Who will win the Run for the Roses?

Mendelssohn romped home in the Group 2 UAE Derby earlier today, which has left the Kentucky Derby very wide open.

He broke the track record, and earned himself a 106 Beyer Score*, which happens to be the highest three year old Beyer this year. This insanely high score happened when Mendelssohn was not being pushed too hard, and was beginning to be pulled up before the finish.

(*the number reflects not only the winning time, but the time of the race and the inherent speed of the track over which it was run)

Bare in mind that Mendelssohn is still only two, having been born on May 17th. Ryan Moore also said after Mendelssohn’s win that he still has space to improve, which could be very interesting to see.

Many have now marked down Mendelssohn as their Derby horse, so who are his main foes?

First would be Mckinzie. He was unbeaten heading into the Group 2 San Felipe stakes, and technically won the race, beating out Derby favourite Bolt D’Oro. However, in a controversial decision, Bolt D’Oro was handed the race, after a stewards enquiry.

His next start was due to be in the Santa Anita Derby, a Kentucky Derby points race giving 100 points to the winner*. However, he has been pulled out due to an undiagnosed issue with his hind leg, and it is now questionable whether he will make it to the starting gates in May.

The next feature horse is Bolt D’Oro. He was to be favourite for the Derby during his two year old season, even following a disappointing run in the Group 1 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile.

He was handed the victory in the San Felipe Stakes, as previously mentioned, and now without the threat from Mckinzie, looks to take a strong grip on the Santa Anita Derby. Unless a disaster happens, he’s likely to win and take the favourite’s spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Noble Indy currently tops the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard with 110 points following his win in the Louisiana Derby. However, this is partly due to the fact that the other main horses have not ran in their large points races, so he will unlikely be staying there for long.

Other horses, like Justify and Audible, also seek to make the field by winning their prep races, and at the moment Justify looks like one of the largest threats to favouritism.

Finally we have Gronkowski. A classy horse from Britain, who also looks to make the field following a win in the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle. He may not even make the field, but he certainly looks to be one to keep an eye on.

(*The Kentucky Derby Prep Season includes 19 races run from September to February, offering 10-5-2-1 points to the top four finishers in these races.

Next, is the Championship Series. Races offering different amounts of points divide the three sections of the Championship Series. The first involves races offering 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers of the races. These races are typically used as prep races for the second leg of the Championship Series and include such events as the Risen Star, Fountain of Youth, Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe.

The second leg of the Championship Series offer races worth 100-50-20-10 points to the top four finishers. Major races in this section of the series include the Florida Derby, UAE Derby, Louisiana Derby, Arkansas Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, and the Blue Grass Stakes.- USRacing.com)

All Weather Finals Day 2018

winter derby.jpg

By Samantha

The All Weather season is almost over for another year. Currently, Luke Morris, who tasted Group One glory in the Nunthorpe riding Marsha, will be crowned winning most jockey. at Lingfield. Michael Appleby has trained the most winners (thirty-eight), three ahead of nearest challenger Archie Watson. He has a strong partnership with leading owners Goldolphin as they continue their dominance of the flat racing scene. The winning-most horse category has two leaders at the minute with Spare Parts and Captain Lars joint at the top. Spare Parts could win the category if he wins the mile race. Everything could change in the All Weather Horse Of The Year category because if Second Thought wins the mile race, he will the title but only if Master The World doesn’t win the last race of the card- the Easter Classic. It’s going to be interesting!

Sunbets All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap Handicap

GALLIPOLI was second last time out at Newcastle over seven furlongs in February. He was just headed in the final furlong to be down a half length at the post. He won over seven at Leicester on turf so the trip won’t be an issue. Eljaddaaf had Silent Echo behind him in sixth over course and distance when completing a double after winning a six furlong handicap at Chelmsford. The latter is a course and distance winner. Wahash likes the All Weather, unlike Squats to a certain extent whose All Weather form figures read 65548, and has won here before. Both wins have come over a mile but has to carry top weight. Similarly, Master Speaker and El Hombre have never won over seven furlongs. The latter was third on his only try over this trip. Master Speaker is unbeaten for new connections and has won over six furlongs twice this year, breaking an almost three-year winning drought. Take The Helm was beaten a length last year in this.

watersmeet
Watersmeet

 

Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes

WATERSMEET has been unbeatable so far this year. His three victories this term include one over course and distance. Lots of the runners today have form tying in with this grey son of Dansili. Curbyourenthusiasm has been second, third and ninth behind him and has been quite consistent recently. Funny Kid, from France, was second behind Watersmeet last time out. Mountain Bell beat my selection into third at the back end of 2017. She is 5lbs better off but has never ran on the all weather at Lingfield. The distance shouldn’t faze her. She has to overcome a three month absence and Watersmeet has race fitness on his side. Soldier In Action comes from the same stable as Watersmeet. He has winning form on artificial surfaces. He was with Nicky Henderson and ran over jumps, where he won a two mile juvenile hurdle, for a bit but he is best on the flat. He finished forth to Dal Harrid, who is running in Meydan on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup, last time out. Curbyourenthusiasm was second. Red Verdon has won his past two but the distance is a huge unknown.

32Red All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championship Conditions Stakes

William Haggas and James Doyle have already had some big Saturday winners at this early point in the season. Addeybb won the Lincoln last week and Headway was fantastic a couple of weeks ago. They have DIAGNOSTIC in this. She has a fifty percent strike rate, winning three of her six starts. She has won twice over seven furlongs at Chelmsford. Summer Icon beat the aforementioned filly in a similar race in January at Wolverhampton and Mick Channon’s mare has been second on two of her three starts since. One of which was behind Zest over a mile. Zest, by Duke Of Marmalade, has won four of her eighteen starts but is yet to get her head in front over seven furlongs. Her pedigree suggests she would benefit from running over further as her sire sired Big Orange. She was behind Soul Silver in a fillies’ handicap in July 2017. She won last time out over a mile at Chelmsford with Pattie and Carolinae The latter won at Kempton over this race’s trip on her penultimate start. That run was sandwiched them between a second between Soul Silver and a fourth behind Zest. She isn’t without a shot. Lucymae was beaten by Carolinae, whilst looking for a four timer. Summer Icon was sixth. She has winning form over seven furlongs. Nivvo is looking for a three timer after breaking her maiden tag at the twelfth attempt.

Betway All-Weather Sprint Championship Conditions Stakes

Kimberella is a great old servant for Richard Fahy. He won this last year. He is a course and distance winner and was beaten only a short head on his penultimate start behind Kachy. He was sixth last time out but could bounce back. He is a good each way shot. KACHY is also a dual course and distance winner on his past two starts and comes into this in nice form. His yard hasn’t had a runner out of the top two since early March. Athletico has been running good races without getting his head in front on all four of his most recent starts. Gifted Master is nine from eighteen starts. He is a course and distance winner and won over it last time out. City Light and Gulliver are both four year olds. City Light seems the pick of the two.

32Red 3yr Old All-Weather Championship Conditions Stakes

ROCK ON BAILEYS has won five of her ten starts and is very exposed for a three year old. She’s won over five furlongs at Lingfield but the distance won’t be a problem. She is looking for a six timer and can carry 5lbs less. Corinthia Knight is also five from ten and won over six furlongs last time out at Chantilly. Highly rated, he could be a nice winner for young trainer Archie Watson. Count Otto and Desert Doctor are both recent course and distance winners. Breathless Times has won two from three starts and was second on the other. The horse he beat on his second start was Grandfather Tom, who has won three times since.

spare parts
Spare parts and Nicola Currie

 

Sunbets All Weather Mile Championship Conditions Stakes

Spare Parts has been the headline maker of this All-Weather season. Phil McEntee’s gelding has run fourteen times in 2018, winning seven. He is joint most successful horse this season with Captain Lars. If he can win this, he will win the title. He won at Lingfield over seven furlongs in January. He has gone up a whopping 36lbs since then. He has never won over a mile and has a lot to find with the others. Second Thought won on this card last year and has subsequently won two Listed races. GORING is unbeaten on his last four starts, all over course and distance, beating Mr Scaramanga in his most recent start. He had Sacred Act behind him and the latter won a contest against just one other horse last time out. Arcanda is looking for a four timer. Four of them came over course and distance for the in-form Tom Dascombe.

Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Champion Conditions Stakes

This race could be used as a rematch for the Winter Derby. In that race, MR OWEN passed the post ahead under a peach of a ride by Jamie Spencer but the unexposed Invincible Spirit-colt drifted and impeded Master The World, who was given the race. Battle Of Marathon finished third, Petite Jack sixth and Utmost was seventh in the race. The latter has beaten Victory Bond over track and trip. That race has been a good form line in recent years with Convey winning this race and the Winter Derby last year. Star Archer will improve for the run. Battalion has been jumping over the winter and is coming back from a nasty fall last time out.

ROUND UP

Race1- Gallipoli

Race2- Watersmeet

Rcae3- Diagnostic

Race4- Kachy

Race5- Rock On Baileys

Race6- Goring

Race7- Mr Owen

32Red Lincoln Handicap Preview

D6673CDA-7D66-4F63-9FB3-E475D97A5605By Samantha

The flat is back!! The Lincoln Handicap kicks off the first day of the flat season. Bravery won this last year but he has been pulled out of this year’s renewal at a late stage. Last years winning team pair up again with Lord Glitters, the top weight. He has been a model of consistency on all of his starts. He was second last time out in November in a Listed race on good to soft. He is a distance winner and stands a chance. FIRE BRIGADE is most likely to go off favorite for this race. He has had a surge of market support after it was announced that he would have Ryan Moore on board. Micheal Bell’s gelding won last time out at Leicester over a mile and has big claims in this. Addeybb beat him at Newmarket over nine furlongs. He has to carry 1lbs more than Ryan Moore’s mount. Big Country has a pipe opener on the all weather at Wolverhampton two weeks ago after a long absence of a few months. He was well beaten last season in races won by Dark Red and Dolphin Vista. Dark Red is liked by connections and finished forth on his only start so far in 2018. Lord Glitters beat him and Gabrial in the Balmoral at Ascot in 2017. Gabrial is a model of consistency and runs well in all the big handicaps but is getting old now. Grey Britain ran in Meydan just two weeks ago and comes here off form. He won a Listed race at Newmarket in May but hasn’t fired since. He is only four and has room for improvement. Leader Writer couldn’t get his head in front in France and it took him three tries to do so in the UK. Ballard Down won last time out and could be the value at roughly 12/1.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Day 2018

 

By Samantha

 

might bite
Might Bite

 

Weeks and weeks of training have come down to this day. One of the most important in National Hunt Racing. Dreams will be realised and broken for today is Cheltenham Gold Cup Day.

 

Triumph Hurdle

Nine runners will go to post in a classy renewal of this race. Of the nine, four of them are unbeaten. The main two English hopes are APPLE’S SHAKIRA and Redicean. The former, a mare by Saddler Maker, is trained by Nicky Henderson and she has won all three of her starts by a combined twenty- eight and a half lengths. She had Gumball behind on her first start. Before this, Phillip Hobbs’ gelding won his first two starts and was just beaten by Espirt de Semoza. Redicean is unbeaten and bolted up in a Grade 2 last time out by seven lengths. He has soft ground form but has only ran around Kempton. Farclas has been second on both of his starts to date behind Mr Adjudicator and Espoir D’Allen. Mr Adjudictor is yet to be beaten and comes from the all powerful Willie Mullins’ stable. He won his maiden and then was dropped into Grade One company and won impressively with Farclas in second at the Dublin Racing Festival. Willie Mullins also has Saldier and Stormy Ireland. The former won his only start by ten lengths and his other runner, Stormy Ireland, has also only won a maiden but she won hers by 58 lengths. A bit of an unknown quantity.

 

To Win- Apple’s Shakira

Each way- Redicean

 

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

Bleu Et Rouge is most likely to go off favourite for this race. He has performed well on both of his most recent starts and finished second behind Kalashnikov, who ran brilliantly in the Supreme on the first day of Cheltenham, in the Betfair Hurdle. That race could be a brilliant form line for most of the British hopes. Spiritofthegames was third in that and he has been a model of consistency all season, winning first time out and placing in the others. He has a better weight this time around as Bleu Et Rouge has to carry top weight. Remiluc and William H Bonney were fifth and eighth respectively and could go close. Remilic finished second last time out. Jenkins seemed a new horse when blinkers were put on. He couldn’t figure last time out in the Betfair but looks like he won’t mind the ground. CHESTERFIELD won at the Aintree Grand National meeting and then went to the Scottish Champion Hurdle and won last season. He had a good prep run in a National Hunt Flat Race last time out and will be partnered by Daniel Sansom, who gets on really well with him and will take off a possibly crucial five pounds. The Irish have Merie Devi and Duca De Thaix. The former won last time out and Duca De Thaix is quite unexposed but has won on the extremely heavy ground so that’s a plus.

 

To Win- Chesterfield

Each way- Spiritofthegames

 

 

santini
Santini

 

 

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Won last year by Penhill, who won the Stayers Hurdle on day three, there are twenty runners who should line up this time around. Nicky Henderson has a fifth of the field with his two main hopes being Santini and Chef Des Obeaux. SANTINI has won around Cheltenham before over two miles four in heavy ground in a Grade Two. He had Black Op in second who finished second behind Samcro earlier this week. On debut, he beat Robin Waters and Chef Des Obeaux commandingly. The latter has won all three starts since and the most previous was in a Grade Two by fifteen lengths. Another Nicky Henderson runner is Ok Corral who has been extremely consistent all season. He has won three of his five starts and all have come at Kempton. The only two horses to beat him are Yorkhill and Whatswrongwithyou. He’s extremely inexperienced for an eight year old. Poetic Rhythm won the Grde One Challow Novices Hurdle in an amazing battle with Mulcahys Hill, giving trainer Fergal O’Brien a first Grade One winner. Enniscoffey Oscar has a brilliant each way chance after winning a Grade Two over three miles. Of the Irish, Chris’s Dream maybe the pick as he won his last two.

 

To Win- Santini

Each Way- Enniscoffey Oscar

 

 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup    

Eighteen runners will line up for the main showpiece for the meeting and it looks very open. The main trail of form could come in the Irish equivalent of this race. Edwulf, from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, won the race, beating Outlander, Djackadam and Our Duke. Throughout the race, he travelled like the best horse. Killultagh Vic, Ainable Fly and Minella Rocco all fell at crucial points of the race. Our Duke was fourth and he didn’t jump with much fluency, making some bad mistakes. He has won since and could give Jessie Harrington a second consecutive win in this race after Sizing John won last year. He unfortunately won’t line up this year as he is injured. With the ground going to run soft, supporters of NATIVE RIVER will be quite happy. The chestnut relishes soggy ground and was very impressive making his seasonal debut a couple of weeks ago. Might Bite has been the talking horse of the season. He won the King George, with Double Shuffle an incredible second, in December but we haven’t seen him since. He is most likely the one to beat but punters could be put off by the way he wanders up the run in at Cheltenham. Definitely Red won here earlier this season and has a good chance as he stays very well. Road To Respect won here last year and has performed well this season. Total Recall’s main aim is the Grand National in April but if he can win this it will be a bonus. American was supplemented but hasn’t showed much this season. If Edwulf won, it would be an amazingly emotional story.

 

To Win- Native River

Each Way- Edwulf   

 

St James’ Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Last year’s winner Pacha Du Polder lines up again this time. He was third behind Warden Hill last time out. The latter has ran well this season and could be a good each way shot. Virak has won his last two for Paul Nicholls, winning at Ludlow and Haydock on soft ground. Paul also has Wonderful Charm and Unioniste. He won last time out and finished nineteenth in the Grand National last year. He is probably the best chance for the Ditcheat team. Unioniste has been brilliant for trainer/jockey David Maxwell, who is a great supporter of the game. The grey has won his last two starts and has a good chance to make it three. Grand Vision is also a grey and he has wowed audiences with his spectacular jumping on his past few starts. He’s two from three this season and it would be brilliant for connections, who have had a quiet week. CAID DU BERLAIS won his past three points. He’s an ex-Paul Nicholls inmate, now with Rose Loxton. Burning Ambition has won a Grade One and will enjoy the conditions.  

 

To Win- Caid Du Berlais

Each Way- Unioniste

 

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle  

FLAWLESS ESCAPE could continue Gordon Elliot’s winning run. He is two from four this season and Gordon Elliot does well in this. Burrows Saint, Carter McKay and Deal D’estruval all run for Willie Mullins with some very good conditionals aboard. Burrows Saint will be partnered by Lizzie Kelly, who has already had a winner here this week. The son of Saint Des Saints has had two runs and won one on soft ground. Similarly, Deal D’estruval has also got a 50% strike rate. Carter McKay has danced in all the main hurdle races this season. He won his maiden and then went to the Moscow Flyder and was third behind Getabird, who was disappointing earlier this week and then behind Tower Bridge in a Grade One at Leopardstown. Jamie Bargary will be doing the steering. Another Irish chance is Sire Du Berlais, who will be partnered by Donal McInerney. He is yet to win over hurdles but was second last time out. Tommy Rapper, for Dan Skelton and Bridget Andrews, could be the best English shot. He has won his last three and likes the ground and will stay the trip. Melrose Boy and Diese De Bieffes have an each way chance.

 

To Win- Flawless Escape

Each way- Tommy Rapper

 

 

north hill harvey
North Hill Harvey

 

 

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase       

NORTH HILL HARVEY has won two of his four chases. He didn’t run as well as anticipated last time out. He is a course and distance winner here. Paul Nicholls brings Bouvreuil back in trip to two miles and he has Festival form. Foxtail Hill is a course and distance winner and he won well at the start of the season but hasn’t showed much since. Rock The World won this last year and, for the same ownership, Sizing Platinum hasn’t been seen since finishing third to Foxtail Hill in late October. Top Gamble, Theinval and Vaniteux are good each way shots.

 

To Win- North Hill Harvey

Each Way- Foxtail Hill

 

 

 

Cheltenham Festival Day 2

Lois’ Day 2 Preview/Selections:

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle:

Samcro:

Samcro is currently 4/6 (Ladbrokes) to keep his unbeaten record and win the Ballymore. His last win was the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Granted, he didn’t beat anything ‘special’, but the style this horse has when winning puts him way above the others in this field for sure. Gordon Elliott’s 6 year old will be looking to make it 6/6 tomorrow with Jack Kennedy taking the ride at 11st 7lbs.

Next Destination:

Next Destination looks to be Samcro’s nearest competitor. He is 3/3 over hurdles so far and comes to Cheltenham off the back of winning the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) in January. Next Destination will have no issues regarding the soft ground and he likes the trip. If Samcro wasn’t in the field he would be the favourite. He’s currently 7/2 for the Ballymore tomorrow for W P Mullins and Ruby Walsh at 11st 7lbs.

 

RSA Novice’ Chase:

Presenting Percy:

Presenting Percy is a 7yr old gelding trained by Patrick Kelly. He’s currently the 9/4 favourite for the RSA Novices Chase after being 2nd to none other than last year’s Irish National victor, Our Duke, in the Red Mills Chase (Grade 2) at Gowran Park on February 17th. The soft ground will not be a worry for him, despite maybe wanting it a tad quicker. He’ll be ridden by Davy Russell at 11st 4lbs.

Monalee:

Monalee has won both the races over fences that he has completed, including the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown when he beat Al Boum Photo who re-opposes in the RSA tomorrow. His best price around currently is 7/2. The soft ground isn’t a worry for him as most of his runs have come on poor surfaces. Monalee is trained by Henry De Bromhead and will be ridden by Noel Fehily at 11st 4lbs.

Black Corton:

Black Corton is a real favourite of many. Ridden by Bryony Frost (11st 4lbs) and trained by Paul Nicholls, this horse appears to have a huge chance if he’s able to repeat the form shown in his impressive Sodexo Reynoldstown Novice’s chase (Grade 1) win. He’s currently 15/2 but will probably shorten tomorrow when the support comes in. Black Corton may be small but he’s a real tough cookie who won’t lay down easily. One to watch even if he doesn’t win tomorrow.

 

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle:

Max Dynamite:

Max Dynamite comes from Ireland and the Willie Mullins yard for the Coral Cup and is 7-1 for the Handicap Hurdle. He has a good flat handicap mark as this horse is incredibly versatile. Interestingly he’s the chosen ride of Ruby Walsh, despite not having run over jumps in 223 days. He was last seen finishing 6th in the Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) over 1m 4F in December. He will be carrying 11st.

TopOfTheGame:

TopOfTheGame is a really interesting 6yr old gelding, trained by Paul Nicholls. He’s gone up 8lbs since his win last time out in a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle, where he showed a real tenacious attitude to stay on to win despite the stamina-sapping soft ground. He’s currently 12-1 for the Coral Cup (Very generous in my opinion). Clearly Cheltenham’s ground tomorrow won’t hinder this horse at all and he will be staying on at the finish. He’ll be carrying 11st 9lbs in the form of Sam Twiston-Davies.

William Henry:

William Henry is trained by Nicky Henderson and he won at Kempton in January last time out (Lanzarote Hurdle) in soft ground. James Bowen rides and takes off 3lbs, but after his latest win, he’s gone up by 6lbs making his weight for tomorrow 11st 10lbs. He is currently 8-1 for the Coral Cup and goes in headgear for the first time.

 

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase:

Altior:

Realistically there isn’t much to say about Altior. He’s looked superior in 12/12 of his starts over obstacles. He goes about his races very professionally and looks hard to beat at this stage. He’s trained by Nicky Henderson and will be ridden by Nico De Boinville (11st 10lbs). Altior is the 11/10 favourite.

Min:

Min is a top class chaser and showed that in his latest win at Leopardstown in the Grade 2 Dublin Chase when beating Simply Ned and Special Tiara by 12 lengths. Paul Townend takes the ride at 11st 10lbs.

Douvan:

Douvan was last seen in this race 12 months ago when sustaining a pelvic injury. That was his first defeat in his 10 chase runs. If truly back to his best, he’ll be a key player to this Champion Chase but I would have to question whether he’s 100% fit due to the fact that he hasn’t had a prep run. The market says he’ll go close and places him as the 3-1 second favourite. Ruby Walsh rides Douvan (rather than Min) at 11st 10lbs.

 

Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase:

Cause Of Causes:

Cause of Causes is the stand-out horse in this field as he was the 9 length winner of this race last year. He stands a huge chance of making this his fourth straight Festival success for Gordon Elliott. Jamie Codd takes the ride at 11st 4lbs and Cause Of Causes is currently 5/2 to win (I wouldn’t be willing to oppose him).

The Last Samuri:

If Cause Of Causes was to be beaten, I believe it would be by this horse, The Last Samuri. The 2016 Grand National runner up has leading claims to this race as we know he stays and jumps well. However this is a first for him over these fences. The ground won’t be a problem at all and Kim Bailey is keen to campaign him in this discipline. He will be ridden by David Bass at 11st 4lbs and is currently 6/1 for the Cross Country Chase.

By Lois x

Cheltenham Festival Day 1

footpadpetit.jpg
Footpad (R) and Petit Mouchoir

 

 

 

 

By Samantha

A whole year of training comes down to these next four days. Races will be won; races will be lost. People will come out happy; others sad. Punters, giddy with excitement, await the first day of the festival and what a blinder it looks to be.

Supreme Novices Hurdle

Twenty runners will go to post in this years’ renewal, including unbeaten Getabird and Grade Three Betfair Hurdle winner Kalashnikov. The latter has won three out of his four starts and he was second on his other start behind Summerville Boy in the Tolworth. Kalashnikov won’t mind the large field or the ground as there was twenty four runners and it was soft ground in the Betfair Hurdle. GETABIRD has won both of his hurdle starts, one of which being a Grade Two. The ever-softening ground will not be a problem for the Willie Mullins-trained gelding as he has won on heavy ground previously. Summerville Boy won a flat race at Killarney before moving to Tom George and kicking off the season with two seconds and a third before winning the Grade One Tolworth by four lengths. Another that will relish conditions is First Flow. Kim Bailey’s charge didn’t really take to bumpers and he was forth on both occasions. He has won his first three hurdle starts by a combined thirty four lengths, one of which, similar to Getabird, a Grade Two. He could be the each way value in the race at about 10/1. Like Getabird, Sharjah comes from Willie Mullins’ stable. He won his maiden and then went on to win a novice hurdle at Gowran Park. Next time out, he contested a Grade one but crashed out whilst in the lead at the last. In that race, Mengli Khan ran out of the second last. Gordon Elliot’s horse won the Grade One Royal Bond Hurdle before running out and then finished second behind Getabird by nine lengths in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer.

Racing Post Arkle Novices Chase

Only five go to post this year and the line up is a classy one. FOOTPAD will no doubt go off favourite after being extremely impressive on all three of his runs this season. He won his beginners chase by eleven lengths and then Willie Mullins sent the son of Creachadoir to the Racing Post Novices Chase, a Grade One, where he once again won by eleven lengths under a still Paul Townend. Then, the Simon Munir and Isaac Suede- owned gelding bolted up in the Irish Arkle beating Petit Mouchior. The latter beat Footpad quite a few times over hurdles last season but wasn’t up to Footpad’s standards last time out. His jumping was quite haphazard which could be his downfall. Saint Calvados is the main English hope. Unbeaten over chase fences, he began his career with two runs over hurdles in France before coming to Harry Whittington’s yard. He was successful on English debut at Newbury and won the Grade Two Kingmaker at Warwick last time out. His jumping is excellent and could go close. Nicky Henderson has Brain Power in this. The son of Kalanisi’s form figures read 1UF for this season. He won a novice chase by twenty eight lengths on debut this season before failing to finish with a jockey on board in both starts in Grade One company. Robinshill is the outsider of the field who may find this a bit too much.

Ultima Handicap Chase

Singlefarmpayment was second in this twelve months ago, beaten by only a short head. He was second behind Cogry here over course and distance at the start of the season. After that, he fell in the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race he was well-fancied for, could only manage fifth behind Gold Present and was pulled up last time out because he didn’t like the heavy ground. Cogry loves it round Cheltenham and he has a very nice weight which can play to his strengths. The gelding has put in some good efforts in defeat this season and could go close. COO STAR SIVOLA could give Lizzie Kelly a brilliant day as he has a live chance to land the spoils here. He won last time out at Exeter by fourteen lengths. He has never ran over more than three miles but he made easy work of testing conditions over that distance and has won around Cheltenham before. Gold Present won is past two starts, one being a Listed contest, so he has a chance. Vintage Clouds, trained up North by Sue Smith, was a gallant second behind Ballyoptic in a Grade Two last time out in bottomless ground. He fell in this race last year but has been performing consistently this season. Yala Enki won brilliantly in the Grand National Trial over and extreme distance last time out making easy work of the heavy going. Ramses De Teilles’s trainer has a good record in this and the horse has good form on heavy ground over staying distances. Ramses De Teillee – Trainer has a good record in this race and he has some good form on heavy over staying distances.Ramses De Teillee – Trainer has a good record in this race and he has some good form on heavy over staying distances.

buveurd

Champion Hurdle

There will be twelve runners who line up this year for Tuesday’s showpiece. BUVEUR D’AIR has completely dominated a quite pathetic two mile hurdling division this season. He won this last year and has won a Listed race as well as two Grade Ones. In 2015, Faugheen won this race. This season ‘The machine’ hasn’t been at his best. At the beginning of the season, he won the Morgiana Hurdle but then was surprisingly pulled up at the end of 2017. He came back at the start of February and was a gallant second to Supasundae. Cheek pieces could ignite the flame of the old Faugheen and he could give Buveur D’Air a run for his money. Elgin was supplemented for this race at a cost of £20,000 by connections, after a decisive win in the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle. Old warrior My Tent Or Yours won the International Hurdle in December and it would be a fairytale victory for the fan’s favourite if he could go past the post in front.

OLGB Mares’ Hurdle

APPLE’S JADE won this last year and could easily do it again. She is unbeaten on all three starts this season, winning a Grade Two and two Grade Ones. She beat the boys well in the Christmas Hurdle and looks the one too beat. Her main English challenger is La Bague Au Roi. Warren Greatrex’s mare has won all three of her starts this season, two Listed races and a Grade Two. She beat Jer’s Girl and Midnight Tour in November and can definitely be in the frame. Jer’s Girl, a two time Grade One winner, was two lengths behind Apple’s Jade this season. Benie Des Dieux is from Willie Mullins’ yard and she has only raced over chase fences in Willie’s care. Her French hurdling form isn’t in any way up close to the aforementioned mares in this race.

 

msparfois-edit

National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase

Jury Duty was third in the Pertemps last year and he has won a Grade Two this season and was just denied at the highest level last time out. Stablemate Mossback will be partnered by Lisa O’Neil who won this last year. The son of Yeats was second in a Grade two last time out over three miles. Questions about the trip for this horse though. No Comment was third in his only start this season behind promising Terrefort and Cyrname. Similarly, the trip looks an unknown. MS PARFOIS is receiving 7lbs and that could be critical to the outcome of this race. Antony Honeyball’s mare has been a model of consistency all season winning thre of her five starts. She will love the ground and has beaten the boys before. On her penultimate start, she had Duel At Dawn in second. Rathvinden was only beaten a few lengths in December in a Grade One but would have to put in a clear run to figure. Sizing Tennessee was second around here in a Grade Two at the beginning of the year and could figure.

Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Nineteen will go to post in this year’s renewal. De Plotting Shed could go off favourite for Gordon Elliot. He has been reasonably consistent this season with a few seconds on heavy ground this term. Livelovelaugh comes from Elliot’s main rival’s stable. The Willie Mulllins- trained gelding has won one of his three starts this season and was third on the other two occasions. Any Second Now is a maiden over chase fences and has been beaten by Monalee, Footpad and Invitation Only this season. Barney Dwan and Mister Whitaker look the best of the English horses. The former has won his past two starts over fences and will like the soft ground. Last year, he was second in the Pertemps. The latter, MISTER WHITAKER, won at Cheltenham on soft last time out and has been very consistent this season. He has won over course and distance on two separate occasions and could figure. Rocklander looks to have each way value at a huge price as he has been a model of consistency this year all bar a disappointing effort in the Pertemps last season. He has taken well to chasing and won by a whopping fifty three lengths on chasing debut.

 

Cheltenham Preview Overview

By Evie

Last night we held our very first Cheltenham Preview night. Niamh did amazingly manning the account for the two and a bit hours that we were posting for.

We all think it went absolutely amazingly and we received nice responses about what we were doing. We also got just under 20 more followers, so overall we think it couldn’t have gone better, and we’d like to thank every single person who responded to the posts with their tips, everyone who followed the account, and to everyone who helped spread word about the preview.

But now to the racing. We are going to amass what the most common opinions were for the races we covered. Beginning with the Supreme Novices’

Supreme Novices’: Getabird was pointed out as the one to beat in this race, but the responses seem to show different. Most people seemed to like the look of Kalashnikov, including @Glen_Colt, who said-

Kalashnikov for me. Has more experience and is more battle hardened.”

@jumpsracingalex thought Getabird was not as strong as the prices imply, stating that First Flow and Paloma Blue could both mount challenges, with First Flow likely to enjoying the tough conditions.

Next we moved onto Arkle.

Arkle: Niamh pointed out that Footpad was the favourite, but had been on the drift in recent weeks. Many felt that the race would end up Footpad vs Petit Mouchoir, but Petit Mouchoir’s jumping was shown to be a real weakness with people reluctant to back him. Some pointed out that Brain Power and Saint Calvados could also mount challenges in the race, including special guest @Mattyingle_ who said-

“… the only danger is Saint Calvados but I think Footpad will just be too good.”

We then moved on to the Ballymore which was quite open and shut for most.

Ballymore: Samcro is clearly the one to beat, and most people agreed too. One of our guests for the night @KeejayOV2 said-

“He’s a different class. He wins wherever he goes.”

However @jumpsracingalex thought the Ballymore isn’t to be as simple as Samcro turning up and winning. He said-

“Duc Des Geniveres could be a smart one too… Step up in trip/ground will suit.”

We then looked towards the RSA, which seems to be a very strong renewal.

RSA: Reactions to this were mixed, with some, like guest @HildersleyS, saying Presenting Percy would be the one to beat, yet others went for Monalee, Black Corton or Al Boum Photo. It seemed that there wasn’t one horse that people seemed confident to win in the RSA.

The JLT looks to be a weak race this year, with a lot of the strong contenders likely to go to the RSA instead.

JLT: With Willoughby Court out through injury, there didn’t seem a strong horse to back. Some, like @lowy121, think Terrefort could be the standout horse in this race. Others thought Finian’s Oscar was quite long for the quality he had, and could have a chance.

One of the strongest races at this years festival looks to be the Triumph, with Apple’s Shakira, Redicean and We Have A Dream all staking a claim.

Triumph Hurdle: Apple’s Shakira seems to be the one to beat, and that was a thought shared by most people. She seems to have a lot of fans, including @HildersleyS. @lowy121 gave a good eachway shout for Solo Saxophone should he run. She said-

“If he runs, I would like to see Solo Saxophone not be disgraced at 50s for Frankel.”

@Mccann7Brian made a bold claim saying-

“Redicean is good… like… Istabraq good… and I don’t say that lightly.”

A very bold claim, but with Apple’s Shakira get a 7lb bonus for being a filly, its safe to say that she’s the one to beat.

Moving on to the Albert Bartlett, a very wide open race.

Albert Bartlett: Santini won well last time and looks to go off favourite. However, people were divided over who would win, clearly showing how wide open this race is to be.

@lowy121 tipped Poetic Rhythm at 14s, which prompted the Fergal O’Brien twitter team to bless us all with a picture of one of their strongest Cheltenham hopefuls.

Chef Des Obeaux was tipped up by both @HildersleyS and @jumpsracingalex, with his high stamina likely to prove a factor over the soft/heavy ground.

Glenfarcas Cross Country: The old timer Cause Of Causes was obviously tipped up by many because of his close history with this race. Auvengnat was tipped by @Mattyingle_ and @sam_angelina22.

Mare’s Hurdle: Apple’s Jade was called the certainty, but for an each way many like the look of La Bague Au Roi. Apple’s Jade seems the certainty of the festival, especially after beating Supasundae who went on to beat Faugheen.

Ryanair: Un De Sceaux is the one to beat, and almost everyone agreed, with Cue Card to come in close second.

Champion Hurdle: Buveur D’Air is the one to beat, but some aren’t so confident that it will be that easy for him. Many, including @P_JWally, thinking Elgin could be a strong contender in this race.

Champion Chase: Altior vs Douvan, what many see to be the race of the festival. Most people have backed Altior, but @KimberellaGirl thinks Douvan will be back to top form for the race.

World Hurdle: Supasundae and Sam Spinner seem to be the popular ones in this race, with most wanting to see a fairytale for Sam Spinner’s connections.

Gold Cup: Finally we reach the biggest race of the festival. With previous favourites now out of the race some see it as a weak renewal. @HildersleyS said it would be a tough call this year, and with Our Duke out its clear to see why. Edwulf and Native River were two standouts, as well as Road To Respect for an each way chance.

And that concluded our Cheltenham Preview Night! Thank you for all the help you have given, and helped it to run as smoothly as it did. Best of luck with all your bets next week, and let’s hope all horses come back safe and sound.

Cheltenham Stories 2018- Cue Card

By Evie

cue cardCue Card and Paddy Brennan in the Betfair Chase. Photo by Racing Post

Contender: Cue Card (King’s Theatre x Wicked Crack)

Race: Ryanair Chase

Trainer: Colin Tizzard

Owner: Mrs Jean R Bishop

Jockey: Paddy Brennan

If there was any horse that people wished to have a fairytale ending, it would be Cue Card. Across the world people will be hoping that the 12 year old son of King’s Theatre will be able to roll back the years and win for third time at the Cheltenham festival.

His first win at Cheltenham came in Champion Bumper on his second appearance, having been sent off as a long shot at 40/1, when he was only four. Ever since then Cue Card has become a staple of British racing, coming back every year to try and add to his list of major wins.

It would be easy to agree that if any horse deserves to win a race at the Cheltenham festival it would be Cue Card. He has raced his way into the hearts of many, even having fans across the globe. All will be hoping that Cue Card can cement himself in history and add to his amazing roster of wins.

This roster of wins includes a handful of hurdling wins before his trainer, Colin Tizzard, turned him to chasing. Since then his career has only gone upwards, featuring wins in the Haldon Gold Cup, which he won in 2012 by an impressive twenty six lengths, two wins in the Ascot Chase, winning in 2013 by six lengths and in 2017and the Ryanair Chase in 2013. His star spangled list of wins also includes three wins in the Betfair Chase, in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

However, after a second fall in the Gold Cup in 2017 and a 57 lengths defeat to Bristol De Mai in the 2017 rendition of the Betfair Chase, many called for Cue Card’s retirement, stating that he owes nothing to Colin Tizzard’s team. Nevertheless Tizzard perservered with his horse, and having seen a return to form last time out in the Ascot where he came 2nd, he looks right on target for his race at Cheltenham.

The plan was to go for the Gold Cup once again, but having rethought their decision, Tizzard’s team decided that Cue Card would have the highest chance of a win in the Ryanair Chase on the Thursday.

Following a fall in the Charlie Hall Chase, Cue Card’s faithful jockey was taken off the horse to see if a change in jockey would change the horse. With his new jockey, Harry Cobden aboard Cue Card ran in the Betfair Chase, but as aforemention he finished 57 lengths behind the winner Bristol De Mai. Paddy Brennan was given back the ride last time out, and produced one of Cue Card’s most convincing pieces of form this season.

As well as jockey troubles, and issues with the pesky third last fence in the Gold Cup, Cue Card has seen a fair share of health issues and injuries. In the 2013/14 season Cue Card appeared to have a muscle injury and missed Cheltenham that season. Subsequent x-rays revealed that he had actually sustained a stress fracture to his pelvis, ruling him out for the rest of the season. In the 2015/16 season Tizzard reported that he had solved the problems with a trapped epiglottis that had plagued his the previous season.

But these injuries aside, Cue Card has become a symbol for horses of consistency, thanks to him sustaining an amazing career over the eight years he has been racing for

Thanks to Cue Card Colin Tizzard now has a thriving stable full of class horses in the North of Dorset.

Should Cue Card manage to win the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham a lot of tears will be shed, including but not limited to Colin Tizzard himself. If he does win it is likely that it will be his last race, and if not he may go to Aintree for the Betfred Bowl Chase.

Does he have a chance?

Although some will say otherwise, there is a good chance that Cue Card could come out of the Ryanair on top. He does face some stiff competition in the form of Un de Sceaux, a French-bred Autre Que Pur-Sang. He won the race last year, and is looking to repeat the feat this year. The Willie Mullins trained ten year old has been looking on peak form for the entire season, so Cue Card will have to fight as hard as he can.

He may not be the favourite on paper, but the hearts of every racing fan across the country, and even the world, will be hoping that Cue Card can pull off the win and end his star-studded career with a bang.

Cheltenham stories 2018- Sam Spinner

samspinner2

By Samantha

Contender- Sam Spinner (Black Sam Bellamy – Dawn Spinner)

Race- Stayers’ Hurdle

Trainer- Jedd O’Keeffe

Owner- Caron and Paul Chapman

Jockey- Joe Colliver

There are some people that, in some ways, deserve a winner at Cheltenham and you could say the connections of Sam Spinner do. There is a large chance he could provide them with one.

Jedd O’Keeffe is mainly a flat trainer and, if anyone asked him what his main aspiration in racing was, he would say that it was to win a Grade One flat race. He recovered from throat cancer in 2011 and faced possible financial ruin but, with support of Sam Spinner’s owners, Caron and Paul Chapman, they have developed a small, but thriving, operation located in North Yorkshire and, in doing so, gained one of the most exciting young hurdlers around. O’Keeffe bought Sam Spinner for a miniscule £12,000 from the Doncaster Sales in May 2015. The team’s white-faced gelding is spear-heading the Northern resurgence down south at the Chelteham Festival where he is favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle.

His horse is to be partnered by twenty-six year old Joe Colliver. Sheffield-born Colliver rode ponies as a child and, as a teenager, played horseball, a combination of rugby and polo, in which he represented Britain. He quit that to focus on racing. His first win came in January 2011 but it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. In the early morning of Boxing Day 2015, Colliver crashed his car into a wall whilst twice over the drink-drive limit and fled from the scene, later paying an accomplice £2,000 to say he had stolen the vehicle. It earned him a ten month custodial sentence but he only spent three in prison and, after that, resumed his role at Micky Hammonds yard, where he currently works. Colliver feels that everyone has given him a second chance, “I suppose everyone has given me a second chance, thinking about it. I’d definitely say I’ve grown up a lot more. I was probably a bit naive about life before, but I’m a lot more awake now, let’s say.”

samspinner1

Colliver hadn’t even seen Sam Spinner before he rode him in his debut race at Catterick, a course the horse has come to love, in February 2016. They won by one and a quarter lengths to Raised On Grazeon. Next time out, he was quite keen and could only manage second behind Betameche with Colliver in the saddle. Brian Harding took over the ride and piloted the son of Black Sam Bellamy to a three and a quarter length win on his hurdling bow. That season, he won three of his four starts and was only beaten by Mount Mews, subsequent Grade Two winner. Then Harding retired and Sam Spinner was Colliver’s to ride. They kicked off this season with a decent second behind older horse Court Minstrel in a Grade Three contest. Next time out, he bolted up in the Grade Three Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock by a whopping seventeen lengths and none of the other runners could lay a glove on him. Impressed, O’Keeffe stepped the gelding up to Grade One company in the JLT Reve De Sivola Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. Like in his Grade Three win, he made all but this time was only up one length at the last but he battled away from L’Ami Serge with the likes of Unowhatimeanharry and The Worlds End in behind. Colliver was impressed with the six year old’s improvement, “I said to Jedd when I first rode him that he’s a nice horse but I never thought he’d win a Grade Three, let alone a Grade One and be favourite for the Stayers’ at Cheltenham.”

samspinner3

Does he have a chance?

Well he is one of the favourites, so obviously he does have a chance. Surprisingly, he is the lowest rated of all the runners at 139, despite the fact that he beat L’Ami Serge, Unowhatimeanharry, The Worlds End, Thomas Campbell and Lil Rockerfeller in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle. His low rating could be because of his age and the fact that he has only ran over hurdles seven times. He isn’t ground dependant and doesn’t have to lead like has in most of his runs. A negative is that he hasn’t been around Cheltenham before but he has won on a left-handed track. Supasundae will be his main Irish challenger and has an advantage over Sam Spinner as Jessica Harrington’s gelding by Galileo has Cheltenham Festival form to his name. The distance shouldn’t be a problem for the Irish horse as he was only just denied by super-mare Apple’s Jade over the trip in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. Sam Spinner’s Grade One victory was fifteen seconds quicker than Supasundae’s race, where he was only half a length down on the winner. That surface was soft whereas the English horse’s ground was good to soft.

Cheltenham Stories 2018- Edwulf

edwulf2

By Samantha

Contender– Edwulf

Race– Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Trainer– Joseph O’Brien

Owner– J P McManus

It is somewhat a miracle that Edwulf is alive, let alone being prepped to run in one of the greatest National Hunt races of them all. What he underwent at Cheltenham last year would normally kill a horse.

It all happened in and after the J T McNamara Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase. Edwulf was roughly a 5/1 shot and was partnered by Derek O’Connor. He was held up in the rear and had headway before four out and moved into second. At two out, he pecked on landing but stayed on his feet. Then, at the last, he jumped awkwardly and went wrong. Derek pulled him up quickly and jumped off.

The horse was showing signs of distress and then he collapsed onto his side. Screens went up for privacy. At first, it was suspected that he had suffered internal bleeding similar to the condition that tragically put an end to Many Clouds’ life. Vets monitored his heart, which was extremely chaotic. Then he began to have fits, which was probably caused by starvation of oxygen to his brain. They sedated him and his heart went back to normal and the fits stopped. He was able to move his limbs but he made no attempt to stand. Over the next couple of minutes, Edwulf became less and less responsive. Racecourse staff needed him to be moved so they could run the last race of the day so he was moved off track. The vets waited, hoping that he would get up and pull through. From the stands, owner J P McManus was looking on at proceedings. “Do what you can boys, do your best.” he instructed the vets. After forty minutes, a wobbly Edwulf got up and walked into the horse ambulance.

Edwulf was taken to Three Counties Equine Hospital, accompanied by a police escort. He got to the hospital at about half past seven and he was showing signs of blindness but there was no visible damage to the eye. Luckily, by the morning, it had all resolved. Amazingly, on Saturday morning, the gelding seemed no worse for wear and was cavorting around his field at the equine hospital.

Liam Kearns, Head Vet at Cheltenham, said afterwards, “To have a horse down in that situation, it was way out of the ordinary. I have never known anything like it. I have never known a situation whereby a horse has recovered from being on his side for so long.” His owner J P McManus publicly thanked the veterinary staff at the trophy presentation after Defi Du Seuil’s success in the Triumph Hurdle on the Friday of the meeting. “When you have a successful outcome, it is fantastic.” he said. Edwulf’s young trainer, Joseph O’Brien expressed his delight that his horse had survived, “The vets were top class, they did everything in their power. I couldn’t say enough good things about them. This was way out of the ordinary. It highlights how good they are. I thought we had lost him. I can’t describe the feeling of getting him back.”

edwulf1
Edwulf won the Unibet Irish Gold Cup after almost dying at Cheltenham 2017.

 

Does he have a chance?

Realistically, yes. He beat Outlander, Djackadam and Our Duke, all good horses, well enough in the Irish Gold Cup. Throughout the race he travelled really well. People could argue that he was lucky because Killultagh Vic fell at the last but for the whole way he looked like the best horse. O’Connor partnered the gelding in this race too and the pair stalked the leaders around the home turn and then pounced down the home straight, gaining on Oulander and beating him by a neck. The form has been franked as Our Duke, who was fourth, has won since. A negative could be whether he has the star quality to beat the likes of Might Bite, Sizing John and Native River. As well as this, psychologically, he may react badly to being back at Cheltenham as he suffered such a traumatising experience there. Overall, he could pick up the pieces and get some nice placed money at a big price.