Sandown Preview- Final Day Of The Jumps



By Samantha (28/4/18)

So the National Hunt season is coming to a close and what a season it has been! We’ve seen super performances of every shape and size- the pint-sized Tiger Roll winning the Cross-Country Chase and the Grand National and Altior demolishing his rivals at the minimum trip in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He runs in the Celebration Chase on this card as he tries to make it back-to-back wins in this race, following in the footsteps of Sprinter Sacre who won the race in 2016. This meeting at Sandown can round off the season with a bang. Sadly, Cue Card will not be having his final run of his career here as he was retired earlier this month but him and other stars, including Tingle Creek winner Politologue, will be paraded for racegoers to see. The parade can add further magic to a truly spell-binding day of National Hunt racing.

Novices’ Championship Final Handicap Hurdle

The first race on the card looks a very competitive one. Mont Des Avaloirs has top weight and is highest rated in this. He won last time out at Market Rasen but the weight he has to carry may be an issue for him though. He has been behind some very nice types including Kilbricken Storm and Summerville Boy. Paul Nicholls’ gelding definitely has a shot. Highway One O One won last time out and is four from seven. He has never been out of the top two apart from a below par effort in the Grade Three Imperial Cup here. Harry Reed is a great jockey and takes off five pounds. Taxmeifyoucan, Act Of Valor and Oistrakh Le Noir are the only four year olds in the field. Taxmeifyoucan is the most inexperienced in the field. He has ran four times over hurdles, winning twice. He was third last time out, finishing three quarters of a length and a head behind the winner. He showed a bit of inexperience when push came to shove but looks progressive and is an each way contender. Act Of Valor won last time out and it was his second win over jumps. The other win came on his debut for Paul Nicholls. He is well regarded and looks a nice horse. Oistrakh Le Noir is the second string for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. He is one from four and was second behind Act Of Valor last time out. He carries two pounds less than the latter and runs off 131. BALLYMOY is the first string. He comes from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard and has won his last two starts by a combined twenty-eight lengths. He has improved so much this season. When writing this, he was a lovely price at about 15/2. Notre Ami is the only course and distance winner in the line-up and won last time out. Burrows Edge has been really consistent recently.

To Win- Ballymoy

Each way- Highway One O One  

bet365 Oaksey Chase

Double Shuffle brings the class into this race. He is rated 166, 4lbs higher than Top Notch. He finished seventh in the Gold Cup but before that, he ran a blinder to finish second behind Might Bite in the King George. The last time he won was in December 2016 and he is 23lbs higher than then. Tom George’s gelding was beaten by Art Mauresque in a handicap chase in October 2016. That was the last time Art Mauresque won. He hasn’t shown much good form at all since and looks up against it. TOP NOTCH had Double Shuffle eight lengths behind in second in this grade in November. He was forth in the Ascot Chase last time out and won the Peterborough before that. He is only seven and looks the pick. Alcala was looking for a six timer when unseating his rider in October. He hasn’t run since finishing fourth a couple of weeks after that and it looks like he would prefer better ground. O O Seven was pulled up last time out and Sadler’s Risk looks up against it.

To win- Top Notch

Each Way- Double Shuffle

bet365 Celebration Chase

There are two previous winners of this race in the field today- Altior won this in 2017 and Special Tiara won this in 2015. The latter was meant to run at Punchestown earlier this week but he was pulled out because of the going. Age seems to be creeping up on this lad and he isn’t as good as he was. ALTIOR, on the other hand, looks in the prime of his career. He put up a fantastic performance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, after looking beaten on the home bend. He has been unbeaten since October of 2015 and should win this. Diego Du Charmil is the only other last time out winner in the field. He won the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree. He will be Altior’s main challenger. Ar Mad is a course and distance winner. His trainer won this twice with Sire De Grugy but he doesn’t seem up to that standard. Ar Mad and Special Tiara were pulled up behind Altior in the Queen Mother. God’s Own was third in that race and showed a good return to form but it looks like he will struggle and so will San Benedeto.

To win- Altior

Each way- Diego Du Charmil



bet365 Gold Cup Handicap

BLAKLION won the Becher Chase at the start of the season over three miles one furlong and then was fifty-four lengths back in second behind Yala Enki. He had a breathing operation after that but connections never got to see whether it worked because he got brought down at the first in the Grand National, where he was one of the big contenders after a good performance the year before. He stays very well so can take this despite his big weight. Regal Encore was meant to run in the Grand National but was taken out due to the ground. He won last time out with Minella Daddy behind. That was over two miles seven furlongs but he does stay as he was eighth in the Grand National a few years ago. Rock The Kasbah has been a fantastic servant for Phillip Hobbs. His horses have returned to their best now but Rock The Kasbah was pulled up last time out so this may be tough for him. Missed Approach won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham over two furlongs less than this but stayed on in the finish so there is a likely chance he will stay. Bigbadjohn won first time for Nigel Twiston-Davies but unseated Jamie Bargary last time out. The Young Master won this in 2016. He hasn’t shown much good form since. Rathlin Rose fell last time out in the Topham but won before that over two miles seven. Dawson City has ran very well recently and stays all day. Three miles one may have been on the short side last time out so he is has a good each way chance in this. Step Back won well last time out and is very unexposed. He has been very consistent and goes a nice weight. Sugar Baron and Minella Daddy look to have each way claims.

To win- Blaklion

Each way- Dawson City

bet365 Select Hurdle

Diakali blitzed it around Aintree in the Aintree Hurdle on his first start for Gary Moore. He used to be with Willie Mullins and looks a fascinating contender. Call Me Lord and Wholestone look two good horses in their own right. Call Me Lord is only five but is second highest rated. He is very consistent but highest rated WHOLESTONE looks hard to beat and is Daryl Jacob’s choice out of the two. He won the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham in November and put in three good runner-up performances since and can get back to winning ways in this. Old Guard was seventh in the Stayers Hurdle, five places behind Wholestone. It doesn’t look as though he will be able to switch the placings. Lil Rockerfella has been struggling recently and Boite looks out of it.

To win- Wholestone

Each way- Diakali/ Call Me Lord



bet365 Josh Gifford Novices’ Handicap Chase

GEORDIE DES CHAMPS has won his last two nicely and will enjoy the ground and trip. Rayvin Black comes from Oliver Sherwood’s yard and he has won twice in 2018. Those victories were split by a trailed off third in a handicap chase. His trainer had his first winner since Rayvin Black won last time out on the 9th April, yesterday. War Sound has been very consistent this season. He isn’t very exposed and is yet to win over chase fences. This may be on the long side for him as he has won mostly over two miles but he won a novice hurdle over two miles three furlongs. Stynes hasn’t ran since June when he won a handicap chase. He has won off a long lay-off before but he has a step up in trip to deal with too. Silverhow likes it round here. The others look as if they need their summer holidays.

To win- Geordie Des Champs

Each way- Rayvin Black

bet365 Handicap Hurdle

Le Breuil was brilliant in the way he went about his win last time out. That was over three miles four furlongs so he should stay. He preferred the better ground than the going his two previous starts were on. Enniscoffey Oscar looks hugely over-priced at 20/1 he is a Grade Two winner but didn’t seem comfortable in the Albert Bartlett as he didn’t seem to enjoy the ground. He has won over three miles before and is the value in the race. BALLOTIN was last seen on a racetrack in November finishing second to Fortunate George in a race over two miles five. He didn’t seem to stay that and will prefer this. He won over today’s trip (two miles three furlongs) at Wetherby in October and it would be great to see him win for David Maxwell, who is a great supporter of the game. Jester Jet won at the Aintree Grand National Meeting in a Grade Three so isn’t without a shot and her trainer’s horses are flying. Soul Emotion won over this trip on debut in this country for Nicky Henderson and he is similar to Terrefort- by the same stallion and came from the same yard to Nicky’s. Skipthecuddles has a good chance.

To win- Ballotin

Each Way- Enniscoffey Oscar

Whips- What are the rules?

By Samantha

Native River won the Cheltenham Gold Cup but his rider gained a whip ban.


Over the past few weeks, there has been lots of controversy and outrage about whip bans in the media with lots of the winning jockeys of some of the biggest races in the National Hunt calendar picking up bans.

Over the course of Cheltenham, six whip bans, totalling thirty four days, were handed out to five different jockeys. All bar one of the jockeys have had the majority of their rides in Ireland this season. The reasons for the bans issued were varied. The majority were because the jockey used their whip over the permitted rate allowed. As well as this, some were for not allowing the horse to respond between hits, using the whip with excessive force and using the whip at an incorrect place up the run-in.

Arguably, the most high profile whip ban given out this season was given out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Richard Johnson rode the winner, Native River, but picked up a seven day ban and was fined £6550 because he exceeded the permitted amount of smacks allowed in a race.

At the Aintree Grand National meeting, less bans were given out as there was only four. In total, twenty five days were given out to four different jockeys. Jamie Codd picked up the largest ban of the two meetings after his winning ride on Getaway Katie Mai in the Mares’ Flat Race on the first day of the meeting. The mare won the race by one and a quarter lengths but her jockey was handed a seventeen day suspension and a £400 fine because he used his whip above the permitted amount after the wings of the second last.

There are lots of things jockeys have to think about when riding to make sure they abide by the rules and not compromise the horse’s welfare. So, what are the rules?

What should the whip be used for?

In the rules of racing, it is mandatory for all jockeys to carry a whip. Despite this, jockeys don’t have to use the whip if they don’t feel obliged to. Its main purpose is for safety and to encourage the horse. It can be used to keep the horse focused and concentrating but the stimulus provided by the whip must be limited so it doesn’t compromise the welfare of the horse. The whip must be used appropriately and jockeys have to take into account the rules of racing.

What do jockeys need to think about whilst riding?

A big thing jockeys need to remember is to consider how much of the race is left to run before picking up their whip so they don’t run out of hits allowed before the closing stages and cause the horse to not get the best position possible. Before that, it is recommended that the jockey uses hands and heels to lengthen the horse’s stride and increase their speed. They are asked to show the horse the whip first and give them the opportunity to respond before hitting them with it. It is important that jockeys use their whips in a backhand position and in rhythm with the horse’s stride. Both hands need to stay on the reins if the jockey is hitting them on the shoulder in a backhand position.

In National Hunt races, jockeys can whip their horses a maximum of eight times.


What rules do the jockeys have to follow?

In flat races, as they are a shorter distance, jockeys are allowed to hit their horses a maximum of seven times whereas, in a national hunt race, jockeys are allowed to hit their horses a maximum of eight times. If that amount is exceeded, stewards can decide whether to hold an enquiry and they will consider how many times they have used the whip throughout the race, particularly in the closing stages and all the relevant factors. These can include looking into the manner of which the whip is used and with what force, the purpose if using it, whether the horse was still responding and that the distance over which the whip was used was reasonable ands necessary.

Sometimes, providing that the manner in which the whip had been used was measured, Stewards may choose to disregard occasions when the whip has been used in the following circumstances:-


  • To keep the horse in contention or to maintain a challenging position prior to what would be considered as the closing stages of a race.
  • To maintain focus/concentration.
  • To correct a horse that is hanging.
  • Where there is only light contact with the horse.


  • Following a mistake at an obstacle.
  • To correct a horse that is running down an obstacle.

Stewards may be less tolerant about a rider using the whip more when:-

  • The horse is young or inexperienced.
  • A rider continues to use the whip when not being directly challenged for a position.
  • A rider fails to recognise that his use of the whip is not having the intended effect.

Should the result of a race be changed because the winning jockey exceeded the whip limit?

We ran this as a poll on our Twitter page (@ReinItInRacing) and fifty-six percent said no. Twenty-five percent said yes and nineteen percent said depending on the margin. As a follow up question, we asked which distance would cause it to be reversed and the majority (forty-four percent) said that a head is the largest distance that a race result should be changed because of.

In flat racing, jockeys are only allowed to whip their horses seven times.


So… Should riders be allowed to have a whip?

There are lots of debates on this subject. Animal rights activists like to say that jockeys force the horses to run by whipping them so it is abuse. Whips are made of a foam material so the horses don’t get hurt by it. Mainly, it is the sight of it in the corner of their eye that sends them forward. Looking at it from a riders’ safety point of view, horses are extremely strong animals and can be very hard to control. The whip is a necessity when it comes to keeping jockeys safe as the whip can work to reinforce leg aids. A poll Rein It In ran on twitter had the result of ninety-seven percent of voters saying that jockeys should carry a whip.

Comment your thoughts below or on our twitter page.

Embryo Transfer- The future of breeding?

By Evie (19/4/18)

Embryonic transfer (ET) foals are becoming increasingly common in many equine industries. I first came across this form of impregnation when talking to a friend about Quarter Horse racing in America. She was confused as there were two different horses, both two year olds, who had the same dam but different sires. We later figured out that these foals were the result of embryonic transfer.

This consists of a dam being impregnated, either by frozen sperm or by direct mounting, by a sire. If the egg is fertilized it is flushed from the genetic mother, using a sterile salt and protein solution. This embryo, currently at microscopic size is the put into a surrogate dam. This allows the genetic mother to continue to compete, or even produce more than one foal in the same year, from the same genetic mother.

ET is extremely common in the Eventing industry. It’s not unusual for mares to compete into their late teens, at which point their best breeding days are over. This method of insemination allows these mares to produce offspring whilst still competing, as well as allowing more foals out of certain mares.

It would be safe to assume, therefore, that ET would be common in horse racing, an industry that often prioritizes breeding over racing careers, such is the case of Middle Park Winner The Last Lion, who retired at two.

However, embryonic transfer foals are not allowed to compete under Jockey Club rules.

Section V, Rule 1D of the Jockey Club states:

“To be eligible for registration, a foal must be the result of a stallion’s natural service with a broodmare (which is the physical mounting of a broodmare by a stallion), and a natural gestation must take place in, and delivery must be from, the body of the same broodmare in which the foal was conceived. For example… any foal produced by the processes of Artificial Insemination, Embryo Transfer, Cloning or any other form of genetic manipulation not herein specified, shall not be eligible for registration.”

This rule makes it extremely clear that ET, and other forms of artificial insemination, including frozen sperm, is completely disallowed from competing.

However, ET could be more beneficial to the sport. It would allow champion mares to continue to race, all whilst still producing foals. It would also allow these mares to produce more foals, and have more of an impact on worldwide breeding stock. As well as this, it would allow mares who may struggle to give birth to still have foals, without having to risk their lives.

Moreover this treatment is very cheap, in horse racing terms, with most centers quoting prices of £2,000. This may not sound cheap, but in a sport where a mating with a stallion can cost up to £250,000 this small sum of money is not a harsh price to pay for foaling without the risk of injury or without having to retire the mare.

So why is this groundbreaking treatment not allowed in Jockey Club rules?

Horse racing is a very traditional sport. Although pioneering training techniques are happening, there is a lack of this in the breeding aspect of the sport. There is a risk that an embryo may be tampered with. This is why the Jockey Club counts ET as ‘genetic manipulation’. It would not happen would it have not been for humans.

In some aspects, I would like to see ET brought to the sport. Champion mares could race for longer, meaning we would not see fillies retire when they are three. Mares could race for longer, which (like in the case of Winx) could bring more people into the sport.

However, there is always the risk that someone will over do it. Someone will risk it too far. That could be through over breeding their mare, producing tens of foals from a single mare. There’s also the risk that mares won’t be retired, and that they would risk racing at a high level when they get to an older age.

There is also the very real threat of over breeding. So many foals would be produced, as the valuable race mares wouldn’t need to go through pregnancy for 10 months every time they conceive a foal. Over breeding is already an issue (with many horses going to slaughter as there are not enough homes to place them in), so this form of breeding would only worsen the problem.

Another form of breeding which comes straight out of science fiction is cloning. Surprisingly, clones are not uncommon.

They are most commonly used in instances where champion horses have been gelded, and have been cloned purely for breeding purposes. One example of this is with the champion showjumper Gem Twist.

He won the won the “American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year” title three times, and is regarded as one of the best show-jumpers in history. He would have been valued highly as a stud, but he was gelded before he became champion. This meant that he could not produce offspring.

However, after his death in 2006, two genetic clones of him were made. The first was known as Gemini and the second was known as Murka’s Gem.

On September 15 2008, a cloning lab known as Cryozootech reported the birth of the first genetic clone of Gem Twist. Following this, in May 2012 the first reported foal by Gemini was born. This foal was a healthy chestnut colt out of the thoroughbred mare Otherwise Engaged.

Of course, cloning is not allowed. It’s understandable. If a clone, or many clones of a horse like Zenyatta was made, then the value of consistent champions like her would be undervalued.

But could clones be used in instances where champion racehorses have been geldings?

For example, National Hunt horses? If there was a clone of a champion gelding like Sprinter Sacre, or Hurricane Fly then foals of that clone could go for millions.

However, again we see an ethical problem. Is it right to use the cloned foals for breeding based purely off what their DNA says.

Racing isn’t just about bloodlines, DNA or muscles. In most horses you have to find that will to win. Without sufficient scientific testing, at this point we are unable to tell if clones have the same exact mind and thought process as the horses that they are the clones of.

For now at least, it will be a while until this issue is looked into. But for me personally, I would hate to see the art of breeding go down the drain, in favour of using science for our monetary benefit.

Scottish Grand National 2018 Preview


By Samantha (21/4/18)

A small slice of history could be made in this race. Vicente is looking to become just the fourth horse to win the Scottish Grand National on three occasions. Sam Twiston-Davies parterned him to his two previous victories and he rides the gelded son of Dom Alco for trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Trevor Hemmings again. Horses by Don Alco have a good record in this- three of the last four renewals were won by son of his. Vicente has 11st7lbs to carry this time around but that shouldn’t be a problem as he carried 11st10lbs to victory last year. There are question marks about his recent form. In November, he was just a neck behind Perfect Candidate, who fell at the first in the Grand National, bringing down Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount Blaklion. Then he unseated in the Welsh National and was pulled up in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He comes here fresh from that after bypassing the Grand National in favour of this and better ground. Last year, he put up some not brilliant performances last season before coming into his own at Ayr so he does have a chance.

In last year’s renewal, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained pair- Cogry and Benbens– took the minor places. Cogry was eleventh in the Ultima Handicap Chase arc Cheltenham last time out. His best performance this season was first time out when he won a handicap chase at Cheltenham on one if the opening meetings of their season over three miles one. He stays because he finished a neck behind Vincente last year. Benbens was two lengths back in third on that occasion and, since then, like the other two, hasn’t shown great form lately. He was pulled up in the Midlands Grand National but two starts before that, he won the London National by a neck. They both have decent weights but don’t look like they can recreate last year’s efforts.

Like Vicente, Gold Present was taken out of the Grand National because of the ground. He won his first two this season but was pulled up in the Ultima at Cheltenham. He has never contested a race of this length so that is a worry for his chances. Nicky Henderson also has Beware The Bear. He was twenty six and three quarter lengths behind Tiger Roll in last year’s four miler at Cheltenham, finishing seventh. He was fourth in the opening race on this card last year behind Label Des Obeaux. Beware The Bear kicker the season off with a win in Listed company. He had Yala Enki and Wakanda, who have won since, behind on that occasion but has failed to show much since he was pulled up over three miles five furlongs in the Welsh National. He will like the ground more than what he ran on last time in the Ultima at Cheltenham.

Gordon Elliot won the Grand National and he has Fagan in this race. This good looking grey was last seen in October finishing second behind Black Corton at Cheltenham. He likes good growing but he might not stay.

Sue Smith has Vintage Clouds in this and Straidnahanna. Straidnahanna, the older of the two greys, won last time out over three miles and a furlong. He has been pulled up in the last two renewals of this race and looks up against it. Vintage Clouds was fourth in the Welsh National with Silsol one place behind. He didn’t stay in that race so I don’t think he can take this.

Ballyoptic won the Grade Two Towtown Novices’ Chase with Vintage Clouds behind in February. He then went to Cheltenham and finished fourth in the RSA. He has only ever ran over shorter trips but the step up in trip will suit him.

Sizing Tennessee looks the pick of the Colin Tizzard trio. He finished a good third in the four miler at Cheltenham when the front two pulled miles clear of the rest. The trip seems to suit him and he could show improvement here.

Regal Flow impressed in the Midlands National.

REGAL FLOW will definitely stay the trip after romping home over four miles two furlongs in the Midlands Grand National. He has never won on good ground but has won on firm so he won’t have an issue with the ground. His ability to stay and good recent form makes him my selection in this.

Get On The Yager runs here for Dan and Harry Skelton. He was ninth in the Midlands National behind Regal Flow and Silsol. He didn’t seem to stay the four milestone two furlongs. This is two furlongs shorter so this will never better for him. He was a seven length winner over three miles one furlong and look like he would suit a step up in trip so there is a possibility he will stay but not likely. Silsol stayed on before two out at Uttoxeter so this drop in trip may suit him.

Henri Parry Morgan has been a good servant for Peter Bowen, who won this in 2014 with Al Co. His runner this year is now ten and he won over three miles three furlongs last time out and stayed on well up the run-in. He was ninth in this last year and didn’t seem to like the trip then.

Doing Fine was fourth behind Benbens in the London National and has ran over three miles five. Not sure he will stay. The Young Master last won in 2014 so looks up against it.

Chatting With… Oli Bell

oli bell.jpg

By Samantha (18/4/18)

Oli Bell burst onto mainstream TV screens in 2017 when ITV took over the horse racing coverage from Channel Four. With his boyish grin, Oli is a favourite with the ladies.

You could say Oli was destined for a job within the horse racing world. His father Rupert is a racing commentator on the radio, his uncle is prolific flat trainer Michael Bell and his grandfather owned racehorses.

Despite having the connections to get in the racing circle, Oli makes it clear that it was all down to luck and opportunity that he is where he is today. He is a firm believer that it is good to start from the bottom and work your way up.

I caught up with Oli with his charity boxing match looming on the horizon.

What got you interested in Horse Racing?

For me, my uncle is the race horse trainer Michael Bell and, as a kid, I used to go to my Grandparent’s house. My Granddad owned a few race horse and we’d sit down and watch in the afternoon, I’d sit in his armchair with him and we used to watch the horse racing together cheering on my uncle’s horses and I used to comment on the racing whilst he was in his armchair, getting annoyed at me commenting on the races, from there I had a real passion for it. I was something I associated with spending time with my grandparents and obviously cheering on Mike, my uncle and it grew from there.

How old were you when you decide to persue a career in horse racing?

Probably when I was about ten, to be honest. I was very young when I knew I wanted to go into horse racing but when I thought that I could seriously get a job in it, I was about sixteen. I started presenting on the school radio station we had at school and did a bit of work experience at sporting events and I thought that if I put a lot of time and effort into it, then it was something, probably, I could do for a living if I got lucky along the way and fortunately I have got lucky.

What made you decide to work in the journalism side of racing?

I was rubbish at riding and I hated getting up early in the morning so I couldn’t be a jockey and definitely not a trainer. My dad [Rupert Bell] is a racing presenter on the radio so I was lucky enough to have a few opportunities to see what that side of the world was like and I really enjoyed it and it looked like a lot of fun. It was something I was told I was okay at when I was quite young. Lots of people told me that if I pursued it, I could get a job so it wasn’t by default but it was the path that I thought would suit me and my personality the most. So I followed it.

What is your main piece of advice for someone who would like to have a similar career to you?

I think that the most important thing I’ve ever learnt was what I learnt in the four years I did behind the scenes. I didn’t go straight to TV presenting. Everyone looks at me and goes ‘oh he’s young’ and ‘he got to where he is very quickly’. Which is true but I think that the most important years that I spent in TV were those first four years, when I was making cups of tea and working behind the scenes running tapes up and down the stairs because, for me, that taught me so much about TV and how that side of the coin works. It wasn’t necessarily that I learnt loads about racing although I did I was able to absorb loads of different information from people who have years of experience. I also saw another side of something I’d never seen before- the world of TV etc. I think that people probably get a bit quick to want it all straight away particularly in this day and age where you have Twitter and YouTube. I think if you want to have longevity to a career it’s really important to keep your head down, to work hard, to be polite to people behind the scenes. Then if you show that you are consistent, capable, hard working and then I think opportunities will come.


If you didn’t work on ITV, what job would you like to do?

I’d like to be a footballer but I don’t think I’m very good at football.

You worked as a presenter on Racing UK for a while. Was it challenging to make the move from Racing UK, where most of the viewers know about racing, to ITV, where lots of them are new to the sport and don’t know much?

I think there was a responsibility on all of us to try and make the sport as accessible as possible and so whether you were Ed who came from football, me who came from Racing UK or Francesca who came from Australia. I think we all had an understanding that for racing to reach as many people as possible, there were times when we kind of had to debunk the myth of racing sort of so I think that if you are passionate about something, whether it is racing or knitting or whatever it may be, you don’t mind sitting down and explaining to people because it is your passion and hopefully, if you explain it well, people can feel and understand why you love it so much. And so, with us, it is important that we get the balance right and we don’t ostracise racing fans that watch it but also have enough in there that educates new fans. The balance is always something we are looking to find. I don’t think it’s been hard to or to try to adapt our styles to a bigger and more mainstream audience because that is something we realise is very important for us to be successful.

Who do you enjoy working with most on ITV?
I enjoy working with them all but Luke Harvey is a very funny little man. I do a lot of my stuff on the Opening Show with him and he really does make me laugh. He always has a smile on his face and always has a story. He doesn’t take life too seriously but also he is a very good broadcaster and he really gets what we are trying to achieve and it has been a pleasure to work with him since day one.
You are from a mainly flat racing background. Do you prefer flat racing to jumps racing?

I don’t actually. I prefer jump racing because the people in jumps racing, not that there isn’t at flat meetings, make a really good atmosphere at jump meetings. I enjoy going to Aintree and Cheltenham.

Who do you think gave the best performance at Cheltenham it Aintree this season?
For me, Altior probably. I thought Altior vs Min was incredible because he overcame adversity to win- he looked, he looked beaten and then showed he was a really good horse and stamped his class and for him to win as convicting you as he did. He is just a supremely talented horse. I thought he was phenomenal. Tiger Roll won at both- he won the Cross Country Chase and the Grand National so for him to do what he did takes some doing. I think we were very lucky actually because we saw some excellent performances at both festivals this year.

What do you think the racing authorities could do to get more young people into racing?
I think that there is a lot of responsibility for us to be leaders in allowing access to the sport for everyone in the sport- not just young or old people. Sometimes people think it is a closed shop and it is in house and I think now there is things like YouTube and Instagram and, on ITV, we’ve launched the ‘Social Stable’ so we hope it opens the conversation up to as many people as possible. I think racing should be giving young people as much of an opportunity to experience what is so good about it as possible because they will be the future owners, trainers and jockeys, or whatever it may be, so they need to see and experience and feel what everyone in the sport feels, which are amazing things. That could be by getting school programs out to as many schools as possible by things like YouTube channels with cool people saying ‘look how cool this is’ maybe. It is basically about making it as accessible as it can be for young people and that can be through social media. I would say it should be free to go for as many people as possible to give students the opportunities to come and see racing as much as possible and show off how good the sport is to as many people as possible, as much as possible. The best people to answer that question are you lot.

Thank you so much for taking time out to talk to me Oli!!

If you want to support Oli in his charity boxing match raising money for Well Child, donate to his just giving page here

Aintree Grand national Meeting- Saturday Preview


black op.jpgBy Samantha (14/4/18)

One of the biggest days in the racing calendar is upon us. At five fifteen on Saturday 14th April, thirty-eight of Britain and Ireland’s top staying chasers will contest the 182nd running of the Grand National. Despite that being the main race on the card, there is some great racing for fans to look forward to in the build-up and an interesting looking handicap hurdle after the main event.

Gaskells Handicap Hurdle

Likely favourites, Dream Berry and Stamp Your Feet, have been taken out leaving a field of twenty. Mr Big Shot is lightly-raced and went into the Cheltenham Festival unbeaten but ended up finishing tenth. He should like the ground. NOW MCGINTY gets my tentative vote. Stuart Edmunds’ son of Stowaway won his last two races, both at Warwick. He was put up 10lbs for the first victory and then followed it up to win by twenty lengths last time out. He’s a fantastic each way contender but has to step up in grade. Debece hasn’t been seen since finishing third behind The Worlds End in last year’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle. He probably would’ve preferred soft ground that day, as that is the surface he has won on, so he will like it today.

Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

BLACK OP was second behind Samcro in the Ballymore Hurdle. Before that, he finished a good second behind Santini, who won yesterday, on heavy going so the conditions shouldn’t be a problem. Lostintranslation beat him in a maiden hurdle. Since then, the latter has been sixth and seventh and it looks easy for Black Op to reverse the running. On The Blind Side is a course and distance winner who is unbeaten. He hasn’t tackled ground like this under rules before but he won on soft in a point-to-point. We haven’t seen him since December so he will be coming here fresh. Silver Concorde is interesting. He used to be with Dermot Weld and is now with Keith Dalgleish. The horse is ten and has ran seventeen times over hurdles. Only out of the top three in three of those runs, he is having a big step up in grade but he has won three of his last four. A downside is that he is three years older than his nearest pursuer, age-wise. Still, he looks over-priced at 50/1. Momella is the only mare in the field and goes for Dan and Harry Skelton. On The Blind Side is the only horse to ever beat her in her four starts to date. That was in a Grade 2 hurdle race and Momella won a mares hurdle on soft last time out. The others look up against it and Bedrock ran a huge race yesterday to finish third.

petit muchoir

Maghull Novices Chase

PETIT MUCHOIR can take this in a pathetic excuse for a Grade One. He was just denied second in the Arkle by Brain Power and had to settle for third. He is an Irish Champion hurdle winner and brigs some class into this average field. Paul Nicholls has Diego Du Charmil and he may be the best of the rest. He’s a Scottish County Hurdle winner and won first time out over chase fences. He finished third behind Shantou Rock and second behind Saint Calvados. He fell last time out so that could be a worry. Shantou Rock has been second on three of his four starts this season and won his first chase. He has been two lengths behind Sceau Royal at Doncaster in a Grade Two and could be a nice each way shot. Lady Buttons won last time out but, despite being a Listed winner, this could be tough for her. The other two look out of their depths.

Betway Handicap Chase

Wakanda has never won over three miles but he has placed over further. He was pulled up in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham but before that, he won a Listed race where you could’ve thrown a exercise sheet over the first four. Last year’s winning connections have Viconte Du Noyer, who hasn’t ran well at all this season, so he is an outsider. ROCKLANDER ran a stormer to finish third at Cheltenham behind Mister Whitaker in the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase. He hasn’t ran over three miles before but he looks as if he’d stay to three miles after winning over two miles six. He won’t mind the conditions and can take this. Thomas Patrick is his main rival. Connections were singing his praises after winning last time out. He has form over trip and ground but has had a hard year, running nine times since October. Ibis Du Rheu hasn’t won since March 2016 and was two places behind Rocklander in the Close Brothers. Only managed fourth and fifth places this season. Paper Lantern and Bells Of Ailworth both have chances.

sam spinner

Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

SAM SPINNER can take this. He didn’t seem to like Cheltenham in the Stayers Hurdle and he could only manage fifth. He was behind third placed Wholestone but in front The Worlds End. My selection won the Long Walk at Ascot with The Worlds End, Thomas Campbell and Lil Rockerfeller all behind. Aintree will suit Sam Spinner more. The Worlds End seems to have lost his way since winning at this meeting last year and Lil Rockerfeller isn’t getting any younger. Wholestone won the Relkeel Hurdle over two miles four furlongs. His three miles form isn’t great and doesn’t seem to stay. Old Guard won the National Spirit and has a shot.

Randox Health Grand National

Click Grand National Preview  to see Evie’s runner by runner guide for the biggest steeple chase of them all.

Our selections-

Evie- Vieux Lion Rouge

Samantha- Saint Are, Total Recall, Captain Redbeard and Raz Dev Maree.

Gaurav- Tiger Roll

Lois- Tiger Roll, Milansbar, Vieux Lion Rouge, Saint Are, Carlingford Lough and Tenor Nivernais

Pinsent Mason’s handicap Hurdle

It is a shame that Chesterfield has been taken out as he had a great chance. Micheal’s Mount is likely favourite after he won well last time out. He’s two from three over hurdles and there seems lots of improvement left in him. UNISON has won his last two over this distance on soft ground. He should like conditions and has a very good chance. Dear Sire won last time out well. High Expectations and Havanna Beat both have good chances

Aintree Grand National Meeting- Friday Review

By Samantha (13/4/18)


Today hasn’t been a good day for favourite backers. Only two favourites came in and all others were over 10/1. There were some emotional and spellbinding performances and some huge stars were on show.

The Alder Hey Children’s Charity handicap Hurdle kicked off proceedings on this drizzly Friday afternoon. Who Dares Wins was the favourite but couldn’t get to Jester Jet up the run-in. The mare won for Tom Lacey and Robbie Dunne, who has a good chance on board Gas Line Boy in the Grand National. She was second in a Listed race the time before this. She’d always won over further before this and was a 20/1 shot.

Global Citizen was the favourite for the Top Novices’ Hurdle but he ran very keenly in the race because it was run quite slowly. He could only manage sixth about twelve and a half lengths behind the winner Lalor. He was a very emotional winner for connections as he was trained by Richard Woollacott who passed away in January. Now a bit of a course specialist, Lalor is now trained by Kayley Woollacott, Richard’s wife. The gelding won a bumper on this card last year and it was Richard’s biggest winner as a trainer. There were some very emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure after the race. Speaking to the media, Kayley said, “It’s a very emotional day, but obviously we had a bit of help from up there.”

Terrefort wins under Daryl Jacob in front of Ms Parfois


The next race was a thriller. Terrefort and Ms Parfois battled it out from two out with the gelding just prevailing after the last to win by three and a quarter lengths. Nicky Henderson’s flashy grey was the first of the two favourites to win. It continued a great meeting for Daryl Jacob and the champion trainer. The ground was very testing which could suggest that some time in the future, Terrefort could be a Gold Cup horse but Ms Parfois would benefit from a longer trip as this was on the short side for her.

The next race was the big race of the day, the Melling Chase. Willie Mullins’ Min ‘The Merciless’ was short-priced favourite at 11/10. Ryanair winner Balko Des Flos was his nearest market rival at 2/1. The Gigginstown owned gelding went off quickly with the other runners spread out behind. At three out, Politilogue took over the lead under a cool Sam Twiston-Davies. Min was up next to him trying to challenge but he jumped right at the second last but carried on and the pair was in the air together over the last. Politologue out-stayed Min up the run-in to win by a neck, ending a quiet spell for Paul Nicholls. His win was twenty years after One man, in the same colours, fatally fell in this race and was put down.


Like most other races over the national fences, the Topham Chase of 2018 was full of thrills- and spills. It took a while for Robbie Supple to get them on their way after a false start as many of the horses were keen to get on with their task at hand. When they were allowed to go, the tapes didn’t rise fully and lots of the jockeys had to duck out of the way so they didn’t get caught. Flying Eagle got a bit distracted by this and put in an awful jump at the first, unseating his rider. O O Seven was a big fancy of many but failed to finish after he was pulled up before the tenth as if something was wrong. Bigbadjohn and Bouvreuil were both near the head of the market but the both failed to complete. In the end, Ultragold won the race again for the second year in a row under ice-cool Harry Cobden and to the jubilation of his owners. The horse seemed to have the time of his life jumping the big fences.

Santini was the second favourite of the day to win their race. He contested the Sefton Novices Hurdle and he travelled very well throughout under Nico De Boinville. He seemed to live up to his potential in this race and it was yet another Grade One for the Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson.

The winner of the last was a 25/1 shot called Portrush Ted, owned by the McNeill family and ridden by Gavin Sheehan for Warren Greatrex. The six year old stayed on well up the run-in and won by a comfortable three and a quarter lengths. Danny Kirwan was the 11/4 favourite but ended up finishing seventeenth.

Grand National Preview

By Evie

Still don’t have a Grand National horse? It’s understandable, as 40 horses will make their way around these infamous Aintree fences tomorrow.

All of us here at Rein It In hopes that all 40 horses will get back home safely.

In order to make your big decision you’re going to need the low down on all 40 horses. So here listed, are negatives and positives to the full field of 40 that will be running around the 4 miles of Aintree tomorrow.

Minella Rocco:



Weight; 11-10

Finished 4th last year, and appears to be in excellent form this season. However, the weight of 11-09 will be a struggle form him, but will likely be ridden under a conservative ride this year.

Anibale Fly:

Weight; 11-08

Likes when the ground is a bit softer, which he’s likely to get in the National this year. Heavier weights aren’t a problem for this horse, having won under 12st earlier this year. Is in top form after a 3rd place finish in the Gold Cup behind Native River and Might Bite. He’s also the pick of top jockey Barry Geraghty.

The Last Samuri:

Weight; 11-08

Ran second in 2016, and attempted to follow up last year, but could only manage 16th. He’s under a more reasonable weight this year, so he’s likely to do better than his 16th place finish last year.

Valseur Lido:

Weight; 11-07

The major concern with Valseur Lido is the distance, as he rarely even runs over 3m, so the 4m4f of the Grand National will be a massive test for him.

Total Recall:

Weight; 11-05

He has been chasing for just over a year, and has been relatively consistent, most recently winning three races in a row. He changed trainer to Willie Mullins in September, which could help freshen up his running a little bit.

Alpha Des Obeaux:

Weight; 11-04

A decent hurdler, but the same can’t be said for his chasing form. However, he is trained by a Grand National winning trainer in Mouse Morris, and will be ridden by one of three woman jockeys in the race, so his odds are likely to shorten closer to the race. He has beaten some good horses in the form of Edwulf, Definitly Red, Outlander and Total Recall in four separate races this season, so could be a good each-way shout.

Perfect Candidate:

Weight; 11-03

Currently has an outside chance, but looks good only pulling up twice in his 30 starts. At a price of around 66-1 he’s definitely a good each-way bet.

Shantou Flyer:

Weight; 11-02

Has form on the softer ground, and isn’t a stranger to Aintree, having run here last year. However, he pulled up. This year could be different, and he’s nabbed four consecutive seconds in the lead up to this race. A great second at Cheltenham last time out.

Tenor Nivernais:

Weight; 11-01

Has form on the softer going, and ran in this race last year and managed to make it around the course. He hasn’t had the best build up to this race, with two prep runs which resulted in a last place finish and a pull up.

Carlingford Lough:

Weight; 11-01

During his prime he was a Hennessy and Irish Gold Cup winner. However, he hasn’t won in almost two years. Should he return to his best form he’s in with a good chance.



Tiger Roll:

Weight; 10-13

Most recently he won the Glenfarcas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham, his second win at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s a very experienced horse for an 8 year old, with 30 runs under rules. Also prefers the softer side, which is likely to be the going this year.

Regal Encore:

Weight; 10-13

He won last time out, but this season hasn’t really been one of note, apart from from a third in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase in December.

Vieux Lion Rouge:

Weight; 10-13

Went off the race as favourite last year. In both of his runs in the National he’s got round, with a 7th place and a 6th place, so his jumping skill is clearly not a concern. He’s still young, and got a lively chance.

Chase The Spud:

Weight; 10-12

Winner of the Midlands National last season, but had pulled up in both of his recent. He really relishes soft/heavy ground, so that could be necessary to his chances.

Warriors Tale:

Weight; 10-12

Placed 9 times out of 13 runs, so he’s got form, but isn’t one of the most experienced horses out there.


Weight; 10-12

He’s only run once since March due to a suspensory ligament issue, but returned with a third at Newbury. Stamina won’t be an issue, having more than proven himself with a third in the Scottish National back in April of 2016. Ground shouldn’t be an issue. Was sold just before the race, so that could be a good sign that he’s in good form.

Gas Line Boy:

Weight; 10-11

At 12 years old Gas Line Boy is one of the older horses in the race, which could be seen as a concern for some. He comes here off the back of a third place last time out, beating off some of the other horses entered in the Grand National. Won over the Grand National fences in September, beating Ultragold who has won his second Topham today.

The Dutchman:

Weight; 10-11

Mixed form this season after a trainer change to Colin Tizzard. Ground shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Last run in February so he should be quite fresh coming into this race.

Pleasant Company:

Weight; 10-11

Ground won’t be an issue after winning two races over just over 3 miles. His most recent win was in February 2017, where he beat Thunder And Roses and Baie Des Iles in a Grade 3 contest. Ran in this race last year, but had a bad mistake at Valentine’s in the second circuit.

Ucello Conti:

Weight; 10-10

Third run in this race. Best result was a 6th place finish in 2016. Last year ended in an unseating at the 2nd Becher’s. Pulled up last time out after a mistake over a jump. Provided he jumps well he could be a player.

Saint Are:

Weight; 10-10

Loves this course and this race, having placed twice in his last three runs in it. Both of his runs this season have ended in being pulled up, but it’s impossible to disprove his chances of placing based purely on his love for the course and the track.



Raz De Maree:

Weight; 10-09

One of four 13 year olds in the race this year. Won last time out, so he has some great recent form. Managed an 8th place finish in the race back in 2014. Ground may be a bit softer than what he prefers.

I Just Know:

Weight; 10-08

Proven stamina after he lead the entire way in his most recent win over 3m 6f. Doesn’t have as much course experience as most of the other horses do, which could be a concern.


Weight; 10-08

Has received a wind operation after two lesser runs this season. Because of this, he has not run yet in 2018, so he will certainly be fresh coming into this race. His last win came under a weight of 11-12, so he’s certainly got an easy time with his weight. Ground might be too soft for his liking.

Baie Des Iles:

Weight; 10-08

Shortening rapidly, and will probably be sent off favourite. She’s a 7 year old, a grey, and a mare being ridden by a woman jockey in the form of Katie Walsh. She’s attempting to break all the statistics. However, she is a good horse. Won a Grand National Trial when she was 6. She prefers the ground softer as well, which is definitely a positive. The only negative with her, is her lack of course experience.


Weight; 10-08

Didn’t seem to enjoy the fences in the 2015 Topham. Currently at 100-1, so a very outside chance.


Weight; 10-08

80-1 chance. Has only run once this year, and that was an unplaced effort in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival. Completed the Grand National in 2016 with a 13th place finish. Has never fallen whilst racing, so his jumping won’t be an issue.


Weight; 10-08

Disappointing last time out, with a 11th place finish back in January, but before that he was impressive when winning at Sandown. When he ran in the Grand National in 2016 his jumping was a bit iffy, but hopefully that won’t be an issue this time round.

Childrens List:

Weight; 10-08

Beat Edwulf back in 2016, but has only had two runs since then. A very inexperienced horse, and that could let him down over the tough Aintree fences. Pulled up last time out, which could give a clue about his form. His price of 80-1 is justified.

Lord Windemere:

Weight; 10-07

Won the Gold Cup all the way back in 2014. Has experience over these jumps with a 7th place finish in the 2017 Grand National, but fell last time out in the Becher Chase, which might effect his confidence over these fences.

Captain Redbeard:

Weight; 10-07

Going will not be an issue. Made mistakes when going over these fences back in December, when finishing 6th to Gas Line Boy. Won over hurdles last time out to freshen him up.

Houblon Des Obeaux:

Weight; 10-07

Ground won’t be an issue. Been over the fences before when finishing 10th in last year’s Grand National. Was 3rd last time out, but was pulled up in the race before that due to a mistake at one of the fences.

Bless The Wings:

Weight; 10-06

One of the 13 year olds, so he’s getting on a bit and will likely be beaten by a younger horse. Pulled up in the Irish National last time out, however he did beat Tiger Roll over the cross country course at Cheltenham in December.


Weight; 10-06

Will probably shorten, as he has Bryony Frost on board, ground shouldn’t be an issue. 2nd in the Midlands National last time out. His only win this season came in the Betfred Classic under a ride from Bryony Frost.

Final Nudge:

Weight; 10-06

Was third to Raz De Maree in the mud in the Welsh National. Last time out he came 9th in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. The only concern could be the fact that he has not run over the National jumps before, so his jumping might be a small concern.

Double Ross:

Weight; 10-06

A general 100-1 and ran well when 4th in the Kim Muir last time out. Was running well in the 2016 Grand National before a mistake at the 2nd Canal Turn where his jockey lost his irons.

Road To Riches:

Weight; 10-05

Hasn’t won since late 2015. He also hasn’t been over the National fences before, and the distance and going could be concerns for him.

Thunder And Roses:

Weight; 10-05

Was running well in this race last year before he was hampered by a loose horse and unseated his jockey at Valentine’s the first time around. His jumping can be questioned, as he’s fallen in his last two starts. Ground shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but it may effect his jumping even more.


Weight; 10-05

Ground could be an issue, as he’s never run on ground that’s worse than soft. His stamina could be an issue, as he weakened towards the end in the 4 mile Edinburgh National. However, that could be put down to a mistake at the 20th fence.

Walk In The Mill:

Weight; 10-04

Another 100-1 shot, he didn’t fire in the mud behind The Dutchman at Haydock. He hasn’t run over the National fences before, which again could be a concern. However, his jockey has good form over the National fences, which could help him a lot.

Personally, I think Vieux Lion Rouge could place or even win. His stamina might still be in question, but he seems to really enjoy these Aintree fences.

Aintree Day 1 Review

Image result for might bite aintree

(Might Bite, ridden by Nico de Boinville, on the way to winning the Betway Bowl Chase on day one of the 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse Picture by Tim Goode/PA)

Day 1 of the Aintree Grand National Festival brought us the classic ups and downs associated with the course. Some results were expected, others weren’t as much. It’s been a day of real excitement, whether you backed a winner or not. Unfortunately, as good as the racing was today, it was brutally stunted by the loss of J J O’Shea’s Lilbitluso in the Foxhunter’s Chase. The 10 year old fell at the Canal Turn when going well and he was fatally injured. He will be sorely missed by all involved with him.

The first race of the day was the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) over 2m 3Fs. It was won by none other than Finian’s Oscar (5/2) who promised such big things last year but lost his way over Christmas time. He beat Rene’s Girl (8/1), trained by Dan Skelton, by 2 lengths. Rene’s Girl was 2 lengths up going over the last but Finian’s Oscar clawed the mare back in the last 75 yards. The 33/1 shot Calino D’airy finished a further 3 lengths back in 3rd after passing the long-time leader, Cyrname (2/1F) who eventually finished 4th. Brain Power, a 5/2 shot, for Nicky Henderson exited the race at the 8th fence after a few dodgy jumps at the 2nd and 6th.

The second race was the Doom bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2M. The eagerly anticipated dual between two of Nicky’s star Juveniles, Apple’s Shakira and We Have A Dream set the stage. The end curtain closed with We Have A Dream (2/1) on top by 7 lengths. He comprehensively swept all his rivals aside and was very impressive despite being up with the pace for most of the race. Gumball (20/1), trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnstone, finished an unexpected 2nd, 10 lengths ahead of Henderson’s other runner, Apple’s Shakira (13/8F). The filly, Apple’s Shakira, ran freely for most of the race and was very much found wanting at the business end.

The third race was the infamous Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) over 3M. As expected, Might Bite, the fantastic 9 year old trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico De Boinville, won decisively from Bristol De Mai who definitely looked much better than he did at Kempton at Christmas time. There is no doubt that Might Bite was the best horse in the field today and he showed that on the track. Clan Des Obeaux (8/1) finished 3rd. Unluckily enough, the popular ‘red horse’ (especially in Liverpool), Definitly Red, unseated Danny Cook after an awful blunder. We were all cheering Danny on as he tried to cling onto the side of his mount, but gravity took control and they parted company.

The fourth race was the Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1). The favourite was Supasundae, the Stayers’ Hurdle 2nd from Cheltenham. He was the 11/10 favourite to win today but a certain ‘quirky’ little horse ended being the one obstacle he couldn’t get past. L’ami Serge (5/1), one of Nicky Henderson’s best ‘second place horses’, came flying down the near side after the last and was driven 3 lengths ahead of Supasundae. Clyne (25/1) was 3rd and did very well to finish there as he was taken along by the strong front runner, Diakail, who eventually finished 6th of 7. This race was an interesting one as the pace was frenetic and that didn’t suit a lot of them. It was very good to see L’ami Serge get his head in front though after 3 placings in top class races of late.

The fifth race was the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase over one circuit of the National Fences. Any race over the big fences is virtually impossible to call as anything could happen. The 7/2F Grand Vision, who usually jumps like a stag, came down at the same fence as the ill-fated Lilbitluso. However, the winner was Belnaslow (11/2) who was runner up in the race last year. He pulled 2 and a half lengths clear of Bear’s Affair (20/1) who was in front at the Elbow. Greensalt (66/1) was a good 3rd and looked to have a chance of winning at the elbow but faded once he was passed. Other notable finishers were On The Fringe (8/1) who was 5th and Unioniste (8/1) who was 7th.

The sixth race was the Red Rum Handicap Chase over 2M. The favourite was King’s Socks but he was pretty much out of the race after 5 out. The eventual winner was Bentelimar (10/1) who was coming back to the 2nd placed horse, Theinval (5/1), but kept on bravely to be in front by 3 lengths at the  line. Theinval was definitely coming for the leader in the dying strides but made very little impression overall. Gino Trail finished 3rd (18 lengths behind Theinval) after having lead for a long time.

The seventh, and final race was the Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) over 2M. The winner was the favourite, Getaway Katie Mai who was second to the Cheltenham Heroine, Relegate, in February. She didn’t go un-pestered though, Midnightreferendum (25/1) made sure she was kept up to her work all the way to the line. In the end, the favourite was always going to be on top, but she was pushed. 3rd place was Duhallow Gesture (10/1) for Anthony Honeyball. Disappointments in this race included: Dissavril (last) and Posh Trish (10th of 20).

Overall, today’s racing was very engaging. Might Bite continued to be impressive, We Have A Dream threw his name into the hat of the top Juveniles, L’ami Serge had his day in the sun at last and Guy Disney, the war veteran, made history by being the first amputee to ride over the National fences. Guy finished 12th on Gallery Exhibition.

Lets hope for another day of excellence tomorrow.

-Lois Davis

Aintree Grand National Festival – Friday Preview

Leopardstown Christmas Festival - Day One

By Gaurav (12/04/18)

Friday’s Selections:

Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle 

This is quite a difficult race to begin proceedings and is very much a race where each way betting comes heavily into play. STORM HOUSE has been fairly progressive in his hurdling career is and bred to travel at the distance. Despite this being his handicap debut, he seems to take well to the likely soft ground and has won two of his last starts. The record for the horses in the top of the market for this race doesn’t make good reading, Who Dares Wins, the market leader, ran well at Cheltenham but hasn’t won over hurdles since 2016 whilst questions remain over the Nicky Henderson trained Lough Derg Spirit. 

Betway Top Novices Hurdle

GLOBAL CITIZEN has had quite the career so far and looks a progressive sort who has took well to hurdling. He won a grade 2 at Kempton last time out and that form since has been franked with others going on to win. Vision Des Flos ran well at Cheltenham in a difficult race but questions remain regarding his best trip. Style De Garde was second in the Fred Winer and has each way claims, with Nicky Henderon having won this race 5 of the last 8 running’s but this seems a tougher test.

Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase

Terrefort was second to Shattered Love in the JLT at Cheltenham and has been a revelation since joining Nicky Henderson’s yard however questions remain over the step up in trip after tiring up the Cheltenham hill on heavy ground. ELEGANT ESCAPE , 3rd in the RSA at Cheltenham, won a grade 2 at Newbury in December, in similar conditions, beating Black Corton, who since has went onto better things however this looks a difficult task at the end of a heavy season for the Paul Nichols trained horse. Mia’s Storm jumped poorly at Kempton in December before falling and can’t be trusted whilst this might be just a little too difficult for Ms Parfois. 

JLT Melling Chase

Whilst Politologue has enjoyed a good season, the step back in trip is a concern as well as being up against a classy field, that is dominated by the front two in the betting who should fight this one out. Min has recovered from a blip at Christmas, by winning the Dublin Chase in February before finishing a credible second to Altior in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham however the step up in trip is of concern. BALKO DES FLOS was an emphatic winner of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, in difficult conditions, overturning odds on shot Un De Sceaux who has since won. That form has to be considered the best in the race and the 7 year old can get on top here.

Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase

A difficult puzzle, with the market leader Theatre Territory at 10/1 however the record for favorites in this race doesn’t read well. ULTRAGOLD won this race last season and then was second in the Grand Sefton at Aintree at December and is clearly a course specialist who should take to the conditions. Each way claims can also be made for BALLYALTON, who is on a competitive mark and ran on to place in the Plate Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. The Nicky Henderson trained O o Seven was 4th in this race last year but hasn’t won for 18 months whilst Poldiam has been poor on his last two outings.

Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

Santini is fairly short priced, considering he didn’t find much at Cheltenham, where he finished 3rd, behind stablemate Ok Corral who comes into the race with solid form in the book. The history of this race however suggests horses who ran difficult races at Cheltenham over the distance, may struggle to find one race more in them and with that in mind, the front two in the market should be swerved. CHEF DES OBEAUX was pulled up in the Albert Bartlett but it is worth giving him another chance and chalking off that run, having won on heavy ground at Haydock previously, in a sequence of 3 wins and looks the value in the race.

Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Danny Kirwan missed Cheltenham for this race and was impressive at Kempton last time out however seems very short in a difficult race which hasn’t been good for favourites in the past. PYM was second that day when giving him him weight but still ran well and stayed on. With level weights and officially rated better, the Nicky Henderson trained 5 year old can reverse the form. Servano won his only race easily, as did Arthur Mac but remain inexperienced.