We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Friday, March 3, 2017.


Bet4Causes cut The New One to 14/1 for the Champion Hurdle after trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies gave a positive report on the nine-year-old, who will bid to land the race at the fourth time of asking. “It would be wonderful, the highlight of everything if he won and it’s time it happened for him,” the trainer said. “The handicapper tells us he’s always right and if you look at the ratings he should be right there. Himself and Yanworth are the two top-rated ones, and there’s 1lb between them. Cheltenham brings the best out of him and hopefully this is the year when everything falls right for him.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/twiston-davies-this-could-be-the-new-one-s-year/276755

Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Thursday

Limini (right) is now 7/1 with Bet4Causes, despite owner Rich Ricci appearing to have cooled on her chances of being supplemented for the  Champion Hurdle on Tuesday week. Ricci said: “Susannah (Ricci’s wife who co-owns Limini) and I have discussed it and if Limini had been originally entered, it would be a different matter, but to be supplementing, you really want to be doing that if you think you have a good chance of winning the race. Do you really want to be doing that and just finishing fourth? I’m going to talk to a few experts and see what they say. It’s a possibility but nothing has been decided.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/rich-ricci:-no-limini-decision/40368


Nigel Twiston-Davies was left disappointed after Bristol De Mai (right) followed up his Peter Marsh Chase win at Haydock with a tame effort in defeat to Native River at Newbury. The trainer is becoming increasingly bullish over the grey’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup chance, however. He said: “We thought, ‘Oh dear, he’s not very good’, but we got him back and he was lame for the whole of the next week. He’s come back right now and if he stays sound, he’s very good and I’m very hopeful.”
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2993900/cheltenham-festival-2017-nigel-twiston-davies-looking-forward-to-running-bristol-de-mai-in-the-cheltenham-gold-cup/

When Golden Jeffrey lines up in the Champion Bumper he will be leading Flat trainer Mark Johnston’s first runner at the Cheltenham Festival for almost 20 years. The four-year-old, owned and bred by Swiss-based Markus Graff, won at Ayr on Monday. Johnston said: “Markus Graff bred Golden Jeffrey and he was quite a backward horse early on. He has a small stud in Switzerland which he is trying to make commercial. There have not been any enquiries yet but, if there were, I am sure the owner would be keen to sell him.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4276396/Mark-Johnston-set-run-Golden-Jeffrey-Cheltenham.html

Nigel Twiston-DaviesSpeaking at his press day ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, Nigel Twiston-Davies (right) confirmed that Ballyandy will run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He said: “He has got plenty of speed. He won there this time last year, although it was over two miles with no hurdles. We are really looking forward to it and hopefully we will be able to take our revenge on Moon Racer (who beat him in the Supreme Trial in November).”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49488/nigel-twiston-davies-plumps-for-supreme-bid-with-ballyandy

Eddie Lynam has announced the retirement of popular multiple Group 1-winning sprinter Sole Power. The 10-year-old had his last run when sixth in the Meydan Sprint two weeks ago. Lynam said: “We’ve decided to call it a day with him. He was a great horse, but time waits for no man and he’s been retired.” Sole Power won 12 of his 65 starts, was placed on a further 14 occasions and earned over £2m in prize-money. Lynam added: “He’ll have a few months at home to chill and then he’ll head over to Horse Park Stud, where a lot of our retired horses go. Putting him on the horsebox that one last time, that will be the saddest day.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49477/eddie-lynam-calls-time-on-decorated-career-of-sole-power

Jockey George Baker remains in intensive care following his horror fall on the ice of St Moritz on Sunday. The Classic-winning rider suffered a severe concussion and was airlifted to a trauma hospital in Chur. His agent Guy Jewell said: “There’s nothing new to report, really. He’s still in intensive care and is much the same as he was a couple of days ago. He’s still resting and sleeping a lot.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49483/george-baker-continuing-recovery-in-intensive-care-after-st-moritz-fall

Venetia WilliamsAidan Coleman recorded his second successive century of winners when guiding Marcilhac to victory in the Forbra Gold Cup at Ludlow for Venetia Williams (tight) – one of a quartet of winners on the day for the Herefordshire trainer. Coleman notched 129 winners last season and he said: “The goal at the start of year was to get somewhere near 100 winners, to get that and hopefully add to it would be great.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/coleman-reaches-100-winners/40300

David PipeDavid Pipe (right)is still mulling over a possible Champion Hurdle tilt with Moon Racer. The eight-year-old, not seen since making it two from two over hurdles at the Open Meeting at Cheltenham in November, also holds an entry in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Pipe said: “He’s proved on the track that he’s a very good horse and we thought at the time that it was worth entering him in the Champion Hurdle. He’ll be left in that and the Supreme at the five-day stage and we’ll make a decision after that.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/late-call-on-moon-racer-target/40160

Winner of a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham last time, Foxtail Hill has been earmarked by Nigel Twiston-Davies as his ace in the Cheltenham Festival pack. He runs in the Close Brothers’ Handicap Chase and the trainer said: “I think Foxtail Hill is probably our best chance. It is just the way the race turns out, as there is only three or four pounds between the lot of them. He is nearly a JLT horse, but why go for that when you have got a lower-class race? He was very impressive there last time and he managed to stay inside the rating band of 0-140.”
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2995410/cheltenham-festival-2017-nigel-twiston-davies-updates-us-on-his-cheltenham-festival-team-including-betfair-hurdle-winner-ballyandy/

London trainer Andrew Reid has not renewed his licence after sending out one winner from 39 runners last season. The gallop at his Mill Hill yard needs to be replaced and he explained: “Being on London clay, we weren’t going to do that until the summer. I had never had injuries, but I was starting to get them, and the only explanation was the gallop. I sold a lot of horses and wouldn’t think I’ll have runners this year, but it depends on when we can start work on the gallop.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/lawyer-reid-calls-time-on-training-career-with-no-runners-this-year/276780

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Friday, March 3, 2017

DONCASTER: 1.50 Generous Day, 2.20 Wenyerreadyfreddie, 2.50 Tiquer, 3.25 Taweyla (nb), 4.00 Copper Kay, 4.30 Apterix, 5.05 The Wise One

LINGFIELD: 2.00 Remember Me, 2.30 HAVELOCK (NAP), 3.05 Black Dave, 3.40 Intransigent, 4.10 Mullarkey, 4.45 Ulysses

NEWBURY: 2.10 Alcanar, 2.40 Le Breuil, 3.15 Red Devil Star, 3.50 Millanisi Boy, 4.20 Reilly’s Minor, 4.55 Bally Gilbert, 5.25 Athgate Rosalie

NEWCASTLE: 5.15 Persun, 5.45 Fiendish, 6.15 Poet’s Reward, 6.45 Bastia, 7.15 Kinloch Pride, 7.45 Mr Andros

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

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We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Fontwell Races

Racing’s leaders have revealed new plans for boosting field sizes by effectively offering appearance money down to eighth place once the new funding mechanism yields dividends. British Horseracing Authority COO Richard Wayman said: “As funding increases, we must target that money at grassroots and make the experience of owning an average horse far better than it is now,” he said. “One of the things that we are working on is a significant and substantial appearance money scheme that will see payments made to connections of owners down to eighth place. That, in itself, will help reduce the number of owners whose return from the sport is zero.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/new-plan-to-boost-lower-tier/39004

Classic-winning jockey George Baker, who suffered a horror fall on the ice of St Moritz on Sunday, is likely to be moved out of intensive care today after his condition improved. Baker was brought down when two horses fell in front of him at and suffered heavy concussion. His wife Nicola said: “He doesn’t need any surgery and he had a bit of food at lunch. He’s just very sleepy and he’s back to bed. He had a very severe concussion, but his CT scan came back okay and the best thing for him is sleep and time.”
Source: http://www.racingpost.com/news/live.sd?event_id=24236524&category=0


News that Thistlecrack (right) will have a scan today on his partially-torn tendon prompted a gamble on the exchanges, with his price dropping to 10/1 for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, trainer Colin Tizzard all but ruled out the King George VI Chase winner out for a second time, insisting that the scan as to assess the extent of the damage, as opposed to checking for any misdiagnosis. “As far as I am concerned he’s still out,” said Tizzard. “The horse is fine but recuperating.”
Source: http://www.racingpost.com/news/live.sd?event_id=24236524&category=0

Cue Card could be retired should he win the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and make up for a fall at the third last fence when going strongly last year. Now 11, Cue Card won a Grade 1 chase at Haydock and landed the Ascot Chase by 15 lengths last time. Owner Jean Bishop said: “I wouldn’t want to carry on racing him and see him struggle or anything like that. He couldn’t do anything else if he won the Gold Cup and there would be nothing to aim for. It would be a nice way to end his career. He has been on the go for seven years and it would probably be the best thing for him. We will have to see.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/cue-team-eye-dream-swansong/38844


Arrogate (right) will contest the $10m Dubai World Cup on March 25 after being given the green light by Juddmonte Farms owner Prince Khalid Abdulla. The Santa Anita Handicap was under consideration for the world’s best Flat horse, but trainer Bob Baffert confirmed: “I just got the word. As long as he keeps working well, he’s going.” Arrogate clocked 1:38.4 in his 1m work on Monday. Baffert added: “He hasn’t regressed or anything, he looked fantastic. He’s enjoying himself, and he did it the right way. I’m really happy with the way he’s going. He’s just holding his form very well,” Baffert said.
Source: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/220100/arrogate-headed-to-dubai-world-cup

The Last SamuraiThe 2016 Grand National runner-up The Last Samurai (right) is set to carry top weight in Saturday’s Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster as he bids to land the 3m2f race for a second successive year off a 12lb higher mark. He could face as many as 12 rivals and trainer Kim Bailey said: “Basically, he needs to run. This has been the plan for some time and we’d just like some nice goo-to-soft ground, but he’ll run whatever.”
Source: https://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/bailey:-samuri-‘needs-to-run’/38904

Willie Mullins says Douvan “could be the best I have had” ahead of his tilt at the  Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in two weeks’ time. Douvan is currently the 2/7 favourite for the March 15 feature with Bet4Causes. Mullins said: “When you are going to Cheltenham with a favourite like Douvan, it is relief rather than joy when they win. When you have a 25-1 winner, that isn’t expected, that is joy. There is fair bit of expectation with Douvan so you just want to keep him right and get there.”
Source: http://www.hri.ie/News/?news=P-1b15e154-be66-4ba5-b723-40189336e217

Sam Twiston-Davies has a strong book of rides at the Cheltenham Festival but has tabbed the Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue in the JLT Novices’ Chase as his best chance of a winner. Politologue is currently a 7/1 chance with Bet4Causes, with the market headed by Yorkhill at 2/1. “I think Politologue has a strong chance. He’s done a lot of things right,” said Twiston-Davies. “It was disappointing to get beaten at Haydock, but I don’t think he lost much in defeat as he gave the winner 3lb. He’ll have a hood and ear plugs and that should help him switch off better. He’s becoming the finished article.”
Source: http://www.racingpost.com/news/live.sd

Willie Mullins 1

Willie Mullins (right) is aiming to get last season’s Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power, currently sidelined through injury, back in time for the Punchestown Festival. He said: “She seems good and we’re very pleased with how she’s responding. I would say we’ll aim for Punchestown with her. We could go to France, but let’s get her back first before we make plans for her.” Faugheen, his 2015 Champion Hurdler, also misses Cheltenham through injury. Mullins added: “I’m sure we’ll see Faugheen again, whether it’s this season or next season. I wouldn’t have any reason to retire him. The problem he has now should be a maximum of 12 weeks (to recover).”
Source: http://www.hri.ie/News/?news=P-32a40018-c975-4622-a726-c44a0749a0cb

Willie Mullins says it is “50-50” as to whether Limini will be supplemented for the Champion Hurdle on March 14. The six-year-old was impressive on her seasonal return at Punchestown last week and Mullins admitted: “A lot depends on how Vroum Vroum Mag goes between now and then (the supplementary stage), she’s obviously in the Mares’ Hurdle. I think if she’s fine and sparking, we probably might take a punt with Limini. I think Vroum Vroum will go for the Mares’ Hurdle. On her last performance, that’s all I can see her doing.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/27/willie-mullins-indicates-limini-could-be-added-to-champion-hurdle-field

Simon Williams will join Royal Windsor Racecourse as executive director, having previously been employed by Arena Racing Company in a similar capacity at Fontwell Park. Williams said: “Despite the difference in codes, moving from jump racing to flat, many of the initiatives we have implemented at Fontwell Park will translate across to Royal Windsor, and I can’t wait to get started.” Jonathan Acott will replace him in the same role at Fontwell, having joined Arc from Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, where he was head of operations. He added: “I am thrilled to be joining Arena Racing Company. Fontwell Park is a fantastic racecourse in a wonderful part of the world and I am excited to start working with the team and helping them build on their significant recent successes.”
Source: http://www.arenaracingcompany.co.uk/news/story/296

Jockey Alex Birzer became the 174th jockey in the US to win 3,000 races when he guided Numancia to victory at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The Kansas native Birzer, 43, rode his first winner in 1992. He said: “This is wonderful. I had it in my mind that it would be great to reach this here. I just love Oaklawn. I love the people here. The patrons are just unreal with the way they treat us. It’s a great racing atmosphere.”
Source: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/220091/jockey-alex-birzer-reaches-3-000-wins

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CATTERICK: 2.20 Café Au Lait, 2.50 Life Knowledge, 3.20 Halcyon Days, 3.50 Red Rising, 4.20 Delusionsfgrandeur, 4.50 Turtle Cask

LEICESTER: 2.10 Three Of A Kind, 2.40 Zeroshadsofgrey (nb), 3.10 Rebel Rebellion, 3.40 Paddy The Oscar, 4.10 Miss Oscarose, 4.40 The Highlander

LINGFIELD: 2.00 ANNIE SALTS (NAP), 2.30 Never Folding, 3.00 Dutch Uncle, 3.30 Mise En Rose, 4.00 Pinwood, 4.30 Hold Firm

Monday’s NAP was a winner.

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk


We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.


Add Thistlecrack (above) to the lengthening list of equine superstars who will not be appearing at next month’s Cheltenham Festival. The King George VI Chase hero has a “small tear” in a tendon and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite has been ruled out for the season by Colin Tizzard. He joins a list of talent that includes Faugheen, Annie Power, Min, Don Cossack, Coneygree and Sprinter Sacre on the sidelines. Tizzard said: “He had a bit of heat and swelling in his tendon on Monday night and as the vet was in on Tuesday I asked him to scan it. It showed a small tear. We’ve seen it in every yard and it happens every year. It’s not a breakdown and hopefully we’ve caught it before it became any proper damage was done. But it means he’s out for the season. All being well he will be fine for next season.”
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/racing/2017/02/21/thistlecrack-gold-cup-favourite-ruled-season-tendon-injury/

Following Thistlecrack’s injury, Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh National winner Native River is new 3/1 favourite (from 6/1) with MyClubBetting for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Stablemate Cue Card is clipped to 7/2 next best.
Source: https://bet4causes.myclubbetting.co.uk/

tom-scudamore-smallTom Scudamore (right), who rode Thistlecrack to victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day said it was “very disappointing for everybody” that Britain’s leading chaser would miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the rest of the season with a tendon injury. He said: “Every time you ride these good horses you hope they can be in a position to show just how good they are. He is not going to be able to do that this year and, while hopefully he will be able to bounce back, it is a real sickener for everyone.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/gold-cup-shock/thistlecrack-jockey-devastated-after-injury-rules-out-favourite/275719

France Galop has suspended jockey Robert Havlin for six months after he tested positive for prohibited substances. The ruling body said the Newmarket-based jockey had returned a positive sample when riding at Saint-Cloud on October 30 and that it would “request the reciprocation” of the imposed sanction by the British Horseracing Authority. “Given the positive result to a narcotic and its metabolites present in the biological sample of the jockey, this is a serious breach of the rules of racing of France Galop,” said a statement.
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10776835/jockey-robert-havlin-shocked-by-six-month-ban-from-france-galop

Robert Havlin will appeal his six-month ban handed down by France Galop. In a statement issued by his French solicitor Florence Gaudilliere, Havlin said: “I am the victim of an outrageous miscarriage of justice and defamation of my character. I have never tested positive for any prohibited substance in my 26-year riding career. I am appealing this verdict and suspension on a number of grounds and the counter analysis proves my innocence. It goes without saying that I am deeply upset and shocked.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10776835/jockey-robert-havlin-shocked-by-six-month-ban-from-france-galop

Limini.jpgToday’s clash between Apple’s Jade and Limini (right) in the Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown will offer more Cheltenham Festival clues. Apple’s Jade won the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, while Limini will make her seasonal reappearance in the Listed contest. Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, trainer Willie Mullins, said: “Limini is in good form, but I’m sure she’ll come on a lot for the run. She’s wrong at the weights with Apple’s Jade and it will be very difficult to beat her, but we’ve got to start somewhere and we’ll see how she goes.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/preview/762628/top-mares-to-clash-at-punchestown

Paul Nicholls will have a Cheltenham Festival team of “around 18 to 20”, which represents his smallest in years, but hopes are high that Politologue can land the JLT Novices’ Chase. Nicholls said: “He’s one of our leading chances. He’s really progressive and has won three from four over fences. His rating of 152 is very good mark for a novice over fences.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/fred-winter-hope-dreamcatching-leads-nicholls-assault-on-festival-handicaps/275743

paul-nichollsThe progressive Dreamcatching  has been earmarked by Paul Nicholls (right) as one of his leading lights for the Cheltenham Festival. Nicholls said: “Dreamcatching won’t be far away in the Fred Winter. He bolted in at Wincanton on Saturday and has a mark of 131. It’s a race we’ve done really well in, with the first and second the last two years. Qualando, who won it in 2015, was off 131, and Diego Du Charmil won it last year off 133. So he’s around about the right mark.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/fred-winter-hope-dreamcatching-leads-nicholls-assault-on-festival-handicaps/275743

Jim Bolger is among a number of Irish trainers who feel the Irish Derby should be moved after it was revealed development work at the Curragh would limit the crowd to 6,000 from 18,000 last year. Bolger said: “My preference would have been to move it to Leopardstown or Naas. Leopardstown would probably hold a crowd better and have been ideal for the Derby as opposed to limiting the number of people coming to the Curragh.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/trainers-believe-irish-derby-should-be-temporarily-rehomed/27563

arrogate-smallBreeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner Arrogate (right) seems likely to run in the $10m Dubai World Cup (March 25) after working well at Santa Anita yesterday. The Santa Anita Handicap (March 11) is also under consideration, but Garrett O’Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms, says a trip to Dubai is the front-runner. He said: “If there was any doubt about that, we wouldn’t even consider going. But the horse seems to be in an exceptionally good state physically and mentally. We’ll discuss the case and if Prince Khalid agrees, I think we’ll roll the dice.”
Source: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/219975/arrogate-his-usual-self-in-five-furlong-move

Former Gala Coral COO Neil Goulden has been appointed as chairman designate for a racecourse-run pool betting operation. Betfred’s £265m deal for the Tote gave it an exclusive right over race pool betting, but that deal expires next year. Major racing stakeholders including the Jockey Club and Arena Racing Company wish to take control in future “to ensure participating racecourses will have full control of their on-course pool betting operation”. The project, led by the British Horseracing Association’s Nigel Roddis, saw a “steering board” plump for Goulden, who said: “I hope my experience can assist British racing in developing its thinking on pool betting so it can grow to the benefit of British racing and all its customers.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/goulden-brought-in-to-aid-racecourse-run-pool-betting-plan/275682

The Gambling Business Group (GBG) is behind a new industry-wide body whose core objective is to improve the regulatory environment for all parties in the UK gambling sector. Entitled The Gambling Expert Group, the affiliation of trade and regulatory bodies, will meet on at least a quarterly basis. Invitations have been extended to a total of 15 regulatory bodies. GBG Chief Executive Peter Hannibal said: “The Gambling Expert Group is the outcome of a programme of close collaboration with the Regulatory Delivery Office, part of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Membership is made up of stakeholder representatives including Licensing Authorities, regulators and policy makers. One of the objectives is to provide an opportunity for members to raise regulatory issues and identify and address areas where regulation can be improved.”
Source: http://www.g3newswire.com/uk-gambling-expert-group-formed-enhance-regulatory-environment/

GambleAware launches its first trial advertising campaign to promote awareness of problem gambling. The online pilot of two adverts, targeted at people aged 16-24, is released in the North West and North East of England on YouTube.

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Tuesday, February 21, 2017

DONCASTER: 2.10 Mister Whitaker, 2.45 Soldier In Action, 3.15 The Tailgater, 3.45 SAINT ARE (NAP), 4.20 Ardea, 4.55 Monty’s Award

LINGFIELD PARK: 2.20 Hipz, 2.55 Tempuran, 3.25 Wedding Breakfast, 3.55 Arctic Sea, 4.30 Dangerous Ends, 5.05 Steady Major

LUDLOW: 2.00 Ridgeway Flyer, 2.35 Mercian King, 3.05 Woodfort (nb), 3.35 William Money, 4.10 I’m A Game Changer, 4.45 Mr Mercurial, 5.20 Gulshanigans

KEMPTON PARK: 5.45 Cuban Queen, 6.15 Albaster, 6.45 Askari, 7.15 Steelriver, 7.45 Winterlude, 8.15 Delagoa Bay

Lucky 15 selections: Saint Are (Doncaster 3.45), Woodfort (Ludlow 3.05), Delagoa Bay (Kempton Park 8.15), The Tailgater (Doncaster 3.15)

Both the NAP and Next Best selections won yesterday. Three from four in the lucky 15 went in with the other selection finishing second. Bah and humbug.

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.


We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Cue Card.jpgColin Tizzard has a stacked deck for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after Cue Card (above) came through his Ascot Chase prep on Saturday with ease. Cue Card will join stablemates Thistlecrack and Native River in the March 17 showpiece following a foot-perfect display. Tizzard said: “I thought his performance on Saturday was as perfect as you can get. On all known form he deserved to win, but that doesn’t mean they will. He travelled and jumped and came away in his own time, so we were delighted. Every day will be a nervous day for the next few weeks, hoping something doesn’t go wrong.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774267/colin-tizzard-nervous-of-cheltenham-festival-build-up

Identity Thief missed yesterday’s Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan and is likely to miss the Cheltenham Festival. Henry de Bromhead’s Grade 1-winning hurdler fluffed his lines in the Irish Arkle and it was hoped he would restore his reputation, but Michael O’Leary of owners Gigginstown House Stud explained: “He pulled out lame after pulling a shoe off himself in the box. The frustrating thing is that it probably rules out Cheltenham. We can’t get a prep race in before Cheltenham and we can’t go to the Arkle after pulling up and falling.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774182/identity-thief-likely-to-miss-cheltenham-festival

With Identity Thief missing from the line-up, the Grade 3 Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan was won by Ball D’Arc, who scored by 19 lengths after 4/5 favourite Ballyoisin fell three out. Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: “We might look at the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse for him. Over two miles he definitely needs that ground, but I’d say he might be all right on a bit better ground over two and a half.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49247/ball-darc-bounds-to-flyingbolt-success-at-navan

Gigginstown House Stud owner Michael O’Leary has again hit out at handicapper Phil Smith for framing the Grand National weights higher than his horses’ Irish handicap marks, while outlining his team for Cheltenham. He said: “Don Poli has run three times in Grade 1s (this season) and been beaten in all of them, and yet Phil Smith has him up at 165, 5lb less than Thistlecrack. I think if he runs against Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup he’ll be beaten two furlongs.” Of his Cheltenham team the Ryanair owner added: “If they all arrive fit and well it’s likely we’ll run Outlander and Don Poli in the Gold Cup and probably Sub Lieutenant and Empire Of Dirt in the Ryanair Chase. I think the Ryanair is the logical race for Empire Of Dirt to go in. I would love to win it, I’ve spent 10 years trying to without any great success.” Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774616/michael-oleary-plans-to-run-don-poli-and-outlander-in-the-cheltenham-gold-cup

The Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois may have booked his ticket for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham with an impressive all-the-way win in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan yesterday. “He’s in the RSA Chase and you’d have to say after today we would be travelling, but we’ll see what the ground is like. If it came up very good, which you never know at Cheltenham, he might give it a miss. At the moment if it was nice, soft ground we’d have to take our chance.” Acapella Bourgeois is still available at 16/1 with MyClubBetting.
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/report/762365/bourgeois-allowed-an-easy-time

Vieux Lion Rouge is the new 14/1 favourite for the Randox Health Grand National with MyClubBetting after getting the better of Blaklion in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Trainer David Pipe said: “He’s changed a lot, as he never used to find much at the end of his races. He’s going back to Aintree with experience over the fences and he proved today he doesn’t need soft ground. We can look forward to April now.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/report/760495/vieux-victory-in-national-trial

SIS agrees to acquire Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia from William Hill. Picture and data from the tracks will be added to SIS’ existing portfolio of rights from MonmoreCrayfordHove, and Romford. Hills’ retail MD Nicola Frampton says: “Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia are among the best run in the industry and we would like to thank the teams at both tracks for all their hard work and success during William Hill’s period of ownership.” The tracks will be acquired by SIS subject to final agreement and the appropriate regulatory authority approvals.

Cheltenham Racecourse will unveil a statue of Sir AP McCoy on March 14, the opening day of the Festival meeting. The life-size bronze has been crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferriter. The 20-times jumps champion said: “His dedication to getting it right was really outstanding, from measuring me to videoing me and when I was standing for him. I thought most people got a statue when they were dead! I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit.”
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-39009453 http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-02-17/mccoy-statue-to-be-unveiled-at-cheltenham/

The winner of the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival will be in line for a £500,000 bonus in Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, May 13. The Challenge, an effort to re-establish the historical transatlantic racing rivalry, will be sponsored by private equity firm TVV Capital of Nashville, Tennessee. TVV Capital founder Andrew Byrd said: “That historical connection is strong, as is our longstanding relationship with the Iroquois. We wish to thank Mike Hankin and Brown Advisory, who first introduced us to the Cheltenham Festival and without whom the Challenge would have been impossible.”
Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774391/tvv-capital-to-sponsor-year-two-of-iroquois-cheltenham-challenge

Prolific juvenile Cliffs Of Dover has been ruled out of the Triumph Hurdle and for the rest of the season after “knocking his leg in a schooling session” according to trainer Paul Nicholls. He told his blog: “Cliffs Of Dover will have a nice long break now before he comes back into training in the autumn and we will aim to have him right for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/February/19/blow-for-paul-nicholls-with-cliffs-of-dover-out-for-rest-of-the-season

Major sporting events such as the Grand National, Wimbledon, Olympics, FA Cup and World Cup will continue to be shown on free TV channels under government plans to safeguard the UK’s sporting heritage. Ministers will be given the ability to “future-proof” free-to-air broadcast for certain “at risk” events through a planned amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. “Sport loses much of its ability to deliver positive outcomes for the public when people do not have the ability to watch or experience it,” noted the bill’s author.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/19/government-moves-future-proof-british-sports-free-to-air-crown/

Dual American Classic winner and 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic has died, aged 21. Trained by D Wayne Lucas, he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but suffered multiple fractures in his left front leg just a few strides before the wire in the Belmont. The 21-year-old stallion had only returned to the US from Japan where he had been at stud since 2002, in December. The cause of death is unknown.
Source: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/219944/horse-of-the-year-charismatic-dies

The Irish Derby will remain at the Curragh during construction work with a much-reduced capacity of 6.000. “The shortage of sprint tracks, and that the Curragh can cater for up to 30 runners over distances up to a mile, meant that relocating the major Curragh races elsewhere would not be feasible,” explained HRI chief Brian Kavanagh.
Source: http://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/derby-stays-at-curragh-during-facelift-35464364.html

Flintham, who was short-headed by Bigbadjohn in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday, will be targeted in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival unless ground is too lively. Sara Bradstock, who trains the eight-year-old with husband Mark, said: “He was really just mugged on the line. The National Hunt Chase would be very much under consideration but the ground would have to be on the soft side of good. We jarred him up running him in the Pertemps Hurdle last year which is why he was off for the rest of the year.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4240272/Coneygree-absent-Cheltenham-Festival.html

The Irish Department of Agriculture has been called upon to suspend the sale of Harolds Cross Greyhound Stadium in Dublin until a review has been held into the finances of the IGB. Tipperary TD Alan Kelly was highly critical of the board’s accounts procedure and decisions being made on the basis of financial reports dating back to 2014.
Source: http://greyhoundstar.co.uk/igb-suspend-harolds-x-sale-says-td/

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CARLISLE: 2.00 Front At The Last, 2.30 Strait Of Magellan, 3.00 Take The Cash, 3.35 Thyne For Gold, 4.10 Beg To Differ, 4.45 Midnight Request, 5.15 Flemenskill

LINGFIELD PARK: 1.50 Take To Heart, 2.20 Lac Scare, 2.50 Capilla, 3.25 Hitherjacques Lady (nb), 4.00 Finish The Story, 4.35 Groundunderrepair, 5.05 Big Fella Thanks

WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.10 Sweeping Rock, 2.40 War At Sea, 3.10 Leonard Thomas, 3.45 Judicial, 4.20 Head Space, 4.55 Indian Affair, 5.25 RUTHERFORD (NAP), 5.55 Hochfeld

Today’s Lucky 15 Selections: Rutherford (Wolverhampton 5.25), Hitherjaques Lady (Lingfield Park 3.25), Thyne For Gold (Carlisle 3.35), Lac Sacre (Lingfield Park 2.20)

NAP and Next Best won on Friday.

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Exclusive: ‘Bolster’ was a superstar, insists Scudamore

By Simon Milham

It is in their DNA. They know a good one when they sit on one. It never leaves you. And David Bridgwater knew.

From the minute he arrived as an unraced and unfurnished three-year-old, having been purchased from German stud Gestut Fahrhof in 2008, ‘Bridgie’ was adamant: “He feels like a real good one”.

The Giant Bolster was never going to cut it on the level, despite his pedigree. Early on, the son of Black Sam Bellamy was too backward. Visually, he wasn’t picture-book, either.

Punters were nonplussed when he did finally make the track as an unfurnished four-year-old in a Stratford bumper in March 2009, sending him off at 66/1. His run was promising enough. Fifth of 14.


Beaten half a length in a bumper on his second start, he was still unfancied for his first start over hurdles the following November, yet he belied his 28/1 odds.

Indeed, The Giant Bolster, who was retired today at the age of 11, was a market leader just twice in a 40-race career, of which all but 14 were in Graded races.

Unconsidered. Unfancied. Unheralded. It was a theme throughout much of his career.

Never judge a book… He could always mix it with the best.

The Giant Bolster went on to run at seven consecutive Cheltenham Festivals, was a 50/1 runner-up to Synchronised in the 2012 Gold Cup and was beaten three-quarters of a length when third to Lord Windermere two years later at odds of 14/1. In between, he finished fourth to Bobs Worth in a decent renewal of chasing’s Blue Riband.

Tom Scudamore, his regular jockey, felt he was always underestimated. He was The Little Engine That Could. Well, almost.

“He gave me some of the best days. He was three lengths away from winning two Gold Cups. Crikey, that takes some doing!” exclaimed Scudamore.

“It takes a hell of an effort to be that close three Gold Cups on the bounce. He was a wonderful horse and was a stone better around Cheltenham than he was anywhere else. People underestimated him. I always felt he never quite got the credit he deserved.

“The day he was fourth behind Bobs Worth and was upsides at the second last with him, Sir Des Champs and Long Run, he was mixing it with the best.

“He was a really special horse and one that gave me some really good days, including winning on him a couple of times around Cheltenham.

“It was always a pleasure to be involved with him. He was one of my favourites. From a jockey’s point of view, you shouldn’t get sentimental about horses, but it is very hard, as he was always one I looked forward to riding.

The Giant Bolster IMG_1202.jpg

“Getting him to the Festival seven times was a real achievement by ‘Bridgie’, and ‘The Bolster’ was very straightforward to ride.

“But the thing that probably cost him from winning Gold Cups was that he wasn’t scopey enough.

“He could not really go and stand off his fences the way others could. He put down on me at the second last in the Gold Cup two years running.

“When you really needed him, he’d give everything for you, but just wouldn’t have the scope of the other horses around him. That was the difference.

“Where Synchronised, Lord Windermere and On His Own, the ones that finished in front of him, could jump the fences as if they were on springs, ‘The Bolster’ couldn’t.

“In the Gold Cup, you would literally hang on in there, and when you jumped the water for the last time, he would start to travel and get back at it, and you would hope you were just close enough to be involved.

“He was always an absolute pleasure to ride. He really was just a superstar. He will have a lovey time now in retirement and he deserves it. I could not speak highly enough of him.”

The horse won just five times (he was placed on another nine occasions) and was invariably underrated by the nay-sayers, but his owners still collected a few bob shy of £373,000 in prize money.

Yet he not only became a local hero, trained as he was just a few miles from Jump racing’s HQ, he was a “people’s champion”, according to owner Simon Hunt.

Despite the disappointment of going so close, Hunt says he would not swap the big days for any amount of cash.

“The Giant Bolster has taken us to the pinnacle of National Hunt racing and realised big days we could only dream about,” said Hunt.

“Running in seven consecutive Cheltenham Festivals has been amazing. For a trainer and his team to present a horse in top condition to compete in four consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups is an incredible achievement. I cannot thank David Bridgwater and the team enough – that lad has turned himself inside out for our horse.

“The Gold Cups were amazing, the goose-bumps never go away. I well-up when I talk about and watch them – they were an unbelievable experience. You can’t buy the feeling.”

Horse Racing - Festival Trials Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

Hunt and schoolboy pal Gary Lambton had been going racing together since they were 14.

Lambton was about to turn 50 and Hunt wanted to do something special for his mate. He didn’t know just how special his present would be.

As the two pals sat there in the George Hotel in Cheltenham on the evening of January 24, 2014, the reaction was mixture of sheer joy and open-mouthed disbelief when Hunt told Lambton that he was giving him a share in The Giant Bolster, who was running in the Argento Chase the following day.

Name in the racecard as co-owner and proud as punch, The Giant Bolster put the cherry on the cake by landing the Grade 2, beating favourite Rocky Creek by seven lengths.

“Gary couldn’t believe it. He led him in and the reception the horse got that day was phenomenal. The Cheltenham crowd are always very knowledgeable and he was a people’s champion.”

The Argento was to be his final victory and Hunt now says it is time for The Giant Bolster to enjoy life with a new beginning.

“Having bought him as a youngster and knowing him and his quirks so well, he would always tell us when his racing days were over, and while he is fit and well, he can now go on and comfortably do another job and have some more fun,” said Hunt.

“We would like to get him in the Retraining of Racehorses programme, to take him showing. He is such an easy-going horse, you could put him in your living room and you wouldn’t know he was there. He is not a horse who would be happy out in some field all the time.

“He deserves a happy retirement. The Giant Bolster brought a racing dream to life and he is one in a million. He may have not set the Gold standard, but he gave us some golden memories.”


Exclusive – ‘Nearly’ horse The Giant Bolster is retired

By Simon Milham

The Giant Bolster, placed in the 2012 and 2014 runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been retired.

David Bridgwater’s stable star always saved his best for Cheltenham, winning three times at Jump racing’s headquarters, including when taking the Grade 2 Argento Chase in January 2014.

The Giant Bolster IMG_0832.jpg

That was to be his last success and the 11-year-old bows out having won just under £373,000 in prize money in a 40-race career.

The Giant Bolster, who ran at seven consecutive Cheltenham Festivals, was a 50/1 runner-up to Synchronised in the 2012 Gold Cup and was beaten three-quarters of a length when third to Lord Windermere two years later. He also finished fourth to Bobs Worth in the 2013 renewal of chasing’s Blue Riband.

According to Bridgwater, the decision made by co-owners Simon Hunt and Gary Lambton to retire the popular gelding was agonising.

“He was probably a ‘nearly’ horse to everyone else, but to us he wasn’t,” said Bridgwater. “With luck in running, he could have won two Gold Cups.

“Had he done that, I suppose he would have been considered as one of the greats, but there is no question he has been our flagship horse for many years.

“He’s given us some unbelievable days. It is like anything else, you will miss it when it isn’t there.

“There is a big void now. That is why it has been so hard for Simon to make the decision to retire him. It’s like having a wife for 30 years and then she runs off with someone else. It is a huge hole to fill.


“But I know it is the right thing to do. For the last 18 months the writing has been on the wall. He has been harder to get fit and any horse has got to want to do it. I’m not one of these people who will flog them regardless, and neither is Simon.

“Over that time, ‘The Bolster’ has been looking after himself and I’ve been very much looking after him. I’ve like to think we’ve done each other proud.”

The son of Black Sam Bellamy was a standing dish at Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day each January. Bridgwater added: “It was a wonderful meeting for him. He won there all three times he went to that meeting.

“Everybody tries to get a horse like him and we have been exceptionally lucky to have had him.

“When you look back, you think ‘ah, we nearly won the Gold Cup twice’ and we’ve had a wonderful time for seven years going to the Festival with him.

“But would it have made much difference to my training career had he won the Gold Cup? Probably not. I wasn’t, all of a sudden, about to get sent 100 horses, was I?

“But we were very lucky to have had him, and we want another one like him, please! He has been a wonderful servant.”


Emma Lavelle: Cue Card is one in a million

Top trainer Emma Lavelle is Jumps Racing Ambassador for Bet4Causes and columnist for the Racing Plus newspaper. In her brand new column, she takes a look at the final day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival – and will likely provide even more winners!

Cue Card
Going for the million: Cue Card

LIKE most trainers, it is never nice to hear a race described as ‘sub-standard’, or an ‘average renewal’.

Often it is a matter of opinion. Whether the handicapper values the opinion is what matters.

In general, most people in the game have a fair idea if a race isn’t all it is cracked up to be.

For instance, Shergar was a great horse, but he won a terrible Derby. We remember him because he won by a street.

Wednesday’s Champion Chase was not a strong one. It contained a young pretender and three former champions either past their prime or out of form.

Yet it will always be remembered because Nicky Henderson and his Seven Barrows team overcame all the odds to get Sprinter Sacre over a heart problem, back on track, and then overcome the odds to win a pulsating renewal, three years after his first Queen Mother triumph. What a story! What a horse! I will always be proud to say ‘I was there’.

Today’s Cheltenham Gold Cup looks a strong one, perhaps the strongest in years.

It looks a great race, even though we don’t have Coneygree in the line-up. It was also the sensible decision to re-route Vautor to the Ryanair Chase, whatever the cry from punters. It perhaps looks a year too soon for him.

Irish raiders Djakadam and the two Dons look formidable. Don Poli and Don Cossack have had a mafia-like grip on the major Grade 1 chases this season.

Smad Place and Road To Riches have both won decent races, too.

But then there is dear old Cue Card (3.30). He has won the Charlie Hall, the Lancashire Chase and the King George this season. Does he have another big race left in him? Could he land that million pound bonus, which has brought an added and most welcome narrative to the season?

He has fantastic Festival form and I think he should see out the extra two furlongs well, especially on this better ground. He’s the one sentimentalists like me want to see win.

It hasn’t been a bad week on the tipping front, so fingers crossed.

I have been very impressed by Sceau Royal (1.30) so far this season, he has form around Cheltenham and he has the master juvenile trainer Alan King in charge of him.

Shantou Village (2.50) looks a smart horse for the Albert Bartlett. He is a good traveller and I think will have no problem with the trip.

Having had the privilege of seeing Bright New Dawn (5.30) picking grass at Cheltenham on Wednesday, I thought he looked magnificent and he would be my pick for the lucky last.

Darryll Holland
Back with a bang : Darryll Holland

Dazzling start

THE Cheltenham Festival means many things to many people.

To some, it means the Flat season proper is almost upon us. Almost time for ‘Brocklesby’ Bill Turner to make his annual splash.

It arrives without much fanfare, which is a pity. The Flat turf programme seems to creep back on stage virtually unnoticed, plays out the summer with a few early Classic rifts and a pulsating Royal Ascot chorus, then breaks for cover before anyone notices.

Darryll Holland is a bit like that. Unassuming. Low-key. A poster-boy for geniality. But also a brilliant jockey, who makes the ordinary races interesting.

Like the Flat season, Darryll has slipped back into the spotlight almost unnoticed.

Now 43, he has spent the last two years riding in Dubai and Mauritius, and last rode regularly on the British circuit in 2012. But he returned, largely unannounced, over Christmas.

He is now first jockey to Charlie Hills, son of the legendary trainer Barry Hills, who gave Darryl his first job as a jockey at the age of 15.

Hills has some 180 horses at Lambourn and Holland, who is based in Newmarket, will travel two or three times a week “or whenever he needs me” to ride out.

“It’s great to be back,” said Holland. “Charlie called me before Christmas out of the blue. It is a dream job, really. He’s got some very nice horses.”

Holland has wasted little time in making is mark. He rode his fifth winner at Kempton on Wednesday evening from just 14 rides. That’s a 36% strike-rate to swoon over.

One thing’s certain: however brief, the rhythm of the Flat will have a gorgeously stylish backbeat if Darryl and Charlie are in tune.

We don’t help ourselves

THE BHA are to investigate after runners in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle had to dodge a watering spigot that had been left in the ground after the second-last flight of hurdles.

Frankly, that is astonishing. If amateur Sunday-morning soccer referees are instructed to strictly inspect park pitches and remove any potentially dangerous hazards, how come we don’t inspect Grade 1 tracks before the biggest of race meetings?

I know it was an innocent mistake, but they were very lucky that it did not have some fairly-far reaching consequences.

Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

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