Saturday, 27 February 2016

Eagle Could Be Set To Soar At Leopardstown

A Vos Gardes ultimately finished well beaten earlier today, but he travelled pretty well for a long way and perhaps a slight drop in trip is what is needed to help him get his head back in front. Killala Quay was given an absolute cracker of a ride by Richard Johnson, who showed once again that he is a more than worthy successor to the great AP McCoy. When he does win the jockey's championship it will be well deserved and long overdue.

There are decent cards of action on both sides of the pond on Sunday, and the horse I am interested in goes in the Foxrock Cup Hurdle at 3.00 at Leopardstown. Prussian Eagle, trained by Charles O'Brien in Kildare, looks a very interesting contender on his hurdling and flat form last year and he is sure to come on massively for his seasonal reappearance at Navan.

He trailed home 5th of 5 that day, beaten a distance, but it was his first run back and he will surely strip fitter at Leopardstown tomorrow. He ran an absolute cracker here over 16f in the Grade 1 Spring Hurdle last February, just over 4L behind Petite Parisienne, and he stayed on really well close home. He followed that with another super effort in a Grade 3 (16f soft) at Fairyhouse, 3l behind Business Sivola, and he again stayed on very well in the closing stages.

He went on to win a soft ground flat handicap over 12.5f on soft ground off 64 in Tipperary and he again stayed on well to claim that prize. He went close behind useful dual performer To Choose at the Curragh (10.5f soft) on his next run and the drop in trip possibly found him out.

 He steps up to 18f for the first time over timber tomorrow and this looks a very winnable race. It will be his first run back at Leopardstown since that excellent Grade 1 run last year, and he had also run well here previously in a Grade 2  behind Fiscal Focus (16f  soft). He has an obvious liking for the track, looks sure to be suited by the step up in trip and the ground is in his favour too. He is a confident selection to hit the frame and looks worthy of each way support at 12/1.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Ground Could Be Key For Gardes At Chepstow

Baileys Concerto produced a cracking effort at Doncaster and with a better jump at the last he might have won. When you consider he was pretty badly hampered early on too I think he was a fairly unlucky loser, but at least he held on well for each way money in 3rd. He is one to watch out for on good ground in handicaps during the Spring and I think Aintree could be ideal in a couple of months time.

Tomorrow there is some cracking action with some decent types on show in Ireland and in the UK. I like the look of a couple of Charlie Longsdon horses and with Richard Johnson booked a big run could be forthcoming from Killala Quay at 8/1 in the 2.35 at Kempton. However, at a much bigger price later on at Chepstow I think A Vos Gardes could be set for a big run with the drying ground at Chepstow in his favour.

This 6yo son of Kapgarde has shown his very best form on decent ground, and after a dry week in Chepstow the surface should be improving all the time. A Vos Gardes ran a stinker on his last run at Cheltenham but his yard was badly out of form then and the ground was never going to suit. He had previously run okay, again on ground plenty soft enough at Bangor when he chased home the useful Top Billing, and the third horse home that day, Sir Vinski, has since gone on to win.

His best run came at Doncaster when he won his maiden hurdle (19.5f good to soft) last January and he was highly tried after that run. He was 2nd behind Different Gravey on his next run, beaten just 4L, but it is perhaps unwise to take that form literally as two runs later he was 11l behind that rival.

His second run this season off 135, when he was 7l behind Bivouac on soft ground in a class 2 handicap over 19.f at Huntingdon, suggested he would benefit from a step up in trip and he dually showed that he stayed with that penultimate run behind Top Billing. Tomorrow will be his first try over 3m on his preferred ground and off a mark of 132 with the Longsdon yard back firing on all cylinders ( a win and two 2nds from last 3 runners) he looks worthy of supporting each way at 25/1. He needs to run well in this if his entries in the Coral Cup and Pertemps at Chelltenham are to be justified.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Bank On Baileys At Doncaster

Monyjean ran an absolute stinker at the weekend and when I awoke to see him priced up at 28/1 in some places on Sunday morning, after tipping him up at 10s, I feared the worst. And in the end it was the worst that transpired as he ran no sort of race, tailing off as soon as things hotted up. Maybe he has had problems at home because his French form suggests he should be capable of a lot better.

Tomorrow at Doncaster the ground is currently described as good, and with no rain forecast hopefully it stays that way. One horse that looks certain to relish the return to a sound surface is Baileys Concerto, who runs in the 3m Veterans Handicap Chase at 3.30. This 10yo son of Bach has been a fine servant to Dianne Sayer, and his golden spell in 2014, when he won 7 from 8 and saw his mark go from 96 to 134, still remains fresh in the memory.

Another couple of fine placed efforts saw his mark go up to 139, and that seemed to be the limit of his ability as he has failed to make an impact over fences since. Of his 7 wins 6 have come on a sound surface (from 20f to 21.5f), but perhaps his best run of all came in January of last year, when he ran an absolute blinder in the valuable listed Skybet Chase over course and distance off 134. He was just over 3l behind the winner If In Doubt and 6l ahead of Night in Milan in 3rd, and that rival is just 3lb better off with Baileys Concerto here.

He has been mixing the flat with hurdling and chasing since that excellent run, and he has had only five chase outings in the mean time. He ran poorly on easy ground when 5th of 6 on his next run at Kelso off 139 and he was pulled up in the Scottish National off the same mark next time when the 32f trip would have been much too far for him. He was only beaten 6l over 25.5f on good ground off 135 at Cartmel back in August and he ran his best race for quite a while on his penultimate run at Aintree when 15L behind Pepite Rose on ground plenty soft enough  in November (20f).

His last run, over course and distance off 131 was a poor effort and he was pulled up. However, the ground was soft again that day and that is enough for me to put a line through that run. The handicapper has dropped him back down to 128, just 2lb above his last winning mark, and Brian Hughes, who rode him for 5 of his 7 wins, takes the ride. It would be no surprise if connections have targeted this race, as it is quite a valuable pot of 18k and they don't have to worry about any young unexposed types due to it being a veterans race. I think he could be set for a big run tomorrow off 6lb lower than his superb effort in the Skybet Chase, and at odds of 20/1 he looks well worth supporting each way in an open looking heat.


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Williams Could Be In The Mony At Market Rasen

Things couldn't have gone more wrong for Friday and Saturday's selections, who both failed to reach the money. Tatawu was well backed throughout the day before running at Wolves and his priced halved from 16s to 8s in most places. Optimism was high in Stevos' Towers after seeing that, but he drifted all the way back out to 16s before the off and he accordingly ran as if something was amiss. It definitely wasn't his true form but I won't be rushing to back him again until he shows a bit more.

Sirop De Menthe on the other hand probably ran to form, he just did far too much too early and himself and the Skelton horse set a searching pace out in front. They were racing each other from the outset and there was no way he was going to last home.

In fairness to the horse he did well to be as close as he was coming to the second last, but the early exertions took their toll in the closing stages and he faded into a well beaten fourth. He is not one to lose faith in yet though under more patient tactics, and the form of his previous run was franked by Rayvin Black and Melodic Rendezvous in the Grade 2 Kingwell at Wincanton.

Tomorrow there is action on both sides of the Irish Sea and there are a couple of decent Grade 2 heats on the Naas card. However, I like the look of a horse that goes in the class 3 handicap hurdle at 3.20 at Market Rasen (16f soft)and Monyjean is a very interesting contender on the form of his sole hurdles win back in France. This 5yo gelding is a full brother to dual hurdle and dual Grade 1 chase winner Clarcam, and surely he has to be better than he showed on his first two runs for Evan Williams.

His final run in France, at Nantes (17.5f heavy), he made mincemeat of a 3 runner field and the 3rd horse home that day, Label Des Obeaux, has won a Grade 2 at Sandown (20f soft) and was 3rd behind Barters Hill in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury back in December. The 2nd home in that race, Blinis, went on to win next time out, beating a horse called Townshend by 5L, and Townshend has since been bought by Rich Ricci and has a load of fancy entries for Cheltenham.

Monyjean made her debut for Evan Williams back in November in a novice handicap chase at Huntingdon (16.5f soft) off a mark of 130 and was never sighted. It was his first run for 9 months so it is easy enough to put a line through it. He reappeared in a similar heat at Doncaster (16.5f good to soft) and he was again left behind. However, he was sent off at 14/1 in that race so he still probably wasn't in peak condition, and the ground was likely quick enough too.

He returns to hurdles tomorrow for the first time since that excellent win in France, and the handicapper has handed him a mark of 130. I think that could underestimate him back over the smaller obstacles and the ground is forecast to be testing tomorrow, which should suit him well. Tom O'Brien has been booked and he is in super form at the moment, while his record of 3/5 for Williams and 1/1 for Monyjean's owners is another positive.

With only 7 due to go to post there is only 2 places for each way money so it is really down to personal preference as to whether you want to back it each way or in a small win single. I will probably go for the former at odds of 12/1, and hopefully Monyjean can finish what has been a tough week for the blog off on a high note.


Friday, 19 February 2016

Sirop Looks Overpriced At Ascot

The money has come for today's selection Tatawu but that means nothing unless he goes out and justifies the support. Fingers crossed he can hit the frame. The old saying goes that the early bird gets the worm, a sentiment that especially applies in horseracing, and tomorrow at Ascot there is a horse in the hot handicap at 3.00 that I believe should be half the price he currently is.

Sirop De Menthe is a 6yo gelding that has come on in leaps and bounds under the care of Sue Gardner. She spotted promise in him that not many others saw, and he was picked up at the sales for just 6k. That already looks like an absolute bargain after he has hit the frame in 8 of his 10 starts for his new trainer, including 3 wins at Plumpton, Lingfield and Huntingdon.

His last win at Lingfield three starts back was over 19.5f on heavy and he did it ever so easily.He stepped up on that form last time out at Sandown with a superb effort in a red hot class 2 handicap behind the classy Rayvin Black. He had Melodic Rendezvous and subsequent winner Minstrel's Gallery over 12L behind in 3rd and 4th, and it was a gallant effort from horse and jockey.

That superb run came off a mark of 128, and he has been raised just 4lb to 132. Rain is forecast which will suit this fella well as he absolutely loves the muck. His small yard is in super form and they had a nice winner during the week in Bredon Hill Lad. The step back up in trip is also in his favour and he has been freshened up since his last run, presumably with this race in mind. He looks well overpriced at 14/1 on the strength of that run at Sandown, and once the rain arrives he should be there or thereabouts in a wide open race.


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Step Up In Trip To Suit Tatawu At Wolves

Imperial Prince ran a cracking race on Wednesday, just failing for 2nd and coming home in 3rd at 18/1. Hopefully some of you took the 33s available with many firms on the day of the race. I was worried on the day after the ground turned soft, but he evidently handled it well. However, I think he will be even better on a sounder surface and with a further step up in trip he will definitely be winning races. Unfortunately he won't be such a fancy price next time!

I have gone through the two national hunt meetings tomorrow with a fine tooth comb and have failed to find a single horse to put up. One that was in the shake up was Run Hurricane in the seller at Fakenham at 2.00. He is an ex Tom Mullins inmate who is of big interest on one piece of form back in Ireland. However, with only 7 runners in the field there is only 2 places available for e/w money and I have decided to go with a Peter Hiatt horse later on in the lucky last at Wolves instead.

Tatawu started off his racing career in the care of Brian Meehan, and he managed a 2nd in a maiden back in October of 2014 at Lingfield (8f) beaten just over 3L and keeping on quite well, It was a good effort for just his 2nd start and Covert Love (now rated 116) was over 3L behind in 5th. He was put through the sales ring and was picked up by current connections for 4.5k, and after over a year off he made his return in an 8.5f maiden at Wolves when he trailed in a well beaten 4th.

He made his handicap debut off a mark of 70 here over 8.5f again a fortnight ago and he stepped up massively on his previous run. He came home 3rd of 3 but was beaten by just 4L and he almost got back up for 2nd after getting outpaced when they turned for home. It was a promising enough effort and he shaped as though a step up in trip would definitely suit, which he gets that at Wolves tomorrow (12f).

There is further encouragement to be found in his pedigree regarding the step up in trip and as an ex Shadwell horse he is not badly bred, as you might expect. His sire Mawatheeq isn't a superstar sire, but he has a 50% strike rate with his progeny over 12f.  Tatawu's  half sister won on the all weather at 9.5f over in France, and his dam also won over 10f at Lingfield on an artificial surface. She is a half sister to Doncaster Cup (18f Group 2) winner Honolulu so stamina should not be an issue.

Luke Morris has been booked by Peter Hiatt, and he has 9 wins and 13 places from 89 rides for the Oxon based handler. Tatawu has been claimer ridden on his first two runs for Mr. Hiatt, so the booking of a top professional has to go down as a positive. His last run suggested that a step up in trip was needed, he showed he handled the track, and with a top jock booked he looks well worthy of an each way bet at the generous looking odds of 16/1.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Step Up In Trip To Suit Prince At Musselburgh

Pipers Piping was far from disgraced in 6th on Monday and he was closing all the way to the line. They just didn't go quick enough in front but it was another decent effort and if the handicapper drops him another couple of pounds it won't be long until he is back in the winners enclosure.

Tomorrow at Musselburgh one of my favourite trainers, the tricky Sandy Thomson, has a trio of interesting runners. Wakhan and Oscar Lateen are 8/1 and 6/4 respectively and both have realistic chances of hitting the frame. However, he has a stable and handicap debutant at a much more generous price in the 3.25, a 2m3f hurdle, and Imperial Prince could step up massively on the form he has shown thus far.

He showed definite promise on his first two bumper runs for former handler Micheal Smith, finishing 4th on both occasions on soft/good to soft over 16.5f and 16f back in April 2014. He wasn't seen again until he turned up in a novice hurdle in Jan 2015 at Newcastle ( 16.5f soft) and he trailed in a well beaten 4th of 9, beaten 26l but rallying well late on when the leaders had flown. That effort suggested a step up in trip would be needed to see him at his best.

He wasn't seen out again for another 9 months and his comeback run at Ayr in a maiden hurdle over 16f saw him outpaced again and well beaten in 9th. He was kept to 16.5f on his last run at Newcastle and it was a similar story, and the handicapper has awarded him a mark of 100 for his handicap debut.

He has moved to the Sandy Thomson stable and, as he has showed with Harry The Viking, he can often do well with new arrivals. He steps up to 19.5f and the new trip looks sure to bring about an improved showing. His previous runs over shorter trips have suggested it would suit, and his pedigree strongly suggests it too.

His half brother Imperial Vic was a useful sort (rated 140) and he has won 4 races under rules over 3m. His dam's half brother Satco Express won a grade 3 over 3m, and both of those horses showed a clear preference for decent ground, which should be the case at Musselburgh tomorrow.

Imperial Prince is currently chalked up at odds of 20/1 with some bookies for tomorrow's race, and on all known form it looks a fair enough price. However, as has been outlined above there is cause for optimism regarding the new trip, and Sandy Thomson's horses have been in fine fettle too. At his current odds he looks worthy of a small e/w bet in  a weak looking race that won't take much winning.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Piper Could Go Close If On Song At Wolves

Chieftain's Choice was up near the front for a while in the Betfair Hurdle on Saturday but when push came to shove he found nothing and Newbury obviously wasn't the plan. I was obviously worried to see him drift so much in the run up to the race and he was available to back at 80s with some firms, and was even bigger on the exchanges. He is a better animal than he showed on Saturday though and it is too early to write him off. Perhaps Aintree is the target after he ran so well there last year and I am sure Kevin Frost will conjure a win out of him at some stage as the handicapper relents.

Usually I try and avoid tipping up horses early in the week as the quality of fare is invariably of a low standard. Tomorrow is no different really, and nothing appeals at either of the national hunt meetings. However, seeing as Top Pocket went so close for us at a nice price last week on the all weather I have decided to try again at Wolves on Monday.

Pipers Piping is a standing dish at Wolves, and he loves it there, especially over 7f. This 10yo is obviously no superstar, but he is a quality horse on his day at this sort of level and in over 90 career starts he has 11 wins and 20 places to his name. Of those 11 wins 8 have come at this venue, and 6 have come over course and distance. His last win came here over 7f back in June last year off a mark of 50 with Rob Hornby on board and he is back in the plate tomorrow, taking off a handy 3lb.

He ran poorly on his next four runs after that win last Summer, but he showed clear signs of returning to form here over 8.5f last time out. He finished 6th but he was only beaten by 2L off a mark of 53, and the handicapper has generously decided to drop him a pound to 52 after that run. That leaves him just 2lb above his last winning mark, and he won off 56 as recently as March 2014. In fact, he seems to like it at this time of year as he won two races in February 2010, one in 2012 and another in Feb 2014 (maybe he likes impressing the fillies around Valentines Day, the auld romantic!).

He has a decent draw in 7 and hopefully Hornby can drop him in and get him settled early. There should be plenty of pace in the race with the likes of Samlljohn and Mercury in the field and that will suit Pipers Piping who likes to come with a late run. He is currently priced up at 25/1 and dropping back down to 7f he looks worthy of a little support each way in a race that should be run to suit.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Saturday's Selection

The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury is a race I have done well in over the years and I managed to find the 20/1 winner Violet Dancer last year. This year's heat looks as open as ever, and the horse I am interested in is right down at the foot of the weights. He was still going well in front when he tipped up at the 5th in last year's race, and it looks as though he has been laid out for another tilt at it this season.

Chieftain's Choice was well backed in the ante-post market for last year's race and the then 6yo was still going well in front when he came down at the 5th, admittedly before the race hotted up. He was off a mark of 134 that day, and after mixing a couple of good efforts with some poor ones he now finds himself off a mark of 129.

He showed he could be competitive at this level with a very good run in a high class handicap at Aintree last year when the ground would have been plenty quick enough. He finished 7th of 21 in that race, beaten less than 6L off a mark of 132. His comeback run this season for new trainer Kevin Frost saw him pulled up, but it was much better on his next start off 128 at Doncaster (16.5f heavy) when he was beaten less than 3L into 3rd by the useful Minstrels Gallery. Forest Bihan was 4th that day, and he went close off 140 on his next run which gives some substance to the form.

His last run saw him return to Newbury, the scene of his crashing fall last year, and he was well beaten over 20.5f on soft off today's mark of 129. However, I reckon the priority there was a clean round of jumping in order to restore the Chieftain's confidence after what happened in this race last year. He jumped pretty well before trailing home last of 6, and it is probably because of that effort that the bookies have decided to price him up at 50/1.

Brian Hughes has been booked for the ride and he is 6/29 (+33.25) for the Kevin Frost yard and 3/11 for the owner Carl Hinchy. He was fancied by former handler John Quinn for this last year, and off a mark 5lb lower he surely must have a decent chance if he can repeat his Aintree run. Prominent racers have a good record in this race and Chieftain's Choice likes to get on with things out in front. The ground should be perfect, a top jockey is booked and at odds of 50/1 he looks well worthy of a little each way support in what looks a wide open handicap hurdle.


Soft Ground Colud be Key For Abyaat

It was a very disappointing effort from Rock On Lilly earlier at Thurles and she failed miserably to build on the promise she showed on her previous run. She seemecd to be in a good position for most of the race, but when push came to shove she went out like a light and she looks best left alone until showing a bit more on the track.

As the majority of yards have put their star turns away with Cheltenham fast approaching the quality of racing is below the usual Friday standard. There is jumps action at Kempton and Wetherby and the horse I am interested in goes at the former track in the opening 2m conditional handicap hurdle (2m).

Victor Dartnall's Abyaat, who has a decent flat pedigree, failed to pull up any trees on the level for the Hannon yard. However, his sole win came on soft ground in a handicap at Chepstow over 10f off a mark of just 62, and he again ran well when 2nd at Nottingham over the same distance, again on soft, off a mark of 67 back in November.

He showed an aptitude for hurdling when going close on his 2nd start over timber in a novice up in Perth (3rd home who Abyaat beat by 11L hacked up for Sandy Thomson last weekend off 107) and Abyaat made his handicap hurdle debut off a mark of 114 on good ground at Taunton when he was well beaten. He was kept to the same course and distance on his last two runs, and after his mark fell to 102 he showed clear signs of life when 3rd to Canadian Diamond at 25/1 last time out, beaten 5l on good to soft ground.

He has been raised a pound for that run to a mark of 103, but that is offset by useful claimer David Prichard, who takes off a handy 6lb. Prichard is 1/1 for Dartnall and his claim could prove crucial. Going by his flat form Abyaat has a clear preference for soft ground, and once it doesn't dry out at Kempton this will be his first handicap run with proper cut.

He proved on his last run that he is not a lost cause and at his current odds of 14/1 he looks worthy of a small e/w bet off an effective mark of just 97. The form of the Dartnall yard is a big worry so stakes should be kept to a minimum for this one, but if he shows his true colours back on his favoured surface I think he can hit the frame.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Lilly Looks Too Big At Thurles

Top Pocket went agonisingly close at Kempton for the blog earlier this evening and to be honest I still can't believe he didn't go by. He was run exactly as I had hoped and Keniry looked to have a double handful coming into the home straight as his rivals floundered. However, the eventual winner battled on dourly and just edged out Top Pocket on the nod. He returned at 16/1 so at least he rewarded each way support, but it could have been so much better!

There is some decent action on both sides of the pond tomorrow and Killaro Boy, who I tipped up here on his last run when he finished just out of the money in 4th at a huge price, goes to post in a 2m6f maiden hurdle at Thurles. The hood has been applied, which is an unknown, and while Lynch keeps the faith I think I will just watch him for tomorrow, unless he drifts out to 25/1 or bigger.

One horse I will be backing at Thurles is Rock On Lilly, a lightly raced 6yo daughter of Westerner who goes in the (80-95) 2m6f handicap hurdle at 4.25. This mare is nicely bred and her full brother Total Recall won a maiden for Sandra Hughes and was 3rd in a Grade 2 (both 20f heavy). Her Dr Massini dam is out of a half sister to Grade 1 (20f) winning hurdler  Bimsey, and it is a very attractive national hunt pedigree.

This mare has been brought along steadily and after moderate runs in a bumper and 3 maidens at 2m she was stepped up to today's trip over course and distance for her handicap debut on heavy ground. She gave trouble at the start that day and proved a difficult ride, and she eventually finished well beaten down the field. She was given a couple of months off before returning to the scene of the crime a fortnight ago and she put up a much better display.

She was beaten over 30L in 4th, and they finished strung out like the washing, but it was a big step up on what she had shown previously and Brian Hayes, who was on that day, keeps the ride here. She went well for a long way that day before weakening late on, and seeing as it was her first run in a couple of months she should strip a lot fitter tomorrow. She has been dropped a pound for that run to 83, and given her lovely pedigree it will be disappointing if she can't make an impact. Donohue had one placed at nice odds at Naas last week, and hopefully he can repeat the trick with Rock On Lilly, who is currently priced up at 25/1.


Pick The Bookies' Pockets At Kempton

As soon as the news came through that the rain had arrived at Musselburgh and the ground had deteriorated I had a bad feeling about Altruism's prospects. However, his run was too bad to blame on the ground and having checked the steward's reports it seems that Richard Johnson reported that he lost his action. He was actually pretty well backed a couple of minutes before the off and he is one to keep the faith in when he gets his preferred ground.

The action has been pretty average so far this week and it is a bit of a comedown after the high class action over the weekend. However, there is a horse that caught my eye big time last time out going to post at Kempton, and this son of Royal Applause looks sure to be suited by the step up in trip. Top Pocket is a 10 race maiden but he is only a 4yo and he is unexposed over this 10f trip on the all weather.

He goes in the 5.25, a 10f class 7 handicap, and he shaped on his last run here over 8f that an extra couple of furlongs would be ideal. He started well enough in that race but he was reined back early and settled in rear. His jockey decided to chart the widest course of all and he was at least 7 horse widths wide coming round the home turn. However, he kept on well under fairly tender handling in the closing stages and finished a never nearer 5th, beaten less than 2L.

That very promising effort came off a mark of 50 in a class 6, and the handicapper somehow decided to drop him another 2lb after that very promising run to 48. He has a good draw in 5 and that gives Keniry options from the start. Hopefully he drops him in again and tries his luck up the inside instead of going widest of all. Keniry is 7/49 for Madgwick and is usually his go to jockey when a decent run is expected. He was on board last time too and hopefully he has learnt from that run. He looks a big price at 14/1 and looks well worthy of each way support in a race that won't take much winning.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Moffatt's Charge Worth Chancing On Better Ground At Musselburgh

A bitterly disappointing run from Theophilus at Leopardstown on Saturday and the writing was on the wall from a long way out. He jumped poorly, was first off the bridle and it looked as though cold, wet and windy South Dublin was the last place he wanted to spend his Saturday afternoon. Ivanovich Gorbatov also floundered on the heavy ground and he was pushed out to 8s for the Triumph. He could be worth backing at that price as he will be a much better animal on the likely decent ground he'll get at the Festival.

Tomorrow there is decent action up North at Musselburgh, and I am putting my faith in Jimmy Moffatt, who did us a huge favour back in December when he sent out Highland Lodge to take the Becher Chase at Aintree. That showed he knows how to handle a good horse, and hopefully he can produce Altruism in peak condition for the opening Supreme Trial at 13.00.

This very lightly raced 6yo son of Authorized has a beautiful pedigree, and his half sister Irish Rookie is a listed flat winner and has been placed in a couple of Group 1s for Martin Meade. His dam is from the family of Zafonic, and this fella managed a maiden win on the flat before being beaten just over 2l in a handicap off a mark of 93. He was picked up at the sales for a bargain basement price of just £4200, and he could turn out to be an exceedingly shrewd purchase.

He was sent off at 8/1 for his yard and hurdle debut back in July at Moffatt's local track Cartmel (17f good to soft), and he belied his odds to come home in front by 4l. Now the bare form is nothing to write home about as it wasn't the strongest of races, but he followed up by 12L under a penalty over the same course and distance on identical ground on his next run and it was a taking performance.

He was stepped up to Listed company on his next outing, and despite obviously hating the soft ground he was beaten by only 6L and his trainer decided to put him away in anticipation of better ground in the Spring. He gets his wish at Musselburgh tomorrow where the ground is described as good, and with just a few showers forecast there should be no change before racing gets underway.

Moffatt has described this horse as 'a really nice horse and probably one of the better ones I´ve had in the last few years' and compared him favourably to Chief Dan George, who was a multiple graded winner for Moffatt. It is high praise indeed, and Altruism has an entry for the Supreme Novice which indicates the regard in which he is held. Moffatt is likely to have him primed for this race tomorrow after a couple of months off, and at his current odds of 18/1 he looks well worth chancing each way in an open looking race.


Friday, 5 February 2016

Return To Leopardstown Could Suit Theophilus

Just Bill ran a lovely race earlier and under the tenderest of handling he hung on well for 3rd at an sp of 33/1. He travelled extremely well and at one stage I thought he might actually win. He looks sure to come on again for that run and he definitely has the necessary ability to win races under rules in the future.

Tomorrow racing fans are in for a treat with a mouthwatering card of action at Leopardstown. It will be one of the last chances for the big boys to fine tune their charges for the festivals in the Spring, and with only 5 odd weeks to go before the big one starts there will be plenty of Cheltenham clues to be found. I have written an in depth preview of the opening Grade 1 juvenile hurdle, starring the hugely exciting Ivanovich Gorbatov, and you can read it here at

Later on at Leopardstown I like the look of a horse for Des McDonagh in the 3.05, a 2m handicap that will be run on soft ground. Theophilus is an intriguing contender for his shrewd owner Mr.Bolger, and he was produced at the Xmas meeting here last year to hack up in a 2m maiden on his first run over timber on heavy ground at odds of 4/1. He had previously dotted up on his flat debut over 12f on heavy at Gowran, and although the Triumph was mentioned as a possible target after his Xmas win he reverted to the flat for the summer, and he was placed in a handicap here off 93.

He has had just two runs over timber since his successful debut, and he ran a perfectly respectable race behind Dicosimo in  a listed heat over 16f at Limerick at the Xmas meeting. He was beaten 10L, but he was giving 6lb to the winner and he was entitled to be ring rusty on his first run back over hurdles after a year. He was stepped up to 20f in a rated heat at Punchestown last time and was sent off at 3/1. He produced an underwhelming effort but he is a better horse than he showed that day, and it is possible the step up in trip was too much.

He drops back to 2m for his handicap debut tomorrow and he gets in off a mark of 131. Tigris River was behind him in the Listed heat at Limerick, and that horse went on to be 4th in the Coral Hurdle here a couple of weeks ago off 133, and that was a much stronger race than this one. He has run well on 3 of his 4 visits to Leopardstown and he clearly has a liking for the track. The ground is in his favour, as is the drop back to 2m, and it would be no surprise to see a big run from this strapping son of Teofilo in what looks a wide open handicap.


Bill Worth Watching At Chepstow

Admiral Blake tipped up at the first at Towcester, and after his priced halved in the lead up to the race it was an extremely frustrating outcome. Whether it was a genuine gamble or not we will never know, but at least horse and jockey emerged unscathed and I am sure some intensive schooling beckons for the Admiral in the next few weeks. It would be no surprise if he returned to the smaller obstacles and he is one to look out for if he gets heavy ground at Exeter or Southwell.

Tomorrow there are meetings on both sides of the Irish Sea but there are only two National Hunt meetings, at Catterick and at Chepstow. The horse I will be having a small each way bet on tomorrow is Just Bill, who goes in the 2.45 on brutal ground at Chepstow, a 23.5f class 4 novice hurdle, for Welsh trainer Evan Williams.

This 8yo son of Blueprint is a good ground point to point winner, but he didn't pull up any trees on his rules debut over course and distance on similarly desperate ground. However, he ran well for quite a long way, and if you consider it was his first run after almost 2 years off he was more than entitled to need it. He weakened very quickly after being bang there 3 out, and he was pulled up before 2 out. However, although he won his only p2p on good ground he is out of a dam that won on heavy and his pedigree suggests it should be fine.

He ran well in one of his earlier point to points opn soft ground when finishing 3rd at Dromahane, and it is this run that sparked my interest in this fella. Hacketts Folly was a half length ahead of him in 2nd that day and he has since gone close in a maiden hurdle and also got to within 15L of Don Poli in another maiden hurdle. Brandon Hill was a couple of lengths behind in 4th and he has since come out and won  a maiden hurdle and then a handicap off 122 for Tom Lacey.

Now it is a couple of years since that race at Dromahane but it has turned out to be decent form and it will be interesting to see if Just Bill is fitter than he was for his debut. Williams has opted to take 7lbs off his back with Lewis Gordon on board (6/22 for yard) and if he can repeat the form he showed in that Dromahane run he would have every chance of running into a place at Chepstow. At his current odds of 33/1 he looks worth a small interest each way in a race that doesn't look the strongest of heats.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Admiral Could Sail In At Towcester

Chandraayan ran an absolute stinker earlier this week and had no real excuses. He will more than likely pop up at a huge price some day soon but until he shows a bit more on the track he is best left alone. There is a feast of action tomorrow, with meetings in Ireland, the UK and Meydan and the horse I am interested in goes at Towcester in the 2.10, a 3m handicap chase which will be run on very testing ground.

Admiral Blake is a 9yo son of Witness Box, a sire renowned for producing classy staying chasers like Take The Stand, Godsmejudge and Monbeg Dude. Now it is fairly obvious to see that Admiral Blake is not in the same league as that trio, but this triple hurdle winner has had just the two runs over the bigger obstacles and after being pulled up on his first attempt he showed a modicum of promise on his last run at Catterick where he finished 5th, beaten 30L +.

He didn't jump brilliantly in the early stages of that race and he looked very fresh at the start, pulling the arms off his jockey Robbie Dunne. However, he seemed to warm to the task as the race progressed and he jumped an awful lot better in the last mile or so. It was a better run than the distance he was beaten suggests, and the handicapper has reacted by dropping him to 84, just 2lb higher than his last winning ark over timber.

I am hoping that Dunne can settle him a lot earlier tomorrow and hopefully get him into a nice rhythm. It was his first run after a couple of months off last time, and hopefully it has taken the freshness out of him and he races a lot more evenly. He is on a workable mark, he loves it when the mud is flying and one of his three hurdle wins came at Exeter, a track with similar characteristics to Towcester. He looks a big price at 14/1 and if his jumping holds up he could go close.