2000 Guineas 2014: Kingman To Reign In 2000 Guineas

Trainer John Gosden’s unbeaten Kingman to reign in a classic renewal of the 2000 Guineas

Kingman will be favourite to win what looks a quality renewal of the first classic of the 2014 season. The unbeaten colt impressed so many when winning at Newbury last month and shot to the head of the betting markets. Gosden has suggested he is the best that he has trained and the evidence on course appears to support that confidence.

Aidan O’Brien has similar faith in his Australia who will make his seasonal debut in the Guineas. The Ballydoyle colt progressed well last season and was eye-catching in his defeat of the well thought of Free Eagle.

Richard Hannon Jnr hopes to claim his first classic with the Champion two-year-old Toormore. Toormore having taken the recognised trial (the Craven Stakes) a fortnight ago will be joined in the race by stablemates Night Of Thunder and Shifting Power. Shifting Power is also undefeated and appears to have been overlooked by punters with outstanding each way odds of 66/1 available with BetVictor.

The last day of the Punchestown Festival 2014 will see the super mare Annie Power look to finish the season on top with a win in the Mares Champion Hurdle (3.45), where her only real opposition will be the useful Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Cockney Sparrow.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Kingman (2000 Guineas – Newmarket 3.50)

So very impressive when winning a quality Greenham Stakes at Newbury last month. The Gosden colt showed such a turn of foot that even parallels have been made with the mighty Frankel. Unbeaten and most highly regarded expect this colt to write his name in the annuals of history this afternoon.

Crockford’s Whisper – Wrong Turn e/w (Punchestown 4.55)

Ran too bad to be true at the Cheltenham Festival where high things were expected. Tony Martin believes his horse s now back on song and looks set to make a bold show in this valuable handicap.

Archer’s Selection – Trading Leather (Newmarket 3.10)

Archer would have recognised the classic quality of this four-year-old. He would be impressed with his last season form and new connections. Archer would certainly have seen this horse as the main chance.

Crockford’s Gambles on 2000 Guineas Day 2014:

Newmarket –  Trumpet Major e/w (2.05), Pearl Secret (2.40),Trading Leather (3.10), Kingman and Shifting Power e/w (2000 Guineas 3.50) and Cloudscape (5.00)

Punchestown – Star Neuville (2.30), Hunting Party e/w (3.05), Annie Power (3.45), Guitar Pete (4.20),Wrong Turn e/w (4.55),  Regal Encore and Un Temps Pour Tout (5.30) and Attribution (6.05)

Goodwood – Bonanza Creek (2.20), Magic City (2.55) and Maureen (4.05)

Uttoxeter – Nathans Pride (1.35), Makari (2.10) and Courtesy Call (3.55)

Thirsk – Norse Blues e/w (3.40) and Tax Free e/w (5.20)


(Featured Photograph –  2014 European Free Handicap by Stuart Rice)


Punchestown Festival 2014: Champion To Fly

Rematch in the Racing Post Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival 2014  is set to go Hurricane Fly

With only three runners making up the field in the Grade One Racing Post Champion Hurdle it looks to be a straight rematch between the Cheltenham hero Jezki and the former Champion Hurricane Fly.

There is no doubt that Harrington’s horse was impressive in the Champion Hurdle back in March, but today’s test is different. Hurricane Fly is imperious in Ireland and has beaten Jezki twice there already this season. The small field will suit Hurricane Fly as will the course and conditions. Expect the placings to be reversed on this occasion.

Vautour will follow up on his magnificent Cheltenham victory in the Champion Novice Hurdle (6.05) and cement his reputation as a real contender for the Champion Hurdle next season.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Hurricane Fly (Champion Hurdle 5.30)

In the rematch against Jezki it is hard to look past Hurricane Fly’s record in Ireland and at the track. This season Mullins’ horse has beaten Jezki twice and only been defeated by him once. Any odds above Evens for this Dead Cert will be a steal for punters.

Crockford’s Whisper – Ericht e/w (4.20)

Nicky Henderson has had a good week at the Festival which is set to continue with this touted horse. Well thought of before the Cheltenham Festival where he disappointed expect the chaser to bounce back and put in a bold show at each way odds.

Crockford’s Gambles on Day Four of the Punchestown Festival 2014:

Ericht e/w (4.20), Utopie Des Bordes (4.55), Hurricane Fly (Champion Hurdle 5.30), Vautour (Champion Novice Hurdle 6.05), Artic Fire (6.40), Morning Run (7.10), On The Fringe and Quel Esprit e/w (Champion Hunter Chase 7.45)


(Featured Photograph – Champion Hurdle 2014 by Stuart Rice)



Punchestown Festival 2014: Quevega To Rule The World?

Will Willie Mullins’ super mare Quevega rule the World again by taking a fifth World Series Hurdle in a row? 

Quevega stands on the threshold of another amazing achievement; Could the Mullins super mare win a fifth World Series Hurdle to go alongside her six Mares Hurdles? Well, this appears to be one of her toughest tasks yet with the classy At Fishers Cross and Fingal Bay opposing.

At Fishers Cross has progressed through the season and looks a strong rival. The Pertemps Network Final winner Fingal Bay has always been highly regarded and at his best would be hard to beat.

At odds on for another victory Quevega does not look the value of race. The each way prices available for Phillip Hobbs’s horse Fingal Bay is a more attractive proposition.

Champagne Fever should receive consolation for being pipped in the Arkle when he takes on his rivals in the Ryanair Novice Chase (6.40) and so will Ned Buntline (4.15) who just failed to be victorious in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Champagne Fever (Ryanair 6.40)

Just denied victory in the Arkle at Cheltenham, Mullins’ classy grey will get back to winning ways in the Ryanair.  The Supreme Hurdle winner has the ability to beat all of these rivals with some ease.

Crockford’s Whisper – Fingal Bay e/w (World Series Hurdle 5.30)

Many punters banker at this year’s Festival, Fingal Bay has useful form that should not be overlooked. The win in the Pertemps Final and the subsequent win of the second (Southfield Theatre) that day point at the ability of Hobbs’ horse.

Crockford’s Gambles on Day Three of the Punchestown Festival 2014:

Vive La France (3.40), Ned Buntline (4.15), Quantitativeeasing (4.50), Fingal Bay e/w (World Series Hurdle 5.30), Inis Meain (6.05), Champagne Fever (Ryanair 6.40), Vicky De L’Oasis (7.15) and Champoleon (7.45)


(Featured Photograph – Quevega at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)




Punchestown Festival 2014: Boston Bob To Strike Gold

Boston Bob to strike gold in the Gold Cup for champion trainer Willie Mullins on day two of the Punchestown Festival 2014

The talented chaser Boston Bob will look to continue a good week at the Festival for champion trainer Willie Mullins when he lines up in the Gold Cup. Slightly favoured in the market over his stablemate and Cheltenham Gold Cup second On His Own, Boston Bob looks to have the form and ability to win. Unlucky last year in the RSA (when falling) he can put such missed chances behind him by beating what looks to be a group of exposed rivals. The strongest danger to him may come from a rejuvenated Long Run, who was going well when falling in the Grand National.

The Champion Bumper is a vintage renewal which appears to be at the mercy of Dermot Weld. The Master of Rosewell’s Cheltenham victor Silver Concorde will attempt again to hold back the Mullins battalions. Mullins’ Killultagh Vic finished sixth behind Weld’s horse in March but should get closer when they meet again.

Crockford provided followers with four winners on day one of the Punchestown Festival 2014 (including his Dead Cert – Faugheen), on day two he looks to trainer Mullins for his Dead Cert and Whisper.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Boston Bob (Gold Cup 5.30)

Always highly regarded by connections, things came right for Boston Bob when winning at Aintree last time out.  In what is not the strongest renewal of the Punchestown Gold Cup, the class of this horse will shine through. Expect him to be a big player next season after a win here.

Crockford’s Whisper – Killultagh Vic e/w (Champion Bumper 6.05)

Killultagh Vic was very impressive when beating Tony Martin’s Golantilla at Naas, before not getting the run of the race at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The trainer expects a bold show from this horse and punters should be attracted to the double figure odds on offer.

Crockford’s Gambles on Day Two of the Punchestown Festival 2014:

Highbrow Blue (3.40), Cheltenian (4.20), Apache Jack e/w (4.55), Boston Bob (Gold Cup 5.30) Silver Concorde and Killultagh Vic e/w (Champion Bumper 6.05), King Vuvuzela e/w (6.40) and Virtuoso Rouge (7.15)


(Featured Photograph – Boston Bob at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)


Punchestown Festival 2014: Champions To Be Crowned

Champions to be crowned on the first day of the Punchestown Festival 2014

Champion trainer Willie Mullins will head to the Festival with yet another strong team. On day one of the meeting it looks certain that the trainer will claim the first of the Championship races with the impressive Neptune winner Faugheen. So highly regarded by connections, Faugheen will drop down in distance to take on his rivals in Champion Novice Hurdle.

In the Champion Chase, won by the imperious Sprinter Sacre twelve months ago, Mullins races Turban and Twinlight. The pair come to the two mile contest looking to regain form but look to be outclassed by Sizing Europe and Hidden Cyclone.

Ballycasey, Mozoltov and Djakadam make up Mullins’ challengers for the Champion Novice Chase where they will be joined by four dangerous opponents. Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough is favoured with the champion McCoy up.

The two bumpers on the card provide two eye-catching entries in the form of Nicky Henderson’s Native Display (6.05) and Dermot Weld’s Forgotten Rules (7.15). Native Display has Patrick Mullins booked which is in itself noteworthy.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – Faugheen (Champion Novice Hurdle 4.20)

The unbeaten Neptune winner is so highly regarded by connections that he is a certainty to be crowned Irish Champion. Punters should note that he won by 22 lengths last year at Punchestown Festival beating the very useful Josses Hill.

Crockford’s Whisper – Massinis Trap e/w (4.55)

Interesting fifth in a Limerick handicap at the weekend when piloted by the champion jockey Joseph O’Brien. That preparation makes him certainly worthy of a second look and an each way investment at 20/1. Some creditable performances over hurdles earlier in the season.

Punchestown Festival 2014 Day One Gambles:

Be Postive (3.40), Faugheen (Champion Novice Hurdle 4.20), Massinis Trap e/w (4.55),  Hidden Cyclone (Champion Chase 5.30), Native Display (6.05), Carlingford Lough e/w (Champion Novice Chase 6.40) and Forgotten Rules (7.15)


(Featured Photograph – Faugheen at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)

Punchestown Festival & Bet 365 Gold Cup: Mullins On His Own

The master trainer of Ireland Willie Mullins has been head and shoulders above his rivals at Punchestown this week and looks to be On His Own again today

With a five timer on Thursday and another brilliant win for Hurricane Fly yesterday the Irish champion trainer has had a week to remember. At the beginning of the week there was talk of his horses being out of form, well how wrong that could have been. Today he has at least six stand out chances at the Festival and sends over a real hope of taking the Bet 365 Gold Cup at Sandown this afternoon. The one time favourite for the Grand National On His Own heads the field in (3.45) and should make recompense for his fall at Aintree. The Boyne Hurdle winner is a cut above the rest and has been lightly raced this season. He is sure to be ready for a big show in the chase this afternoon. Crockford expects to see Mullins back in the winners enclosure on the final day of the Festival with On His Own, Shakervilz, Aupcharlie, Tarla, Diakali and Rockyaboya.

The Bet 365 Gold Cup joint favourite Away We Go makes the trip across the Irish Sea for Willie Mullins, but is certain to have stiff opposition from classy novices in the form of the Cheltenham Festival winner Same Difference and Nicky Henderson’s Hadrian’s Approach. Tim Vaughan’s Saint Are comes alive in the spring and did not have a bad run in the Grand National and looks an attractive price at 25/1.

The former champion chaser Finian’s Rainbow takes on Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase. Sanctuaire was impressive last year when winning this two mile chase but there are signs that Finian’s Rainbow is recapturing some of his old zest for racing. If the Henderson horse has he will be hard to beat. Wishful Thinking will be in the mix too if his breathing does not trouble him.

Crockford’s Dead Cert – On His Own (Punchestown Festival 3.45)

With the form that Mullins has been in at the Festival for the last few days everyone of his runners will gain the punters attention. This former Grand National favourite looked as good as ever when winning on his return this season in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. If his jumping is in good order he is certain for victory.

Crockford’s Whisper – Bancnuanaheirann e/w (Ripon 2.20)

Fourth in last year’s Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, he will be fitter for his run at Doncaster in the Lincoln. His form towers above the others in the field today. This whisper is certain to make a bold show at an attractive each way price of 14/1.

Archer selects Aljmaaheer
Archer selects Aljamaaheer

Archer’s Selection – Aljamaaheer (Leicester 3.55)

When looking at the King Richard III Stakes, Archer would not have looked past this classy colt.  The ability that this Roger Varian horse showed in Group and Listed contests at Ascot, Newmarket and Goodwood last season would not have been missed by the champion jockey.

Crockford’s gambles on the final day of the Punchestown Festival and across the courses today:

Punchestown – Shakervilz (2.30), Aupcharlie (3.10), On His Own (3.45), Tarla (4.25), Diakali (5.00), Il Fenomeno (5.35), Martello Tower (6.10) and Rockyaboya (6.40)

Sandown – Calculated Risk (1.30), Ranjaan e/w (2.05), Finian’s Rainbow (2.40), Thomas Chippendale (3.15), Same Difference e/w, Hadrian’s Approach e/w and Saint Are e/w (3.50)

Ripon – Bancnuanaheirann e/w (2.20), Montaff e/w (2.55), The Art Of Racing (4.40) and Havana Cooler (5.15)

Leicester – Aljamaaheer (3.55) and Continuum (5.05)

Market Rasen – Golden Hoof (1.55), Riguez Dancer (4.45) and Oscar Hoof (5.20)


(Featured Photograph – Same Difference after his win at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)


Punchestown Festival – Day Two: Henderson’s Gold Run

Nicky Henderson’s  2011 Gold Cup winner Long Run looks to add another Gold Cup to his tally at the Punchestown Festival today

With Sprinter Sacre making it a perfect ten out of ten over fences yesterday, Nicky Henderson will now look to his 2011 Cheltenham Gold winner to deliver the feature race on the second day of the Punchestown Festival. Long Run’s opposition will come from a crowd of Gigginstown runners led up the Cheltenham Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs.

Willie Mullins the trainer of Sir Des Champs will fancy his chances of a Grade One treble with the impressive Ballycasey in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle and with Briar Hill, the Cheltenham Festival victor in the Champion Bumper.  Crockford fancies his chances with Ballycasey and Briar Hill but believes that the treble will be foiled by Long Run who has been lightly campaigned this season and has the quality on his day to beat any of his rivals.

Crockford believes that Rubi Light can defy top weight in the Guinness Handicap Chase (6.30) and land the prize. Call The Police (for Mullins) and Nadiya De La Vega (for Henderson) will both have their followers and will be fancied against the top weight, but Rubi Light has the class to defeat them.

Crockford’s gambles on day two of the Punchestown Festival 2013:

Happy New Year (3.40)

Gassin Golf (4.20)

Ballycasey (Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle 4.55)

Long Run (Punchestown Gold Cup 5.30)

Briar Hill (Champion Bumper 6.05)

Rubi Light e/w (6.40)

Beat That (7.15)

(Featured photograph – Briar Hill at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)





Punchestown Festival – Day One: Sprinter Sacre Back In Focus

Day one of the Punchestown Festival will see the imperious Sprinter Sacre back in focus in the Boylesport.com Champion Chase, whilst Willie Mullins novices look to dominate the other Grade One contests

Sprinter Sacre will face four rivals in the Boylesport.com Champion Chase. Sizing Europe vanquished by the Henderson horse in the Queen Mother Champion Chase looks almost certain to finish second again to him today. Henry De Bromhead’s other runner Day’s Hotel is most likely to challenge his stablemate for the runners up spot. The much improved Foildubh and once useful Noble Prince complete the field for a race that should be no more than a procession for the awesome chaser who deserves the accolade of the best horse in training. At prices of 1/7 for the favourite and 9/2 for Sizing Europe no punters will make their fortune on the chase. Crockford advises punters to keep their powder dry and use it on more profitable prospects.

The Herald Champion Novice Hurdle looks to be an interesting rematch of Champagne Fever and Jezki, with the Cheltenham Festival winner getting the nod from Crockford. The grey Mullins horse came back a reformed horse after his operation earlier this season to win well at the Festival when fending off the strong finishing My Tent Or Yours. A repeat of that form should have the beating of his rivals including the impressive Festival second Rule The World.

The Mullins pair Back In Focus and Boston Bob are a strong hand for the Irish champion trainer in the Growise Champion Novice Chase. Back In Focus claimed the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham with a strong finish up the hill and Boston Bob was an unlucky loser at the Festival when falling when in front at the last. Crockford narrowly favours Back In Focus to claim victory especially with Ruby Walsh up.

Don Cantillon
Don Cantillon runs Classic Move

Phillip Hobbs Snap Tie landed a training coup when he won the big handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last year, a repeat performance would be outstanding but not a surprise to Crockford.

The master trainer Don Cantillon runs Classic Move in the bumper at (6.05). The former point-to-point winner stands an excellent chance  in the race and is bound to be ready for a big run. The booking of Nico de Boinville is also eye catching.

Crockford’s gambles on day one of the Punchestown Festival:

Near Perfection (3.40), Champagne Fever (Herald Champion Novice Hurdle 4.20), Snap Tie  e/w (4.55), Sprinter Sacre (Boylesport.com Champion Chase 5.30), Classic Move e/w (6.05) Back In Focus (Growise Champion Novice Chase 6.40) and Wicklow Brave (7.15)

(Featured photograph – Back In Focus at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Don Cantillon by Stuart Rice)



Punchestown Festival 2013: Long Run against Gigginstown for Gold Cup

If Long Run takes his place in the Punchestown Gold Cup later this month he may face up to four Gigginstown House Stud rivals – Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant, Roi Du Mee and Quito De La Roque

This year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup third Long Run will look to take on the Cheltenham Festival seconds Sir Des Champs and First Lieutenant in the feature race at Punchestown later this month. Sir Des Champs who beat Long Run up the Cheltenham hill is quoted as favourite for the race at around 2/1 with recent The Betfred Bowl winner First Lieutenant third in the market  with Ladbrokes at 4/1.

Long Run may also have to contend with the Gordon Elliott trained Roi Du Mee  who will come to the race off an outstanding string of performances this season with the last being a win in the Imperial Call Chase at Cork . The final member of the Gigginstown four, Quito De La Roque had the measure of Elliott’s horse when they met in the Grade Two Kinloch Brae Chase but finished well behind his fellow Gigginstown chaser First Lieutenant at Aintree last time.

First Lieutenant
First Lieutenant is one of the four Gigginstown horses

The Gigginstown team have been successful once before in the race with War of Attrition back in 2006. War of Attrition was trained by Mouse Morris whose yard will be sending out First Lieutenant as there 2013 hope. If Long Run and the Waley-Cohens are to beat the  impressive array of Gigginstown rivals they will have to be on the top of their game. Running well at Cheltenham and a gallant winner of the King George this year the signs are there but he will have to turn round the form with the Willie Mullins stayer Sir Des Champs who seems to hold all the aces.

Also entered into the Punchsetown Gold Cup are King George second Captain Chris, 2012 Ryanair winner Riverside Theatre and the former champion two miler Sizing Europe who holds a couple of Festival entries and may prefer a potential clash with Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase instead.

Connections have suggested that Long Run is likely take up the engagement and are considering whether or not he will make another attempt at regaining his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown next year. If he does or not it looks certain that Long Run will be heading to Kempton at Christmas. However, the most exciting news for punters to come from the camp is that they are seriously considering a crack at the Grand National in 2014 and/or 2015.

Punchestown Gold Cup Betting (Ladbrokes) – Sir Des Champs 2/1, Long Run 3/1, First Lieutenant 4/1,  Roi Du Mee 8/1, Captain Chris 8/1, Sizing Europe 8/1, Riverside Theatre 10/1, Kauto Stone 10/1 and Quito De La Roque 20/1


(Featured Photograph – The Waley-Cohens at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – First Lieutenant before the Ryanair at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)




Punchestown Festival 2013: Sprinter Sacre leads the Champion Chase entries

Sprinter Sacre leads the list of Champion Chase entries for what looks to be a vintage Punchestown Festival 2013

Sprinter Sacre may  face his vanquished rivals Cue Card, Sizing Europe and Flemenstar in the Boylesport.com Champion Chase on Tuesday 23 April. After his imperious victories at Cheltenham and Aintree he may race once more this season at the Irish festival in the two mile chase. In the almost 200 years of the Festival history pundits and punters may ask a like if Henderson’s horse is to be the best to ever grace the meeting. If Sprinter Sacre does take up the engagement he is certain to start a short priced favourite whatever opposition turns up. The second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase Sizing Europe may sidestep another encounter with his trained Henry De Bromhead favouring a tilt at the Punchestown Gold Cup instead. Currently the former Cheltenham Festival Champion is quoted at 8/1 for the Gold Cup where this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs heads the market at 2/1.

Sizing Europe
Sizing Europe holds an entry in Punchestown Gold Cup

Cue Card and Flemenstar were both gallant in defeat behind Sprinter Sacre in the Melling Chase last week, but it would be hard to see a circumstance where they could reverse the placings with him. Their best chance of victory and the most likely will be if connections choose to miss the meeting waiting to next season to let their Champion race again. If that is their choice and the Punchestown Festival is deprived of seeing the undoubted best horse in training the race will become a more open contest.

Amongst the other possible contenders for the Champion Chase are  the 2012 Cheltenham Festival Champion Finian’s Rainbow and recent Norman Grove Chase winner Foildubh. Finian’s Rainbow raced with more vigour in the Melling Chase and will continue to enjoy the improving ground conditions. Having beaten the progressive Day’s Hotel at Fairyhouse Foildubh will be a contender in some punters minds but may well still be outclassed by the other entrants.

Crockford hopes that the Punchestown Festival goers get the chance to see the best horse in training for one final time this season


(Featured photograph – Sprinter Sacre after his Cheltenham Festival win by Stuart Rice)

(Photograph – Sizing Europe at the Cheltenham Festival by Stuart Rice)