Monday 14 November 2022

Trainer talk

It may just be 'one of those things' but Richard Newland is still not firing on many cylinders and I continue to oppose the vast majority of his runners.

Since the end of July he has had five winners from 99 runners, all those successes coming in October when it looked like his horses might have turned some sort of corner.

I saw a couple of his run at Market Rasen on Thursday and both ran shockers - neither Summer Moon nor Seinesational looked as if they were ready to win, carrying condition and poor in their coats - yet were taking a fair chunk out of the market.

There have been one or two running okay but since the spring they've been almost non existent and this from a yard that very rarely drew a blank for long. Perhaps he just happens to have a poor bunch in at the moment and I can't think off the top of my head of a single good horse under his care, yet he could always be relied upon to do well with whatever went through his hands.

I'm sure things will turn around at some point - he'll probably end up with a yard full of well handicapped horses - but for now it's still a case of  treading very carefully especially as the racing gets more competitive.

Becky Menzies is everyone's favourite trainer these days, well - in the north at least - and justifiably so as her numbers get better by the year. I'd say she tends to handle the bulk of her National Hunt horses in an 'old fashioned' way, leaving something to work on for later in the season, and it's been noticeable how her horses are behind a lot of the other yards at the moment. It's a long season and we need more rain - I doubt if she's been able to get them on the grass much.

I've always viewed her as the type to enjoy most success in the deep winter months and she's getting some nicer types sent to her now. Success breeds success and Bex is well on the way to passing last season's best of 31 winners.

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Sunday 6 November 2022


The following is an excerpt of the weekly round-up that can be found by joining Josh's website here - I've also made my individual paddock notes available to anyone who feels they might benefit their betting, for a small monthly payment. For the more serious punter I send a minute-long audio message direct from the paddock within minutes of the off. Please DM me @ artistic_prince on Twitter for more information.


Captain Quint is every inch a chaser and got back on track with a fairly straight forward success in an interesting novices handicap. I think he’s quite a bit better than what he was able to show here but it was a good place to start off, as they say. 

If North Parade ever gets his act together he’ll prove himself way ahead of this mark, but his race was blighted by errors. A strapping chaser, he was still carrying plenty of condition but I’m not sure if I’d be with him next time. Another spin round might get him to where he needs to be and a big track like Newcastle should eventually suit.

Becky Menzies ran a couple, Ritson again finding nothing off the bridle despite looking the more forward of them. Twoshotsoftequila isn’t entirely straight forward but came home strongly having been given a quiet run round. He has just about enough size for this game and will be better over further and on a different track.

I nearly backed my first Sue Smith horse of the season in Right Said Ted at big odds in a desperate handicap hurdle over 2m, and he stayed on for what would have been some nice each-way returns. A tall shell of a horse, he looked fitter than some stablemates probably owing more to a lack of meat on the bones than anything else, but he’s literally on a basement mark and should keep improving as long as they keep him well fed.


Doctor Ken didn’t kick on over hurdles last season but if ever there was a horse that was going to excel over fences it’s him and just like when I saw him here 12 months ago he blew me away with his size and scope. Clearly still quite immature, I thought Aidan Coleman gave him a fine ride and the horse didn’t let him down at the obstacles, using his range when necessary. 

That was no more evident than at the last when he engulfed the well backed Ree Okka before powering to the line. I loved the way he responded to pressure, as he finished weakly at times last season, and this tells me he’s starting to come to himself. I’ll back him again next time as he must be a 140+ horse.

Ree Okka shaped much more like a three miler last season and I suspect he’ll go back up in trip next time, doing little wrong here although he wouldn’t have the scope of many, and isn’t an out-and-out chaser on looks despite what you might read elsewhere. He didn’t look short of fitness, either, so we can say that the best horse came out on top on the day.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Trainer watch

As of November 1 I'm providing regular updates exclusively for Josh Wright here and I'll also be adding to his tipping service through to the end of the National Hunt season. With all the extras Josh adds to his daily blog, it should provide tons of value for regular punters.

Ben Pauling had a couple of fancied runners at Wetherby on Saturday, headed by the highly touted Joe Dadancer in the opening novices hurdle. 

We got a good look at him in the pre-parade and paddock and he immediately struck me as a bit of a bruiser, a strong, robust animal and a bit ignorant looking. By the time they'd departed I'd half convinced myself that he was fit enough for the job but he was carrying enough condition around the middle to make me look elsewhere.

Later on, Bangers And Mash also came in for good support and he certainly looks the type to do well over fences this year. However, he too was carrying plenty of timber and on this occasion I was pretty sure he wasn't going to see his race out, and so it proved. 

I liked the way he moved through the race though and lack of fitness only began to tell from the second last. He's one to bear in mind next time I think.

I've always been a fan of the trainer (despite his penchant for silly dancing) but his progression through the ranks has levelled off in the last few years.  However, after building a new yard on a golf course (!) he's had a very strong summer with more than a 30% strike rate, which was always going to revert to the mean at some stage.

Unsurprisingly, the more competitive month of October saw him send out only four winners and on this evidence it's possible that his winter team have been and may continue to need their first outing back. Harper's Brook would have been a convincing winner of that strong Carlisle novice chase on Sunday but for the very promising winner though. Hopefully I'll see more of Ben's horses in the coming weeks and keep you updated.

Alex Hales has always intrigued me as a guy who should get more winners than he does. And then between 19-21 he seemed to have a bit of breakthrough period before going quiet again, probably because those that had been winning were less well handicapped. He's been a little quiet again of late and he is the type of trainer to bring them along steadily at this time of year. He'll be back on my radar during the darkest months.

Another handler I really like is Lucy Wadham. I hadn't realised that she has hardly any summer jumpers and that makes me like her even more. I'm going label her 'Venetia-lite', as most of her runners/winners come between November and April. They often come in clusters and it has to be said she's had a very quiet year since bagging 'half a stretch' in January - just a solitary winner in the interim.

However, she wasn't far off a double at Wetherby with Hurricane Bay just losing out in a battle of the rags, and then stable star Martello Sky running her eyeballs out as per usual in the Listed mares hurdle.

It's actually quite hard to put a level on that novice hurdle in which Joe Dadancer flopped, I'm guessing Hurricane Bay is a 115-type at this stage although there's improvement to come in fitness and professionalism - watching the race back it was quite a performance.

Anyway, just keep an eye on the Wadham kennel for now and await further signs of rejuvenation.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Wetherby October 29

They weren’t kicking much up on day one of the Charlie Hall meeting and they went pretty steady in most of the races, so a lot of it may be untrustworthy form as we head into the most competitive period of the season.

I mentioned Pileup after his opening run at Hexham and he showed a bit more here having tightened up a fair amount in three weeks, this was a very different affair to that previous race. However, while the steady gallop allowed him to hold a position it wouldn’t have suited him entirely, as he was outpaced when the race began in earnest before staying on again at the death.

This sort of trip will suit for now and he’ll surely handle softer, so he’s one to stay with although please keep in mind this is modest stuff and he’s no world beater. Piaff Bubbles was again warm in the market but once more he failed to impress beforehand, he’s just leggy and unfurnished and needs more time. At some point, probably when his legion of fans have moved on, he’ll come into his own.

I was most impressed with the stature of Loughderg Rocco in the three runner-up novice chase and a glance my notes on him from some time ago tell me that he’s ‘the type to come alive over fences’. He trounced Tim Pat in an Irish Point and that one is now rated 127, so I'm pretty certain this effort was no fluke - what’s more he’ll come on plenty for it. It’ll be really interesting how high they aim with him as while he’ll be a gimme wherever he goes next, and I’d venture to suggest he’s graded class when the emphasis is on stamina.

One of the highlights of the autumn has been the terrific form of the Nicky Richards stable following a quiet enough couple of years by his standards. Parisencore was well backed despite looking a shade burly and looks the type to keep one step ahead of the assessor for now. 

Chief market rival Name In Lights is wasting time until sent over fences and it’s to be hoped that is now the route they will take with him. He was keen enough here and he takes too much time over the timbers -he has the make and shape of a horse much better than his current mark. Osprey Call isn’t a chaser on looks and he will come on for what looked like a sighter. He’s not been campaigned very well to date – hopefully his decent handler can put that right this winter.

There seems to be a fixation with Coconut Splash, who is proving one of the most expensive horses to follow in this sphere. Again he was made favourite to land a decent prize but simply does not pick up off the bridle and again had to settle for minors. There didn’t appear to be any fitness issue here and he’s not one to be making excuses for. 

It was great to see the burgeoning Mark Walford yard land a big pot with the hugely progressive Into Overdive, who has the size and scope to keep improving this winter. Walford’s horses have been shaping nicely despite looking burly in recent weeks but this one looked tuned to the minute for his biggest assignment yet and he passed with flying colours despite giving backers a huge scare at the last.

He won this with any amount in hand and while most of the opposition looked handicapped to the hilt it’s hard not to think he’ll be competitive in better races, especially over 3m.

The novices hurdle may not amount to a great deal form-wise as they looked green enough behind the front pair, Ukantango doing enough to defy a penalty with an assist from Royal Mogul, who looks a shirker. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I felt he put the brakes on after the final flight although he may have just got tired. Don Hollow, who wore him down here in a bumper, has plenty of ability but it might take another run or two to get him where he should be, looking very novicey throughout.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Aintree October 23

Plenty of rain around overnight and in the morning but it looks as though they kept the ground as good to soft, good in places. As is often the case here it took some getting and although there were plenty of close finishes they were well strung out in behind. Fitness was the order of the day and those looking in need of a run or two were largely found wanting.

My first thought after the first was that Hexham scorer Tiger Jet should be given another chance after being sent on an awful long way out, in contrast to a fortnight ago when H Brooke seemed at pains to hang on to him as long as possible. This steady gallop did the horse few favours but it still seemed an impertinent move and one that failed spectacularly. It was an odd race with countless beaten along way out.

I don’t really do veterans races but one to take from today’s may be Le Patriote, who looked to be carrying plenty of timber on his return from an enforced absence. He popped away and travelled nicely before fading from the second last – he was no certainty to stay and he failed to get home, so bear him in mind over shorter next time.

The big race saw some really nice horses come together – paddock honours going to Do Your Job with eventual winner Riders Onthe Storm not far behind. The latter looked on good terms with himself and great in his coat – odds of 16/1 were an insult to his ability and connections had been vocal enough about his chances provided the rain got into the ground.

Soldier Of Destiny was popular but looked a bit out of place in this grade, and he’ll need his sights lowering. I don’t think it suited this enthusiastic mover being held onto and more forceful tactics should see him return to form. Stablemate Ga Law did not look at all wound up for this – he’s not filled out greatly and like his sibling may always be a little fragile... if they get him to the Paddy Power at Cheltenham in three weeks’ he could go well.

The most interesting formline of the day may come from the handicap hurdle won by Peking Rose with the right horses pulling clear. The winner and second, McCain’s A Different Kind, looked ready to roll while appealing as types to continue to pay their way. The nicest of the bunch came home next, Petit Tonnerre and Onemorefortheroad quite imposing chase types – particularly the former. He looked quite burly and defied market weakness to prove himself an interesting project for connections. Many will say the latter didn’t stay but he got there soon enough and he’s worth another crack at the trip as he’ll surely come on for the run. Bridge North is another to bear in mind – he’ll rate higher than this and he’d be interesting if sent over fences next.

The maiden hurdle is worth mentioning for the fact that the market principals all looked big chasing types in need of the run, not least the favourite Ginny’s Destiny who looked novicey at times in what turned into a messy race. Eventual winner Mahons Glory was the fittest in the line-up and I’d expect a very different result if this was run in a few months’ time. In that sense you’d have to give credit to Heezer Geezer who went down fighting and will benefit enormously from it.

Kinondo Kweto continues to defy the handicapper in a ‘low sun’ effected novices handicap, the interesting one being Your Own Story who looks an instinctive jumper and one to bear in mind next season when he gains strength and fills out. I’d expect him to do well this term, but will really benefit from time and I’m sure he’ll be sensibly handled.

The mares bumper wasn’t a great renewal – Bombay Sapphire looking fantastic in her coat as you’d expect emanating from Seven Barrows, I thought she was fit enough but she ran as though it was badly needed and the market drift told all. Money came for Harry Fry’s Credrojava – a trainer who targets this race – and she looked well forward for her stable debut and got the job done. It was a remarkable run though from runner-up Ruby Island who is most definitely the one to take from the race, as with many of her yard’s horses at present she looked in need of the run and not great in her coat, which has yet to be clipped out. To run so well under a penalty bodes well for her career over jumps, which she has the size for.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Hexham October 8


A frustrating day on many fronts primarily IN MY OPINION because the jockeys saw 'soft' in the going description and decided to hack round in most of the races, which turned into 'sprints' (relatively speaking, obvs) and thus making for dubious results.

The notable exception was Tristan Durrell who, with owners present, had clearly been instructed to make sure his partner She's A Saint look the business, setting solid fractions from the start and seemingly maintaining them to the line, and beyond.

The compact five-year-old hadn't cost a great deal following her Irish Point success but may be quite a capable sort. Good luck putting a mark on this - my guess would be 125 and that's probably a bit high.

Pileup plugged on for third, a nice type for low grade handicaps and connections will be delighted with this as he can't be rated much more than 100 and he's a better horse than that having not looked fit here.

Graystown knows this place better anyone and was bidding for a hat-trick of wins in this particular race so it was surprising that regular partner S Coltherd wasn't more aggressive on a horse that stays much further. They pottered round and the well-backed Rocco Storm ponced to victory. An inauspicious start.

Lucinda Russell always starts a few off at this meeting and you can be certain they were 95 percent ready to roll. They were good enough if forward enough and that proved the case for Green Vault, who isn't the biggest and was far from foot perfect.

He'll pay his way but may reach his ceiling quite quickly over the larger obstacles. It proved a well judged ride from D Fox although Coltherd set a decent enough pace here on the keen going Velasco who isn't the most straightforward.

Robin Des Fox is a big unit and wants a proper track with decent fences but I have my reservations about him for all that he needed the run quite badly.

Charlie Longsdon sent up a couple of live ones but they ran stinkers despite being strong in the market. Both Lyrical Genius and Gaelic Park were 100 percent fit but couldn't get out their own way. You could make excuses for the former who was on the softest ground he'd faced, may not have taken to the track or relished the slow gallop, but with tongue-tie and cheekpieces already enlisted I'd be giving him a wide berth for the foreseeable.

Gaelic Park was easy to fancy on paper, registering decent figures in his Point and bumpers, yet physically he made no appeal whatsoever, being close coupled and chunky in the middle, narrow at either end. I can't see any reason to follow him either after seeing that.

Similar comments apply to Irish raider Finnthemagician, who came in very late and looked quirky to say the least - you can see why the BFG has already called for some headgear. 

Paddy The Horse typically ran to form and proved just good enough to fend off Skelton's Snipe, who probably surprised a few people with this promising effort despite looking rather light framed. 

Trainer watch

George Bewley can have long spells in the wilderness but when they're right they're worth following and Breaking The Ice followed up the success of Paddy The Horse to make it four wins in 10 days. There may be a couple more to come in the weeks ahead and both winners looked straight enough on their return, which is not always the case with this yard.

Sam England is a trainer of note in these parts but the winter horses tend to need a run or three at this time of year and punters were way off beam regarding Croagh Patrick, who will be back paying his way once he's worked off the summer excess.

Sam had a runner in the opener too, a Skelton cast-off starting out on a basement mark. He's every inch a staying chaser and while probably not straight forward, I'd bet short odds that he'll be operating from a higher mark later this season.

There was only one horse anywhere near full fitness in the closing bumper and thus Merrjig was a good bet for maverick Newmarket handler John Berry. Why on earth W Kennedy didn't take the race by the fluff of the scroat at some stage will undoubtedly remain one of life's great mysteries. I'd prefer to die knowing, William.

I'll tell anyone unfortunate enough to be in earshot that unfit horses don't win races. Well, I reckon maybe it happens one in every 500 and it happened today. Well done if you backed the 10/1 shot Rolling River.  

Thursday 6 October 2022

Sedgefield October 5

I wouldn't go as far as to say it was 'good to be back' at the Co Durham venue as it's a notorious graveyard for this particular railway shunter.

To be asked at the gate if I was a 'concession' punter - implying I look 66 despite not yet turning 50 - hardly improved the mood. 'It's hard to tell how old people are these days', apparently.

There were concessions all round in the first as Jimmy Moffatt's Yukon caused a turn-up, not that the owners standing right behind me minded too much. I've booked in to see the hearing consultant tomorrow.

Summer Moon ran poorly on his debut for Dr Newland and while I'm aware he had a winner the other day it certainly didn't cross my mind to take on the Ellison jolly with his ex-Flat stayer. Enthused was very fit but he lacks scope to be much good at this game.

Hajey ran a blinder despite looking burly, although the Waggott likes to keep plenty of condition on them. Heritier De Sivola might be one to keep an eye on at a lower level, needing this outing.

Atomic Angel made her debut over fences in the staying chase but she lacks the size and while jumping nimbly in the main I'd expect her to come up short in this discipline.

Ruth Jefferson went to £110k to secure Point winner Thermusa and this good walker probably has a fair future after making a winning debut despite looking green and novicey. She'll come on for the run fitness-wise but it's far too early to say how good she might be.

There was plenty of cash flying around for Reve De Niamh in this, despite her only costing £1200 quid. It was a 'no contest', but she too looked novicey and the cash might be recouped at some later date.

The mare's trainer Ian Jardine didn't go home empty hearted though, his well backed Half Shot landing the finale with plenty to spare. 

An okay looker, he wore a red hood to the start as he's had a history of being difficult and he could be the sort to win again if they can channel the ability.

Hidden Commander looked really well and wasn't notably unfit but probably wouldn't have won even without a mistake two out, while Creative Control went into some notebooks but not this one.

I got him wrong last year when he sweated profusely prior to winning at Doncaster, and he looks a fairly honest sort. The fact Hughes took him wide throughout (as he had in an earlier chase) suggested today wasn't the day and he'll probably pick up a race at somewhere like Musselburgh.

He's only medium sized and compact though, so to my mind he's not one to get too excited about over fences and I'd be a little surprised if he ever rated much higher than 120. He'll be a better hurdler.

Trainer notes

Sam Allwood is one of my favourite young trainers, probably because I was lucky enough to latch on to his multiple winners Sheneededtherun and Out On The Tear earlier than most.  

He seems to have a knack of keeping them sweet for long periods and he's now got Bempton Cliffs to win three of his last four races over fences.

I don't like backing Flat breds in this sphere but this one seems to love the game, he's not the most robust but has size and scope. He's uses that Flat speed to get on the lead early and he showed plenty of stamina and determination to beat the in-form Tico Times.

He's probably a bit of a one-trick pony as he clearly loves to have it his own way in front, but Allwood can be relied upon to keep him fresh and there should be more to come. 

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Southwell Sept 27

What did we learn from today - our first National Hunt meeting of the season.

Despite plenty of watering the ground was described as good to firm by the jockeys hence a clutch of non-runners.

Modest stuff overall, the clear highlight being the success of Kinondo Kweto in the staying chase, picking up a remarkable-in-the-circs £9k+ for this third W on the spin.

Jonny England noted this pot was worth a good deal more than the 'Bobby Renton' at Wetherby in the middle of next month - shame on the North Yorkshire venue!

Kinondo has barely left the snaff in three jaunts over the black ones. Noted as a fair prospect last winter, the six-year-old was only given a short break before getting a late summer campaign and has done the shrewd Guiseley husband & wife combo proud. The previous Uttoxeter win bagged £12k+ - top bananas.

The six-year-old will go up another 5lb for this but as we saw at Uttox he's still very green and doesn't do much in front. My heart bleeds for the h'capper <not>. He looks a proper winter chaser - yet to run on soft - and it's hard to put a ceiling on his ability. 

Even accounting for the weaker summer form, I'd have him as a 130 type already. Who knows where they'll go next - there are few better than the Englands at placing horses to best effect. 

Runner-up Farouk De Cheneau, like the winner a tad keen, is probably a strong stayer but lacks size and scope and was fiddly a few times here. I'd worry about him over bigger fences. His coat was gleaming - Hendo feeds his nags caviar and champagne.

The Oliver Greenall kennel is in good heart and was denied a double on the card when The Questioner was caught on the back foot in a steadily run finale.

A winner on soft ground, I've had him marked him down as a through stayer and he got stuck in a pocket at the wrong time before rattling home. This was knowhere near a stiff enough test and I'd be interested next time on a stiffer track like Carlisle (outside).

Trainer notes

WTAF has happened at the Newland barn? I've heard a couple of reasons why he's gone 69 days and nearly 50 runners without so much as a sniff. The only blank months he'd had since 2015 were Feb 16, Feb 19 and Feb 20. He's had fewer runners than normal during the summer which tells me there's a bug around. 

FWIW the ones I saw today looked dull in their coat and they stood out in this regard with the vast majority of runners still holding onto their summer sheen. Avoid until further notice.

It's still early days for the jumpers. Scouse wordsmith P Ferguson was in attendance promoting his annual which means everyone's getting excited about the season ahead. My advice is to take a pull, tiptoe through October and the hopefully with a bit of rain we can then get reet stuck in!

PS; Oh, by the way. Note the name, if you haven't already, of Jake Thomas Coulson. Don't know anything about him but I suspect he knows how to train racehorses.