#startracking Sat. Jan. 2nd 11am

Good morning #startrackers.

Not a great start to the New Year with three losers and we have just the one runner today and he is drifting like a barge!! Never been a fan of National Hunt racing in real heavy ground when it’s all attrition, slow motion finishes and Venetia Williams!! Her four at Sandown this afternoon could be a fun Lucky 15 (Vic de Touzaine, Albert’s Oak, Aachen and Lochnagar). Difficult to find horses to put in the tracker as horses who go in this ground might not get it again until next year!! Trying to find a couple that clearly didn’t act on it and might get their handicap mark down to a winnable level. Still looking!

#startracking runner today

CAPARD KING Ayr 2.05 Progressive chaser in the right sort of race. I am guessing the market drift is about the heavy ground, put in at 6/4 now 2/1 with PP on the High Street. At that price I make him a three star*** selection.

#startracking results yesterday

#startracking had three runners on New Year’s Day, all at Cheltenham where the ground looked very holding with stamina being the key ingredient and not a lot coming from off the pace. Singlefarmpayment being the obvious exception and even with no weight was quite impressive. Trainer Tom Lacey needs keeping an eye on.

1.20     THREE MUSKETEERS 5th        3/1F     Three star*** selection @ 3/1 general.

Disappointing. Held up, taken wide throughout, progress going to three out but he was legless by the second last!

Trainer Dan Skelton said on his blog to Coral yesterday “We like this horse a lot. He’s got to give away a penalty but then again so have a few others. We’ve always thought an awful lot of this horse. It’s his first time race at Cheltenham but he’s ready for it now. He’s won on soft ground so that won’t be a problem. This will tell us where we are going for the rest of the season. I think he’ll act round the track and we’ll then be able to plan as we want.” I look forward to his and others response to the run.

1.55     TOP GAMBLE              3rd        8/1      Two star** selection @ 9/1

Prominent throughout behind all the way winner Village Vic. Jumped well just couldn’t go through with challenge in the straight. Lost 2nd on the line. The result pays a compliment to #startracking’s Champagne West.

3.05     VIRGILIO                            PU          5/1         Two star** selection at 6/1

Oh dear, could never go the pace, always last and being cajoled along with a circuit to go! No wonder Harry skelton gave up the uneven struggle before three out.

Trainer Dan Skelton said on his blog to Coral yesterday “He’s improved rapidly. If we ran him off his mark of 149 in a handicap it would have been very hard, so we thought we’d have a go in a graded race as that will tell us exactly where we stand. If we get beat then we’ll probably head off chasing.” Fair to say I think he’ll be chasing!

#SimpleSimonSays… results yesterday

2.30     BATAVIR                     PU       8/1      Two star** each way selection @ 14/1 Good price, dreadful run.

Racing Post Analysis had it in a nutshell “Mid-division, headway 7th, ridden and weakened after 3 out, behind when pulled up before last”. Sorry.


In the last race at Sandown today, 3.35, Richard Johnson is down to ride at 10 stone. He doesn’t do that very often, indeed the last horse he did for this season was Village Vic and he won at 9/1. Afterwards Narrowing the Field.com did a piece on his stats at ten stone but I can’t find it!! From memory it’s about half a dozen rides a season and he wins on 50% of them!

I, along with others on-line, have been banging on about the health of Team Ditcheat. Well, Paul Nicholls the trainer himself responded in his Betfair blog on New Year’s Eve.

“As 2016 beckons I’d also like to comment briefly on the current form of our horses which has been the subject of so much debate in the media recently. Everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon just because we have not had a winner for a few days. The truth is that we are going through one of those spells that all trainers experience when a lot of our runners are hitting the crossbar.

For instance all four of our runners finished second at Newbury on Tuesday which shows that there wasn’t anything wrong with them. We’ve done a few tests on those that have run below form and they have all come up negative. In addition every random blood test and trachea wash we have done has been perfect which doesn’t surprise me because the horses continue to look well and are working nicely at home. It’s fair to say that not every one of ours has been finishing their races lately but usually there are mitigating circumstances like the dire testing ground at the moment, and one or two have had issues with their wind. We have not had one horse sick or coughing or bleeding and the ones we’ve checked over after they have run below expectations have all come back fine.

I do think some of ours are struggling on the prevailing heavy ground at most racecourses after doing all their work at home on our excellent all-weather gallops. Others are simply not good enough.

Some people are making an issue of the fact that we left Kempton’s two-day meeting without a winner for the first time in ten years. Well we’ve won the King George VI Chase seven times in the last decade, but this season we are in more of a transitional period than ever before. We have lots of lovely young prospects coming through to run in the spring. I suppose all our success last season built a rod for our back because the pundits seem to expect us to do the same again and that was never going to happen. While we just lack a superstar at the moment, we have already has over fifty winners and were the first stable to pass £1 million in prize money for the season.

We will be fine, no question, but this is the time of year when all our team have a flu jab followed by a couple of easy weeks, so we will not be having many runners in the first part of January before we crack on again.”

Even Willie Mullins says in his RP column today that they have a few with “snotty noses” not helped by the mild, wet weather and a cold snap would clear the bugs!



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