Bet Alchemist Clients suffered a very frustrating weekend gone by as results did not go our way. Even after many years following and watching racing I still find it difficult to deal with selections that come very close to winning. I can handle selections that fail miserably, fall or are even pulled up, but a loser by a nose really rattles me!

We suffered this at Doncaster at the weekend when Night in Milan (backed earlier at 16/1) came with a storming finish to just fail to catch the winning Court by surprise by a nose! Yes a bloody nose was what we were left with at the end of 3 miles to see our selection go agonisingly close.

One positive is that these things tend to even out over a full season and in the future we will be the lucky ones on the by a nose winner. Another positive is that our selection at a big price ran a cracker considering he was outpaced and found it very hard to keep up with the leaders for most of the race. If every 16/1 shot ran his heart out like Night in Milan I would take it here and now…but a nose…ouch!

Cheltenham – December Gold Cup Report

We got no run from our ante post bet here as Nadiya De la Vega unseated Tony McCoy at the 3rd Fence. It takes a lot to unseat McCoy from a race horse but these things happen. It’s a pity as I think she could have run into a place. However, the winner on the day was very good and carried a feather weight being only a four year old. Nadiya De La Vega would have finished close to where Walkon finished in my opinion but we shall never know!

Our other runner Notus De La Tour was jumping and travelling well until he ploughed through the 10th fence and hit the 11th as well. He was sensibly pulled up by Tom Scudamore and will have another day out soon enough if not injured. The fences are there to be jumped and our two selections failed to jump well on this occasion. Funnily, they had not shown any major jumping flaws before this race!

Eye Catchers that ran last weekend December 15th & 16th

Below are some runners from last weekend that impressed me. I had the pleasure of being on track for Sunday’s racing at Navan Racecourse. There, I saw some very good performances indeed. My eye catchers are highlighted below in Bold and underlined.

Court in Motion – Trainer Emma Lavelle – Jockey Leighton Aspell

Houblon Des Obeaux – Trainer Venetia Williams – Jockey Liam Treadwell

Lingfield – RSA Novices’ Trial Chase (Grade 2)

Court in Motion is a huge chaser and dwarfed his other main rival Houblon Des Obeaux in this race. Court in Motion has conditions in his favour here receiving a 6 pounds pull from the penalised Houblon Des Obeaux. Both horses jumped very well in the heavy ground but I always felt as if Houblon was finding it that little bit harder to clear his obstacles out of the heavy ground. Court in Motion won comfortably in the end but Houblon des Obeaux kept on admirably up the finishing straight to finish only 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner.

I believe Court in Motion would still have won off level weights on this ground. Both horses are a small bit below top class so the National Hunt Chase over 4 miles at the Cheltenham festival rather that the RSA Chase over 3 miles looks the natural target for both horses. I would have concerns regarding Court in Motion handling good ground at the festival but he might get away with good to soft.

On good ground in the 4 miler Cheltenham Festival I would be leaning towards Houblon Des Obeaux at this time. He ran a cracker to finish 4th to Cape Tribulation in the Pertemps Final Hurdle at the last Cheltenham Festival on good ground. He is only a five year old and is entitled to improve over the coming Months.

Coneygree – Trainer Mark Bradstock – Jockey Mattie Batchelor

Cheltenham – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

I think everyone present at Cheltenham or watching this race on the box was hugely impressed by this young novice hurdler. Running against his elders and giving weight away to most of them, he looked a real class act. He led them all a merry dance and had to be taken back a couple of times according to Mattie Bachelor as he was enjoying himself so much.

This horse wants to please you and wants to give 100% each time he runs. He has a massive engine and had burnt off most rivals by the time he reached the bottom of Cleeve Hill. Ruby Walsh riding Aerial a 6 year old receiving 7 pounds from Coneygree closed to his quarters on the approach to the last hurdle.

Coneygree was having none of it and powered clear to win by 6 lengths. He has bags of stamina and will battle hard. He is an ideal type for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle over 3 miles in March and has valuable track form (twice winner) to boot! The 12/1 on offer from Ladbrokes looks a very fair price. There is even talk of a tilt at the World Hurdle now that Big Bucks is out for the season.

Boston Bob – Trainer Willie Mullins – Jockey Ruby Walsh

You Must Know Me – Trainer Henry De Bromhead – Jockey Andrew Lynch

Navan – Beginners Chase 2m4f

Boston Bob jumped very well but found it very hard work to get the better of you must know me in heavy ground. He made up 5 lengths to pass the winner after jumping the second last fence. You thought he would go on and win easy as they approached the last fence but you must know me fought back to almost head Boston Bob! They both jumped the last well with Boston Bob holding off the sustained challenge of Andrew Lynch’s mount to win by ½ a length.

Most were disappointed by the manner of Boston Bobs win but in reality it was a very good show on his first Chase over 2m4f in heavy ground. Henry De Bromhead had already flagged up his high opinion of the runner up during his stable tour for the Irish Field newspaper. He mentioned in that stable tour that he thought You must know me was up to black type level and loved soft ground. He was proved right on Sunday.

Both Boston Bob and You must know me as high calibre novice chasers and should be followed for the rest of the season. Needing soft ground it is probable that You must know me will not line up at the Cheltenham Festival next March. Both horses finished 37 lengths clear of the rest of the field.

Pont Alexandre – Trainer Willie Mullins – Jockey Ruby Walsh

Navan – Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)

Pont Alexandre is a huge horse standing over 17 hands and looks like a real chaser in making (talk on track that he cost over 300k). However, he is not slow and ran the field ragged from the front. He loved the heavy ground and was pulling clear when the hot favourite Don Cossack took a very unusual fall probably extremely tired after the last hurdle.

The winner was very impressive having his first run in a grade 1 however I would not rush to back him at Cheltenham in March. I would have concerns about such a giant of a horse running on ground better than soft. The race for Pont Alexandre looks like being the Albert Bartlett hurdle over 3 miles at the festival. Coneygree will more than likely line up in the same race. What a clash that would be! At this early stage of the season I would side with Coneygree.

Union Dues – Trainer Willie Mullins – Jockey Patrick Mullins

Navan – Future Champions’ Flat Race (Grade 2)

Union Dues may only be of average size but boy did he leave his competition for dead on the very deep ground in the Bumper. This was a grade 2 winner’s bumper contested by some very good horses with big reputations not least the favourite Champagne James. Patrick Mullins asked Union Dues a big question around 1 and a half furlongs from home.

He picked up really impressively and sped clear of Champagne James. It was a very eye taking performance to show that speed in such deep ground. Willie Mullins mentioned after the race that he will go straight to the Cheltenham festival without another run to contest the Bumper. He has won on good/Yielding ground at Killarney during last summer so he has no ground concerns whatever the ground come Cheltenham in March 2013.

It’s a little early to place a bet on him to win the Cheltenham Bumper but he is one that deserves to be high on any list for that particular race esp. considering Willie Mullins successful record in the race.

That’s it for this week. By this time next week we will have finished the Christmas Dinner and be indulging in some tipple of our choice. I would like to wish you and your near and dear a very happy Christmas. I am really looking forward to a few days off work but more to watching this years King George VI Chase which has a brilliant line up.

I’ll take the cue and sign off for now, tea for three anyone?!

Best Wishes,