual bumper winner Bellvano looked a very bright prospect when making a successful hurdles bow at Newbury and he certainly sets the standard in the 12.45. He is yet to encounter really testing conditions which could be a concern depending upon the state of the going. He does look by far the most likely winner however. The main threat could come from Menorah who was beaten by a useful looking type in Bobby Ewing last time out. He had previously won a bumper at Naas and a novice hurdle at Warwick. Bellvano is the selection with Menorah the next best.

In the handicap hurdle at 1.20 Clova Island is worth considering. He has only had 7 runs over hurdle and has never run a bad race. He has run well at Kempton on his only previous visit finishing runner up to Somersby just over a year ago and he followed that up with a win at Taunton last December. He was a staying on 4th on his last start behind the runaway winner Spirit River. Tomorrow’s race is over a further half a mile which should suit

Long Run come into the 1.55 with a mighty reputation from his efforts in France where he has won 8 of his 12 starts, all at Auteil most recently in a Grade 1 chase last month. Ogee comes into the race on the back of wins at Bangor and Uttoxeter but will not want the ground too soft and seems unlikely to get his ideal conditions. Tazbar was rated 157 over hurdles and made a winning start to his career over the larger obstacles at Musselburgh. He could be the one to benefit if the favourite disappoints on his first run outside France but Long Run has to be the selection. Tazbar has a good record racing right handed and is the danger.

Go Native was most impressive when winning the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and a repeat of that performance would make him a very live contender for the Christmas Hurdle at 2.30. He has plenty going for him; his trainer has a good record in the race and the horse has a potent turn of foot and the track should suit him. Binocular (pictured below) is on something of a retrieval mission having been most disappointing in the Fighting Fifth.

Sarah Clegg - 'Binocular' - oil on paper 2008sm

He is unbeaten going right handed though and the Fighting Fifth was something of a messy race. If we ignore that run then Binocular would take some beating on his earlier form. I see these two as the main contenders with Starluck perhaps the best of the outsiders. At the time of penning these notes (Christmas Eve) odds of around 5/4 are available about Binocular and I inclined to view that as value.

The main event is of course the King George at 3.05. It is perhaps stating the obvious but Kauto Star (pictured below) has proved himself to be a very difficult horse to beat.

kauto star

He would appear to have just about everything going for him on Boxing Day and he is very difficult to oppose. Imperial Commander is the obvious danger as the pair were only separated by the shortest of noses at Haydock last month. With Kauto 1/2 and Imperial Commander 6/1 though does that make the Twiston-Davies horse the better value? Perhaps so. If you look hard enough it is possible to pick holes in the Commander’s armoury. Is he better going left handed? Is he best fresh? Maybe but given the big differential between the odds he does look potential value. Of the rest Albertas Run, and Deep Purple look the each way shots to consider.

Vodka Brook is a horse I have always liked. He has run well to be placed in both his starts over fences so far. He is not the biggest and has to shoulder 11 stone 11 in the 3.40 but as long as the ground is not too testing, he would not want it really soft, he gets my tentative selection.

At Leopardstown the Grade 1 novice chase at 2.20 looks an intriguing contest. The pair that make most appeal are Sizing Europe and Osana. Sizing Europe is the selection.

In the 1.20 Alaivan, an easy winner at Gowran Park lines up against Cross Appeal who won a Grade 3 at Leopardstown. A listed winner on the flat when trained by John Oxx Alaivan looks a class act and is preferred. Prince of Milan is my each way suggestion in the bumper that brings the Leopardstown card to a close at 3.30. Mr Cracker stepped up on previous efforts when 4th at Navan earlier this month and if that improvement continues he should go well in the 12.45.

There is also a strong card at Limerick on Boxing Day where Sports Line is my selection for the Grade 2 novice chase at 2.10. He beat a strong looking field at Navan last month and impressed with his jumping.

Quiscover Fontaine started his career by winning a bumper and went on to win 3 of his 5 starts over hurdles. The way he jumped hurdles suggested that he would take to fences and he makes his debut over the larger obstacles in the Limerick 3.15. He has shown a liking for soft ground although he won his bumper on good going.

At Huntingdon Moorlands Teri should give us a run for our money in the 12.05. She was given plenty of experience in bumpers winning 2 of her 5 starts in that sphere and she has already got off the mark over hurdles winning at Uttoxeter. She handles any going and is an out and out galloper who should be suited by the track.

I tipped Devon Native when he was runner up at Leicester and I will stick with him to gain compensation in the 1.15.

My selections for Wincanton are;

12.35 – Chilli Rose; 1.10 – Good Man Jack: 3.25 – Andytown (danger Nampour): 3.55 – Robin Will.

My only selection at Down Royal is Top Twig in the 3.00.

My thanks to Sarah Clegg (Binocular) and Lisa Miller (Kauto Star) for the pictures used today.

Diary: December 21 2009

Our only hope of some jumps racing lies with Ffos Las tomorrow, where there is a morning inspection.

I will just point out a few horses that you can look out for at the Welsh track. Rebecca Curtis sends a team there headed by The Jigsaw Man, the stable star. He runs in the 2.10 where he is set to carry a big weight. His only defeat to date was in a bumper at Galway when he was beaten a length by Loosen My Load who has since won a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Cheltenham. The Jigsaw Man has so far mainly run on decent ground but should handle some cut. A couple of other interesting runners from the same stable are Praxiteles in the 1.05 and Adams Island in the bumper at 3.45. The former is a points winner in Ireland and Tom Scudamore rides. He won his point to point on heavy ground. Praxiteles is a half brother to Islington and was a winner on the flat for Sir Michael Stoute before sustaining an injury. He is bred to win races and is certainly one for look out for.

Stratford Racecourse

Gold Award was 9th in the 2008 Champion Bumper and is a winner over hurdles. He represents Nicky Henderson in the 3.15 and should go well. Lastly, look out for Ballingaddy in the 2.40. He won a point to point at Athenry before joining Alan King and although he has not set the world alight since he is well handicapped if he can recapture his form.

Can I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous new year.

My thanks to Andrew West for his seasonal photo of Stratford racecourse in the snow.

Diary: December 19 2009

The prospects form racing tomorrow do not look too promising with Ascot and Newcastle already off and Haydock and Navan hinging on morning inspections.

There is an interesting card at Haydock so hopefully the weather will relent a little. In the opener at Haydock, a novice chase at 12.40 My Moment is likely to start a warm favourite. It could be worth taking the favourite on with the giant Quwetwo who won a bumper and two hurdles races last season but is the type to do even better jumping fences.

In the 1.50 Open de L’Isle is worth considering as he will appreciate the testing conditions. He does seem better going right handed however and I prefer Suntini the recent Lingfield winner who also likes soft ground.


The Tommy Whittle at 2.30 looks an open contest. Top Weight Jaunty Flight won first time out last season and likes heavy ground. Jass is a solid stayer but his trainer has not had any winners for the last couple of weeks. The Sawyer acts on the ground and comes into the reckoning as does The Vicar who should strip fitter for his run at the track last month Recent Newbury winner Exmoor Ranger, Nirvana Swing and I’moncloudnine are all worth considering but for my selection I will choose The Vicar.

In the 3.25 Mcmurrough and Wymott look the two to concentrate on. Wymott looks an improving sort and can land the prize.

My selections at Navan are Good Fella (1.55) and Jessies Dream (3.00).

Today’s picture is by kind permission of Sarah Clegg