Having looked forward to the first day of Cheltenham's December fixture, the action of Friday proved to be a big disappointment with both horses featured in the Top 40 Prospects finishing fifth and fourth in their respective races. If someone had told me Hartur D'Oudairies would finish last in the opening two miles one novice hurdle beforehand, I wouldn't have believed them. Dan Skelton's French import had looked a budding star when hacking up on his UK debut at Warwick last month and was fully expected to go close at Prestbury Park. However, in a steadily run race he failed to get involved and was beaten eight and a half lengths. I can't believe that is as good as he is. The market drift close to the off was a concern and he never landed a telling blow. Even allowing for the fact he probably needs further, he should have been finishing off better. His next run will tell us more and it will be interesting to see what handicap mark he will be allocated. I definitely haven't lost faith in him - his trainer described him as a proper one when we spoke in the summer and in November and has enough good horses to know where he stands with the four year old.
Fontaine Collonges produced a strong staying performance to win at Warwick on her previous start and was expected to go close again in the mares' chase over two and a half miles. Venetia Williams' charge was in trouble a long way from home though and her backers knew their fate before the third last fence. In fairness, the ex-French mare stayed on at the death filling fourth position, albeit over sixteen lengths behind the bloodless winner Vienna Court. Rated 122, the six year old is crying out for a step up in trip - she from the family of Neptune Collonges and wants three miles on soft ground.
Not for the first time this winter, Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers were amongst the winners once again with Cobblers Dream (11/4) scoring on his handicap debut at Doncaster. Ben Case's five year old had won on his hurdles bow at Warwick in September before running well in defeat at Kempton and Wetherby. Granted a mark of 122, the Yeats gelding raced handily and was pushed out for a three lengths win from the ValueRacingClub.co.uk owned Leoncavallo who ran another cracker and never lets his followers down. Declan mentioned the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in January as a possible target for the winner and it would be no surprise to see him head to the Sunbury track in the New Year. He is a decent sort.
Today was an expensive day for followers of the Top 40 but I remain optimistic the pair will reward us in the long-term. Fingers crossed for a better day on Saturday.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive