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Aintree 2012

17 Apr 12 18:51
Aintree was a very entertaining meeting on very good ground and many Cheltenham horses came on to confirm the form while a few went the other way. Rock on Ruby was a bit disappointing as I thought he would be better over 2.5 but may be he is a  speed horse after all. Presentandcorrect is owned by my brother and he was disputing the lead when falling at bechers in the Foxhunters. He will have another day. Chance du Roy is a great favourite of mine and it was frustrating to see him overtaken by Always Waining after the last. Sprinter Sacre had nothing to beat again and if you take him out, this has to be the weakest 2 mile novice chase crop for years. My national fancies were Ballabrigs and West End Rocker but I decided that 10 a place on Neptune was too big so made a marginal profit on the race. Deaths of horses are always sad but are inevitable in any equine sport. If you want to watch racing you have to be prepared for fatalities.
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Cheltenham 2012 reflections

21 Mar 12 10:33
Another Festival over and it was one of the best that I can remember for quality and excitement. I started well with Cinders and Ashes and Hunt Ball and respectable defeats for Cue Card and Overturn. Hold on Julio was my only poor run of the day. Rock On Ruby won fair and square and could be improving so I was surprised that most experts wrote it off as a fluke. Day 2 started OK with Teaforthree but not much joy after that apart from Edeymi e/w. Cotton Mill hurt although I was only on for a place. The Ryanair was a great race but Somersby was my only interest and he was disappointing-again. I was very tempted by 1.9 on Big Bucks but the stable form put me off. I didn't get very close in the Triumph (thought both of Nicholls' runners ran very well) and only made a small profit on Brindisi Breeze. A token £2 on Kauto for old times sake was my only bet on the GC and the last race brought more frustration when Oiseau de Nuit vanished just when he looked the likely winner at the top of the hill.     
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Paul Hanagan seems to be limping towards the finish line with SDS and Fallon not going much faster but still both capable of overtaking him. Frankel confirmed his complete dominanceof the mile division and last years milers were made to look very second rate by him, Excelebration and Immortal Verse. So You Think was beaten again, this time over his best trip of 10 furlongs so he is certainly not an outstanding horse. Snow Fairy can't quite catch him over that trip but will always beat him over 12 furlongs. Dream Ahead signs off as the top sprinter and it is a shame that he has not had the chance to try a mile again while Strong Suit has proved very good over 7 furlongs but does not yet stay a mile. Richard Hannon has dominated the 2yo division to the extent that it would be possible to see a Group 2 or 3 race over 6 or 7 furlongs with him fielding 10 fancied runners and filling the first 6 places. Henry Cecil made a brave attempt to regain the trainers championship but with less than half of the Hannon string, it was not really on. Sad to see Midday and Twice Over end with failure as they were two of my favourites of the last 2 years. The most pleasing result on Saturday for me was Dancing Rain who got a perfect ride from Murtagh. I thought she would be a hot favourite and was amazed at the price.

Now we need a lot of rain to get the better quality NH horses out.   
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The 3yo generation have dominated the second half of the season and I am hopeful of Nathaniel in the Arc. Meanwhile, Frankel needs to win once more to crown one of the most dominant careers for a long time. The Leger is more open than the market suggests with Sea Moon, Blue Bunting, Census and Masked Marvel all in the mix. I would hope to see Fallen For You win the May Hill tomorrow but no 2yo colts have really made a big impression yet. 
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End of another season.

24 Apr 11 17:57
So another NH season is over and the new one begins. Highlights for me were from Colin Tizzard's yard. Cue Card looked very good in his first 2 starts but didn't quite make it at the top level. Hey Big Spender, Golden Chieftain and Oiseau de Nuit all won me plenty of cash and are all ones to look forward to next year. I don't often get far in the Grand National but having backed Ballabrigs ante post at only 14 in January, I saved on the second and Quinz on the day. So a good day despite the unnecessary furore after the race. The Irish domination of the staying novice chases were a worry for English trainers but Captain Chris and Finnegans Rainbow salvaged something in the Arkle and at Aintree. Master Minded was incredibly easy to back at Aintree and strolled home over what might be his best trip from now on. If I had to choose the winners of the main races next season it would be Sizing Europe, Long Run and Big Bucks to all follow up but the Champion Hurdle could be very open again.     
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The trials are all but complete now, so barring injuries, going changes or jockey injuries, most of the evidence should be in the form book.

Supreme Novice: Cue Card still the obvious one but after Dunguib last year I am still holding off having a bet.
Arkle. Confidence in Captain Chris is fading after 3 defeats but Philip Hobbs can improve them on the big day. Ghizao looks the obvious choice.
CH. I hope that Jason can ride Peddlers Cross who is still my main hope. Still not sure about Menorah.

Neptune Novice. No real idea about this one. Henderson sure to have a strong hand as is Mullins.
QM Chase. Woolcombe Folly my only small bet and it looks between him, Big Zeb and Master Minded.
RSA. Wymott still my main choice but Wayward Prince has been very strong in the market. Time For Rupert will be hard to beat but no value.

Ryanair. Have a nice free bet on Hey Big Spender so hope it runs. Poquelin is a class horse but seems to run best at the January meeting.
World Hurdle. Big Bucks still the boss.

Triumph. No idea at this stage.
Gold Cup. Imperial Commander the logical choice with Midnight Chase the unknown quantity.
Foxhunter. Baby Run very short now. Hoping that William Somers can get a place at least.
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Cheltenham reflections

02 Jan 11 17:36
Watched Cheltenham from home on New Years day and enjoyed the racing. Started with Habbie Simpson a place only followed by a poor run from Karabak. Managed to lay off Buffalo Bob and Character Building so a break even race followed by a small profit on Hells Bay place only and win on Medermit that I laid off at the last. Hey Big Spender ran no race at all in the big handicap but I nearly hit the jackpot in the last with 10.5 Junior but in the end had to be satisfied with laying off for  aprofit. Ended with a small win on Glitzy D'Ocala at Exeter owned by Daphne Du Pre, an old friend of mine and a very lucky owner.
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Weekend observations

28 Nov 10 13:05
I went to Newbury on Thursday but no luck there at all. Line Freedom fell when still in with a chance, Zarrafakt was right off, Vagrant Emperor backed win only-not very bright. Only Prince Tom at Taunton salvaged a bit back. Friday again poor at Newbury with Suntini the biggest disappointment but broke even with other meetings. Saturday I backed Act of Kalanisi and Regal Approach for place only which is frustrating but after a few small losing bets on the Hennessy, Mount Oscar put we well in front followed by the banker, Guided Missile at Kempton. I was frustrated at missing Peddlers Cross as I had always felt he lacked the pace for 2 miles but had followed him blind last season. Diamond Harry in my 10 to follow was a nice bonus but no doubt many thousands of others have him too.     
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Wincanton yesterday

19 Nov 10 11:50
I paid a visit to my local course, Wincanton, yesterday but it was rather a poor card. Managed to find the first winner, Matako at 8/1 to start the day well. No luck after that but only had 2 more bets there, Shaking Hands and Inside Dealer. The novice hurdle market was bizarre. I thought that 6 or 7 had a chance but they went 8/15 Vico, 13/2 Roalco de Farges and Fortification, 20 bar. I didn't have a bet and was not surprised when one of the unconsidered ones won.
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Monday

15 Nov 10 08:01
I was wrong about Nick Williams. His 2 ran well yesterday after a quiet spell for the yard. Jonjo and Victor Dartnell are the two who must have big concerns about their form at the moment. Menorah was impressive but I doubt if that would be good enough for an average Champion Hurdle. Tataniano very disappointing.
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