Haydock Park,Betfair Chase Day,Saturday 19th November 2016

Cue Card broke with his current trend of only winning the Betfair Chase on odd numbered years as he followed up his wins in 2013 and 2015 by putting a top quality field to pure destruction as he romped home by fifteen lengths ahead of 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree in a race where the front two put it to the sword from flag fall to the winning post. 

From the outset Coneygree took them along under Richard Johnson and still led off the final turn,however Paddy Brennan on his old adversary Cue Card were merely the sitting ducks as the breezed past him over four out from which it became a case of asking the referee to stop the contest. 

Cue Card now heads to Kempton on Boxing Day to try and get leg two of the Chasers Triple Crown in the bag before the Gold Cup, Coneygree will no doubt follow suit unless connections fancy a trip to Ireland for the Lexus Chase a few days after, Silviniaco Conti was very disappointing back in fourth place some 42 lengths behind the winner, he did win the Ascot Chase last season so connections might fancy dropping him back to 2m4f-6f now. 

As for Cue Card he clearly benefitted from that run at Wetherby last month and back on level weights with his victor that day Irish Cavalier who along with the well touted Seeyouatmidnight were both pulled up. 

Cue Card and Paddy Brennan coming back in

Elsewhere on a top class supporting card Ch’tibello scored very impressively in the 2m Price Rush Hurdle which was run on the inner flat track, travelling well behind the pace he took over the lead just before two out under Harry Skelton for his brother Dan and won with some authority from veteran Melodic Rendezvous, 10/11f My Tent Or Yours was held up as expected but couldn’t fully pick up when needed, Ch’tibello will now head off to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Christmas Hurdle and try to show he has the credentials for being a live British Champion Hurdle contender to take on the Willie Mullins mob. 


Kruzhlinin formed part of a Richard Johnson treble and a Philip Hobbs double as he took the 2m7f Fixed Brush Hurdle from Theo’s Charm who really made him race for it, Kruzhlinin has had a busy early campaign and came here after being third at Aintree in a Pertemps Qualifier, a return to fences looks more than likely now although he didn’t take to the big Aintree fences back in the spring but a good quality three mile handicap would be more suitable. 

Evan Williams had a nice winner in the opener here with Clyne who hadn’t run since sauntering home in a 2m hurdle at Warwick back in February, raised 13lb by the handicapped after that race clearly hasn’t stopped him and he took over the lead with about half the race still to go, going in off 132 he beat the Hobbs trained Verni by 7 lengths, a crack at the big 2m hurdle at Ascot before Christmas looks more than plausible off this, Verni travelled well but met one too good here and could be going chasing before too long. 


El Terremoto won the 2m3f hurdle, a race which over the years has been won by the likes of More Of That and Rock The Kasbah, he made easy work of his 126 mark under Jamie Bargary whose 3lb claim was more than useful here, following on from his maiden win at Stratford over 2m6f he should easily get three miles in time, only a 4yo the national hunt world is oyster at the moment and it would be a no brainer to go for either the Relkeel at Cheltenham or the Challow at Newbury next month, the step up on trip has really showed him in his true light. 

El Terremoto

Welsh National clues were abound in the 3m4f chase which as expected became a right old slog fest and the unexposed Mysteree,formerly trained by Lucinda Russell last season but now in the care of Michael Scudamore had already had a taste of staying chases last season most notably when fourth in the Eider and scored here in some style, he held off Chase The Spud by around three and a half lengths and looks set to make the journey for the Chepstow marathon and Haydock regulars might even see him back here in February for the National Trial over course and distance. 

In the finale,a 3m chase saw Three Faces West give Richard Johnson the match ball as he made all to land a nice prize coming home as easy as he liked by some thirteen lengths from last seasons Midlands National winner Firebird Flyer, front running certainly suited him better than the hold up tactics that resulted in him being pulled up at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance last month, it would be no shock to see him back here in January for the Peter Marsh, runner up Firebird Flyer found this trip a bit short but it will leave him spot on for the Welsh National. 

An excellent weekend of top class jumps racing then, the weather was a lot better than the horrendous conditions that Friday had and a fair and healthy crowd appreciated seeing some top class national hunt racing. 

Without doubt Cue Card was the star of the show and with leg one done of the triple crown done the King George on Boxing Day could well live up to be an even bigger present that any letter to Lapland could ever say for all fans of racing. 

Next racing action here will be the Becher Chase meeting at Aintree with two races over the big fences. 

Until then, Goodbye.


El Terremoto,4yo trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies was very impressive in the 2m3f hurdle race and could be a World Hurdle type in what looks a wide open division now, although the yard has Ballyoptic this youngster has lots more to offer. 

Haydock Park,Betfair Chase Festival Day One,Friday 18th November 2016

Politologue was the star attraction on day one of the two day Betfair Chase festival at a very damp and soggy Haydock Park as he thrashed what potentially looked a decent field into submission in the days feature prize the 2m5f novice chase beating Vintage Clouds by ten lengths in what was the performance of the day. 

Sitting behind the pace to begin with he went away easily from the fourth last and jumped his fences pretty easily, only a 5yo he has plenty going for him for his owner John Hales and trainer Paul Nicholls, he should make into a quality novice especially when upped to three miles. 


On an afternoon which included some intriguing novice events Tahira gained some much valuable black type as she made all to win the Listed Newton Novice Hurdle over 2m, twice a winner in the summer this six year old mare had struggled since her Warwick win in September and could be aimed at the Dawn Run race at the festival. 

Cloudy Dream continued his excellent start to his novice chase campaign under a kind ride by man of the moment Brian Hughes as he easily landed his second steeplechase in the 2m Graduation Chase, leading after two out he jumped very nicely and a step up in Grade looks likely in time, if he has a short break then possibly the Grade Two novice events at Doncaster or Warwick in late January and early February could be targeted, runner up Pain Au Chocolat found this much easier than the Haldon Gold Cup recently but is not easy to place at the moment. 

Vintage Clouds

Trainer Graeme McPherson landed a winner as Ami Desbois picked up where he left off in the spring as he followed up from his Hexham maiden hurdle win, he kept good company on his last two runs which were in Graded company and these two wins will have done his confidence a world of good, handicap debutant and favourite Sharp Response ran a credible race back in third and should pick a race up on a slightly easier surface. 

Finally after a tricky and testing Sunday last weekend at Cheltenham,Nicky Henderson got a double up in the Haydock mire as ex pointer Constantine Bay just got the better of the Paul Nicholls trained Brio Conti by half a length, both look useful types with the winner certainly looking like a stayer in the making, Brio Conti travelled well and did look all over the winner until he was asked but should also make up into a decent sort. 

The other winner for the Henderson team came in the concluding bumper as the very well regarded Claimantakinforgan landed the spoils on his debut, costing £110,000 at the sales he came out of this race with his reputation in tact, wether he stays in bumpers or goes hurdling is another thing, only 4 he has lots to offer. 

Some good quality racing albeit with some small but quality fields, tomorrow sees the 12th running of the Betfair Chase although the rain has been very persistent for most of the day,no inspection is planned at the moment although it could well turn into a real slog in the Haydock mud. 


Costly Dream,4yo trained by Philip Hobbs,sixth in the bumper but did show up for a bit before tiring, he will strip fitter and offer more in time. 

Wetherby Races,Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Meeting,Friday 28th & Saturday 29th October 2016

Wetherby’s two day Charlie Hall Chase meeting came to a glorious conclusion on Saturday afternoon as Welsh trainer Rebecca Curtis stole the show with Irish Cavalier as he showed that younger legs were the order of the day to just hang on from veterans Menorah and Cue Card in a thrilling finish at the ever popular A1 course to land the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, 5th in last seasons Gold Cup he went to land a hurdle at Punchestown and looks to have found significant improvement during his summer holiday, only 7 he looks likely to head to Haydock next month for the Betfair chase before being readied for Cheltenham, Menorah defied his 11yo status to run a cracker in defeat while the star of last season Cue Card travelled well but giving 10lb to the winner was always going to prove tough to do but he will be much better next month when back on level terms.


Irish Cavalier & Rebecca Curtis

Irish Cavalier will more than likely miss the worst of the winter heavy ground but this was a big day for Rebecca Curtis and new stable jockey Jonathan Moore who both look to have a partnership with which to kick on with now.

Elsewhere on a decent card we saw Silsol take an intriguing renewal of the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle over 3m as he finished over two and three quartet lengths ahead of Native River, always at his best fresh Silsol won a couple of novice chases last season but looks like he will be trying to emulate Big Buck’s now in the staying hurdle division, next months Long Walk at Newbury is the plan for him, Native River in second was using this as a Hennessy prep and he will come on a ton for this and will have a live chance in the big Newbury handicap, Favourite Ballyoptic was hard at work but still had a squeak when he fell at the last flight but thankfully he got up to applause from a loving and caring NH crowd, hopefully this won’t have dented his confidence. 

Silsol having a well earned drink

Jockey Bridget Andrews gained her biggest win to date on Stephanie Frances in the Listed Mares’ Hurdle over 2m, a hold up mare she was given a well timed ride to land the OLBG sponsored contest by just half a length to Midnight Jazz and looks likely to be kept to her own sex this season,she stays 2m4f and one feasible target could be the Warwick race in February over 2m3f in the new year. 

Stephanie Frances

In the minor races on the card Double W’s from Malcolm Jefferson’s stable took the opening 1m7f Nov Hcap Chase and followed up his recent Carlisle win, he is thriving this autumn and looks more than feasible that his 135 mark will shoot over the 140s after this. 

Ozzie The Oscar ran out an impressive winner of the 2m Novice Hurdle finishing six lengths ahead of debutant Zipple Back, both will make into good horses,the winner jumped well and his experience helped,he will be interesting to follow in handicaps now,Zipple Back was 9th in the Aintree bumper and should strip fitter for this but he did get in close at a few and should go on from here and pick a race up easily. 

Zeroshadesofgrey gave Royal Vacation an 11 length beating in the 3m Novice Chase,the winner jumped well in the main and staying races look his thing, Royal Vacation was beaten fair and square in this. 

The finale saw ex Bloomfields/Godolphin runner Blue Rambler win on his debut for new trainer Ian Williams in the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle, sixth in the Cesarewitch on the flat he made a mockery of his 122 mark which looks to be raises quite a bit after this, Three miles will be no problem you would think and this is a race with a bit of a history behind it as former World Hurdle winner More Of That took this a couple of seasons ago. 

Pulling up after the last

In the best of Friday’s action trainer Paul Nicholls got his only other winner here with the ultra game Cliffs Of Dover in the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle over 2m which was his fourth win of the month, clearly thriving on his racing he is enjoying the jumping game but it’s a long way until the Triumph. 

Indian Stream landed the 2m3f Listed Chase under a fierce ride by Noel Fehily for Neil Mulholland, despite being a bit tricky at the last she kept on well to land her fifth chase win on her eight start, the mares chase series could be a target for her now and she has won over three miles before, she will certainly be a good jumping broodmare in the future. 

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies had a poor Saturday but had a Fab Friday with Scotchtown running out an impressive winner of the 2m3f Novice Hurdle,the step up in trip on his hurdles debut proved the right call and he will pay his way and Robinshill came back from his summer hols in fine form as he made all to land the 2m Handicap Hurdle making a mockery of his mark of 115. 


All in all two excellent days of racing in Yorkshire as the National Hunt season well and truly cranks up a few gears now. 

Next up will be the two day Betfair Chase festival at Haydock, until then Goodbye. 

Zipple Back,4yo trained by Alan King was 2nd in the 2m Nov Hdle,looks a winner in the making and should land a race next time out. 

Blaklion,7yo from Nigel Twiston-Davies,got outpaced at the business end of the Charlie Hall but will improve and last seasons RSA winner jumped very well in the main. 

Nietzsche,3yo from Brian Ellison was runner up in the Wensleydale and should make into a useful juvenile hurdler as the progresses, would be no shock to see him run in the big 3yo hurdle at Doncaster in December.