Endless Possibilities At The British Racing School

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

The British Racing School at Newmarket is one of just two colleges specialising in horse racing in the country, the other being the Northern Racing College in Doncaster. Established in 1983, it teaches young people a wide range of skills to help them to be successful in the horse racing industry. Over the years, the likes of Paul Hanagan, Jason Weaver, Jason Watson, Oisin Murphy, Luke Morris, Tom Marquand and many others have passed through its doors and gone on to be very successful jockeys.

Sophy Scott only graduated from the British Racing School just over a year and a half ago and she is already Assistant Yard Manager at Mark Johnston Racing. Last week, she won the David Nicholson Newcomer Award at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. She spoke of the school and its contribution to her career in her acceptance speech, “When I arrived at the British Racing School, it felt normal and like I was at home. When you enjoy the work this much, it’s not really a job – being around horses is just great.”

I was lucky enough to be invited to the British Racing School to find out how the BRS helps so many young people forge a career in the racing world.

Like most colleges, there are a few initial requirements for potential applicants. Ideally, you have to weigh 10st7lbs when you start your course but it doesn’t really matter if you are a few pounds heavier as long as you are physically fit. Fitness is a huge part of working in racing. Work riders sometimes have to ride out more than four horses a day, requiring a great deal of strength and stamina. The interview process actually contains a fitness test, which is compromised of the Bleep Test, plank, squat and elastic band extensions. (For more information on these tests, head to the BRS YouTube channel.) Also, there is an English and Maths diagnostic test, which doesn’t affect whether the applicant earns a place there or not, to establish what level they are at. If a student hasn’t achieved a Grade C or above in Maths and English in their GCSEs, it is compulsory for them to do extra lessons of those subjects at the racing school. Lessons of this type are usually related to practical uses like weights for feeding and writing about/analysing races.

The Foundation Course at the BRS is designed for 16-22 year olds who are interested in a career in racing. After the course, the BRS will endeavour to find the successful student a full time position at a racing yard where they can continue their training. There are three variations of course on offer to possible students – a four week course for people who have previously worked on racing yards and want to gain their Foundation Qualification; a nine week course for people with basic horse experience who then learn how to ride racehorses for the first time and a fourteen week course for people with zero riding experience beforehand.

The British Racing School is like most other colleges in that the tuition is free and, in this case, accommodation and food fees are the only part that needs to be paid for. The costs are as follows-

• 9 or 14 week course- £562.50 + £100 refundable bond.

• 4 week course- £250 + £100 refundable bond

Applicants from families with an income of less than £35,000 a year are eligible a bursary. This reduces the cost of the residential fees by up to 80%, meaning that, a 14 week course would cost just over £100.

Because of this bursary scheme, The British Racing School is accessible to young people of all backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even seen a racehorse up close before you apply as long as you have an interest in the sport!

Two of the students kindly spoke to me about life at the BRS. Sixteen year old Aidan Redpath came to the BRS so he could make the first step to becoming a jockey and, from the looks of him in the saddle on the gallops, he has a big future ahead of him, so remember the name! Aidan had previous experience on racing yards before attending the BRS, “I started riding out back home in Scotland, just a small jump yard with sixteen horses, then I started to go down to Mark Johnston’s since I was fourteen and I’ve been riding out there since then.”

Aidan also had pony racing experience before moving on to riding racehorses. The BRS offers a pony racing course for younger riders. They run the ‘Pony Racing Academy’ which is a twelve week, completely free, course for young people aged 13-15 years, who want to take part in pony racing but can’t for various reasons, such as if they don’t have their own pony. The students receive tuition by the jockey coaches on the school’s ponies (who are lovely) and on race horse simulators.

You don’t just have to want to be a jockey to attend the BRS. I also spoke to Tim Went, who had no experience riding racehorses before the BRS and he has learnt lots of new skills, “You learn everything from yard work, so mucking out and doing up the yard, and you learn about grooming the horses as well and then how to ride them well.” Tim aspires to become a good work rider and eventually a travelling head lad. The BRS offers many courses, not just horse related ones, including book-keeping, accountancy and secretarial courses.

The typical day for the students would start at 6am, making it as much like a real yard as possible. They would feed the horses and muck out before going out to ride the first lot. Students are taught how to do the yard work and they organise the yard themselves. All the horses at the BRS are ex-racers of various abilities. They have some really good racehorses there like Goldream, a very speedy group winner and winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye, Kingsgate Native, multiple group one winner, and Our Vic, grade one winning chaser.

After breakfast, they ride out on the second lot at 9:30am. The facilities are incredible at the yard, which is why I think that they were extremely deserving of their outstanding OFSTED Rating! For the first few weeks of a fourteen week course, the students start in the indoor school and then progress to the outdoor one as they learn the basics. When considered ready, which changes from course to course, they move on to the round gallop and normally, by about week ten, they would ride out on the straight gallop.

The BRS does something that I think is brilliant: all the riders wear earpieces on the gallops, which the coaches can talk to them through. This benefits the students because they can work on the things they’re doing wrong at that time instead of in a classroom afterwards. Riding racehorses down the gallops for the first time can be scary so the earpiece communication can act as a comfort blanket and be able to prevent the riders panicking, which could lead to unnecessary injuries and falls.

A big part of a young people’s education at the BRS is learning the knowledge-based part of racing. They have lectures to enhance knowledge of horse racing, how to look after horses and the perception of racing in the wider world. A fun part of the course is when students take part in regular Best Turned Out competitions. They also learn life skills such as how to handle money and cook for when they’re living away from home. Also, something I think is beneficial is that they receive lectures about gambling awareness and the dangers of alcoholism.

So, my advice to anyone interested in attending the racing school would be – GO FOR IT! The staff were all so friendly and the facilities are absolutely excellent. Trust me, have a go because, with the BRS, the possibilities are endless!

For extra information, please visit the BRS website- http://www.brs.org.uk

I would like to thank all the staff and students at the British Racing School for being so friendly and hospitable. I had a brilliant day and loved seeing the school and meeting the horses.

Five selections for Naas

By Luke

Naas holds a eight race card with the first race off at 1:30. The first race is the Naas Rugby Club Maiden Hurdle over two miles. Fast Buck brings the best form into the race. He finished second behind Fakir D’oudairies at Cork. That was his first run for his new connections. It was also his first run for fifteen months. He should build on that first run and that would see him win the opener at Naas.

Race two off at 2:00

Race two is the Profile Systems Supporting Naas RFC Handicap Hurdle. Lignou finished sixth behind Konitho at Naas in late January. While Konitho may not have boosted the form since, other horses from the race have. The third, Star Max has since came out and won his maiden hurdle. The horse that finished a place behind Lignou, Quantatmental has also came out and won a Rated Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. I think Lignou may have more to come off a mark of 117.

Race three off at 2:30

Race three is the Paddy Power 6th Bet Free Novice Handicap Chase over two miles and four furlongs. Uisce Beatha bet Impact Factor at Fairyhouse last time out off level weights. On that occasion the race was over two miles and one furlong. Uisce Beatha stayed on from a long way off the pace to win. He now receives 8lb off Impact Factor. I think the step up in trip will really suit him and can hopefully lead to him confirming the form with Impact Factor.

Race four off at 3:00

Race four is the Paddy Power Onside App Novice Hurdle over two miles. Chosen Mate looks hard to oppose. He has run two good races over hurdles so far. He won his maiden hurdle on the first time of asking at Fairyhouse in late January. He has since finished second in a listed race at Punchestown behind a smart mare called Sinoria. The first two pulled ten lengths clear of the third. I think there is more improvement to come and I think he will be hard to beat.

Race five off at 3:35

Race five is the WhatOddsPaddy Chase over two miles. Cadmium looks very hard to oppose. He has run in some good Novice Chases this season. He finished fourth behind Delta Work in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse. He is the youngest horse in the race and is the only horse in the race that could be considered to be on an upward curve.

Champion Hurdle Preview

By Killian

This year’s Champion Hurdle looks very exciting on paper. Buveur D’Air is going in search of his third win the race. He has the opportunity to cement his place in the pantheon of great 2 mile hurdlers with the likes of Istabraq, Persian War and Hatton’s Grace. However this year he faces arguably his toughest opposition. Apple’s Jade and Laurina are going to put his domination of the race in huge danger. To many pundits the race is between these three horses and the market reflects this. Currently Buveur D’air is the slight favourite at best priced 2/1. I’m willing to oppose him and any of the Twiterati who follow me will know Laurina is my fancy.

The largely common view of Laurina is that she is short of pace and her jumping is not slick enough. Many of these people also thought Samcro was an almost certainty for the Champion Hurdle. Question marks about the strength of her form are also being raised. Laurina has only raced against mares and is yet to face geldings. She is unbeaten in seven starts and won the Mares’ Novices Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival by an astounding 18 lengths. It was visually the most impressive performance of the entire festival, in my opinion. This year she has won a basically pointless 2 runner race at Sandown and the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown on her most recent start. Physically Laurina is big, powerful mare with a long stride. Even though she received her flu vaccine before Punchestown Willie Mullins knew he had to run her in order to sharpen her up. His comments after the race emphasised this; she took a good blow and Ruby said she needed it badly. When he asked her to move up she moved up nicely, and did everything he asked her. She jumped a bit slow for my liking when she wasn’t on the bridle but when he gave her the office to go she sharpened up her jumping. Ruby said she was idling in front. She got her flu jab last week and we missed a week’s training. We had to take a pull, and I’m happy knowing how we would normally shape her training coming up to a race like this. In short she has a massive amount of improvement in her. Prior to the race she was rated 155. She carried six pounds more than the 145 rated Stormy Ireland, who is a good yardstick. Laurina managed to beat her easily by 6 lengths without being extended. Factoring in improvement Laurina is at least a 160 rated mare. To put some perspective on that, Buveur D’air was rated 169 in last year’s race. In hindsight it is doubtful if he actually ran to that mark. Melon was beaten a neck off 160 by him at level weights and the 156 rated Mick Jazz was 3l behind them. I think Buveur D’Air’s mark his actually inflated. The handicapper put him up to 172 after beating Samcro by 8l in the Fighting Fifth. That now looks ridiculous. Furthermore Verdana Blue rated 152, getting a seven pounds mares allowance, beat him narrowly at Christmas. Buveur D’Air is running nowhere near his lofty mark. We must remember that he was on a mark of 157 when he won his second Champion Hurdle and that was a weak race. In reality Buveur D’Air is at best a 165 horse and the British handicapping team seems to be giving absurd handicap ratings to the top horses. After all Cyrname is now the best horse in training. Both Laurina and Apple’s Jade will receive 7 pounds from Buveur D’Air. So to those suggesting Buveur D’Air has pounds in hand it appears that you need to do your homework.

I am sure you have noticed I left Apple’s Jade out of that handicapping debate. Undoubtedly she has the ability and is rated 165 in Ireland. My issue with Apple’s Jade is her mentality and running style. It is quite clear that she is a free going mare and normally she front runs. She can often get away with this style against weaker opposition. For example, she made all in the Lismullen and over 3m at Leopardstown during Christmas. I personally think her best trip is 2m 4f. For instance she was beaten by Rashaan in a WKD Hurdle at Down Royal and by Irving in a Fighting Fifth over 2m. At last year’s festival she finished a disappointing third in the Mares Hurdle when 1/2 favourite. It appeared that she ran too keen and wasted vital energy. To her credit she battled up the hill, but was passed by Midnight Tour and Benie Des Dieux. They had simply used their energy more efficiently. I think Jack Kennedy’s tactics are going to be crucial. In a way he is in a ‘catch 22’ situation. He knows he has to make use of her as she stays further than 2 miles, but at the same time he cannot go too fast. Also he is unlikely to get an easy lead. Will Charli Parcs be used to pester her? That is probably a very cynical view but it may occur. I really do not think Apple’s Jade will be able to burn off a field of this quality from the front. She is likely to set it up for hold up horses. Ruby Walsh is probably the most tactically astute jockey of all and he rides Cheltenham better than anyone. He is likely to track Barry Geraghty the whole way round. I am confident Laurina will be able cope with the pace due to her high cruising speed. As Willie as said her jumping is much better with a faster tempo. This may be a bold prediction but I think Apple’s Jade, Laurina and Buveur D’Air could jump the second last together. From my perspective I hope Laurina can then cross the line in front. Laurina is a general 7/2 shot which I think is reasonably fair. She might be pushed out to 5s on the day, so I would wait until then if you thinking of backing her.

Sharjah is next in the market and is probably overpriced. He won the Galway Hurdle off top weight and is on an upward curve. He has done nothing wrong since Galway and was impressive in both the Morgiana and Ryanair Hurdle. I can’t see him winning he could be one for each way punters and is available at 12/1. Melon has been awful this year and it is hard to see him being as close as last year. Espoir D’Allen will be ridden quietly and might be doing his best work late on. It would be quite a big shock if a horse from outside the front three in the betting wins this year’s renewal. I am really looking forward to the race and it promises to be a great spectacle. Let’s hope that all the main contenders get there in one piece.

 

Five selections for Fairyhouse

By Luke 

Fairyhouse holds a sevens race card with the feature race, the BetVictor Bobbyjo Chase off at 4:00. The race is named after the 1999 Aintree Grand National winner, Bobbyjo.

Alpah Des Obeaux was last seen when finishing second behind Invitation Only in the Thyestes in Gowran Park. Going back to November he finished second behind Kemboy. Kemboy has since came out and won the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. He looks to have the best form coming into the race.

Magic Of Light is an interesting runner. She finished third in the Troytown Chase. That is her best piece of form. She has since ran three times in England. She has won two of those runs and finished second in her other run. They were all races for just mares. Alpha Des Obeaux has the better form but she receives nearly a stone which could bring her into contention.

Rathvinden won last years National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his penultimate start. The form from that race has worked out well with the second Ms Parfois finishing sixth in the Ladbrokes Trophy. The third from the National Hunt Chase, Sizing Tennessee went on to win the Ladbrokes Trophy.

On his last start he was fortunate to finish fourth in Punchestown behind The Storyteller. He would have been further down the field if Al Boum Photo and Finian’s Oscar had of finished the race. Rathvinden is now eleven and this is his first start since that race in Punchestown last April. His main target will be the Aintree Grand National and whatever he does here he will improve for it.

It is hard to know what Outlander will turn up. He seems to run his best races at Leopardstown. He has to give weight to all his rivals. If he runs like he did at Leopardstown in the Savills Chase he could be in the mix.

Last years Aintree Grand National runner up, Pleasant Company has been disappointing so far this season. The ground this year has not suited him. His best form comes on heavy ground. He won this race in 2017 on heavy ground. On this good ground I don’t see him getting involved.

Valseur Lido hasn’t won since 2016. His best run this season was when he finished second behind Aplha Des Obeaux at Thurles. On that occasion he was receiving 10lb and he has not built on that run since.

Champagne Harmony has only finished one of his last seven races and I think it is fair to assume he won’t be getting involved in the finish.

I think Alpha Des Obeaux is the one to beat and Outlander could be the horse to follow him home.

Race one off at 1:40

Chavi Artist has finished third on his last two runs over hurdles. He finished thirteen lengths behind the talented City Island at Naas. That form would be good enough to win this contest.

Race two off at 2:15

Way Back Home won on the fourth time of asking over hurdles. He has form with Band Of Outlaws when he didn’t finish far behind him at Cork in December. He also has from with Surin and Garden of Babylon at Punchestown on New Years Eve. He has plenty of experience and I think he can prove hard to beat.

Race three off at 2:50

Polished Steel got his head infront on the fifth time of asking at Thurles last time out. He had previously run in a handicap hurdle when he finished fourth at Thurles. He has a light weight on his back and hopefully he can go close off a mark of 118.

Race four off at 3:25 

Emily Square won last time out over course and distance earlier this month. She has went up 9lb for that win and now runs off a mark of 101. I think she can prove to be better than her mark of 101.

Kempton Park Preview 23/2/19

By Samantha

Race 1- 888Sport Handicap Hurdle

ERICK LE ROUGE has won his last three and has gone up a whopping 22lbs since his win in class four company in October. He stayed on well to win last time out on Boxing Day and he gets 7lbs taken off by claimer Chester Williams, counteracting the top weight burden. Hopefully the handicapper hasn’t court up with him yet. Rhythm Is A Dancer could go well at a big price as well. He’ll be suited to the track and has a good weight.

Selections- Erick Le Rouge / Rhythm Is A Dancer (EW)

Race 2- 888Sport Pendil Novices Chase (Grade 2)

Secret Investor ran a good race last time out behind well regarded Ok Corral when a nasty blunder ended his chances. He was beaten nine lengths by BAGS GROOVE in November and the latter found Grade One company too hot last time and, despite carrying 5lbs more than Secret Investor, he can get back to winning ways.

Selection- Bags Groove

Race 3- 888Sport Take ‘Em On Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)

This is a really open contest with a lot of unexposed horses. PROTEKTORAT ran a decent race when getting tired behind the smart Fakir D’ Oudairies to be fifth. 10/1 looks a big price as Fusil Raffles is having his first run for Nicky Henderson but the filly Giving Glances could be a threat.

Selection- Protektorat

Race4- Sky Bet Dovecote Novices Hurdle (Grade 2)

ANGELS BREATH has been very much a talking horse of late and connections are on about Plan E, I would guess, for this horse’s Cheltenham preperation. He is well-fancied for the Supreme and he is currently unbeaten after demolishing a grade two field. Tokey Dokey is also unbeaten and could be a bit of value as he beat a horse of Jane Williams’ I like a lot on his second start. Can’t see him winning but has place claims.

Selection- Angels Breath

Race 5- 888Sport Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Top weight Double Shuffle is an excellent horse and this is a drop in grade for him from the grade one company he ran in last season. He has to give 9lbs to TALKISCHEAP though and I really fancy the Alan King horse in this. He followed in La Bague Au Roi on his first two chase starts and then won a two runner race earlier this year. He wasn’t beaten far last time and he looks a progressive chaser. Could be well treated.

Selection- Talkischeap

Race 6- 888Sport Bet 10 Get 30 Handicap Chase

Another Crick finally got off the mark at the end of 2018 and the form has been boosted. CONNA CROSS won over course and distance in April 2018 and he hasn’t ran that badly since. He is dropping to a winnable mark and was just beaten over further last time out so gets a tentative vote.

Selection- Conna Cross

Race 7- 888Sport Take ‘Em On Standard Open NH Flat Race

CHANTRY HOUSE was bought for a gigantic £295, 000 after beating a nice horse from the same ownership in a maiden point to point. He is a half brother to three winners so gets the nod. Logan Rocks brings in some consistent form into this, Faire Part Sivola won nicely on debut but may not have my selection’s class and Enrillo is dropping in class so he’s a threat but he’s penalised for that.

Selection- Chantry House

Devon National Day Preview

Midnight

PC: Dawson City after winning the 2018 Devon National at Exeter Racecourse

 

By Lois

 

1- 2:05 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier)

2- 3:45 GG Fast Results Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier)

3- 4:20 Healthy Pets Devon National Handicap Chase

 

1) The Pertemps qualifier sees a competitive race, which always ends up happening with these contests. The trip is just shy of 3 miles, and the going is Good to Soft. The favourite is currently Dragon D’Estruval for Nicky Henderson and Daryl Jacob. This 6-year-old is to have only his fourth run in Britain and his second crack 3 miles. He disappointed last time over 3 miles when finishing 7th of 12 behind the likes of Aux Ptits Sions, De Name Evades Me, Rockpoint and the winner, Vive Le Roi. He was 11/4 joined favourite that day but weakened away after 2 out, perhaps not quite getting the trip. However, his last run was much more promising over 2 miles 4 furlongs when finishing 3rd in a competitive Handicap Hurdle. There could be more to come over 3 miles, but he is a very weak favourite in my eyes. The next horse I want to look at is Boyhood. Tom George’s runner is a consistent horse who’s form figures read 141-2. His most recent appearance saw him come second to First Assignment who went on to be a close 3rd behind Shades of Midnight, last Saturday’s Rendlesham Hurdle hero and the Staying division’s most promising contender, Paisley Park. His form has panned out very well, and if he is up to it, he should have a chance. Another to look at is Robin Waters for Dan Skelton. He is a lightly raced 6-year-old who has shown considerable ability. His last run saw him finish a remote 2nd of 2 in a Novice Chase at Aintree. However, he may be excused for that as he bled from the nose and lost a shoe in-running. Now back to hurdles, with a recent wind op on his side, he may have a chance considering his 6th of 20 in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (grade 1) at the Cheltenham Festival last year. He’s a promising horse who may be best watched this time. Emma Lavelle has a runner in this field, Flemcara, who bounced back to form when 3rd of 16 in a hot Handicap Chase (grade 3) last time out. On his return to hurdles (for the first time since March last year), he seems to have a strong chance, although he would love the ground to be softer. Thomas Campbell is another interesting horse in this race who is returning to 3 miles after finishing 4th of 6 in the Relkeel Hurdle in January behind Midnight Shadow, Wholestone and Old Guard. 3 miles will suit him, and now he’s back to hurdles he should have no jumping concerns. 8/1 seems a good price for this horse as he could potentially go close if on his A-game. The highly in form team, Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden have Divin Bere who is trying 3 miles for the first time. This new trip could see him improving on but it’s hard to see him putting his head in front here. Other horses in the field include: For Good Measure (hasn’t won since 2015 but comes back to hurdles to try to change that), Buckhorn Timothy (won last time out but needs to justify a 5lb rise and improve on from that performance- workable), Culture De Sivola (showed great improvement in 2018, taking a couple of nice prizes, but needs to continue that progression to be involved here), Bailarico (first time in a handicap which could command improvement after River Don Hurdle flop), Minella Rocco (2nd in the 2017 Gold Cup but hasn’t performed since then- hard to vouch for), Poker Play (hasn’t won since 2016- hard to see this race being any different) and Lord of The Island (2nd run after a lay off of over a year- could be more in the locker but hardly convincing last time out).

1st Boyhood

2nd Thomas Campbell

 

 

2) The next race on the card I want to look at is the GG fast results Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, a qualifier for the challenger Mares’ Hurdle Series Final. The favourite is Annie Mc, a very popular mare on social media. She was an 18-length winner last time out at Chepstow (five weeks ago). However, she does have to cope with a mammoth 10lb rise at joined top weight (11st 10lbs). Connections think the world of this mare, she could go far. Next in the market is Aimee De Sivola for Nick Williams and Lizzie Kelly. This mare is having her first start in Handicap company but is very much open to improvement at a good weight. Another horse to mention is Love Lane. Henry Oliver’s mare was a winner here last year and is coming off of the back of two wins in handicap company. She’s one to watch. Dino’s Benefit is next. She was desperately unlucky in a qualifier for this division last time out, having been only touched off by a nose after drifting left. She carries joined top weight after receiving a 3lb rise for her effort last time. One to consider for each way chances. Giveaway Glance was disappointing behind some top-class Mares in December, but before that had shown considerable promise. I think she’s up against it this time but may be one to watch in future handicap competitions. Other horses in the race include: The Kings Baby (not performed since leaving Ireland, unlikely to show enough improvement to win here), Awesome Rosie (been off the track since last June when racing well below average- not backable), Vue Cavaliere (British debut will NEED to eek more out of this horse to be involved) and Legend Lade (currently completely out of form with no win since 2016- 40/1 seems kind).

1st Annie Mc

2nd Dino’s Benefit

 

 

3) The Devon National is the big race of the day at Exeter and is a 16-runner competition. Probably isn’t as strong of a race this year than in previous years, but still interesting, nonetheless. The current favourite is Jepeck, Anthony Honeyball’s 10-year-old. He was 3rd in this last year behind Dawson City who re-opposes. His win at Ffos Las last time out for his new stable creates serious respect in this contest. Next in the market comes an unexposed gelding of Richard Mitford-Slade’s yard, Samuel Jackson. He was fortunate to get off the mark over fences last time when the leader came down at the second last fence but remains an interesting prospect over this distance having never gone this far before. The runner up of the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen, Zerachiel, comes here having not run since. Its interesting that he hasn’t yet managed to complete a race over 3 miles 6 furlongs but based on his last performance he could be in with a chance here if managing this time. Seamus Mullins sends I See You Well to this race after falling five out in the Sussex National at Plumpton when going nicely in 3rd.  He has 5lb claimer, Daniel Sansom on board and, if he can perform like he did last time, could be up there in the closing stages, providing he stays on all fours. Calin Du Brizais was 2nd in the race that I See You Well came to grief in and is a highly consistent performer. However, he does struggle to get his head in front and could find this race difficult if he decides to jump left again. Courtown Oscar is a horse who was beaten a long way when put back over hurdles after 14 months off the track. If he can reproduce his efforts from late 2017, he could be a player, but his last race doesn’t fill me with enormous confidence in him. Next up is Aurillac who was 4th behind Samuel Jackson in a Novice Chase at Exeter in January. He looks to be up against it here. Popular grey chaser, Unioniste reappears here after winning three hunter chases last season. This is his first time back in handicap company for considerable time and may find this too competitive. Last year’s winner, Dawson City, is back here after a good 7th of 20 in the Grade 3 Coral Welsh National. He was ridden too far back that day, so could have finished further up the field. Nonetheless, he is worth considering this time despite being 4lbs higher this year. Other horses in this race include: Le Boizelo (loves Exeter and could have an E/W squeak if handling the trip), Chic Name (won a very similar race at Perth last April- if back to that form, he could be a player), Sandy Beach (hasn’t been the same since his come back win after a wind operation- unlikely to come back to life here), Another Venture (only in his second season of chasing- could be a nice prospect in time), Dancing Shadow (been poor this season, no reason to think he’ll figure) and Mountain of Mourne (a maiden over fences still- 100/1 tells the story of his chances).

1st Dawson City

2nd I See You Well

3rd Calin Du Brizais

 

 

Feel free to send in your picks for the races discussed and your reasons for them, I would love to hear what you think of this small, but competitive race meeting that is very close to my heart!

Thanks for reading!

Four selections for Dundalk

By Luke 

Dundalk’s eight race card gets underway at 5:00 with the Irish Stallion EBF Fillies Maiden. I like Closer Now for Jim Bolger. She has only had the one run. She finished fifth in a maiden at the Curragh. That run was in late August, if she is ready I think she will be hard to beat.

Race two off at 5:30

Race two is the Bruce Betting Download the App Handicap over one mile. I like Hasselnott. He has run at Dundalk four times this winter, he hasn’t been out of the first four in those four runs. He won on his first run at Dundalk off a mark of 71, he now runs off a mark of 73. I think he can get his second win at Dundalk in this contest.

Race three off at 6:00

Race three is the Irish Stallion EBF Median Auction Maiden. I like Jered Maddox. He finished second here last time out. That was his first run since November. I think there is improvement to come and this looks a good opportunity for him to go one better.

Race five off at 7:00

Race five is the Carnberg Hotel and Spa Handicap over seven furlongs. I like Very Smart. She has run twice at Dundalk this winter and she has finished third and fourth. She finished a short head behind Crest Of A Wave when receiving 4lb. She still receives 4lb but now also gets another 3lb because of Killian Leonard’s claim.I think this can lead to Very Smart reversing the form.

 

Interview with Keith Donoghue and Davy Condon

By Luke

Yesterday I was lucky to have been in Gordon Elliot’s yard. While I was there I asked Keith Donoghue and Davy Condon some quick questions.

Keith won his first Grade one this year. He rode Hardline to victory at Limerick on St Stephen’s Day at Limerick. The next day he broke his nose and fractured his eye socket after a fall off Burren Life.

His first Cheltenham Festival winner came last season when he rode Tiger Roll to victory in the Cross Country Chase. Tiger Roll was Keith’s first winner since the injury at Limerick. He won the Boyle hurdle on Sunday at Navan.

Who was your first winner?

My first winner was for Gordon in Listowel, Nino Cochise.

Who is your favourite horse?

It would have to be Tiger Roll.

IMG_7324Photo  Healy Racing

If there was one horse you could have in the yard that isn’t trained by Gordon who would it be?

It would probably have to be Altior.

I also asked Davy Condon two questions. Davy was a former jockey. He was forced to retire in 2015. His last ride was on Portrait King in the Grand National in Aintree. Davy now works in Gordon Elliot’s yard.

Davy’s first winner was aboard Slaney Boy in a handicap at Tramore. Davy won the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle aboard Ebaziyan. He also won the Fred winter aboard Flaxen Flare in 2013.

IMG_7323Photo Healy Racing

Is there anything that can be done to get more younger people into racing?

Definitely, if there was more advertisement in the schools, saying there would probably be jobs on summer holidays. I know when I was in secondary school I found out through leaflets being handed out for the Race Academy in Kildare. Advertisements from trainers around for when pupils are on school holidays saying there would be jobs in racing yards would be a good help.

Is there any ways to get more younger people going racing?

Youth Clubs could be set up through the schools. Especially during the summer holidays there should be youth clubs through the schools, bus loads to go racing.

Grand National Trial Day Review

By Lois

 

Race 1:

Race one was made out to be a two-horse race, between Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin, and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Torpillo. Both horses had shown tremendous amounts of ability beforehand, but yesterday was very much about whether Torpillo could match up to the known quantity of Quel Destin. As seen, he could not cut it. The Nicholls horse went off the 4/6F after considerable support and ended up justifying that price in style. He led after the third flight and was never headed thereafter. In the end, Torpillo ended up finishing 4th of 4 after an error prone round of jumping. I feel he will be better once his jumping is up to scratch as he looked like he could be involved coming to 2 out, but he was in no way able to match the best horse on the day. Capone (20-1) was Quel Destin’s nearest rival, 6 length back in second place. He ran promisingly considering the fact he dramatically over raced and got himself worked up. A further 10 lengths behind him saw Fanzio (66-1) who didn’t run disgracefully all things considered, but was clearly not good enough to be involved, not to say he won’t improve on for the run. Quel Destin’s next target is the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, providing everything goes right.

 

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Quel Destin coming in after his victory

 

Race 2:

The second race saw a competitive Listed mares Hurdle, with a few popular contenders. When writing my review, confidence was there for the Henderson Mare, Laskadine, but once the race come along, her odds drew longer and longer. She ended up going off at 11/4, and her performance mirrored the feeling around the track about her. She put up a highly lackluster performance, with no obvious excuse. Perhaps she found it all happening too quick around Haydock, but it was hard to tell. Conversely, she may have just struggled to match up to the class of the rest of the field. The eventual winner was the ever-popular, Jester Jet, who managed to break her 5-race long 2nd place streak but she did need to fight hard to get it. Jester Jet, and the prominently raced, If You Say Run, were locked in battle along the final furlong, resulting in Tom Lacey’s mare coming out on top by a neck. Both mares have huge potential, having both been placed in listed and graded company before yesterday. Jester Jet’s connections have the Coral Cup in mind for her at Cheltenham, however they are keen to mix and match her hurdling and fencing abilities throughout the season. If You Say Run’s next target is unclear, but I’m sure they’ll look at something at the festival, perhaps the Mares Hurdle?

 

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Jester Jet after winning

 

Race 3:

Race three was the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, where the favourite flopped. Yanworth (11/8F), coming back off almost a year off the track, found it all too hot at the end of the race when Aidan Coleman asked him for his effort 3 out. It’s hard to say whether he under-performed due to fitness levels or whether he’s not the force of old. I think his next race, wherever that may be, will shine a light on that. He currently has an entry in the Stayer’s Hurdle at the festival but is a 40-1 shot, out from 20/1 after pulling up yesterday. Moving on from Yanworth, I suppose we should talk about the 8-length winner, Shades of Midnight who was ultra-impressive on the day. Sandy Thomson’s 9-year old came on leaps and bounds from his last hurdle race, where he was pipped home by Paisley Park (who now looks to be inferior to all in the division), to absolutely destroy his rivals yesterday. Shades of Midnight was always to the fore, and was able repel the challenge of Kilcooley, who was returning to the racetrack after an absence of approximately 1066 days, meaning his stamina ran dry very quickly in the closing stages, allowing Petticoat Tails to run on from a mile back to claim 2nd place by a neck. By then, the winner had strode clear and wasn’t for catching. Shades of Midnight doesn’t currently have an entry in the Stayer’s Hurdle at Cheltenham, or indeed any entries at the festival, but is under consideration for the 3 mile hurdle at Aintree if the ground comes up soft enough or the Scottish National.

 

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An exhausted, Shades of Midnight after winning the Rendlesham

 

Race 4:

The Novice chase of the day saw only 4 of the 8 completing. The favourite, Scorpion Sid unseated Gavin Sheehan at the 3rd fence, blowing the contest wide open. In the end, the horse carrying the lightest weight in the race prevailed after a dramatic exit by Slanelough at the last fence when coming to challenge. The Paddy Pie kept on gamely to win by a length from the staying-on Wilde Blue Yonder after his nearest rival crashed out most unluckily. Wilde Blue Yonder might be better over further, I believe, whereas The Paddy Pie is one who needed the line yesterday. Both are fine novice chasers, but you must feel for Slanelough, who would have been well in the mix had he not come crashing down. The Paddy Pie does not currently have any future entries.

 

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The Paddy Pie cooling off after his win

 

Race 5:

The fifth race was the highly competitive, Pertemps Qualifier Handicap Hurdle. The race was so open, it had 3 co-favourites, all at 5/1. They were Silva Eclipse, Champers On Ice and Down The Highway. However, in the end, none of them were victorious, they finished 2nd, 4th and 8th. The winner came in the form of Nicky Martin’s 10-year-old, Sykes (11/1). Sykes ran out a very gutsy win after making all and battling off Sue Smith’s 6-year-old, Silva Eclipse. One would assume that both Sykes and Silva Eclipse will head to the Pertemps at the Festival, however, neither currently hold any future entries. Other horses to take out of the race would be the 3rd placed horse, Burrow’s Park. Despite being 3 1/2 lengths down from the front two, Burrow’s Park ran a very eye-catching a race to finish 3rd in this step up in company. Another to mention is the 5th placed horse, Blaklion. He may not have been in the top 3 yesterday, but it was a great trial run for Aintree in April, where, if he runs, is due to carry 10st 11lbs. He also has an entry in the Gold Cup in March, but it’s highly unlikely that he will take part there.

 

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Sykes after the Pertemps Qualifier

 

Race 6:

The sixth race was the big race of the day, the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Grade 3). The eventual winner, Robinsfirth, ran out a very convincing winner, after threading through the middle of both Ramses De Teillee and Chef D’Oeuvre. The close finish was an absolute thriller, as it seemed that the well fancied, Ramses De Teillee would actually win a race away from his favourite track, Chepstow. However, it was not to be, as Robinsfirth came from the clouds to sweep through and take the win. The trip was new to Robinsfirth and it was thought that it would see him utilized to the best of his ability, which they very much succeeded in. He stayed the distance really well and looked to be able to go even further. However, ironically enough, he does not have an entry in the National and the owners are keen to swerve Aintree. Instead, he could go for the Ultima at Cheltenham or and Scottish National. The second placed horse, Ramses De Teillee, has been allotted 10st 5lbs for the national and is not guaranteed a run at this point, but if he does get in, he’d be one to watch out for. The third placed horse, Chef D’Oeuvre, was well-held by the front two in the end, but ran a great race at a price of 12/1. He seemed to flatten out towards the finish after rallying to challenge Ramses De Teillee, meaning he should probably be played late if running over the marathon distances. Chef D’Oeuvre doesn’t have a National entry, but is in the Eider Chase at Newcastle on the 23rd that will probably come up too quick to take part in. Perhaps he’s another one for the Scottish National? The other three finishers, Royal Vacation, Yala Enki and Bishop’s Road all seemed to struggle this time around and found that the front three got the trip much better. Bishop’s Road is an interesting horse as he went all-out for much of the trip and did very well to finish considering how much energy he must have exerted early. He does not have a Grand National entry.

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Robinsfirth after his thrilling victory in the National Trial

 

Race 7:

The Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) was comprehensively demolished by Rebecca Curtis’ Lisnagar Oscar, an ex- Irish pointer. He showed great improvement here to win at his second crack at 3 miles. His first attempt saw him finish 2nd to Rockpoint in a Grade 2, meaning it was only a matter of time until he won his own, which he managed yesterday. He was a 10-length winner and he was very impressive. Sean Bowen had a push button job coming down to the last as he tanked on past Ask Ben who had gone for home. Ask Ben ran a very good race in 2nd considering he was significantly stepping up in grade, from a class 4 novice hurdle, to a class 1, grade 2 race. He’s a horse to look out for and I have no doubt he’ll be winning his own graded race soon enough. Kateson was a disappointing 7th of 9. He raced keenly, made a couple critical errors and didn’t seem to stay out the trip in the end. I wouldn’t give up on him, however, he’s a talented horse but he may be better over a shorter trip. Lisnagar Oscar is currently 10/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novice’s Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, Ask Ben is 20/1 and Kateson is 33/1.

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Lisnagar Oscar after his win

 

Race 8:

The Walrus Open Hunters’ Chase is the race I have the least to say about. The Even money favourite, Road To Rome, trained by JJ O’Shea and ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, made all and drew further and further clear after 4 out, resulting in an unchallenged, 34 length victory. Nothing could touch him. His nearest challenger was Ballotin for a long time, but he faded badly after attempting to go with the prolific Road To Rome. Ballotin ended up in 4th place. Sybarite (50/1) stayed on for 2nd after jumping poorly and hanging badly left in the closing stages. The popular, Pacha Du Polder, was never better than midfield throughout and found it all happening too quickly to handle. However, he can be excused as it was his first run since March of 2018 when winning at the Cheltenham Festival. He was looked after by Harriet Tucker yesterday and will most probably go back to Cheltenham next month. Road To Rome has no current future entries.

 

All photos are my own (@lowy121)

Five selections for Navan

By Luke 

After yesterdays three winners from four selections I have a look at Navan’s card.

The feature race at Navan is race two on the card. The Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne hurdle off at 2:20. Six runners go to post for this contest. The current favourite is Off You Go ridden by Mark Walsh. He won a competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival last time out. He steps up from handicap company into this Grade two contest. He is a horse who is improving all the time. He is my idea of the winner.

Bachasson won on seasonal debut at Punchestown on New Years Eve. On that day Darasso finished second, he has since won this weekend at Gowran. While Bachasson may have won he was receiving 8lb of the second and third at Gowran.

Coquin Mans probably needs softer ground than this. He has never run on anything better than yielding. This looks a stiff task for him.

Cracking Smart was a smart novice hurdler last year. He missed the Cheltenham Festival last season due to injury. He ran at Christmas and was beaten a long way by Apple’s Jade. He was off the racetrack along time before that run. He needs to improve to be in mix but I wouldn’t rule him out of doing so.

This will be Tiger Roll and Bless The Wings prep race before the Cheltenham Festival in March. Both will presumably go for the Cross Country Chase. I think Tiger Roll will take a lot of beating at Cheltenham.

Off You Go will hopefully get his head infront and I think Cracking Smart will follow him home.

Race one off at 1:50

Race one is the Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Maiden Hurdle over two miles. This looks a great opportunity for Raya Time to get his head infront. On his penultimate start at Leopardstown he finished behind City Island and Dallas Des Pictons. Both have since came out and won.

I don’t think he ran his race last time out when finishing third. He was keen in the early parts of the race. A return to the form of his Leopardstown would see him win this.

Race three off at 2:55 

Race three is the Adare Manor opportunity handicap hurdle. I like Mystique Heights with Ricky Doyle in the saddle. He won last time out at Naas over two miles. The third, Eviscerating has since came out and won at Naas last weekend. I think he can go well off a mark of 100.

Race four off at 3:25

Race four is the Ladbrokes Acca Boosty Ten Up Novice Chase over three miles. This race sees the rematch between Champagne Classic and Chris’s Dream . They ran against each other at Naas. Chris’s Dream finished ahead of Champagne Classic on that occasion.

That was Champagne Classic’s first run over fences and also his first run since April 2017. He is likely to improve from that run. He was a better hurdles than Chris’s Dream and I think he will be a better chaser than him. I think Champagne Classic will reverse that form and get his head infront here on the second time of asking over fences.

Race six off at 4:30 

Race six is a Mares Handicap Hurdle over two miles and four furlongs. I like Smiling Eliza for Gordon Elliot and Jack Kennedy. She ran a promising race at the Dublin Racing Festival. She finished fifth behind the smart Sassy Diva. The extra two furlongs is a plus and hopefully she will get her head infront.