#startracking Monday February 8th 6.30pm

#startracking AntePost Update

Let’s start with some positive news as it would seem that Dicky Johnson isnt going to do a Village Vic on us and WILL ride Sternrubin. Here’s what he wrote on his Betway blog Monday 8th Feb., “..There’s a cracking card at Newbury on Saturday and I imagine I’ll be riding Sternrubin in the big handicap hurdle. This hasn’t been confirmed with Philip [Hobbs] yet, but I presume I’ll be on Sternrubin, Ciaran [Gethings] will continue on War Sound and Tom [O’Brien] will be on Cheltenian. Obviously anything can happen but at this stage that’s how it looks. In any case, I think all three will go there with solid claims. Sternrubin won at Newbury earlier this season and did really well at Ascot last time. War Sound won the Swinton on his last start, while Cheltenian put up a good show at Cheltenham last time. It’s one of the hottest handicaps of the season and I’m sure it will be very competitive again on Saturday.”

#startracking WEEKEND REVIEW

up to 7th Feb. Leopardstown, Sandown, Wetherby and Musselburgh.

For all Cheltenham Festival hopefuls probably the best place last weekend was at home in your stable! The ground remains desperate and even for those who made the long haul north to Musselburgh on Sunday the going was Soft by race three.

Indeed it was bad enough at Leopardstown, where it rained all day, Sandown and Wetherby to make me wonder how many Cheltenham horses left their race right there?

The big Irish trials day and the weekend in general posed more questions than answers.

Juvenile hurdlers. Ivanovich Gorbatov didn’t handle the ground but lacks experience. Only Willie Mullins could tell you are with his three but they looked more Fred Winter than Triumph to me. Connetable’s run against the older horses at Sandown reads well but that was a poor race, more impressed by Tommy Silver at Musselburgh.

Novice Hurdlers. It’s the Min and Yanworth show. Bellshill and Tombstone disappointed and is Bleu et Rouge a Festival winner? OO Seven could be a Bartlett horse as the Henderson yard is really starting to rock.

Novice Chasers. Blaklion and definitely red are gutsy young staying chasers with bright futures but Bheltenham 2016? No. Outlander is an improver but what is his target? Still have faith in Pont Alexandre back on decent, Spring ground. Bristol De Mai jumps beautifully but I feel that on better ground he could get done for speed? Will be watching to see if As du Mee has his OR raised from 140?

Gold Cup The Irish Gold Cup form wasn’t close to the King George form. Not sure there is a suitable race at Cheltenham for Road to Riches (G1 3m) and if mine would keep him for Betfred Bowl at Aintree and Punchestown festival. Valseur Lido has last fence-it is and needs to find his trip and level.

Handicap hurdlers. Cup Final got the job done at a ridiculous price (11/8) and could be in the Pertemps final on about 140? JP Mc Manus has four at the top of that market in Cup Final, Box Office, Leave at Dawn and If In Doubt making it impossible to play until closer to the day!

#startracking Results

TOMBSTONE                                   2nd        3/1        three star*** win selection @ 7/4 The market told you he wasn’t going to win, drifting from 7/4 to 10/3. Had Bellshill cooked, led at the last but gets turned over by the Mullins third string. Will be interesting to see what Festival he turns up at and in which race? Can’t see him winning at Cheltenham, too many issues, hood, resolution, trip etc. but hope he goes to get a run for my money!

BLEU ET ROUGE                      1st        11/1    It has to be a watching brief here. Oops! Thought he was a handicapper and in truth I probably still do! Will be interesting to see what Festival he turns up at and in which race?

PETIT MOUCHOIR                  4th        6/1      7/1 with William Hill is too big and he is a one star* win selection. Will be interesting to see what Festival he turns up at and in which race?

ROAD TO RICHES                   2nd        6/4        Another drifter and I had him as a no bet. Wrong ground, wrong ride and he was never travelling. Expect him to be at Cheltenham and he didn’t do a lot to enhance our ante post ticket and would be no surprise to see him in RyanAir but I still have this hunch that Gigginstown will run Don Cossack in that race!

BRONCO BILLY                               3rd        3/1        At a generous 5/2 with Ladbrokes he is a tentative one star win* selection. Everything was going fine until they turned for home when he went out like a light!

#startracking Entries

Tuesday 3.05 Market Rasen  ONEFITZALL Only four runners but a competitive affair and OneFitzAll is the only one that didn’t win last time. Sharpasaknife is a good looking son of Flemensfirth but suely his best days will be over fences. Tanarpino won two egg and spoon handicaps and is up in grade and Point of View has won three of his last four perhaps lacks scope and would be better off in a handicap. We will make Onefitzall a two star** win selection at the 6/4 available with PP. Let’s hope this is the start of a good few days for the owners, Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club, who have their newest recruit Westend Star in the hot bumper at Newbury on Saturday

#startracking Updates

ROAD TO RICHES “Road To Riches also holds an entry in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but Meade feels his inmate would again be worthy of a place in the Gold Cup, in which he finished third last season.

The County Meath handler said: “He seems to be OK, which which is good. I think they just went too quick. He never got into a rhythm, and was back and forth a bit in the race. He was only just beaten in the Gold Cup last year so I think he should go back there again. Good ground would help him but it’s up to the owners which race they want to go for.” irishracing.com Mon. 8th Feb.

“Eddie O’Leary maintained beforehand that only rain-softened ground prevented Road To Riches winning last year’s Gold Cup. But that was ‘easy-peasy’ going compared to the weekend gluepot. It would still be intriguing to see Road To Riches on a decent surface in the Gold Cup. Big-picture wise though will the lasting impression from the 2016 Irish Gold Cup ultimately be that the four Irish trained horses at the head of the betting market for the Cheltenham Gold Cup skipped it?” Brian O’Connor blog Mon. 8th Feb.

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