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The White Rose in British Horse Racing

Notes From the Doncaster Cheltenham Preview Night

I was one of many in attendance at the Cheltenham preview night that was held at Doncaster racecourse last night (Wednesday 7th). Huge thanks must go to the panel for making it a great night, with the right balance between opinions, information from elsewhere and light hearted banter. It made for a great night, and I would happily pay to see the same panel on show next year when hopefully Doncaster stage another evening for us.

Below are the notes I made, it was a big room with a lot of people in attendance so I will have missed something along the way I am sure. Hopefully I’ve not misinterpreted anything, and hopefully the horses mentioned can run well at the festival. Any comments by myself will be in brackets at the bottom of each race.

Enjoy the notes, and all the best at Cheltenham!


EC – Ed Chamberlain (host)

BP – Ben Pauling

NS – Nick Schofield

MH – Mark Howard

OB – Oli Bell

MS – Michael Shinners



MH – Concerned by Getabirds ability to go left handed, has only done so once before and ran out in a point to point. Not sure Kalashnikov is the winner either, potentially a flat track horse that won’t appreciate the hill. Said it was a race to take on those at the top of the market, putting up Paloma Blue who has form tied into Samcro, and gave a mention to Claimantakinforgan of Nicky Henderson’s who will like the ground and has previous course form when running well in the bumper.

BP – Asked about Global Citizen and not enterting him in the race. Said he has no regrets, and he is going to make up into a lovely horse who will be aimed at the Champion Hurdle trial races next year to see if he is as good as they think. Put up Kalashnikov as his selection for the race, thinks the horse is on a serious upward curve.

OB – Likes Summerville Boy, twice the price of Kalashnikov, yet he has already beaten him on soft ground over two miles this year. That is exactly the conditions at Cheltenham, so at the prices he is the one. Mentioned Slate House as an outsider, too big a price, ran ok when the Tizzard’s were out of form, but has a chance now the horses appear to be back where they should be.

BP – Also mentioned First Flow and Claimantakinforgan as outsiders with chances.

MS – Kalashnikov.

(Personally thought it was interesting that they all completely bypassed Getabird, hardly a mention)


MS – Saint Calvados is the best backed horse in the race.

MH – Doesn’t believe that Saint Calvados can make all in an Arkle against horses of this quality. Likes Petit Mouchoir, who will come on a ton for the race last time out and has beaten Footpad three times over hurdles last season. Doesn’t like the track for Brain Power.

BP – This will be a fight for the lead with three prominent racers taking each other on. Thinks Ruby will be the sensible one and sit behind on Footpad, a move which will make him the winner.

NS – Pace that this race will be run at will find out any flaws in Petit Mouchoir’s jumping ability.

OB – Keeps going back to the Kingmaker time that Saint Calvados put up, which was exceptional.

Champion Hurdle

MS – Faugheen either wins or bombs out, 15/8 without Buveur D’Air is very poor value.

All panel agree that Buveur D’Air wins this one comfortably and move onto what will come second.

OB – My Tent Or Yours for second place.

NS – Faugheen was a machine two years ago, but still as enough to finish second.

BP – Alan King must have seen something in Elgin to put him in the race, wouldn’t allow his owners to waste £20k to supplement, 7/1 without Buveur D’Air looks a good bet.

MH – Buveur D’Air first, My Tent Or Yours second

Duel At Dawn

The owners of Duel At Dawn were in the crowd and their horse was brought up at this point. Will either head to the National Hunt Chase or the Kim Muir. Someone off the panel, I think it was Ben Pauling said that he thought the horse would stay all day long, ideal of the NH Chase, needs a clear round of jumping but the form behind Sizing Tennessee is good and would have a solid chance.

The Rest of Day One

MH – Likes Mall Dini in the NH Chase, thinks the testing trip will suit him down to the ground. Also likes Singlefarmpayment in the Ultima, good record around Cheltenham, used to the big fields and only a couple of pounds higher than last year.

BP – Big word for Any Second Now and De Plotting Shed in the novice handicap chase

(At this point someone on the panel, I forget who, said that Nico de Boinville has been telling everyone that Divine Spear in the Close Brothers Novice Chase is his bet of the week)

NS – Really likes Movewiththetimes, has schooled him and is far better than his current mark. Yard know he’s well handicapped and he has been saved for the festival. The Close Brothers looks the obvious race, but has heard they may keep hold of him and run in the Brown Advisory Plate on Thursday.

Has schooled Knight Of Noir two days ago, runs in the Ultima and gave him a great feel. Horse has had problems but new trainer feels they are now behind him. He beat Beer Goggles over hurdles and is a 150 rated hurdler, but only 138 over fences, so if he is at his best he would have a chance.

OB – Reported that Gold Present has a foot problem, he missed an intended prer race because of it and wouldn’t be interested in the horse due to that.

The owners of De Plotting Shed are a gambling group and they have had the biggest bet of their lives on him to win at the Close Brothers.

Day One Best Bets

OB – Summerville Boy (Supreme)

NS – Faugheen without Buveur D’Air (Champion Hurdle)

BP – De Plotting Shed (Close Brothers)

MH – Mall Dini (NH Chase)

MS – Snow Falcon (Ultima)

Pointed out here that Jim McGrath also very strong on Snow Falcon next week.


Champion Chase

(To begin with they played a video where Nicky Henderson spoke about Altior.)

BP – Can tell with how Nicky talks and the words he uses that this is a special horse. Nicky will have left plenty of work in him when he came back, so to win like that is very impressive, he is up there with Sprinter Sacre.

All the panel then chip in and say that Altior wins this race, regardless of which horses from the Mullins camp turn up.

OB – Altior first, Min second

NS – Altior first, Douvan second

MH – Altior first, Min second

BP – Altior first, Min second

MS – Min w/o Altior


BP – Not convinced by the time that Samcro ran in Ireland, compared to the juvenile race on the same card. Doesn’t appear to be a standout bunch of Irish juveniles, so to run close to their time is disappointing. On The Blind Side has course form in his favour. Also went on to speak about Vindication of Kim Bailey’s, but it was later mentioned that he was a non runner and had been taken out that day.

OB – Also not convinced by the time of Samcro’s run. Has heard that On The Blind Side did a poor piece of work at Cheltenham a few days ago, and sees Black Op as value at a big price.

MH – Samcro is different league to these.

NS – Samcro has a lot to prove, priced up like a good thing, but he has proved nothing on the track yet.

BP – If On The Blind Side did a bad piece of work that doesn’t matter at all, it is all part of the plan and Nicky will be making sure he is in top form on the day.

RSA Chase

MH – Monalee a great chance if he runs in this race. Proven Grade 1 horse in the field, and he thinks that the two main Irish hopes Monalee and Presenting Percy are well ahead of any of the English challengers.

NS – Big Black Corton fan after riding him over hurdles but doesn’t think he has the quality when you look at him in comparison to the Irish challengers.

OB – Thinks Monalee is a bit too keen for this race, Presenting Percy had an extremely hard run last time out on heavy going and that could have taken a lot out of him. Value in the race is Elegant Escape, who has beaten Black Corton already once this season.

BP – Black Corton best of the English, likes Presenting Percy due to previous course form.

The Rest of Day Two

BP – Le Breuil in the Coral Cup. Worked very nicely the other day, has booked Nico de Boinville to ride. Really really likes his chances a lot. Thought he would make up into a graded hurdler this season, and at this time last year he thought he was better than Willoughby Court.

Also runs Red Indian, who David Bass will ride and David likes him a lot at a big each way price.

MH – Likes Hollowgraphic in the bumper

NS – No rides worth mentioning!

OB – After a long winded story, Oli basically said that Ruby Walsh gives him one horse before the festival that he thinks has a great chance. The horse this year is Tornado Flyer in the bumper. Was previously owned and trained in a farmers field, was a mess of a horse when he arrived at Willie’s, and expects a huge amount of improvement to come from the horse for the change of yards.

Day Two Best Bets

MS – Max Dynamite (Coral Cup)

MH – Samcro (Ballymore)

EC – Tiger Roll (Cross Country)

BP – Acey Milan (Bumper – Best English bumper horse he has seen for years)

NS – Malaya (Fred Winter)

OB – Tornado Flyer (Bumper)

(I thought it slightly odd that BP didn’t put up Le Breuil as his best bet, but I can’t stress enough how much he likes this one)


(Just before speaking about Thursday they drew the raffle. Prizes included tickets to the Lincoln meeting and when being drawn out Ed Chamberlain asked Mark Howard who he thought would win the Lincoln. Without too much hesitation, Mark straight away said Lord Glitters. He loves a flat handicap does Mark, and I thought this was worthwhile mentioning.)

(To start this half of the evening, Daryl Jacob was live on the phone giving his thoughts, this is what Daryl put up as his best rides)

Fred Winter – Oistrakh Le Noir

JLT – Terrefort

Stayers – L’Ami Serge, working well and in the form of his life

Triumph – We Have A Dream, really excited by him and can’t wait to ride him

Also a positive mention for Gowiththeflow (who we will speak more about later) for Ben Pauling, and thinks he will outrun his big odds and is each way value.


OB – Likes Cue Card in this a lot and thinks he has an outstanding chance.

MH – Hopes Waiting Patiently turns up and takes his chance, conditions in favour, in great form and if he did turn up he would be very surprised if Cue Card could turn round the form.

NS – Ground will be key in this race, soft ground makes Un De Sceaux a certainty. Better ground would give Cue Card a shout.

BP – If Waiting Patiently turns up then this is a really exciting race and his participation is exactly what the race needs. If he doens’t show then Un De Sceaux looks rock solid and is hard to look past.

(The whole panel agreed that Cue Card winning this would be fantastic for racing, and there wouldn’t be many dry eyes in Cheltenham if he did)


OB – Sam Spinner is the bet of the festival, young improving horse who is ready to dominate the division.

NS – Sam Spinner will need to be exceptional to win a race like the Stayers Hurdle from the front. The race favours something that is held up, and due to that he sides with L’Ami Serge.

BP – Agrees, incredibly tough to win a Stayers Hurdle from the front. Yanworth was in the wrong race last year, should have been in this, and has a chance. Unowhatimeanharry has been given a break, and at the prices he is an each way bet, thinks a lot of people have forgotten about him.

MH – Thinks Supersundae will stay the trip fine but Unowhatimeanharry and L’Ami Serge both offer each way value in the race. Would be very interested in Bacardys if Ruby Walsh chose to ride him.

The Rest of Day Three

MH – Thinks 4/5 on Larina is a great bet in the Mares Novice, also likes The Storyteller in the Brown Advisory Plate.

BP – Likes Terrefort in the JLT, plenty in his favour in what looks to be a weak race.

NS – Romain De Senam has a chance in the handicap, needs a fast run race which he will get here.

Day Three Best Bets

OB – Sam Spinner (stayers)

NS – L’Ami Serge EW (stayers)

EC – Movewiththetimes (brown advisory)

MH – Larina/Samcro double

MS – The Organist (Pertemps)

BP – Waiting Patiently if running (Ryanair)


Gold Cup

NS – Might Bite will have horses around him this time so doesn’t envisage the same happening as did last year. Nico will keep him on the other side of the track up the inside rail too. Very soft ground would be a worry for him, and if that happened it would really test his character. Will he dig in deep and battle, or will he throw his head in the air?

MS – Native River will go off favourite if the ground is soft.

BP – Might Bite is the best horse in the field, but not sure he can win a Gold Cup. Native River has been specifically trained for this race this season, unlike last season and is an exceptional jumper. Goes with Native River on the basis of soft ground, but also won’t discount Sizing John and Our Duke from Ireland.

MH – Sizing John, forgive him his last run, he is a pacey horse with a touch more class than Native River.

OB – Thinks Might Bite will make the running, has worked well in the past, and is the most talented horse in the race.

Gold Cup 1/2/3

OB – Might Bite, Minella Rocco, Native River

NS – Might Bite, Edwulf, Native River

BP – Native River, Our Duke, Might Bite

EC – Might Bite, Native River, Minella Rocco

MH – Sizing John, Minella Rocco, Might Bite

MS – Our Duke, Might Bite, Native River

(No mention at all of Definitely Red here, which I thought was a tad disappointing being in Yorkshire)


OB – Apples Shakira

NS – Apples Shakira, great jumper and we have only seen Redicean on a flat track

BP – Apples Shakira

MH – Apples Shakira, Stormy Island EW

(Little time spent on that one!)

Albert Bartlett

NS – Rides Paisley Park, very green horse who is crying out for three miles, has a good each way chance in a competitive race.

BP – Gowiththeflow (Who beat Paisley Park at Doncaster) thinks the 25/1 on offer is a joke, serious horse in an open race and he likes him a lot. He needs better ground, so if the ground looked better for the Ballymore he may go for that, but main aim is this race, is 50/1 for Ballymore.

(Daryl Jacob also mentioned him during his call in a positive light)

MH – Chef Des Obeaux looks to be the ideal type of grinder for this one, would fear Next Destination if he turns up.

The Rest of Day Four

NS – Will Biddick one of the best men on the PTP circuit realy likes Caid Du Berlais in the Foxhunters and will ride him. Ex Paul Nicholls horse, now trained by an assistant at Paul’s yard just down the road. Also mentioned Flying Tiger, great preperation and arrives in very good form.

OB – Rock The World in the Grand Annual, looks to be a very good bet again

BP – A Hare Breath in the County Hurdle. One of Ben’s own horses, he has been laid out for this race and they have looked after him and protected his handicap mark. Did a great piece of work recently, in the form of his life and loves the course.

MH – Likes Diese Des Bieffes and Dortmund Park in the Martin Pipe

Day Four Best Bets

MS – We Have A Dream (Triumph)

(MS at this point mentioned The King Of May for the Fred Winter who finished behind We Have A Dream. A horse Brian Ellison likes a lot and believes is very well handicapped. He is my selection and I was going to post something about him over the weekend, so he stole my thunder a little here!)

MH – Aples Shakira

BP – A Hare Breath

NS – Caid Du Berlais

OB – Rock The World

Bets of the Week

MH – Apples Shakira (Boosted to 4/1 on the night by SkyBet)

EC – Tiger Roll (Boosted to 7/1 on the night by SkyBet)

BP – Acey Milan (Boosted to 10/1 on the night by SkyBet)

NS – Flying Tiger (Boosted to 16/1 on the night by SkyBet)

OB – Sam Spinner (Boosted to 13/2 on the night by SkyBet)


That’s the lot! A great night, with a great panel who made for a very enjoyable few hours.


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