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.