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The Notebook: Arkle hopes drifting for Josses Hill despite win

| 09.01.2015

With much of the big race action taking place at the weekend, some big stories from Monday to Friday can sometimes slip under the radar in the racing world.

That’s why, here at Ladbrokes News, we are bringing you ‘The Notebook’, highlighting the impressive, and not-so impressive midweek highlights from the equine world.

Here’s what caught our eye this week…

Impressive chaser in the making for Mullins

Yes, another impressive hurdle win for Willie Mullins, but watch out for Roi Des Francs over the bigger obstacles.

Described after his straightforward win by 5l at Thurles on Monday as “a big horse and is going to be a three-mile chaser down the line”.

So although an entry in both the Neptune and the Albert Bartlett have been given to the five-year-old, with the wealth of novice hurdlers the handler possesses, he might skip the Festival altogether ahead of a chasing career next season.

Baker’s charge on a Dash for the Foxhunters

The Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival was described as being “no more than a slightly ludicrous, horribly optimistic dream” before racing on Wednesday by trainer George Baker.

But having got Double Dash back on track after nearly two years out injured, that dream got a little bit more real as his 11-year-old nicely took the first Hunters Chase of the season.

It seems the Prestbury Park amateur’s showpiece is the target, but the veteran must finish in the first two again to qualify. But if he does, watch out for this old boy in March.

Another potential handicap star for Pipe

It seems every year David Pipe discovers some untapped French talent to throw at the season’s big handicaps, and this year it could be the turn of Bidourey.

He took his record to three from three since a move across the Channel, but this was the most taking victory yet.

Chasing the leader for most of the way, Tom Scudamore’s mount quickened smoothly to go away by a very easy 11l.

Don’t be surprised to see this one well supported for a Cheltenham Festival handicap.

Josses Hill gets off the mark

The form may have worked out very well with Ptit Zig running out an impressive winner at Cheltenham next time out, but Josses Hill’s debut over fences was disappointing nonetheless.

However, Nicky Henderson’s charge put that performance behind him at Doncaster, seeing off 2011 Champion Bumper winner Cheltenian and the improving Solar Impulse in good style.

The distance wasn’t anything to write home about, but the leap at the last was impressive and plenty of decent prizes are sure to come his way.

Whether one of those prizes is the Grade 1 Arkle Chase at Cheltenham looks unlikely though, with Ladbrokes pushing the seven-year-old out from 10/1 to 12/1 for Festival glory.

Change of surroundings for Reckless

Little more than 10 minutes after Josses Hill was doing the business, the horse he beat into second at Aintree in April was running out a nice winner himself, though not in the expected surroundings.

Having made a successful debut over fences in October, Mick Channon’s charge returned to the scene of his second bumper win – Lingfield’s all-weather surface.

Perhaps with a crack at the valuable Marathon on All-Weather Championship Finals day in mind, he looked very comfortable running out a winner at 4/5.

Who knows where he’ll end up next, but take notice if it’s on the polytrack again.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.