14:50 Southwell 

We start our day’s previews with the punatilmate race from Southwell a twenty furlong handicap hurdle.

Only a couple here have some form to note in this handicap affair today with Riddlestown being the more noticeable of the lot; he is also the only course and distance winner in the field where he won from a five pound higher mark he’s also finished second a fortnight ago from a ten pound higher mark so off his current mark he should be hard to beat here today if continuing this progression.

Pennies And Pounds looks the obvious danger having won at Bangor back in April and even though he’s not gone of to reproduce since returning back to this trip should help and give him every opportunity to go close.

Coogan George has been competing in better company than this and may of needed the run last time out but he’s not really shown a great deal in novice company but may do better now handicapping.

Lined With Silver is another making his handicap debut but the grey looks harshly treated on his first outing so maybe one to keep an eye on if doing well here today.

Riddlestown (WIN)


15:10 Wolverhampton

We head to the all-weather for our second preview a thirteen furlong handicap.

The market suggests this is a two horse race between Cahill and El Campeon, they both won over course and distance on their latest outings with the former winning by nineteen lengths; he’s been raised twelve pounds for that victory but should be in the mix once again and may be worth sticking with. The latter may not of won by such a convincing mark but is still heavily penalised.

Grand Meister was just out paced here on his latest outing so the slight rise in trip should just be what he needs to get 8 new closer today but may find another too good.

Noguchi isn’t getting any younger but dismiss him at your peril when he runs on this surface; he’s still got an amazing turn of foot for his age and could be the value here and could go well over this distance once again.

Topaling completed a hat-trick over course and distance this time last year but is currentlyvs till looking a little to high in the weights but could also go close if producing his best.

Cahill (WIN)


17:40 Wolverhampton

We stay at Wolverhampton for our final preview a one mile handicap.

Cascadia was a beaten favourite last time out but seemed to weaken with three furlongs to go; he steps down to this distance for the first time since last year but he may need that to get back to winning ways.

Malik went close on the turf at Bath last time out and is two pounds lower than his last run here where he finished ten lengths behind the winner so may be one to oppose.

Andrew Balding’s yard has been running well around here this season so Berkshire Beautymay be one to note after a long lay off; she may not have a great form on paper but Andrew will have her ready for this and is another to consider.

Duke Of Dunton is still without a win from sixteen starts but he seems to save his best for here and went close from a pound lower mark back in October so could also be a player today.

Stanlow is upped eight pounds for his win at Chepstow back in August and this mark didn’t do him any favours last time out where he finished a long way back but he’s another who seems go save his best for here.

Stanlow (E/W if 9/2+)




14:50 Kempton

Sunbaked enjoyed a nice prep for this when she raced over the course and distance just twelve days ago. That came when wearing first time cheekpieces and it is of note that they are back on again this afternoon. Despite a slight rise in the ratings she should know a bit more this time around and she has to be of obvious interest in a race that may not take much winning.

Ten Rocks cost a whopping £125,000 at the sales and looks interesting on what is his handicap debut. He has a first time hood applied by trainer Brian Meehan and if improving for the addition of the headgear, he is likely to be seen to much better effect. Break Free has gone close in two of her most recent starts. The latest of those came when beaten a little over a length at Wolverhampton last time. David O’Meara usually places his runners well and it wouldn’t be the biggest of surprises to see this filly get involved.

Jamie Spencer is a notable jockey booking by Eve Johnston Houghton and she will be hoping that the former champion jockey can hold her filly together until as late as possible. Having been denied a clear run over the course and distance last time connections will be praying for a welcome change of luck and Sunbaked must enter calculations today.

Sunbaked (WIN)


15:50 Kempton

Peaceful Journey represents a yard that have an abundance of talent at this level and she would not need to be a stable star in order to make a winning debut for Godolphin. She is related to a number of winners on this surface and she is likely to go onto much better things in future.

Golden Stunner brings the best form to the table but she remains a maiden after three starts. She was upped to this one mile trip at Windsor last time and only just got collared in the closing stages by So Mi Dar. This is her first attempt on an artificial surface but if taking to it she looks the biggest threat to the selection. Hugo Palmer does ever so well with the fillies that he trains and despite not having seen the racecourse before Corked is also entitled to command plenty of respect.

Peaceful Journey represents Saeed Bin Suroor who has a near thirty one percent strike rate around here. James Doyle is set to partner this daughter of Exceed And Excel and he in turn has a near thirty percent strike rate when riding for the trainer. They look a formidable partnership and they can go close here.

Peaceful Journey (WIN)


16:50 Kempton

Breakheart returns to the track where he has enjoyed most of his success  in recent seasons. The three time course and distance winner has dropped back to his last winning mark and is now assisted by Oisin Murphy in the saddle for the very first time. He has made the frame in his last two visits to Kempton and he has to be high on any shortlist this afternoon.

Dukes Meadow is the least exposed runner in the lineup and having won in a higher grade at Chelmsford last time, he has to rate as the biggest danger here. A four pound rise in the ratings does not look unnecessarily harsh and he could easily just shrug most of these aside. Gay Kelleway rarely brings runners to the track these days unless they have a decent chance and today she relies on Captain Felix. This three year old takes a rise in grade having won at Lingfield earlier in the month and with a useful seven pound claimer on board, the combination are likely to be right in the mix.

Andrew Balding has trained seven winners on the all weather tracks inside the past month and Oisin Murphy has partnered six of them. Now that Breakheart returns to his beloved Kempton, the combination command the utmost respect and they have solid each way claims.

Breakheart (E/W if 9/2+)



13:10 Fairyhouse

A very good slate of races on both sides of the Irish sea with the main focus been at Fairyhouse on what is usually a very informative card. Leicester and Carlisle also host decent cards but I am going to stay at the Fairyhouse track.

We start with the grade one Royal Bond over two miles won by Nichols Canyon and Willie Mullins has another strong hand with Long Dog and Bachasson. A Henry De Bromhead horse Three Stars is the key horse in this race. Long Dog beat that horse  by ten lengths at Galway in July and has done nothing wrong and been consistent. He is very race fit and while a very short price is fairly unopposable based on that form. Bachasson only beat Three stars by three lengths while Archive was beaten last time comfortably. Long Dog is an exciting type. With the ground likely to be desperate today he will need to stay and the fact he has won over two and a half miles this season is a positive. I would imagine this is likely to be his main target and will be given a break prior to the spring festivals.

Archive to me is the main danger and looks overpriced but I couldn’t recommend a win only selection given only five runners here.

Long Dog (WIN)


13:40 Fairyhouse

Another grade one in the form of the Hatton Grace over two and a half miles. Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins again are mob handed with Champion Hurdle second Arctic Fire and the undefeated Clondaw Court. The latter is likely to be the odds on favourite but I reckon he is opposable here. He won a grade two at Navan last time just getting up to beat Monksland who needs further and Noel Meades improve for the run. I would mark that form down and I don’t think he wants this trip on this ground  given two of the runners really like to get on with things. Clondaw Court is still an unknown quantity. This will reveal more and given connections he is hard to punt with a short price on offer.

Alpha Des Obeaux is the selection and one look at is form is enough to convince me. Even his last two runs. Seven lengths to Nichols Canyon at Punchestown and fell when going just as well as Thistlecrack at Aintree. Both have since truely franked that form over the past couple of weeks. He has also placed behind Dovan and Black Hercules. He doesn’t lack pace and stays well and if Mouse Morris has him ready first time out. Another yard in good form is Alan Fleming. Gwencily Berbas won nicely last time out in a minor event. The owner and trainer have both been fairly honest that he will be a chaser and they won’t be given too hard a time but he is a nice type and worth his chance here.

Alpha Des Obeaux (WIN)


14:40 Fairyhouse 

The feature event the Drinmore Grade One Chase over two mile four.

No More Heroes is a horse I really like and he won very impressively last time out on chase début. What he beat is hard to know however he has to be respected. Last season he started out well but then fell apart later in the year. To me he has a bit to prove now and is opposable. The next three in the market, Free Expression, Monksland and Outlander are closely matched. Outlander beat Free Expression last time but my preference would be for Free Expression. He was hampered the whole way round by the loose horse and at a key time he didn’t have a clear run. While both will improve I think Free Expression has the more potential over fences and should reverse the form. He represents Barry Geraghty best chance on the day and from talking to Gordon Elliot staff he had schooled impeccably and they were really excited by him for the season.

Monksland won an above average beginners chase last time and while I’d be confident the other three are up to this level. Monksland needs to show me he can compete at Grade One level.

Shantou Flyer is also a big price for the each way players and has the most experience and will pounce should any of the main protagonists fail.

Free Expression (WIN)



14:30 Doncaster

Saturday’s Weekender starts up in Yorkshire at Doncaster in a decent looking eleven runner handicap hurdle.

I’m going with the top weight. Hannah’s Princess enters the reckoning after a decent effort over a less than ideal trip in Ireland. This much more stamina testing distance is going to be more in his favour and trainer Warren Greatrex has his horses absolutely flying. The yard have a strike rate of 30% over the past fortnight with six winners from twenty runners. The six year old has to give weight away to all of its opponents but the field itself doesn’t look the best. The horse will improve for its seasonal reappearance and with a course and distance win to its name it’s bound to go close.

The main threat appears to be John Ferguson’s Red Devil Boys who, as with the current favourite, also has a course and distance win to its name. John Ferguson started the season in fine fettle but his strings earlier success seems to have tailed off recently. There’s no doubt this eight year old has room for improvement but a lot is taken on trust in regards to how fit and ready the horse will be without a recent run and looks opposable today.

Of the remaining runners I’d give a small nod to the ultra consistent and preverbal bridesmaid Harvey’s Hope who has done well over todays conditions and could go close for place money.

Hannah’s Princess (E/W if 9/2+)



15:50 Bangor On Dee

A trip to Wales for a race that, in my opinion, looks to have a nailed on favourite. Yes the price may currently be odds on but it’s a very true and honest reflection of the horses chances. Market principle The Nipper looks to go and make it two from two after a previous course and distance victory in its only previous start. As with todays first selection this horse also hails from the red hot stable of Warren Greatrex and with promising amateur Harry Bannister taking the reigns and easing the horses burden by five pounds it looks to be able to handle a very lacklustre set of opposition today.

With just six going to post there doesn’t seem to be any strength in depth to the race and although the likes of Superfection, Western Sunrise and Miss Giselle could all do well I think their main battle will be fighting it out for second place and shouldn’t get close to The Nipper.

The Nipper (WIN)



18:45 Wolverhampton

As with my article yesterday evening we will end proceedings at Wolverhampton, this time in the third race on the card.

The race seems relatively open with seven of the eleven runners all currently priced at single figure odds. Eight year old Moonbi Creek leads the market and the Richard Ford runner looks to rack up consecutive course and distance victories. The horse did well when winning that day but a rise in weight and with a very inexperienced jockey in the saddle I couldn’t be too convinced that it will find its head in front once more. It has a great chance of placing but certainly not a guaranteed winner by any stretch of the imagination.

There’s an abundance of three year olds lining up and I think the most likely improver of the younger horses is Mr Christopher, a decent third placed finish can be built upon and hailing from the top yard of Tom Dascombe won’t be a negative. How good the horse can be and how well it’ll improve for that decent effort last time is open to interpretation but as far as I’m concerned this runner looks the biggest and most likeliest threat to my selection.

As with the first pick this one sits with top weight and currently has a handicap rating of fifty five. Little Big Man has won, not too long ago, off a mark of 70. The horse is only four years old and currently holds a 25% strike rate at Wolverhampton, now sat at a much lower weight and with top jockey Pat Cosgrave onboard I think a decent placed effort, if not better, is something that’s well within the top weights grasp.

Little Big Man (E/W if 9/2+)



13:15 Newbury
With seventeen runners scheduled to go to post the opening race of todays’ channel 4 coverage looks a tough nut to crack. The early favourite is the David Pipe trained La Vaticane who has a 70% career strike rate for top three finishes and is a multiple winner on soft and heavy ground. She has the ability to get involved if fully fit but was a little disappointing on her seasonal reappearance and attempts todays’ trip for the first time which is enough to put me off at current prices.
Mosspark is having his first run since finishing a runner-up at Sandown in March but that was by far his best attempt from five over fences and could be a danger if reproducing a similar run with talented young jockey Sean Bowen in the saddle.
Aloomomo steps up in class attempting to make it three wins in a row after wins at Uttoxeter and Warwick within the last month. He has gone up from 115 to 129 in the ratings as a result but is obviously race fit and improving rapidly so should be capable of making the frame at the very least.
Of the remainder, Simply Wings has a strike rate of just over 50% for top three finishes over fences and is yet to finish outside the top three when racing over todays’ race distance while Shangani runs off the same mark as when second at Taunton earlier this month and has previous winning form on soft and heavy ground so cannot be discounted.
Aloomomo (E/W if 9/2+)
Simply Wings (E/W)
13:50 Newbury
Ma Filleule looks to be the class horse in this race and although has been competing over further in recent years she won two from two over todays’ trip in her early years and has posted five of her six career wins on either soft or heavy going so won’t be inconvenienced by forecast conditions.She is sure to strip fitter following her seasonal reappearance at Wetherby last month and looks to be the one they all have to beat.
Dubawi Island is upped in class and has a 7lbs rise to contend with in his hat-trick attempt but is clearly in good form and with five wins from nine over hurdles he cannot be discounted. The Venetia Williams trained six year old is proven over todays’ trip and, as with Ma Filleule, has recorded wins on soft and heavy ground so looks to be the main danger to the selection.
Ibis Du Rheu is currently close to the head of the market and although has failed to make the frame in two runs since coming over from France he remains with potential has to be considered as this represents a drop in grade.
Ma Filleule (WIN)
14:05 Newcastle
We move over to Newcastle for the third race live on Channel 4 and attempt to find the winner of the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle. Irving out-battled Top Notch to win the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle last weekend but had the benefit of a previous run two weeks prior to blow away any cobwebs. A concern is that this will be his third run in just three weeks so it would be no surprise to see Top Notch reverse the form. The Nicky Henderson trained four year old notched up a hat-trick last season before being beaten a neck by Peace And Co in the Triumph Hurdle and should be sharper for the recent run. However it could be argued that this may also come a little too soon after an eight month absence and therefore preference is for the current favourite Wicklow Brave who was only just over a length behind Nichols Canyon and Faugheen in the Morgiana earlier this month and has had the benefit of an extra week of rest over the aforementioned two.
Wicklow Brave (WIN)
14:25 Newbury
Only five runners are scheduled to line up for our fourth televised race yet it could prove to be the best race of the day with World Hurdle winner Cole Harden again looking to lock horns with multiple Group 1 winner Whisper. Cole Harden ran a great race to win the World Hurdle when Whisper could only manage sixth but they clashed again a month later at Aintree a month later and Whisper ran out an authoritative three and a half length winner. Cole Harden has a great record of three wins from four when returning from a break yet Whisper is one from one at Newbury, is two from three over todays’ trip and has winning form on soft and heavy ground. On paper they both look very closely matched yet of the two my preference is for Whisper.
The most likely of the remainder to get in the mix is Thistlecrack who gets 4lbs from the aforementioned two and was an impressive winner of the Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree in April and was only a half length second behind Killultagh Vic when last seen at Punchestown (eight lengths clear of Shaneshill in third). If fully fit after a six month break he definitely looks to have the quality to make this more than a two horse race.
Whisper (WIN)
14:40 Newcastle
Early favourite Final Assault followed up a decent third on seasonal reappearance with an impressive four length victory on soft ground at Ayr earlier this month. He looks to be progressing well but doesn’t represent much value considering this looks a tougher race and he has a 9lbs raise to contend with.
Masters Hill has won four and placed three times from ten runs over todays’ trip to give a 70% strike rate and warmed up for this with a strong run to finish a very close second on heavy ground at Carlisle earlier this month. A similar effort today should see him go very close.
Of the remainder, Virak should benefit from jockey Harry Cobden’s 7lbs claim and has an impressive win rate of 50% over fences but needs to improve on a mid-field finish when last seen in October, while The Last Samuri has won three and placed once from five over fences and has previously run well fresh so cannot be discounted in another tough looking race.
Masters Hill (E/W)
15:00 Newbury
Seventeen runners arrive here for the Hennessey Gold Cup and this looks no easier than our first race of the TV selections to dissect. Saphir Du Rheu has won three of his last four and was only a couple of lengths behind Cole Harden when second in the World Hurdle last year. He is proven over trip, proven on the forecast ground and has a 50% career win strike rate. The only slight concern is that he has raced three times here at Newbury without success, placing 3rd and 4th and unseating his rider. Having said this I would be surprised to see him out of the first four here today.
Ned Stark is an exciting addition to the race and looks capable of making the frame. A winner in his last three races when running on soft ground, including one here at Newbury and one over todays’ trip, he looks to be one to keep an eye on both today and over the course of the season.
Bobs Worth won this race back in 2012 en-route to winning the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup although its now almost two years since he last won over fences. Returning for this season over hurdles at Aintree he hinted that a return to his best may not be far away, beating the returning Simonsig by just over a length, although I feel he will have to improve again to get in the mix here.
Theatre Guide was third in this race off a 6lbs higher mark in 2013 and although is yet to win in four attempts over todays’ trip he has placed twice and could again sneak a place at likely bigger odds.
Of the remainder If In Doubt and Fingal Bay are also considered suitable each way alternatives in a highly competitive race.
Saphir Du Rheu (E/W if 9/2+)
Ned Stark (E/W)
15:35 Newbury
Early favourite Stellar Notion has won three from four over todays’ trip yet arrives here with a bit of a point to prove after two disappointing performances at the back end of last season. He won on racecourse debut and also won on reappearance last season so has to be respected.
Lough Kent was travelling well before making a mistake a couple of fences from home on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham earlier this month so would have to be considered in with a decent chance here given a clear round. A solid run from La Vaticane (who finished just ahead in the Cheltenham race) earlier on the card would also point to a big run from the Nicky Henderson trained six year old.
However a chance is taken on Whispering Harry who is the only course and distance winner in the line-up and won on his second start of the season in both 2014 and 2013. Futhermore, he has a 43% win rate over fences and all six career wins have come on either soft or heavy ground so looks to be a bit of value at likely double figure odds.
Whispering Harry (E/W)


17:15 Wolverhampton

Another relatively early start to tonights Friday Night Lights as we tackle the third race on the card at Wolverhampton.

The horse I’m going with is a horse that caught the eye when finishing sixth last time out when it wasn’t given too much of a hard time by Martin Harley. The jockey rides Major Muscari once again and despite a less than beneficial draw in stall eight it has a good chance. The horse definitely seems to prefer the all-weather with a total of nineteen top three finishes from thirty two runs on an artificial surface. Martin Harley is clearly a jockey on top of his game and with some decent market support this morning it looks to have a very good chance.

Of the remaining runners it’d be remiss of me to ignore the top weight Air Of York who has won two of its last three outings. The horse won’t need to improve much, if at all, to take a major hand in this and is the likely one to beat but maybe there to be shot at after an eleven pound rise since its first all-weather victory.

A horse I feel that is markedly over priced is the other three year old in the race in the form of George Bailey. The horse has never taken on an artificial surface but did turn in some good efforts, including a winning one, on the turf this summer and 25/1 loos far too big for a horse with a low weight.

Major Muscari (E/W if 9/2+)


19:35 Dundalk

The only trip to Ireland tonight sees us take in a ten and a half furlong contest where the top weight and three year old Mademoiselle Penny heads the betting. This course and distance winner has put in two respectable performances on the all-weather in its last two starts and it looks to have scope for further improvement. A light rise in the weights since its decent placed effort last time seems very generous and I’d be shocked to see it out of the top three but at 7/2 it isn’t the best betting prospect especially from stall nine.

The other big danger looks to be another course and distance winner in the form of Solar Benny a win last time here looked good enough and the handicapper hasn’t overreacted with just a four pound rise. The horse maybe seven but it’s lightly raced and may improve for that run. This being said however stall eleven is less than advantageous and maybe worth noting for another run further down the line.

The horse I’m plumping for comes here of an exceptionally low handicap mark after an encouraging return to Dundalk with a third placed finish. Shukhov has raced of an all-weather mark as high as 80 and has won off 75. It now races off just 49 and with Donagh O’Connor taking a further seven pounds off the horses back it’s ridiculously low. If you ignore the horses poor turf season then you can see it’s preference for an artificial surface is clear to see. With a nice draw in stall four it may have the race run to suit as it tends to track the leaders. My only slight niggle is wether or not the horse wants this trip but a win over course and distance shows it won’t be overly inconvenienced and at the age of six it is far from “over the hill”. A decent each-way bet at around 13/2.

Shukhov (E/W if 9/2+)


19:45 Wolverhampton

A quick dash over from our second selection at Dundalk for the last race of the night at Wolverhampton as ten runners look set to contest a very open contest just short of ten furlongs.

I’ve heard a good mention for the Liam Keniry ridden Sheila’s Buddy who has contested listed contests previously and now rocking up in a class five race is a huge drop in class. My only two concerns however is it’s pretty poor performances at Wolverhampton and it’s very high draw. It’s current best price of 9/1 looks very big and I couldn’t discredit its chances too readily but I’m going for a more speculative runner here.

Matraash seems somewhat of the old statesman in this race as the nine year old looks to have far more race experience than its rivals. Obviously the horse isn’t what it once was but has won over course and distance from a nine pound higher rating. It’s difficult to know what the horse has left but with Adam Kirby in the saddle, a good draw in stall three and a 25/1 price it looks too good to ignore.

Of the handful of three year olds that are entered you have to respect the ultra consistent Manolito who has won here before and also the course and distance winning Commanche Chieftan, it is the latter than I actually fear the most and in my opinion looks the one with more room for improvement.

Matraash (E/W)



13:30 Newbury
Trying to figure which of the four David Pipe runners will be most forward for this is impossible, the yards form is also enough for me to want to take them on but Unique De Cotte, Gevrey Chambertin and Saint John Henry all want a good deal of respect and all three of them could win. Sykes comes from the Hobbs yard and is looking for the hat-trick, still unexposed he could well prove up to it but this is a tough test and his odds are off-putting. Missed Approach is another unexposed type and though he hasn’t been seen since bombing at very short odds last season, his yard have sent out similar types who have defied long lay offs. Bred to be suited by stern tests of stamina and tackling 3 miles for the first time today, he is handed a speculative vote. Easter Day is more miss than hit nowadays but would be a massive danger if putting his best foot forward and though this looks tougher for Molly’s A Diva, he at least arrives in good heart.
Missed Approach (WIN)
13:55 Doncaster
Innocent Touch went in at the first time of asking when making his hurdling debut at Musselburgh and showed a good attitude in the process. His penalty today makes things much tougher however and it ought to be remembered that he probably had a fitness edge the last day given he’d been running on the level prior to that. Iniciar couldn’t live with the classy Modus last time but is interesting on his 2nd run for the Pipe yard, he is already short enough however and the yard could be in better form. Mr Kit Cat got no further than the 1st when unseating at Cheltenham last time, he was slightly interfered with though and that is probably best forgotten. Evan Williams has his yard in tremendous form at the minute and although he must show his aptitude for the game, the promise he showed on two bumpers last season was enough for him to earn the vote here. Baltic Storm will likely find a race somewhere down the line and Spifer is one to be weary of should the market speak positively of him.
Mr Kit Cat (E/W if 9/2+)
14:05 Newbury
Activial will likely go off favourite here on his chasing debut having shown himself last season to be very useful hurdler. Placed several times in Graded races ( Including here ) he had started to get the look of a ‘bridesmaid’ about him and connections decision to send him chasing looks sensible. Effective over a variety of trips and being of quite decent size, it would be most disappointing if he couldn’t make a mark in this discipline and as such he is selected. Sametegal carries a penalty having scored nicely at Huntington last time, he has clear claims of following up but there is a strong suspicion that this is much tougher. Dell’ Arca is another with claims but the lightly raced Maximiser is feared most of all and market strength for him would be very interesting.
Activial (WIN)