Ladbrokes Trophy Chase Preview 2019

Elegant Escape was second last year. (JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

An early season highlight is always the Ladbrokes Trophy, the old Hennessy, at Newbury. It acts as the feature contest of the whole Ladbrokes Winter Carnival meeting. In the past, it has been won by the likes of Smad Place, Denman, Many Clouds, One Man and Teeton Mill. There are twenty four runners taking their chances for the £142,375 prize.

The current favourite is Ok Corral from the Nicky Henderson stable. He’s a second season novice and ran three times over fences last season, after coming second in the Albert Bartlett. He won at Plumpton in December, beating the subsequent Warwick Classic Chase winner, and he ran on that card as well. I was there and he put up a really good performance in the listed novices’ chase. Last time, he pulled up in the National Hunt Chase but that was a horrific race. He’s better than that.

The Nicky Henderson yard also have Brave Eagle, On The Blind Side and Beware The Bear. The former and the latter both have 11st10 to carry. Brave Eagle isn’t particularly exposed and he has a tremendous record, winning nine of his fourteen starts. He won at Haydock and Uttoxeter in the summer on good ground. He’s won on heavy but could prefer better ground. Beware The Bear loves Cheltenham. He won there in January and then in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival. He pulled up last time and makes his seasonal debut. He has a large weight. On The Blind Side kept very good company last year. He was behind Lostintranslation in January, pulled up in the RSA and then came second in a grade two hurdle. He came fourth at Ascot behind Vinndication, Regal Encore and Black Corton. He’s always been liked.

Beware The Bear (left) Has Won At The Cheltenham Festival (JTW Equine Images)

Henderson’s biggest training rival Paul Nicholls has Yala Enki. The horse will be having his first run for the stable as he previously was with Venetia Williams. A nine year old, Yala Enki is a proper classy handicapper. When last seen, he was seventh, one place behind Elegant Escape, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, beaten just 30 lengths. He goes on most grounds and always runs a game race. His old trainer has bottom weight Commodore. The seven year old won a decent contest at Sandown in March and has had a pipe opener in a chase at Bangor since. He only carries 10st1.

Regal Encore was third a couple of years ago and last time was a huge improvement from the run before. He followed in Borice in the Galway Plate. Borice goes in the double green of Simon Minor and Isaac Souede for Irish maestro Gordon Elliot. The horse hasn’t been seen since but won’t Perth and Uttoxeter before that. He’s only eight and has had wind surgery since. Willie Mullins has two horses as well. Cabaret Queen has Paul Townsend on board and this mare has ran just twice for Mullins as she used to be with Dan Skelton. She was second on her first start and then won over three miles on heavy ground easily at Limerick so will definitely stay. Their other runner is Yorkhill. The quirky chestnut won at the Galway Festival and was fourth in a grade two last time. He’s had his issues and it would be a fairytale for him to win.

Two Taffs (left) Is An Interesting Runner (JTW Equine Images)

Dan Skelton is represented here with Two Taffs. He’s a listed winner and so consistent. He ran at Wetherby on the back of a 735 day break and ran very well. This was behind The Worlds End and Unowhatimeanharry, who ran creditable races behind Paisley Park. He’s an interesting runner.

Colin Tizzard is a man in hot form right now. He won this race in 2016 with Native River, a subsequent Gold Cup winner, and Sizing Tennessee last year. Elegant Escape came second in that race, beating Dingo Dollar, Beware The Bear and stablemate West Approach. After that, this year’s top weight won this Welsh National in December; second at Cheltenham in January; sixth in the Gold Cup; sixth to Kemboy at Aintree and then, on seasonal debut, he came second to Ballyoptic in the Charlie Hall. He’s a ideal type for a race like this. Dingo Dollar was fancied for the race last year but is yet to put in a winning performance since. He was third over this course in a Pertemps Qualifier so he’s probably looking at a tilt in the National.

Elegant Escape Is Fancied By A Few Members Of The Team (JTW Equine Images)

The next one if Tizzard’s to mention is West Approach. Thai horse is brother to the mighty Thistlecrack and he’s never lived up to his heights and, because of that, he’s disappointed many people. Robbie Power showed off cool-as-a-cucumber hold up techniques on this horse last time and they were successful at Cheltenham. He seems to be a horse who relishes passing horses and Robbie Power keeps the ride. The trainer-jockey combination are oh so hot at the minute. On seasonal reappearance, arguably, Power took him to the lead too soon allowing David Bridgewater’s The Conditional to overtake. The horse was brought from Ireland, where he won just once, and ran at Worcester in a novice chase, where he came third. Last time at Cheltenham, he didn’t jump the best at the second last but he battled on gamely. He’s a really lovely model of a horse and he enjoyed the trip. He likes a lot of cut. I fancy The Conditional to confirm the form with West Approach and come out on top!

Mister Malarky has Jonjo O’Neill Jr on board and Tizzard is increasingly using him. This horse was extremely progressive last season. He won a grade two at Ascot in February and came fourth in the RSA. He then came second in a grade three handicap on the back end of last season. He ran a very poor race in a grade three last time and that is a cause for concern. Robinsfirth is ten but has ran thirteen times to date. He won a grade three in December 2017 and hadn’t been seen untilcoming second to Wakanda in the Peter Marsh. Last season, in February, he won the Grand National Trial and the form has been franked. Sean Bowen keeps the ride.

Neil Mulholland has two big priced runners. Shantou Village unseated when traveling well at Listowel in the Kerry National in September. He’s got more letters by his name that numbers lately. Watt dropped to an easier mark and won at Taunton by a neck earlier in the month. He remains on an unchanged mark. David Pipe has Daklondike, who was in great form in 2017 but has, again, had a lot of letters next to his name recently. Last December, he did win at Haydock in the Tommy Whittle.
Female trainers Emma Lavelle and Rebecca Curtis have one runner each. Emma Lavelle has already been in the winners enclosure at this meeting with Paisley Park on day one. De Rasher Counter was seen schooling here a few weeks ago and she jocks up Ben Jones to ride the horse. The young rider claims 5lbs and is great value. The horse won in March and was sixth over hurdles on his reappearance. He’ll be better for it. Rebecca Curtis’s yard is doing well and she has Joe Farrell. He won the Scottish National in 2018 and then didn’t run until coming sixth and second in March. After that, he pulled up in the National and at Sandown. He was third in a strong race, beating Regal Encore, and is a good horse on his day.

Le Musee ran well over the summer and won at Perth in September. At that track, he was pulled up behind Soupy Soups over a little bit shorter than this. Some Chaos completed a double at the start of the year and was fourth behind Ramese De Teillee I’ve hurdles on seasonal reappearance.

In conclusion, I am going with THE CONDITIONAL. I was extremely taken with him at Cheltenham on the last time he ran. On Friday, he was about 20/1 which is so ridiculous! He’s definitely worth a bit each way! Also, Borice could run a big race as I think the wind op will benefit him massively. Two Taffs is very interesting and you can’t discount the Willie Mullins mare Cabaret Queen.

Rest Of The Team’s Selections

Lois – Elegant Escape
Luke – Elegant Escape
Niamh – The Conditional

Reserve Tank Is One Of Samantha’s 20 To Watch (JTW Equine Images)

Rest Of The Card

12:05- Floressa

This mare ran into Silver Forever at this course last time but the grey is penalized so I prefer Floressa.

12:40- Reserve Tank

Only three horses run in this race and Reserve Tank completely out-classes them. If he can stay on his feet, it should hopefully be an easy win.

13:15- Jerrysback

This horse was a decent novice last term and came third in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

13:50- Star Of Lanka

He won twice around this time last year and ran in good company after that. He was a good second last time and promising claimer Ben Jones rides.

14:25- Elvis Mail

Apparently this horse is well thought of and he’s only a five year old so is open to more improvement. He ran very smartly last time.

15:00- The Conditional, Borice & Two Taffs

15:40- Chesterfield-

I’ve always liked this horse. He’s won over fences before and he ran creditably last time behind Hell’s Kitchen.

Ladbrokes Winter Carnival Day One Preview

Paisley Park (JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival meeting always throws up some good performances and the feature race on day one is the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle. On offer there are some established stars as well as horses for the future.

The first race on the card is the Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ National Hunt Maiden Hurdle (12:15). Lostintranslation won this race in 2017 and Colin Tizzard has one representative Katahdin but I don’t think that horse will win this. Harry Fry has an unbeaten horse in the race called King Roland. He won a point to point and then his bumpers by a combined twenty three lengths. He could be anything. Evan Williams is in good form and he has Coconut Splash. He has been seen once under rules and appeared a bit novicey but only got beaten a short head. The other horse to note is Son Of Camas. He ran in the Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown but was last when fancied. He won by two lengths over course and distance, however I’m not convinced by him. I’m going to go with KING ROLAND.

The next race is the Ladbrokes Chase (12:45) and it is a novices’ limited handicap. Eight runners got to post and Southfield Stone has 11st13 to carry. He’s been second to Litterale Ci and Brewin’upastorm on both chase starts and the weight makes his chances seem slim. Encore Champs was second on his sole chase start and he was beaten by a better horse that day. Champagne City has never ran over fences and FANION D’ESTRUVAL has never ran in the UK before. He’s a dual winner over fences and joins the Venetia Williams yard. He’s only a four year old and definitely could be anything. West To The Bridge blundered at two out and could never get close to Kapgarry at Wetherby after that. He’d probably have ran better than that without the mishap.

Race number three is the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Novices’ Hurdle (13:20). Eleven horses take their chances. Nicky Henderson has took this race twice in the past three years and has Grand Mogul and It Sure Is. The former looks the pick on jockey bookings. The horse hasn’t been seen for 362 days when winning a bumper around Thurles by eight lengths for Gordon Elliot. He’s having his first run for Henderson. It Sure Is is a winning pointer and makes his rules debut. Other top yards are represented. Colin Tizzard’s horse Faustinovick has made a bit of a habit of coming second and Paul Nicholls’ Brewers Project won a point 682 days ago but hasn’t been seen since. Severano finally managed to win last time and did so well. He’s followed in Reserve Tank and Portrush Ted before. I’m settling with the Dan Skelton runner. SHAN BLUE, who has won a point, and was third to Chantry House on debut and serving to Redford Road last time, when favourite. They were well clear of the third.

The first race that ITV show is the Get Your Ladbrokes One Free Bet Today Handicap Chase (13:50) and some top level handicappers take their chances. KALASHNIKOV won at Warwick and Plumpton on his first two chases and then came second to Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad. After that, he was second to Glen Forsa in a grade two. Glen Forsa was such an easy winner that day. Both horses unseated their riders in the Arkle. Subsequently to that, Kalashnikov won a grade one at Aintree and then came second to Forest Bihan on seasonal bow in the Old Roan. Glen Forsa hasn’t been seen since pulling up behind that horse at Aintree and I think both horses have a bigger future than a class two handicap. Spiritofthegames was fifth at Aintree and, like Glen Forsa, he is a threat if back to his best. O O Seven won a grade A chase at Punchestown in May and is 2lbs higher than his highest winning mark. San Benedeto beat Gala Ball in a grade three over this course in March but he doesn’t win that often. Oldgrangewood ran well last time and is 10lbs lower than when winning this in 2017. Azzerti won over this course last time by a head, all-out. He’s gone up 4lbs though.

I think the next race looks a good one. The Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Novices’ Chase (2:25) is a grade two and it has been won by La Bague Au Roi, Willoughby Court and Clan Des Obeaux. One of my 20 To Watch runs in it – CHAMP got off to an excellent start over fences and has always been very well thought of. He beat Dashel Dancer by quickening clear over three furlongs further last time and he’s already won over this trip elsewhere. His biggest danger could come from Black Op. This horse was behind Defi Du Seuil, contested the grade two Dipper Novices’ Chase, grade two Cleve Hurdle, Stayers Hurdle and grade two Select Hurdle, all without winning. That kind of played to his strengths as he managed to win at Stratford by fifteen lengths on seasonal reappearance. Officially, he’s rated the same as Champ but I prefer the latter. Dashel Drasher completed a four timer over hurdles in the spring and ran a really smart race behind Champ. He’ll win over fences soon. Deyrann de Carjac has won his last two by a combined sixteen and a half lengths, beating some decent horses. Mont Des Avaloirs has ran once over fences last October and this will probably be a little bit too much for him and chasing debutant Vision Des Flos.

PAISLEY PARK (JTW Equine Images)

Our second grade two is the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (15:00). Raced over three miles, this grade two contest has attracted a good group of horses.

The headline runner is Stayers Hurdle winner Paisley Park. The seven year old won all five of his outings last year. He won at Aintree and then was a quick-finishing winner in a grade three at Haydock. In his last run of 2018, he won the JLT Hurdle (grade one) at Ascot by two lengths. Next time, he won the Cleve Hurdle at Cheltenham by twelve lengths and his season culminated in a Stayers Hurdle victory, giving Aidan Coleman his first Cheltenham Festival win. Lots of the horses who followed him in have won since. Aidan Coleman is jocked up again and the pairing could be tasting more glory in this. He’s a horse who is still on an upward curve. He’s gone from 140 to 169 since the beginning of the year and I think he’s open to plenty of improvements still.

Paisley Park faces two previous winners in this. Unowhatimeanharry won this race in 2016 and 2018. He was seen schooling at the Schooling Day here at Newbury for this meeting and had already had the benefit of a run, unlike Paisley Park. He was eighth in the Stayers, twelfth behind If The Cap Fits at Aintree and he concluded the season winning the Irish equivalent of the Stayers at Punchestown. Last time, in early November, he was five lengths behind The Worlds End in the Bet365 Hurdle (Grade Two). He doesn’t like extremely soft ground and prefers when good is in the description.

The Worlds End (JTW Equine Images)

The Worlds End won very well at Wetherby in the grade two hurdle and he relished the trip and most of all hurdles. He’d been mixing it between fences and hurdles and ran in the RSA at Cheltenham before coming ninth to If The Cap Fits at Aintree. He’d won the Sefton Novices Hurdle aged six so he should be at home in this company this season and, hopefully, very successful.

Unowhatimeanharry was second in 2017 to Beer Goggles. Beer Goggles won this for the late Richard Wollacott but he’s now moved to Nicky Martin. The Oscar gelding hasn’t been seen for 671 days, one start after this victory. On the last day, he was fifth to Agrapart, at Cheltenham on heavy ground, six lengths behind fourth placed The Worlds End. He was a shock winner of this two years ago at 40/1 but this may be beyond him in such a competitive race.

Fifth place in 2017 was Thistlecrack. Previous to that, he was unbeaten from the 28th November 2015 to when the won the King George VI Chase in 2016 in this novice chase career. That was just his fourth start over fences and, next time, he raced against Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase. They fought it out so bravely and Many Clouds passed the post but he tragically passed away shortly after. After that, Thistlecrack has never been the same since. He used this race in 2017 as a prep for the King George, in which he came fourth. Last season, he began the season coming third in the Betfair Chase, then came second in the King George and, when last seen, he was pulled up in the Gold Cup. Again this year, connections are using this as a warm up for Kempton and there have been positive rumours about him. It would be great to see him back to his best.

And back to his best he’d have to be to beat PAISLEY PARK. He rose through the ranks last season and was incredible at Cheltenham. It would be incredible to see Thistlecrack winning but I’d prefer The Worlds End to grab second place.

David Maxwell was successful at Cheltenham recently and has DOLPHIN SQUARE in the final race the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle (15:35). He’s three from five over hurdles and makes his handicap debut I’m this. One For The Team was second at Worcester in October and Chester Williams takes over the reins. He’s still very unexposed.

Preview of racing at Haydock, Gowran Park and the Coral Hurdle at Ascot

By Luke

Saturday looks to be one of the best race days of the year so far. Great action comes from Ascot with the highly anticipated clash between Altior and Cyrname at 2:05. Read Samantha’s in depth  preview of the race here Altior Vs Cyrname.

The race that follows the big clash at Ascot is the Coral Hurlde off at 2:40. I like the Dan Skelton trained mare Roksana. Unlike her two market rivals Call Me Lord and If The Cap Fits, she has the benefit of a recent run. She was last seen finishing second to Top Notch at Aintree. She made a mistake at the last which I think cost her the race. On her final start of last season she finished a head second behind If The Cap Fits at Aintree. I think with the benefit of the run she can prove hard to beat with Harry Skelton on board.

Haydock

The feature race of the day is the Grade One Betfair Chase off at 3:00. Bristol De Mai, described by most as a Haydock specialist looks for his third win of the race after taking the Honour in this race for the past two years. His most memorable win came in this race two years ago when he won the race by fifty seven lengths on very testing ground. He has ran twenty eight times between hurdles and fence picking up ten win. Four of those have been at Haydock where he has never been beaten. A horse with that impressive record at the track has to be respected.

I like the second season novice Lostintranslation for Colin Tizzard. He has the benefit of a recent run. He was last seen earlier this month winning at Carlisle. He produced a great round of jumping and won with ease over two miles and four furlongs. His best performance to date came over the three miles and one furlong at Aintree at the backend of last season. He was very impressive when winning, beating the RSA winner Topofthegame by six lengths . I think from last seasons Novice chasers Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil are the best of them. I think he will go very close with Robbie Power in the saddle.

Frodon and Ballyoptic make up the field of four. Frodon will always be rembered for his win in the Ryanair last year with Bryony Frost in the saddle. He was well beaten on his comeback run at Aintree and I think he will struggle to get home in this competitive a race. Ballyoptic has had two runs this season and won them both. Last time out he won the Grade two Charlie Hall. He is a horse who stays well and will love the conditions but may struggle to challenge the top two in the market.

  1. Lostintranslation
  2. Bristol De Mai
  3. Ballyoptic
  4. Frodon

Lois- Bristol De Mai

Killian- Bristol De Mai

Samantha- Bristol De Mai

The race prior to the big one at Haydock is a handicap hurdle over three miles. Lisnagar Oscar has been disappointing over fences this season and reverts to hurdles. The Rebecca Curtis trained six year old was an impressive winner in a Grade two over course and distance in February. I think his mark of 141 is fair and he can go close with Brian Hughes in the saddle.

If Gowran gets the the go ahead tomorrow after an inspection in the morning the exciting Laurina and Minella Indo will make their chase debuts. For the remainder of the season it is likely that Minella Indo will go up in trip and Laurina will stick to the two and half miles with the possibility to drop back to two miles. It will be a real stamina test on very testing ground and for that reason I am siding with Minella Indo, who I think will be the RSA winner come March. He was a very good hurdler and Henry De Bromhead does a great job improving these hurdles to be better chasers. I think we were always going to see the best of him over fences rather than hurdles. He is a horse who can take awhile to get fit  but hopefully he is fit enough to get the job done here with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle.

Altior Vs Cyrname

Altior (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Altior Vs Cyrname.

Nicky Henderson Vs Paul Nicholls.

Nico De Boinville Vs Harry Cobden.

Cast your mind back to the 16th of February. Cyrname jumped like a stag and finished clear of a good field of rivals in the Grade One Ascot Chase. That’s when the talk began of a possible clash between the Mrs Johnny De La Hey-owned gelding Cyrname and Altior. Altior has been one of the most consistent horses in training during the last ten years, maybe longer, with an unbeaten streak lasting from October 2015.

Now the clash is on.

The bookmakers have Altior in as 4/6 favourite with Cyrname at 6/5, less than a point between them. There is just one runner apposing them – Dan Skelton’s Solomon Grey.

To begin, let’s focus on Altior. He has been trained by Nicky Henderson throughout his career and will be ridden by Nico De Boinville, who rose through the ranks at Henderson’s yard and now is the stable jockey for the yard. Altior was Patricia Pugh’s first dabble into racehorse ownership and what a successful one it has been! Altior has ran twenty two times and won the last Nineteen of them, starting in 2015. On the two starts that he was beaten, he was third to Barters Hill and Buveur D’Air in a listed bumper and then sixth in the grade one bumper at Punchestown.

He’s been a firm favourite in the racing sphere since his victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, beating Min and Buveur D’Air. That was his sixth career victory and, by then, he looked special. After that, he went novice chasing in the 2016/17 season. He won all six of his runs that year, including two grade twos, two grade ones and the Arkle. We didn’t see him then until February 2018 when he won the Game Spirit, his first Champion Chase and the Celebration Chase. Last season, he won the Tingle Creek, Desert Orchid, Clarence House at Ascot, a second Champion Chase and a second Celebration Chase.

Altior is putting his unbeaten record on the line. (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

This is a new test though – Altior has never ran over any further than two miles two and this grade two contest is over two miles five furlongs. The race the connections appear to be targeting is the King George on Boxing Day. That race is over three miles so they must think Altior will stay this trip. However, in contradiction to this, Nicky Henderson has been reported, possibly with tongue in cheek, that he believes Altior has enough speed for the Kings Stand, which is over five furlongs. I can understand why they’d want to try a further trip with him. On his last two starts, the runners up threatened to take the lead but he battled on gamely and found a great deal under pressure. It may be a case of, as he gets older, he just wants a bit further and I think it is a bit of a fact finding mission to plot out the rest of the year.

Despite four Cheltenham Festival wins (2016 Supreme, 2017 Arkle Novices’ Chase and the Queen Mother in 2018 and 2019), Altior is not the most highest rated chaser. That crown sits on the head of Cyrname at Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls’ yard. Nicholls won it last year with Politologue; in 2013 and 2014 with Al Ferof; in 2010 and 2011 with Master Minded and in 2006 with Cerium. Harry Cobden has fairly recently become the stable jockey and he tasted King George Chase victory last year with Clan Des Obeaux. The De La Heys will be hoping that there won’t be a repeat of one of their other horses Diego Du Charmil’s antics at the last fence at Ascot a few weeks ago. He decided to jump the highest possible point of the fence and drove out his stable companion Capeland. Cyrname’s rise to highest rated chaser was fairly spontaneous.

Cyrname (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

He was a winner in France for Patrice Quinton and then moved to the Paul Nicholls Team. He was fifth, sixth and seventh on his first three starts then won over fences. He followed in Bigmatre then won the grade two Wayward Lad in December 2017. He was second in the Scilly Isles then won another grade two around Kempton. He came fourth in a grade one at Aintree but it was last season that made him such a hype-horse. He started the season averagely, coming third and then seventh at Ascot. In January, he won by twenty one lengths, with subsequent BetVictor winner Happy Diva in behind. He was then stepped up to the top company for the grade one Ascot Chase and defeated Waiting Patiently, Fox Norton, Politologue, Charbel and Aso by a huge seventeen lengths. That earned him a rating of 176, 1lbs higher than Altior.

Both of those latter victories were over course and distance but there is the possibility that Cyrname is actually a bit overhyped. He doesn’t have as successful a win rate as Altior and, as we all know, official ratings don’t tell the full story all the time. Last time was the best run of his life and that has been the sole run where he has appeared dominant in this grade.

Not often do we have a complete two-horse-race but I think, in this case, the top two are the ones that have the chance of winning. Solomon Grey completes the trio. He won two chases in May and then came fourth of five round Wincanton in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase (Grade Two), behind Reserve Tank, If You Say Run and Commache Red. He made a bold bid, leading for some of the way, and his jumping is good so he’s pretty much guaranteed the third place prize of £7490.

So Altior or Cyrname?

This is the question that has been plaguing social media and the racing community all week.

I’m going to stick with ALTIOR. He’s been the most incredible, consistent horse and I think now is the best time of any to step him up in trip and see whether he can boost himself into National Hunt Racing immortality by winning over a variety of trips at the top level. The form is on the table – he’s beaten Buveur D’Air, Min, Douvan, Special Tiara and so many other good horses. No disrespect to Cyrname. He’s a lovely, big chaser and will be winning soon. He’s never won on seasonal reappearance and came good in the second half of the season last year. Over the summer, he had a wind op to aid his breathing. He’s likely to pop out in front and make it a proper test so we’ll get to see how much stamina Altior actually has. I believe Nicky Henderson knows exactly what Altior is capable of and he wouldn’t put him in a race that he couldn’t win and risk sacrificing his unbeaten record.

It’s definitely not a race to bet on; it’s one to savour. My only wish is that they all come home safe.

Rest Of The Team’s Selections

Killian – Cyrname
Lois – Altior
Luke – Cyrname

Cheltenham November Meeting Sunday Preview

Al Dancer (copyright JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Horrific weather conditions have battered Cheltenham over the past few days and it’s a credit to the team at the course for any racing actually being on this weekend. Friday was lost due to the weather but the turf was lit up Saturday by some brilliant performances. Thyme Hill won the rescheduled grade two hurdle; Allmankind absolutely hacked up in the juvenile race; Wholestone won the Novices’ Chase; the willing Happy Diva got revenge for last year in the BetVictor Gold Cup and the smiles of amateur jockeys Sam Lee and David Maxwell brightened the dull conditions.

Hopefully we will see some more incredible performances this Sunday. I’ve previewed the card paying extra attention to the races shown on ITV…

12:45- Cheltenham Club Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

I’m going for MC ALPINE in the first. He followed in the smart Abracadabras in October and then was a good second at Wexford. He’s making his handicap debut so is open to more improvement. Could be value at 8s.

13:15- Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase

Cross country chases are always a spectacle and can be a welcome change for a horse who’s bored over the conventional fences. Dawson City, Solstice Star, Rathlin Rose and Rolling Dylan are all trying these obstacles for the first time. Dawson City is a personal favorite of our very own Lois and Polly Grundy’s gelding won the Devon National in February so this kind of test will be right up his street. He was last seen coming fourth to younger horses at this course over regulatory fences. Solstice Star has Sam Twiston-Davies on board and he ran a decent race on seasonal reappearance. Rathlin Rose is well-known for giving amputee Guy Disney two wins at Sandown and he was well-beaten on his seasonal debut. Rolling Dylan wouldn’t be a horse I’d have guessed to be running over these obstacles. He pulled up behind The Conditional when last seen.

Kingswell Theatre won this in 2017 under Tom Scudamore and was then fourth over course and distance in the December. He then came off a 453 day break to be sixth behind Tiger Roll in March this year. Urgent De Gregaine was third, Fact Of The Matter eighth and Tea For Two unseated. Urgent De Gregaine is French trained and has placed twice at the Festival. He’s an eleven year old and the current favorite despite not racing since then. He’s won around here before. The other French horse is Diesel D’Allier. Charlie Deutsch rides this horse, who is yet to run around the Cheltenham Cross Country course. He’s tongue-tied in this but the former is preferred.
Fact Of The Matter was second to Josie’s Orders in this race last year and then won in December. His eighth at the festival wasn’t his true running and the same can be said about his Topham Chase run too. He’s 2lbs lower than then and he can’t be underestimated. Tea For Two is partnered by a very good jockey in Chester Williams and this horse has the class as he won a grade one in April 2017. He’s yet too win since and lacks the old sparkle. Chic Name was seventh to Dawson City in February and ran in the cross-country chase in March 2018, coming fifth, and he didn’t jump badly. He may run better than anticipated.

I think this could be a good opportunity for URGENT DE GREGAINE. To double the number of course victories he has.

Getaway Trump (copyright JTW Equine Images)

13:50- Racing Post Responsible Gambling Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase

A small but select field of four are set to run in this. The top two are Al Dancer and Getaway Trump. These two made their chase debuts over course and distance in October in the same race. They were neck and neck turning in but Al Dancer was driven clear by the recognizable Sam Twiston-Davies drive between the last two and Getaway Trump just could go with him. The latter surrendered second place in the dying strides to Not That Fuisse but Al Dancer has gained a 3lbs penalty for his efforts. On official ratings Getaway Trump is 4lbs superior to Al Dancer and the market reflects this with Paul Nicholls’ horse the 11/8 favourite and Al Dancer at 13/8. I’m a big fan of Getaway Trump; I know someone with a share in him and as an Owners Group owner myself, I obviously want him to do well. However, the ground is testing at Cheltenham and it was on the day in October and it appeared that Getaway Trump didn’t have the necessary acceleration in the mud to get past Al Dancer. Connections have reported that he’ll come on for that but him and Al Dancer have met twice and AL DANCER has come out roughly six lengths superior each time so he is my selection.

This is not a two horse race. Rouge Vif beat Getaway Trump off level weights in a grade two at Kelsi in March and that horse concluded the season when third in a grade one at Aintree. He ran on very well over two miles one on his chase debut and jumped well too. However, he’d prefer better ground. Henry De Bromhead’s mare Put The Kettle On gets an allowance and she’s a three times Chase winner over further. She only went down half a length at Tipperary in a grade three at the start of October and is dropping half a mile in trip to two miles.

Defi Du Seuil (copyright JTW Equine Images)

14:25- Shloer Chase

Once again, this race has attracted a nice field of four runners. Simply Ned was second in this last year and the old boy went on to beat Footpad at Leopardstown in a grade one over Christmas. He may have had some sort of injury since then as we didn’t see him until October when he was fourth at Kelso. He’s a horse who often needs his comeback run and you can never completely rule him out. He’s rated 159 along with Saint Calvados. He was a non runner in the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday in favour of running in this. He ran at this course in October and won a class two handicap on heavy going off 11st12 really smartly. He was all out that day and I think it will have given him a good confidence boost as he followed in Altior and Min on his first season out if novice company. He relishes soft conditions and is actually a really high quality horse. But whether he’s as good as Politologue and Defi Du Seuil, we’ll have to see. Saint Calvados or Politologue will probably bowl along in front.

Paul Nicholls’ grey seems a bit of a handful but he is a classy horse. He won the JLT Melling Chase (grade one) in 2018 but is equally good over two miles as he came to within one and a half lengths of Altior in the Champion Chase. He had a wind op over the summer and he has an official rating of 166, 4lbs higher than Defi Du Seuil. Phillip Hobbs’ JP McManus gelding won by three and a half lengths on his second chase start, beating Topofthegame and Black Op. After that, he came second to Lostintranslation over half a mile further in a grade two. He won the Scilly Isles in February and all three of the finishers have won subsequently. He ran into Lostintranslation in the JLT but they reversed the form and Defi Du Seuil was victorious. He ran at Punchestown in May and was second to the well thought of Chacun Pour Soi. He’s a course and distance winner over hurdles in the Triumph but may need further over fences and not be up to the speedy POLITOLOGUE’s standards.

Monsieur Lecoq (copyright JTW Equine Images)

15:00 Unibet Greatwood Hurdle

Dan Skelton won this in 2016 with the tragically fated North Hill Harvey. He’s got three runners this year- Humble Hero, Mohaayed and Monsieur D’Arque. Mohaayed has top weight and won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 under his pilot Bridget Andrews. He’s won once since in a similar contest at Ascot but looks up against it in the weights. Humble Hero has Bridget’s husband Harry Skelton on board. This horse was with William Haggas on the flat and is a one time hurdle winner. He fell on seasonal debut when probably going backwards. Monsieur D’Arque is making his seasonal debut under William Marshall and has ran just four times, winning once. He’s only five and I still improving. The other Monsieur is MONSIEUR LECOQ. This horse is a really smart one. I backed him a few times last season and he won on heavy at Ludlow in December and won a class two round Sandown in January. After that, he came second to Malaya in the Imperial Cup, with Benny’s Bridge behind. Six days later, he came tenth in the County Hurdle. On seasonal reappearance, he relished testing conditions and won, with Mohaayed behind, at Ffos Las. Conditions look absolutely perfect. Benny’s Bridge returned to winning ways here in October by eight lengths and the yard is going well.

Quel Destin was a very good juvenile last season and managed to make his return a winning one in a decent race at Cheltenham in October. He is only four and has the burden of top weight to contend with. Gumball was in the same position as him twelve months ago after a fruitful juvenile campaign. He couldn’t win over obstacles last year for whatever reason but won three flat races. He came third in a listed hurdle in September and then was ridden to perfection by amateur jockey Ben Jones in a listed hurdle at Ascot, with Grapevine behind. He’s gone up 8lbs for that but amateur jockeys stole the show on Saturday and Jones is going great guns. Connor Brace is a conditional going places and rode Benny’s Bridge to victory last time but rides Grapevine. He shares bottom weight with Dr Mazzaro and is theoretically 3lbs out of the handicap but both are big prices.

Countister and Dame Compagnie are JP McManus representatives. Barry Geraghty rides the latter. She’s been off the track for 577 days but won here over half a mile further when last seen. She won over this trip on debut and she could be one to keep note of once she has a run under her belt. Aidan Coleman rides the second of the Nicky Henderson mares. She was third in the County Hurdle and then 12th in the Grade A Hurdle at Fairyhouse. If she returns to the County Hurdle form she could have a squeak.

Alan King won this in 2017. He’s got Harambe, who was last seen coming seventh to Thyme Hill, who won a grade two on Saturday, in the Persian War. Zanza is from the same yard as Phillip Hobbs and he contested a grade three on testing going in October but pulled up. He won well on better ground last time and that’s what he needs. Quoi De Neuf won on good ground on debut and then came fourth to Alsa Mix in a grade two novices’ hurdle on soft/heavy. He got beat seven lengths by subsequent winner Good Boy Bobby in April and then was second at Chepstow in early October. He’s unexposed and open to improvement. Torcello moved from Andrew McNamara to Sarah Lycett and he completed a treble over the summer but all on soft ground.

15:30 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle

Elixir Du Nutz won this last year and Slate House, who agonizingly fell in the BetVictor Gold Cup, the year before. We have a Royal runner in this race. Pacify has been good fun for the Duchess Of Cornwall this season so far. He was an average horse on the flat and has been well placed since moving to Jamie Snowdon over hurdles. In October, he stepped up to listed company and won well, concluding a five timer. He’s yet to tackle any ground like it and connections will be hoping the ground dries out a bit more. Ecco had a wind op after two sixth place finishes last season. He won at Wincanton and then Ascot by fourteen lengths. The horse he beat at Wincanton has subsequently flopped. He’s rated 1lbs higher than Pacify but Pacify carries 5lbs more.

I’m taking a chance on EDEN DU HOUX. He won two bumpers last season, one of which was a listed race. He ran against IK Brunel at Fontwell on goodish ground and got beat six lengths. Subsequently, IK Brunel didn’t run very well at Cheltenham but that was the ground. Eden De Houx should like this ground and gets a tongue tie to aid his breathing. Hang In There used to be with Mags Mullins and followed in an ill-fated horse I was extremely find of called Castletown Quary. He unseated on first start for Emma Lavelle and then won by seven lengths. Scardura pulled up then fell in a point to point and had one run for Andy Slattery in a maiden. He won on his first start for Neil Mullholland by sixteen lengths to Bathsheba Bay who won recently. He could be anything.

16:00- Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Standard Open NH Flat Race

I’m going with TIME FLIES BY in this. He made very good headway on the closing stages to be driven out to win on debut, for Nicky Henderson, against a strong field. He’s an interesting sort. I’m very disappointed that Plenty In The Tank was a non runner as I think he could’ve threatened this horse.

Cheltenham November Meeting Saturday Preview

Siruh Du Lac (copyright JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

The Cheltenham November meeting is always a spectacle and it is full to the brim of top-class National Hunt racing for us to savour. And, importantly, get hints on the Festival in roughly four months time. Sadly, Friday of this meeting was abandoned after a deluge of horrific weather conditions on the Cotswold track. Luckily, the grade two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle has been rescheduled for 12:05.

12:05- Ballymore Novices Hurdle

(Registered as the Hyde Novices Hurdle)Last year’s winner Coolany came fifth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. This race only started in 1996 and Massini’s Maguire is the only horse to have done the double in the 2006/07 season.

That horse subsequently won a few chases around Cheltenham and was trained by Phillip Hobbs when he won at Cheltenham. Hobbs has Thyme Hill. He was third in the Champion Bumper behind Envoi Allen, who’s already won impressively over hurdles. In October, Thyme Hill won the Persian War on hurdles debut , by two lengths, and he sets the standard for the field. Looking ahead to Cheltenham, he is 25/1 for the big race.

Some Day Soon ended a long streak of wins when third to Thyme Hill at Chepstow. He’d won four times over the summer and was keeping on towards the end without reaching the first two. He gets 5lbs from Thyme Hill in this.

IK Brunel won on debut at Carlisle and then came third to two very smart horses – Elixir De Nutz and Jarveys Plate – on his second start. In February, he came sixth in the Dovecote at Kempton. He made a winning reappearance in October and he could shape to be a nice individual.

Fergal O’Brien won this in 2018 and has Champagne Well. He won on his second start and had a campaign over hurdles last term with no luck. It culminated in a sixth behind Champ at Aintree. He won a race of the same name over course and distance here at Cheltenham last month, with L’Air Du Vent, really well. He’s 40/1 for the big race in March.

L’Air Du Vent won very nicely in April at Bangor. He was 10/11 and skipped clear very easily. Robbie Power rode him when he was third to Champagne Well. His jumping was satisfactory but he’d previously fell in a point to point. Happygolucky comes from the Kim Bailey yard and he was a long margin winner at Stratford on his sole start under rules. He’d previously been second in a point to point and remains unexposed.

The Irish runners are Born By The Sea and Dancing On My Own. The former won a maiden hurdle in August and has been fourth and third since then. He is a 50/1 shot and that explains his chances. Aidan Coleman rides Dancing On My Own for Henry De Bromhead. In 2018, he was second to Buildmeupbuttercup and Klassical Dream twice. He pulled up in the Coral Cup at the Festival and won last time out on heavy going so will definitely handle conditions.

However, I’m keen on THYME HILL. He was very good in the Persian War and should be and exciting horse. I think Champagne Well will run well as he’s the only horse to have won over this trip. IK Brunel has started his hurdles career well and the McNeil Family and Warren Greatrex deserve a nice winner in this company.

12:40- JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.

Eleven runners go to post for the next race – a grade two contest. Allmankind’s colours are more synonymous with flat horses like Big Orange. He’s in training with Dan Skelton and his debut hurdle victory was just eight days ago. He won by thirty seven lengths in good to soft ground, despite being keen. He’d run once on the flat before but I think he’ll be extremely successful over obstacles.

Paul Nicholls trains Mick Pastor, who won on heavy going at Auteuil in May, beating a subsequent grade one winner, and has his first run for the yard. Botox Has is ex-French but has already had one start for Gary Moore. He was second on soft at Auteuil in April and then won at Fontwell in October on good ground, beating Prefontaine by eighteen lengths. Prefontaine ran three times in October – unseating, coming second to Botox Has and then won at Kempton Park on good going. The ground may be a little soft for both horses.

Repetitio is a horse I’ve been keeping my eye on. He won at Newton Abbott against older horses at the end of August and then was third at Market Rasen and third to Nordano at Chepstow. The ground will be a problem sadly but, when Nordano won, it was soft/heavy and he did so by three lengths. He used to be with Mark Johnston and came third last time out in a listed race at Weatherby. Chocks Away came second to Nordano at Huntingdon in early October and he kept on but couldn’tcatch the winner.

Admirals Bay makes his hurdles debut for Hey Oliver in this hot race. He won once for Andrew Balding and is an interesting recruit but is a big price like Dawn Treader and Green Etoile. Thatsmyseat gets 7lbs from the boys and is a bit of an unknown quantity.

My selection is MICK PASTOR. He’s an exciting newcomer and Paul won this last year with Quel Destin.

Wholestone (right) (copyright JTW Equine Images)

13:15- mallardjewlers.com Novices’ Chase

For personal reasons, I hope either Wholestone, Minella Warrior, Rockpoint or Aye Aye Charlie as my favorite racehorse Mulcahys Hill beat them over track and trip in late October. Wholestone battled out the finish with him and went down just a neck. He was a high-class staying hurdler but only made one bad error last time. He has first time head gear to aid his cause and he has a penalty.

Minella Warrior was six lengths behind and looks a lovely big horse. He kept on the same page and couldn’t contest with the top two. It’s only natural that he’ll have learned more from that day. Rockpoint looked in trouble at four out but kept staying on in the end but I’d guess the others will finish ahead of him again. Aye Aye Charlie was behind Paisley Park in January here and then eighth in the Albert Bartlett. I think connections have always felt like he’ll be a chaser but he was never really on terms with these.

Poker Play (copyright JTW Equine Images)

Poker Play and Redzor both made winning chase debuts but are penalized. The only major issue the former had was when pecking at three out but he was in the lead for a lot of the way. The second has won since. Bridget Andrews rode Redzor to victory at Fakenham by twenty one lengths. He made the running and jumped well enough. Aaron Lad was fourteenth in the Pertemps at this course but he’s previously won over course and distance. He’s making his chase debut.

In conclusion, WHOLESTONE shouldn’t be worn down by the penalty and is a cut above these.

13:50 Betvictor Smartcards Handicap Chase

This is a really nice grade three chase with seven runners. One of my 20 To Watch runs in this race. Relentless Dreamer won at this course in October 2018 and then wasn’t seen until October 12th this year when coming third to subsequent Charlie Hall Chase winner Ballyoptic. He was pulled up after making a shuddering error and never really regaining his rhythm. I don’t think he’ll be victorious in this race as there are questions surrounding the surface.

A horse who’ll love this ground is Ramses De Teillee. David Pipe’s grey won here on heavy over hurdles in October so a lot is in his favour. He’ll be better for the comeback run and is also an excellent jumper. He was pulled up in the Aintree Grand National and came second in the Welsh equivalent so the trip won’t be a problem. This son of Martaline is rated 153 which means he carries significantly more weight than the rest of the field.

West Approach is number two and he carries 11st1 to Ramses De Teillee’s 11st12. He mixes it quite successfully between fences and ran an excellent second to The Conditional, giving him 9lbs, at the Showcase Meeting. He got put up 2lbs for that but he hasn’t won for a very long time. The trip probably won’t be a problem but no horse in this field has won over the trip.

Big River and Achilles are both making their seasonal debut. The former was last seen coming fifth in the Scottish Grand National so the trip won’t be a problem for him. Before that, he was a good fourth in the Ultima here at Cheltenham and he always threatens to do well in one of these races. Achilles has won three of his four starts since the turn of the year at various tracks and the time he was beaten was when he pulled up over a trip much too far.

Pop Rockstar is a seven year old. He’s got form on this ground, having come second on heavy ground before. This Fleminsfirth gelding won at Chepstow in April and Carlisle in October so comes into this in good form.

Potters Legend hadn’t been seen since winning on the 31st March 2018 when coming fifth to Tobefair here on heavy ground over hurdles. He ran a decent race and will be more inclined to show his true running here.

A large weight in this ground is sometimes a burden but I think RAMSES DE TEILLE has the class to overcome it against these horses.

Count Meribel (copyright JTW Equine Images)

14:25- BetVictor Gold Cup

This is a really exciting renewal of this race. In 2017, Splash Of Ginge won this under Tom Bellamy for Nigel Twiston-Davies. He’s not won since but his best run was second in the Stable Plate to The Storyteller. Because of the long losing run, he has bottom weight. Twiston-Davies also has Count Meribel. He kept high company as a novice chaser last time and finished seventh in the RSA and came second to Lostintranslation on the third of November. Guitar Pete, a son of Dark Angel, came ninth in 2017 but he won next time out in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He hadn’t won since that day until he came first in a listed chase at Wetherby on the 1st November. He beat Happy Diva, Demi Sang and Splash Of Ginge that day.

Happy Diva (copyright JTW Equine Images)

The mare Happy Diva agonizingly got brought down in last year’s renewal when going well. After that, she came second to Aso in a grade three here, came third to Cyrname and her best run was when she won a Mares listed, beating subsequent Grand National second Magic Of Light. She was giving weight to Guitar Pete and lost very little in defeat. She’s ultra consistent and will go on the ground. Demi Sang has been busy over the summer and won at Cartmel twice. He won on soft to heavy when with Willie Mullins but he’s been running on firmer surfaces since. Brelan D’As is from the same ownership and he unseated last time but came third in the Grand Annual with stablemate Magic Saint behind. Since then, he’s fell in a listed chase round Ayr and was second when last seen in April.

Siruh Du Lac (copyright JTW Equine Images)

The only horse to have ran in last year’s race and not been mentioned was Eamon An Cnoic, who came fifth. After that, he came sixth to Siruh Du Lac at Exeter on this kind of ground, won at Chepstow and then came fourth to Siruh Du Lac at the Cheltenham Festival. His stablemate is Warthog. He was last seen pulling up in a horrific race at the Cheltenham Festival and he’s had a long break to recuperate from that. Before that, he hadn’t held particularly high company. The aforementioned Siruh Du Lac was one of the starts of last season’s Cheltenham Festival when he won the Stable Plate. Lizzie Kelly is back from injury to ride him in this and she rides this course particularly well. Last season, He completed a four timer, concluding in two victories over course and distance, and rose from a mark of 123 to his current of 150. He goes well fresh and doesn’t mind a decent slog. Spiritofthegames was third to Siruh Du Lac at Cheltenham and after that he was fifth in a grade one. He had a wind operation over the summer and, remarkably, he has won on every single seasonal reappearance in his career.

Us And Them and Slate House ran in the Arkle. You could argue that Us And Them played the bridesmaid all through his novice chase season after his initial victory. He was second to the likes of Hardline, Le Richebourg, Duc De Genievres (at the Festival) and Ourna (at Aintree). He unseated behind Chacun Pour Soi on his last start of that campaign and came third to Snow Falcon and Peregrine Run on his reappearance. I’d be interested to see how he went. Slate House didn’t win over fences last year and was eighth in the Arkle but he looked like a new horse on season reappearance over roughly course and distance. He was on the bridle coming down to two out and pinged the last easily. I think people have always thought he’s got untapped potential and that could mean he’s well handicapped in this race.

Springtown Lake and Highway One O One both ran in the Close Brothers. The latter was tenth and after that came third to Mister Whitaker over course and distance. He came second over hurdles last time and he should be spot on for this race. He’s a good horse as he came third in the Wayward Lad. Springtown Lake was seventh to Vinndication when last seen on good to soft and his fifth in the Close Brothers is good form. He relishes soft conditions. Belami Des Pictons has raced just once this year and that was when pulled up in February. He must have had some sort of issue as he was last seen before that coming second to Waiting Patiently. He’s got a remarkable record – five from eight.

Dell Oro is three from fourteen but looks a bit out of his depth and is a 66/1 chance. If you go back to February 2018, Mercian Prince won on heavy going and he’s won once since then at Kempton in January this year. He’s an outsider in this.I think handling the ground will be a big deal at Cheltenham and I know Siruh Du Lac will enjoy the rest.

However, so will SLATE HOUSE. I was so very taken with the way he won last time and he could be relatively well handicapped.

15:00- Spinal Injuries Association Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle

I’m torn for a selection in this race. Initially, I was going for Tobefair, who won so well on this sort of ground last time but has to give a stone to the rest. And even more to THE BUTCHER SAID. He’s been going all through the summer and was looking for a five timer when beaten by my selection in an earlier race. I don’t think it was the ground was what lost it for him last time. Anteros and Eva’s Oskar are both of interest as they’ve won their last three. Anteros won this in 2016.

15:30- BetVictor Intermediate Hurdle

LEGENDS GOLD has won her last three starts by a combined thirty lengths and she’s yet to tackle any ground like it but she’s a nice filly, getting about 10lbs from Jatiluwih. He’s won all four of his novice hurdle starts but my selection could be more value.

16:00- Karndean Designflooring Mares Standard Open NH Flat Race

MIDNIGHT CALLISTO’s sister had already won a bumper for Anthony Honeyball before the former had made her debut for the yard, which she won by eight lengths. She hung a tiny bit left handed but that was only greenness.

Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase Preview

Rock The Kasbah (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase Preview

By Samantha

The Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase is the feature contest on this Saturday’s Wincanton card.

The trip is three miles and one furlong and this looks a good race. Four of these horses (The Young Master, Rock The Kasbah, Royal Vacation and Cobra De Mai) were meant to run in the handicap chase over this trip on the Saturday of the Cheltenham Showcase Meeting but were Non Runners due to the treacherous ground.

The Young Master won on seasonal reappearance at Chepstow last season and always goes well fresh. Also last season, he won at Cheltenham in November in an amateur riders race; pulled up in the Ladbrokes Trophy; then was third in the Kim Muir and was second in the Bet365 Gold Cup at the end of last season. If he can recreate that he should run well here. He’s had a pipe opener on the flat recently too.

Rock The Kasbah won a grade three handicap chase at Cheltenham over a bit further in November and was only seen once after that before getting brought down in the Aintree Grand National. After that, he pulled up at Sandown and is trying to recapture his old form.

Royal Vacation was second to Rock The Kasbah on seasonal debut last year and won a nice class two chase at Taunton in January, beating Present Man. He was fifth in early October at Chepstow, behind subsequent Charlie Hall Chase winner Ballyoptic. His jockey Paddy Brennan is flying and that race should’ve put him spot on.

Present Man has won this for the last two years and followed up last year’s victory with an eighth in the Becher Chase, won by Walk In The Mill. After coming fourth to Royal Vacation, he had a wind op but pulled up next time in the bet365 Gold Cup when The Young Master was second, Give Me A Copper fourth and Just A Sting pulled up. He’s got a tough ask to reverse all that.

I think that it is a bit bonkers that Walk In The Mill is 16/1. He was third to The Young Master at Cheltenham in November and then won the Becher Chase at Aintree. Two subsequent runs over hurdles put him perfect for the Grand National in which he came fourth, beaten sixteen lengths. He was due to run on the second but was lame. The ground is good at Wincanton and he’ll be hoping for rain.

White Moon is a very short price. Last season, he began chasing but fell and came fifth in a hot contest before finally winning at Exeter in January. I saw him come last of four in a listed novices’ chase at Warwick and then he was fourth again at Kempton. He had his second wind op in the summer and didn’t jump too well on reappearance and that resulted in him falling when appearing to have the race at his mercy. Beau Du Brizais and Sumkindofking took advantage of that and were second and fourth.

Beau Du Brizais ran a very good race that day. It was over a bit further and he should go on the ground. He went up 4lbs for that but looks solid. Sumkindofking won in May at Southwell and then came fourth at Newton Abbott and Wincanton. He followed in Present Man once and Beau Du Brizais twice in late 2018 so has a bit to find.

Cobra De Mai and Just A Sting are both seven. The former pulled up at Ascot on seasonal debut seven days ago. Last season, he concluded it with a win at Cheltenham and fourth in a grade two. He likes decent ground. Just A Sting completed a double on his first two starts last season. He then came second at Kempton over Christmas and was tenth at Cheltenham in the Kim Muir. He pulled up at Sandown last time but he goes well fresh. Second favourite Give Me A Copper ran three times last season, coming fourth to Classic Ben at Sandown; falling in the Ultima and coming fourth in the bet365 Gold Cup. If he can replicate that run, he should be up there.

Adrian Heskin is in incredible form of late and rides Soupy Soups in this. This eight year old won at Perth in September and then was second last time. He’s an extremely consistent horse and has won round here. Wicked Willy was fifth on his seasonal debut in October and won at Kempton in March. He has very little weight but others have better chances. Whisper was fifth in the 2017 King George VI Chase but ran for the first time since then in May. He was seventh and then moved to grade one winning jockey Sam Thomas’ yard. He made his debut for them last time and was last of ten

SELECTIONS

A lot of these have good chances and it is an interesting race. I’m taking the chance on ROYAL VACATION. His fifth last time has worked out well and it should put him spot on for this. Paddy Brennan is flying and he should make a bold bid at a good price. Walk In The Mill is my second choice but he may just need it and the ground could be against him if it dries out. I think White Moon is a bit unreliable and 7/2 is a silly price even though he ran well before falling last time. Soupy Soups and Beau Du Brizais could run good races as they’re consistent.

REST OF THE CARD

12:40 – Fiddlerontheroof – Ran well last time and this is easier. Has a lot of hype about him.

13:15 – Saintemilion – Paul Nicholls’ horses go well here and Lorcan Williams rides. Third last time.

13:50 – Danse Idol – Consistentmare, this should be up to her capabilities.

14:25 – Reserve Tank – Followed in Jarveys Plate last time. One of my 20 To Watch

15:00 – Fusil Raffles – won very smarty at Punchestown last time out. Top class

15:35 – Royal Vacation/ Walk In The Mill

16:10 – Confirmation Bias – half brother to El Bandit (4x hurdle winner, 1x chase winner) and Rouge Trader (2x Chase winner, 2x Hurdle winner, 2x National Hunt Flat Race Winner). Will eventually stay three miles. Liked for a long time.

ITV AINTREE RACES

13:30 – Charmant – Goes well fresh, very interesting.

14:05 – Cepage – Followed in Frodon last time, 20 To Watch

14:40 – Jack’s Last Hope – Great form, been rated higher.

Charlie Hall Chase Preview

15:40- bet365 Charlie Hall Chase

Runners Guide

By Samantha

1 Definitely Red

T- Brian Ellison
J-Danny Cook

This horse won this grade two last year by two lengths to Black Cotton, when Double Shuffle fell at the first. After that, he won the Many Clouds Chase – once again finishing ahead of Double Shuffle. He was beaten by Captain Redbeard in February but was brought down by the ill-fated Invitation Only at the tenth fence in the Gold Cup. He stayed on his feet to be fifth in the Punchestown Gold Cup. This is a good starting point for him.

2 Aso

T-Venetia Williams
J-Charlie Deutsch

Aso was a revelation last season. He won a handicap chase round Newbury easily at the end of November. He won at Cheltenham in a grade three on the first day of 2019. He was sixth to Cyrname in February but ran incredibly to be second to Frodon in the Ryanair. If running to that standard, he’s definitely in contention.

3 Ballyoptic

T- Nigel Twiston-Davies
J- Sam Twiston-Davies

Ballyoptic‘s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies won this in 2017 with Bristol De Mai. Ballyoptic himself was second in the 2018 Scottish Grand National but was, overall, unsuccessful last year. He made a winning seasonal reappearance at Chepstow in an ultra-competitive handicap chase, beating the likes of Lil Rockefeller and Relentless Dreamer. That will put him right for this.

4 Elegant Escape

T- Colin Tizzard
J- Tom O’Brien

This horse was a second season novice last year and won on seasonal debut in a listed race at Sandown. Then he came second in the Ladbrokes Trophy and that left him in the perfect place for the Welsh Grand National, which he won very well. He was second to Frodon; sixth in the Gold Cup and then sixth in an Aintree Grade One. This is more his grade and is rated 160.

5 Top Ville Ben

T- Phil Kirby
J- Sean Quinlan

Top Ville Ben completed a double this time last year, one of which over course and distance. In February, he was well-beaten in a grade two novices’ chase and then, at the Cheltenham Festival, he was going very well in the RSA until he fell at the sixth. Six days later, he won over course and distance and then came third to top level novices Lostintranslation and Topofthegame. That was a smart run, his jumping was a lot better and he loves it here. Should run a good race.

6 La Bague Au Roi

T- Warren Greatrex
J- Richard Johnson

This horse is one of Warren Greatrex’s stable stars. She’s a lovely, noble mare with a regal quality about her. She jumps; she travels and she completed a four timer last season. It began at Newbury in a class three, then she won a grade two at that same venue beating subsequent graded level performers Talkischeap, Lostintranslation and Spiritofthegames. She won the Kauto Star Novices Chase, beating Topofthegame, on Boxing Day. She won the Flogas Novices Chase at Leopardstown and concluded the season coming second to Kalashnikov at Aintree. She’s the star quality in the race. The yard is in form.

7 Molly The Dolly

T- Dan Skelton
J- Harry Skelton

This mare was also in excellent form last season. She’s quite lightly raced and started in class three company with two novice chase victories. She was twenty lengths behind subsequent Grand National second Magic Of Light at Doncaster and wasn’t seen again until winning a class two at Ayr in April. She’s a good mare with very little weight.

SELECTION

This is a good early season grade two. LA BAGUE AU ROI is my selection as she goes well fresh and gets weight from the likes of Definitely Red and Aso, who hold strong chances. Top Ville Ben shod run well and Elegant Escape is dropping in company. Ballyoptic and Molly The Dolly may lack the necessary class.