#startracking Tuesday December 8th 6.15pm

Here are another six you may like to add to your tracker, I have.

BALLAGH                             (Ben Case)      The stable is completely out of form and Ballagh opened this season over a trip at least half a mile too short but was still competitive two out before the Henderson pair of OOSeven and Premier Bond did him for toe. Stable in some sort of form, 2m4f+, possibly a fence and he’ll win. I would love to see him have a go at a Pertemps qualifier as I think the trip would be right and he could have the profile for the Cheltenham Festival final OR135h

An ex-inmate of Charlie Swan he cost £125K at Brightwells having beaten Lord Scoundrel in a Navan bumper. His three runs in this country were a, headed at the last, second to Different Gravey at Newbury and the same position behind Three Musketeers in a G2 at Warwick where despite staying on he was three parts of a length short.

Case also believes Ballagh has a bright future ahead of him after he chased home Three Musketeers in the Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick on Saturday. While Dan Skelton is thinking of skipping the Festival with the winner, Case is likely to enter his former Charlie Swan inmate in both of the aforementioned Cheltenham events, after he has hopefully won a novice hurdle next month. “I think he’ll have a run in February somewhere in a novice hurdle,” said Case. “He’ll have an entry in the two-five race at Cheltenham and possibly the three-miler as well. Potentially he’s a nice three-mile chaser of the future. Even though he’s shown a high level of form, he hasn’t won yet so we can run him in a novice, but he’s been given a handicap mark of 135. He’s a nice horse, ever since we’ve had him we’ve always thought a lot of him. We thought the step up in trip might help him and it did, he travelled really well. As he’s quite a big horse I wouldn’t want to run him on ground too quick yet, but I’m sure he’d handle good ground.” Sporting Life Jan.16th

“Ballagh finished 3rd in the Rendlesham novice hurdle at Haydock, he was beaten by two very good horses but it appeared that he did not quite get the 3 miles, he will have a short break and I will look to run him at Aintree in the 2 1/2 mile novice hurdle.  He is a very exciting prospect for the future.” Ben Case Racing latest news

I was a little surprised to see him flying this high. I thought maybe the handicap route off a mark of OR 135h. G2 behind Definitly Red and Fletchers Flyer. Outpaced three out, over 20L behind Definitly Red.

Ballagh was well beaten off but he’s a chaser in the making and lost little in defeat. Norms Notebook Hayd Feb 14th

“Ballagh finished 3rd in the Rendlesham novice hurdle at Haydock, he was beaten by two very good horses but it appeared that he did not quite get the 3 miles, he will have a short break and I will look to run him at Aintree in the 2 1/2 mile novice hurdle.  He is a very exciting prospect for the future.” Ben Case Racing latest news

SCOOP THE POT                 (Philip Hobbs) He’s only had the four career runs so far with form figures of 214-3. Second first time up when beaten a long way by Otago Tail but debuted in a C3, he then won his maiden hurdle at Ludlow at C4 level with a first time tongue tie over an inadequate 2m. He finished last season a disappointing third over 2m 4f in a C3 handicap at Wincanton off OR121 when he struggled to go the pace from three out. However over the summer he had a wind operation and he returned this season with a cracking third at Cheltenham in the 2m 5f conditionals handicap just 5l behind a much improved UknowwhatImeanharry off OR120. He was put up 4lb for that run, as opposed to the winner who has gone up 14lb having won again since, and off OR124 he looks a winner waiting to happen.

WOODLAND OPERA        (Mrs John Harrington) Two runs, two wins and an entry in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas. This is a dark horse to go to the very top. A gelded 5yo son of Robin des Champs out of a Strong Gale mare he won his bumper at Leopardstown as an unconsidered 14/1 shot but beat the odds on Mullins Fuji Mountain and he was “eased close home”. He won his maiden hurdle at Navan when he “kept on well” and had Coney Island and another Mullins favourite Potters Point behind in second and third with over twenty lengths back to the fourth. I keep reading among Irish correspondents that his maiden hurdle win and that of Tombstone (already in #startracking) have been the strongest in Ireland this season, so let’s see how far Woodland Opera can go? Whatever he achieves over hurdles has surely got to be bettered when he sees a fence?

PERFORM                            (Philip Hobbs) I watched this one’s last race when he won at Aintree and thought he looked a nice type but had no idea of the strength of the form. However the Timeform boys were quite excited at how quick the front three had been from three out. Then the second, Knockgraffon, wins a C4 novice at Leicester and the third, American, wins a C2 at Ascot beating Label des Obeaux who himself goes on to win a G2 hurdle at Sandown at the weekend. That’s form well franked!

Here’s what Timeform said “Get Perform & Knockgraffon in your My @Timeform lists, folks. Pair over 3s faster from 3 out than unbeaten Hunters Hoof in the good 2½m hcp” Daniel Barber ‏@DanBarberTF  · Mon.Oct.25th   Add to that the views of top paddock judge Adam Norman,  “A decent maiden hurdle kicked things off and it didn’t take a Mississippi lawyer to figure out that Perform would run a massive race. A market drifter, this lovely scopey animal was primed to win first time out for the Hobbs/Johnson combo. Dickie J gave the beast a most confident ride and you couldn’t help be impressed by how he came clear with Knockgraffon, another decent type albeit in the compact/strong mode. Going For Broke was well backed but I found him a quite disappointing specimen, somewhat mishapen and on edge. He clearly shows plenty at home but I have a suspicion he could want it bottomless. Monday, 26 October 2015 Aintree and Perform has to be tracked. American may have quotes of 20/1 for the Neptune but I wouldn’t be surprised if the wily Mr Hobbs isn’t eyeing up a handicap mark in the high 130’s and one of those pesky Cheltenham handicaps for Perform.

BALLY BEAUFORT             (Nigel Twiston-Davies) I hope I haven’t missed the boat with this one as he has won both his chases this season and his handicap mark has already gone up 7lb from 128 to 135 and is due to go up again above 140. However I just love his attitude and he is one tough cookie.

This son of Old Vic ran in three Irish PtP’s as a 4yo and twice as a 5yo returning figures of PU1PU-48. However as a 4yo that victory was a three length beating of no less than Outlander!! Then on turning six he ran seven times in thirteen weeks in Irish PtP’s, winning five of them! His much toutedhalf-brother Birch Hill went for £160K at Brightwells and is currently labouring with Nicky Henderson and last season Bally Beaufort was no great shakes over hurdles (552481PU) often highly tried his win came in a 3m C4 maiden hurdle but he beat Onenightinvienna (#startracking) by a nose typical of his tenacity and undoubted stamina. Sent chasing this season he didn’t touch a twig when winning first time up in a C3 Novice chase at Aintree over 3m 1f beating Spirit of Shankly by 4L. Returning to the same course over 5f shorter in a C3 novice’s handicap he hit a flat spot before powering down the straight to win going away off a mark of 135. His trainer said he will return to 3m+ and with a mark in the early 140’s I’m sure The Twister will be eyeing a couple of big handicap chases closer to home, especially in March, and it seems the Grand National back at Aintree. “He found this trip (two-and-a-half-miles) a bit sharp, not surprisingly having won over three miles last time, he won’t be running over it again,” said Twiston-Davies. “He jumps and gallops, he’s won that off 135, he’ll be going into the 140s, he turns eight in a few weeks so why wouldn’t you be thinking of the Grand National? Bindaree won it as an eight-year-old.”

VIRGILIO                               (Dan Skelton) Once again I hope I haven’t missed the boat but when Virgilio won his last race he looked a horse ahead of the handicapper. He had four races in France as a 4yo on very soft ground, three hurdles and a 4yo chase (5144). He then had over fourteen months off before appearing in the care of the upwardly mobile Dan Skelton with a handicap mark of OR118 (those French marks really are given out by Santa Claus!). Equipped with a tongue tie he ran twice in six days in May 2015 winning a C3 2m 3f handicap at Warwick before bagging a C2 2m 4f at Aintree under a 7lb penalty. Both times winning in the same manner, held up before coming to challenge and then pulling clear to win by wide margins, 6L and then 12L. For those two wins the handicapper put him up by 20lb to OR138 but on Saturday back over course and distance he took it up running to the last before pulling clear by 8L laughing at the handicapper. “I just steered him round,” said jockey Ian Popham. Even if he goes up to OR145 he could be a player in a range of big Saturday 2m 4f+ hurdles especially whilst the winter ground prevails.

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