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John Smith’s Grand National: Lovetheraces offers a quick, easy-to-read preview of every runner

The racing industry’s excellent Lovetheraces site has a good at-a-glance summary of each runner in Saturdays’ big race.

You can find the preview here.

If you want a more in-depth look at four key contenders, Don’t Push It, What a Friend, Silver by Nature and The Midnight Club, you’ll find it here.

Ruby on some key Festival races – written account – from Paddy Power preview night

I’m afraid I didn’t catch this webcast till I saw a tweet from Paddy Power and linked in after it started.  But I got a few races by hastily recording the audio (you can listen to Ruby’s Audio Clips by clicking the link under Categories on the lower right of this page).

I’ve reproduced what Ruby said, pretty much word for word.  Listening closely, you realise how carefully he chooses his words despite speaking pretty fast.  He’s very sharp indeed.  There was a fair bit of banter with MC, panel and audience and Ruby was way quicker mentally then any of them.

I have not used quote marks unless someone other than Ruby was speaking – in this case, just the MC.

I’ve laid races out in the order they were discussed on the night. I missed the World Hurdle but, asked for his nap of the meeting, Ruby chose Big Buck’s.


For in running  punters, Allure of Illusion has unbelievable pace and gears and when they pass through the wings of the second last, he’ll be trading odds on – whether he gets up the hill or not I don’t know but you can back him at 10s before the race.

QM Champion Chase

Paul is very sweet on Master Minded (MM) – hard to pick one to beat him.  Golden Silver (GS) beat Big Zeb last time and I think if GS had jumped the last at Leopardstown he’d have beaten him that day too.  The issue with GS is he can put in a short one.  If you could rely on him to be brave and bold and stand at the wings, he’s an unbelievable price but he has a habit of going short and getting himself out of the race by doing that, putting in short, safe jumps.

If he was just a bit braver, he’d have a real shout but he can be cowardly and with the second last now being in the home straight on the old track at Cheltenham, jumping will be essential in the last half mile, and that would be your only worry with GS.

Can’t have Sizing Europe, Captain Cee Bee misses the odd fence,  Woolcombe Folly has handicap form and there’s no comparison between that and grade one form.  He’s skimpy at 7/1. It’s because of the time he ran – time means nothing; it’s what you beat that counts.

Somersby ran MM close last time but the more I look at this the more I think Master Minded will win.

Gold Cup

Imperial Commander (IC) worked well at Kempton and the vibes from the camp are good. Even Paddy Brennan, who’s a pessimist, is quite bullish  – you have to take that on board.

Long Run was brilliant in the King George but for my money he’s ground-dependent more so than track-dependent.  His Paddy Power was on good, Sun Alliance was on good, all his French form is on soft.  He can maintain a serious gallop on soft; he’s ground-dependent.

Denman’s had a wind op. Ran well in the Hennessy and must have some sort of a chance as has Kauto.  I’d love Kauto to win a third Gold Cup as I think he’s the greatest horse of all time.

Kempes bolted in in the Irish Hennessey, he’ll love good ground and should run a good race. Pandorama looks ground-dependent but Noel Meade thinks the sun shines out of his rear end, he really fancies him.  Midnight Chase would be too slow, Tidal Bay’s not good enough, Neptune Collonges is a bit old . . . I hope Kauto can win it – he’s not as fast as he used to be but he’s in good nick and looks value at 13/2, but for me Imperial Commander is the one to beat.

Grand Annual

Nightmare to ride in.  They go faster than the Champion Chase and they’re worse horses . . . I don’t know, maybe Pepe Simo if the ground was quick, but if you’re having a bet in this race you really have a problem.


The Irish are probably a weak bunch and Dermot’s filly (Unaccompanied) is by far the best.  Zarkandar was good at Kempton.  I wouldn’t be too worried  about his attitude; he was very coltish, a mean, sour horse when we got him, and since being gelded he’s a different horse.  He took a bit of time getting over his castration but he’s much more pleasant now. A Media Luz is a bit free.  I really like Sam Winner.  I was quite impressed with him early in the year.  He’s a wonderful jumper, a real stayer, a chaser in the making and at 10/1 I think he’s a great price EW. I wouldn’t put you off backing him.


Mikael.  I don’t know what race he runs in.  He schooled really well round Leopardstown with Quel Esprit, but to get Willie Mullins to make a decision two weeks before the event is not going to happen, but Mikael is working well, looks well.

I honestly think Time For Rupert is beatable.  He was second to Big Buck’s (BB) last year but there was no second.  BB absolutely pissed in, so something had to be second and it was him. Jessies Dream is a fair horse on his day.  Arguable whether he’s have beaten Mikael at Fairyhouse or not.

Aiteenthirtythree is improving but I think the bit of value in the race is Master of the  Hall.  He was very good in the Reynoldstown and at 14/1 EW I think he’s a real good bet. Boston’s Angel lacks a gear. If the real Mikael D’Haguenet turns up, well, . .you never know.


So Young’s been very impressive in his two starts. I schooled Rock on Ruby this morning and he went well though I can’t see how he can turn the form around with Bobs Worth though there’s a rumour Bobs Worth will go for the three-miler. Day of a Lifetime was very impressive in his maiden hurdle. It’s wide open.

You should always go by form and if you do that it’s going to be hard to beat Oscars Well.  He has the form in the book and it’s rock solid.  He beat all the top Irish Novices at Leopardstown last time, and he’s hard to look beyond at 4/1.


Quevega’s in great form and she’s been working very well.  I suppose the danger is Our Girl Salley but I can’t understand why a novice is taking on Quevega off levels when she could turn up in the Neptune or The Supreme getting her mare’s allowance.  Doesn’t make any sense to me.  She won’t be a novice next year but this is the race she’s going for.  Quevega will be hard to beat, she’s in great form, grade one winner, Willie will have her trained to the day.

“Would she be your nap of the meeting, Ruby?”

. . . there was a fair pause then  . . .

I wouldn’t think so.  She’s a great shout but I wouldn’t call her my nap.

Stewart Family Spinal Research H’cap Chase

A horse of  Tony Martin’s caught my eye the other day at Leopardstown, staying on in a 2m 2f hurdle race, a horse called Saddlers Storm.  He was favourite for last year’s Irish National when he unseated at the last.  If he gets in, I’d think he’ll have  a chance.

Champion Hurdle

Menorah should have been giving 4lbs to Silvianaco Conti at Cheltenham instead of getting 4lbs, so he was really 8lbs well in.  Oscar Whisky wants a bit further, Mille Chief wasn’t overly impressive last time. Khyber Kim needs to improve on his best to win.  It’s wide open.  I’d love to see Hurricane Fly win it.  But I don’t know.  If you have a hunch go with it.  It’s going to be the race of the meeting.

If Overturn doesn’t run, there’ll be no pace. I can’t see AP making the running on Binocular, Peddlers Cross was handy in the Fighting Fifth but they didn’t go that fast.  Menorah won’t make it, Hurricane Fly certainly won’t make it . . . Dunguib, they went no gallop in The Supreme and I can’t see him making it.  You need to wager into your bet that there’ll be no pace if Overturn doesn’t run and that means it will be all about speed in which case I’d favour Hurricane Fly, but I don’t have any strong feelings about the race other than it’ll be a great race to watch.

Albert Bartlett

Raptor would have a shout at around 20/1

And that was all I caught.  I hope you get  winner or two out of it and if you’re ever asked for your ideal dinner guests, I’d stick Ruby at the top of the list (probably wouldn’t eat much, either!).

Cheltenham Preview Night, Oswestry, Summary of selections from Richard Johnson, Noel Fehily and others

Reproduced verbatim with the very kind permission of the author whose nom-de-plume is The Eye of Sauron. First published on The Racing Forum.

Run in conjunction with Let’s Live Racing by Oswestry Cricket Club- a very successful night and a substantial donation will be made to the IJF.

Here are my now transcribed notes. I wish I could write as quickly as I can drink, but there we go.

e & oe, as they say…..


RJ- Richard Johnson. Top Jockey and top bloke.
PJ- Paul Jones (author of the Weatherby’s Festival Betting Guide and who took over from Dicky at 9.30). Top trends and stats bloke.
PF- Paul Ferguson of Racing Ahead and his own NH Guide etc. Top Irish form bloke.
MW- Mark Winstanley. Couch of that ilk. Top curry eating bloke and trainee diplomat…..
NF- Noel Fehily. Top crocked jockey, and top crocked bloke, esp as he drove all the way from Swindon with his gammy arm, to Shropshire, (a good 3 hours) to do this for charity, and then drove all the way back.



Supreme Novices

MW- Cue Card should win but disagrees & will back Spirit Son.
PF- Cue Card for me though if coming over Megan’s Star ew.
RJ- Cue Card but keep eye on Dunraven Storm ew if good ground (which is likely)
NF- Cue Card. Al Ferof ew will be suited by a fast run race.


RJ- Captain Chris likely to go for the Jewson (though RJ would prefer Arkle) especially on faster ground. Ghizao needs soft ground.
NF- Agrees Ghizao needs it soft. Medermit.
MW- also against Ghizao. Medermit best bet on Day 1 and will shorten on the day.
PF- Between Medermit and Finian’s Rainbow; Medermit as the classier hurdler.

Champion Hurdle

RJ- Menorah; stronger this year.
PF- Hurricane Fly is better on better ground. No negatives about Menorah.
NF- Binocular on good ground. Hurricane Fly jumps right handed. Peddlers Cross if GTS.
MW- Quiet fancy for Oscar Whiskey but Binocular is the one, with A Thousand Stars a big ew chance at big odds.

Spinal Research Chase

MW- Great Endeavour
RJ- Quinz won’t run. Emotional Bob runs in the 4 miler
PF- Great Endeavour & Reve De Sivola
PJ- Sunnyhillboy- strong fancy.


RJ- Likes Rougham, a front runner in a 24 runner handicap, will be hard to make all in tat.
MW- Also Great Endeavour, but nb Quantitaveasing and Aigle D’Or, but back NRNB as entered in more than one race.
PF- Tullamore Dew- has course form



MW- Bob’s Worth. Minella Star won’t run.
NF- Not fancy Rock On Ruby. Oscar’s Well as Irish form is stronger. Bob’s Worth needs cut.
PF- Irish form stronger, So Young the pick from Oscars Well & First Lieutenant.
RJ- Megastar may run in this race, but prefer Bob’s Worth.

RSA Chase

RJ- Time For Rupert is the banker of the meeting. Wants Wishfull Thinking to run in this but may be outvoted. Will get the trip and if running a great ew bet. 1833 loves a bit galloping track.
NF- 1833 will only run on soft, so not a certain runner.
PF- Irish form not as strong. Jessie’s Dream too short. Mikael DH is the most talented but been disappointing and may need to go right handed. Time For Rupert by default.
MW- Time For Rupert – form in book, end of.

Champion Chase

NF- Master Mnded but only if soft- now needs juice. If Good or GTF- Big Zeb. Can’t have Somersby. Maybe Sizing Europe ew. Woolcombe Folly has a long way to go and needs top of the ground.
MW- Doesn’t like Somersby, but does like Woolcombe Folly if GTF. French Opera not without a chance but generally, look to the improvers. French Opera definitely going for this race, so lay it for the Grand Annual.
RJ- Somersby should be in the Ryanair- not quick enough. Big Zeb for me.
PF- Probably Big Zeb on good ground. Don’t rule out Mad Max ew.

No-one fancied Captain Cee Bee.

4 Miler

RJ- Beshabar will stay 5 miles. Jumps well
PF- Quel Esprit one of the bets of the meeting if pitching up in this.
NF- Born Again is a big price. ‘Has been looked after’.

Coral Cup

MW- Aegean Dawn & Psycho (latter from Irish connections)
NF- Don’t like For Non Stop- is priced based on his run against Grand Crus.
RJ- Duke Of Lucca, but needs good ground
PF- Aegean Dawn is a banker- and also back it for the RSA 2012!

Fred Winter

MW- Titan De Sarti has been working well at home. Also consider Kalinas
PF- Titan De Sarti and Plan A (Irish coup)
RJ- Architrave- Tim Vaughan’s stable under a cloud last time it ran
NF- A Media Luz


NF- Really impressed with Knights Pass- has the right temperament. Also Allure Of Illusion which will probably go off as fav.
RJ- Cheltenian; won well in a fast run race and this will suit. Doesn’t fancy Persian Snow, and Fingal Bay unlikely to run but will make a superb chaser.
PF- Knights Pass and doesn’t like Allure Of Illusion but there has been and will be serious money for it. Twigline maybe but best of Irish Raise The Beat.



MW- Poquelin (‘but is owned by a mate of mine’). Riverside Theatre is better right handed
NF- Poquelin- he is settling and jumping better. Riverside Theatre will not run. Weird Al has been working well at home after his wind op.
PJ- Kalahari King ew
PF- Kalahari King


RJ- Captain Chris probably going here. I would ride him over Wishfull Thinking given the choice as Capt C has stronger form especially on good ground.
MW- Mr. Gardner
PF- Hells Bay. Loosenmyload not without a chance on better ground.
PJ- Mr. Gardner
NF- Captain Chris if good ground. Henry De Bromhead likes Loosen My Load if good ground. Robinson Collonges needs a flatter track.

World Hurdle

PJ- Big Bucks, but Mourad far better ew bet than Grands Crus
MW- Big Bucks. Grands Crus needs soft ground, so Mourad is the bet without the fav.
NF- Big Bucks is a certainty. Solwhit ew if he stays, but I think he’ll get the trip.
PF- Big Bucks nailed on. Grands Crus needs soft ground. Solwhit is a class act at the price ew if he stays.

Pertemps Final

PJ- Chartreux- lightly raced, won sole bumper and best bet NRNB.
MW- Lush Life and Gwanako. What the hell is Barber Shop doing in this, but if he runs, who knows.

Festival Plate

PJ- Quantitativeasing or Aigle D’Or- take your pick as to which the JP plot will be. Keep an eye on Atouchbetweenacara.
NF- Aigle D’Or- has had wind op.
MW- Whatever JP runs.
PF- Tullamore Dew

Kim Muir

PF- Arabella Boy unless he goes for the 4 Miler. Check out Wolf Moon if he gets in.
PJ- Galant Nuit is the Ferdy Murphy plot horse this year, and if Nina rides, get on. Junior merits interest if he goes for the race.
MW- Also interested in Junior.


Triumph Hurdle

NF- Sam Winner- last race came too soon for him. Better fresh and it is not a great race this year.
PJ- If cut- Smad Place, but if not this could be a long priced winner this season (buy the race SP on the spreads).
MW- Sam Winner and Moose Moran (the latter NRNB)
PF- Sam Winner- a fair price. Watch out for A Media Luz at Aintree.

Albert Bartlett

PJ- Kilcrea Kim. And if NR, then Champion Court.
NF- Back In Focus. Impressed with him at Haydock.
MW- Sybarite
PF- Would back Back In Focus but needs cut. Probably Westmeath of Paul Nolan’s.

Gold Cup

PF- Prefers Imperial Commander. Long Run too skinny and may not get 3m 2f.
NF- Prefer the older horses of which Denman is the pick.
MW- Can’t have Long Run who likes a flat track. Kempes is my pick but China Rock 66-1 ew is massive.
PJ- Long Run by default.

County Hurdle

RJ- Snap Tie

Grand Annual

PJ- Tanks For That. Laid out for the race.
MW- Tanks For That my nap of the meeting.

Naps Of The Meeting

PF- Time For Rupert
NF- Sam Winner
PJ- Medermit
MW- Tanks For That

A big

to The Eye of Sauron