There were some bubbles burst in Ireland on Boxing Day, particularly in the novice chase department with Faugheen emphatically brushing aside Samcro at Limerick, while Notebook made it three out of three in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novices' Chase at Leopardstown lowering the colours of Fakir D'Oudairies and Laurina in the process.
However, the day belonged to Paul Nicholls who won the King George at Kempton for a record breaking eleventh time as Clan Des Obeaux made it back to back successes in the Christmas showpiece. With Harry Cobden electing to partner the highest rated chaser in training and stablemate Cyrname, it was Sam Twiston-Davies who did the steering aboard the seven year old. As expected, it was Cyrname who set the tempo and everything appeared to be going to plan leaving the backstraight with market rival Lostintranslation making a series of uncharacteristic mistakes and being in trouble some way from home before eventually pulling up. However, last year's winner loomed up travelling strongly at the third last and swept clear thereafter to win decisively by twenty one lengths. Runner-up at Down Royal on his reappearance, it was a superb display by the winner. Cyrname held on for second place but left the impression he didn't get home. Expect him to drop back in trip next time.
Epatante propelled herself to the top of the ante-post market for the Champion Hurdle with an equally impressive display in the Christmas Hurdle. An easy winner of the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury on her reappearance off a mark of 137, she took this step up in class in her stride with Barry Geraghty's mount always travelling smoothly. Th ex-French trained filly has settled much better in her races this term, her jumping was quick and accurate as she toyed with her nine opponents. A five lengths scorer, she is all speed and relishes flat tracks. The burning question now is over whether she will prove as effective at Cheltenham, especially having failed to fire there last March. Featured in last year's Top 40, Nicky Henderson's daughter of No Risk At All is a class act. Last year's Champion Hurdle third Silver Streak ran well in second but had no answer to the winner's turn of foot. He is an admirable horse in his own right and has proved a fantastic buy for Evan Williams.
Epatante's victory was a good result for Christmas Special subscribers having been advised at 9/2, while Declan Phelan's Irish Angle piece produced a couple of winners at Down Royal, namely Opposites Attract (15/8) and Farouk D'Alene (4/6). The latter is also featured in the Top 40 Prospects and Gordon Elliott's new recruit looked well above average as he sauntered to a seventeen lengths win in the concluding bumper at Down Royal. Partnered by Jamie Codd, he made all and never looked like being beaten. Purchased for £260,000 having won his only point-to-point for Donnchadh Doyle, his work beforehand had reportedly been very good and his rider described him as 'a monster' afterwards. Likely to be kept to bumpers this season, he is a hugely exciting prospect.
Finally, congratulations to ValueRacingClub.co.uk who were responsible for the Lincolnshire National winner at Market Rasen. Hugo 'N Taz (5/1) was having his first run for the syndicate and trainer David Pipe having been acquired out of Denis Hogan's yard for £19,000 in August. The eight year old won by four lengths under David Noonan and readers of One Jump Ahead can't say they weren't told - please see page 56. This had been the plan for sometime and it paid off handsomely. Well done to racing manager James Couldwell for another shrewd acquistion.
“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