While I was delighted for Tom Lacey, I must confess to have felt underwhelmed after the Betfair Hurdle with the selections in the February Update all running poorly. Not for the first time, Broomfield Burg spoilt his chance by racing too keenly during the first half of the race and faded tamely after the last. Both Boothill and JPR One travelled well but found disappointingly little off the bridle. The winner Glory And Fortune has progressed markedly this term having finished a well beaten thirteenth in the race last year off a twelve pounds lower mark. Successful in the Welsh Champion Hurdle during the Autumn, the seven year old had chased home Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
It has been well documented that Paul Nicholls' string have been struggling during recent weeks but form is temporary and class is permanent and Bravemansgame extended his unbeaten record over fences to four wins in the opening novices' handicap chase at the Berkshire track. With the exception of a couple of fences, he jumped well and readily saw off Pats Fancy to win by three and a half lengths conceding sixteen pounds to the runner-up. The victory lacked the wow factor of his three previous wins but connections will be pleased as he heads to Cheltenham next month for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.
Journey With Me also completed his Festival preparation with a victory when taking the two miles three novice hurdle at Naas with plenty in hand. Similar to Bravemansgame, there was nothing flashy about the performance but Henry De Bromhead's gelding would have benefited from a stronger gallop. Held up early on, Rachael Blackmore elected to go to the front with a circuit to run but hardly set a forcing pace. Driven out after the second last, his trainer once again indicated that the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle is the six year old's most likely target. However, he still looks vulnerable to a horse with a turn of foot on drying ground. A dry spring might see a change of plan.
Later on the card, Goven provided the French Revolution section in One Jump Ahead with another winner when taking the second division of two miles maiden hurdle. Willie Mullins' charge looked in control when market rival Mighty Blue lost her rider at the final flight before he pulled clear to win by eight and a half lengths. Bought for €175,000 having won a couple of bumpers in his native country, he has progressed with each start over obstacles and his trainer feels he will be even better on decent ground in the spring. It will be interesting to see what mark he is allocated and whether J.P.McManus will be keen to enter him in something like the County Hurdle at next month's Festival. The Poliglote gelding possesses a high cruising speed and that will stand him in good stead in well run handicaps.
As discussed, I am going to Newmarket early week for Ahead On The Flat. I will therefore update the Diary on my return. I will also pass on news of the ValueRacingClub.co.uk Cheltenham Festival preview, which will be via zoom. We are assembling a strong panel and hope to build on last year's successful and enjoyable evening.
“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