Derby Blues


Tony Stafford's Sunday Supplement

Sunday supplement

By Tony Stafford

For two men in latish middle age, the last 220 yards of the Investec Derby at Epsom will have offered vastly differing emotions. Their respective horses, carrying jockeys sporting very similar blue colours, entered the contest with expectations of polar opposites. As the pair neared the finish, for one there was a shattering anti-climax; for the other, the sporting Scotsman Bill McCluskey, justification for laying out the funds necessary to have a runner in the contest Flat-race owners regard as the greatest in the Calendar.

Sheikh Mohammed’s 2013 has been brutally disfigured by the raft of positive anabolic steroid tests in the Mahmoud Al Zarooni division of his sprawling Newmarket operation. Many might consider the fact that those tested clean in that frantic recent period might be lucky to be cleared to race from now on under the banner of Saeed bin Suroor, whose own portion of the operation showed no sign of transgression of the rules of racing.

Saeed has been getting on with things and winning races with his original 200-strong squad, (now doubled in size) but it took a Jim Bolger acquisition, Dawn Approach, son of Derby winner New Approach, to get the Sheikh back in the Classic fold via the 2,000 Guineas. New Approach carried the colours of Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikh Mohammed’s wife, after his purchase from the Bolgers, so until now neither the sheikh’s original maroon, nor Godolphin blue has adorned any Derby winner.

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Hopes, indeed expectation in many areas of the sport, that the 2,000 Guineas success would extend to a dominating victory in the Derby were dashed within a furlong of the start of Saturday’s race. Horses have to stay if they want to win the Derby; more importantly they have to stay sensible. He didn’t, so he didn’t.

So as Ruler of the World struck on to mock the Ruler of Dubai, and Libertarian came from out of the clouds to be almost a St Leger guarantee in second, Dawn Approach was left to battle with Ocean Applause. Well behind for the length of the straight, Ocean Applause plugged on under Darragh O’Donoghue, once a regular in Godolphin blue, and passed the spent Dawn Approach in the final stride.

I know Bill McCluskley enjoys a bet, and it would be interesting to know if in these days of multiple opportunity, he ever thought to seek out match odds for his horse to beat Dawn Approach. They were respectively 11-8 and 200-1 SP, but evens and 750-1 were the respective prices earlier in the day. He paid his seven grand and his horse, who didn’t beat another rival in his two previous starts, gave him the thrill of a lifetime.

The day was pretty thrilling for plenty of people, not least the Coolmore partners. Derrick Smith came on the scene in time to win the last three Derbys with Pour Moi, Camelot and Ruler of the World but John Magnier and Michael Tabor made it five together. A sequence started with Galileo in 2001 and immediately added to the following year by Hurricane Run, means that Coolmore have five wins in this fledgling century.

Galileo, of course, has been the key to their dominance, carrying on the great Sadler’s Wells tradition, and for the time being New Approach is going to be the one element of Galileo’s extending influence from which they are excluded. How costly has been the Sheikh’s refusal to buy into the Galileo phenomenon except via the Bolger home-bred route? It has made the gifted Irishman a wealthy man and he has no such restrictions on his breeding policy, indeed he was the first outside the Coolmore umbrella fully to appreciate – or lucky enough to identify – Galileo’s potential as a stallion.

Now New Approach is showing similar potential, Dawn Approach a brilliant champion two-year-old from the first crop, going on to Classic success, an achievement matched on Friday in the Oaks success of Talent, heroine of a one-two for Ralph Beckett. Then there’s Libertarian, a fair bet for a third individual first-crop English Classic winner for their sire in a year when only Sky Lantern (Red Clubs) in the 1,000 Guineas escapes the Galileo influence.

After a quiet week, the Raymond Tooth team will be back on track on Monday with a Ralph Beckett three-year-old filly. Motion Lass, a daughter of Derby winner Motivator, will try to break her maiden when she runs in a 0-65 handicap. Hope she wins, Ralph needs some good news after just a 1-2 in the Oaks. Sadly another more pressing engagement means I’ll be missing but hope to see her on At the Races.

Last Monday’s Windsor dead-heater Freeport has an engagement later in the week at Newmarket. It was a great training feat by Brian Meehan to have him ready just nine weeks after a gelding operation and some inspired treatment to combat a new-found tendency for rearing up unexpectedly, to his seasonal debut. A battling share of the spoils under Jimmy Fortune and top weight were a nice surprise for his owner at Windsor. Freeport could be a nice prospect for some better handicaps, and the maiden Great Hall also has a few options this week.

I’m looking forward to it all. After all, it’s June 2; four of the Classics are behind us; the weather’s getting better and Royal Ascot’s on the horizon.

As I said, it’s still only June 2, and for some horses, the Derby came all too late and Telescope with his Sir Alex Ferguson involvement has been principal among them. But the one we’ve all forgotten in the tumult of trying to find the winner, is Ruler of the World’s stable-companion Kingsbarns, so impressive in the Racing Port Trophy last autumn, but held up by injury. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have been good enough had the timing been right.

Nine years ago, Ballydoyle had a similar misfortune. Yeats, yet another son of the great Sadler’s Wells went through the trials with great authority but missed Epsom. He did get there for the only time the following June, winning the Coronation Cup, a distinction won for the past three years by fellow former stable-mate St Nicholas Abbey, another to be denied a run in the Derby in his year.

Yeats, however was destined to become even better known in a different discipline, winning all four Gold Cups at Ascot from 2006-9, as a five- to eight-year-old. One might have thought it would be hard to expect an instant success story when he finally took to the breeding shed at the age of nine, but a short time before St Nicholas Abbey strutted his stuff yet again on Saturday, news came through that Yeats had sired his first two-year-old winner in Italy. Great genes; great ability; brilliant breeding: class will out.

Guineas Weekend Preview

2000 Guineas preview: Toronado goes for glory

Not that sort of Toronado...!

It's Guineas weekend at Newmarket, dear reader, and that means top quality three-year-old could-be-anythings taking each other on for fat juicy prize money. More importantly for their owners, there's the prospect of a tilt at the Derby to follow and perhaps a lucrative breeding campaign subsequently.

But that's all in the future. First things first...

Saturday sees the chaps go to war, and it looks something of a two horse race. In the blue corner, we have the unbeaten-in-six, Dawn Approach. Formerly owned as well as trained by Jim Bolger - a man who is no stranger to Guineas glory - he is now only trained by the wily Irishman, with ownership passing to Godolphin.

That in itself marks what could be argued is a superb piece of timing on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed, as this 'guest trainer' is untarnished by the shadow of suspicion and throng of whispers associated with Momo's salaried trainers just now.

In the red (ish epaulets) corner is Toronado, unbeaten in four himself, and perhaps less well known to punters and public. Richard Hannon's High Chapparal colt is bred for a Derby, but has the speed for a July Cup. He promises to be some horse but, to date, he's never tested himself in Group 1 company.

Because Toronado has led in three of his four runs, there is a suspicion that he needs to lead. This is not true, according to his helmsman, Richard Hughes, who contends it is more the fact that nothing in his races was capable of leading him previously. Indeed, Hughes would prefer a tow into the race, and might just get that from Dawn Approach's team mate, Leitir Mor.

Let's look more closely at the form of the two obvious contenders...

Dawn Approach is bred for this job. A son of Guineas second (beaten a nose), New Approach, out of a mare whose optimum trip was just shy of a mile, he's progressed from winning a five furlong sprint on his juvenile debut, up through Listed company; then winning a big field Coventry Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot; and claiming two Group 1's when moving up to seven-eighths of a mile, first in the National Stakes at the Curragh, and finally in the Dewhurst Stakes on Newmarket's roll-y Rowley Mile.

Much has been made of the Rowley Mile in recent times, with the 'dip' - a micro-valley just under two furlongs from home, purported to unbalance many a horse - being the primary focus. But Hughes contends that it is not so much the dip as the incessant ridging on the Rowley piste which is causing problems for the runners. This, he asserts, is as a consequence of excessive watering, and he went as far as to say that Newmarket's early and late season course was akin to Yarmouth, which is famously blighted with ridges and undulations.

If he's right about that, then will we see notable absentees from late season juvenile Group races? Probably not, as the money/kudos of an ante-post Guineas favourite is too great, but it's an interesting observation.

In any case, both Toronado and Dawn Approach have spun over the course, and both have won with daylight in hand. Some commentators have questioned the length of time it took Dawn Approach to overcome Leitir Mor in the Dewhurst, citing the fact that he got unbalanced. He won by more than two lengths despite that, testament to how good he is.

The third from that race, George Vancouver, went on to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, an altogether different test, but a Grade 1 test just the same. That at least adds some ballast to the merit of the form, form which is unlikely to be franked by a couple of the other yokes in behind that day.

Again, Dawn Approach looks sure to be suited by the extra furlong, and it's impossible not to love his winning temperament. He looked beaten at Royal Ascot after veering under pressure, but battled on tenaciously to see off Toronado's under-study, Olympic Glory. He - briefly - looked in trouble in the Dewhurst, but picked up and went away.

Given the likelihood of his appreciating the extra furlong, he seems sure to run his race, with Jim Bolger's nags hitting the turf running this season, as they do pretty much every season.

Toronado on the other hand is harder to assess. He's more about potential than proven tip top form. His potential was shrieked across Newmarket Heath a fortnight or so ago, when he walloped Havana Gold by four lengths in the Craven Stakes. That it was a four runner race was hardly his fault: indeed, it may be a feather in his cap that he was so easily able to fend off very decent stayers (of the mile trip, at least) with such devastating aplomb, despite having to make it.

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Hughes reported that James Doyle, aboard third-placed Dundonnell in the Craven, alleged he simply couldn't get near the winner from half way. Hughes further reports that Toronado has improved enormously in the last six weeks, from being "no Canford Cliffs" to "an aeroplane" just before the Craven.

Granted at least a bit more to come since then, and he must be in the shake up. The Craven is run over a mile, as is the Guineas of course, so there's no stamina reservation. Far from it, with the Derby looking like the next target for both he and Dawn Approach, irrespective of the result here.

Given that BetVictor are offering to double your winnings - up to a stake of £200 - if your pick wins both the Guineas and Derby, that's well worth considering. All the more so, given that Camelot achieved that feat last year; Sea The Stars did it in 2009; and Dawn Approach's daddy, New Approach, was just a neck away from doing it in 2008!

Here's the link to BetVictor's site, if that's of interest to you.

Back to Toronado. He's done all he's been asked on the track, and he's been backed as though he cannot lose this last week. I had a little bit on when Hughes was so adamant on Tuesday evening, and I'd rarely be one for following a jockey's tip.

But the thing is that the Guineas is a race where we have to listen, because so much is about potential and the 'now' horse. Form in the book can often be caught and passed with a winter's growth on those respective backs. And some horses are the finished article at two. Toronado is clearly improving. Which is not to say that Dawn Approach hasn't also improved, nor that some other hitherto unconsidered beast has the measure of the pair of them.

Let's - at least, cursorily - consider the chances of the hitherto unconsidered beasts. A pair of O'Brien hosses, and a northern raider, make up the next trio in the wagering. The O'Brien pair are Cristoforo Colombo (CC hereafter), and Mars (Mars hereafter). The former has more in the book: he was third in Dawn Approach's Coventry, and went on to fail to score on three further starts.

It's interesting that he comes here to race over a mile, having previously not been seen in public over further than six furlongs. It is even more interesting that Joseph O'Brien chooses CC over Mars. What planet is he on?! It feels to me like something of an academic selection, with CC having at least some form of merit at top class.

Mars, for his part, could do no more than win a Dundalk maiden by almost five lengths from a horse called The Ferryman. That one was beaten almost ten lengths by Dawn Approach and, while such strict interpretations are always dangerous, especially with a surface shift and a class chasm between the two contests, it's the only substance we have in relation to the merit of Mars.

He was a big talking horse prior to his win that day, and presumably they feel he's very good - after all, he's running in the 2000 Guineas! - but he's not for me, though he's another which might be of interest to those considering a tilt at the BetVictor bonus cash for a Guineas/Derby double. After all, he's a son of Galileo out of a middle distance mare. And, perhaps more pertinently, he's already joint favourite for the Derby..!

So, if you reckon he has a chance in the Guineas, you could have up to £200 on at 11/1 with Victor, and return as much as £4,400 in real and bonus cash. Obviously, you could just have a fiver, or two quid even, or swerve him altogether. But he's probably the one with the most obvious Derby chance.

Garswood won't win a Derby. And I doubt very much he'll win a Guineas, despite reportedly being the best Richard Fahey's trained (and he's trained a lot. Heck, even this season, he's trained a lot!). No, I'd see this fellow ending up contesting Group 1 sprints, and probably winning at least one this term. Step back in trip, not up.

George Vancouver won't win a Derby either. But he might win a Guineas. He was impressive at Santa Anita and, while he was beaten fair and square by Dawn Approach here last term, the verdict was only three and a half lengths. Those lengths have been converted into an odds disparity of almost fifteen points, with Dawn Approach around the 6/4 mark and Georgie boy at 16/1. That's surely too big, despite Ballydoyle jockey bookings implying he's third choice.

After all, GV has done more than either CC or Mars on the track to date. If there is any value against the front two, and I'm not certain there is, then it's probably him.

One at any price you like is the aforementioned Leitir Mor. He's not going to win - not unless something apocalyptic happens - but he'll probably stay, and he's got Group 1 silver on this very strip. The race could be run to suit, with him getting an easy-ish lead and, with the non-stayers wilting, it might be a question of how many proper milers go by him. Some will, but I'd not be sure that plenty will. 66/1 is worth a shekel each way.

Most likely winner: Toronado
Obvious Danger: Dawn Approach
Best each way: George Vancouver
Huge priced bomb with a place squeak: Leitir Mor


I previewed the 1000 Guineas back on 17th April, and very little has happened since to make me change my tune.

What A Name is the one for me, and I think there might be a chance of Sky Lantern reversing form with Hot Snap, given the latter was clearly straighter on the day of their Nell Gwyn trial.

Magical Dream is a big priced outsider worth considering if she takes her chance.

My full preview is here.


Now then, how about a tipping competition? Two days, fourteen races, winner takes all. 'All' being a signed copy of Richard Hughes' biography, A Weight Off My Mind.

To enter, just click here and leave a comment with your name and your selections for each day. Simple as that. 🙂

Good luck!


And finally, did you notice something different on the blog today? Yes? Well done! No? Look harder!! Yes, there's a small but quite fun change to the banner at the very top, with a currently unnamed horse and rider combo adorning the strip. We'll maybe run another competition soon to name the jock!

For now though, who do you think will win this weekend? Leave a comment and let us know who - and, of course, why!

And tell me if you like the little jockey/horses dude. 🙂


Monday Mish Mash: Weekend Racing Review

Regal Encore my horse to follow from the weekend

Regal Encore before doing battle

It started with frustration, then became frustrating in the middle, and ended with further frustration. That was my weekend's punting. And in today's post, I'll share some of the lows and lows of the last few days, as well as a few horses which I think are worth keeping on side, some of them very much so.

Cast your mind back to last Friday, and York's typically trappy card. (Trappy, not crappy!) The ground was heavy, and idiot boy here decided to go public with his placepot effort. Of course, the purpose of the piece was to highlight the approach I take and the tools I use, rather than to guide you through the winners and placers to the crock of gold at the end of the six leg placepot rainbow. At least, that's my excuse...

It was one of the mentioned potential 'placepot makers' which bit my financial fundament. I had scribbled,

We can also see that there will be the following number of places to play for in each respective race: 3,2,3,3,4,3

But… the ground is heavy and there could be more non-runners. So I especially note races where there are five or eight runners, as a single withdrawal would move these from two and three places to win only and two places respectively.

That makes the second, fourth and last legs potentially trappy/lucrative.

And so it proved, with the five runner race becoming four - and therefore win only -  and both eight runner maidens becoming seven runner affairs, and therefore two places.

The non-participant of the quintet in leg two was known sufficiently early to be accommodated, and I sailed through with the winner, as was necessary. The last race was my place lay saver race, should it be required. But the fourth race was a mess.

I'd sided with #10, Rangooned, and the unnamed favourite, a real rarity for me. As it transpired, ten minutes before the first race, and five minutes after I'd struck my bet, Rangooned was withdrawn. I therefore had two (i.e. both) lines running onto the unnamed favourite, with just two places to play for. I was marooned without Rangooned, if you will.

Having bet 3/1 each of three all morning, the market eventually settled on Bluegrass Blues as the starting price jolly, and my 'all in' hope. He, of course finished third. No good. Considerable insult was added to my public injury by the other two morning line market leaders running 1-2.

I should have drawn stumps on the weekend then and there. But, alas, I did not.

Saturday was exemplified by Countrywide Flame, a decent each way wager for me, who beat all bar the returning hero - and 66/1 rag - Aaim To Prosper, which succeeded with relish in his aaim to prosper.

I'd also decided that an each way treble might be the way to go this day, and Countrywide Flame was the first leg of that gallant/foolish wager. So far so reasonably good.

Next up was Victors Serenade, one of the three horses I'd nominated to follow from my Anthony Honeyball stable tour earlier in the year. Victors travelled well in the race - very well in fact - and, with market leaders Rangitoto and Golden Chieftain looking beaten, I was already projecting forward to leg three and landing the place part of my tickle.

And then came the fourth last. Victors decided to take the direct route through it, as though he had some sort of spectral quality allowing him to pass through objects rather than around them. It must have come as almost as much of a shock to him as it did to me when he utterly bungled the obstacle and, though Aidan Coleman scored highly in the rodeo stakes by staying on top, he did the sensible thing and pulled his steed up.

Victors Serenade would probably have won. He would almost certainly have been in the frame. He will almost certainly win a very nice race this season, but will need to jump better (quod erat demonstrandum).

Leg three, for academic purposes only, was Kay Gee Bee in the York handicap (3rd, 13/2). Dear old Victors.

And that was as close to a score as I managed all weekend, with Mr Cracker (fancied, fell away very tamely) and Missunited (ran a great race to be second, no good for my win only wager) illustrating the nature of Sunday's limp attempts at nicking a couple of quid.

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Enough of the folly of my punting, and onto more heart warming matters. Specifically, I'd like to share a few horses I feel will be worth following, many of them paid up members of the 'glaringly obvious club', but no less meritorious for that.

Let's begin with Saturday, and Newmarket's exceptional flat card.

The brightest of the bright lights was Jim Bolger's and Godolphin's Dawn Approach. Now unbeaten in six after bagging the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, this son of the trainer's ex-Derby winner, New Approach, is a serious hoss. He looked like he might not win here, as stablemate Leitir Mor set strong enough fractions out in front.

When George Vancouver came barreling down the outside, it seemed likely that Dawn would be second or perhaps only third. But he hadn't created a five run win streak by being lily-livered, and under strong encouragement from jockey Kevin Manning, he was ultimately able to boast a near three length winning margin over his pace-making stable buddy.

Dawn Approach is a 5/1 shot for next season's 2000 Guineas, and he will be hard to beat on juvenile form. Of course, he'll need to be hard to beat on three year old form to win that race, and I'm not in the business of backing shorties to make the bridge from two to three and Classic success.

Saying that, I'd not want to bet against him either, and the likes of Cristoforo Colombo, Mars and Mohaajim are short enough on what they've achieved to date. As for Reckless Abandon, well...

The apple of Clive Cox's eye (a curious adage, whose etymology traces to numerous biblical passages) took his own win streak to five when battling on gamely to hold Mohaajim et al in the six furlong Middle Park Stakes.

This was a really good effort and can be marked up in my opinion, as he had to overcome both a wide draw and an early challenge for the lead before getting his own way against the rail.

Reckless Abandon rallied when Mohaajim came to him and might have had a touch more in the locker if required. I really like this colt, and I think he'll take high rank amongst next season's sprinters at both five and six furlongs. But a miler he will not be. No. Not ever. At least, not in my view. So 20/1 (14's with those generous Boylesports chaps) is a shocking bet to my eye, apples or no apples.

Of those in behind, Gale Force Ten is the one which hasn't been mentioned much. He had more tactical speed than Cristoforo Colombo and more left at the finish than Mohaajim, and yet his Guineas price is unquoted. His form at six furlongs is pretty reasonable, and he runs on like he needs further. The ground at Newmarket was a bog, despite officially being soft, when he was beaten there on a previous attempt; and he sunk over five in a heavy ground Listed contest.

On a soundish surface, I'd be interested in Gale Force Ten at a price, though he might not quite stay the full mile. Even if he didn't, I could see him winning a good seven furlong contest such as the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. Time will tell. It generally does.

So that's Reckless Abandon in sprints, and Gale Force Ten at seven furlongs and possibly a mile.

Aaim To Prosper has been rightly heralded elsewhere on this site, and I'll not add anything further to my previous comments of great training effort, and brilliant ride. Oh, and did I mention I backed the second?!

Over at Chepstow, the National Hunt season was being ushered in with some beasts of great promise shaking off their summer slumbers. Far West looked like a sighter from Paul Nicholls in the opening juvenile novices hurdle. He saw off the better fancied Alan King-trained, Handazan, comfortably. Both are obviously well liked by connections, but it would be a surprise if either King or Nicholls didn't have a better juvie hurdler than they saddled on Saturday.

The novice chase looked to be a match between the exciting Poungach and the very exciting Fingal Bay. Poungach slithered, stumbled and tumbled at the very first fence, leaving Fingal Bay with seemingly a penalty kick. In the end though, he was made to battle by a fitter and under-rated Tiger O'Toole, who eventually yielded by a length and a half.

In fairness to Poungach, he jumped the first big and bold, and just had a problem getting the undercarriage out after the fence. He shouldn't be marked down for this. Fingal Bay will presumably strip fitter after this seasonal debut, but it was a laboured display, and I'd not be piling in at short odds if he faces a smart one next time. He did jump very well though.

Tiger O'Toole was spotting the winner eight pounds and got pretty close at the finish. There couldn't be any fluke about it, despite the Racing Post writer's comments that the winner was idling. I'm not sure I believe that, and I think Tiger might be one to keep onside, perhaps for a decent handicap as the season progresses. He does seem better in smaller fields, and will probably be kept to two to two and a half miles for now.

Hinterland lagged up in the limited handicap hurdle and his hurdling options are surely as limited as this handicap, given that he's not good enough to be a Champion contender, and is perhaps too highly weighted to win handicaps, though a race like the Greatwood might be a possibility. Chasing is more likely for him.

But the two horses I was most looking forward to were still to come on the Chepstow card. Both were from the Honeyball stable down in Dorset, and the first was the aforementioned Victors Serenade. Although he eventually bungled one sufficiently to be pulled up, he'd had a few faulty fumbles at the fences already, and will need some time back in the schooling shed if he's to take in his seasonal target, the Welsh National at the same track.

One thing is for sure: he's got the engine and the heart for the job. If he can sort his fencing, he'll be one to reckon with. Talking of the Welsh National, last year's winner Le Beau Bai was given a lovely schooling ride round here, over a trip far shy of his optimum and will presumably drop a few pounds as a consequence. There's little doubt he'll not be ready to win until some time very close to his late December repeater bid.

If Victors was promising but ultimately disappointing, then Regal Encore over-performed against the promise he'd implied from his sole career start last season, an enormously facile win in a 'jumpers bumper' on the Southwell all weather.

Here, up against expensive and unexposed beasties from the Nicholls, Vaughan and Curtis yards, he was held up in rear by AP McCoy, before gambolling clear as though he was passing extremely moderate animals.

The problem at this stage is that we don't know whether he was passing extremely moderate animals, as most of the fancied horses were unexposed (second, third and fourth, and sixth, all having their first runs under rules; fifth a winner on his only previous start; seventh second on only previous start).

It could be a very nice race to follow, and the winner looks a horse of huge promise. One thing to note is that he does show plenty of knee action, suggesting that he might be best on soft ground. If you're looking for a Cheltenham ante post punt, I'd suggest being wary of that as it may be too quick for him there.

In any case, that was the highlight of the weekend for me: Regal Encore.

Sunday had just the one horse to note, and that was the one which laughed at Missunited and the rest in the Irish Cesarewitch. Voleuse de Coeurs (literally, Thief of Hearts) smashed them right up, winning as she did by ten lengths(!). She'd won her previous start, a competitive Galway hurdle, by eight lengths and this was preposterously facile.

As a three year old, she might be pointed at a hurdle or two now, in which case she'd be seriously exciting. Again with the Triumph Hurdle and the Festival in mind, though, consider these two pointers: 1. She might need it soft, and 2. Minsk won this almost as easily last year, was heavily touted for a hurdling campaign and never won a race over obstacles. Wait til you see her jump and back her at a shorter price after, because there is also a possibility that she won't go hurdling at all!

And those were my weekend highlights and lowlights, dear reader. What about you? I hope you had better luck than me!


Finally, as we start to stride into the National Hunt season proper, one manual I always keep onside is TrainerTrackStats. It's unquestionably the best guide of its kind and, where many of the name manuals (Timeform, Jumping Prospects, Racing Post fifty to follow) trumpet winners but don't tell you the bottom line, I can personally vouch for the fact that TrainerTrackStats has made excellent profits in every season it's been published.

You can get your copy here.