It is all saturday orientated,but at least we are racing and they are well spaced out for racegoers,Wetherby in the north,Ffos Las,the middle of knowhere,and Sandown,been to all three and love them all.
I think the Betfred "Keep it Fun" Contenders hurdle used to be known as the Oteley in years gone by,but it throws up an intriguing little field,hard to say how the race will be run,butprovided the ground is none too bad I favour Garde Le Victoire,could well be a double for the Minehead trainer with Champagne West likely to go close in the Scilly Isles,never been a big field for this race but it usually throws up a good un and often a close race.I am certain this meeting used to be the Gainsboro chase day,which was often a near top class chase, a fair staying handicap with plenty in with chances,even a raider from Greystoke,I imagine Titus Oates may well have run in the Gainsboro back in the '70's,Nicky has a fancied horse in the novice handicap hurdle to close the meeting,Sir Vinski,tough enough to give him a mark,but how on earth has a french recruit got in,hard enough to equate the form in novice hurdles without them running in handicaps as well.
Big day at Ffos Las with the resurrected Welsh Champion hurdle one of the features,a good fourteen runner handicap with numerous horses in with a chance,Little Boy Boru got me the exacta up with the runaway Tea For Two last time and he will be plugging on at the death,Loch Ba has been a long time favourite,and he looks like being my pick for their "National".
Used to be the race where we saw the likes of Teaplanter lining up for the hunter chase at Wetherby,on the first saturday in february when the hunter chase season started,now the race is littered with ex handicap chasers,though Junior did win a recent point at Sheriff Hutton,something else which is not quite the same as they used to be.
A truly remarkable performance from a lovely strong looking type well bred out of the mare My World,coincidentally with the Alner's,who trained Harwell Lad who was known to stop to a walk and start going again,another one going back further was Derring Rose who downed tools at Cheltenham one day under John Francome,but after a lot of shoving started to race again,at least both Harwell and Derring used to do it around the half way stage,not just over a quarter a mile from home,his first day at school,See The World is a name to remember,so many lovely horses pass through Emma's hands,I just hope this one turns into a real star for her and connections.
Not the biggest surprise that Catterick has abandoned,the biggest one is that clerks remain optimistic when its freezing cold and covered in snow.
Chepstow have survived,which gives Ffos Las hope for their big day tomorrow.
I stuck another £4 on Wyck Hill,this time 155 on betfair for the Grand National last night,that makes it £12 at a total of around 120,he makes his seasonal debut in the novice hurdle,but it is strange how the whole season is geared to the one race,perhaps it is less a victim of circumstances nowadays,the thirty fences around Aintree,but it is a big risk to forfeit all chances earlier in the season,I won't be complaining if he is in with a chance crossing the Melling road come April.
Cash Injection is my one pick,thus far,in the competitive handicap hurdle today at Chepstow.
Got to stop somewhere in the country and luckily for racing fans the action is south of the trent today ,though I imagine Catterick,tomorrow and Wetherby saturday might have problems.
Good to see Towcester having a meeting,wonder how the greyhound meetings are going,a shame they have got rid of that last fence at the top of the straight,probably the best jumped fence on the course,no Victory Gunner this afternoon,he is probably at the post office drawing his pension.Take The Mick hacked home a week ago and though a different test than Warwick,he looks like defying top weight if in the same form.
Otago Trail was also entered at Towcester but Venetia runs him at Wincanton,probably as exciting a young horse as she has got,he carries those famous Shone colours,horses like Fair View and Sugarally are a distant memory,albeit good ones.
There is a Hughie Morrison newcomer in the bumper,Brother Khee,from the Bridgett Swire family of mares,I think I read once that the wonderful owner of all those Toby Balding trained favourites of mine Lucky Vane,Accuracy,Brave Tornado,the list is endless was the godparent of Hughie so long may the connection continue her bloodlines.
As ever at Leicester I prefer my jockey to take the wider route,hopefully Dickie Johnson will do so aboard the likeable mare Tara Mist,out of Island Mist,who was a shade disappointing at Taunton ,in what basically was a flat race with four hurdles.
Up at Newcastle,the booking of Lizzie Kelly for the Reveley trained Whichwaytobougie is notable,perhaps it is the connection with son James to the Nick Williams yard,but he has a good chance on form,and has the ability to break his duck in one of these staying handicap hurdles soon.
It was two years ago this month when Many Clouds first caught my eye,it was at Wetherby where Leighton gave him a shocker,conceding weight and laying far too much out of his ground he was a never nearer second to an expensive McCain ex pointer Up And Go,it just goes to show what can happen in two years,we know now it was all part of his education,Many Clouds has just developed into a true classy staying chaser,whereas Up And Go has gone the other way and lines up as top weight in a novice handicap chase facing just three rivals.
A fair card at Taunton where the Tizzards could be set for a fair day,mentioned Spending Time before,well bred out of the Henderson trained mare Karello Bay so from the family of the very good Mary Reveley mare Marello,he cost 95,000 as a three year old and showed a glimmer of promise last time,but he looks like he has been handicapped on his price tag and breeding,saying that it is not a great race for the size of the field,so will back him.
Noel Fehily is getting a few rides for the stable,I would have him aboard my horse every time,that is if I owned one !!,Third Act looks the likely winner in the chase,Milosam is a regular round here and though I have tried to find one to beat him he looks a worthy favourite in the staying chase.
Great to see a few runners at Ludlow on a monday,I backed Tony Star at the festival last season and Ludlow could well suit,though the three miles could be a test.
I am hoping Tom Cannon picks the wider route round Plumpton this afternoon,I have been a fan of the jockey for a few seasons now,remember him pushing Swordsman almost the whole race and grabbing third round Fontwell one afternoon,but he went the wrong route on Sweet Boy Vic last time and I reckon he should have won.
He partners the half brother of King Edmund in the bumper,sadly the old chaser lost his life after a fall at Ascot recently,King Uther,is the name out of a modest winning hurdler Carbury Castle who raced for his breeder Simon Tindall,who owned King Edmund in his early days and had plenty of horses in training with the great Stan Mellor over the years.
Fontwell waterlogged,a typicalSedgefield card,nothing against the county durham course,love the place,but the class is across the Irish seas at Leopardstown,with another mouth watering match between Hurricane Fly and Jezki,a four year old Fiscal Focus,hopefully Plinth is there to make it a true run race,while Un De Sceaux is likely to be fifteen clear at some stage in the Arkle ?,I am hoping to see a scintillating performance.
Trials day at Cheltenham,not into these themed days/meetings,it is a good card in its own right,hoping Many Clouds wins the old Argento,and Cole Harden the Cleeve,while Value At Risk was a mightily impressive winner at Newbury so it would be good to see a novice to take on some of the Mullins invaders come march.
The old Great Yorkshire at Doncaster,I've gone for Renard,while Goohar,in the opener comes from that Haydock race which has been a never ending supply of winners in recent weeks,top weight,but I reckon he has a great chance.
Just hope the bright sun that is forecast doesn't put a spanner in the works from mid afternoon.
There was a two page feature in the trade paper yesterday,with the headline,GRIM UP NORTH ?,it is a shame some of the cash o offer at Doncaster tomorrow could not have been distributed to todays card to bolster some of the races,and the rearranged card at Ayr,there is a £65,000 winning pointer running for around £1,400 on his bumper debut,I imagine the prize money was more when the races were introduced around a couple of decades ago.
I backed Circus Star at 5-1 last night,the Haydock handicap hurdle where he finished fifth has worked out exceptionally well,a front runner,he could be twenty clear down the back,just hope he holds on.
At least they are racing,it would not have been possible on my back garden,looking forward to a new era of jumps racing at Warwick,and there is a decent handicap hurdle as the highlight,I Am Colin off bottom weight could be one of those strong chasing types of Nigel Twiston Davies who might just have wanted a bit of time to develop,going to keep an eye on him today.
Early november in the racing post,Colin Tizzard had this to say about Royal Vacation,"He's probably our best novice hurdler this season.He works as well as anything we have at home".
He must have had a few problems as he lines up in a bumper to close the card.
Likely to be strung out round Fakenham as they always tend to go a fair clip,no strong fancies so far,while I backed Goonyella at 14-1 last night for the Thyestes at Gowran,unfortunately Segal's pin has landed on him so I reckon that bet can be consigned to the dustbin.
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