Haydock Park,Saturday 23rd January 2016,Peter Marsh Chase Day

Heavy ground at Haydock for this competitive seven race card as the roads to Cheltenham and Aintree came here this afternoon with some nice horses on show. 

The snow which covered the area on Sunday had vanished and despite a few splashes of the wet stuff during the week is was never going to be enough to threaten today’s action. 

Four Grade Two races including some tricky handicaps and novice races formed the card with the Champion Hurdle Trial and Peter Marsh being the feature races. 

1.00 NRC Cheltenham Preview Night Here Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m7f,12 flights,4yo+ (0-140)

Baywing got the four timer up but he had to work for it,coming in off a decent pace he led between the final two flights and fought on to easily hold Goodbye Dancer by 5 lengths who in turn stayed on through beaten horses by getting ahead of Shades Of Midnight by three parts of a length, Island Heights who won here in November did led over three out but weakened and came fourth. 

Baywing has improved so much when we saw him win at Carlisle in November off 89 and took this off 125,next months Pertemps qualifier here looks likely unless connections fancy a step up in grade to the Rendlesham and he will make a useful chaser should he do that next season. 


Coming in for the first

1.30 Start Your RacingUK Free Trial Now Novices’ Chase,Grade 2,2m4f,15 fences,5yo+

Bristol De Mai easily made it three from five this season with a bloodless victory here as he sauntered to a 32 length win ahead from nearest pursuer Amore Alato,he in turn finished ten ahead of the Venetia Williams duo Otago Trail and Zamdy Man. 

This lovely looking grey has clearly benefitted from the move up in distance and jumped very well here,The JLT at the festival is his most likely target but should connections want another run before hand then the Scilly Isles or the Pendil next month are the more probable options. 

Amore Alto was outclassed here but is going the right way and now gets a mark after this,he is one to watch now handicapping, Otago Trail never went with any zest and his run at Chepstow a fortnight ago has clearly left a mark and Zamdy Man didn’t look to stay 


Bristol De Mai

2.05 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle,Grade 2,2m,9 flights,4yo+

Just the six here but it did feature four last time out winners and plenty of potential on offer. 

It paid to be up with the pace this afternoon and Harry Skelton utilised the stamina of last months course winner Its’afreebee and did exactly what Bridget Andrews did that chilly late December afternoon by making all but he didn’t have his own way though as Le Prezien and Vieux Lille gave chase coming down the straight, over two out Its’afreebee made a real hash of the flight and was stoked up by Harry Skelton as Le Prezien came after him and on the run in both gave everything and Its’afreebee just got the edge by three parts of a length. 

Its’afreebee is a very smart type and loves to bowl along,he was very gutsy here and proved just as effective over 2m as he is over 2m3f, it’s doubtful the 2m or 2m5f novice events at Cheltenham will bring about another victory but he could be ideal for the Coral Cup or Martin Pipe hurdles, he does seem to love the north west so Aintree could be a better option. 

Le Prezien just found one too good here but he is clearly a useful type and will be even better when he goes chasing, Vieux Lille ran with credit and he could better when moved back up in trip,possibly a race like the Sidney Banks will be up his street. 

2.40 StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial,Grade 2,2m,9 flights,4yo+

The New One got the job done here and heads off to the Champion Hurdle in a race which proved to be a little bit eventful. 

Heading into the country early leader Rayvin Black tired to do a Drill Seargant and head for the stables and pull himself up,Tom Garner really had to work the double overtime as they went down the back. 

The New One had to work for this and got the lead from Rayvin Black between the last two and despite holding a good lead he was asked to go and win his race which he did under Sam Twiston Davies, the win will have told us little that we already know but he will still need to find a lot more to win the Champion Hurdle where he was fifth last year. 

Rayvin Black has only won right handed so the Imperial Cup in March looks the likely target before a visit to Punchestown and quite possibly Galway or Market Rasen should a summer campaign occur, Captain Conan back in fourth will strip fitter for this. 

3.15 Peter Marsh Chase,Grade 2,(Ltd Hcap),3m,18 fences,5yo+

A more than useful renewal of this chase which has been gong since 1981. 

Experience got the better over youth here as Cloudy Too who was left in the lead after Gas Line Boy took a tumble at the final fence down the back on the second circuit kept up the gallop under Danny Cook to record his first victory since the 2013 Rowland Meryck, Virak tried to give chase under Harry Cobden (7) but he couldn’t make up the ground, Hennessy fourth Fingal Bay kept on albeit one paced back in third spot. 

This race took no prisoners and if anything Gas Line Boy was still travelling with real zest until he went, Cloudy Too had Virak behind him but he was never going to have him go by up the straight and found more to score 15 lengths ahead of him,Virak easily held Fingal Bay and Seventh Sky with Reve De Sivola and Third Intention the only others to get round. 

Cloudy Too deserved to win a big one after finding life a bit to tough the past couple of years, from here it’s hard to know where next,possibly the National trial here next month should he get an Aintree entry unless a crack at the Scottish one. 

Virak ran a game race in defeat,only a 7yo he has plenty of experience as a chaser but needs dropping a bit, Fingal Bay is probably paying for his PB in the Hennessy at the moment,Seventh Sky will be better when sent for the Topham and Reve De Sivola never looked like landing a blow


Cloudy Too

3.50 Lymm Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,13 fences,5yo+ (0-130)

A competitive enough contest which saw Ubaltique bounce back to form under Aidan Coleman for Donald McCain, given a nice hold up ride he made ground up when moved up the inside when the field turned for home and he kept on gamely to score six lengths ahead of Goohar in second place   

Ubaltique regained the winning thread since scoring at Ayr last year,this is his level and he deserved a day in the sun,Goohar hasn’t won since winning a bumper here in 2014,despite always giving his all he seems to find one too good,a step up in trip might help. 

4.20 Brown Shipley “Fixed Brush” Novices’ Hurdle,Class 4,2m3f,10 flights. 

Amazingly Paddy Brennan only had one ride here and it was a winning one on Bun Doran who made all and was eased in the closing stages as the light faded at Haydock,coming home six lengths ahead of Vintage Clouds who was 36 ahead of Baratineur in third place. 

Lots to like here about this horse who had clearly learnt a lot from his hurdling debut at Newbury in November,he is clearly going the right way and one to keep on your side, Vintage Clouds was giving the winning horse 6lb here so he ran to the best of his form,Baratineur never looked likely to land a blow. 

As for the winner he may end up Sidney Banks bound but like the runner up his future will lie over fences. 


Light fades in the last

An intriguing afternoon of racing,wether we have seen any Cheltenham winners is one thing but it’s the time of year when the possible is still possible. 

Racing wise the next planned meeting is the Towton at Wetherby but before that we are in the hands of the weather gods. 

Today’s Wattspots

Gas Line Boy,10yo was going very well in the Peter Marsh,could be getting laid out for the National

High Hopper,6yo was a fair way back in the fixed brush hurdle but will be seen in a better light when handicapping
Until next time,Goodbye

Warwick Races,Saturday 16th January 2016,Betfred Classic Chase Day

Warwick didn’t need to hold the intended 8am inspection much to the delight of new Clerk Of The Course Jane Hedley who follows the Hamilton Park bound Sulekha Varma in the role here at Historic Warwick. 

Seven races with the feature races being the big Grade Two Novice Hurdle and the long distance Classic Chase. 

Weather wise it was a bit chilly but thankfully the near four miles of frost covers did the job which meant racing was all set for the go ahead at the courses feature meeting of the jumps season, the ground was heavy but it wasn’t the type that resulted in the mud flying as it had been doing recently,it was hard work for the horses though. 

12.40 Betfred ‘Goals Galore’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,2m,8 flights,4yo+ (0-110)

Not a strong race which included several handicap debutants. 

Bold Duke finally won his first hurdle at the age of 8 and on his 12th start over timber but he had to work for it and held off 66-1 outsider Red Hott Robbie by three parts of a length, Back At Midnight who actually has won a race came eight lengths back in third

Bold Duke looked to benefit from the drop back to 2m,he likes the heavy,Red Hott Robbie put in a career best but may not find another opportunity to win,Back At Midnight needs relenting from the handicapper,Favourite Polo came right down the field,he has plenty of holes in his form!

1.25 Betfred ‘January Sale’ Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,12 fences,5yo+ (0-135)

An impressive display of front running by Big Jim who like the winner in the first race benefited from a drop in trip, despite making a mistake at the first ditch and going right at the second last fence he was always in command, Morning Reggie chased him in second but was eight lengths down and couldn’t make the ground up,Ex French chaser Walk In The Mill was back in third. 

Big Jim put them to the sword here and got the job done well,going in off 111 he looks likely to get a reasonable hike up, Morning Reggie benefitted with the first time cheekpieces while Walk In The Mill will be better upped in trip. 

1.50 Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase,Listed,3m,18 fences,5yo+

A tidy looking race of five runners but an effortless win for Black Hercules here as he put in a fine display of jumping and never put a foot wrong, taking over in the lead from the second fence he never saw another horse under Danny Mullins for his uncle Willie Mullins and recorded a first win on his first ride at the track. 

Just shy of three lengths back in second was Definetly Red,a winner at Catterick on his chase debut he ran a fine race but was completely outclassed here,the only mare in the race Emily Gray was twenty lengths back in third with a further ten back to Silsol. 

Black Hercules looks likely to be going for the 4m chase at the festival and he wasn’t stopping here,he could even be a National horse one year, Definelty Red certainly has potential and could be Towton bound here,Emily Gray got some fair black type here but will be better in mares events, Silsol now looks exposed a bit but a drop back to 2m4f will be better and with his owner being Scottish I’d expect the big novice chase at Ayr on Scottish National day


Black Hercules

 2.25 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,3m2f,12 flights,5yo+

Plenty of improving sorts here in a competitive qualifier in which the first six will be qualified for the final at Cheltenham. 

Flintham hasn’t been too keen over fences as he pulled up on debut at Exeter and after finishing down the field at Cheltenham in a hurdle he bounced back with style under Nico De Boinville by making all despite briefly losing the lead after the last, he rallied to get the better from Pobbles Bay by 0.75 lengths,recent Haydock winner Isaacstown Lad came eleven lengths back in third. 

Flintham will head to the final at the festival and with the Bradstocks stable star Coneygree being out it is likely that his half brother will be flying the flag and if it comes up soft and he gets a lead then he could be fair thing but their are more qualifiers to come yet, Pobbles Bay looks a nice type and only 6 he has more to offer over hurdles, Isaacstown Lad looks held here but maybe if a race can be found for him in the north he could win again. 

3.00 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle,Grade 2,2m5f 11 flights,5yo+

A top quality renewal here with plenty of potential on show. 

John Gosden probably wished he had a NH license here as Thomas Hobson who ran to a fair level on the flat reaching a rating of 97 bowled out in front under Danny Mullins and just hung on as he got a bit tired coming to the last which he hit but had enough in hand to hold off stable mate Open Eagle by two and a half lengths who in turn was six ahead of Definite Outcome with favourite Born Survivor back in fourth. 

Thomas Hobson opened up a good lead when turning down the back straight and this effectively sealed the race,wether he goes to festival is one thing but Aintree could be right up his street for the big 2m4f novice hurdle and it’s possible he could have a spin back on the flat, Open Eagle was given a patient waiting ride and stayed on well enough,he has plenty to offer. 

Definite Outcome kept on very well,A crack at the Persian War over further at Haydock next month looks possible and he has lots of scope, Born Survivor came here with a bit of a reputation after costing £220,000 after his Irish Point win,he didn’t pick up when asked 


Thomas Hobson enjoying a little drinkie

3.35 Betfred Classic Chase,Grade 3,3m5f,22 fences,5yo+

As usual this race was a real slog even though it lacked a bit in quality due to the proximity of the rearranged Welsh National. 

A week after her biggest win as a trainer,Kerry Lee got her 14th winner with Russe Blanc,the only white horse in training stayed on dourly in a real survival of the fittest in which only five of the fourteen horses finished. 

Favourite Sego Success fell at the second,this meant Wayne Hutchison was able to let it back to the weighing room and watch the rest with a brew in the warm, 2013 winner Rigadin De Beauchenne fell at the 15th, De Kerry Man took a tumble and lay winded when tiring but he safely got up and was led away. 

Russe Blanc took over in front with seven to jump and began to grind it out, Midnight Prayer gave chase but a mistake at the 18th proved costly but he had second place guaranteed and was 3.25 lengths second, Dromnea was ridden to get the trip and came third albeit 24 lengths behind, Houblon Des Obeaux came fourth but was never likely to win,Vivaldi Collonges didn’t stay the extra trip. 

The winner looks to love a test of stamina,it’s doubtful that he will add Aintree to his target list,Ayr could be a possibility if it comes up very soft. 

Midnight Prayer is lightly raced for his age,He could be ideal for veterans races and maybe the Bet365 at Sandown in April, Dromnea looked like he stayed and the Midlands National might be a race for him. 

4.05 Betfred TV ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 6,2m,4-6yo

The traditional Wood Ditton style finale with some fair types in it. 

Thisonetime was a bit green but made a winning debut for trainer John Quinn,grabbing the lead from Cheltenham De Vaige with 2f left he had to be kept up to his work and drifted up the straight eventually finishing the race over on the chase course, he finished six lengths ahead of favourite Opera Rock. 

Thisonetime stayed on well and looks useful and will have learnt a lot here,he could end up on the flat at around 1m4-6f unless a hurdles career beckons, Opera Rock is another who will have learnt from this. 



As usual a very nice afternoon at Historic Warwick. 

Willie Mullins continued his excellent record here as things are looking could be single handildly responsible for making all bookies bankrupt come Cheltenham week. 

Kerry Lee is proving to be a more than useful trainer in the making. 

Jane Hedley will be more than good at following the line of female clerks at Warwick over recent years. 


Walk In The Mill,6yo came 3rd in the second race but looks like 2m4f will suit

Emily Gray,8yo mare,showed why we need a big Graded Mares chase in the spring. 

Pobbles Bay,6yo was second in the fourth race and looks 2m6f-3m is his trip. 
At time of writing we have snow here so Peter Marsh day at Haydock may be in doubt. 

Until then Goodbye