Diary: December 1 2011



2.00 Alderley Rover is quite well handicapped on his best form and wears blinkers for the first time.

Market Rasen

1.20 This is probably between the two ex flat horses Hawk Mountain and Crackentorp. There is little to choose between them but Crackentorp may be able to make his weight advantage tell.

2.25 Dual hurdle winner Night in Milan showed promise on his chase debut when 2nd at Sedgefield. Lucky Landing won a Uttoxeter bumper on heavy ground and looks a stayer. He looks the danger to the selection.

3.00 General Ting has run a couple of solid races this season and is creeping down the weights.


1.10 Runner up at Exeter recently Water Garden looks the one to be on here.

1.40 Sang Bleu is well thought of by champion trainer Paul Nicholls and can score here at the expense of Habbie Simpson.

From the archives

Bula won the Champion Hurdle in 1971 and 1972 in brilliant style and set a record by going 13 hurdle races without defeat, a record that was equalled by Big Bucks last weekend. Possessed of remarkable speed he was best held up and was ridden to great effect by Paul Kellaway.

He graduated to chasing and ran a brave race in appalling conditions to finish 3rd behind Ten Up in the 1975 Gold Cup when ridden by John Francome. He started favourite for the Gold Cup the following year but was disappointing behind Royal Frolic. In 1977 he dropped back to 2 miles for the Champion Chase, again run in awful conditions. He fell heavily and injured his shoulder so badly that he later had to be put down. He won a total of 34 races from 50 starts.

Diary: November 30 2011



3.00 Basford Bob was rated 123 over hurdles but always looked a chaser in the making, albeit a little quirky at times. He unseated on his chase debut at Ludlow but may be better suited going left handed at Catterick.


1.20 This looks a two horse race and I prefer Kumbeshwar to Ecort’men who has not impressed with his jumping. Kumbeshwar proved a tough sort over hurdles and finished runner up at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown. Good ground will suit him.

follow the leader ruth harris

1.50 This could be between a couple of ex Irish point to point winner, Godsmejudge and Final Gift. The latter won his maiden point to point in impressive style and has been talked of as a future Gold Cup contender. Chasing will be his game but he should be up to winning over hurdles along the way.


12.40 Off the ground is the type his trainer does well with and was making late headway when 4th at Lingfield on his hurdles bow. He looks to have an each way chance.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Ruth S Harris.

Diary: November 29 2011



12.30 Merchant of Dubai looks an interesting recruit to hurdling for trainer Jim Goldie. He has won over a mile and three quarters on the flat and has been placed in listed company. On his last run he was 3rd in the competitive November Handicap at Doncaster.


Realt Mor won a maiden point to point in Ireland and after falling when a likely winner over hurdles at Ayr he made amends at Kelso in April.


12.50 Lively Baron is an out and out stayer that seems to be getting the hang of things over fences.

From the archives

The Monksfield Hurdle that was run at Navan yesterday is named after the dual Champion Hurdle winner who was trained not far from Navan by Des McDonogh.

Monksfield won on his debut as a 2 year old at 25/1 and went on to win a total of 5 races on the flat but it was as a hurdler that he made his name. As a juvenile hurdler he was runner up in the Daily Express Triumph Hurdle behind Peterhof. The following year, 1977 he made his first assault on the Champion Hurdle challenging the winner Night Nurse all the way to the line. Three weeks later the pair met again at Liverpool and in one of the most punishing finishes ever seen the result was a dead heat.

In 1978 Monksfield won the Champion Hurdle beating another old rival, Sea Pigeon and then followed up at Aintree getting the better of Night Nurse by 2 lengths. The following year Monksfield and Sea Pigeon came to the last in the Champion Hurdle together with Sea Pigeon apparently going the better but in the battle to the line the ultra game Monksfield stuck his neck out to snatch victory from defeat.

At Cheltenham in 1980, with the distance of the race shortened by 200 yards Monksfield had to give best to Sea Pigeon and he was retired to stud. In all he won 14 times over hurdles.

Diary: November 28 2011


There are meetings at Folkestone and Ffos Las tomorrow but not much of interest to comment on. Hollow Tree will be long odds on in the Ffos Las 12.45 so the 1.45 is more of a betting proposition.  Hunters Lodge and Bathwick Brave are my two against the field in an open looking contest.

Diary: November 27 2011



12.50 Avenging Ace showed good from in a couple of Irish point to points and could make a winning rules debut here. The danger could be Brokethegate who was 3rd at Wetherby recently.

1.20 Course and distance winner Frascati Park looks to have solid claims in this one.

2.25 Glenwood Knight has always looked the type to make a good staying chaser but he fell on both his last two starts last season. He is worth sticking with as a horse to follow.

3.00 Bogside won twice at Kelso last season and is a long term chasing prospect. He was pulled up on his last start but this is an easier race and he could run well at a big price.


3.45 Castlerock is lightly raced and may be ahead of the handicapper.


12.15 His Excellency has the best form on show and if he puts hios nest hoof forward he should win. Bat Masterton beat His Excellency on the flat at Roscommon in August, albeit getting over a stone, and looks the main danger.

12.45 Mount Benbulben, Jetson, Make a Track and Texas Jack are all worth considering. Narrow preference is for Mount Benbulben.

1.15 Lochan Lacha will handle the ground and is 2 from 3 when ridden by Ruby Walsh.

1.50 Globalised should come on for his debut run at Fairyhouse last month.

2.20 Prince de Beauchene and Stonemaster are my two against the field.

2.50 This looks to be between Flemenstar and Nearest the Pin. It is difficult to separate the pair on what they have done so far but if pushed I would go for Flemenstar.



2.30 The front running Stephanie Kate will be hard to beat based on her second to First Lieutenant at Cork last time out.

Turf trivia

The 2.20 at Navan is named after the 1920 Grand National winner, Troytown. He had earlier won the French Grand National at Auteil but shortly after his Aintree triumph he was killed attempting to repeat his earlier win in the big French steeplechase.

Today’s picture, of Wexford racecourse is courtesy of the artist Lisa Miller.

Diary: November 26 2011


Big race form guide

Hennessy Gold Cup

The traditional approach to this race is to look at the second season chasers as they have dominated in recent years. I don’t want to be too blinkered though so I will start with a look at some older horses. Great Endeavour is looking to complete the Paddy Power/Hennessy double which has not been achieved too often. The doubters say is stamina is suspect but I am not sure about that. He won a point to point over 3 miles in 2008 and was third over 3 miles one and a half furlongs a couple of years ago beaten less than a length. He only has a 4 lbs penalty for winning at Cheltenham and has to be a danger. Planet of Sound is very much a good ground horse and could be given a chance on the basis of his win in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup 3 runs ago. He has had breathing problems and comes here after quite a lengthy absence. One that needs to defy an even longer lay off is Michel le Bon. What worries me about this horse is his lack of experience over fences; he has only run once over the larger obstacles2 years ago winning a 4 horse race where only 2 finished. He has previously won twice over hurdles, once at Newbury, but his lack of experience plus the long lay off would tend to put me off taking a short price about him.

The 4 younger horses with the right profile are Sarando, Wayward Prince, Aiteen Thirtythree and Wymott. Sarando comes here on the back of a win at Carlisle and his 2nd to Quito de la Roque at Aintree last season reads well. He may need more give in the ground to show his best form. Wayward Prince has decent claims on his 3rd in the RSA chase but I marginally prefer the other two. Aiteen Thirtythree has won at Newbury twice. He suffered from sore shins last season and may be capable of better than he has shown so far. Wymott won 3 times over fences last season before pulling up in the RSA Chase with an injury. He could be on a reasonable handicap mark.


Bangor on Dee

12.10 Peddler’s Cross will be expected to continue his progress over fences here with Minella Class the one most likely to benefit should the favourite disappoint.

1.55 Placed twice in bumpers Grove Pride created a good impression when 2nd on his hurdles debut at Carlisle. Salomo won over 12 furlongs twice on the flat in France and has shown signs of ability over hurdles. He is upped in trip here and is certainly respected. The other one to consider is Sydney Paget who won a bumper at Carlisle earlier in the month.

2.25 Peckhamecho won over hurdles at Ffos Las with Salomo back in 3rd.The Weatherman won a Kelso bumper last month and is rate highly by his trainer.

3.35 Scolastica stayed on well to win a Uttoxeter bumper in April on good ground.


12.20 Horsham Lad a winner of point to points and a hunter chase scored on his handicap chase debut at Carlisle last month and could still be ahead of the handicapper. Meet the Critics could be fancied on his course win in March but has disappointed in 2 runs this season.

12.55 All the Aces won the listed Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket and could eb useful at the winter game if taking to hurdling.

1.30 Our Island is an Irish points winner and has won at this track. In with a chance here but may need further on soft ground.

2.05 Rock on Ruby has a taking attitude and won twice over hurdles including once at this track. Only beaten on the line by First Lieutenant at the Cheltenham Festival having earlier finished 2nd to today’s winner Bob’s Worth at Cheltenham. First Fandango has been in good from already this season in 3 starts, winning on his last outing at Leicester. Ultravox is another to consider. He notched a hat trick over wins last season and his stable has been in good form. He is well suited by good ground.

2.35 Big Bucks should not be troubled to continue his winning sequence.

3.10 See big race form guide.

3.45 Coup Royale has been difficult to train but has had a wind operation since winning impressively at Kempton in February and could be the answer here.


12.00 You couldn’t safely rule any of the 5 runners out but I will take a chance with Aikman who has run well on both his starts over fences and can make that experience count.

1.10 Theatrical Star is quite a big price here given his level of form. Stamina may be an issue. Could run well at a decent price though.

2.20 Binocular has been beaten first time out the last 2 seasons and it may pay to side with Overturn who has already shown that he is in good form this season.

3.30 It could well be worth taking a chance on Captain Americo who is well handicapped over fences compared with his hurdles rating.

Towcester 12.25 Mister Hyde might have won had he not fallen at Market Rasen last time and is worth another chance.

Gowran Park selections; 12.15 Canna: 12.50 Jenari and 2.30 Gates of Rome.

Nap of the day


Dark horse

Rock on Ruby

From the archives

Celestial Gold was the last horse to do the Paddy Power/Hennessy double in 2004 for Martin Pipe. Future Grand National winner Comply or Die was 4th in the Hennessy the following season in a race won by the Nicky Henderson trained Trabolgan. Denman won both the 2007 and 2009 renewals carrying 11 12 both times.

Turf trivia

Cloncarrig was a faller in 6 consecutive Grand Nationals.

My thanks to Lisa Miller for the picture of Denman, one of the Hennessy Gold Cup greats.

Diary: November 25 2011


My selections are in bold type – other horses mentioned in the write ups are also worthy of consideration.


12.50 War Poet won a couple of 12 furlong handicaps on the flat at Thirsk. He was 4th of 5 on his hurdles debut at Haydock but should have learned from that experience.

2.35 Accordingtolawrence won a couple of novice hurdles last season and has reportedly schooled well over fences.


2.25 Vosges won both his starts at this track over hurdles.

newbury small


1.35 By far the most interesting race of the day. Cue Card is having his third start over fences after winning on his debut only to unseat his rider next time out. Much was expected of Coral Cup winner Spirit River last season but he fell on both his starts over fences. Bobs Worth is unbeaten over hurdles (4 from 4) and ended last season by winning the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.

2.45 Arctic Court makes a rare visit to the South. His trainer does well in this sort of race. Sivola de Sivola ran a blinder when runner up to Spirit Son at Huntingdon and won twice at Perth and Carlisle. He acts on any ground and was a respectable 5th at Cheltenham earlier this month.

3.50 Basil Fawlty, Broomfield and Mono Man make most appeal. Basil Fawlty showed promise when 5th in a bumper at Kempton last season but has not been able to build on that in two runs this season. Broomfield ran well in a couple of bumpers at Newbury last season and should go well but preference if for Mono Man who won bumpers at Hereford and Ascot last season and is rated highly by his trainer.

Nap of the day – Mono Man

Dark horse – Accordingtolawrence

From the archives

There have been some top class winners of the Hennessy Gold Cup but few better than Burrough Hill Lad who won the 1984 race for trainer Jenny Pitman. Burrough Hill Lad became only the 3rd horse to win the race as defending Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, the others being Mill House and Arkle (twice).

Paul Nicholls has had some notable successes in the race as a trainer but he also won twice as a jockey, on Broadheath in 1986 and Playschool the following season. Both horses were trained by David Barons.

The field for the 1991 race included Garrison Savannah, another Jenny Pitman favourite who was the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. Docklands Express trained by Kim Bailey was expected to go well having won the Racing Post Chase and the Whitbread, albeit on a disqualification in the latter race. Usually a safe jumper he had fallen at the first in the Grand National that year. The giant Party Politics was a rising star while Chatam represented Martin Pipe. He had won the Cathcart Chase at Cheltenham but had been off the course for 233 days. As often the case with horses from the Pipe stable the long layoff didn’t stop Chatam who travelled well throughout and won by 4 lengths from Party Politics who was staying on well at the finish. Docklands Express came 3rd. Both the placed horses continued to run well as the season unfolded. Party Politics jumped superbly to win the Grand National while Docklands Express was placed in King George, the Gold Cup and the Grand National.

The winner in 1994 was the wonderful grey One Man ridden by Tony Dobbin. There were many more big races to follow for this popular horse who won the King George twice, on the second occasion at Sandown where the race had been re-routed. One Man never managed to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup where he just lacked the stamina but in 1998 he dropped down in trip to land the 2 mile Champion Chase. It was to prove his last win as the following month he was killed at Aintree. A sad end to a glittering career.

Turf trivia

Current champion flat jockey Paul Hannigan was champion apprentice in 2002 with 84 winners.

Today’s picture is courtesy of the artist Lisa Miller.

Diary: November 24 2011


My selections are in bold type. Other horses mentioned can be considered the main dangers.


12.30 Former bumper winner Kentford Grey Lady has posted a couple of decent efforts over hurdles this season and should be on the premises here.

1.35 Rock of Deauville has been expensive to follow and having tipped him the last twice I am going to opt for a watching brief this time.

2.10 This is not a betting race but it is fascinating nonetheless. Grands Crus was impressive when winning on his chase debut and will be odds on to win again here. It will be interesting to see how the highly rated Sonofvic gets on.

2.45 Buffalo Bob is a course and distance winner, has had the benefit of a recent run and his stable are beginning to find some form after a slow start to the season.


2.20 Marleno reverts to hurdles after a couple of runs over fences. He is a consistent sort.


2.40 A point to point and bumper winner Leave Him Alone comes into the race on the back of a win in a modest contest at Galway last month. Needs to improve to take this.


12.20 A bumper winner at Bangor Tarn Hows was second here over hurdles in June.

12.50 Jetnova and Golden Chieftain both fell on their chase debuts making this a tricky race to weight up. Cross Kennon was a long way last of 5 finishers on his chase bow so the three of them need to improve! I would be inclined to go with Golden Chieftain who was going OK until he fell.

1.25 Camas Bridge, Dixie Bull and Rose of the Moon form my short list for this race. Rose of the Moon, a bumper winner at this track would be my selection with a small each way saver on Camas Bridge.

2.35 Multiple winner Lovey Dovey could be on a winnable mark.

3.05 Ibn Hiyyan is another that may be well handicapped.

3.40 Dannancey’s Hill won a weak Irish point to point but may well be good enough tom score here.

Nap of the day

Lovey Dovey

Dark horse

Tarn Hows

From the archives

Continuing our look back at the history of the Hennessy Gold Cup the 1979 renewal featured Zongalero, a fancied runner from the Nicky Henderson stable. He has finished second in the Mackeson, the Massey Ferguson Handicap and the grand National. Master Smudge has beaten a top class field in the Sun Alliance at Cheltenham while Fighting Fit has won the Scottish National at Ayr. On the day Zongalero has to settle for second once again as victory went to Fighting Fit ridden by Richard Linley.

Zongalero was again in the line up the following year when Bright Highway looked to be the first horse to win the Mackeson/Hennessy double. Peter Scott had won the 1979 Welsh National and had only fallen once in 21 starts while the progressive Silent Valley had finished 2nd in the Scottish National and recently made all to win at Wetherby. In a thrilling finish Bright Highway got the better of Silent Valley with Peter Scott some way back in 3rd.

The 1981 renewal went to the populat Diamond Edge, wtice a winner in the Whitbread at Sandown. He gave his trainer Fulke Walwyn a remarkable 7th win the race.

There was a strong line up for the 1981 race with Dual Champion Hurdle winner Night Nurse, who had been second in the 1981 Gold Cup together with future Grand National winner Corbiere for Jenny Pitman. It was trainer Michael Dickinson who took the honours though with Bregawn and Captain John first and second respectively.

Turf trivia

Cochise, who runs in the Thurles 1.35 has some pretty unimpressive form figures having managed just two wins form 33 starts. If you isolate just his runs at Thurles though a different story emerges. His form figures then read 212P1F. He is appropriately named after an apache chief as his dam was Indian Legend.

Diary: November 23 2011



1.55 Pineau de Re won a decent race at Thurles on his last start. He ran well in good company last season and should go well here. Memories of Milan has failed to get round on his last two starts but he won at Clonmel over this trip last season and was a good second at Punchestown in May.


1.30The unbeaten Hazy Tom sets the standard here. All his wins so far have been on good ground. Victor Lynch looks the danger. His efforts in two bumpers bodes well for his career over hurdles and eventually over fences.

2.35 Volcan Surprise was runner up at Sandown on his UK debut earlier this month.

3.05 Seigneur Des Bois acts on the ground has the benefit of a recent run and is the sort his trainers excels with.

Nap of the day – Pineau de Re

Dark horse – Seigneur Des Bois


From the archives

Tonight I will continue to look back at the history of the Hennesssy Gold Cup

The 1973 renewal was high on quality. Charlie Potheen started favourite. He had won the race in 1972 had won the Great Yorkshire Chase, the Whitbread off top weight and finished 3rd behind The Dikler and Pendil in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A pair of former winners, Spanish Steps and Bighorn returned and Red Rum also lined up, having won the Grand National the year before collaring Crisp close home. At 12/1, Red Candle was a live outsider. A former winner of the Mackeson his recent form had been poor but the quick ground on the day was likely to suit him. Red Rum ran a fantastic race and led with 100 yards to run and looked to have the race won only to be overtaken near the line by Red Candle who was getting a stone from him.

In 1977 Bachelor’s Hall became the first horse to complete the big early season double of the Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Hennessy at Newbury. Aldaniti, ridden by Bob Champion, was 3rd and of course the pair went on to achieve great things a few years later at Aintree.

Turf trivia

Battle of |Hastings who won a couple of races as a 2 year old in 2008 before being sold to race in the States got his name as he was number 1066 in the sales catalogue.

Tonight’s picture is courtesy of the artist Karen Davis.

Diary: November 22 2011


All 7 of my selections today won which is something of a record!  My selections are highlighted in bold. Other horses mentioned are worth considering.


12.50 Heather Royal won over course and distance last month and has a good chance of defying a penalty.

1.20 Kid Cassidy, a winner at the Punchestown festival in May should be too good for his rivals. Darna looks next best.


1.30 Trustan Times is a former point to point winner who showed fair form in a couple of runs over hurdles at Wetherby. He has the size and scope to make a chaser.


From the Archives

Continuing the Hennessy Gold Cup theme the first ever winner Mandarin returned in 1961 and was successful again. Mandarin was one of the all time greats of Steeplechasing. As well as his 2 Hennessy wins he also won the King George twice and in 1962 won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. Part of his diet was to drink a bottle of Mackeson stout every day.

In the years that followed the race was won by some of the biggest names in thye history of the sport. Mill House won in 1963 and his nemesis Arkle won both the 1964 and 1965 renewals before suffering a shock defeat the following year when beaten by the 25/1 shot Stalbridge Colonist. Stalbridge Colonist was no mug though and went on to be placed twice in Cheltenham Gold Cups and was runner up to Rondetto in the 1967 Hennessy.

In 1969 Larbawn was one of the fancied runners having won the Whitbread at Sandown the previous season. Spanish Steps had been the outstanding novice of the previous season while another to attract support was Playlord who had won both the Great Yorkshire Chase and the Scottish Grand National. Lord Jim had finished runner up to Spanish Steps at the Cheltenham Festival in March while the mare Winsome Win had won her last 4 races and carried only 10 stone.

Playlord was brought down when travelling well. Larbawn led over the 4th from home but at the next fence was joined by Spanish Steps and from then on the result was never on doubt with Spanish Steps drawing away to win in a new record time. Larbawn was 2nd and Lord Jim 3rd. Spanish Steps was a standing dish at the Aintree Grand National and was placed in the 1973, 1974 and 1975 races. His dam Tiberetta has also been placed 3 times in the race.

The 1971 Hennessy line up included the dual Gold Cup winner L’Escargot and Grey Sombrero who had won the Midlands National. Grey Sombrero fell as did the favourite Spanish Steps and the race was won by the well handicapped Bighorn at 7/1. L’Escargot went on to win the Grand National in 1975. Grey Sombrero won the 1972 Whitbread but was fatally injured jumping The Chair in the 1973 Grand National at Aintree – the year when Red Rum beat Crisp in arguably the most famous finish in the race’s history.

Nap of the day

Trustan Times