DWC & Curragh…

So….. That’s Cheltenham done for another year, a gap until the Grand National at Aintree, it gives us time to get in to the swing of the changing seasons!

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AS we head out of winter & face spring, with a little bit of zest in our step, we all know that the warm weather is on the way & that can only mean that the FLAT is back, whisper it quietly, so the NH stalwarts don’t shout at ya! We at AOLR are fans of both codes.

A big thanks to Neil for his help over the Cheltenham 4 days & no doubt, he will be back soon with another Watty Spots & we recently published the AOBFS 10 Ballydoyle to follow 2023, so go check it out!

Jamie & Rich are here, with their thoughts on the Dubai World Cup from Meydan & it’s Lincolnshire day at the Curragh, on their opening weekend of Flat racing, the UK kick off next Saturday, with the Lincoln at Doncaster!

Jamie –

1:50 – UAE Derby (G2) – 1m 1 1/2f 

Selection: Derma Sotogake  

A wide-open edition of the premier UAE classic as you could make a case for every horse in this 13 strong field. Several runners are coming here on the back of the Saudi Derby and I believe the third home that day Derma Sotogake represents value. Having shown some decent ability back home in Japan courtesy of a listed win over a mile, Derma Sotogake went off second favourite for the Saudi Derby at 7/2. The race got away a bit for my selection rounding the home bend as he was a little outpaced and the front pair got away. However, Cristophe Lemaire (who takes the ride again today) got Derma Sotogake gathered, and he stayed on well up the straight beaten only two lengths. The form of the race is still up in the air and this does look a better Derby but the step up in trip looks like it will suit this son of Mind Your Biscuits. Japanese horses have been cleaning up at these big international meetings recently and I hope they will do so here. 7/1 available in places… Each way advised! 

4:35 – Dubai World Cup (G1) – 1m 2f  

Selection: Country Grammar  

A top-class field of 15 horses line up for the 27th running of one of the world’s richest races. US trained horses have a tremendous record in the Dubai World Cup, with the trophy going to the American’s 13 times. Japan has sent over a strong looking team but I don’t see any reason why Country Grammar and Frankie Dettori cannot repeat last year’s win. I was certainly impressed by how he finished off in the Saudi Cup last month where he flew home to finish second from a long way back. I expect Country Grammar to reverse the form with Panthalassa from Riyadh on a track that will play more to his strengths as will the step back up to 1m 2f which is his best trip. Stall 14 isn’t ideal but he is drawn around the speedier horses so that will help. I am hoping my selection is still in touch turning for home and can stay on well up the home straight. Cafe Pharoah might be worth a look for an each way play at 14s as he ran very well when third in the Saudi Cup.  

Rich –

Curragh – Soft to heavy

3,25 Irish Lincolnshire Handicap – 4yo+ – 1m..

Joe Masseria – Fast Company X Island Home 4yo gelding
Last seen finishing a 2 length 4th of 14 in a 1m Leopardstown Handicap from a mark of 88, which he runs from today. He has won 2 of 12 starts with 2 places. He got off the mark on his 6th run, in a 1m Maiden at Naas on heavy ground in late October 2021 & his last win was in July 2022 over the extended mile ( 1m 73yds)at Galway on soft ground, winning the handicap by 1/2 a length from a mark of 79. His form on Soft/Heavy ground reads – 2/1/4/1/4.
EACH WAY ( Extra places)

3.57 – Park Express Fillies’ & Mares’ Group 3 – 3yo+ – 1m…

Delightful – Galileo X Lilly Langtry – 3yo Filly
Took 4 runs to break he maiden tag but the filly improved for every run, finishing 4th on debut over 7f at this course in August, which was followed by a 3rd in a 1m Gowran Maiden in September by 3/4’s of a length. On her 3rd start, she finished 2nd in a Thurles Maiden by 2 lengths before finally getting off the mark on October 22nd at Leopardstown – EACH WAY

Thanks to everyone for popping by, remember the blog isn’t just for Cheltenham or Aintree…

All the Best – AOLR Team

The Final Day – Gold Cup Day

After 3 days of top class racing & several feathers ruffled, we have reached Gold Cup Day & the last day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival

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Firstly, We would like to thank the team for their hard work this week & we would also like to send our love to Chris & Charlie, who are taking a break for personal reasons.
It has been a good week on the whole, the racing has been fantastic with so many exciting races.

Thanks also to everybody, who has worked so hard in the year to get the Stars of the Festival, the horses, ready for this week – You are all amazing.

Let’s get Gold Cup day up & running, Just Rich & Jamie today….

Rich –

2.10 County Handicap Hurdle – Class 1 – 5yo+ – 2m 179yds..

Path D’oroux – Coastal Path X Belle Du Bresil 6yo gelding

4 hurdle starts with 2 wins. Made his debut back in October in a 2m 90yd Galway Maiden Hurdle, winning by 4 & 1/2 lengths from Itswhatunitesus (Field of 20 runners). Ran in a pair of Grade 1 Novice Hurdles, Pulled Up 2 out in the Royal Bond, 2f from home before finishing 4th to Facile Vega in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle by 28 lengths at Leopardstown, both races ran in December.
His last run was on January 21st, when landing a Navan 1m 7f 170yd Novice Hurdle by 4 & 1/2 lengths – EACH WAY

The DANGER is likely to come from Hunters Yarn, Fame & Glory X Full Of Birds 6yo gelding, who has 2 wins from 3 hurdle starts, including a 13 length maiden win on his 2nd start & a Navan 2m Listed Novice Hurdle last month..

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 5yo+ – 2m 7f 213yds

Hiddenvalley – Sholokov X Coming Home 6yo gelding

3 hurdle starts with 2 wins & a runner up spot. Naas maiden hurdle win over 2m 3f by 2 & 1/4 lengths from Santonito in November before an 8 length win in the Cork 3m Stayers’ Novice Hurdle Grade 3 in December. His last run was on February 16th, when finishing a 1/2 length 2nd to Monty’s Star in a 3m Clonmel Grade 3Novice Hurdle – EACH WAY

Jamie –

1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (G1) 

Selection: Blood Destiny  

Willie Mullins has such a strong hand in this year’s Triumph Hurdle that Paul Townend has had a tricky decision to make as to which horse to ride, as he has admitted himself. I think he may have chosen the wrong one in the mare Lossiemouth as Blood Destiny has looked an impressive sort this season back home winning both his races this campaign. A French import, Blood Destiny made his debut for Mullins at Cork in December where he won pretty much on the bridle. The form has been boosted by the second and fifth winning next time out. The next step on the road to Cheltenham was a winner’s hurdle at Fairyhouse where my selection romped away to win by a yawning 18 lengths hard held. The form has worked out well with Nusret (3rd) and Jazzy Matty (5th) winning the Dovecote and Boodles Juvenile Hurdle’s since then. Lossiemouth and Gala Marceau have won at a higher level and receive the Mares allowance, but I think Blood Destiny has looked very good and he has some good form as well. The fact Townend has decided to ride Lossiemouth has made Blood Destiny a bigger price, which I don’t mind! He has a big chance and the more rain that falls, the better for him.  

3:30 – Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1)

Selection: Conflated  

This looks to be a vintage Gold Cup and it will take some winning that’s for sure. The defending champion, a potential generational talent in Galopin Des Champs, a Grand National and King George winner all clashing. What’s not to love! Looking at the betting I think Conflated is overpriced at around 14/1 and worth an each way play. Gordon Elliott’s charge has become a top chaser in the past 18 months and he may not have reached his ceiling yet. Things went wrong at Cheltenham last year when he fell two out in the Ryanair when disputing second. However, since then Conflated has taken his form to another level. Highlighted by a comfortable win in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase at Christmas last time around, reversing the Down Royal form with Kemboy by staying on powerfully through the soft ground. Envoi Allen beat Conflated at Down Royal when my selection was probably in need of the run a bit. That form doesn’t look too bad now after the Ryanair Chase. With the ground set to suit and the team happy with his preparations I think there is every chance he can run into a place.

Neil –

3.30, Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, 3m2f , Grade 1

And so it finally arrives, the race which will decide who is the best chaser in the UK and Ireland.

On paper it looks a top class renewal with some seasoned campaigners at the highest level plus two Grand National winners (Aintree and American)  thrown in too, it’ll be a race to savour.

Favourite for this race for a long time has been Galopin Des Champs, just two starts this season have yielded two wins with his most recent one being in the Irish Gold Cup but he won’t find this as easy a task with the likes of Bravemansgame who spearheads the home contingent, another whose 2/2 this season but in the past two seasons has struggled in the big spring festivals.

As usual quite a few bookmakers will be paying more places for each way punters so I’m sticking with a northern based runner to run a big race.

1993 was the last time the Gold Cup found itself going north up the M5 towards Yorkshire and with many ifs and buts about the field I’m going for the Ruth Jefferson trained SOUNDS RUSSIAN.

A model of consistency with a heart like a lion he was moved up in grade after winning some good handicaps, 4th in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December behind Noble Yates he then ran on to be placed in the Rowland Meryck over Christmas before almost getting the better of Ahoy Senor in the Cotswold Chase back in January.

He was sent on a bit too soon but rallied well towards the end, this race is much deeper but he’s yet to finish outside the first four over fences and he can give a good account of himself.

Thanks for your support all week, we really do appreciate you stopping by & it means a lot to us all at AOLR.

Good Luck – The AOLR Team

Stayers’ Hurdle & Ryanair Day

Another BIG day at Prestbury Park, with the Stayers’ Hurdle & Ryanair Chase top of the bill on another day of top class racing comes our way..

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On a sad note, it’s a nice touch to name a race after Jack de Bromhead, a race which is known as the Dawn Run Mares’ Hurdle & I am sure his Dad, will be desperate to win it!
Yesterday we saw X, Y & Z take the BIG races, so who will win the Graded races today or will there be a couple of shocks?
That’s why we love horse racing!

Rich, Jamie & Neil give you their thoughts on another days competitive racing

Rich –

3.30 Stayers’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 4yo+ – 2m 7f 213yds

Home By The Lee – Fame & Glory X Going For Home 8yo gelding
Winner of the 3m Leopardstown Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle on December 28th, when 3 lengths ahead of Ashdale Bob, with Flooring Porter in 4th. That was his 2nd run of the current season, having won on seasonal return at Navan in the 2m 4f Grade 2 Railway Bar Lismullen Hurdle by 2 lengths from Bob Olinger, with Ashdale Bob in 3rd & Flooring Porter back in 4th.
In the form of his life & has the beating of a few of these if running to form. He finished 6th in this race last year – EACH WAY

4.10 Plate Handicap Chase – Class 1 – 5yo+ – 2m 4f 127yds

Hereditary Rule – Imperial Monach X Miss Organ 8yo gelding.
His last run was at this course back in November, when finishing a 10 & 1/4 length 3rd behind Unanswered Prayers in a Class 3 2m 4f Novice Chase, having won on his previous start last September at Downpatrick when running over hurdles.
He has a solid record in Chases’ with 3 wins & 2 places from 7 chase runs. A winner at Carmel over 2m 5f in a Class 3 Novice Handicap Chase in August, beating Jetski by 8 & 1/2 lengths from a mark of 138 & today runs from a mark of 136 with a 5lb claimer on board – EACH WAY

One to look out for – 4.50 – Magical Zoe – for Henry de Bromhead, in the race named in his son’s memory….

Jamie –

3:30 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (G1) 

Selection: Teahupoo  

This race has had an open feel to it since the days of Big Buck’s and this year is no exception with 11/4 the field at the time of writing. The one I really like here is Teahupoo who has taken his form to the next level since upped in trip this season after being campaigned as a 2m horse last campaign. Teahupoo’s first step up in trip came in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse where he stayed on strongly to get the better of Klassical Dream and the mighty mare Honeysuckle over 2m 4f, he was finding top gear right on top of the line. Next time out Teahupoo went off a hot 4/11 favourite for the Galmoy Hurdle and won in great style as expected, coping with the 3m distance no problem. Teahupoo’s chances today are aided by the fact he is at his best on soft going, is the highest rated horse in the field and is seemingly improving all the time. He has a big chance especially with that Fairyhouse form being boosted by Honeysuckle. Defending champion Flooring Porter is the main danger whilst I think Paisley Park could sneak into a place at a good price.  


5:30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase


Selection: Rapper


Having looked through Thursday’s card for each way value I had a number of tempting options but I have settled on Rapper in the (hopefully!) lucky last. There is plenty going for Rapper coming into this 3m 2f handicap. I like horses with C&D form here at Cheltenham and my selection ticks that box courtesy of an impressive success on New Year’s Day on soft ground, the same conditions he will face today. He was not beaten too far in the Masters Handicap at Sandown last time out. Staying on well to finish 5th of 12. A first time visor being applied will hopefully improve his focus and at 20/1 I think he is a solid each way proposition in what will be a stamina sapping contest on this ground, which will be right up Rapper’s street. Most bookies will be playing six places. – Each way advised.

Neil

2.10, Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle, 3m.

A real head scratcher of a race as always as racing switches to the new course for days three and four of the Festival.

Plenty do stand out for me but I’ve decided on this occasion to stick with a yard that knows what it takes to land the final of this popular series and it would be quite odd too because the horse in particular is trained locally by a popular Irishman but it would also count as a British win in the Prestbury Cup if it were to happen.

The horse I like is the Jonjo O’Neill trained AN TAILLUR.

I was at Haydock last Easter Saturday when he won the Challenger Staying Hurdle final over this trip and began this season back at Cheltenham in October when he was third in the qualifier for this, not seen since then to preserve his handicap mark he can make his presence felt here and run a nice race.

2.50, Ryanair Chase, 2m5f, G1.

A very intriguing race on paper here with a field of very useful and very popular horses lining up for what is often referred to as the “Aeroplane Race”

All eyes and I’d expect quite a few wallets will be on the current favourite for the race, Sishkin from the Nicky Henderson stable, he comes here off the back of an impressive win in the Ascot Chase and saw the race out well but the field in that was not as strong as this and I’m happily going to go elsewhere.

One who catches my eye especially as a nice eachway bet is the Henry De Bromhead trained ENVOI ALLEN.

He’s a dual Cheltenham Festival winner and he’s slowly found his feet in the elite level of steeplechasing which included a switch of stables during his novice chase days.

He began the season with a very nice win in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in November and while his King George run was a tame effort he will surely be a lot better at this venue and currently around a 12-1 chance he will be in with a shout of what could be a potentially nice 48 hours for the Henry De Bromhead, Rachael Blackmore and Cheveley Park Stud team. 

Thanks for popping by, we really appreciate it & look forward to your company on Gold Cup Day!

Good Luck – The AOLR Team

QM Champion Chase Day

The BIG race of today is the Queen Mother Champion Chase….

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What an opening day with Marine Nationale beating Fav, Facile Vega in the Supreme, El Fabiolo having a real tussle with Jonbon in the Arkle, Honeysuckle ending her career winning the Mares’ Hurdle & the Machine Constitution Hill landing the Champion Hurdle by 9 lengths!. Hopefully today is no exception with 4 Grade 1 races, including the Ballymore, Browns Advisory, the QM Champion Chase & NHF Champion Bumper! Who will be victorious?

Rich, Jamie & Neil have their picks for the day, so let’s get cracking…

Rich –

1.30 Ballymore Novice Hurdle – Grade 1 – 4yo+ – 2m 5f…

Hermes Allen – Poliglote X Une Destine 6yo gelding.
Made his race course debut in October 22, in a Class 4 Maiden Hurdle at Stratford over 2m 6f beating Theatre Man by 27 lengths & was quickly stepped up in to Grade 2 company in November, when heading this course in the Hyde Novice Hurdle, ran over C&D. He won by 9 lengths from Music Drive. His last run was in the 2m 4f Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury in December, beating You Wear It Well by 4 & 3/4 lengths.

The DANGER is likely to come from 1 of the 4 Willie Mullins runners & as Jamie, has noted, IMPARE ET PASSE, unbeaten in 2 starts & steps up in Grade & Trip

4.50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase – 1m 7f 199yds…

Dads Lad – Eliot X Little Jess 8yo gelding.
Has 3 wins from 4 chase starts, with 1 win over C&D, which came in a Class 2 Handicap Chase back in October, winning by 3/4’s of a length from Effernock Fizz, back in 3rd was Editeur Du Gite, who has since won the Clarence House, beating Edwardstone & Energumene (Ran at this Course). His last run was also at this course over Hurdles in the Class 1 Greatwood Handicap, when finishing 9th over 2m 87yds. – EACH WAY

Others I noted today are –
2.50 – Fil Dor & HMS Seahorse – both EW

Jamie –

1:30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (G1)  

Selection: Impaire Et Passe  

Irish trained horses have won 8 of the past 10 editions of the Ballymore and that trend looks likely to continue. I have had my eye on the Willie Mullins trained Impaire Et Passe since he bolted up in his maiden hurdle at Naas just before Christmas. Having justified his short odds at Naas Impaire Et Passe was sent to Punchestown for the Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle, a race Mullins has used to springboard many of his top novice hurdlers en route to Cheltenham. Despite the drop to a sharp 2m from the Naas 2m 3f Impaire Et Passe won comfortably in what was not a great race for the grade but it was still a good prep for today’s assignment. With the ground set to suit and the Mullins team sounding confident about his chances, I think he will take a lot of beating as more improvement from this lightly raced 5yo is likely. Impaire Et Passe is my nap of the week.  

2:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle  

Selection: Benson

The 26-runner handicap hurdle over 2m 5f is one of the toughest minefields of the week but I am going to put one up that I hope will find you some each way value. Sandy Thompson’s 8yo Benson is in the form of his life at present and at a double figure price I can’t ignore his each way claims. Benson’s form figures of 22211 read well and he has got better with every run. I fancied him to run a big race in the Morebattle Hurdle last time out at Kelso, he was given a peach by Ryan Mania to stay on well from the rear of the field to win cosily enough in the end. Other positives for Benson is his experience of racing in big fields I think this son of Beat Hollow is still relatively well handicapped off 11-2. With the ground conditions set to suit him well Benson is primed for another big effort and this race should set up well for a strong finisher. Once again check out what bookmakers are offering extra places and how many.  

*Each way advised*

Neil –

2.10, Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, Grade 1, 3m.

This Wednesday card has some very tough races to solve for sure, so much so i was half thinking about chucking in a couple of Huntingdon selections instead!

One race which is always red hot is the 3m chase for the novices, in effect it’s the Gold Cup for juniors and this looks a fairly decent renewal although it’s a pity that the home side could only field three runners in it.

In it I’m plumping for dual festival winner Sir Gerhard for the Willie Mullins yard to make it three festivals in a row here, the 2021 Bumper and 2022 Ballymore winner had had a quiet start to his chasing campaign with only a three runner beginners chase win at Gowran Park to his name.

In the last two seasons after winning at the Festival he’s then gone on to flop at Punchestown so with that in mind I’m going for him to do the business here this afternoon.

2.50, Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle, 2m5f.

A race with a field size only slightly bigger than the number of BBC football reporters who amazingly all found that for some reason they had other engagements last Saturday and Sunday afternoon!

Quite often it can be good to have experience in big field races so your horse can be a bit turfwise when it comes to weaving through traffic and dodging others when making an important move.

One horse who I like is Run For Oscar who would be an appropriate winners seeing as this race comes a few days after the big Hollywood event, Charles Byrne has a useful dual purpose type here who bagged the Cesarewitch at Newmarket back in October then ran in two high quality hurdle races at Haydock and Punchestown finishing third in both of those respectively.

Like many he could prove to be a plot job and the 2m5f trip should suit him, he’s one I’ll be having a few pennies on for sure.

Thanks for popping by, we really do appreciate it. Everyone involved with the blogs work hard to put this together..

All the Best – AOLR Team

Cheltenham Tuesday

Can you hear that? The ROAR of the crowd when the tape goes up for the first race? The Cheltenham Roar!

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Formerly known as Ruby Tuesday, but these day’s it’s known as just Tuesday! Will Tuesday have a new nickname? Whose going to win the BIG races today?

Rich. Jamie & Neil will take you through Tuesday & Wednesday, there maybe a change on Thursday & Friday….. SO LET’S GET STARTED!

Rich –

2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase – Grade 3 – 5yo+ – 3m 1f…
HappyGoLucky – Jeremy X Mydadsabishop – 9yo gelding.

A C&D winner from December 2020 when beating Mighty Don in a Class 2 Novice Handicap Chase. Runner up in this race in 2021, when 5 lengths to Vintage Clouds before going on to win at Aintree in the G3 3m 1f Handicap Chase. Was off the track for 595 days & has only run twice this season.
He finished 3rd of 9 in the Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle in November, when 4 lengths behind winner L’Homme Presse before his last run, on January 1st at this course in the NYD Handicap Chase, Class 1 over 2m 7f 127yds, he finished a 21 length, 10th of 16 to Midnight River.
Wears 1st time Cheek Pieces.
EACH WAY (Extra Places some Bookies)

4.50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Class 1 – 4yo Only – 2m 87yds….
Shared – Almanzor X Between Us 4yo gelding.

The former flat runner has only had 3 starts since changing yards & didn’t make his Hurdle’s debut until January 26th at Wetherby, when he won by 2 lengths from Chicago Girl in a Class 4, 2m Novice Hurdle. Stepped in to Listed Company on his 2nd start at Musselburgh over 1m 7f. finishing 5th of 6 runners by 4 lengths on February 5th.
A drop back to C4 Novice Hurdles on February 22nd at Doncaster, had the gelding back on the winning path, when beating School Days Over by 1/2 a length over 2m 125yds…
EACH WAY ( Extra places some Bookies)

Jamie –

1:30 – Supreme Novices Hurdle (G1) – 2m  

 Selection: Facile Vega  

The famous Cheltenham roar will see the 14 Supreme runners on their way this year. Like we’ll see so many times this week Willie Mullins holds a strong hand with a quartet of runners and I am still a believer in Facile Vega, despite flopping at Leopardstown last time out. It had been a faultless season so far for the 6yo with an easy maiden hurdle success at Fairyhouse followed by top level glory at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, where he beat Il Etait Temps. Things went wrong last month at Leopardstown as Paul Townend admitted to going too hard a gallop up front early doors with High Definition and Facile Vega weakened on the turn for home and was eased down. I believe Paul will revert to the hold-up tactics that worked very well for Facile Vega in the bumper last year and allow him to show that turn of foot. He has winning form on soft ground and perhaps crucially has proven that he likes the track. I still think he is the best horse in the race.

4:50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle  

Selection: Afadil  

I always like picking one for this race and with my list whittled down I am going to take a punt on Afadil for Champion trainer Paul Nichols, who I think may offer good each way value at a big price. Like Facile Vega, Afadil is looking to bounce back after a poor showing last time out at Haydock. However, Paul Nichols believes the race came too soon (13 days) after his previous outing. That race was north of the border at Musselburgh where Afadil showed a good attitude to land a 2m listed juvenile contest. On his British debut for the Ditcheat stable Afadil coped with soft ground well to win at Taunton. So, we know he will like the soft ground today. With the stable in good form and racing of 10-7 today I think Afadil is a live one in this race with a bit of luck in running. Shop around different bookmakers as most will be offering extra places for this contest.  

*Each way advised*  

Neil –

1.30, Supreme Novices Hurdle, 2m 1/2 f, G1

It all begins here then, the traditional curtain raiser to four days of the very best that National Hunt racing can offer to the world as thousands upon thousands of hardy racing fans make their way to Cheltenham and since last years G1 bumper all that has been spoken about especially on social media is about how far Facile Vega wins by, people were already celebrating as if the race was already won by time Baaeed won the International at York back in August!

For myself I’m happy to avoid him and go and find something for you each way punters who want a good run for their money and with many bookmakers no doubt paying for more than three places to try and entice you in to part with the old hard earned, I hope I have got one for you here.

Course form always counts no matter what the meeting is and Irish trainer John C McConnell has one who might squeeze into a place in Fennor Cross.

A four time winner on the flat upto 10f he won a maiden hurdle over course and distance in October before following up in the Supreme Trial in November although due to low sun they only jumped six of the scheduled eight flights.

Back in third that day was a horse I was very impressed with at Carlisle back in October called Springwell Bay, he won a race at Ascot last month .

In a race of this nature many bubbles will get burst but I like the fact he’s been saved for this and avoided the main winter novice hurdles, currently around 50s at time of typing he will need to improve but with two course and distance wins to his name he will not be put off where as some are having their first Cheltenham experience.

4.50, Fred Winter Juvenille Hcap Hurdle, 2m 1/2 f

With so many of the opening day races having very short priced favourites, it’s a case of having to play the waiting game, you can’t necessarily have a great Cheltenham Festival by the end of day one but you can certainly have a poor one if all of your selections stay in the satchels of the bookmakers.

One race which will have plenty of support being as it’s a big field handicap is this one and any regular readers of my “Wattyspots” column on here will have read from my last one at Haydock about a horse who ran a credible second in the Victor Ludorum called Punta Del Este.

Well as predicted he made the cut for the Fred Winter and carries a fair racing weight of 10st 10lb for Harry Skelton, the extra furlong will play into his hands and providing he doesn’t meet any traffic problems he can have a say in this trappy and wide open contest.

Thanks for popping by, fingers crossed for a cracking days racing & everyone comes home safe

Good Luck – The AOLR Team

Fairy Kempton to Ling…

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With Fairyhouse, Kempton, Lingfield, Newcastle & Chepstow all on today, there is so much racing to get our teeth in to & so many races to find winners! Hopefully, we have picked out the one’s most likely to get over the line first & without any HARSH penalties for their rider’s before the big few days at Prestbury Park next month!

Charlie will be back for Cheltenham, so Chris, Jamie & Rich are holding the fort…

Chris –

Lingfield

1.30pm Hever Sprint Stakes

Always a competitive dash on the all-weather, I’m siding with Look Out Louis to land his first win at this level today for the Julie Camacho team. His 2022 campaign was almost feast or famine, with 4 wins sandwiched between less inspiring unplaced efforts. His handicap success off 95 over this trip at Haydock gives him fair claims today, as is his liking for the tight course at Chester. He has won twice on the all-weather at Newcastle, and connections will hope he can produce a career best here and get involved at the finish. This son of Harbour Watch looks a good each-way play this afternoon and is drawn low to attack.

Kempton

2.25pm Pendil Novices Chase

A select field of 5 for this Grade 2, and I can’t look past market leader Boothill for this. He’s one of the more experienced runners in the field, tasting success over fences on 3 occasions. That includes at this level at Kempton over Christmas over 2m (beating Betfair Hurdle winner Aucunrisque), having previously run with credit behind one of the Arkle favourites Jonbon in the Henry VIII. That form is by far the strongest on offer today, with this step-up in trip also looking like a smart move, having finished placed over 2m 4f in a decent handicap when hurdling last term. Good ground seems ideal and he should make a bold bid here to defy the penalty.

Jamie –

Kempton –

3:00 – Premier Handicap Chase

Selection: Cap Du Nord

I am hoping that Cap Du Nord can keep his recent good form intact for this 3m test around Kempton. Christian Williams’ likeable 10yo has refound his form after a couple of below par performances pre-Christmas. After a close second in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster Cap Du Nord was sent to tackle another Premier Handicap Chase at Ascot last weekend. Where he travelled well into the contest and was comfortably on top after the last fence. Looking to defend his title here today, Cap Du Nord is only carrying 2lbs more than last year thanks to Irish claimer Cian Quirke getting the leg up.  Good ground is in his favour and he looks very well handicapped off 135. I am expecting another big run today at a course he is proven at. The big danger for me is Annsam, who bolted up here last month over C&D.

And one for the world’s richest race from Riyadh…

5:35 – Saudi Cup (G1)

Selection: Country Grammar

The richest horse race in the world and this year 13 runners will try to pocket the £8.3m winnersvcheque. There is no European interest this year with the home team, the Japanese and the American’s all fielding strong contenders. The one I like is last year’s runner up Country Grammar who has been primed for this race. Ever since his second in this race in 2022 Country Grammar went one better to land the Dubai World Cup, finished a well beaten second behind Flightline at Del Mar (No shame in that) and finished runner up twice more in a G1 & G2. It was Boxing Day at Santa Anita where Country Grammar had his prep run. A comfortable victory in the G2 San Antonio Stakes was a nice confidence booster. We know that he likes the Riyadh course well enough after last year and Bob Baffert says his horse has never been in better shape, his best price of 4/1 is hard for me to ignore. His stablemate Taiba is a big danger and probably a worthy favourite, whilst I think the defending champion Emblem Road at 16/1 could sneak a place as this race looks likely to set up well for him again.

 

Rich –

Lingfield – AW – Standard
1.30 Hever Stales – Listed – Class 1 – 4yo+ – 5f 6yds
Exalted Angel – Dark Angel X Hurryupharriet 7yo gelding.
3rd to Summerghand in the 6f Listed Golden Rose Stakes at this course in November by 1 & 3/4’s of a lengths before a 3/4L runner up spot at Newcastle in a 5f Class 2 Conditions Stakes. 2nd again at Wolverhampton to Mums Tipple in another Class 2 Conditions Stakes, this time over 6f by 1/2 a length before finishing 3rd to Annaf in the 6f Kachy Listed Stakes at this course on February 4th, with Runner Up, Diligent Harry, winning next time out. Wears 1st time Visor….

Kempton – Good, Good to Soft in Places
1.50 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2 – 4yo Only – 2m….
4 runs since October, 3 over hurdles & has 3 wins. 2 wins over Hurdles. Winner of the Grade 2 Triumph Trial at Cheltenham in November by 2 & 1/4 lengths before winning a Flat race on the All Weather at Wolverhampton on December 30th. HE followed that with a very good 2nd at Cheltenham in the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial in January, when a 3/4’s length 2nd to Comfort Zone. Top Rated 132 & Top Weight…

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All the best – The AOLR Team

Watty Spots – Haydock

Fresh from his trip to Bangor in Wales, Neil Watson headed to his local track of Haydock for another Watty Spots…

After last Friday’s pleasant afternoon over the border into Wales for the North Wales National at Bangor-On-Dee it was much more closer to home on Saturday, about just shy of three miles as Haydock opened it’s doors for the first time since December as the Grand National Trial meeting came around once again.

A good mix of good field handicaps with some novice races, one of which was a Grade 2 and the Walrus Hunters made for a competitive card, which at times made finding winners just that little bit difficult.

In the feature race, the Grand National Trial over 3m 4f and 22 fences, which was sponsored by a well known bookmaker, we had a thrilling finish between two top talented staying chase mares and it was Quick Wave from Venetia Williams, who eventually ground out the win from former Becher Chase winner, Snow Leopardess in a real Grandstand finish.

Quick Wave

It was quite ironic really that in this neck of the woods that the Leopards were tamed, Friday night saw Leigh Leopards’ first Super League game of the season fall to defeat to the Salford Red Devils and now Snow Leopardess found herself beaten too, such is the way of sport.

Popular 12yo Bristol De Mai sadly couldn’t recapture his youth and thankfully he can head into an honourable retirement, although it would be nice if he could come back to Haydock and parade occasionally, such is the love and admiration that he has acquired from the Haydock faithful over the years, a triple winner of the Betfair Chase, plus single wins of the Peter Marsh Chase, Altcar Novices’ Chase and by default last years Grand National Trial, he will be missed never forgotten.

One horse who impressed many came in the G2 Albert Bartlett and another appropriately named winner here as Makin’yourmindup took the honours for the Paul Nicholls yard and in a year where the city of Liverpool will be hosting Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine due to the sad events going on over there at the moment , it was quite a nod to it and the popular Owners Group owners (i own five shares in five different horses, not this one just to put the record straight) will doubtless have been in the land of make believe as they popped a few bottles of The Fizz to celebrate,

Enough of the pathetic mention of Bucks Fizz songs i hear you groan, it’s now time for the Wattyspots.

1 – Punta Del Este – 4yo Chestnut Gelding – Trainer : Dan Skelton.

One who caught the eye straight away came in the opening contest, the Victor Ludorum for the 4yo hurdlers and this one ran very nicely in my view for his UK debut over hurdles.

A winner last time out at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France he was running on nicely over a trip what was probably a little bit on the short side for him.
I’d be completely surprised if he went for the Triumph but should the handicapper not overreact he could be nicely weighted for the Fred Winter should he get an entry.

2 – Cloudy Glen – 10yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Venetia Williams.

A bit odd i agree to stick a 10yo in this as it’s usually all about spotting horses with potential futures but it isn’t all about that all the time.

The late Trevor Hemmings loved having Grand National runners and was lucky to own three and he could have a posthumous one come April in the shape of Cloudy Glen.

He holds an entry in the Aintree spectacular and this was his seasonal debut, he ran with credit but just weakened towards the end, that run will have done him the world of good and he can have a say although it depends what weight he gets come the announcement.

Famous Clermont

3 – Famous Clermont – 8yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Chris Barber.

Another one Aintree bound will be this fella who strolled home in the final race of the afternoon, the Walrus Hunter Chase.

This was one of the easiest winners of the day as he sauntered home following up from a recent Wincanton win and a couple of wins in points.

The Aintree Foxhunters is his aim and the 2m5f trip their will suit him as this win here was 2m6f.

Makin’yourminduo

A bit of a break until the next one, March is traditionally a quiet month for myself on the racing front with the next planned outing being Haydock again on Easter Saturday so may all your festival bets be winning ones although we all know that probably won’t be the case.

Till next time, Goodbye. 

Article & Pictures – Neil Watson ( @WattyRacing)

AOLR Publication – Published : February 2023

From Bangor With Love – Watty Spots

The weekend before Valentines Day & Neil Watson (WattyRacing) took a trip to Wales & here’s his review, with his usual Watty Spots….

The North Wales National, this might sound like the name of a building society that you’d walk past along Rhyl’s main high street but on Friday 10th February 2023, it was actually the name of a new race albeit, a race they already had but with a new title to give it a bit of an edge and a new feel.

For yours truly it was a return to Bangor-On-Dee for the first time since 2011, when they raced on the same day as the Grand National at Aintree, the year that Ballabriggs won.

This afternoon, though a decent sized crowd turned out in the North Wales countryside for what looked a fairly decent card and a good mix of jump races on a pleasant enough day.

As for the feature race itself the RPM North Wales National, well despite the home side only fielding one runner, which came courtesy of Rebecca Curtis. The race brought horses from all over the racing landscape as we had runners from Kinross in Scotland, Greystoke in Cumbria and even Newmarket had representation in this 3m 5f steeplechase. 

The prize though went to a nearby stable in Henry Daly as Bretney under Tom O’Brien picked up the lead with about a mile or so left and promptly never saw another horse, he was always travelling well and the first time use of blinkers certainly helped him, he’s apparently being aimed at the Go North Final at Carlisle but this 8yo is definitely one to keep an eye on in marathon chases.

Bretney

Another horse who caught the eye with a potential Cheltenham or Aintree festival plan was the Paul Nicholls trained Secret Investor who took the opening race, a hunter chase fairly easily, hard to imagine that back in 2021 he beat Clan Des Obeaux in the Denman Chase at Newbury, he needs one more race to qualify for the Foxhunters Chases and Taunton during the week was touted but also this Saturday’s upcoming Walrus at Haydock might be considered too.

Now on to the main highlight, the Wattyspots, here are my three to take out.

1- Crambo – 6yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Fergal O’Brien. 

In much calmer waters than the Challow in which he was pulled up this 6yo under Connor Brace ran away a nice winner in the 2m novice hurdle and now qualifies for the EBF Final at Sandown next month where he will probably take his chance and should get a nice racing weight, the 2m trip here was probably on the short side but his class and ability shone in the end.
He’s one to take note of.

Crambo

2 – Hidalgo De L’isle – 6yo Bay Gelding – Trainer : Donald McCain. 

Making his handicap debut off what looked a fair mark of 108 he readily landed the 2m handicap hurdle and looks a progressive sort, this Tim Leslie owned horse will definitely add more wins to his formbook.
He has a bright future ahead of him.

3 – Kankin – 7yo Chestnut Gelding – Trainer : Alex Hales. 

Visually the most impressive horse in the paddock for me in the novice hurdle won by Crambo this 7yo looked a real chasing type and had a huge physique about him, he finished quite a way down the field after being prominent throughout most of the race,
He will strip fitter for the run and when upped in trip for his handicap debut he should be on the premises a lot more.

Secret Investor

So a nice venture over the border, sadly on my walk around Wrexham which involved going past another racecourse albeit it was The Racecourse Ground home of Wrexham Football Club which had the pub The Turf next to it, it appeared i was a day early to witness Will Ferrell having a pint with his fellow Wrexham fans, if only he’d been in on Friday i could have tried to get him to swap the football shirt for the tweed of national hunt!

Anyway this Saturday all being well it’ll be Haydock for the Grand National Trial, till then it’s goodbye. 

Article & Pictures – Neil Watson

AOLR Publication – Published : February 2023

Grade 1 Bonanza

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Plenty of Grade 1 & 2 races around in Ireland at Leopardstown DRF & Scotland with Musselburgh hosting a cracking card, so plenty to get our teeth into on this bonus Sunday blog.

Jamie –

Leopardstown –

3:10 – Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle (G1)

Selection: Honeysuckle

I am still a believer in Honeysuckle despite seeing the great Mare lose her unbeaten record last time out. If she is to win a fourth straight Irish Champion Hurdle then she will have to overcome her toughest test on Irish soil by defeating the Mullins duo of State Man & Vauban. I still thought it was a good run from Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace last time out. For me it looked as if she needed the race quite a bit and she just got tired approaching the last. The eventual winner Teahupoo has proven it was no fluke either by bolting up in a Grade 2 at Gowran Park since. Honeysuckle will strip a lot fitter for today’s assignment and if she can get back to anywhere near her best, which she will have to be, then I still think she still has enough in the tank to repel all raiders. The De Bromhead team are happy with her wellbeing coming into this race too. Leopardstown may need a new roof if Honeysuckle crosses the line in front at about 3:15pm.

4:10 – Festina Lente Charity Liffey Handicap Hurdle (Grade B)


Selection: Fortunedefortunata 


It’s rare to see such a hot favourite in a red hot 2m handicap hurdle like this but Gaelic Warrior looks in a different league to these. I think he will win this so this race has a good each way scenario for me. At 20/1 Gordon Elliott’s Fortunedefortunata appeals to me as the unexposed and improving type who could be better than we know at the moment. Fortunedefortunata has done well since joining the Elliott team winning a Galway handicap in good style before not being beaten far in a competitive handicap at Navan in November. It could well be that he has been primed for this meeting having not been seen since. With winning form on yielding/soft ground and with some experience of the hustle and bustle of big fields, I can feel a big run coming today off a low weight of 10-4. With a bit of luck I don’t think he’ll be far away in the closing stages. With only 4 races under his belt there is a lot more improvement to come, hopefully this sort of test will not come too soon in his career. 

*Each way advised*

Rich –

Leopardstown =
1.10 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle – Grade B – 4yo+ – 2m 1f 150yds…
Popova – Ruler of the World X Meon Mix 6yo Mare.

1 win from 3 starts over hurdles. Won on hurdle debut in a Thurles 2m Maiden in December before a distant 4th of 5 runners on next start on January 1st at Fairyhouse.
Runner up last time out, January 22nd, on Handicap debut at Thurles over 1m 8f by 2 & 1/4 lengths. Raised 3 from 119 to 122 – Each Way

Musselburgh –
2.55 Handicap Hurdle – Class 2 – 5yo+ – 2m 7f 180yds
Wakool – Motivator X Symba’s Dream 7yo gelding.

2 wins & 3 places from 6 course runs, both wins over C&D. 1 win this season from 3 runs, which was over C&D. Finished a distant 7th in November on 2nd start in the Class 1 Stayers at Haydock before an improved 6 length 2nd in a Class 2 Handicap over C&D on January 2nd – Each Way.

Thanks for popping by this weekend, we really appreciate it. The BIG Interview will return next Sunday at 7pm!

Good Luck – The AOLR Team

A Big Weekend

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Here we go again, heading in to a Big weekend of racing & just over a month until the Cheltenham Festival but also not long to wait for the start of the Flat season. We still have Aintree to go along with Super Saturday from Meydan along with the Dubai Carnival & the massive race day in Saudi….

We have a full compliment today, with Charlie back along with Chris, Jamie & Rich, so let’s get cracking!

Charlie –

Sandown 2.55

Selection – Remastered 10yr old Gelding out of Network and Cathodine Cayras. Has had 25 career starts winning 7 times. Has won 4 chases from 9 starts and has won 2 hurdle races from 12. Has been in great form since having wind surgery with one win over hurdles and a win and a 2nd over fences, is 10lbs lower over hurdles. If reproducing form shown in last 3 starts should have enough to gain another victory today, biggest threat to the selection comes in the shape of Jet of Magic who has a win and two 2nd places finishes from last 3 starts.

.

Musselburgh 3.16

Selection – Grivetana 5yr old Mare out of No Risk At All and Stourza. Has had 7 starts winning twice. Was beaten into 2nd two starts back by First Street going down by 2 and 1/2 lengths, with better underfoot conditions forecast, should be thereabouts again today and is taken to gain another victory at the expense of main threat Nayati who won here last time out.

.Chris –

Sandown

1.45pm Dolos Handicap Chase

A competitive renewal of a race now renamed after fav Dolos and his excellent record in this contest, but I’m siding with Frero Banbou today. He also boasts some smart form around here with a win and 2 placed efforts from 3 starts at this trip. Despite running with credit this term, he is now dropped down to his lowest mark in almost 2 years, this could be his best chance of getting his head in front once more. He makes excellent each-way appeal here.

.

Musselburgh

3.16pm Scottish County Handicap Hurdle

Lebowski is a very lightly raced 8yo who won twice as a novice last season before being outclassed in Graded contests. He reappeared with a comfortable win at Wetherby in December over this trip and a 7lb rise does not look harsh. He steps up in grade today, but could well be much better than his current mark of 129. Conditions look fine and he must go close here.

Jamie –

Leopardstown –

1:20 – Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle (G1) 

Selection: Good Land 

Nine runners go to post for the opening race of the 2023 Dublin Racing Festival. Whilst the expected majority of entries are dominated by the Mullins & Elliott stables I like the look of Barry Connell’s Good Land. This horse seems to be held in high regard by his trainer judging by his comments after winning over C&D at Christmas. That day Good Land won by eight lengths from Tag Man but it is the fourth home Embassy Gardens who has really boosted the form by scoring impressively at Thurles next time out, so the form looks very solid. Whilst this is a big step up to a Grade 1 am confident there is more to come from Good Land as this step up in trip to 2m 6f looks ideal for him. I don’t think quicker ground is going to cause any concerns either as he has a sound looking action. This horse could be anything and the market is very positive on his chances today. Every chance in what looks to be the most open of the Grade 1s this weekend. 

Lingfield –

2:26 – Kachy Stakes (Listed) 

Selection: Summerghand 

I am going to side once again with the evergreen Summerghand as he has done me some good turns on this blog in the past. David O’Meara’s 9yo was better than ever towards the back end of the flat season last year, winning the Ayr Gold Cup was followed by a cracking effort over 6F at Ascot when second to Rohaan. Summerghand rounded off his season over today’s C&D in a listed contest back in November. He found his famous late turn of foot to get up to by a half length going away, in the process beating two of today’s rivals. He is now 2/3 at Lingfield and if he is in the same vein of form as he was in the autumn then Summerghand will take some beating. I’m just hoping that he will get the gaps from the rear of the field as he is a hostage to fortune with his running style. Big shout once again on all know.

Rich –

Sandown –
2.55 Handicap Hurdle – Class 1 – GBB – 4yo+ – 2m 7f 98yds…
Bells of Peterboro – Carlotomix X Prince of Future 8yo gelding

His last win was in December 202when landing a Class 2 Handicap over 2m 7f at Chepstow & has run 8 times since that day, with 4 runs over hurdles & 4 over bigger fences. This is his 2nd run back over hurdles, with his last start on December 27th, at Chepstow when finishing 2nd by 4 & 1/2 lengths in the race he won in 2021. Very consistent with 4 runs & 4 places this term. Each Way.

Lingfield –
3.01 Tandridge Listed Stakes – Class 1 – 4yo+ – 1m 1yd…
Manaafith – Exceed & Excel X Almashooqa 4yo filly.

The only filly in the field & receives 3lb from the boys. Unbeaten in 5 all weather starts, including over C&D in August 2021. Her last start was on January 1st at Southwell in a Class 2 7f Handicap, winning by 3/4’s of a length. Win

That is everything for you today folks…. The BIG Interview is returning!
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Good Luck – The AOLR Team