Monday, 15 May 2017

Two Selections for the York Dante Festival 2017

The York Dante meeting is a three-day festival which runs from Wednesday 17th May to Friday 19th May this year and frequently sees top class horses having their first run of the season. Featuring winners in the past such as Midday, Society Rock and future Derby Winner Golden Horn to name but a few. The Dante meeting usually offers plenty of clues for the season ahead and again looks set to be a fascinating three days. I’ve selected a couple of horses who, if they do turn up, will be strong fancies.

Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (Group 2) - 6f
One of the feature races on day one of the Dante Festival is the Duke of York Stakes which last year saw a strong field go to post which was led home by Magical Memory. This year’s renewal looks likely to be equally as competitive and a horse who will have a great chance if he lines up is the Kevin Ryan trained Brando. He progressed steadily last season posting some decent efforts, most notably winning the Ayr Gold Cup carrying top weight before going on to finish a length behind The Tin Man at Ascot on Champions Day.  The Tin Man is a potential runner in this race as well but there’s reason to believe Brando can reverse the form with that rival in this race. Brando has had the benefit of a run already this season (which The Tin Man hasn’t) which was a win in a Group 3 at Newmarket and that should have put him spot on for this race. Six furlongs looks his optimum trip, further improvement is likely to come and I expect connections will have had this race in mind for some time.

Selection: Brando

Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2) - 1m2½f
Judging by potential entries, this year’s renewal of the Middleton Stakes looks set to be an intriguing one.  Although it’s unlikely that the John Gosden trained Journey won’t run in this race like he did last year as he is being aimed at the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June instead according to connections, Gosden is likely to run the filly So Mi Dar. She looked slightly unlucky to lose her unbeaten record at the end of last season when finishing third in a Group 1 at Chantilly but had previously made it four wins from four runs with one of those wins being in the Musidora Stakes at this meeting. Although she tended to race keenly in her races last season, she impressively beat some promising horses and the form of each of her wins has worked out well. Held in high regard, she could potentially turn into a high-class filly this season and is expected to go close.

Selection: So Mi Dar

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Four Horses To Follow for the 2017 Flat Season

Four Horses To Follow for the Flat Season

Swiss Storm – David Elsworth
Far too green for his own good at Haydock on his racecourse debut where he went off a well backed favourite. Quickly made amends for that at Newbury next time out though where he still ran green and pulled hard during the race (and on the way to post) but ran out a comfortable winner in the end. Didn’t post the best time in the world that day nor has the form really been franked but still looked in need of the experience. Holds an entry in the 2000 Guineas and there should be plenty more to come from this son of Frankel this season.

Harry Angel – Clive Cox
Already a winner of a Group 2, Harry Angel created a big impression in two starts last season. Looked unlucky not to win on his debut at Ascot, running on well late on after pulling hard early. Bolted up in a Group 2 on his next start (again pulled hard) and the form of that race has worked out well. Clearly held in high regard, the 2000 Guineas could well be the target for him but he looks to have plenty of speed so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was kept over sprint distances throughout the season.

To Be Wild – Hugo Palmer
Ran a promising race in a hot Newmarket maiden and clearly picked up a problem or two as he wasn’t seen for over 300 days after. Readily won a maiden on his comeback run and then bolted up afterwards in a handicap at Doncaster off a mark of 93. He’s clearly had his problems as he’s a four-year-old who’s only run three times in his career but looks to be going places and can continue the progression this season providing he stays injury free.

New Caledonia Mark Johnston

Has gradually improved throughout his career and the step up in trip to 1m4f clearly helped last season. Finished a good second to Scarlet Dragon (who improved dramatically last season) in a competitive handicap on his last start. There should more improvement left in New Caledonia over 1m4f or further this season and is likely to remain competitive in similar handicaps.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Titanium Racing Club

Titanium Racing Club

As you probably know, the cost of racehorse ownership is forever increasing with the average cost of keeping a horse in training being around £16,000 a year. With that in mind, Titanium Racing have recently launched a club with the aim to create an ownership experience for their members which is affordable, fun and interesting with a whole host of added extras. As Titanium Racing is a club and not a syndicate, there will be no fixed term contract and no initial costs.

The added extras include stud visits where you will be shown around and have the chance to see some top stallions. Trips to the sales (including Goffs and Tattersalls) to see what goes on and look at potential future club horses. Regular trips to trainer’s yards to see the horses on the gallops and of course attending race meetings when the club has a runner.

To begin with, eight horses will represent the club with each member owning a share of each horse. However, there are plans to increase this number as the club grows and enjoys success. The horses that will represent the club mainly include unraced two-year-olds who could be anything. The eight horses included in the club can be viewed here:

The club has two of the North’s top trainers in Richard Fahey and Karl Burke involved along with two of the North’s upcoming young trainers who are really paving a way for themselves in Keith Dalgleish and Rebecca Menzies. As a club member, you will have the chance to regularly visit each trainers yard.

I spoke to Megan O’Brien (who works for Titanium Racing) regarding the club and this is what she had to say:

As a club, we want to bring extras to members to give an insight into the industry. We have some stud visits organised to view stallions, as well as sales visits so members can see how the entire process starts in selecting one from the sales. We also have a visit planned to a pre-training yard. This is on top of all usual stable visits. Members also get a monthly newsletter and numerous updates, for all its a racing club members will feel like they’re an individual owner.’

We feel the package we offer speaks for itself as each member gets 1% per horse (8%) in total for £175 a month. Because its spread across 8 horses it gives members more opportunity to attend the races, sample being an owner and hopefully therefore more chance of being in the winner’s enclosure’.

‘We still have two horses in pre-training which are Skito Soldier who is from a lovely Oppenheimer family, and our unnamed Street Cry colt. Both are lovely imposing individuals who are more back end types, who we are very much looking forward to running.’

The club hasn’t had a runner just yet but there are plans in place for the horses ready to run now the flat season has started to get going.

With regards to the future, as mentioned, there are plans to purchase more horses as the club grows. The club currently employs the services of northern trainers but will look to expand to the south in the future as more horses are purchased.

So if you are looking at going into racehorse ownership that is thrilling and enjoyable but at the same time affordable then Titanium Racing is without a doubt the club for you.

For more information simply visit:

Twitter: @TitaniumRacing_

Friday, 7 April 2017

2017 Randox Health Grand National Preview

Randox Health Grand National Preview

Currently heading the betting for this prestigious race is Vieux Lion Rouge who is 2 from 2 this season with the first of those wins coming over these fences in the Becher Chase. He faded into 7th in this race last year but his trainer David Pipe has reported that he’s grown up a lot this season and has had the perfect preparation for this race.

Barry Geraghty has chosen to ride More Of That who has plenty of class having won the World Hurdle back in 2014. He’s had plenty of problems during his career but ran respectably in the Gold Cup last time out. A sound jumper, this sort of test may well suit him these days.

Geraghty could have ridden three-time festival winner Cause Of Causes, the latest of those victories being the Cross Country Chase. He disappointed in this race a couple of years ago but was only 7 at the time. My worry with him is that he will get too far back like he did on his first attempt and has never run well after winning at the Festival.  

Arguably the best handicapped horse in this race is Definitely Red who is 10lb well in having bolted up in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out. He can make the odd mistake but he has reportedly schooled well over the national fences recently and should stay the trip on this ground. He should go close if he avoids mishaps.

Second behind Definitely Red in the Grimthorpe was The Last Samuri who went close in this race last year when finishing second off a mark of 149. Runs off 161 this time and, although he’s been in good form again this season, it will be an incredible performance if he was able to win off his career high mark.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has a good record in this race and his only runner this year is the previous RSA Chase winner Blaklion. He was runner-up behind the favourite at Haydock on his most recent start. At the weights, there shouldn’t be much between them on that form. He’s improving and has plenty of class but can do too much in the early part of his races which is a worry and he’ll need to settle early on if he is to see out this trip.

Flying the flag for Scotland is One For Arthur and he ticks plenty of boxes having run a promising race in the Becher Chase before landing the Betfred Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick. Looks certain to stay this trip, has the all important experience over the national fences and seems versatile with regards to the ground.

Paul Nicholls has always held Saphir Du Rheu in high regard and I thought he ran a cracking race in the Gold Cup. 2m4f was on the sharp side for him the time before in a hot handicap at Cheltenham on Trials Day where he was staying on well at the finish. Shapes as though he will stay this trip and is also 6lb well in.

One at a bigger price who could go well is Perfect Candidate for the Fergal O’Brien team. A solid jumper, he’s improved again this season and bolted up at Exeter in February carrying top weight. There’s every reason to believe he will stay the trip and is sure to be ridden up with the pace.

1) Definitely Red
2) One For Arthur
3) Saphir Du Rheu
4) Perfect Candidate

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Harry Fry Stable Feature

Harry Fry Stable Feature

Cast your mind back to March 2012 and it was Rock on Ruby's name on the Champion Hurdle trophy, a victory that undoubtedly put Harry Fry on the map. Although he was trained in Paul Nicholls's name at the time, it was Harry who did the majority of the work at the satellite yard he operated for Nicholls. Rock on Ruby still resides at Harry's yard and is enjoying his retirement. His regular rider is now Harry's young daughter Ruby!

2012 Champion Hurdle Winner Rock on Ruby

In October 2012 Harry gained his national hunt license to venture out on his own, a decision influenced by the success of Rock on Ruby. He has been backed by former employer Richard Barber and the rest as they say is history as Harry's training career has been a huge success ever since. Increasing on previous number of wins and prize money won each season, Harry currently has 75 horses in training and has also recently gained a flat license.

Harry is currently operating at a 23% Strike Rate 

Besides gaining invaluable experience with Richard Barber and champion trainer Paul Nicholls,  I asked Harry what else he felt was the key to his success and he was quick to point out that he has a great team behind him which includes his wife Ciara (who also played a big part in the success of Rock on Ruby). Assistant trainer and amateur rider Michael Legg has enjoyed plenty of success in the saddle on Harry's horses. Voix D'eau was a horse he rode to victory in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham's April meeting last year and rode two seconds at last seasons festival.  Stable Jockey is Noel Fehily and Harry has conditional jockey Kieron Edgar based at his yard as well as two amateur's, Ben Godfrey and Martin McIntyre.

Last season Harry sent out 54 winners and has recently matched that so is on schedule for his best season to date. Harry's yard holds a serious amount of horses that have lots of potential and I asked him about a handful of his main protagonists. Although no immediate plans have been made, Harry is keen to send his Cheltenham team to either Punchestown or Aintree before the end of the season but will hold fire for a few more days before making a decision.

Stable Star Unowhatimeanharry finished a gallant third in the Stayers Hurdle at the Festival on ground that Harry felt was slightly too fast for him. Although, as mentioned, Harry isn't making a decision just yet, he has come out of the race well and looked a million dollars Monday morning. The likely target will be Aintree for the Liverpool Stayers Hurdle unless Harry feels he wants more time and will therefore save him for Punchestown. He will probably stay over hurdles for the rest of his career but nothing is set in stone.

Neon Wolf:
It's a similar scenario for Neon Wolf who was an agonising second in the Neptune behind Willoughby Court. The ground would have been on the fast side for him too and Punchestown or Aintree is now on the agenda. He's a huge horse with plenty of scope and one thing for certain is that he will be jumping a fence next season and is sure to scale even greater heights in that sphere. 


Air Horse One:
Three times a winner this season, Air Horse One finished a close fourth in the County Hurdle where he was dropping back to 2m1f. Harry feels that a strong pace is the key for this horse and he's unlikely to run again this season.

American skipped Cheltenham in favour of Uttoxeter last Saturday and duly obliged in impressive fashion. Soft ground is a must for him and the Ladbroke Gold Cup (previously the Hennessy) is the long-term target. He may head to Punchestown now all being well and he's a seven-year-old with a big future. 

Desert Queen:
She has remained consistent in listed chase races for mares this season and will now be put away for the rest of the season having finished second at Huntingdon behind Antarctica De Thaix. The same route will be the plan for next season with plenty of prize money up for grabs in those series of races.

Bags Groove: 
Won well at Taunton on Monday when stepping down in class having disappointed in a strong listed race at Huntingdon the time before. He will now be stepped back up in class and will either run at Aintree or at the Cheltenham April meeting a couple of weeks after.

Fletchers Flyer:
A thorough stayer who won at the Punchestown Festival last season. He will be skipping Aintree and Punchestown this year in favour of Fairyhouse in April for the Irish Grand National as Harry feels a right-handed track suits him best. He will certainly have an each-way chance in that race.

Lady of Lamanver:
She unfortunately picked up a small injury since finishing second at Newbury in April. She actually finished in front of Briery Queen that day but lost the race in the stewards room and that horse has franked the form since. Will next be seen in a maiden hurdle and remains with plenty of potential.

Minella Awards:
Returned from a short break to land a Grade 3 Novices Handicap Hurdle, a race in which he was targeted at having finished second in a novice race at Plumpton. Has gone up 6lb in the handicap for that win and will now run in a similar race at Punchestown.

Finished a disappointing fifth at Musselburgh in February but scoped dirty after that race so it's best to forgive him that run. Previously finished an unlucky second at Kempton in a competitive race off a mark of 124 and the form has worked out well. He looks potentially very well handicapped with a current mark of 125.

Hell's Kitchen:
Has been off for a while due to a couple of setbacks since finishing third on his first start over fences in November. No immediate plans are in mind for him yet but will again run in a novice chase on his next start and has the potential to be a smart chaser if he can overcome his keenness.

Mr One More:
Made all to win on his bumper debut at Bangor but has been off since. Plenty of horses who ran in that race have gone on to win since. Has suffered a slight setback since that run and the plan is to go novice hurdling when he next runs. 

Finally, I asked Harry to name a couple of dark horses to follow in his yard and the two he gave were Bullionaire and Shall We Go Now. Bullionaire is declared to run in the Goffs UK Spring Sales Bumper at Newbury today and Harry likes them both a lot.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Imperial Cup Preview - Saturday 11th March

Imperial Cup Preview – 3.00 Sandown

Currently heading the betting for the race is Fixe Le Kap who hasn’t been seen since finishing midfield in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s clearly had his problems but it’s interesting that connections have decided to target a race of this nature on his comeback run. Soft ground seems ideal for him so the likelihood of testing conditions will suit and he showed some strong novice form early on in his career against horses who are now rated much higher so is potentially well treated off a mark of 138.

I strongly fancied William H Bonney in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month but he was ultimately disappointing having travelled well for a long way. Trainer Alan King was quick to point out afterwards that he had a feeling the run would come too soon for the horse (13 days since his win at Cheltenham on Trials Day) and has been given more time to recover from his latest exertions. On the form of his Cheltenham win he has a strong chance and it’s probably best to forgive him his latest run and will go close if back to form off just 2lb higher than his latest win.

Gassin Golf was an early casualty in the Betfair Hurdle last time but had previously run two good races off the back of a long lay-off. Kerry Lee has booked the services of up-and-coming 7lb amateur Richard Patrick who has impressed this season. Has twice finished placed in this race with a second in 2014 and was third in 2015 off a mark of 132 and races off just 1lb higher this time round.

Ian Williams has been in good form of late and runs London Prize who has remained consistent in recent runs and was travelling okay when falling four out when last seen over hurdles. He’s since gone close in a competitive handicap on the flat. His novice form has worked out relatively well and a mark of 128 looks fair based on what he’s achieved to date. My slight worry with London Prize is that his only run on soft ground was a disappointing one and doesn’t look as though he will appreciate testing conditions.

It’s fair to say recent French recruit Max Do Brazil was disappointing on his British debut in the race William H Bonney won at Cheltenham on Trials day. He’d previously shown some respectable form in France and was purchased for £160,000 before joining the Pipe stable. The Pipe team are notorious for targeting this race and going for the bonus at Cheltenham and he does hold entries at the festival next week. Races with a tongue-tie on for the first time.

Admirable performer Kayf Blanco has produced some good efforts this season, most notably when finishing a close third behind Brain Power over course and distance earlier in the season. He’s run some of his best races at the course but the handicapper hasn’t really given him a chance because of his consistency and although he looks high enough in the handicap at present, he’s sure to run his race once more.

Gary Moore runs two in this race and his best chance looks to be Not Another Muddle judging by Jockey bookings. He’s been progressing nicely in novice company but this is a big step up in class for his handicap debut and will need to improve on what he’s shown so far. He should appreciate the ground though as he’s seemed to relish testing conditions so far in his career.

Bigmartre won a competitive handicap at Kempton in December off a mark of 133 and is only 1lb higher than that win now. He would be of interest on that form although he looked a lucky winner that day with the second being hampered at a crucial stage and was well behind William H Bonney last time out so needs to put that run behind him.

Another horse who is potentially well handicapped is Chieftain’s Choice who won well at Sandown last time out in similar conditions. Will need to step up again on that form but the runner up has franked the form since and is still 6lb lower than his highest winning mark.

Fourth to William H Bonney at Cheltenham was Disputed and he’s since finished second behind an improving horse at Lingfield. His stamina is sure to come into play in these conditions having won over further in the past and is weighted to reverse form with William H Bonney. Hasn’t had much time to recover from his recent run though and does look a difficult ride.

Dual performer Spice Fair looks high enough in the handicap at present and will need to improve on his recent form. Although he has run some decent races at the course, it’s hard to make a case for him.

The other Gary Moore runner is Darebin who is another dual performer in this field and has been kept busy on the flat of late. He’s 6lb higher than his last winning mark so doesn’t look that well handicapped. Has shown improved form on the flat since his last start over jumps but will need to progress again to be competitive today.

Outsider of the field is Prairie Town who reverts to hurdles after finishing runner-up over fences the last twice. Those were decent efforts and he’s clearly in good form but hasn’t won for a while now and looks up against it even on the best of his form.

Verdict: Not a vintage renewal of the Imperial Cup compared to recent years but competitive nonetheless. There’s plenty of questions marks for most of these runners and Fixe Le Kap deserves to be the favourite with the likelihood of more to come and has the potential to be a lot better than his mark of 138. However, it’s hard to be confident about a horse who’s been off for such a long time. Although William H Bonney was disappointing last time I’m prepared to forgive him that run and is of strong interest based on his Cheltenham win. Kayf Blanco doesn’t look obviously well handicapped but has been consistent this season and should run his race once more. Max Do Brazil is surely better than what he showed on his British debut but can’t be backed with any real confidence other than the fact his stable have a good record in this race. Gassin Golf has a good record in this race and has place credentials.

      1)      William H Bonney        2) Gassin Golf        3) Kayf Blanco

Monday, 27 February 2017

Four Selections for the Cheltenham Festival Handicaps

Tuesday 14th March -  Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50)

One horse who caught the eye on Trials Day at Cheltenham in January was Singlefarmpayment who was travelling ominously well before being brought down at the twelfth fence. There was still a fair way to go thereafter but judging by the way he was travelling and jumping that day it would have been a surprise if he wasn’t involved in the finish. The form of his win over fences the time before at Cheltenham is strong with the runner-up going close in a competitive handicap next time out and the third has won two races over fences since, the most recent off a mark of 141. The selection was two from two at the course before that run so clearly likes the track; the trip will be ideal for him and is versatile ground wise. He does hold a couple of other entries but this race looks tailor made for him in my opinion and is sure to go off shorter than 14-1.

Selection: Singlefarmpayment (Best price - 14-1)

Wednesday 15th March - Coral Cup (2.50)

Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls won this race in 2015 with Aux Ptit Soins and looks to have a great chance of winning the race again this year with Modus who clearly improved for the step up in trip last time out when winning the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton. Those in behind that day have franked the form since with the third and fifth both winning strong handicaps next time out. That was his first run over 2m5f having previously posted a couple of decent efforts in competitive handicaps over 2 miles earlier in the season.  A horse with plenty of class and solid form in similar handicaps, there should be more improvement left in him at this trip. He also holds an entry in the County Hurdle but the Coral Cup trip looks ideal for him.

Selection: Modus (Best price - 12-1)

Thursday 16th March -  Pertemps Network Final (2.10)

Last year’s winning connections of this race look to have a great chance of landing back to back wins with Presenting Percy. A winner at Fairyhouse on his latest start, he seemed to benefit from a Tongue-tie being applied for the first time, travelling well throughout the race and winning with plenty to spare. That was over 2m4f but should have no problem stepping back up to 2m7f. Although he must prove he handles Cheltenham, this race is likely to have been the target for some time and he’s relatively lightly raced for a six-year-old so there should be plenty more to come. The likelihood of a strong pace in the race will also suit his hold-up tactics.

Selection: Presenting Percy (Best Price - 7-1)

Friday 17th March - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (4.50)

Gordon Elliot has been vocal about the chances of The Storyteller over the past few weeks and he looks a horse who has been laid out for this race. He’s improved in each of his runs over hurdles thus far and has been given a mark of 138 which looks fair based on his form as a novice. His latest win at Thurles in January was a career best where he stayed on strongly to comfortably beat some useful rivals, most notably Battleford who has since finished second in a Grade 3. Although he holds entries in various other races, Elliot has nominated this race as his intended target and looks sure to go close with the likelihood of more to come from a horse on the upgrade.

Selection: The Storyteller (Best Price - 8-1)