Haydock Park,Wednesday 22nd March 2017,Howdens Joinery Raceday

Very testing conditions and small fields were the order of the day in the traditional gap that falls in the National Hunt season from post Cheltenham to pre Aintree. 

Six races made up the card with three races over traditional hurdles,two steeplechases and one over the fixed brush hurdles. 

Wednesday’s feature contest was the 2m4 1/2f Novices’ Handicap Chase which saw 6yo mare Buttercup get ther third win on the bounce as she fought to get the better of Wolf Sword by 5 lengths, Venetia Williams’ mare seems to have worked out what chasing is all about, she looks to have a bit more improvement in her and connections will fancy those Listed Chases for mares next season. 

Venetia Williams will certainly be pleased with the way stable have been building up Buttercup. 

Buttercup


The supporting card included a real ding dong battle in the staying hurdle over 2m7f as Lucinda Russell who will be back down here in a few weeks with One For Arthur in the Grand National got the judges’ verdict with Sammy B like Buttercup did in getting the hat trick up in a real hard slog in the last furlong fighting the attentions of Samingarry, the handicapper might just have Sammy B now but he was very game under Blair Campbell and got the win by a neck, that win would have made the journey back to Scotland much quicker.

Sammy B

Just two completed the course in the 2m7f old timers steeplechase as the first two home Purcell’s Bridge and runner up Saroque both wisely were held up from the ridiculous early pace set as the winner took up the running from the final ditch as Sunny Legend departed the scene, this left Purcell’s Bridge nicely ahead of Saroque who couldn’t quite bridge the gap, hard to evaluate this form given the testing conditions, it looked a case of the survival of the fittest. 

Elsewhere Donald McCain landed the opening 2m Novice Hurdle as Chti Balko followed up his recent Catterick win in decent style, he looks happy being up with the pace and it will be of some interest to see what his opening handicap mark will be, he will jumps a fence in time, runner up and favourite Potters Story never travelled well but gave the impression a step up in trip will suit. 

Chti Balko


Just two contested the 2m3f mares’ novice hurdle, 1-14f favourite The Nipper had little more than a glorified schooling session here as she brushed aside Your Turn by fourteen lengths or so, she loves heavy ground and this former winner of a Listed Sandown bumper has a touch of class about her. 

The Nipper (Left) & Your Turn (Right)


Finally Johanos carried his recent winning form as he easily took the concluding 2m3f Fixed Brush Hurdle without breaking sweat, Now handicapping this 6yo could build up a sequence and should get further in time.  

Next racing on here will be the first two days of The Grand National meeting at Aintree, one of the highlights of the sporting year, Till we meet up at Aintree thank you for reading

Daisy Hill v Ashton Town,Hallmark Security League Div 1,Saturday 4th March 2017

Daisy Hill secured the three points at home on this first Saturday of Spring on a very near mud bath of a pitch which passed the morning inspection on an afternoon that had both the next door neighbouring clubs in Atherton hoisting up the white flags as regarding their games being on. 

It wasn’t all plain sailing though as both clubs had to work hard to cope in the squelchy conditions but the ball was being passed around well enough to make sure the game lasted the full ninety. 


The two teams had plenty of chances in the first half to take the lead, Michael Gervin and Ashley Stott for the home side had three decent opportunities but didn’t quite mange to convert their chances as did Ashton’s Robert Ablewhite who found himself earning the yellow card for struggling to keep his mouth shut when remonstrating with the referee after a tackle on a Town player. 

Coming out for the second half at 0-0 the game was still pretty much open for either side and Ashton almost went ahead from Marvin Molyneux who shot from a lay off by Ablewhite just five minutes into it. 


Finally the deadlock was broken on 57 minutes when Daisy Hill’s Matt Davison went on a darting run from halfway and passed through Ashley Stott in the Town area and slotted back to Davison who was no match for the defence to make it 1-0 to The Cutters. 

Ashton had a couple of good chances to level it up with Gary Purcell missing a near sitter proving to be the best chance of the afternoon along with a header from a corner that Hill keeper Craig Haynes knocked over the bar. 


The game was sealed with seven minutes left as sub Callum Darcy following up a rebound from an Ashley Stott shot to make it 2-0 and the three points safely sealed for keeping. 

This win puts Daisy Hill into 15th spot and relative safety but Ashton Town firmly remain rooted to the foot of the table with just eight points collected all season. 

Daisy Hill look to have a decent squad here and could easily kick on next season to go a bit higher up the table but Ashton Town have had a season they will want to end pretty soon and restart again

On Sunday coming up at Edge Green Street,home of Ashton Town, the GB Deaf Football Team play a Kevin Davies Select XI with 100% of all money from the £5 entrance going to help fund the team to play at the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey, please do go and support this cause

FT Daisy Hill 2 Ashton Town 0

Daisy Hill 

Haynes,Hynes,Fairhurst,Green,Farrell,Warburton,Davison,Foster (C),Gervin,Stott,Mills 

Subs, Darcy,Coley,Kwakye,De Los Santos,Worrall

Ashton Town

Hodge,Smith,Lowey,Molyneux,Tyrer,Munroe (C),Robinson,Baker,Ablewhite,Irlam,Cliff

Subs,Ball,O’Leary,Purcell,Langley,O’Brien. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 18th February 2017,Betfred Grand National Trial Day

The days are slowly ticking down until the Cheltenham Festival begins but the focus this afternoon at an unusually very sunny Haydock jumps meeting was on Aintree in the shape of the Grand National Trial, supported by some top quality races on the undercard. 

During the week in London the weights were unveiled for the big showpiece in April and this was a chance for plenty to stake their claims come the big race.  

So to the action and David Pipe will be feeling a real of excitement and nerves as Vieux Lion Rouge followed up his December win in the Becher Chase over the big greens by putting in a true staying performance under Tom Scudamore who himself must be wishing the current jumps season won’t be ending as he now is in the enviable position of potentially getting the Gold Cup and Grand National in his winners satchel. 

Vieux Lion Rouge put in a stellar round of jumping and was always up with the pace, he and Blaklion had the final fences between them at the business end of this 3m4f stamina test with VLR finding just that little bit extra to forge on by 3.25 lengths ahead of Blaklion,Vintage Clouds ploughed on through the beaten ones to secure third. 

Both runners have interesting weights for the big one, VLR has 10-7 and Blaklion is on 10-10 and these two can have a big say should they hold their form,these two have contested some of the big staying handicaps this season and that will stand them in good stead. 

Staying hurdle races over  2m7f formed the base of the supporting card, The 10yo Zarkandar rolled back the years to land the Rendlesham Hurdle giving trainer Paul Nicholls a 1-2 as Aux Ptit Soins filled up the second spot with favourite Agrapart back in third, Zarkandar hadn’t been troubling the judge of late and would be an outsider in the stayers at Cheltenham, Aux Ptit Soins could back over fences in the RSA while Agrapart probably didn’t get the extra trip here and might be worth being aimed at the Aintree hurdle over 2m4f instead. 

A wide open looking Persian War Novices’ saw a very useful type in The Worlds End, he jumped with plenty about him and will be even better when he sees fences, holding an Albert Bartlett entry he could have a say, a winner of three races all at Chepstow he handled the more tighter Haydock track easily, No Hassle Hoff back in second ran to his best form this season is top company. 

The final Pertemps qualifier went to Dadsintrouble who landed a race over course and distance last month for trainer Tim Vaughan, clearly in good heart the trainer hopes he will make the cut but as he seemed to get on well with jockey Alan Johns (3) then a more realistic possibility could be the Martin Pipe race. 

Don Bersy made it three on the bounce to land the opening Victor Ludorum over 2m under James Davies’ canny and brave decision to kick on from off the home turn and use his mounts hurdling experience to gain the upper hand on the rest, he isn’t entered at Cheltenham but could pop up at Aintree instead. 

Two steeplechases closed the day,Captain Redbeard secured some treasure for trainer Stewart Coltherd and jockey Sam Coltherd in the 2m4f Novice Handicap in a duelling battle up the Haydock run in from Aqua Dude by a very short head, this supplements his recent Wetherby win and is becoming a more than useful chaser, Aqua Dude was a fortunate runner up in a real heads up heads down fight. 

Final race of the day was the Walrus Hunter Chase over 3m and Wonderful Charm gained his qualification to the Cheltenham Foxhunters with relative ease as Will Biddick appeared to be a mere spectator sat aboard, Paul Nicholls might not have a chance of landing the Gold Cup this year but we could have a race to savour thirty five minutes after it if Wonderful Charm lines up attempting to dethrone On The Fringe from trying to achieve the triple Triple Crown of the festival hunter chases. 
Wattspots

Zalvadoss,4yo trained by Oliver Greenall was runner up in the Victor Ludorum and now qualifies for handicaps, has got a race in him. 

Some good racing and potentially the Haydock faithful could well have seen the first two home come Aintree in April. 

Review wise at the moment March is looking pretty quiet so keep following me on Twitter for details. 

Till we meet again etc

Wetherby Races,Totetpool Medieval Raceday,Saturday 4th February 2017

By the power of Greystoke were the words that came to mind for many at Ye Olde Wetherby on Saturday as Baywing defied his 33-1 price by putting in a demolition job in the feature Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase over 3m. 

A winner of four staying hurdles last season he did appear to disappoint on his first run here over fences last month but clearly learnt plenty from that and showed his authority from three out when challenging the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Calett Maid and put twenty two lengths between the two horses, Baywing probably won’t be heading to the RSA but could be aimed at the four miler should be run at Cheltenham but winning trainer Nicky Richards thinks of him more as a Welsh National type, it would be no shock if Baywing got aimed at the Scottish National as the ground usually comes up very soft at Ayr. 

Calett Mad back in second is only a 5yo and has better days ahead ahead of him over fences,maybe a return to handicaps will suit this useful type even more. 

Baywing,2017 Towton Novices’ Chase winner


Dan Skelton got off to a flying start in the afternoon by winning the first two races with brother Harry in the saddle, Golden Vision easily won the opening 2m novice hurdle for mares as she made all but had to be kept up to her work,a winner in France before being bought for £68,000 she should make up into a more than useful yardstick and could get an entry in the Dawn Run at Cheltenham but with this style of running she could be more of an Aintree type. 

The other winner for the Skelton’s was Oldgrangewood in the 2m3f handicap chase as he repeated his course and distance win here over the Christmas period, a winner that day off 130 he was upped only 4lbs here and was always travelling with plenty left in him towards the end, this horse has lots going for him so is still worth being kept onside at the moment all depending what the handicapper does to him, Oldgrangewood will no doubt stay three miles but that could come next season unless temptation gets the better of the trainer. 

Golden Vision

Oldgrangewood


Skipthecuddles benefited from a step up in trip by a couple of extra furlongs when taking the 2m5f novice hurdle race, only having his second start over timber he looks a useful sort for his trainer Graeme McPherson who like Dan Skelton got a double up on the Wetherby card when Ami Debois made every yard of the running to land the 3m staying handicap hurdle, both hold entries in the staying novice events at Cheltenham. 

The hunter chase on this card can inevitably throw up a nice winner and this year proved to be no exception as Galway Jack won his first race since 2014 on his hunter chase debut here comfortably holding favourite Ardea at bay by just over four lengths, Galway Jack did bring some good form to the race most notably on his last completed start just shy of a year ago when fourth behind Taquin Du Seuil at Warwick, it looked like his class just got him home and he probably would struggle if having a crack at the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ next month but possibly Aintree is what trainer Caroline Bailey could have in mind for him. 

Lastly Kim Bailey unveiled a nice one when scoring in the concluding bumper with Mon Palois,an ex pointer from Ireland he stayed on in a good manner and easily beat professional seconditus horse Eskendash who was second for the fourth consecutive time, Mon Palois should be a good sort when he goes over further and obstacles too. 

Wattspots

Shanty Town,8yo trained by David Dennis was third in the 2m5f novice hurdle on his first state for 839 days,has some useful looking form and will be much better for the run and one to note for handicaps. 

Some decent racing this afternoon, probably not the highest quality that we’ve seen this season but certainly not the worst either. 

Next racing will be in two weeks time at Haydock for the Grand National Trial meeting but hopefully before that we could try and pop in a football match for review. 

Till we meet again etc…..

Haydock Park,Saturday 21st January 2017,Peter Marsh Chase Day

A case of deja vu for three horses who won on the 2016 Peter Marsh Chase Day as they all came back to run again, two won the same races while one won a different race on what was a solo day for National Hunt racing with Haydock Park proudly flying the flag high while the other two meetings at Ascot and Taunton were both succumbed by a severe attack of Jack Frost. 

Just like last year trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies resplendent in his duffle coat took two of the races with the same horses who struck on last years card and made the journey back south down the M6 and M5 that little bit quicker. 

First up The New One won the feature Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial in the usual way here by having to dig in and really fight to regain his crown and in doing so won this near 2m contest for the third consecutive year and this writing his name into Haydock folklore, it wasn’t easy as expected as previous course winner Clyne upped the anti coming around the home turn and had them all at it, The New One and L’ami Serge both went up either side of Clyne and despite some awful leaps at the final three hurdles The New One made sure his class showed as he just got the better of Clyne by a length. 

The New One now makes his way straight to the Champion Hurdle or possibly the Stayers’ Hurdle depending who turns up and he still retains his ability at the high level of hurdling, Clyne reportedly heads to Newbury for the big Betfair Hurdle and he is potentially well treated for that race, L’ami Serge continues to flatter to deceive when it matters and anyone backing him must be wary about his attitude.  

The New One


Bristol De Mai who won the big novice chase on last years card romped home in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase over 3m, not seen since finishing second at Newcastle in the Rehearsal he has been campaigned exclusively in the north this season with his only other run being at Carlisle, many people doubted wether he got the trip but he saw this out with the minimum of fuss as he demolished a top quality field by 22 lengths from his Newcastle conqueror Otago Trail. 

He was trimmed in the Gold Cup betting but equally could go for the 2m5f race, he has the chasing world at his Oyster now he has showed that he stays three miles. 

Bristol De Mai


Talking horse Alary from the Tizzard’s was hyped up as a genuine good un but found this too much before being pulled up with three to jump, he has only won two of his twenty starts but was put in on top weight here off a BHA mark of 162, he will be better for the run but must be treated with caution when he runs again, maybe a smaller field will suit him but off this you would not want to back him in the Gold Cup with anyone’s money. 

Elsewhere Neon Wolf created a very good impression amongst many as he romped home in the Supreme Novices’ Trial, he hurdled very well taking plenty of air as he jumped and he will be even better when sent over further and fences, connections may avoid Cheltenham with him but he is an exciting prospect for the Harry Fry stable, runner up Elgin couldn’t live with the winner but he held his form well after his Kempton win and he could pop back next month for the Adonis over 2m before possibly going to Aintree as the flatter kind of course is clearly in his favour. 

Neon Moon


Waiting Patiently made it a hat trick of wins over fences by overpowering Politologue in the Grade 2 Novices Chase over 2m4f, Held up at the back by Brian Hughes he had to work for this bagging the near side rail helped massively as it kept him straight to hold on by a length and a quarter. 

Connections might avoid the festival with him but he will have entries in the Arkle and JLT but with soft ground being in his favour then an ideal race would be the one at Ayr on Scottish National Day over 2m4f, Politologue was giving 3lbs to the winner but lost nothing in defeat, possibly the slight drop in trip didn’t suit so a step up to three miles will see him in a much better light. 

Donald McCain was on the scoresheet last year with Ubaltique and again they repeated the same result as he breezed home in the 2m chase even off a much higher mark, he is consistent in these middle tier kind of races and it’s possible a step up to 2m4f and get him into a Challenger Qualifier for Easter Saturday.

 

Ubaltique


Deepsand in the opening 2m hurdle continued Lucinda Russell’s good run as he scored for the first time since 2013 as he just got over the line from a staying on Vocaliser in the dying strides, fourth on his recent start at Newcastle two weeks ago he really had to work under his jockey Alexander Thorne (10lb) while the final race a staying hurdle over 2m7f saw Dadsintrouble bounce back to form after his October fall at Cheltenham and could be aimed at a Pertemps qualifier possibly. 

Some more than useful racing then on a stellar card at a chilly but thankfully more viewer friendly Haydock than last time. 

Stars of the show were without doubt The New One and Bristol De Mai, both won their respective races in different styles and showed the sport at its most exciting. 
Next racing on here will be hopefully the Towton Novices’ Chase meeting at Wetherby in two weeks time, at this time of year of course the weather can have a say in what occurs. 
Wattspots

Bishops Road,9yo trained by Kerry Lee was staying on third in the Peter Marsh but over twenty five lengths behind the winner, could be back here next month for the National trial or off to Newcastle for the Eider. 

Clyne,7yo from Evan Williams’ yard had won his last four starts including two here but put up s career best when runner up in the Champion Hurdle trial, Newbury will be next but a possible target could be the Scottish Champion Hurdle which should suit him down to the ground and will be a nice novice chaser next term should connections go that way. 

Haydock Park,Saturday 17th December 2016,32Red.com Tommy Whittle Chase Day 

For fans of National Hunt racing the best chance to see horses while avoiding the melee of the shopping centres was the parade ring around Haydock Park mainly because due to the fog which stayed around all afternoon like many an unwelcome visitor on Christmas Day nobody hardly saw anything apart from a brief respite for forty minutes or so. 

In fact it was sort of reminiscent of the final scene from The Railway Children when the children’s father appears from beyond the mist of the steam as the train pulls out of the station towards the continuation of its journey as every half hour or so the figure of horses and jockeys came into view albeit for a few seconds as they set off into the country and not to be seen again which gave racegoers a chance to sort out their festive plans for the forthcoming week. 
The view down the straight
On the track though Saturday’s feature Tommy Whittle Chase was taken in easy style by the Venetia Williams trained Yala Enki under Charlie Deutsch (5) as he made all (apparently) and vanished into the fog not to be seen until he came back into the winners enclosure, third in last months valuable Fixed Brush Hurdle this was impressive, it’s possible that next months Peter Marsh could be a target as he clearly loves Haydock, Vieux Lille back in second has only won right handed so big races at Kempton,Ascot and Sandown would be more viable. 

Yala Enki,2016 Tommy Whittle Chase winner


Buveur D’Air took the 2m novices’ chase nicely ahead from previous course winner Cloudy Dream, held up from the start he appeared to make smooth headway down the straight before taking over on the run in, Nicky Henderson has plenty of options with him plus a nice team with others such as Altior and Top Notch, One option could be the big Grade 2 at Doncaster next month and if he is kept to two miles then Aintree might be preferred than Cheltenham. 

Buveur D’Air


The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over 2m3f was easily taken by the treble seeker Colin’s Sister under Paddy Brennan who has no shortage of Christmas crackers coming up, she won very readily from My Khaleesi to gain more black type here, Trainer Fergal O’Brien has suggested Doncaster in January next for her. 

Colin’s Sister


David Pipe was grounded and couldn’t get his Helicopter to Haydock in time to see Eamon An Cnoic easily take the Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle race over 2m, following up his Fakenham win in October he seemed to make a mockery of his 123 mark, he will stay further and no doubt David might be thinking about his fathers race at the Cheltenham for this one, Splash Of Ginge bounced right back to form in the 2m7f hurdle under Jamie Bargary (3) as he looked to appreciate the return to timber after having a tough time of late under fences, the owners have said he will stay over hurdles so no doubt one of those Pertemps races will be found. 

A very competitive two mile handicap chase on paper but only one ever looked like winning as the lightly raced 9yo Gino Trail made all for Jamie Moore and Kerry Lee here, despite making an error at the last the race was never in doubt, the drop back to 2m suited him. 
Finally the last race a very wide open 2m3f handicap hurdle was run in almost darkness as the fog had near enough covered the entire course so much that nobody could see anything but the records showed that Clyne had crossed the line first just ahead of Le Rocher who could only be spotted by his yellow cap as they briefly flashed past the winning post before vanishing again like something seen in a ghost movie. 

Certainly one of those afternoons to remember for those who came and braved it. 

May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017, after this year it can only get better can it?

No Wattspots as I couldn’t see anything quite literally to spot. 

Hopefully we will be out and about over Christmas,all depends on the weather!

Aintree Races,Betfred Becher Chase Day,Saturday 3rd December 2016


David Pipe got a nice early Christmas present from a very crisp and even afternoon at Aintree as Vieux Lion Rouge showed his grit and determination to produce a typical finish for those brave horses who attack the big green monsters that are the Grand National fences as he battled on up the elbow going the brave mans route up the inside to land the Grade Three 3m2f Becher Chase and mugging last years winner Highland Lodge who almost gave Henry Brooke a dream winner just seven weeks after being in an induced coma after his heavy October fall at Hexham. 

In a thrilling spectacle as you normally get over these fences their were five in with a shout going over the last, Highland Lodge had been up with the pace from the outset but from the last fence in that gut busting two furlong run in, Tom Scudamore drove his charge from third after the last to deny last years winner by a very short head. 

Both horses will be coming back no doubt in the spring, the winner should be fine as he ran in it last year although the runner up needs to get a few pounds to make the cut and could pop into the National trial at Haydock in February to do that. 
Seven horses came to grief but all came home safely. 

Vieux Lion Rouge


The supporting card was a stellar line up too, As De Mee found this much easier than last months BetVictor Gold cup when taking the Grand Sefton over 2m5f on the National course, he did have a run over course and distance back in April and no doubt all roads will lead back to here in April, still only six he could be upped to three miles during the season. 

As De Mee


2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds continued his love affair with Aintree by landing a very good looking 3m1f Listed race on the Mildmay course, making all under regular pilot Leighton Aspell he stayed on tenaciously from runner up Le Mercurey who was having his first start as a second season chaser, Minella Rocco was challenging until taking a heavy fall at the last fence. 

Many Clouds will be aimed as expected at the National with a trip to Kelso in March pencilled in and probably a trip to Ireland too,Le Mercurey was getting 5lb off the winner and should be more than capable of picking a nice prize up during the season, Irish Cavalier was over forty lengths down in third place, he has been fairly busy of late and could do better after a rest and brought back fresh in the spring. 

Many Clouds coming back in


Call Me Vic came out on top in an incident packed 2m4f handicap chase which saw four horses all come down at the cross fence on the final circuit, leading towards the the fence The Fresh Prince had been making most until he met it all wrong and fell which in turn had a concertina affect and brought down three others including the favourite Oldgrangewood who had began to make his move and was travelling kindly, Call Me Vic was left in front and fended off the attentions of Bailey’s Concerto. 

Nigel Twiston-Davies didn’t leave Merseyside empty handed and his useful 5yo Florrie Boy took the feature 2m4f handicap hurdle, going in off 120 he was 8lb higher than his last win at Newbury back in April, he found this much easier than his seasonal debut at Cheltenham back in October, probably not good enough for something like the Coral Cup he could be aimed at the conditionals race at the festival and the trainer has no shortage of useful jockeys for a race like that. 

One lap to go!


Evening Hush picked up some useful black type in the first race when taking the 2m1f Listed Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle, a race with very little pace on she made all under Paul Moloney who did exactly the same as he did on her at Exeter last month, a visit to Chepstow for the big 3yo hurdle on Welsh National day looks likely for this Evan Williams trained filly. 

The other novice hurdle on the card over 2m1f saw Charlemar use his previous jumping experience to good use when easily holding favourite Minotaur by over four lengths, a winner of two French bumpers he took a maiden hurdle at Chepstow last month and has a decent future ahead of him, A possibility is the Tolworth at Sandown in January should connections be wanting to aim high or even the Rossington at Haydock, Minotaur ran well on hurdling debut but with good flat form up to 2m he will be better over 2m4f one would imagine. 

Aintree as usual was blessed with some quality racing at this pre Christmas classic meeting, the racing as usual was full of everything that fans of jump racing want to see with the biggest cheer of the day being given when Minella Rocco got up after his nasty fall in the 3m1f Listed Chase. 
All being well with the weather next up will be Tommy Whittle Day at Haydock Park in two weeks time. 
Wattspots

Pleasure Dome,3yo filly trained by Jonjo O’Neill, third in the Listed Fillies’ race was chucked in at the deep end but she should have learned from this and can go on from here
One For Arthur,7yo trained by Lucinda Russell was staying on after a patient waiting ride in the Becher Chase and is a thorough stayer, He is a dour stayer and while the National may come to soon it would be no shock to see him be aimed at the Scottish version 
Federici, 7yo from Donald McCain finished mid div in the Sefton but looks to have plenty to build on and could be laid out for the Topham.