Greatwood Gold Cup Preview

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Listen to the latest Rein It In Racing Podcast where we discuss who the best jockeys are and also have Davy Boland, aka Racing’s Inside Track, on the show to discuss the topic as well as racing in Ireland. We covered three races for this Saturday too so give it a listen! >>

The Cheltenham Festival is less than two weeks away but in the meantime we’ve got some good racing on offer from Newbury, Kelso and Doncaster. In this article, I’m going to focus on the Greatwood Gold Cup from Newbury at 15:15.

The Greatwood Charity use former racehorses to help educate disadvantaged young people and children with learning difficulties. They do an excellent job and this raceday highlights this.

Paul Nicholls has three horses going for the £28,475 prize – Mont Des Avaloirs, San Benedeto and Secret Investor. Bryony Frost rides Mont Des Avaloirs, who is still a novice. He came fourth to Champ on debut over larger obstacles. Next time, he had no chance in behind Angels Breath in a grade two when just the two of them ran. He ran into a possibly well-handicapped sort in Sussex Ranger last time over further than this. He’s dropping in trip to two miles four but hasn’t won since April 2018 and that was over two miles.

Secret Investor (JTW Equine Images)

Nicholls also gives young jockeys Brian Carver and Lorcan Williams good opportunities on San Benedeto and Secret Investor. The former won this race last year under Nick Scholfield. Since then, this horse was seventh in the Topsham and third in the Oaksey Chase. On seasonal reappearance, in October, he came sixth and then was fourth, with Gala Ball in twelfth, in a decent handicap over course and distance. Secret Investor helps good company last season as a novice. He came second in a grade two on chase debut behind Bags Groove. He finally got off the mark at Wincanton and then won a grade two at Ayr. On seasonal reappearance, he came second in a grade two in Ireland. I’m not sure what happened in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup but he improved in the Denman Chase less than three lengths behind Native River. He carries top weight.

Bags Groove runs in this race as well and, despite beating Secret Investor on two occasions, an absence of 331 days could undo his chances. He began last term with wins at Ffos Las, Wincanton and Huntingdon. He came fifth in the Kauto Star Novices Chase and then won at Kempton in the Pendil Novices Chase. Last time, he came fourth in the Grade One Novice Chase at Aintree. He’s a leading player on bare form but I’d be more inclined to fancy him if he’d already had a run. He is trained by Harry Fry who is also represented by Drumcliff. This gelding has ran ten times and won four of them. The last of these wins was in May 2018. Since, he’s fell and then move trainers. He was with A A Howard in Ireland for three outings but returns to Fry for his first run since October.

Gala Ball and Clondaw Castle raced against each other at Warwick last time when the latter prevailed. Tom George’s son of Oscar won twice in early 2019 and then ran fourth in the Arkle (but lead for a lot of the way) and once again in the Aintree equivalent. He was second on seasonal debut and then ninth in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, a place ahead of Secret Investor. He won last time by four and a quarter lengths and Gala Ball was fourth, with 2lbs splitting them in this contest. Richard Johnson came back from injury with a double on Thursday and partnered this horse when he won at Wincanton in January. He’s a bit hit-and-miss but is a course and distance winner.

I’m a fan of Domaine De L’Isle and he won three starts between December and January. On the latter occasion, he beat Bennys King by a neck at Ascot. Last time, he was keen, never that fluent with his jumping and the ground wasn’t ideal. This gives him questions to answer but he’s only seven. Bennys King ran a blinder after leading for a lot of the way under Bridget Andrews. Her husband Harry Skelton gets the leg up in this race. He partnered him to victory over two miles six here at Newbury in November, beating Tiquer, and is 15lbs higher. He’ll be one of the ones at the top of the market. Tiquer is twelve but won like a young horse on Welsh National Day at Chepstow when last seen. Before that, he pulled up behind the aforementioned horse when not warming to the task. He ran in the Grand Sefton at Aintree, coming fourth. He shouldn’t mind the ground.

Enrichissant put in an absolute romp at Huntingdon eight days ago. He’s got 10st, bottom weight. He’s won twice at Huntingdon and they’re the two victories from his starts. He’s only six and has a big future ahead. On the opposite end of the spectrum is thirteen year old Valdez. He’s a grand old servant, winning at Hereford in November, and then fourth behind Gala Ball at Wincanton. He was beaten thirteen and a quarter lengths to be fifth in the Denman Chase behind Secret Investor. Its hard to know if he’s up to these standards lately. Not Another Muddle is coming here off a 323 day absence. He was fifth in the Grand Annual. He’s ran eleven times and is a good horse but the absence is a worry.

So, for this race, my selection is going to be SECRET INVESTOR, in what looks, to me, as an open contest. It’s a tough choice to split him and Benny’s King, who was a good runner up last time and earlier course winner. I was really impressed with the way my selection ran last time behind an incredible rival in Native River but I’m conscious of the ground conditions as he much prefers good-ish ground. However, I’m clinging on hope after he came second on Soft, Heavy In Places on one occasion.

There’s good racing elsewhere with ITV kicking off with the 13:50 from Doncaster – the 888Sport Handicap Hurdle. It’s the first race on the card from Donnie and I’m going with CODED MESSAGE. This mare won a mares Hurdle easily at Kempton on the day after Boxing Day and has since come fourth to Magic Of Light and third in a listed race at Warwick. She was held up and made decent headway but couldn’t get to a long-margin winner. She’s a great price at roughly 9/1.

The next race is the first of two from Newbury – the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase at 14:05. In the podcast, I gave an honorable mention to HORATIO HORNBLOWER in the Grimthorpe, which is later on at Doncaster, but he runs here, probably in favor of the better ground. He won the first two this season before unseating last time in the Veterans Final that Dark Flame and Theatre Guide also ran in. Horatio Hornblower is no mug and should get the trip. Le Rocher is his biggest threat father some solid recent runs and, if Joe Farrell returns to his best, he’s a player.

Back to Doncaster for the 14:25 888Sport Bet £10 Get £30 Handicap Chase. Nuts Well is eye-catching because he won easily at Wetherby four weeks ago. He won his two before that well, especially the first one. Danny McMenamin has struck up a good partnership with this horse, being three from five on the gelding. Since the first win in the trio, he’s gone from 130 to 152, a career high mark. Its incredibly interesting that Gino Trail is now with Fergal O’Brien and that may rejuvenate him. Dalia Du Seuil pulled hard to be fifth behind Lady Buttons and was then beaten eleven lengths by the smart Maire Banrigh at Huntingdon but didn’t jump too well. DESTRIER hasn’t ran since December and his two runs before that were in grade one and two company; in both cases he was third. He didn’t run too well at Cheltenham last time but he’s tongue-tied for the first time and the class is there.

One race from Kelso is shown and that’s the William Hill Premier Novices Hurdle, a grade two, at 14:45. Calva D’Auge is very interesting from the Paul Nicholls establishment after winning two of his starts this term. He’s been second over this trip in France and is top-rated out of all the runners. However, I like CLONDAW CAITLIN. I think she’s a lovely little mare with a fabulous attitude. Ruth Jefferson hasn’t had much luck with her stable star Waiting Patiently of late but hopefully this mare can be the tonic for that bad luck and score in this grade two. Her win last time was emphatic against other mares but she gets the allowances here. Cheddleton looks a good horse for Jennie Candlish after winning his last two by a combined twenty three lengths.

The next race is a Listed from Doncaster, the 888Sport Take Em On Mares Novice Hurdle at 15:00. There’s a 4/7 favourite, which I won’t be taking on, in the form of CILL ANNA for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. She’s nicely bred but it took until her fourth start to get off the mark under rules at Warwick. She followed that up again in a race that has worked out well as Miss Honey Ryder and Whitehotchillifilli have won well since. Her main rivals in this appear to be Eleanor Bob, Early Morning Rain and Easter Gold.

Next is Newbury’s feature which I previewed at the beginning of the article and Doncaster’s feature goes off at 15:35. It is the 888Sport Grimthorpe Handicap Chase. This race has lost it’s sparkle to a certain extent as both Definitely Red and Saint Xavier, Grand National hopefuls, divert to Kelso. In this race, there’s a lot to like about WORTHY FARM. He’s won his last two over three miles and a furlong which puts him spot on for this. The ground will be awful and Venetia Williams’ horses stereotypically like the ground soft so Yalltari may get back to decent form. Captain Chaos ran a blinder at Warwick last time but is hard to catch right.

Captain Chaos (JTW Equine Images)


🌟 The Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff awards took place on Monday and it celebrated the great work the stable staff do because without them there would be no sport. Well done to the winners!

🌟 Richard Johnson returned to the saddle on Thursday after some time on the sidelines – a lot less than any other sane human being after a broken arm but I guess we are talking about a jockey. This means that the jockey championships is hotting up again. It seemed that Brian Hughes had it sewn up but, despite two days back riding, Johnson is already clawing back the deficit.

🌟Bad news for one jockey though as Sean Bowen has been ruled out for a few weeks after breaking his collarbone, meaning he’ll miss Cheltenham. Wishing him a speedy recovery!

🌟On Friday, the news arose of two horses retiring – Un De Sceaux and Caroles Destrier. Un De Sceaux was a favourite of many due to his bold, gutsy attitude and many of us will miss him on the track. Caroles Destrier never scaled the heights of Un De Sceaux but was a really incredible horse for connections. Wishing both a happy retirement!

Should Young People Get Into Horse Racing?

Warwick Racecourse (JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

For any readers who don’t know me, I’m a fifteen year old girl who writes articles about all aspects of the sport I love – horse racing. In the vast majority of conversations I’ve had with fellow fans, trainers, jockeys and TV presenters, one issue is frequently raised:

“We need more young people in horse racing.”

No one can dispute that young people are the future of any sport. Rein It In Racing is a site with articles purely by young people and it was created because of the lack of representation of young people in horse racing media. Like the rest of the team, I love the sport – horse racing is my biggest passion; I own a share in a racehorse and spend my Fridays nights previewing races and studying form. However, when I tell people I love horse racing, they look at me like I have just told them that I enjoy badger-bating and the misuse of Class A drugs! On one occasion, someone even asked my parents why they would let me be a horse racing fan!

Interacting with the horse racing community has vastly improved my ability to explain my opinions with confidence, taught me to stand up for myself in the face of hate as well as learn from my mistakes and lapses in judgement. It has nurtured a passion and respect for the greatest creatures on earth which, I’m sure, will last me the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, interest in horse racing seems to be on the decline. It has been reported that, in 2015, 6.13 million people went to a UK race meeting but, in 2019, this reduced to 5.62 million. The figures are steadily decreasing as the years go by and that can’t be a good thing. I’m sure we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve travelled through a built up area and someone (usually older) remarks wistfully, “I remember when all of this was fields”. I don’t want to be driving through Kempton or Warwick or Chester and say to someone, “I remember when this was a racecourse…”

If we can understand why this is happening, we can work out ways to attract more young blood into racing and not allow it to stagnate. In this article, I’m going to flip the earlier statement on its head and ask the question –

Should Young People Get Into Horse Racing?

Frustratingly, horse racing seems to be misunderstood. People generally believe the stereotypes surrounding the sport and I’ve pinpointed four factors which contribute to these misinformed judgements.

Racing’s stereotype appears to be that all racing fans are retired, ruddy-faced men with a flat cap on their head, a cigar in one hand, a glass of whiskey in the other and a wad of cash in their inside pocket. That was probably the case in the 1900s but, fortunately, things couldn’t be more different now. Racing is a sport that is enjoyed by both genders and, unlike some other sports, men and women compete on a level playing field. The recent successes of Rachel Blackmore and Hollie Doyle cannot fail to inspire young girls.

The stereotype of racecourses strikes me as being that they are no place for children, with drinking, smoking and gambling all taking place in one confined area. If done responsibly, there should be no more drinking and smoking than outside your local on a Saturday night. Take Warwick racecourse as an example: the betting ‘ring’ is close to the main entrance where the majority of drinking occurs, but, if you keep walking, the crowds thin when you get closer to the parade ring. Here, it’s quieter and more child-friendly – the perfect spot to watch the horses. Debbie Matthews has done an excellent job helping to make many courses around England accessible to people living with anxiety, dementia, autism, loneliness and invisible illnesses through the ‘Go Racing Green’ project. Nottingham, Chester, Newbury and Salisbury all support the initiative by having ‘quiet areas’ where racegoers can avoid the busy hubbub of a racecourse, and employ members of staff who are ‘awareness-trained’. Newbury is particularly good for introducing children to racing. At the Ladbrokes Trophy meeting, they had lots of interesting tasks for children to undertake to learn about the life of racehorses.

Many courses also have ‘Family Days’. These are where there are children’s activities, such as bouncy castles and fairground rides, on course. What these lack, in my opinion, is a connection to horse racing that would nurture an interest in the children. Normally, an adult ticket costs anything from £16-£25, under 18s nearly always GO FREE. This represents a great value day out that isn’t nearly publicised enough! Another way to involve children and families would be to target schools in the local area with leaflets advertising ‘a day at the races’. A positive experience would encourage people to come back year after year. The work of ‘Racing To Schools’ brings racing to the classroom and is an incredible initiative. Through this, students at my school have visited Nottingham to experience a raceday.

On a recent Rein It In Racing Podcast, we suggested ways that racecourses could enrich the raceday experience to educate racegoers. An idea was to introduce information boards surrounding the parade ring, like in a museum. This would help visitors understand why horses wear certain equipment; what the form means; the differences between Handicap and Stakes races and the way gambling odds work, for example. This information is hard to access at the racecourse – I can’t understand why! This would make a day at the races not just a good time but an opportunity to learn more about this great sport. Cutting through the jargon would definitely help draw people in.

Sadly, much of the mainstream press attention racing receives is negative – normally if a fatality occurs or a gambling horror story, as I will mention later on. This comes particularly from organisations like PETA, Animal Aid and, sometimes, the RSPCA. Their comments on social media spark up heated debates about how racing is ‘cruel’ and the horses are ‘whipped until they bleed’ and ‘forced to race’. I’m a bit biased but I don’t believe horse racing is cruel. From my experience, if a horse doesn’t want to race, or do anything for that matter – they won’t! No one can persuade them otherwise once they’re mind is made up.

Fatalities are what racing is infamous for. Take the Grand National for example – a unique test over four miles and two furlongs with fences only the brave can jump. This race is by far the most famous horse race in the world and it is the one that people naturally base their opinions on. Last year, Up For Review got brought down at the first and, devastatingly, had to be put to sleep. There is constantly a risk of a life-ending injury with horses, regardless of whether they’re a top level racehorse or the family pony. Considering their size, horses are so delicate. A study showed that it is 62% more likely for a horse to be fatally injured in the field in comparison to a 30% chance when ridden. This danger is a contributing factor to adults not wanting young people to be involved in horse racing.

Another contributing factor is gambling. Gambling has been intertwined with racing for years and betting shops sponsor many big races, for example the Ladbrokes Trophy and Betfair Hurdle. Nowadays, you can bet on pretty much anything – from the name of a royal baby to cheese rolling contests. I was shocked at the quantity of sports you could gamble on through the Oddschecker website.

In Great Britain, the total Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) from April 2018 to March 2019 was £10.7 billion. According to, as of March 2019, there were 8320 betting shops in Great Britain, a 239 decline from the previous year. This shows the significant effect that mobile devices have had on the gambling industry because gambling is so much easier when you don’t have to leave the house to place a bet. In April 2009 – March 2010, the GGY of the gambling industry in Great Britain for betting was £2.8 Billion and for remote betting, bingo and casino gambling the figure was £632 Million. In the financial year of April 2018 – March 2019, the GGY of betting rose to £3.2 Billion and the remote betting, bingo and casino gambling rose to £5.3 Billion. In terms of horse racing alone, the turnover of off-course bookmakers has decreased from £5,743.5 Million in April 2008 – March 2009 financial year to £4,219.02 Million in 2018/19. These figures show that people are gambling more but they’re choosing to bet on other sports, casinos and bingo sites instead of horse racing. This could be construed as indicative of a lack of trust in the horse racing industry.

People gamble to different extents – from solely at the Grand National, to when they go racing, to most days, to multiple times a day without fail. Aggressive advertising campaigns blasted around racing-related websites and TV channels make it appear that you are missing out and won’t enjoy the race as much if you don’t have money staked on the outcome but these always end in “Be Gamble Aware” or “Bet Responsibly”. To me, this gives mixed messages. In the UK, it is estimated that around 350,000 people suffer from gambling addictions. However, NHS statistics show that only five percent of people seek help and only one percent actually receive it. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers with a gambling problem and I encourage them to seek out help and advice from services like and

Brothers Fred and Peter Done, who founded Betfred were in the news lately as they also own a company called Health Assured, which has contracts with the NHS and councils providing services to gambling addicts. Seems like they have the best of both worlds. In response to this, newspapers jumped on the story regarding the ways bookmakers entice and take advantage of vulnerable gamblers. In one report, in the Daily Mail, a man was put into a ‘VIP Club’, where they used free tickets to keep him on-side. In the end, his addiction, which his family claimed the betting site fueled, developed into a ‘psychiatric disorder’ which caused him to steal money and culminated in a three year prison sentence.

This is a rare, extreme case and isn’t directly connected with racing, yet rubs off badly on the sport. Because of this, I can understand why someone would be wary of introducing a young person into horse racing as anyone with an addictive personality is instantly at risk of developing a problem. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of parents/carers and schools to educate young people about the repercussions of gambling irresponsibly. My parents have told me about gambling and what an addiction can lead to and I’ve always been told “Never bet what you can’t afford!” by my Grandad, who rarely staked more than £1 in ingenious little accumulators back when the odds were on blackboards. At my school, we’re taught about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and how to manage money, but gambling is not even mentioned. Surely it is time for this to be added to the curriculum?

So far, I’ve mentioned the features of horse racing that the general public seem to dislike to try and comprehend the reasoning behind these negative perceptions, but horse racing has so many wonderful qualities.

One excellent thing about racing is how welcoming it is to anyone and everyone. Regardless of your age, gender or sexuality, everyone is included. There are also so many careers on offer too – not just the obvious ones like stable staff or jockeys – but Racing Secretaries, Veterinary Welfare Officers, Handicappers, Stipendiary Stewards etc. For anyone interested in a career in racing, the Careers In Racing website is an invaluable source of information. Also, the British Racing School gives young people with dreams of working in the industry the perfect starting point from their Newmarket base.

In conclusion, the best thing about racing – hands down – is the horses. For me, there’s nothing more wonderful than a Thoroughbred racehorse in full flight. Horse racing showcases these animals at their very best – their strength, agility, willingness, to name just a few characteristics. The bond between horse and rider, galloping at 40 miles per hour towards huge fences, can’t be underestimated. The trust shown reflects just why these animals are so loved all around the world.

The stories are also what makes horse racing so special. Nicky Henderson’s star two mile chaser Sprinter Sacre was in the prime of his career when it was discovered that he had a heart problem. With perseverance, from equine and human alike, Sprinter Sacre bounced back and won the Champion Chase. Or how about Lady Buttons? The Philip Kirby team have nurtured this mare since she was a foal and, in doing so, captured the heart of the racing public. Now, she’s won fifteen of her thirty-two starts, including five listed races and a Grade Two. On the flat, Jet Setting went winless for her first four outings and was picked up for only 12,000gns after that. For new connections, she won the Irish 1000 Guineas and was then bought for £1.3 million by China Horse Club. It would be a crime not to mention Andrew Gemmell! Blind from birth, he’s a passionate racing fan and he has been a key player, as the owner, in the Paisley Park story. This gelding shot into the limelight when he won at the Cheltenham Festival in the Stayers Hurdle and he looks primed for a second win in the race.

So, should young people get into horse racing?

From my experience – yes, a million times yes! I have sat on the edge of my seat, transfixed by the thrilling action before me; seen the racehorses up close; met some incredible people and had some wonderful opportunities thanks to racing, all the while surrounded by warm, welcoming, like-minded people. I’m extremely proud to be part of this sport and I hope that more young people will fall in love with it so horse racing doesn’t just survive but thrives in the future.

Can Cyrname Get Back To Winning Ways This Saturday?

Cyrname (JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

It’s been a busy week in the racing world! On Tuesday, the Grand National weights were announced. Tiger Roll has seen allotted 170, top weight, and he is declared to run on Sunday in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan, for his seasonal reappearance. Let’s hope Storm Dennis holds off as there’s some awesome racing this weekend.

Due to the threat of weather there are inspections as follows:-

-Ascot 8am
-Haydock 8am
-Wincanton 8am

For updates, please keep a close eye on the @ReinItInRacing Twitter Page. Also, check out our newest podcast while you’re there –

The feature contest on Saturday is the Betfair Ascot Chase (15:35 Ascot), a grade one, which comes as part of a cracking card of seven races shown live on ITV.

The headline horse on the day is Cyrname. It was in the aforementioned contest twelve months ago that this horse properly burst onto the main stage. Paul Nicholls’ bold-running son of Nickname trounced a good field of rivals, made up of Waiting Patiently, Fox Norton, Politologue, Charbel and Aso, by a huge seventeen lengths. This emphatic victory earned him, controversially, the title of highest-rated chaser. This accolade once sat with Altior. In November, us racing fans were treated to a showdown like no other – Altior Vs Cyrname. Cyrname jumped and travelled a lot better than Altior to beat him by two and a quarter lengths. Then all eyes were on the King George VI Chase. He went off 5/4 favourite but got beat twenty one lengths by Clan Des Obeaux into second. That was a new test but Ascot is where he thrives. A three times course winner, the rest of the runners are at a disadvantage as this is his home turf.

You could say that Cyrname under-performed on Boxing Day and, if he was to do so again, Riders Onthe Storm would be there to take advantage. He’s seemed a new horse since moving to Nigel Twiston-Davies as he is two from two for them. On stable debut, he won at Aintree smartly, despite being keen, beating Cepage and Oldgrangewood, who’ve won three competitive handicaps between them since. Next time, he won a £31k prize over course and distance. He wasted energy at the beginning of the race and the ground was extremely tacky so to win as strongly as he did was ultra-impressive. I don’t think he’ll beat Cyrname in this but all roads lead to Cheltenham and the Ryanair as it appears unlikely Cyrname will go there because he doesn’t go left-handed.

Completing the small but select field of four are Traffic Fluide and Janika. The latter won over a bit further than this on his final start in France before moving to Nicky Henderson. Last season, his best runs were second in the Stable Plate and fourth in the Topham over the National fences. This season, he won at Exeter in the Haldon Gold Cup but he’s struggled since against Defi Du Seuil in two races and Summerville Boy, over hurdles. This is a more appropriate trip but he’s not up to Cyrname’s standards. The same can be said for Traffic Fluide even though he’s a smart horse in his own right, having won a grade two and three. We haven’t seen him for 469 days (when he won the Sodexo Gold Cup) and will need the run.

On the left is Two For Gold. (JTW Equine Images)

The other graded race on the Ascot card is the Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices Chase (13:50 Ascot) (Grade Two). Six exciting young horses go for glory here. Number one is Danny Whizzbang for the Cyrname trainer-jockey combination of Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls. Before last time, he was unbeaten in three outings, two hurdle races and a chase. The chase was a grade two in which he beat Reserve Tank, who’s a grade one winner. Last time, he was well-beaten into third by Slate House and Black Op in a grade one. He folded tamely that day. Two For Gold’s last run was the complete opposite to that. I was at Warwick when this horse tenaciously won a grade two. He got headed by Hold The Note at one point in the race and but battled back to win by half a length. He runs from the front and won his first two chases in good style. His attitude is just wonderful!

The Altior colours of Patricia Pugh will be worn by Pym. On his second start, he notched up a course and distance victory after being second to Deyrann Du Carjac at Huntingdon. In the Ascot race, he beat a decent field of rivals and then at Cheltenham he won by eight lengths over three miles and a furlong. As a neat jumper, he has a big reputation but he won’t want the ground to be too soft as he was only ninth in the 2018 Aintree Bumper on soft ground behind Portrush Ted. Copperhead won’t mind the going. The six year old won on soft to heavy in February well. He needed his reappearance but won by four lengths, beating subsequent winner Fingerontheswitch, next time. When last seen, he was prominent and cruised into the lead at two out in the Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury. This race has thrown up some good horses. He showed signs of being a bit novicey but he’s in the most perfect hands, being from the Colin Tizzard yard as they train the likes of Native River, Thistlecrack and Cue Card.

Sam Brown came off a 750 day absence with a twenty two length victory at Lingfield, beating a subsequent winner. There was no bounce factor and he hacked up by fifteen lengths in a grade two at Haydock. I know the yard is delighted that he’s back – and winning – and they are aiming for the RSA with him. I liked what I saw at Cheltenham and I think he could be a serious horse. Completing the line up is Alsa Mix. She pulled up in the Albert Bartlett before winning on chase debut at Bangor, by a small margin. That was a listed race and she ran in a similar contest at Warwick next time but could only manage third. On her first start of 2020, she ran into the high-class Annie Mc and would’ve convincingly been the winner if the younger mare wasn’t in the race.

The Worlds End (JTW Equine Images)

That race is followed by the Rendlesham Hurdle (14:05 Haydock) (Grade 2) and the race has attracted a decent field. Donna’s Diamond won this in 2018 aged nine. He must have had some sort of issue as he hasn’t been seen for 364 days. He’s ran six times and won once since. He’s up against it with The Worlds End in the line-up. This horse began the season by winning a grade two and then he came third to Paisley Park and Thistlecrack in the Long Distance Hurdle. Next time, Paisley Park pulled out due to the ground and gave The Worlds End a great opportunity to win a grade one. He deserved that and he should relish the test.

His main rivals are Emitom and West Approach. The former is just six years old and won his first five starts under rules. They sent him to the Aintree Grand National Meeting for the Sefton Novices Hurdle when he was only beaten three lengths by Champ. He’s ran once this season when it was obvious he needed the run in the Relkeel Hurdle. He’ll come on for that run. West Approach has ran five times this season. He came second to The Conditional and then won a grade three at Cheltenham, after a long period of being out of the winners enclosure. He unseated in the Ladbrokes Trophy and then followed in Cogry. Last time, he pulled up in the Welsh National and is returning to hurdles for the first time since April 2019.

One Night In Milan is ultra consistent. He’s ran thirteen times, won four, second twice and third on three occasions. He ran on New Years Day and finished third, beaten one and three quarter lengths by Fred The Foot. His ideal trip is probably shorter. Lastly is Clyne. He last won in March 2018. In his younger days, he placed in this grade but this may be a bit competitive for him.

After this race is the Keltbray Swinley Chase (14:25 Ascot) (Listed). My idea of the winner is Domaine De L’Isle. He’s won his last three, including last time on very soft ground over two furlongs less. That was at Ascot and eventually they’re hoping he’ll be a Welsh National type. He’s won over this trip before so there’s no worried there. Valtor and 2018 winner Regal Encore are course and distance winners. It was excellent to see the latter win in December after he struggled to get his head in front for a while. He doesn’t win all that often though. Valtor is number forty six in the Grand National. He ran in a grade two hurdle at the end of 2019 and then came third in an expensive chase. That was a good run. Ballyoptic is number nineteen in the Grand National but carries top weight here which could be difficult.

Red Indian was really well-fancied in the Peter Marsh on seasonal reappearance. That was over slightly further and this is more of an appropriate trip. Captain Drake won at Exeter in January in a three mile handicap chase on heavy ground so he’ll be suited to this. Jepeck has been cleverly campaigned to win over fences, hurdles and in points. Last time, he won the Veterans Final at Sandown. Even though he’s eleven, he can’t be discounted. Like The Sound fell in the Becher but came third at Cheltenham on New Years Day. He still has a bit to find.

The Betway Kingwell Hurdle (14:45 Wincanton) (Grade Two) is the next race and the sole on shown on ITV. Elgin won this in 2018 but he hasn’t been seen for 582 days. After that, he came fifth in the Champion Hurdle. Next, he ran four times on the flat. He’s a smart horse but this is a long absence to overcome. Grand Sancy won this last year and his stable mate Quel Destin runs in this last year, with James Bowen riding. He won at Cheltenham in October and then found the Greatwood and Relkeel a bit too hot. Last time, he beat a few well-regarded horses, including Zambella, at Sandown in a listed race. He should be on fine form for this. Zambella gets weight and is rated significantly lower then the rest. She won twice in France but unseated on yard debut behind Lady Buttons. She’s got a bit to find.

So does Calgary Tiger who has been well-beaten in four starts. Ch’tibello won the County Hurdle last year and then came third in the Aintree Hurdle. On reappearance, he came third behind Epatante. He’s a smart individual and is my second choice behind Quel Destin. Song For Someone can’t be discounted either though. James Nixon gave him a good ride at Ascot in January. He only got denied a length by Thomas Darby after leading all the way. He’s an interesting runner.

Next up is the fifteen runner Give The Gift Of Ascot Annual Membership Handicap Hurdle (15:00 Ascot). I’ve selected five horses who could be players. Eden De Houx was well regarded at one point and won his first two starts. He ran into I K Brunel on hurdles bow and then came fourth in a grade two. He managed to win last time by a short head but it was nothing spectacular. The Con Man has never been out of the top two in four starts. He won on debut and then came second on two occasions. Last time, he stayed on to win by six and a half lengths and Brian Hughes rides.

Jolly’s Cracked It loves it here but hasn’t won since November 2018. Nordano is very consistent and is still only four years old. He’s followed in Allmankind and Goshen on his last two starts which is excellent form as, even though the margins were wide, the placing was good and these horses are leading contenders for the Triumph Hurdle. Dorking Boy completed a double in the backend of 2019 but was left one-paced at Huntingdon last time out.

Ballyoptic (JTW Equine Images)

The final race to mention is the Unibet Grand National Trial (15:15 Haydock). A few of these are in the National. Bally optic, who won the Charlie Hall Chase, is also entered here as well as Ascot but I’m unsure what the ideal race would be if both meetings were to go ahead. I adore Yala Enki and he’ll definitely get the run after a really good victory at Taunton last time. He won this in 2018. Vintage Clouds got back to winning ways last time but I don’t think he is suited to the Grand National obstacles so this race is more up his street. He doesn’t win very often though. One For Arthur won the Grand National in 2017 but since then he’s unseated a few times and been well-beaten on his other three runs. I’m not sure he’ll make it into the big race this year. Elegant Escape has a weight off 11st2 for the Grand National and people always fancy him to win this kind of race. It’s definitely within his capabilities and Robbie Power rides. This suggests he may have the ride for Aintree as Tizzard is increasingly using him.

Lord Du Mesnil is my selection in the race. He’s won all three of his last three outings. The one that attracts me to him is last time when he won on similar going by nine lengths over course and distance. It’s hard to know how much was taken out if him that day but he looks well at home. Geronimo is also in good form and followed in Vintage Clouds in the Peter Marsh to be third. He ran well all the way but stamina is the question. Steely Addition was last seen coming fourth to Santini at Sandown in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase. This trip is a new test. The Two Amigos was entered in the Denman last weekend but connections favour this. He loves the mud and finished fifth in the Welsh National. He won over this trip in the Sussex National. Pobbles Bay and Smooth Stepper are big prices.


13:50 Ascot – Sam Brown
14:05 Haydock – The Worlds End
14:25 Ascot – Domaine De L’Isle
14:45 Wincanton – Quel Destin
15:00 Ascot – The Con Man
15:15 Haydock – Lord Du Mesnil
15:35 Ascot – Cyrname

Betfair Hurdle Day Preview 2020

Altior Runs In The Game Spirit (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Check out our latest Rein It In Podcast where we talked about the world of bloodstock here >

The Betfair Hurdle is one of the most competitive hurdle races of the year. The two mile contest has been won by Al Dancer, Kalashnikov, Ballyandy and My Tent Or Yours in recent years. This renewal has attracted a maximum field of 24.

Two of the runners ran in this last year. Magic Dancer was only beaten three and three quarters of a length off of a mark of 125. He’s not won since April 2018 and he’s 5lbs higher than last year. Zanza came thirteenth. After that, he won over course and distance. He’s won once since, once again over course and distance, beating Magic Dancer. He was sixth to Harambe, Gumball and Quoi De Neuf on his penultimate outing and, last time out, he fell in behind Not So Sleepy.

Quoi De Neuf (Photos By JTW Equine Images)

Zanza and Quoi De Neuf have some unfinished business. In the Betfair Exchange Trophy, which could be a good form line, Zanza fell at the fourth, bringing down Quoi De Neuf. Quoi De Neuf is quite lightly raced and he ran creditably to be fourth in the Greatwood. He appears to be second choice from the Evan Williams Yard behind Mack The Man. This six year old has won his last two in good style. He won on good to soft at Warwick in November, beating Lightly Squeeze. He was last seen winning a Listed race well in December so will have been kept for this. He’s sneaked in at the bottom of the weights. Lightly Squeeze has won his last three by a combined twenty eight lengths. I doubt he will want the ground too hard but he’s on excellent terms with himself. Officially, he’s rated 7lbs higher than Mack The Man.

The winner of the Betfair Exchange Trophy was Not So Sleepy. This quirky chestnut was a really smart flat horse at three, winning the Dee Stakes. On hurdles debut, he was fourth on hurdles debut, when pulling very hard, but next time he made all to win by twelve lengths. He was fifth in March behind Commanche Red. He ran multiple times on the flat over the summer and returned to hurdles in November when he won, beating Oakley. Once again, he won last time and made all of the running. Johnny Burke said go just before two out and he flew away from his rivals. Because of that demolition job, connections have decided to target him at the Champion Hurdle. He’s very free going and will set a good pace.

Oakley is one of three for Phillip Hobbs. The other two are the aforementioned Zanza and Gumball. Oakley is a really consistent seven year old. He’s ran nine times, winning two and placing on four. This season, he’s been third, second to Not So Sleepy and second to a horse I like a lot called Repetitio. He’s 12lbs higher than last time out. Gumball won a listed handicap hurdle at Ascot in November and then came second to Harambe in the Greatwood at Cheltenham under today’s 3lbs claimer. He’s got top weight. Harambe hasn’t been seen since then. He went up 7lbs for that victory and the yard have been saving him for this. The ground won’t be a problem and he’s a good each way price.

Third in the Trophy was Sir Valentine. This gelding was beaten thirteen and a half lengths and hasn’t been seen since. Before that, he was second to subsequent grade two second Ribble Valley. He’s only ran four times over hurdles and he’s never been out of the top three in all of them. There’s more to come. Stolen Silver is his stablemate and this horse unseated on his first hurdles start. He won easily in November and then came a really good second to the smart Chantry House. Last time, he won a really strange grade two Supreme Trial, beating Thebannerkingrebel. Nigel Twiston-Davies has been pinpointing this race ever since and that’s a really good sign. Thebannerkingrebel fell on seasonal reappearance when holding a narrow lead. Next time, he won a listed race at Haydock by five lengths. He was hampered behind Stolen Silver when evens favourite that day. He’ll love conditions.

In the Exchange Trophy, Whoshotthesheriff came fifth. Before that, he was quite well-fancied in a race at Haydock. The decent ground could aid him and he won his first two starts for Phil Kirby after coming from Gordon Elliot in Ireland. There’s an Irish runner in the race from Willie Mullins. Ciel De Neige made his debut in the Fred Winter and actually ran an excellent race. Next time, he ran on under hands and heels after Barry Geraghty dropped his whip. He ran a really good race and an even better one next time when he only went down a head to a Gigginstown horse. He could be well handicapped.

Interestingly, Ciel De Neige actually has form with Pic D’orhy in France. Paul Nicholls’ five year old won the race which was his second lifetime start and win. Subsequently, he was second in a grade three and a grade one, behind a nice horse called Beaumec De Houelle who I put up as a stallion to watch in our Podcast. This was all before he came tenth first time out for Paul Nicholls in the Triumph. He was unplaced in a French grade one on seasonal debut and ran keenly when held up last time at Ascot. He’s really well regarded and the fast pace will suit.

Paul Nicholls has two other runners, Tamaroc Du Mathan, in the same colours, and Ecco. The former is bottom weight and came tenth in the Betfair Exchange Trophy behind some of the aforementioned horses. Before that, he’d come second to subsequent grade two winner Master Debonair but has a lot to find on last time. Ecco won his first two outings this season, after coming sixth in the Triumph Hurdle. On the last one of those wins, he beat Neff from the Gary Moore yard. After that, he was third in a grade two and second behind subsequent winner Fred. Neff has ran four times, winning on debut and then was second to Ecco. After another second, he hacked up by fifteen lengths last time. He’s still a novice.

Never Adapt (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

Nicky Henderson has two in this – Never Adapt and Mill Green. Never Adapt is the sole filly in the line up and she’s a smart prospect. She won on debut in France on heavy going and, on debut in the UK, was really keen and ended up third in a Triumph Hurdle Trial. On seasonal debut this season, she was keen yet again and hung left when finishing third to Repetitio and Oakley. In early January, she pulled hard but quickened really well and won by three and three quarter lengths. She is definitely the type of horse who will run well in this race. I’m not completely convinced she’ll enjoy the manic big field atmosphere but the rest of team Rein It In, were very keen on her in our Podcast. Mill Green put in a really smart performance to win at Sandown in early January. He’d got good form in the book but he’s off a career high mark of 142. After a 643 day absence, Remiluc got beaten into tenth by Mill Green and previous to that run, he’d been second in the County Hurdle. He looks up against it.

Nelson River is on the other end of the spectrum aged five. He won well on his first two juvenile hurdle outings in late 2018. After that, he showed some very good form when sixth to Fakir D’Oudairies and fourth in the Triumph Hurdle. This season, he has come fifth in a race at Cheltenham and then finished last in the Fighting Fifth. He ran on last time but looks up against it. Flegmatik is also five but he’s only raced five times, once in France. On debut for Dan Skelton, he won by fourteen lengths and then was a good third next time. He’s not been seen since the first of November when coming second and probably needing the run. Last to mention is Emma Lavelle’s seven year old Highly Prized has ran twenty eight times for roughly seven trainers in England and America. For Lavelle, he’s won four out of five and could be a player.

Age is a big trend in this race and it is normally won by a horse aged five or six, relatively early on in their careers. The oldest horse to win this since the turn of the century was Geos aged nine in 2004 for Nicky Henderson.

This stat has been in the back of my mind as I wrote this but it can’t put me off NOT SO SLEEPY. I was astounded by his win last time and its only early days in his career over hurdles. His speed will set a good pace as I think and hope they make the running with him. That will benefit Pic D’orhy. Stolen Silver is eye-catching, having been targeted for this race. Lightly Squeeze has each way claims.


13:50 Newbury- Betfair Bet In-Play Handicap Hurdle

ONE FOR THE TEAM has ran creditable races on all three outings this term, including last time out at Warwick. I rate his jockey highly. Anytime Will Do is a good rival and has been dropped a few ponds lately. Acey Milan has been threatening a win and Anthony Honeyball is in good form.

14:05 Warwick- Kingmaker Novices Chase (Grade 2)

In this race, I slightly favour Dan Skelton’ horse NUBE NEGRA. He’s won his first two chase starts really smartly and wasn’t beaten all that far in a grade one at Sandown last time. One of those victories was in a grade one and he’s won here before. Djingle won a Roscommon grade three in September, for which he’s penalized. Next time, he fell at Carlisle and then was well beaten in a hot grade one over Christmas, beaten by Notebook, Fakir D’oudairies and Royal Rendezvous. Place claims.

Sceau Royal and Simply Ned (Photo By JTW Equine Images)

14:25 Newbury- Game Spirit Chase (Grade 2)

This is a really good contest with ALTIOR back racing. The Queen Mother winner has only ran once this season when beaten by Cyrname and has had a few little niggles since. If he turns up fit, he’ll beat this lot. The interesting one for me is Dynamite Dollars. He’s won his last three, including a grade one, and injury stopped his season before the Arkle, which I’m sure he’d have won. He comes off a 378 day absence and if he places here, he’ll be bang there at the Festival. Bun Doran has claims here. Sceau Royal has ran into Altior a few times and Simply Ned is getting on a bit.

14:40 Warwick- St Mary’s Lands Warwick Mares Hurdle

LEGENDS GOLD is a lovely mare and has won four out of her last five. The blip was at Cheltenham when she probably didn’t like the ground. She’s stepping up in class but deserves to. Copper Gone West was second, beating Indefatigable, in a listed race last time so has a good shot.

15:00 Newbury- Betfair Denman Chase (Grade 2)

NATIVE RIVER looks the obvious winner of this. A Gold Cup winner, he hacked round last time, when Might Bite unseated, and is a big ride for Jonjo O’Neill Jr, who tallied 50 winners on the season aboard Annie Mc on Friday. Its hard to gage how Might Bite will perform as he pulled up over hurdles last time which was disheartening performance. Secret Investor has scope to place.

15:15 Warwick- Warwick Castle Handicap Chase

I’m going to take a chance on Two Taffs in this. He came a good third in a grade two hurdle after a 735 day absence as a prep for the Ladbrokes Trophy. He was going well for a while but tailed off in the end to be sixteenth. This is more his grade.