Tuesday 28 November 2017

Mark Bradstock 'quietly confident' of reclaiming Ladbroke Trophy with Gold Cup hero Coneygree

Embed from Getty Images
Mark Bradstock's team are hoping that former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree can land the Ladbroke Trophy despite carrying top weight.

The ten-year-old proved a historic winner of the blue ribband event at the Festival, becoming the first novice to win the Gold Cup in 42 years, but things haven't been as straight forward since.

Plagued with injury, he raced only twice last season finishing second to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase before an exceptional close third at Punchestown. He was only beaten a length and a half behind race fit Gold Cup winner Sizing John.

He was pulled-up on his return in Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase, but confidence is high for the yard that won this with Carruthers in 2011.

Denman triumphed with top weight in 2007 and 2009, and the Bradstocks believe the exceptional Gold Cup winner can emulate the former Cheltenham hero.

“Coneygree seems great and I am delighted with him," said the Lambourn handler.

"He went round Newbury the other day and jumped absolutely fabulous. David Bass, who schooled him at Newbury, said he’d have paid to ride him.

“I am not quite sure what happened at Wetherby but it was very, very unlike him to jump like that. There were certainly three jockeys who said the sun was a problem and the horse struck into himself quite nastily. It was just one of those things.

Embed from Getty Images
Coneygree was well in contention before blundering the final fence in the Punchestown Gold Cup

“I think the best race he has run in his life was at Punchestown last year, on ground that was probably a bit quick for him. I know he has only run about 12 times in his life but Wetherby was his only real blip and I think we can give him benefit of the doubt.

“Top-weight doesn’t really worry me. Having spoken to Richard Osgood this morning, I am glad to hear he thinks it is going to be good to soft or soft at the weekend and there will be covers down on the take-offs and landings.

"I am happy to see the race run on better ground than heavy ground with a big weight like that.

"I am sure he will run a big race on Saturday. I am quietly confident.”

Coneygree is currently fancied around 14-1 for Ladbroke Trophy glory on Saturday, with the market led by Willie Mullins' Total Recall.

Monday 27 November 2017

Stunning Samcro shortened for Cheltenham after impressive Navan win

Embed from Getty Images
Trainer Gordon Elliott has described Sunday's winner Samcro as 'special' following his comfortable victory in the Grade Three Monksfield Novice Hurdle.

The five-year-old travelled very smoothly and jumped terrifically as he dismantled a decent field in Ireland, cantering home to a hugely impressive twelve length romp.

He has been shortened into favouritism for all three novice hurdling contests at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, with the Ballymore being his principal target.

"That was a good performance and he did it very well," said Elliott.

"Jack said he gave him a bit of light at the third-last and he just took off on him.

"It was nice to see he could do that (over two and a half miles), so we have loads of options.

"I just said to Davy Condon at the start that the one worry I had was that it was his first time on that real heavy ground. Most good horses win on every ground and he looks a real nice one. We are lucky to have him.

"He jumped the last like he jumped a fence, but after running in point-to-points you expect that.

"I don't know if we'll go for Christmas, he's obviously a horse for next year and whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus this year.

"I thought that was a bit special what he did there, it was class."

Sunday 26 November 2017

Super Samco 'perfect' ahead of first graded test

Embed from Getty Images
Gordon Elliott's huge Cheltenham Festival contender Samcro is searching for his first Graded win over hurdles in Navan's Monksfield Novices Hurdle (1:05).

The five-year-old won three times in bumper company, before enjoying a comfortable 15 length success on his hurdling debut at Punchestown.

He is seeking his first graded victory, but remains one of the most exciting novice hurdlers in training this victory and is only 1-4 to take this Grade Three prize today.

"Samcro, the unbeaten son of Germany, is a horse we think the world of," Elliott told his Betfair blog.

"He made a great start to his hurdling career at Punchestown in October to cruise to a 15L victory. He would have done more in a piece of work at home and really put the race to bed effortlessly.

"This Grade 3 will be his biggest ask to date but on his form he's obviously a major player and I'm looking forward to seeing him run."

He is currently a favourite for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at the Festival, with reports from the yard indicating he may be something special.

His biggest danger to losing his unbeaten record is Jessica Harrington's Jetz, who was an encouraging winner at Fairyhouse last time out.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Colin Tizzard confident as Cue Card attempts to emulate Kauto Star to bag fourth Betfair Chase

Embed from Getty Images
Colin Tizzard is expecting a 'big run' as Cue Card targets his fourth victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock this afternoon.

Only the great Kauto Star has landed this prize four times, and Tizzard's popular chaser comes into the race after falling in his last outing.

Despite a less than ideal run in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, the Dorset-based trainer is confident of a bold run.

"It's a lovely opportunity for him to win his fourth Chase," said Tizzard.

"He is very effective around there. If he was an eight-year-old, with his form from last season, he would be an odds-on favourite now.

"He was running beautifully at Wetherby and he has been in good form since, so I think he will run a big race.

"On ratings we are 10lb clear - no disrespect to them, but we have won around there three times. I think we should be vying for favouritism."

Embed from Getty Images
Nigel Twiston-Davies won this contest in 2010 with Imperial Commander, and saddles Bristol De Mai

Bristol De Mai picked up the pieces after Cue Card's fall in Yorkshire last month to see off stablemate Blaklion in the three mile contest.

The former Peter Marsh winner should relish the heavy ground in Lancashire, and is two from two at this venue.

"He's had a clear run since Wetherby," Carl Llewellyn, assistant to Nigel Twiston-Davies.

"The ground's come for him. He's a good horse anyway, but on soft and heavy he's probably even better."

"Cue Card's a good horse. He's done it all before. He was a shorter price than us at Wetherby and just because he fell people have forgotten about him a little bit.

"It will be tough to beat him at his best, but our horse has done nothing wrong and is going there in great form."

Embed from Getty Images
Tea For Two beat Cue Card at Aintree when the pair met in April

Outlander is the sole Irish representative in the field, and comes here off the back of an encouraging Champion Chase win at Down Royal last time out. Gordon Elliott's nine-year-old should love the conditions.

"He retains the cheekpieces that certainly looked to have helped things along last time out where he won the JNwine Champion Chase at Down Royal.

"Prior to that, he had lost himself a little but we took him hunting and did some showjumping with him to give him a change of scenery and try to sweeten him up, and it paid off.

"Hopefully it wasn't a one off, as he faces some tough competition today. He will love the ground and I'm confident if he's on form of a big run."

Betway Bowl winner Tea For Two lines up for Nick Williams. Traffic Fluide and Shantou Flyer also line up.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Connections optimistic Faugheen can make winning Morgiana return

Embed from Getty Images
Two-time Cheltenham Festival winner Faugheen makes his highly-anticipated racecourse return in the Morgiana Hurdle (2:15) at Punchestown today.

The former Supreme Novice, and Champion Hurdle hero hasn't been seen since his fifteen length romp in the Irish Champion Hurdle last January and is bidding for his eighth Grade One title this afternoon.

This period is the longest he has ever been away from the racecourse, but connections are confident he can overcome a 665 day absence in what doesn't look the strongest of renewals.

“We have been here before with Faugheen but everything seems to have gone to plan,” Rich Ricci said to Racing UK.

“We kept him in longer than the other horses before we threw him out and we threw him out for a short spell so he wouldn’t gain all that weight and be harder to get back in to shape.

“That seems to have been a good idea, he has had plenty of time and I am very excited to see him back.

“It has been almost two years, so it is a big ask and I am very hopeful he retains most of his ability.”

Ruby Walsh, who fell and broke his leg aboard Let's Dance yesterday, won't be able to partner the twelve time winner, instead Paul Townend is given the ride on the Willie Mullins superstar.

Faugheen is currently a 4-6 shot on his return, and a 6-1 chance to retain the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.

Vroum Vroum Mag looked to be the main danger, but was found lame this morning and subsequently pulled-out of the race.

Former Champion Hurdle winner Jezki lines up following his encouraging win at Tipperary last month, whilst Gordon Elliott sends Campeador in search of his first top level prize.

Swamp Fox completes the field.

November Meeting: River Wylde 'will be a top novice' ahead of Arkle trial bid

Embed from Getty Images
Nicky Henderson's believes there is 'plenty going' for exciting chaser River Wylde, as he takes on just two rivals in the Racing Post Arke Trophy Trial Novices' Chase (1:50).

The six-year-old won three races from five starts as a novice hurdler last season, including a Grade Two at Kempton.

He finished third behind Irish duo Labaik and Melon in the Supreme, before a below-par fifth at Aintree.

After jumping well and travelling strong, he enjoyed an encouraging three lengths success on his chasing debut, and remains a smart novice prospect for the champion trainer.

"I thought he was very good at Uttoxeter where he jumped and quickened really well," Henderson told his Unibet blog.

"This is obviously a different test but he’s a horse who we’ve always said that chasing is his game and he’d be in the top division of our Novices this season.

"He would have learnt a lot from that first run and has come on physically too so there are plenty of things going for him.

"He likes good ground so I’m ever so slightly concerned about the rain but if handling it, I think he has a very good chance indeed in a race that has cut up."

North Hill Harvey won the Greatwood Hurdle on this card a year ago, but failed to build on that victory when unplaced on his next two starts.

Now switched to chasing, Dan Skelton's six-year-old battled hard to deny Sceau Royal by a neck on his first run over fences.

"He’s got to take on River Wylde, a good horse with good form from last year and Capitaine, who looked good in his two chases so far," Skelton told his Ladbrokes blog.

"We’ve won around the track, we won the Greatwood and have to give away three pounds.

"I think it’s a real tight race but he’s in good form."

Recent Warwick winner Ozzie The Oscar completes the quartet for Phillip Hobbs, as Paul Nicholls' Capitaine was withdrawn.

November Meeting: Jenkins 'completely different' ahead of Greatwood gamble

Embed from Getty Images
Nicky Henderson is hoping the well-regarded Jenkins can 'show what he's capable of', as the quirky yet exciting hurdler leads a 16 runner field in the Greatwood Hurdle (3:00).

The five-year-old has always been one of the leading prospects for the Lambourn trainer, and has boasted two wins from three over hurdles but failed to live up to the very exciting level he showed as a bumper winner, and runner-up.

Despite missing the Cheltenham Festival, he returned to winning ways when last seen at Ffos Las in April and has been the big gamble of the week with his price tumbling from 20-1 to 9-2 for the two mile handicap.

"He’s quite a highly publicised horse in the fact that he is doing everything on reputation but is yet to really do what I know he’s capable of," Henderson told his Unibet blog.

"We pulled out of Ascot a couple of weeks ago because the ground was a little too soft for him and it would have to be a bit of a worry again here but he carries a nice low weight and Bassy hasn’t been able to eat for a week so I better run him!

"I don’t know where he was last year, he just went awol and couldn’t gallop nor jump, but he seems back to himself now and is a much more confident horse and I’m hoping you’ll see a completely different person this time around.

"Let’s hope he can start to finally show us what he’s capable of."

Embed from Getty Images
The New One is seeking a seventh victory at Cheltenham this afternoon

London Prize was an encouraging three length winner of the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last week, and makes a surprise return after only six days for Ian Williams. Former Festival winner Flying Tiger was third that day, and the pair race again.

The New One will carry top weight for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The multiple Graded winner was last seen winning on his return at Ffos Las, and champion jockey Richard Johnson takes the ride.

Dan Skelton is represented by Mohaayed, who was victorious at Market Rasen on his last outing.

Harry Fry's Misterton was an encouraging winner at Chepstow last time out and has been raised 7lb by the handicapper, meanwhile Brian Ellison's Nietzsche hopes to make it four from eight over hurdles.

JP McManus is triple handed in the two mile showdown. Former Festival winner Ivanovic Gorbatov joins Tigris River and Project Bluebook.

The likes of Old Guard, Chesterfield, Elgin and William H Bonney also take their chance.

November Meeting: 'Class act' Fox Norton hoping to recreate impressive Shloer Chase success

Embed from Getty Images
Joe Tizzard claims Fox Norton is in 'great form' as he bids to defend his Shloer Chase (2:25) prize at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The seven-year-old blew a quality field away to win this by nine lengths last season, before registering two second place efforts to Alitor and then Special Tiara in the Champion Chase.

He stepped up to take the Melling Chase in impressive style, before adding another Grade One success to his CV ahead of Un De Sceaux at Punchestown.

With the absence of superstar chaser Altior, the Tizzard's are hoping on taking one step closer to Tingle Creek glory with a victory here.

"He had a little canter around Wincanton last weekend," said Joe Tizzard, son and assistant to Colin.

"He did great there and we're really happy with him coming into the race.

"He's a class act, and he's in great form. He won the race last year and it looks a perfect prep for the Tingle Creek.

"He looks to have a really good chance of winning it again."

Embed from Getty Images
Special Tiara was victorious in the Champion Chase, in the same race Douvan was found lame

Special Tiara beat Fox Norton when the pair met at the Festival back in March, before finishing second to Altior in the Celebration Chase at Sandown.

Malcom Jefferson's Cloudy Dream made a hugely encouraging return at Aintree last month and steps down in trip following his Old Roan second.

Simply Ned picked up the runner-up's prize money in this last year for Nicky Richards, and made a decent return at Kelso last time out.

Tom George's Sir Valentino and David Pipe's Vaniteux complete the six runner line-up at Prestbury Park.

November Meeting: Outstanding debut winners Slate House and Dame De Compagnie out to prove class

Embed from Getty Images
Exciting debut winners Slate House and Dame De Compagnie are both vying to unleash their potential in the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (3:30).

Colin Tizzard's Slate House cost his owners a huge £260,000 following his easy ten length point-to-point success last year.

The five-year-old made an encouraging start on his rules debut, winning a maiden hurdle at Prestbury Park comfortably.

"He's a horse who cost a money, and he's one we all think a lot of," said Joe Tizzard, assistant and son to Colin.

"He did it really nicely on his first run at Cheltenham a few weeks ago, and like all of our horses he should improve for the run.

"We will see how good he is on Sunday, it's a good race and a good test."

Nicky Henderson's mare Dame De Compagnie similarly made a very impressive start on her British debut.

The French purchase won very well on her debut in Uttoxeter, where jockey Barry Geraghty didn't have to get out of second gear to seal the victory.

"I adore this filly and she was very impressive when scoring on her debut for us at Uttoxeter," Henderson told his Unibet blog.

"I’m not saying this is the natural progression, in fact it’s quite an ambitious progression, but she is a horse we think an awful lot of and will have improved for her first run.

"She’s ready to go again and this race will tell us an awful lot as to how good she really is but she’s been doing everything right and I wouldn’t swap her for the world.

"She’s just a lovely lady and I’m very keen on her."

Nicky Richards' Better Getalong, Dan Skelton's Bedrock and Tom George's Summerville Boy also seek Grade Two glory.

November Meeting: Ginge Splashes to Gold Cup glory on drenched day at Cheltenham

Embed from Getty Images
Nigel Twiston-Davies' Splash Of Ginge ran out a shock 25-1 winner of Cheltenham's feature BetVictor Gold Cup under a confident ride from young Tom Bellamy.

On only the nine-year-old's second victory over fences, he travelled towards the front for most of the race before making his move three out from home, he forged two length clear before holding on from the fast finishing runner-up Starchitect.

The popular handicapper formelly won the Betfair Hurdle and a Grade Three prize at this venue on the New Year's Day meeting in 2015, and his followers, 'Ginge Army', are now hoping to take him to the Grand National.

"He's got a big following this horse and he's been remarkable for us," said trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

"He just lost his confidence over fences a bit so we put him back over hurdles and he's come back this season like a bull.

"He ran well at Wetherby, but as soon as the rain came, the soft ground is the key to him. I thought Foxtail Hill might do the job, but he couldn't cope with the ground.

"We'll certainly be back in December and we may think again about the Grand National, John is a Liverpudlian after all.

"The idea was, because of John's connections with Liverpool, to ready him for the National at one point and we may revisit that idea. We're always thinking and John has had a bet to win a million if he does win the National so he's obviously keen!"

Embed from Getty Images
Fergal O'Brien enjoyed a winner on the card with Perfect Candidate enjoying a narrow win

Le Prezien finished third whilst Ballyalton took fourth spot. Favourite Kylemore Lough was pulled-up in the handicap.

Nicky Henderson's Apple's Shakira ran out the most impressive winner of the day. The Triumph Hurdle-bound three-year-old destroyed a quality Grade Two field by seventeen lengths and is as short at 9-2 for next year's Festival.

Black Corton got the better of Ballyoptic to extend his winning run to six for Paul Nicholls and Byrony Frost, whilst Posh Trish completed a double for the Ditcheat master in the closing race of the day.

Perfect Candidate won narrowly ahead of Vincente, as former Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco finished unplaced.

Thomas Campbell and Coole Cody also won on the Saturday card.

Saturday 18 November 2017

November Meeting: Harry Fry insists Kylemore Lough fully loaded ahead of Gold Cup target

Embed from Getty Images
Kylemore Lough is hoping to pay back to the meticulous and patient race planning by Harry Fry, as he heads a field of eighteen in the BetVictor Gold Cup (2:25).

The former Ryanair Gold Cup winner in Ireland, enjoyed a solid campaign with former trainer Kerry Lee last season, finishing midfield in the Cotswolds and Mildmay and also a close fifth in the December Gold Cup.

He is only 2lb for his defeat to Frodon eleven months ago, and a big run is expected from the eight-year-old who goes best first time out.

"We've been grafting away at home and we are happy with his progress and what he has shown us," said Fry.

"He was top weight when fifth in the Caspian Caviar off 2lb higher than what he goes into Saturday's race.

“He has got a good record fresh as well, hence why we targeted the BetVictor when we mapped out his campaign.

"The nice thing is that he turned up at the end of May. We were able to assess him, give him a break and start afresh with him. It is not as though he turned up a couple of weeks ago.

"This was always going to be his starting point."

Embed from Getty Images
Paul Nicholls landed this race with Al Ferof in 2012, and Caid Du Berlias in 2014

Paul Nicholls is double handed in the Gold Cup, with Le Prezien and Romain De Senam taking their chance for the master of Ditcheat.

The former finished a close second in a handicap here last month, and will appreciate the step-up in trip, whilst Romain De Senam is two from two this season and looks a progressive type.

"I find it impossible to split my two in the BetVictor Gold Cup," Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

"I thought Le Prezien ran a cracker on his seasonal debut at this track three weeks ago when he only just failed to reel in the bold jumping leader Foxtail Hill.

"He jumped very well that day which he wasn't doing at the end of last season. We have worked hard on his schooling this autumn and you could see the benefit of that last time.

"Although he was raised six pounds for that run the step up in trip to two and a half miles should be in his favour. I'm very happy with Le Prezien and on his best form I'd say he has a big chance.

"Romain de Senam is now racing off a mark twelve pounds higher since the start of the season he should get the strong gallop that he needs here and he is at his best going left handed.

"He does need a bit of luck in running making his challenge from off the pace and if he gets it I expect him to run a major player at the finish."

Former Festival winner Ballyalton was an encouraging listed sixth for Ian Williams last month, and may improve now reverting back to chasing. Stararchitect comes here following a three length win at Stratford.

Nigel Twiston-Davies is double handed with Foxtail Hill and Splash Of Ginge, whilst Nicky Henderson runs Theinval and Days Of Heaven.

Jamie Snowden's Double Treasure is seeking a fourth straight victory, whilst the likes of Guitar Pete, Viconte Du Noyer, Aqua Dude and Bentelimar all have chances.

November Meeting: Minella Rocco can take winning step on Golden Path

Embed from Getty Images
Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco returns to Cheltenham as Jonjo O'Neill eyes a handicap prize with the former Festival winner.

The seven-year-old, who triumphed in the 2016 National Hunt Chase, finished powerfully up the hill to finish behind Sizing John. Yet on his return he could only take fourth spot at Punchestown.

The JP McManus team are plotting his way back to the blue ribbon event, and are hopeful this handicap gives him a winning opportunity at his favourite track.

“He was very disappointing at Punchestown, as we thought he would run a lot better than that,” said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

“I think afterwards we thought he probably needed the run and will come on for it. He loves it round Cheltenham and he was third in this year last year.

"We would like to think about going back to the Gold Cup, and the Grand National but we will wait to see how he gets on in this.

"Jonjo has said he is in very good form and we are hoping for a good run.”

Embed from Getty Images
Phillip Hobbs is well represented in the race with Three Faces West

Minella Rocco is currently priced at 20-1 for the Gold Cup, but also well fancied for April's Grand National where he shares favoritism with Blaklion.

Phillip Hobbs' Three Faces West looks his biggest danger of the eight rivals. The nine-year-old is returning from almost a year off the track, but won easily on his last two starts and remains on the same mark as when a thirteen length winner at Newbury in December.

Scottish National winner Vicente makes his return for Paul Nicholls, Benbens was seventh that day whilst Premier Bond and Shotgun Paddy finished unplaced. The quartet battle against each other once again.

Doing Fine runs for Neil Mulholland, whilst Sizing Codelco and Perfect Candidate also feature.

November Meeting: West Approach bids to emulate Thistlecrack in chasing challenge

Embed from Getty Images
West Approach will aim to follow in the footsteps of stablemate Thistlecrack as he takes on just two rivals in the MallardJewellers.com Novices' Chase (1:15).

The seven-year-old placed twice in Graded company as a novice hurdler last season, and made a pleasing introduction to chasing when winning easily at Ffos Las by nine lengths.

Thistlecrack came here with a much bigger and better reputation and stormed clear at odds of 1-7, before striking in the King George a month later. West Approach shares the same colours and connections, and hopes are high they can reclaim this prize.

"He took to chasing really nicely at Ffos Las last time," said Joe Tizzard, assistant and son to Colin.

"We want to get some Cheltenham experience into him, and he's done very well in his work.

"He comes here as a highly rated hurdler and I think he'll be every bit as good over fences."

Embed from Getty Images
Paul Nicholls' Black Corton is seeking a sixth straight victory today

Black Corton is hoping to add another victory to his name following his ten length success at this venue last month.

He has won five in a row for the ten-time champion trainer, and there's no clear reason why he can't add another.

"He just keeps on improving and has been on a tremendous roll, jumping and galloping and winning," Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

"Things are getting tougher now as he takes on better opposition in a stronger race but you can't knock his form and he goes very well for Bryony Frost who again advertised her skills with a brilliant and intelligent ride on Present Man at Wincanton last Saturday.

"Black Corton will have a break at some point but he is still improving so we will keep running him while he remains in such good form."

Ballyoptic is the other runner of the trio. Nigel Twiston-Davies' seven-year-old ran out an easy 13 length winner on his chasing bow last week.

November Meeting: 'Highly regarded' Apple's Shakira set for big debut run

Embed from Getty Images
Nicky Henderson is relishing showing off the 'excellent' Apple's Shakira, who makes her British debut in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12:40).

The full-sister to five-time Grade One winner Apple's Jade, won impressively on her sole outing in France.

Winning at French track Vichy by almost nine lengths despite appearing to be in second gear, her move prompted a purchase by JP McManus and now the champion trainer is relishing her first start on British soil.

"It’s very early days with the Juveniles and Gumball has looked to be the only decent one so far and appears the obvious horse in the race," Henderson told his Unibet blog.

"Everyone knows Shakira is a sister to Apple’s Jade and this one is a filly we all really like as she’s done everything we’ve asked ever since coming over from France in the summer.

"We’ve got to start somewhere and this looks a good point to get her on the track. How good she is we don’t know as I wouldn’t say she’s electric in her work but many of the good ones never are.

"That said, when you put a hurdle in front of her she is excellent and very quick and slick. I like her a lot and she should go well receiving a 7lb sex allowance."

Apple's Shakira is currently a 20-1 chance for next year's Triumph Hurdle, a market that is currently led by 12-1 shot Gumball.

Embed from Getty Images
Phillip Hobbs won this contest last year with Defi Du Seuil, and hopes to win it again with Gumball

The main danger looks the already established smart hurdler Gumball, who is currently unbeaten over hurdles.

Phillip Hobbs' three-year-old has won two from two over hurdles, including a hugely impressive eight length victory in listed company at Chepstow last month.

The Somerset handler won this contest with eventual Triumph, and Aintree hero, Defi Du Seuil and is hopeful to have another superstar hurdler on his hands.

"He has been in very good form since Chepstow and I hope he runs well," Hobbs told the Racing Post.

Speedo Bay was behind him that day, but has subsequently won at Huntingdon since.

The likes of Eh Georges, Apparition and Eragon De Chanay also take their chance in the Grade Two contest.

Friday 17 November 2017

Ami Desbois hopes to strengthen RSA claims on Wetherby chasing bow

Embed from Getty Images
Graeme McPherson’s ‘very exciting novice chaser’ Ami Desbois begins his journey back to the Cheltenham Festival in Wetherby’s Colin Baldwin 86th Birthday Novices' Chase (1:05).

The seven-year-old won twice as a hurdler last season, including at this track in February. He finished a very creditable fifth in the Albert Bartlett but has always been regarded as the type to improve when going over fences.

“He was fifth in the Albert Bartlett last year and won four times over hurdles,” said Gloucestershire-based McPherson.

“I think last year Cheltenham came a little too quick, but he ran brilliantly and the ground would’ve been quick enough for him.

“He seems like a very exciting novice chaser to have in the yard probably to race around three miles on soft ground.

“He could be an RSA horse and that’s the plan for him, certainly.”

“He should be much better over fences than hurdles. We are really looking forward to running him this season.”

Most of his racing has been around two-and-a-half to three miles but he steps back to the minimum distance this afternoon.

He is currently valued at 33-1 for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Ami Desbois’ main danger is Dan Skelton’s Whatduhavtoget, who was last seen finishing unplaced in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow.

She makes her chasing debut this afternoon, but according to ratings is 15lb worse off than Graeme McPherson’s star.

“I’ve been waiting to go chasing with Whatduhavetoget,” Skelton told his Ladbrokes blog.

“She ran a real funny race at Chepstow first time out.We fancied her in the Silver Trophy but she just never got going. A few of ours were running a bit moderately at the time, although I’m not using that as an excuse.”

“I think fences, with a seven pound allowance, makes her very competitive.”

Cousin Oscar, Valgor Du Ronceray, Mortens Leam and Rapid Fitz also take their chance in Yorkshire.

November Meeting: Fantastic Finian's flies to JLT favouritism

Embed from Getty Images
Finian's Oscar proved both an sentimental and outstanding winner on the opening day of the November meeting, as the unbeaten chaser saw off tough opposition to win stylishy at Cheltenham.

The victory was the first since his owner Alan Potts died on Tuesday. The Potts' family played an integral role in National Hunt racing and enjoyed victory in this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.

The five-year-old jumped terrifically throughout and was joined by Paul Nicholls' Movewiththetimes at the final fence. The two-time Grade One winner rallied to power home strongly and cruise clear by two-and-a-half lengths.

"It was very sad what happened," jockey Bryan Cooper told ITV.

"I was in Colin's on Tuesday schooling this lad and all the others and I was only half an hour down the road on the way to the airport when Joe (Tizzard) called me to say what happened.

"He'll be a big loss to our game, he was a big spender and it's a pity he's not here to see him today, I'm sure he's looking down.

"He's very smart this one, it was a messy race again and he was a little bit brave.

"He picked up well though and he's plenty of boot, he's two out of two (over fences) and can only get better."

His impressive victory lowered him from 9-1 into 6-1 for the JLT Novices Chase at the Festival in March.

Embed from Getty Images
Kingswell Theatre ran out a 14-1 shock winner of the Cross Country Handicap

Elsewhere on the card, the hotly fancied On The Blind Side delivered Nicky Henderson a Grade Two prize in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle.

The five-year-old quickened well to win by just under three lengths, to see off Dan Skelton's Momella in second.

Kingswell Theatre proved a shock winner of the Cross Country Handicap Chase for father-son duo Michael and Tom Scudamore.

The eight-year-old made all to win gamely ahead of French pair Vicomte Du Seuil and Urgent De Gregaine.

What A Moment, Magic Dancer and Doitforthevillage were also winners on the card.

Thursday 16 November 2017

November Meeting: Finian's Oscar targeting emotional victory for late Alan Potts

Embed from Getty Images
The Tizzards are hoping Finian's Oscar can prove an emotional winner, after owner Alan Potts tragically passed away mid-week.

Colin Tizzard has recieved permission from the Gold Cup winning owner's family that the horses can run on the three day Festival, and his star Finian's Oscar will take on four rivals in Friday's Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase (2:25).

The five-year-old established himself as an excellent hurdler last season winning the Tolworth and Mersey Novice Hurdle at Grade One level.

On his chasing debut he ran out an easy 11 length listed winner, and faces his first true test over fences against just three rivals at Cheltenham.

"He's come out of his race really well, and he's sharpened up a bit," said the trainer's son and assistant, Joe.

"He schooled really nicely with Bryan on Tuesday morning. We're hoping for a nice run."

Finian's Oscar missed out on a chance of taking Cheltenham Festival glory, however bookmakers currently have him as a 12-1 shot for the Arkle and a 9-1 favourite for the JLT.

Embed from Getty Images
Movewiththetimes was denied Betfair Hurdle glory by former Champion Bumper hero Ballyandy

Nicky Henderson's chasing debutant William Henry takes his chance. The seven-year-old won two from four over hurdles last season, including a six length victory at this venue when last seen in April.

Befair Hurdle second Movewiththetimes represents Paul Nicholls, he finished a respectable fourth on his chasing debut here a month ago.

Coo Sta Sivola completes the four-runner field for Nick Williams.

November Meeting: Henderson confident with 'talented' On The Blind Side ahead of Grade Two target

Embed from Getty Images
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson believes On The Blind Side is a horse with a 'big future' as he targets a first graded victory in the closing Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (3:35).

The contest where Coneygree emerged as a smart hurdler when winning this Grade Two prize just five years ago, hasn't been won by a Seven Barrows horse since the inaugural running in 1996.

On The Blind Side built on his hugely encouraging point-to-point win when a winner at Aintree by just under a length.

"He made a very pleasing start at Aintree last month when he would have needed it and there should be more improvement to come," Henderson told his Unibet blog. 

"I think he is up to this grade and his victory at Liverpool really impressed me over a trip which was on the short side around there and he’ll definitely appreciate the small step up around this stiffer track. 

"They didn’t go very quick at all at Aintree so it developed into a sprint which wouldn’t have suited therefore, the manner of his victory gives me confidence that he’s as talented as we all hope he is. 

"It’s more competitive here and we’ll find out much more at Cheltenham but he’s improved again since his debut and he’s a horse with a big future."

Embed from Getty Images
Vision Des Flos cost the late Alan Potts £275,000 following his stylish bumper win

Vision Des Flos runs in the colours of the late Alan Potts. The four-year-old was moved to Colin Tizzard's yard following his debut win in Punchestown's competitive Land Rover Bumper.

Following his pleasing stable and hurdling debut third, connections are optimistic of an improved effort.

Momella has established herself as one of the leading British novice hurdlers for Dan Skelton, in her two impressive victories at Newton Abbot and Fakenham.

Gloucestershire's Fergal O'Brien saddles Aye Aye Charlie and Poetic Rhythm. 

November Meeting: Cheltenham legend Cause Of Causes seeks second Cross Country prize

Embed from Getty Images
Triple Cheltenham Festival hero Cause Of Causes is hoping to cement his place at the top of the Cross Country pecking order, as he takes on ten rivals back in Cheltenham's Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3:00).

The 3m6f steeplechase is the first event on the road to the Cheltenham, and makes his return after it's absence from last year's November meeting.

The 2015 National Hunt Chase and 2016 Kim Muir hero went on to strike in the Glenfarclas Chase by nine lengths last season, before finishing an excellent second in the Grand National.

"Cause Of Causes makes his seasonal debut in the Cross Country Chase," Elliot said to his Betfair blog.

"The three time Cheltenham winner jumps like a stag and benefited from a schooling session at a local cross country course last week where I was very pleased with him.

"He rounded off last season with a valiant second in the Grand National with his penultimate start a nine length victory ahead of stablemate Bless The Wings over course and distance.

"He did very well for his summer break and obviously this is an ideal race for him, he goes with every chance under Jamie Codd, horse and rider are a match made in heaven at Cheltenham!"

Embed from Getty Images
French raider Urgent De Gregaine denied JP McManus a clean sweep of Cross Country prizes last season

Sharing the famous green and gold hoops of JP McManus is Cantlow and Auvergnat. The latter was fourth to Jamie Codd's mount when they met here in March, but is an improving prospect. Veteran Cantlow won a prize her eleven months ago.

French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux is double handed in the Cotswold. Urgent De Gregaine was a 50-1 shock winner of a Cross Country in January, whilst Vicomte Du Seuil comes here following a victory in a similar event in his home country.

The likes of Aubusson, Kingswell Theatre and Bertie Boru make their debut in this type of event.

November Meeting: Phil Middleton and James Bowen out to break Cheltenham maiden with Exitas

Embed from Getty Images
Phil Middleton believes Exitas is 'better than ever' as he hopes to provide his in-form trainer with a milestone first victory at Prestbury Park.

The nine-year-old won narrowly at Kempton, before enjoying a hugely impressive seven length romp in listed handicap company at Ascot last weekend.

He has been risen 10lb by the handicapper, but Middleton is confident especially after enlisting claimer James Bowen for the ride, who is also seeking his first Cheltenham winner.

"He has come out of Ascot really well. He is busting to go and seems better than ever," said Buckinghamshire-based Middleton.

“He has gone up 10lb following his win at Ascot, which was to be expected. He came right away from them at Ascot and was very impressive.

"When he is really on song and winning over two miles, he looks like he wants further, but he has never been at his best when I have tried him. You need to stay well to win at Cheltenham, even over two miles.

“All ground comes alike to him. If I had to choose, I would like a bit of dig as it slows the others down a bit.”

Ian Williams, who won the Elite Hurdle with London Prize last weekend, saddles Kapstadt whilst Paul Henderson is hoping to repeat last year's success with Un Beau Roman and Doitforthevillage.

Colin Tizzard is double handed with Shanahan's Turn and Mick Thornic both taking their chance, meanwhilst Jonjo O'Neill's Festive Affair is joined by Rock On Rocky and Bright New Dawn also feature.

In the Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle (1:15) Counter Shy could run a big race for Jonjo O'Neill. The four-year-old won well at Worcester before finishing second at Uttoxeter.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Paul Nicholls confident of bagging third BetVictor Gold Cup glory with Le Prezien

Embed from Getty Images
Paul Nicholls believes Le Prezien 'must have a chance' of giving him a third BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The 2m4f handicap is the feature race of the November Festival at Cheltenham, and the master of Ditcheat have had success with Al Ferof (2012) and Caid Du Berlais (2014).

Le Prezien makes his return to the Cotswold following his neck defeat at Cheltenham last month.

The seven-year-old has been raised 6lb for his second place finish behind Foxtail Hill, but the Grade Two winner on this card a year ago could be in for another repeat success.

“Le Prezien ran very well and was only beaten a neck at Cheltenham last time," said Nicholls.

"He obviously gets further than two miles and that will have sharpened up his jumping. Two miles and five probably suits him better than two miles.

“He is rated 150, which is quite high, and went up 6lb for finishing second the other day. That isn’t going to help too much, but he is a young, game horse who gets a trip and he must have a chance.

“Le Prezien jumped soundly the other day, whereas at the backend of last season he didn’t jump particularly well and that will cost you around Cheltenham.

He is expected to go off a 12-1 chance for the contest. Nicholls other runner Romain De Senam is hoping for a third straight victory for the season.

The five-year-old won impressively at Chepstow, before winning narrowly under a penalty at Stratford last time out. He has gone up 6lb for the win.

“Romain De Senam caught me by surprise a bit when he won at Chepstow," said the ten-time champion trainer.

"That race may have fell apart as they did go quick, and then he won again six days later at Stratford. I had to run him quickly under the penalty as he was going up 12lb.

“He needs a real fast run race, which he will hopefully get at Cheltenham on Saturday, and he is in good shape. He is an improving five-year-old."

Former Grade Two winning novice chaser Clan Des Obeaux completes the trio of runners for Nicholls.

Team Yanworth 'delighted' ahead of phase two of chasing mission

Embed from Getty Images
Alan King is hoping Yanworth can tighten his grip on RSA Chase favouritism as he takes on his second chasing start in Exeter's RGB Building Supplies Novices' Chase (3:00).

Last year's Liverpool and Christmas Hurdle champion made a fine start over fences last month, when winning comfortably by two lengths at this track.

The seven-year-old jumped very fluently and hopes to continue to boost his claims as one of the leading novice chasing prospects for the season.

"I was delighted with Yanworth’s first run down there last month and I’ve been happy with him at home since," King told his website.

"Barry Geraghty came over and sat on him last Thursday, and he was happy, too, so it’s all systems go for Exeter.

“It’s a good track for novices, the timing is right and the two and a half trip should be ideal.

"I thought the more that first race progressed the more he warmed to his task, so we are looking forward to this next step in his education.”

He is currently a 3-10 favourite for the contest, and a 12-1 fancy for next year's RSA Chase.

His main rival remains chasing debutant Chameron for Paul Nicholls. The four-year-old makes his first start since moving from France, where he was a listed winning juvenile at Auteuil.

Yanworth's two other rivals include Mares' Hurdle fifth Briery Queen and Llancillo Lord.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Nicky Henderson 'hoping for Douvan and Altior clash' at Cheltenham

Embed from Getty Images
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed he can't wait for the highly anticipated clash between star chasers Altior and Douvan.

Unbeaten in six starts over fences, he rose right to the very top of the chasing ranks winning three Grade One prizes including the Arkle and Celebration Chase.

He is being primed for the Champion Chase in March, but is expected to start off in next month's Tingle Creek at Sandown.

"He's only just started his faster work as there is still three weeks to go," said the champion trainer.

"We are where we want to be, he's totally on target for the Tingle Creek.

"I suppose there's the Shloer this weekend he could have gone for, but for me it's too close to the Tingle Creek. So, it fits in well but it means we are starting in a Grade One."

Embed from Getty Images
Douvan is searching for a third Festival winner after winning the Supreme (2015) and Arkle (2016)

Eight-time Grade One Douvan lost his unbeaten record when found lame in the Champion Chase. 

He is set to make his return in the coming weeks, with a target to dethrone the excellent Altior.

"I was speaking to Rich Ricci  the other day and he said both Douvan and Faugheen are in great shape and the Douvan and Altior match will be in March.

"Hopefully we all get there in one piece, but that is the big if as these horses are so delicate. I hope the meeting is in March as it will be one to savour.

"At the beginning of last season Douvan looked like the next Sprinter Sacre, he was unbeatable at the time. I know he had a wobble but he'll be back, I'm sure.

"We'll go down our road, they can go down theirs and let's hope the clash takes place."

Monday 13 November 2017

Might Bite to head straight to King George after tasting Sandown victory

Embed from Getty Images
Might Bite will go straight to the King George following his comfortable success in Sandown's Future Stars Intermediate Chase.

The RSA and Midmay hero was shortened from 7-2 to 3-1 following his eight length victory ahead of December Gold Cup winner Frodon.

The eight-year-old, who is well known for almost handing his Festival win to stablemate Whisper, jumped soundly and Nico De Boinville didn't work too hard to finish home unchallenged.

Henderson, who has won the King George twice with Long Run (2010 and 2012), is relishing the Boxing Day showdown.

"It was straightforward. His jumping was great," said the Champion trainer.

"He just needed a run and I think he was running a bit fresh. He settled well and he jumped beautifully. That was ideal.

"Our objective is the King George and most agreed the sensible thing was to come here (rather than the Betfair Chase at Haydock).

"He won't run again until then and he'll be miles straighter than he was today. That's part one done.

"Our job is now to get him there on Boxing Day quite a lot fitter than he was today. I wouldn't say a racecourse gallop would go amiss, actually.

"We'll try and win the King George and then make a second-half-of-the-season plan."

He went from 10-1 to 8-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following the win.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Gordon Elliott relishing Apple's Jade 'ideal event' at Navan

Embed from Getty Images
Gordon Elliott expects Mares Hurdle winner Apples Jade to make a 'winning return' as the five-time Grade One hero goes off a odds-on shot in the Lismullen Hurdle (1:40) at Navan.

The five-year-old who has never finished outside the top two, established herself as one of the best mares in training in her 41 length romp of the Aintree's Juvenile Hurdle last season.

She stepped up to land two more Irish Grade One prizes, before battling off Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini for Festival glory, which was soon followed up by a comfortable success at Punchestown.

On her return to Grade Two company, confidence is high she can continue to dominate against the girls.

"Apples Jade makes her hotly anticipated return for the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle," Elliott told his Betfair blog.

"She came back from her break looking a million dollars and regular work rider Lisa O'Neill reports her to be in tremendous form."

"This looks an ideal event for her to make a winning return and I think the booking of Jack Kennedy will suit.

"Her main danger would be Jer's Girl who benefits from being race fit but she's yet to trouble her so I hope we can keep it that way!"

She is currently priced at a 3-1 favourite to reclaim her prize at Cheltenham next March.

This afternoon her biggest rival comes in the form of Jer's Girl, who won two Grade One prizes as a novice for Gavin Cromwell.

Monksland made a winning return at Thurles last time for Noel Meade. Elliott's former Fred Winter winner Flaxen Flare also lines up along with Duca De Thaix.

Might Bite in 'fantastic form' ahead of Sandown return

Embed from Getty Images
Nicky Henderson reports dual Grade One hero Might Bite is 'absolutely brilliant' ahead of his return in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase (2:20) at Sandown.

The eight-year-old is unbeaten in 2017, having won by a long way at Doncaster before his memorable RSA Chase victory at the Festival.

He cleared the final fence to lead by a significant margin, only to drastically veer right and allow stablemate Whisper to take over. But under a powerful charge by Nico de Boinville he rallied back to win by a nose.

He established himself as a leading novice when following up at Aintree, to win the Mildmay by two lengths.

Although his jumping record isn't the greatest he firmly fits into a puzzled Gold Cup picture.

"I must say he has been absolutely brilliant and I’m very excited to have him out," said the Champion trainer.

"He’s jumping well, schooling beautifully and arrives here in fantastic form. Everything is fine with him and he’s actually quite sharp at the moment, which means he’s ready to run.

"There are only four runners but it looks a decent race and with Paul Nicholls saddling two, he’s obviously not planning on leaving us alone!

"Hopefully this will be a nice re-introduction and put him spot on for the King George."

Embed from Getty Images
Might Bite is currently favourite for next month's King George, which was won by Thistlecrack last year

Well suited to Kempton's flat track, he is currently the 7-2 antepost favourite for Boxing Day's spectacular King George.

On that card last year he fell when well clear in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase, he could've won by a big margin.

Might Bite takes on just three rivals. Paul Nicholls' saddled December Gold Cup hero Frodon, and Grand National-bound As De Mee.

Alan King's Label Des Obeaux completes the field

Saturday 11 November 2017

Unowhatimeanharry has a 'great chance' on Aintree return

Embed from Getty Images
Harry Fry believes Aintree's Read Noel Fehily At 188bet Hurdle is an 'ideal starting point' as Stayers' Hurdle hero Unowhatimeanharry makes his seasonal return.

The Cheltenham Festival winner enjoyed four wins from five outings last season, with his sole defeat coming in his defence in Thursday's Grade One event.

He bounced back in tremendous style to claim Punchestown's Champion Stayers ahead of Nicholas Canyon by a head, and remains one of the most exciting hurdlers in training.

"We all can’t wait to see Unowhatimeanharry back on the course," Fry told his Betway blog.

"Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle next month was always the plan for his reappearance, but he’s that well in himself that we weren’t sure we could contain him for three weeks.

"We were toying with the idea of an away day at Wincanton with American and Minella Awards, but we spotted this race and it looks the ideal starting place for him. After this he will follow a very similar programme to last season.

"There are only two other runners and he has to give weight away to his rivals, while he’s also dropping back in trip. He should still have a very good chance, though."

He takes on just two rivals this afternoon. Top Notch represents champion trainer Nicky Henderson.

The six-year-old was a Grade One winning novice chaser last season, who lost out on the JLT by just a length. He reverts back to hurdles over his optimum 2m4f trip.

Dan Skelton' Value At Risk completes the trio of runners in Lancashire.

Rising Stars: Nicholls seeking tenth victory with 'top class' Modus

Embed from Getty Images
Modus is seeking to follow in the footsteps of Paul Nicholls' See More Business and Silviniaco Conti by giving the master of Ditcheat a tenth victory in the Rising Stars Novice Chase.

Nicholls, who is seeking a tenth victory in the race, won this contest with Frodon last year, who went on to become the first four-year-old to win Cheltenham's December Gold Cup.

Lanzerote winner Modus was rated 156 as a hurdler, but always regarded as a better horse over a fence.

He made a perfect start to chasing when winning at Bangor by five lengths, and can follow it up with another victory here.

"He's one to follow this season and made a winning debut over fences eleven days ago against two opponents," Nicholls told his Betfair blog.

"I've always thought Modus would be an exciting recruit to chasing and with any luck he has a big season ahead of him.

"Having won the Lanzarote Hurdle and finished second in the Greatwood we know he has the class and his schooling has always encouraged us to think he will do even better as a chaser. 

"Modus had a nice pop over our fences this morning and this race looks an ideal next step for him to gain more experience."

The seven-year-old takes on only two rivals here today, with his principal challenger coming in the form of Kalondra for Neil Mulholland.

The former 149 rated hurdler also won on his debut over fences, the six-year-old won by two-and-a-half lengths at Sedgefield.

Colin Tizzard's Valhalla also takes his place.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Western Ryder 'should be winning soon', as Greatrex plans hurdling outing

Embed from Getty Images
Warren Greatrex revealed he is planning on getting Western Ryder out quickly, following his early exit from his hurdling debut at Stratford last week.

The former Aintree listed winner unseated Richard Johnson after his saddle slipped before the third hurdle.

The five-year-old established himself as one of the countries' leading bumper prospects with a fifth place finish in the Champion Bumper, and third in a Grade Two at Aintree.

Despite his unfortunate fall, expectations are still high he can quickly make amends with the option of racing at Wincanton, Ffos Las, Sandown and Kempton over the coming days.

“He seems okay after the race, said the Berkshire-based trainer.

“It’s just one of those things, he fell early and it does happen. I’m sure he will be leaving that run behind him soon, he’s classy horse and he will be winning over hurdles.

"I entered him for Newbury on Thursday, he didn’t do a lot at Stratford so I am keen on getting him out again quite quickly."

The bookmakers currently price him as a  33-1 shot for next year's Supreme Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Team Harry Fry expect American to 'Trump' Ladbroke Trophy rivals in Newbury showdown

Embed from Getty Images
Connections of American believe he has 'definitely has a chance' of winning next month's Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury.

Harry Fry's seven-year-old is three from three over fences, after successes at Exeter and Uttoxeter, whilst also claiming a listed victory at Warwick.

He missed out on a visit to the Cheltenham Festival, but should make his comeback in Newbury's feature event of the calendar year.

Fry's 157 rated ace aims to join the likes of exceptional Hennessy heroes Bob's Worth, Denman and Many Clouds, who all won the contest as second season chasers.

“American won his three novice chases very impressively and his main target would be the Ladbroke Trophy," said Michael Legg, assistant to Harry Fry.

“That race would suit him really well, it’s a real galloping track and they normally get plenty of cut in the ground which should suit him.

“The weight wouldn’t concern me too much, he’s carried plenty of weight before and he’ll carry it fine.

“He’s a decent sized horse and he runs handy, his jumping is his main asset and he stays all day.

“That’ll be his first run this season, and that’s his main target. He’ll need the ground to go his way, but he’s definitely got a chance.”

American is currently best priced at 8-1 for the 3m2f contest, whilst bookmakers have installed him a 40-1 shot for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

“We could go back to Cheltenham," he added.

“It’s no secret he is quite a fragile horse and we need the ground to be right for him before we go there.

“Last year we wanted to go to the RSA, but the ground wasn’t right and we decided to go to Uttoxeter the following week.

“We would love to run him at Cheltenham, especially if we think he’s going there with a chance.”

Saturday 4 November 2017

West Yorkshire Hurdle: Wholestone out to boost Stayers' Hurdle claim

Embed from Getty Images Nigel Twiston-Davies is hoping Wholestone can take one step closer to his first Stayers' Hurdle win in Wetherby's  Bet365 Hurdle (2:40).

The six-year-old landed two Grade Two novice prizes at Cheltenham last season, before finishing third behind Penhill in the Albert Bartlett.

On his seasonal return he finished an encouraging fourth at Chepstow, which worked perfectly as a prep run for one of the best trials for the Stayers' Hurdle.

"We were delighted with his run at Chepstow," said Twiston-Davies.

"It would have been nice to win, but he was close enough (fourth) and the extra half-mile will help.

"We are hoping he is a World Hurdle horse, but statistically he has got a lot of improving to do. Hopefully he will do, though.

"If he happened to get well stuffed over hurdles there is a chance he could go novice chasing."

Embed from Getty Images
Lil Rockerfeller will go off favourite after his hugely impressive Cheltenham Festival second

Paul Nicholls has won three of the last five runnings of this race, and he is strongly represented this year with Ptit Zig.

The eight-year-old was a Grade One winner in France last year, but finished midfield in top level contests throughout the season.

," said the master of Ditcheat.

Lil Rockerfeller was a stable star for Neil King, finishing second in Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle and going agonisingly close to Stayers' Hurdle glory at Cheltenham in March.

Warren Greatrex is running Missed Approach as a prep run for next month's Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury.

Fountain's Waterfall, Gayebury and Colin's Sister also contest the Grade Two prize.

Ascot: Smart hurdler Jenkins 'improving' ahead of handicap debut

Embed from Getty Images
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson is relishing the season ahead with Jenkins, who makes his return in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle (3:00).

The five-year-old as always been regarded as one of the leading prospects in the Seven Barrows set-up but missed out on a chance to go to the Cheltenahm Festival.

He won easily on his last start at Ffos Las in April, and takes on his first big field handicap this afternoon.

"I’ve always thought the world of Jenkins and I have to say I’ve been very pleased with him up until now,"

"I’m hoping to see a different animal to last season. He’s won two of his three starts but that was still not the same Jenkins that I thought I was training the year before, so we will see what happens here.

"He’s definitely coming back to himself and his jumping is just so much slicker but the ground is a major issue, it will have to rain significantly for him to be seen at his best.

"We need to get these horses out as there’s nowhere else to go and I am keen to run him, but he will prefer more cut."

Henderson, who saddled two winners at Uttoxeter yesterday, is also represented by Verdana Blue. The five-year-old was last seen finishing third in a listed contest at Cheltenham.

Dolos, Air Force Blue and Elgin are also in with chances.

Embed from Getty Images
Emerging Force (purple) is being campaigned towards the Grand National

Harry Whittington is expecting Emerging Force to continue his improvement as he takes on  eighteen runners in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3:35).

The seven-year-old won twice at this point in the season last year, before enjoying a creditable Cheltenham fourth and Aintree fifth.

"He is a genuine, straightforward horse who jumps very well," Whittingdon told his website.

"He should continue to improve with time and a step up in trip. If all went to plan he could line up in the 2018 Grand National."

Paul Nicholls' Braqueur D'Or has been rapidly improving this season, and comes here following an impressive seven length win at Ludlow last time out.

"He has made relentless progress since getting off the mark with a bloodless success at Stratford and is now up 10lbs to a new career high mark of 139 after his runaway victory at Ludlow last month," said Nicholls to his Betfair blog.

"This is harder as you'd expect in a £100,000 race but he looked a better horse going right handed at Ludlow and there are a lot of exposed chasers in the field while he has shown he is on the up over the past few months."

Carole's Destrier, Ultragold and Go Conquer also race.

Champion Chase: Robbie Power expecting Our Duke to emerge as Gold Cup contender

Embed from Getty Images
Gold Cup winning jockey Robbie Power can confirm his place as a leading Gold Cup contender as he hopes to take Grade One glory in the JNWine.com Champion Chase (2:30).

The seven-year-old has won three from four over fences for Jessica Harrington, including a hard-fought top level win and a visually stunning fourteen length romp in the Irish Grand National.

He's currently an 8-1 chance for Cheltenham's blue riband event, but those odds could be shorter if he puts in a strong performance this afternoon.

"He has to make the step to prove that he's a genuine Gold Cup contender, starting here,” said jockey Robbie Power.

"There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge between now and next March. Hopefully Our Duke will make that progression."

"He's as fit as we could have him without having a run. He's been away for a racecourse gallop.

"Obviously Road To Respect has a massive advantage as he's had a run under his belt.

"Our horse is going there in great form and we couldn't be happier with him. He's had a great run since he's come back in and hasn't missed a beat.”

Gigginstown are represented by four runners in the race. Road To Respect was a Grade One winner for Henry De Bromhead last term before winning on his seasonal bow.

Alpha Des Obeaux, Outlander and Sub Lieutenant also run in the burgundy colours.

Zabana is joined by JP McManus duo More Of That and Carlingford Lough. 

Friday 3 November 2017

Mares Hurdle: La Bague Au Roi in great shape ahead of listed assignment

Embed from Getty Images
Warren Greatrex believes leading mare La Bague Au Roi can bag her third career pattern victory as she takes on eight rivals in the Olgb.com Mares' Hurdle (2:05).

The six-year-old won three times as a novice hurdler last season, including a listed success at Newbury in November.

She was well fancied in the Mares Novice at the Festival, but found Mullins' Let's Dance sixteen lengths too good finishing seventh.

She went one place better against the boys in the Mersey Novice Hurdle, before capping off the year with a routine win at Huntingdon.

With plenty of options available for the mares, her trainer is expecting a promising season over hurdles and fences.

“She did very well for us last season,” said the Berkshire-based trainer.

Embed from Getty Images
Let's Dance beat Le Bague Au Roi to Mares Novice glory, meaning Willie Mullins has won both runnings of the race since it began in 2016

“She’s come back in and looks really well. I think she likes Wetherby and she seems to have good course form there, she won’t mind the ground.

"She seems in great form and this looks a great point to start her off at, to carry on over hurdles and then fences after."

Tom George's Miss Night Owl renews her rivalry with Alan King's Giveaway Glance, only a head separated the pair when they met at Stratford last month.

Lady Buttons won three races on the trot for Philip Kirby last season, but the seven-year-old finished last on her previous outing on the flat.

Intense Tango, Hello Sweetie and Graceful Legend are joined by Late Night Lilly who lines up for Dan Skelton.