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Category: National Hunt Racing (Page 1 of 12)

Being a shielded person

Hi all,

Do you know, being stuck at home for me has not been the worst thing ever. Luckily, I have a beautiful back garden and I’ve spent lots of time there, occasionally with <<other people>>, at a suitable distance!

I know from my car app that I drove home from work on 18 March and I haven’t been out since then, apart from a drive on 1 June when the rules were relaxed. Also from the app I know that I had a little go on the M53 and then returned via the New Chester Road. I didn’t leave the car and felt that I wouldn’t want to do so for a while – why would I jeopardise all the effort made so far?

Shortly before the lockdown I lost a front tooth and was provided with a temporary denture, pending an implant. Of course, after the lockdown, that has been left into the very long grass. When you have nothing other to think about, it’s a massive annoyance!

I soon got into the new routine. I can’t say how important it was that I brought my laptop and monitor home on 18 March. For the first week or so I had my work laptop alongside my home old but super-reliable Macbook. Then, it just occurred to me than one was distracting me from the other. I moved the work laptop into my dining room (obviously unused) and I’ve never looked back. A defined work area which is the workplace for quite a while.

The next thing that has made a big difference is having a disciplined approach. I’ve kept the alarm on for working days at 06:58. Time for a shower and breakfast before a start at 08:30 on the dot. Lunch is taken between 13:00 and 14:00 with no work during that time and then a finish at 17:00 for the Government’s press conference. The reality is that I return to work emails after then and into the evening but I can then treat them as outside the work bracket.

I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to rely on supplies from a combination of my milkman and my friends Paula and Sophie who have kept me well served. I suspect that my shielding is going to carry on for some time.

So, why am I shielding? I don’t fit any of the obvious categories but I have what is known as uncontrolled diabetes. I do blood tests each morning and they seem to bear little relation to my diet and drink. I might have a bit of a blast one evening and then have a good reading the following morning and then go for days eating all the right things and not drinking and nonetheless get very high readings – very frustrating.

I’m about to take delivery of an exercise bike. I know, but the downtime has made me think that I have to do something about it! I have the idea that I’ll be taking exercise while watching Royal Ascot and other racing. We’ll see!

So what has prompted me to write this post? Well, when I got my letter from the GP surgery advising me that I was in the “extreme” category I got absolutely no support. No priority for supermarkets or anything else. I got another message this evening, advising me to register again. I did so and, within moments, I got an email and text confirming that I have been prioritised for services. I suspect that this means that my isolation is going to go on for a while but at least there will be some proper support. I’ll be interested to see what the next few days bring!

Virtual Grand National Sweepstake

Just for CLB employees

Hi everyone. The Grand National is not happening but the “Virtual Grand National” is going to be broadcast live on Saturday on ITV when the National would have taken place, with the broadcast starting at 5.00 p.m. The powers that be have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that only those who made the programme know the outcome, such that most of the major bookmakers are accepting bets. You can bet with most of them to a maximum of £10 win and £10 each way and all proceeds will go to the NHS.

So, here is our free to enter and no cash prizes(!) sweepstake. I’ll check with Adam and, if you’re lucky, you might get one of our tiny plastic trophies from the social nights (if he’s got any left!). If successful you will have the glory of winning or being placed (1-2-3-4-5-6) and I’ll let everyone know on Facebook and Twitter! (as long as you’re happy with that).

So here are the entries

And here is the selector:

So, how does it work? I’ve downloaded a random number generator from 1-40 which will choose your number below. Please give the number shown. Because I’m making this up as I go along I’ll have to re-run it for numbers that have already been selected! So here it is. Have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and you could be featured on our social media (only if you want to be!). To enter, you’ll need to email me your number to

[arandomnumber min=1 max=40]

Let’s generate a bit of social media interest! Let me know your horse and I’ll put it on our social media pages. I’ll keep you updated with the selections.

Good luck! I’ll update this page with the winners just after the race.

Oh, the times they are a’changing

I’ve stayed at home since last Wednesday. Going a bit spare – yes! I looked up to the sky at various times today when I wandered around in the garden, lonely as a cloud. So, with that in mind, here’s the Flightradar map of our area just now:

The only flights that are happening are emergency ones to get people to Ireland. Who needs a tunnel from the Isle of Skye?

If you saw the normal map for this area you would appreciate how different this is.

There is no limit to my respect for the people who are enabling these flights to take place. It’s a crap time for everyone but some of our greatest people are doing what needs to be done to get people to where they need to be!

Beware when placing your Cheltenham bets

There have been suspensions of gambling companies in recent weeks, including high profile company Matchbook ( and lesser known MoPlay, which has declared that it is insolvent and has stopped account withdrawals with little prospect of any returns, including funds deposited, for users.

Mr Green (you’ve probably seen the TV adverts) is part of William Hill plc and was recently fined £3.9m for failing to prevent harm and in respect of money laundering.

The Horseracing Bettors Forum has provided helpful guidance about the level of protection available:

Proceed with care, particularly with those graded as “Not Protected” including, ironically “Betsafe”!

Initial thoughts about the main Cheltenham Festival races

This post is really for my benefit, as a reminder about my current views about the big races.


Supreme: Asterion Forlonges (6/1)

Arkle: Fakir D’oudairies (6/1)

Champion Hurdle: Pic D’orhy (16/1)

Mares’ Hurdle: Benie Des Dieux (4/5)

National Hunt Chase: Copperhead (8/1)


Ballymore: Envoi Allen (5/4 – great value)

RSA: Allaho (13/2 – also great value)

Champion Chase: Chacun Pour Soi (11/4)

Cross Country: Easysland (3/1)

Champion Bumper: Appreciate It (2/1)


Marsh: Itchy Feet (11/2)

Ryanair: Min (7/2)

Stayers’: Paisley Park (8/11 – good value)


Triumph: Goshen (4/1 – all in – NAP)

County Hurdle: Ciel de Niege (10/1)

Albert Bartlett: Thyme Hill (5/1 – great bet)

Foxhunters’: Hazel Hill (5/1 – also good)

Gold Cup: Bristol De Mai (33/1 e/w – ground dependant)

Grand Annual: Greaneteen (10/1 n/b)

Martin Pipe: Column Of Fire (9/1 – watch this one’s price contract)

Timeform update

The Timeform updates following an excellent weekend’s racing in Dublin are eye-catching. I’m not betraying any confidential information here because they’re all available on Twitter at

Chacun Pour Soi – 176p

Uprated from 170p he’s now their joint top rated chaser alongside Cyrname, following his impressive defeat of Min (174). It’s also worth noting that this one’s time rating was highly impressive.

3/1 for the Champion Chase

Honeysuckle – 154 from 157p

Her victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle was viewed as “workmanlike” – I agree.

6/1 for the Champion Hurdle; 11/4 for the Mares’ Hurdle

Notebook – 155p

Unchanged but could easily be enough to take the Arkle. The Timeform assessors were also impressed by Cash Back – 152p from 147p.

Notebook 3/1 for the Arkle; Cash Back 7/1

Latest Exhibition – 144 from 141

13/2 for the Albert Bartlett; 16/1 for the Ballymore

Itchy Feet – 153p from 127P

Meanwhile at Sandown Itchy Feet showed real class to take the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and this 26 points hike is the first real eyecatcher.

8/1 for the Marsh (JLT); 16/1 for the Arkle

Appreciate It – 119 from 106

I highlighted this one in Saturday’s preview and it’s no surprise that he’s now 11/4 favourite for the Champion Bumper (9/1 bar). A great buy at 60,000 euros and already a winner of a 100,000 euros bumper (59,000 to the winner)

Asterion Forlonge – 153p from 131p

Unbeaten in a point, a bumper and two hurdles, this one is now only second to Envoi Allen among the novice hurdlers.

5/1 for the Supreme, 8/1 for the Ballymore and 16/1 for the Albert Bartlett

Irish Gold Cup

I’m unconvinced that this race revealed a likely Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. It seems that Timeform assessors are in agreement – Delta Work 168p unchanged, Kemboy 173 from 176 and Presenting Percy 165 from 167. Of the Irish Al Boum Photo is currently 7/2 for the big one and holds no other entries before the Festival.

Gold Cup odds:

Delta Work: 6/1

Kemboy 7/1

Presenting Percy 14/1

Al Boum Photo 7/2

Faugheen – 160 from 161

Amid all the hoopla I think that this is a very sensible assessment. It was thrilling but did he really beat any other serious contenders? I hope that they go for the Marsh (formerly the JLT) rather than the RSA because, regardless of his age, the latter is a mighty ask for a horse that excelled at 2 miles and seems to benefit from jumping at speed.

Marsh Chase – 6/1

RSA – 12/1

4 Miler (now 3m 6f) – 20/1 (please no!!!)

I’m going to do my first Cheltenham preview after this weekend’s “Super Saturday” at Newbury at which we can expect to see Chantry House and Ecco in the 2m 4-y-o novices’ hurdle, Altior, Sceau Royal, Dynamite Dollars and Kalashnikov in the Game Spirit Chase and Native River in the Denman Chase (albeit against limited opposition). The Kingmaker at Warwick could also be interesting.

A quirky note for Friday is that the featured (14:45) hunter chase at Bangor has three entries for David Maxwell Racing Limited. Bearing in mind that these horses (two with Philip Hobbs and one with Paul Nicholls) are in training for the owner to ride them, it will be interesting to see which one (if any) he selects to ride.

Finally, one to note on Thursday is that Shishkin is entered to run in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon (14:31). This one is currently 4/1f for the Supreme but the owner also has Asterion Forlonge, currently 5/1 in the same race. Personally I prefer the latter.

The big week at Cheltenham is not far away now!

Dublin Racing Festival

What a great weekend of racing in prospect. Just a few Saturday selections this morning.


12:50 Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 6f

Latest Exhibition (15/8) was very impressive last time out and is probably the right favourite but I’m with Elixir D’ainay (11/4) to build on his last time second to Envoi Allen.

13:25 Dublin Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 1f

Chacun Pour Soi (7/4) needs to improve on his last outing and could well do so. He’s also the selection of Paul Townend of the two Ricci horses. However, Min (9/4) is on a hat-trick in this race, is completely proven at this level and is a confident selection, under Robbie Power.

14:00 Arkle Novice Chase – Grade 1 – 2m 1f

Notebook opened as favourite for this race but has now been joined by Fakir D’oudairies (both at (9/4) and the latter was always going to be my selection and I expect him to supplant Notebook as the favourite for the Cheltenham version after this.

15:10 Irish Champion Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m

I’m not in the least surprised to see Sharjah (5/4) as the short odds favourite for this. Honeysuckle gets the mares’ allowance and is unbeaten, but this is a big step up. I’ll also have a little each way on Aramon at 25/1 (ran very well against Klassical Dream (non-runner today) at last year’s meeting).

15:45 Ladbrokes Hurdle – Grade B – 2m

Buildmeupbuttercup (11/2) is ideally suited by a big field challenge such as this.

16:20 Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m

WP’s 13/8 favourite Appreciate It is surely the one to beat.


13:50 Contenders Hurdle – Class 1 – 2m

It’s worth noting that the ground is heavy at Sandown today and we could see some slow-motion finishes. Call Me Lord is too short for me at 8/13 and Quel Destin (13/2) is a tough campaigner with form on the ground.

14:25 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 2m4f

I wanted to oppose Laurina, whose last race was too bad to be true and subsequently turned out to be attributable to a burst blood vessel. The chase debut before that was also unconvincing. However, I’m finding it hard to find a suitable opponent in this field. I might have a small wager on Itchy Feet (8/1).


12:57 Novices’ Chase – Class 3 – 2m 4 1/2f

I have a strong preference for Espoir de Teillee at 9/4 ahead of the odds-on favourite Southfield Stone.

14:05 Scottish County Hurdle – Class 2 – 2m

Miranda (11/4)

14:40 Scottish Champion Chase – Class 3 – 2m

Greaneteen (6/4f)


14:45 Towton Novices’ Chase – Grade 2 – 3m

Chapel Stile (13/2)

15:58 Hunters’ Chase – Class 6 – 3m

A small field for this type of race but fascinating nonetheless with Hazel Hill (1/3f) looking to build on a winning point return 20 days ago and Minella Rocco (85/40) who won his hunter debut 10 days ago.

Good luck

Christmas Racing – 27 December

Well, today (Boxing Day) was a complete wipeout from a betting perspective but was nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable.

What to take from the day?

  • Dostal Phil duly won for Richard Johnson (without my money) at Fontwell and it turned out that Joshua Moore was the star jockey at the course with a three timer.
  • Dilrow won the big Hunters’ Chase at Down Royal at 25/1, beating all the big names.
  • Faugheen was an imperious winner of the Grade 1 novice chase with an exuberant jumping display that put Samcro in his place. I don’t for a moment accept that Samcro was below par, which means that the winner is a serious candidate in March, but in which race? Perhaps the 10/1 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase (formerly the JLT) is attractive?
  • Mt Leinster dumped my selection Entoucas in authoritative style at Leopardstown.
  • Aspire Tower was a dominant winner of the Knight Frank Juvenile and is now favourite for the Triumph (but I’d watch out for Goshen).
  • Notebook (one of my three to watch in the race) was a dominant winner of the Leopardstown featured novice chase. I wouldn’t take too much from this. Mark Walsh lost an iron on Fakir D’Oudairies and Laurina suffered a burst blood vessel.
  • Fred was an impressive winner of the opening novices’ hurdle at Kempton but I was encouraged by the impressive runner up, Ecco, who I’ll remain faith with.
  • Slate House was a decent winner of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. It’s a shame that Master Tommytucker fell but he wasn’t looking like the winner at the time. Black Op didn’t live up to the hype – more of hype below – in the King George. This race didn’t produce a Festival winner.
  • Epatante was an emphatic winner of a below standard Christmas Hurdle. The second and third were 11/1 and 14/1. Fusil Raffles was a big disappointment and has to be disregarded unless or until he progresses.
  • Clan des Obeaux yet again proved the old maxim of horses for courses (and races).

The King George warrants a new paragraph. I was, as usual, excited during the running of it but, with the benefit of a few hours’ reflection, it was a disappointing race. Clan Des Obeaux did what many horses have shown in recent renewals – demonstrated that certain horses are very well suited to the race.

Credit Mick Fitzgerald – Twitter this morning

Clan Des Obeaux is a very good and progressive 7-y-o but he won’t win the Gold Cup and I think that Paul Nicholls knows that. This is his ideal race and he was an impressive winner. Course, distance and conditions suit perfectly and he should be aimed for this next year.

On to tomorrow!

No narrative after today’s disaster, just selections. I couldn’t resist just a few comments and one selection per meeting (underlined).


12:05 Saint D’Oroux (5/2)

12:35 Melon (11/10)

13:10 Chacun Pour Soi (2/5)

13:45 Abracadabras (4/7)

14:20 Moon Over Germany (8/1)

14:55 Chef Des Obeaux (40/1); Liveloughlaugh (20/1)

15:30 Ragnar Ladbrok (4/6)


13:25 (Hunters’ Chase) Winged Leader (evens)

14:00 Fury Road (11/10)

14:35 Colreevy (2/7) (WP horse in a maiden)

15:45 Getabay (7/4) (Jamie Codd in a bumper)


13:00 Tarada (4/9) (Hemmings hot pot – one to watch)

13:30 Goobinator (8/13) (Not a betting option but one I’ve been watching)

14:05 Hawk High (9/4) (I love this horse and really fancy him for this)


12:30 Cap Du Mathan (9/2) to beat big favourite Harry Senior (5/4)

13:35 This race could properly be called a hidden Grade 1. If you had to make a list of the Grade 1s, would you include it? Well, this year’s renewal has attracted a decent Joseph O’Brien horse in the shape of Cerberus (2/1), which is only second favourite behind the Skeltons’ Allmankind (11/10). He beat one of my selections today, A Wave Of The Sea, who was well beaten today (26 Dec) by Aspire Tower, so not overly enthusiastic but looking for a decent price, no more.

14:10 Clyne (6/1). I’m all over this one for what looks like an ideal race for him.

14:50 The Coral Welsh National. Elegant Escape is the appropriate favourite but Potters Corner (15/2) has been laid out for this and would be a great home winner for Christian Williams.

15:55 Jeremy Pass (9/4)


12:45 Homer (11/10) Exactly my sort of horse. Bought by Munir/Souede following outings in Longchamp, Clairefontaine and Saint-Cloud, and then placed with Henderson. An early closer for the Triumph Hurdle and currently trading at 20/1. I could continue with the breeding but…

13:20 The Wayward Lad. I love this race but, let’s face it, it’s not the best renewal. I’m a big fan of Al Dancer (3/1) so I have to stay with him, albeit with limited confidence.

13:55 Culture De Sivola (7/2)

14:30 Capeland (2/1)

15:05 Sametegal (11/2)

Good luck!

Boxing/St Stephens Day 2019

In the words of Shakin’ Stevens, “Merry Christmas Everyone” (released 34 years ago!).

What do I do on Christmas Day (apart from the festivities)? Well, take a good look at the Boxing Day cards of course!

First, a few parish notices. As a one off and no doubt in response to criticism about split screens on congested days , Racing TV is broadcasting a free-to-air dedicated Irish racing programme presented by Gary O’Brien, with all the races from Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal on Freesports (on Freeview HD channel 64, Sky channel 422, Virgin 553, FreeSat 252, TalkTalk 64 and BT Vision channel 64).

Second, Richard Johnson (98), currently second to Brian Hughes (100) in the jockeys’ championship has chosen to take five rides at Fontwell which, on such a prestigious day, must be a notable pointer. His rides are: 12:15 Early Days (11/2), 12:45 I Like Him (7/4), 13:50 Sky Full Of Stars (15/2), 14:25 Dostal Phil (11/8) and 15:00 The Tin Miner (7/2).

Third, as is traditional, the only racing of note on Christmas Day is at Pau. One of my horses to follow, Fret D’Estruval, runs in the 11:15 chase and there is an interesting cross country race at 12:15 featuring Uroquois, who should atone for his unexpected defeat last time out.


12:40 Maiden Hurdle

As might be expected, some decent prospects head the field in this one. I take Joseph O’Brien’s Entoucas (7/2) to beat Mullins’ favourite Mt Leinster (5/2).

13:10 Knight Frank Juvenile (Grade 2)

I see this as between Aspire Tower for Henry de Bromhead (15/8f) and A Wave Of The Sea (5/1), again for Joseph O’Brien, and my preference is for the latter.

14:20 Racing Post Novice Chase (Grade 1)

Embed from Getty Images

This is a legitimate trial for the Arkle and my race of the day. It features the main Irish protagonists, the highly impressive 4-y-o Fakir D’Oudairies (6/4), the equally impressive mare Laurina (6/5) for Willie Mullins and the exciting prospect Notebook (9/1). The Irish definitely have the upper hand in this division and the winner of this one should be the clear favourite for the Cheltenham race in March. I can’t split them and will sit back and enjoy. It’s also worth bearing in mind the 7lb allowances for Fakir D’Oudairies (4-y-o) and Laurina (mare)


12:50 Novices’ Hurdle

We get the card going with a decent head to head between Henderson (Vegas Blue – 2/1) and Nicholls (Ecco – 4/1). Vegas Blue won both bumpers (Bangor and Huntingdon) and Ecco is much more experienced, having been sixth in the Triumph Hurdle and following up with wins at Wincanton and Ascot, before a third in the Grade 2 Supreme Novices’ Trial at Cheltenham last month. I’m prepared to forgive him the last run on testing ground and if I’m right the current 4/1 provides very good value.

13:20 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

I was at Ludlow to see current favourite Roll Again (3/1) win for very much in form Venetia Williams eight days ago. He went off at 7/2jf but was far from foot perfect and carries a 7lb penalty. Although Venetia is renowned for quick turnarounds, I prefer Doctor Dex at am appealing 15/2.

13:55 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

I’m really looking forward to seeing Master Tommytucker (3/1jf of 3). A fragile horse who has had time off, he won well here over a shorter distance last time out and this should be ideal. Of the rest I respect Slate House.

14:30 Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)

Embed from Getty Images

Nicky Henderson has the first three in the market (Fusil Raffles, Epatante and Verdana Blue). He couldn’t conceal his excitement about Fusil Raffles (2/1) in a recent interview and he’s a confident selection.

15:05 King George (Grade 1)

Cyrname (6/4)

Currently the highest rated National Hunt horse and at 3.15 the current 6/4 could turn out to have been very good value indeed. His recent form is faultless but this is his biggest challenge yet and I’m not 100% convinced.

Lost In Transation (15/8)

There is nothing to dislike about his recent form and he is definitely the most progressive. He’s coming here on the back of a facile Betfair Chase win and therefore remains on course for the £1million bonus if he wins and goes on to win the Gold Cup. I think that there’s every chance that he will and become the next big thing in chasing.

Clan Des Obeaux (4/1)

Last year’s winner has been there and done it. However, this is undoubtedly a tougher race and I wasn’t too impressed with his return at Down Royal last month when beaten by Road To Respect, albeit that was probably a pipe opener. It’s also notable that Harry Cobden has chosen to ride Cyrname.

Footpad (11/1)

A firm favourite as a novice, there’s no doubt that he has lost his way since then and he needs a striking return to form to feature in the shake up (not out of the question but a very big ask).

Thistlecrack (16/1)

Won this race in 2016 and was runner-up last season but surely his best is behind him.

Aso (50/1)

A decent handicapper but ground, distance and form are all against him.

Verdict: I think it’s between the front two in the market and my ready preference is for Lost In Translation (15/8) who, although a 7-y-o like Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux and Footpad, looks like the one with the greatest capacity to move ahead of the rest. Colin Tizzard has shown time and again that he has the capacity to prepare horses for the biggest assignments and the yard is currently in a rich vein of form.


14:40 Greenmount Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Samcro (8/13f) is a dual Grade 1 winner and was looking like he was getting back to his best when falling while in contention at the second last in a Grade 1 last time out. Timeform have him 10lb ahead of the field (168p).

I’ve previously expressed my view about Faugheen (5/2) going novice chasing when rising 12 and I’m still unconvinced that it’s what he deserves. A genuinely great horse in his day but with a habit of clouting one or two, as on the last occasion, I don’t favour this campaign and hope that he has a safe round.

If Samcro doesn’t get round then I favour Castlebrook (16/1) to spring a surprise.


14:10 Rowland Meyrick Chase (Grade 3)

I think that Lake View Lad (13/2) will show a significant improvement on his last outing. He was an impressive third in the Ultima at the Festival, although appeared not to take to the fences when next seen in the Grand National.

Another Hemmings horse to look out for on the card is the very promising Sammy Bill (10/11f) in the 1.35.

Down Royal

14:45 Bluegrass Hunters’ Chase

This is a high quality race with all the leading contenders of note: Edwulf (6/4), Black Hercules (3/1), Burning Ambition (11/2) and my selection Ucello Conti (7/1).

Good luck!

Sunday’s watching brief

12:05 PU Yanworth 13/8 Vyta du Roc 3/1

12:15 CO Front View and Jon Snow, both 5/4

12:45 CH Don’t Shout 11/1

12:50 CO Colreevy 4/6

13:05 PU Stormy Ireland 1/2

13:15 CH Urgent de Gregaine 100/30

13:30 FO Goshen 8/11

13:50 CH Al Dancer and Getaway Trump, both 13/8

14:00 CO Faugernon 11/2

14:25 CH Politologue 2/1

14:40 FO Captain Cattistock 9/4

14:50 PU Battleoverdoyen 8/13

15:00 CH Quel Destin 11/2 (nap)

15:10 CO Uisce Beatha 3/1

15:30 CH Ecco 2/1, Pacify 3/1

16:00 CH Time Flies By 4/5

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