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Time to Make History with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Time to Make History with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1920 647 Dave T.

Time to Make History.

Everybody seemed genuinely surprised last weekend when Richard Johnson announced his immediate retirement. From the subsequent tributes Johnson appears to have been equally well respected both on and off the track. Hopefully, he finds a role in retirement that gives him as much satisfaction as race riding obviously did. So, the curtain is coming down on what has been a golden generation of jump jockeys Johnson, McCoy, Walsh, Geraghty and Davy Russell only the latter is still riding and because of injury has not been jocked up since October 2020. The next boys coming through will need to be good because those mentioned above are a hard act to follow.

I have only been to the Grand National meeting on three occasions but each one left a deposit in the memory bank.

The first visit was 1977 when Red Rum galloped to his historic third win. Not only that but those two stalwarts Monksfield and Night Nurse fought out a titanic dead-heat in the big hurdle. From our vantage point at the top of the stands the combatants seemed miles away but at least we were there. To round the weekend off we even managed a visit to Ginger McCain’s stable in Southport to congratulate the winner…. I think it made his weekend.

1977 Souvenirs…

To keep this in chronological order my next trip down was in 1986 when I was the guest of one of the local banks on the Friday before the big event. “Pick you up about 10.00 “ was the promise …. come 10.00 no show …. followed sometime later by a phone call “My cars conked out can you pick me up?” … yep, all downhill from there. A mad dash down the M6, no mean feat in a Triumph Toledo… At least a free lunch but unable to drink, no winners and a long drive home. Corporate entertaining, don’t you love it. But the best part of that trip was bumping into a mate who was convinced Rod Simpson’s grey Brunico was the one to be on in the 4-year-old hurdle after the horses’ s promising run at Cheltenham. Not only did he lose his shirt but most of his wardrobe as well which made for a chilly return north with only his legs left to tuck his tail into! He is still punting though……

Third visit was the best of the lot. 1990 and I had managed to win a competition in the Independent newspaper first prize being an all-expenses paid trip to the great event. It was some day, champagne breakfast on train from Euston…. drinks fuelled lunch, backed the winner Mr Frisk at 100-6…more champagne plus afternoon tea…then dinner on the train home with yes, you’ve guessed it more drinks. Poured off the train at Euston. I can still remember my wife’s words back at our hotel as she switched off the light….” You don’t normally wear those shoes in bed” …. happy days.

Right enough of the good old days what about this year’s renewal? Well, I don’t see any reason to change from my original ante post selection ‘Any Second Now’, trainer Ted Walsh has given his challenger a similar preparation to his previous winner Papillon. Both had the pace to win over two miles but also the necessary stamina. A horse needs a bit of toe to lie up early in the race these days and ‘Any Second Now’ should be able to do that and given a little luck in running won’t be far away.

Selection: 5:15 Aintree: Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

The race is a really top class handicap these days and unlike earlier years you can’t rule anything out unless the ground becomes either extremely fast or testing. Cloth Cap is a worthy favourite, and it would be a typical National story if Tom Scudamore could follow his grandfather onto the roll of honour. The Scudamore name has long been part of the fabric of jump racing, a win for Tom on Saturday would be a fitting result. At around 7/2 the favourite is too short for me, so I am tempted to back up my ante post bet with a few quid on Burrows Saint from the Willie Mullins yard. Still only eight he won the 2019 Irish Grand National which was a good performance for a six-year-old. The key to this gelding is the ground as he prefers better going so hopefully the forecast good to soft conditions will suit. He is only around 9/1 second fav at time of writing but he has solid form to back up his price.

1. Burrows Saint

If you must, really must go for a left field selection try a few bob on Sub Lieutenant with Tabitha Worsley riding. She is the only jockey riding in the race on Saturday with a one hundred per cent record over the National fences, one ride one win. The horse was bought out of Henry de Bromhead’s yard to improve the quality in trainer Georgie Howell’s stable …. not difficult I hear from the cynics but what a story if they pull off a shock result. At around 100/1 you might just get a decent spin for a small wager.

2. Sub Lieutenant

Selection: 4:15 Aintree: Betway Handicap Chase

The three miler at 4.15pm which precedes the National is sometimes overlooked but it’s always a good contest. The Mildmay fences take some jumping as they usually go a good clip from the start. Surprisingly, I am sweet on the chances of a horse that fell last time out. Tom Lacy and Jonathan Burke have been among the winners of late and they team up here with Johnbb who has a nice racing weight of 10st 9lbs. This lad has a good run over these fences in November 2019 under his belt so hopefully the experience is put to good use at the weekend. He hasn’t run since his fall on Boxing Day, but he has won first time up when back from a long break so the layoff shouldn’t be a worry. Hopefully, he will be double figure odds and looks a decent bet to put us in funds for the big race.

1. Johnbb

Win or lose lets hope all the horses and jockeys get back safely and the big race provides the spectacle the race deserves. No doubt the keyboard warriors of social media are poised for the first opportunity to criticise the event lets hope they are denied their opportunity.

Good luck whatever you fancy.

Have a good weekend.



Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

North v South with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

North v South with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 2560 1920 Dave T.

North v South

As this strange season heads towards its conclusion, it looks like the media focus is going to be concentrated on the battle for the jockey’s championship. Harry Skelton and Brian Hughes are only separated by a couple of winners and presently there seems a momentum shift towards Skelton largely due to his brother’s horses being in rude health, but the jockey has done his bit and is riding with tremendous confidence. I feel the media people would love a Skelton victory as being Southern centric he comes more into their world, but I hope Hughes retains his title. The Northern scene could do with a boost let’s hope Brian can provide one.

On the subject of jockey’s, I was saying last week how it is a good idea to have an edge by getting a good conditional on your side whilst they are still under the radar. Young Benoit came up trumps last week when steering home, the Lincoln winner… nudge nudge… and John Gosden was stating afterwards that these good claimers have to be used sparingly so reading between the lines, if the Gosden yard put de la Sayette up the horse should be given close scrutiny.

On the jumping front couple of years ago I was banging on about James Bowen and Bryony Frost when they were claiming, and they have gone on to bigger and better things. I think there is another lad worth keeping an eye on whilst his claim is available. Jack Foley has joined the Emma Lavelle yard from Ireland where he was just beginning to make a name for himself. Obviously, he must think there are more opportunities over here and he has already had a winner for an outside yard. If he gets the rides he has the talent to succeed.

Not really a weekend to get excited about this side of the Irish Sea but Haydock has a decent Saturday card more of which later. Looking through the other fixtures I was reminded that Carlisle always had both an Easter Saturday and an Easter Monday meeting back in the day. It wasn’t unusual for horse to run on both days, and I can well remember backing a chestnut gelding called Uncle Isaac to win the two-mile novice chase on the Saturday and then the three-mile novice on the Monday … happy days. I can also remember seeing the then unheard-of Freddie winning the maiden hunter chase before he went on to win some of the big National Hunt prizes. Our older reader will well remember Freddie going down by only three quarters of a length to Jay Trump in the 1965 Grand National, when the Borders horse started 7/2 favourite. By coincidence I came across an old Carlisle race card the other day from the Easter 1950 meeting …I presume my late father was there. The format of these cards never changed for years and they’re light years away from the glossy full of info offering that are today’s card. Mind you it only cost 6d or two and a half pence in current money. I noticed the Dixon’s of nearby Thursby had Victory Morn in the handicap hurdle good to see that the Yellow, Brown and Yellow quartered cap colours are still on the track today. Also, it was an eye opener that the next scheduled meeting was the Cumberland Plate Meeting starting June 28th, unlike these days when there seems to be a meeting every other week. Presumable better drainage and track management allowing more fixtures although maybe there wasn’t the number of horses in those days.

1950 – Easter Saturday & Easter Monday Official Card


Enough nostalgia wallowing, Haydock has a couple of good chases on Saturday to hopefully put us in funds for Monday’s showpiece the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Selection: 1:30 Haydock: Betway Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Final Handicap Chase

The first at 1.30pm is a two-mile contest with nine declared. The top weight Barton Knoll catches the eye with in form Jonathan Burke booked but I feel that the handicapper has probably got him anchored for the moment…the horse not the jockey. I think the six-year-old Prudhomme might be the one to be on. He has only had three chases so might be a little inexperienced, but this would seem a good opportunity to gain his second chase win. Both the trainer and jockey are in form which is a good sign. The race isn’t priced up as yet, but I can’t see Prudhomme being too skinny in the betting.

1. Prudhomme

Selection – 2:40 Haydock: Betway Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Handicap Chase 

The other race I like the look of is the 3m2f chase at 2.40. The Skelton horse Debece should be favourite after being well fancied to win at Sandown last month. Once again, I am going to take a chance with an inexperienced chaser Sue Smiths Silva Eclipse ridden by Ryan Mania. Sue Smith’s horses are usually suited by Haydock, even more so years ago when the fences were more demanding, this is only the geldings third chase so connections must think he is up to the task. Looks like he might be around 10/1 come Saturday which is good value.

1. Silva Eclipse

Monday is the day if you like long distance chases, even more so if you like them in Ireland, with the Irish Grand National taking place. Always tricky to fathom , as a general principle, looking for an unexposed young horse is the way to go. But finding one is the hard part. Top amateur Jamie Codd must be keen on The Big Dog’s chances as I read in the week that he was preparing to do his lowest weight for twenty something years if top weight Tiger Roll stays in and the weights don’t go up. Surely that’s a tip in itself? Whatever you pick good luck.

This time next week hopefully all systems go for a successful Grand National meeting…. I am still sweet on my selection from back in November Any Second Now…he is now 10/1 second favourite behind Cloth Cup…. when he was available at 25s. Yes, I did.

Have a good weekend.



Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Let’s kick on with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Let’s kick on with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1600 1200 Dave T.

Let’s kick on…

Well, big sigh, we can all be thankful that Cheltenham went off smoothly, all the publicity that was generated was of the right kind, let’s hope the gloom of the past few weeks is fast disappearing in the rear-view mirror.

Rachel Blackmore, a godsend to the non-racing media, has long been a superstar in waiting, once she started getting better horses to ride, she was always going to make the top table. You could almost reach out and grasp her disappointment at the finish of last week’s Gold Cup. The look she gave winning jockey Jack Kennedy on pulling up spoke volumes about her personality and will to win. You can’t win em all is an age old saying, but these top sports stars think they can and that’s what sets them apart.

Enough has been written about the Irish superiority in winners but I think the owner of Minella Indo was on the money when he said that the Irish are prepared to shell out big sums and wait for results whereas perhaps elsewhere instant success is the paramount requirement.

It is always good when one of your equine pals is retired in one piece. This week the news came through that a stalwart of Nicky Richards’ yard Guitar Pete was sending his details off to the pension office. This lad started off in Ireland as a three-year-old with Dessie Hughes and went on to finish third to Tiger Roll in the Triumph Hurdle. He didn’t join the Greystoke yard until 2017 when he did yours truly a big favour when winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham. He’s always turned up on the big days and deserves a long and happy retirement.

This weekend the flat season kicks into gear but for me always needs leaving well alone until about the end of April when the ground and form settle down. The Lincoln Grand National Spring double was always a big deal back in the day. However, a bit like city centres, it seems a thing of the past. Not a betting race for me but I was interested to note John Gosden is putting up his 7lb claimer Benoit de la Sayette on the well backed Haqeeqy. The young claimer who was a top pony rider in Britain and France seems a star in the making. One to keep on your side in the coming flat season.

None of the chases at the weekend really jump off the page …pun intended… but there are a couple of reasonable Grade Twos, one each at Kelso and Newbury, to have a good look at. Both courses are forecast to have good going so that’s going to make a mess of previous form for a lot of the runners and trying to find a winner becomes more of a puzzle.

Selection: 1:35 Kelso: Paxtons For Kverneland In The Borders Handicap Chase

The Kelso race at 1.35 is over three and a quarter miles and has attracted a field of eight with some interesting entries. Ian Williams’ stable is in good form and his Red Infantry will go well as should Sandy Thomson’s Duc De Grissay who unseated his rider at the last when favourite for the Scottish Borders National in December. Another trainer going well this season is Kim Bailey and he has course and distance winner Dandy Dan making the long trek back to Kelso. This lad had wind surgery in the summer, and it is hard to assess whether this has been a success. Second first time out wasn’t a bad effort but his last in a hot hurdle at Cheltenham in November was disappointing. After the race connections blamed the soft ground saying Dandy Dan needs a better surface which he should get at the weekend. His two visits to Kelso have seen him finish first and second so we know he likes the track. So, trainer in form, horse will like ground course and trip and although he runs off 142, he has form off 145 all the aforementioned added together give the selection a solid chance. At around 6/1 he should give us a run for our money. Where have we heard that before?

1. Dandy Dan

Selection – 4:00 Newbury: BetVictor Handicap Chase

The Newbury race at 4.00pm is slightly shorter at 2m4f and seems to be a slightly better-quality. Disappointingly only six have been declared but the two I had a fancy for both stand their ground. The two seven-year-olds look to be the ones to concentrate on and my preference is for the grey gelding Kalooki. This German bred has only had four starts over fences all in decent races and has performed well if not spectacularly. Come Saturday in his first handicap over a slightly shorter trip than he usual runs over I expect to see Richard Johnson let this lad make the pace from the start hopefully leading to a second course win. His mark at the weekend is142 which is only 1lb higher than he carried for his previous win so like Dandy Dan at Kelso all the right boxes are being ticked. He will probably start around 7/2 or4/1 which is still good value allowing for the small field.

1. Kalooki

Good luck for the weekend if you must dip a toe into the Lincoln handicap putting your trust in Gosden and young Benoit should at least give you a decent run. Even if he doesn’t come up trumps on Saturday, remember this is a young jockey going places and these are like gold dust once the season gets into full swing.

So best of luck if you relish the flat racing if jumping is your game not long now until the Irish National and Aintree quickly followed by Punchestown. Plus, pub beer gardens opening…. things are looking up.

Enjoy the weekend.



Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Three down and one (was) to go with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Three down and one (was) to go with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1024 683 Dave T.

Three down one (was) to go…

A few thoughts from the Festival’s first three days.

Both seemed to highlight the good in the sport. Tuesday… on the jockey front really good news stories with both Rachel Blackmore and Ryan Mania getting deserved headlines. Having 12/1 Rachel to be top jockey gives me some added interest to her performances hopefully she manages to get through to Friday and steers A Plus Tard to Gold Cup victory. On the horse front the youngster Shishkin lived up to the hype whilst the old lad Vintage Clouds produced a tremendous performance in the Ultima Handicap jumping from fence to fence and really enjoying himself. Meanwhile Honeysuckle kept her unbeaten run going whilst my fancy Goshen looked as if he was heading off the track at one point. Some good novices coming up in Honeysuckle’s rear-view mirror so she will have competition to follow up…. interesting though.

Wednesday was equally fascinating Bob Olinger might be the one to challenge Honeysuckle, is Monkfish a genuine Gold Cup contender?  The latter made some novicey mistakes but looked the part. His odds for next year’s Gold Cup were shortened but not as much as I thought they would be. Tiger Roll seemed rejuvenated in the Cross Country which was a joy to see as he appeared to be falling out of love with the game. In the Bumper another excellent performance from Sir Gerhard who looked another superstar in waiting. Obviously, the switch to Willie Mullins’ yard has not affected this lad, it will be fascinating to see what happens, when Gordon Elliot gets his licence back, with the Cheveley Park horses.

Thursday to me topped the first two days, not least for yours truly managing to back a 20/1 winner at Hexham, with some great performances. Jack Kennedy had a fall on Envoi Allen to start the day but ended it with a superb ride on Mount Ida in the last. Almost tailed off on the first circuit the mare eventually warmed up started jumping straight passed horses and won going away. A double for Rachel Blackmore kept her in the lead in the top jockey table hopefully she has a good day Friday…. see above. I thought she gave Allaho a cracking ride from the front in the Ryanair Chase still managing to get a breather into the horse before kicking off the final bend. Finally, we mustn’t forget seven-pound claimer Jordan Gainford and his good ride on The Shunter yet another talented lad from Ireland he looks destined for the top.

The stands may have been empty, but the atmosphere was full of excitement let’s hope Friday managed to top the lot.

I think my favourite day of Cheltenham week is the Saturday …eh? Yep, you read it correctly. Not only is there time to reflect on the frenetic four days racing just gone but it is also Midlands Grand National day, yet another in my extensive list of long-distance chases to enthuse about. More of that later.

Selection: 3:35 Uttoxeter: Midlands Grand National

Looking through the list of previous winners for these big chases is like flicking through old photos which stir up memories some good some you just move on from quickly. Winners you backed, winners you missed, winners you remember backing in their previous outing the list is endless. Here is a short trip down amnesia avenue. Grey Sombrero won in 1971 then was killed in the Grand National when he came down at the Chair, Rag Trade 1975 won the Grand National a year later, The Thinker 1986 a year later he won the Gold Cup that was the year the race was almost lost to the snow but was run over an hour late ,Bonanza Boy 1991 a cracking stayer of Martin Pipe’s, Young Kenny 1999 what a stamp of a horse he was trained by the legend that was Peter Beaumont , Synchronised 2010 won the Gold Cup in 2012 then sadly lost his life a few weeks later in the Grand National. I could go on…. ok what about this year?

Another excellent renewal as it should be for the money on offer. The race probably won’t be as stamina sapping as some years although with the ground forecast as soft good to soft in places it will still be a true test. Twenty-two are declared so space is going to be at a premium over the first few fences and luck will be play some part in the initial stages. An unexposed type that attracts my attention is Phil Middleton’s Golan Fortune ridden by the under rated Kielan Woods. This nine years old has only had three races over fences. He won his first chase at Ludlow in December then has run in two better quality events. He was fourth at Kempton only beaten four and a bit lengths by the The Big Breakaway in second and then ran a good third to Next Destination and Fidddlerontheroof at Warwick. The three horses mentioned have all run good races at Cheltenham this week, so his form has some depth. Also, it seems interesting the canny Middleton gave Golan Fortune his last outing in a hurdle race over an inadequate 2m5f where he finished a staying on fourth. The gelding also has an entry in the Aintree showpiece so connections obviously feel he will stay the distance. The Irish have won this prize a few times and they have one challenger this weekend Screaming Colours who ran a good second at Punchestown last time beaten by the Big Dog who was really well touted that day. He will have his supporters but at around 12/1 Golan Fortune might bring a well laid out plan to fruition…. there again.

1. Golan Fortune

Selection – 3:15 Kempton: Virgin Bet Handicap Chase

The other race of interest at the weekend is the 3.15 at Kempton the 2m4f handicap. The shrewd and under rated trainer Sean Curran sends Domaine de L’Isle out to strut his stuff. This lad has not really reached the heights of last season where he rattled off a hat trick rising from 120 to 146 in the process.

He runs off 137 on Saturday then gets another 5lbs off for the services of top conditional Kevin Brogan, so off 132 plus the benefits of a recent wind op this might be the day he gets his first success of the season. Only nine runners and the top stables all have entries but Domaine De L’Isle will do for me. He is around 14/1 in the early betting which seems fair given his profile this season.

So, three days down as I finish off.

1. Domaine de L’Isle

So, three days down as I finish off.

The best of luck to Hope Eden’s Little India who runs on Friday at Southwell and also the strapping horse En Meme Temps who is set to run at Newcastle on Saturday.



Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Cheltenham but not as we know it with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Cheltenham but not as we know it with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1017 597 Dave T.

Cheltenham but not as we know it

t doesn’t need me to state the obvious, but I will, it is going to be a strange Cheltenham this year. No crowds, no amateur jockeys, no Gordon Elliot, no roar when the first race gets underway, no trying to spot the next top Irish amateur to rival Derek O’Connor or Jamie Codd. At least the action on the track will be just as good, four days full of top-class sport. Unlike football and rugby, I never notice the absence of spectators once the race starts. Although winning connections will still be overjoyed at their success, I should imagine the walk back down to the paddock from the winning post won’t have quite the same buzz as in a normal year. We can only hope that in this strange atmosphere all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound, so that Racing is able to move on from the last couple of weeks.

Enough of the musings

I will leave the proper Cheltenham analysis to the big boys. It’s difficult to get away from the numerous virtual preview nights that are constantly appearing on smartphones and laptops, there is bound to be somebody who tips a winner. The handicaps will be fiendish to work out as usual with a J P McManus unexposed one being readied somewhere.

Looking at Tuesday’s card it is shaping up to be a cracker. Four Grade ones to whet the appetite. As I said the other week the Arkle looks a match between Shishkin and Energumene both have looked top class so far, but the Skelton’s might have a spanner to throw in the works with Allmankind. This lad likes to bowl along in front so I can’t see connections changing tactics come Tuesday. If he does charge off, he might just test the others jumping at speed so the first few fences should be interesting for both jockeys and viewers. Another spanner was thrown on Friday morning when Energumene was found to be lame so will not be running. Ah well the law of sod shows up once more.

The Champion Hurdle seemed to be another match between Honeysuckle and Epatante until Goshen trotted up at Wincanton and threw his cloth cap in the ring. It would be great to see Goshen make amends for tripping up at the last in the 2020 Triumph with the race at his mercy. The Moore family are a hard-working bunch who deserve to bag this big pot after last year’s disappointment. I don’t think Jamie Moore will miss the crowds if he wins, he will be so pumped up. Cue ITV pictures of him leaning over the rail after last year’s trauma.

Talking of hard workers news this week that Joe Tizzard was to take over from father Colin. They seem to have worked well as a duo over the last few years but there always comes a time when the youngster wants to run his own ship. Getting the timing right for the move is the tricky part… time will tell.

Back to the Festival Monkfish reappears on Wednesday in the old Sun Alliance the three-mile novice chase. He won’t be much of a price, but it will be worth watching how he handles the track, if he wins, he won’t be much of a price for next year’s Gold Cup as the7/1 currently available will soon disappear.

This weekend’s fare has a distinct pre festival feel … more Alf Ramsay than Gordon Ramsay…but a winner is a winner whatever grade you manage to find one in.

Selection: 3:35 Sandown: Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Handicap Chase

To keep things simple a couple of chases at Sandown are worth a second look. The Novices Handicap Chase over 2m 4f is a 0-145 so a reasonable quality near to Cheltenham. Venetia Williams’ horses are running consistently well this season and her lowly weighted Farinet could be the one to be on. This gelding has only had one run in this country when a reasonable third at Haydock and it might be significant the trainer is keeping him in this grade as she usually likes her horses to progress gradually via low quality contests. This lad’s best form in France was on softish ground so the forecast good going may not play to his strengths. But at around 10/1 and only carrying 10st 5lbs its worth a few quid on Farinet to try and increase the festival kitty.

1. Farinet

Selection – 4:10 Sandown: ‘From The Horse’s Mouth’ Podcast Handicap Chase

The other decent chase is the three miler where Nicky Henderson’s Versatility might be the answer. I backed him in December when he ran an ok race to be second to a Philip Hobbs’ improver at Newbury. That day he lost his position mid race and then race on again toward the finish. I notice he has since had a wind op which hopefully will enable him to travel through the race better this time round. Looking at the present betting the layers have in at around 7/2 which seems a bit skinny for his overall profile, but they always run scared of Henderson at his local track. Around 4/1 or better I think Versatility is worth a small punt.

1. Versatility

To end on a positive note, it was good to read that Henry de Bromhead has invited Envoi Allen’s groom from Gordon Elliot’s yard to lead the horse up at Cheltenham…a decent gesture at the end of a sorry affair. Let’s hope the horse does them all proud.

Well then have a good Cheltenham… and remember you don’t have to bet in every race… tempting as it may be.



Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Well, who saw that coming? with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Well, who saw that coming? with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1200 1600 Dave T.

Well, who saw that coming?

Last Sunday I felt a bit like the guy who walks round a corner and gets mown down by a cyclist bombing down the pavement from the wrong direction. Greater minds than this one has voiced their opinion on the Gordon Elliot saga …. I am surprised “Gordongate “hasn’t been used in the Press but there is time yet.

I have been a racing follower since rationing stopped, not being blind to the fact that there were rotten apples involved in the sport but realising that happens in all walks of life. For some reason, this time it felt like being let down by an old mate someone you have trusted over time. You know only too well you are going to get your non-racing mates all over the news with their quick fix opinions and its no use trying to argue about the good that happens in the majority of stables and racing in general. This was very apparent watching the Stud and Stable Staff awards last week where the Industry showcased the hard graft and loving attention that goes on in yards day in day out. If only this kind of news could be plastered over the mainstream press as opposed to the negative perspective, we saw this week, perhaps the opinions of the uninterested majority could be, if not changed, at least be better informed.

Rest assured this is yet another nail in racing’s coffin. The Sport is already struggling for daily coverage in the written media, the animal welfare lobby have been handed another weapon for their arsenal to fire off at the upcoming high-profile fixtures… let us hope these meetings go off without incident.

Hopefully, once lockdown eases Hope Eden are able to get stable visits back on the agenda on a regular basis. This is one way to encourage involvement and open up the sport to new fans., if you get the chance to attend don’t turn it down.

Kelso stages a cracking meeting at the weekend with good prize money. The centrepiece is the Morebattle Hurdle which is usually a good trial for the Champion Hurdle but to my eye not this season however the attraction of a £100k bonus for winning this race and another at the Cheltenham Festival has attracted a good but not I feel a top-class field. The chases on the card don’t really appeal so we will spurn the delights of the Scottish Borders and trek south for a couple of betting opportunities. Incidentally if you get the chance of a visit to Kelso it’s a cracking track with terrific viewing from the old grandstand and a great atmosphere

Selection: 3:30 Doncaster: Grimthorpe Handicap Chase

I thought that the Grimthorpe at Doncaster might provide a runner at a decent price but only seven have been declared which makes things a tad difficult. The going is forecast to be good so it doesn’t look like the usual Doncaster slog will be on the cards. Canelo who won a good race at Wetherby over Christmas heads the early market but if the last few weeks are anything to go by that doesn’t indicate how the market will pan out come Saturday. For some reason, call it stupidity, I like the look of the outsider of the field Special Prep, this gelding hasn’t run over fences since April 2019, but he went off at only 9/2 in a reasonable handicap at Perth. He was pulled up that day, when reportedly bursting a blood vessel, running off 137 he is down to 129 at the weekend so hopefully his recent spins in a couple of Jumpers Bumpers will have blown the cobwebs away, we shall see…will there be the smell of burnt flesh in the air?

1. Special Prep

Selection – 1:50: Newbury: Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Novices’ Handicap Chase

The other quality chase which is of interest is the 1.50pm at Newbury a grade three over 2m 3f and a bit. A good field of fourteen has been declared. The four seven-year-olds all have a squeak Grand Sancy the likely favourite, Killer Clown winner at Kempton last time out, Umbrigado unbeaten in his last two and Nick Henderson’s Pistol Whipped a good second last time out but up 5lbs for that effort. Preference is for the latter who I backed to win at Leicester in 2019, when I thought he was a horse with a future. Like most great plans this one has yet to come to fruition but perhaps Saturday will be the day.

1. Pistol Whipped

It seems the Sussex Stakes this year has been moved from Glorious Goodwood and is happening at the weekend. Renamed the Oprah Handicap only two have been declared, one bred in the purple and the other runner from the States. One match race I won’t be watching.

A torrid week ends let’s all get out there and spread the word to the unbelievers what a great game Racing can be…. soapboxes out

Enjoy the weekend as always.


Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

No ducking the Eider with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

No ducking the Eider with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1200 1600 Dave T.

No ducking the Eider

Always a race I look forward to, although it usually ends up as a war of attrition, the Eider chase comes round once again at Newcastle. It used to be seen as a stepping-stone to the Grand National but that doesn’t seem to be the case these days. Looking back through previous winners some famous old names feature in the roll of honour. Wyndburgh, Highland Wedding, Forest King and Peaty Sandy jump…pun intended …. off the page. Two less well-known names, but of interest to me, are Scarlet Letch in 1974 trained by Bobby Brewis who kept a small but effective string in Northumberland. His colours of yellow with a black hoop were carried by some talented northern chasers. What caught my eye was that Scarlet Letch was ridden by Phil Mangan an Irish lad who after his career was over finished up running the Green Dragon pub in Carlisle, not remarkably interesting I know unless you are from a certain vintage and a local of Newtown, but these musings take some writing! Domaine de Pron the winner in 1998 also stood out. I was at the track and had backed this lad when he got up to win after a hard race but unfortunately collapsed and died after passing the post. Your emotions run full circle from sadness for the gallant horse to wondering if connections need a hand to get the saddle off and weigh in. The joys and otherwise of punting.

Selection: 3:15 Newcastle: Vertem Eider Handicap Chase

This year’s renewal doesn’t look as classy as some others but will still be a test in the soft ground. Four miles plus is a slog even on good ground and Newcastle is a tough track. There are usually a few runners in with a chance coming into the straight but the last couple of furlongs sorts the non-stayers out. In these types of races sticking with proven distance form isn’t a bad rule so I think last year’s winner Crosspark is the one to be on. He’s up 15lbs from last season’s winning mark but he has earned the rise with some consistent performances. A couple of inform horses are lurking at the bottom of the weights Strong Economy and Little Red Lion but both are out of the handicap so I will leave them for another day.

1. Crosspark

Selection – 3:35 Kempton: Close Brothers Handicap Chase

The other good chase on Saturday is at Kempton a grade three over 3miles.A competitive field of eighteen has been declared so it should be an open betting race. The Nicholls’, Tizzard, Tom George and Mulholland yards are all doubly represented and that complicates things.

Some well thought of shrewdies were on Olly Murphy’s The Butcher Said last time out when he travelled like the winner into the straight at Doncaster but faded disappointedly into sixth. In the hope that the better ground and his recent wind operation has done the trick I will give The Butcher Said one more chance to get his head in front. As long as the big hitters don’t steam in again, he should be around 12/1 come race time.

1. The Butcher Said

Sorry to end on a sad note but this week saw the death of Sandy Barclay. Readers or the other reader more accurately who were punting in the late sixties will remember Barclay as the rising star of northern racing. For whatever reason he never fully fulfilled the potential his precocious talent had promised. A couple of years in the full glare of Newmarket were followed by years in the relative wilderness. Always a shame when a memory from years ago hovers into view with a sad ending …. but Spring is on the horizon and Cheltenham’s just round the corner….so its not all doom and lockdown.

Enjoy the weekend.


Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Not long to go with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Not long to go with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1440 1438 Dave T.

Not long to go….

Well only three and a half weeks until Cheltenham starts, and it can’t come soon enough. At least unlike the latest lockdown we know when, fingers crossed, it starts and finishes so let’s hope no unforeseen variants get in the way.

Most of the championship races look to be, if the markets are to be believed, two horse races but a lot of things can happen in the days to come. The Arkle sees Shishkin and Energumene vying for favouritism, I would be siding with the Irish horse if both get to the start in good order. The Champion Hurdle is another Anglo-Irish battle at the head of the market. The two mares Epatante and Honeysuckle are both having good seasons and it should be a cracking renewal. Once again, I will be supporting the Irish after Honeysuckle’s impressive performance last time out. The Champion Chase looks at the mercy of Chacun Pour Soi unless Altior comes back to form. The Gold Cup is not as cut and dried, but the two market leaders look to be the major players Al Boum Photo having his usual quiet preparation and A Plus Tard who is on the up. If the ground were testing last year’s winner will relish the stamina test, whilst A Plus Tard might have superior speed on better ground. As always it should be worth watching let’s hope a few pilgrims are allowed in to bear witness. The horse I am most looking forward to seeing is Monkfish in the race that used to be the RSA now called the Brown Advisory Novices Chase. Monkfish was really impressive at the Dublin Racing Festival and just keeps improving. He will not be a betting proposition, but I think we might be watching a future Gold Cup winner if he stays injury free, time will tell.

The Grand National weights were rolled out during the past week and most interest seems to centre round whether Tiger Roll will take his chance. The O’Leary’s said their horse would not run unless he “was fairly treated at the weights”. The dual winner has been rated 166 whereas last year he was rated 170 and still declared to run. The horse is obviously a year older and whether he is in love with game is open to question. However, Gordon Elliot seems happy enough with the gelding’s condition so if Tiger Roll goes for the Cross Country at the Festival that should give connections some idea of his wellbeing.

A good weekends racing coming up not least on Sunday where Newbury have managed to rescue the Betfair meeting which has really enlivened the usual Sunday fare this side of the Irish Sea.

Selection: 2:25 Ascot: Swinley Chase

The first race of interest is on Saturday at Ascot 2.25 a class 1 Listed Chase over three miles. As you would expect for the money it is a wide -open race. J P McManus has four declared so he must be hopeful of adding to his betting pot for Cheltenham ad Alan Kings Notachance should go close as he is an improving seven-year-old. I like the chance of Kim Bailey’s Newtide who ran an ok race first time up at Haydock and has since had wind surgery which hopefully allows the gelding to see his race out. Our old friend Cloudy Glen is declared so no doubt destined to pop up when least expected but at around 12/1 Newtide is worth a bet.

1. Newtide

Selection – 2:40 Haydock: William Hill Grand National Trial Handicap Chase

The other race I liked the look of early doors was the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park. Disappointingly this Saturday it sees only nine declared none of which jumps off the page, Notachance is declared here as well as Ascot so perhaps they are waiting on the ground as both meetings seem destined to go ahead. We fancied Enqarde two runs ago at this track when he unseated, he has since won at Ascot when he stayed on dourly. He won’t be far away come Saturday but he will be short enough in the betting if he were around 5/1, I would fancy an interest.

1. Enqarde

Sunday Selection – 3:00 Newbury: Betfair Game Spirit Chase

The rescheduled Betfair meeting has some excellent races not least the Game Spirit chase. Nicky Henderson has created a stir by entering Champ for his Cheltenham warm up. On a previous visit to the track Champ was motoring toward the water jump instead of the winning post when Barry Geraghty managed to straighten him up…hopefully he keeps a true line on Sunday. At the prices I would be tempted to have a little on Venetia Williams’ Fanion D’Estruval who is a course and distance winner and still only a six-year-old.

1. Fanion D’Estruval

Sunday Selection – 3:00 Newbury: Betfair Game Spirit Chase

The Denman Chase is another corker Clan Des Obeaux will be short, but I can’t see anything unexposed to take him on. I have always thought this trip would suit Kalashnikov and he will like the ground, but he is poor odds for what he has achieved so far over fences. 6/1 or better would tempt me in. Still, it will beat Songs of Praise for Sunday afternoon entertainment.

 1. Kalashnikov

The Betfair Hurdle is the usual puzzle, I struggle to find the winner of nine runner races so hurdle races with north of twenty runners are too difficult for me. However, should someone give me a free bet I would lump it on Gary Moore’s lowly weighted Fifty Ball. If you are thinking of playing in the race good luck.

Enjoy the weekend.


Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Whether or not with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Whether or not with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1600 1066 Dave T.

Whether or not….

I was just talking to a mate who has written his family memoirs over lockdown, he tells me it is one hundred and two thousand words long. Poor the poor relatives who have to feign interest. I usually write slightly less for this little piece and its still an almighty struggle.

Not a lot of news this week apart from the weather playing havoc with the fixture list. As we have said before it must be a thankless task being a clerk of the course at the moment…. poor old Sedgefield left the decision until 12.30pm on Monday gone and were still forced to abandon. Brian Hughes who lives not far from the track backing the decision to delay as long as possible whilst some of the jockeys who had travelled from afar were not as understanding…hey ho.

As I write it looks like Wetherby will stage an all hurdles card unless conditions improve, Sandown opting for an all chase card. The really hot action in these cold days is over at Leopardstown. The Irish Champions weekend is still in its infancy but has gained in popularity. Not many British trainers go across, understandably so this year, usually citing the proximity of the Cheltenham Festival for their reluctance to attend. Doesn’t seem to stop the Irish doing well over here though come March.

A few of us should have been making our way to Dublin this weekend but there you go, maybe next year. If you haven’t been to a meeting at Leopardstown its worth making the effort, it’s a great viewing track and not too far from the city centre. A short tram ride and the Guinness is waiting. Enough of the maudlin…I was there around the turn of the century when Jessica Harrington prepped Space Trucker in a hurdle race before the gelding ran away with the Grand Annual at Cheltenham a couple of weeks later. I have never seen a horse look as fit in the paddock as Space Trucker did that day. Looking at the records I see the horse ran in the hurdle race off 139 and won at Cheltenham off 123, happy days.

It looked like Bristol de Mai would go off favourite on Saturday with what would have been his favoured heavy ground to race on. He’s been second and third in this race but has never won any race at Cheltenham so at the likely skinny odds he was not for me. Hopefully, he ‘ll run well in a re-scheduled renewal as he is a grand stayer who does his best time and time again.

Saturday’s card contains the Irish equivalent of the Champion Chase, the Arkle, the Champion Hurdle, throw in a couple of top-class handicaps and that’s the afternoon sorted. Time for a cuppa and then the Calcutta Cup starts at 4.45pm. Come on England.

Sunday has the Gold Cup and more first- rate supporting races. The big race has only attracted five runners, but they are all top class.

Selection: Cheltenham Ante Post

If Minella Indo is to retain his prominent position for the Cheltenham Gold Cup he has to win this, but he is short enough in the betting. Trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Rachel Blackmore have always rated this lad so Sunday we see where he stands. Talking of Rachel, it might be worth a little interest in her to be leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival she’s around 12/1 at the moment.

1. Rachel Blackmore

Selection – 3:30 Sandown – Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase

Not quite the same quality on show on this side of the Irish Sea but decent enough racing. The Cotswold chase which we covered last week has been rearranged for Sandown hopefully it goes ahead ok. Sandown sees a good 3-mile chase at 3.30pm. Only eight go to post but it is a reasonably open handicap. I like the look of Oliver Sherwood’s Dominateur in first time blinkers and he will relish the heavy ground. His mark has edged down to 139 after some lacklustre displays so having won last season off 137, he was quietly fancied for the Welsh National where he was tailed off, perhaps the blinkers will make the difference?

1. Dominatuer

Selection – 3:45 Musselburgh – bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase

The other race I cannot keep away from is the Edinburgh National over 4 miles 1 furlong at Musselburgh. A minefield to bet in but great to watch. Last year’s winner Bob Marley has the ultimate form profile …PPP so he should be ready to go well. Raymond Anderson Green always likes to have a runner in races like this and the Scottish National, which means Dino Boy won’t be far away under Conor O’Farrell. Two runners we have flagged up of late are scheduled to run Le Breuil and Fortified Bay, both have their share of weight so I will pass them over this time. Watch one of them trot up. My idea of a bet is Iain Jardine’s other runner The Delray Munky who will only have 10 stone to carry after his promising conditional rider Oakley Brown’s 7lbs claim is taken into consideration. He refused last time, which is different, but in his favour the ground was very heavy that day. At least it shows the horse has intelligence. He should be double figure odds come the weekend.

1. The Delray Munky

Anyone else keep jumping to the Free Bets section of the Racing Post website by mistake when using their phone …what a pain.

Enjoy the weekend as always.


Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.

Swimming against the tide with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog

Swimming against the tide with The Northern Soul – Tommo’s Racing Blog 1600 1066 Dave T.

Swimming against the tide.

The famous painting colloquially named Whistler’s Mother is actually called Arrangement in Grey and Black No 1. Fascinating I hear mumbled from the back, but it seems a good description of the world we are currently inhabiting. Look out of the window, look at the telly, read the press, all doom and gloom. Are we down hearted? nah …it has just been reported on 5Live that Bonnie Tyler has learned to swim at the age of 69. That’s the kind of news to get the nation pulling together.

At least the good old racing world is doing its best to keep those of us who are fans of the game involved. There has been the odd downturn with various items of news that could be done without. However, when there’s a meeting coming up to get one’s teeth into it’s the ideal distraction from the grey and black at least until the result is known. There was an old saying, that no trainer ever committed suicide in the winter with a good two-year-old in their stable, and you can appreciate that sentiment. There is always something to look forward to and as long as clubs like Hope Eden can keep members involved and connected Bonnie Tyler will stay afloat.

Talking of positivity, I thought David Bass’ ride on First Flow last Saturday was one to savour. Watching them serving it up to Politologue and Harry Cobden as they eyeballed each other going away from the stands was what to me makes jump racing so good. I know a winner always makes the punter review the race through rose tinted glasses, but this was different gravy. A few more duels like that and lockdown will soon pass.

Anyway, enough of reflection.

Unfortunately, Cheltenham’s Festival Trials Day card tomorrow has been called off due to waterlogging which is a shame. A number of the races are set to be rescheduled/relocated so I will keep the below as is.

The big race at Cheltenham was set to be the Cotswold chase which has always been seen as a Gold Cup trial. The likes of Dawn Run, Little Owl, Master Oats, See More Business and Looks Like Trouble all contested both races. All but one of them winning. Talking of the loser I remember watching Dawn Run falling in the race in 1986. It was a hoot to see the face of one of Hope Eden’s finest, a mere child at the time, drained of colour until he realised the horse was ok. I think it was the health of his lumpy ante-post bet for the Gold Cup that he was concerned about …. luckily, all was well, the mare got up not only on this occasion but also under an inspired Jonjo ride to triumph at the Festival.

It looked like Bristol de Mai would go off favourite on Saturday with what would have been his favoured heavy ground to race on. He’s been second and third in this race but has never won any race at Cheltenham so at the likely skinny odds he was not for me. Hopefully, he ‘ll run well in a re-scheduled renewal as he is a grand stayer who does his best time and time again.

Selection to follow in re-run –1:50 – Cheltenham – Paddy Power Millionaire Trophy Handicap Chase

The Cheltenham race which was worth a look was the 1.50 a good Grade 3 handicap. As to be expected it had attracted a good field. Like most of these decent Cheltenham handicaps there were a few in with a squeak but there are only so many masts to nail one’s colours to. Jonathan Burke is a jockey who flies under the radar but given the opportunities he very rarely lets connections down. Mick Channon uses him a lot and I think they’ll have a great chance here with Mr Whitaker. The gelding is a bit shorter in the betting than I expected at around 5/1 but I think he has to be a bet. At better odds Nick Alexander sends Clan Legend all the way from Sturgeon country, this lad loves the softer ground and with Danny McMenamin being booked he’d also worth a punt at around 12/1 in a re-scheduled race.

1. Mr Whitaker

2. Clan Legend

Selection – 3:15 –  Doncaster – Sky Bet Handicap Chase

Doncaster sees the Skybet Chase formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase which in the past used to attract some top-quality animals. Looking back through previous winners there’s a couple of Gold Cup winners Knock Hard and Bregawn, together with three Grand National winners Freebooter, E.S.B. and Nicolaus Silver. It doesn’t seem to attract the top quality these days, but it is always a good betting race.

This year is no exception, and Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord heads the market after his last two good runs but at the odds I would look elsewhere. J P McManus has two in the race Canelo and Musical Slave. Canelo won a good race at Wetherby over Christmas but to me Musical Slave looks unexposed andat around 8/1 is worth chancing. He has always appeared to need this trip but has usually been campaigned over two and a half miles or less. There will be plenty of pace come Saturday with Yorkhill and Aye Right likely to be taking each other on for the lead. Hopefully, Tom O’Brien can smuggle Musical Slave out the back an always risky tactic, but that’s what makes steeplechasing fascinating.

1. Musical Slave

Came across a quote from Lester Piggott this week…. a good jockey doesn’t need orders and a bad jockey couldn’t carry them them out anyway, so it’s best not to give them any.

Have to agree…

Enjoy the weekend as always.


Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.