Last season was definitely one to forget as far as Henry Daly was concerned. Thanks to a virus which ravaged his yard, his winning total dropped to just eight winners.
That problem has been eradicated and this season has seen the Shropshire-based operation running back as normal.
As befits a man who understudied the late Tim Forster, Daly likes to use patience with slow-maturing horses that are bred to jump fences.
Not that such a strategy rules him out of handling top-class hurdlers – remember Mighty Man?
This season he has a good batch of experienced and un-exposed horses, including two hurdlers that could be heading for the EBF Final at Sandown in March.
Here, he gives us the heads-up on their progress plus some reasonably treated handicappers from his yard near Ludlow.
8 gr g Beneficial – Hurst Flyer.
Maiden hurdler who won last two of nine chase starts in handicaps over two and two mile five at Uttoxeter and Warwick December 31 and January 26. Had been rated 115 over hurdles and was off 108 and 108 respectively – beat Romulus D’Artaix 11 lengths at Warwick and now 118.
“Bit of a revelation his last two runs! He’s fine over two miles on bottomless ground but on better ground he’s fine over two and a half. I’ve entered him over three at Warwick on February 24 and although I’m not certain he’ll get it, I can’t find another suitable race. There is an option over two miles at Chepstow the next day.”
7 b g Close Conflict – Renty.
Won extended two-mile novice at Hereford early January and well beaten next two starts, latest when 35 lengths third of 12 to Open Hearted in two and a half mile novice at Fakenham February 17 off 123.
“I think he wants three miles and certainly a stiff two and a half and the only reason he went to Fakenham last time was to qualify for the EBF Final at Sandown which would suit him much better. We had been held up for ten days with the weather and he probably just needed the run.”
6 b g Sagacity – Fille Fidele.
Pulled up latest start in two and a half mile handicap hurdle at Leicester January 24 off a mark of 108. Had won previous start on his seventh attempt over hurdles beating Easydoesit by a length and three quarters in 19 furlong novice handicap at Warwick December 31 off 98.
“I got it wrong last time. I always though he wanted soft to heavy ground and after Leicester I was informed that he didn’t like it. The right trip is two and a half and he should be competitive off this mark.”
7 b g Double Trigger – Dara’s Pride.
Improving hurdler that stepped up on 14-length third to Highland Lodge at Haydock when beating Diamond Life 14 lengths off 120 in Ascot novice hurdle January 21. Both over two and a half miles and now 132.
“I declined running him at Ascot on February 18 because I didn’t want to risk him going up any more for the EBF Final which is his target. I think he is certainly capable of running very well in that despite the ratings rise but he is essentially a chaser in waiting and that’s when you will see him at his best.”
7 ch g Karinga Bay – Girlzone.
Maiden hurdler in five attempts and won chase debut in novice handicap over three miles off 104 at Huntingdon in December. Held when falling at the last next start at Warwick December 31 and off 110 when beating One More Dinar in three and a quarter mile handicap chase at same course latest start January 26. Now 113.
“He only won a short head last time which gives him a solid chance next time. He’s entered over three miles at Sandown on February 24 and the next day he’ll get an entry over three miles five at Warwick. He wants a trip and jumps well in the main.”
5 b g Definite Article – Last Of Her Line.
Show ability on sole bumper start when 19 lengths seventh of 13 to Swing Bowler at Warwick December 31.
“He was a bit free last time but works nicely and will improve in time. Will run towards the end of February and seems in very good form. A nice horse.”
5 b g Robin Des Pres – Alberade.
Shown ability both bumper starts, latest when 22 lengths fifth of 14 to Nelson’s Bridge at Bangor in December.
“Brother to Possol and he’s now going over hurdles but is very, very weak and not very big. I don’t think you will see the best of him until he’s had experience.”
9 ch g Alflora – Pearly-B.
Disappointing latest start when pulling up in three-mile Ascot handicap chase won by Massini’s Maguire off 143 February 18. Had run well previous start when three and a half lengths second of 11 to According To Pete over three miles at Haydock January 21.
“Did not jump well at Ascot last time. His tail kept flicking and I’m inclined to think he wasn’t right in his back but I haven’t been able to get it checked over yet. The last run was to top tell us whether we might go for the National or something else and now we are scratching our heads. The Scottish National might now be an option depending what comes up when he’s checked over.”
9 gr g April Night – Duchesse Du Cochet.
Handicap hurdler that looks best around two and a half miles. Last of three wins from 12 chase starts came off 130 at Stratford 2010. Out of handicap so 141 latest start when creditable 11 lengths sixth of 14 to Calgary Bay in two mile five handicap at Doncaster January 1. Stays on previous mark of 134.
“The last time this horse ran, I felt a bit like the hedgehog when he got off the lavatory brush and said ‘We’ll, we all make mistakes.’ It wasn’t great to run him out of the handicap but he’s hard to place because there are no 0-135 handicap chases over two and a half miles. He likes a sound surface and there’s a possibility he could go to Ludlow for the Forbra Gold Cup next month in which he was beaten last year. Like most of them last season, he wasn’t right then so it’s unfair to judge. Another go at the Topham at Aintree is possible.”
8 gr g Dom Alco – Grace Collognes.
Useful hurdler, three from 13 and rated 135. Ability both chase starts and encouraging reappearance this season when five lengths second of six to Loose Preformer in three mile novice at Leicester late December. Debut chase mark of 130.
“Could well go to Doncaster on February 22 for a beginners chase over three miles. Although he’s run well on soft, his best form is on good ground.”
SAFRAN DE COTTE
6 gr g Dom Alco – Vanille De Cotte.
Last of two hurdle wins came off 119 third-last start over two and a half miles at Haydock December 17. Well beaten last two outings off 127, latest when 28 lengths sixth of 19 to Grand Vision in three mile handicap at Haydock February 18.
“Andrew Tinkler came back after his last run and said the horse was just short of a bit of work which would make sense because we were held up for ten days. He’s run well enough and I’d like to find a 0-145 handicap.”
7 ch g Old Vic – Kasterlee.
Two from nine over hurdle when rated career-high 124 as a novice. Had dropped to 99 when winning latest start in two mile five handicap at Uttoxeter on January 28 beating Fentara two and three quarter lengths. Now 105.
“I’m looking at a three miles handicap hurdle at Bangor on February 29 – he’s run well-enough over the trip before and he should be competitive off 105.”
6 gr g Fragrant Mix – Harmonie De Valtata.
Ability in second of two bumpers in November and better of two hurdle starts was on latest outing when ten lengths fifth of nine to Boston Blue over two miles at Uttoxeter January 28.
“He’s got plenty of entries coming up over two miles and I don’t think you’ll see the best of him until he gets into handicap company.”
8 gr g Silver Patriarch – Island Mist.
Lightly raced in bumpers and hurdles and won first of three chase starts beating Rhum four and a half lengths in three mile novice off 114 at Ffos Las January 11. Now 123.
“Just getting over a slight sinus problem but nothing to be concerned about. At his size you tend to get problems and he’s had them but now we are getting a clear run with him. He’ll get an entry for the Kim Muir at Cheltenham but I don’t know if he’ll get in but he’ll be running before. Jumps really well for such a big horse, neat and tidy. Interesting off this mark.”
9 ch g Baby Turk – Faensa.
Winner of single hurdle and chase, having had ten starts in each category. Rated career-high 114 over hurdles and had dropped 98 to 96 when winning latest chase start beating Overton Lad two and a quarter lengths over three miles one at Towcester in November. Now 101.
“There’s an option for him at Huntingdon on February 23 – he needs decent ground – and in his present form he’ll be thereabouts wherever he runs next. Straightforward.”
9 ch g Presenting – Peptic Lady.
Dual hurdle winner when rated 125 and had dropped to 108 when two and a quarter lengths second to Don’t Tell Sailor in three mile handicap at Leicester January 24 – latest of four chase outings. Now 113.
“Unfortunate to go up for his last run but he does want better ground to show his best – his hurdle form was on decent ground. Although he’s gone up, he’s certainly still going to be competitive on the right ground.”
5 b m Generous – Cresswell Native.
Beaten half a length on bumper debut when second to Liqueur Rose at Bangor January 6.
“Ran very well at Bangor and I’d like to think we might win a mares bumper in mid-March. Not very big.”
4 gr f Brier Creek – Jade De Chalamont.
Encouraging six lengths fourth of seven to Liqueur Rose sole bumper start at Bangor January 6.
“Although she finished behind Toot Sweet at Bangor I feel sure she’s better. She’ll have a run in a mares bumper in March. Quite nice.”
UP TO THE MARK
7 b g Mark Of Esteem – Villella.
Novice handicap chase winner off 105 at Stratford last season over two and a quarter miles. Has run over hurdles last three starts off 108, latest when two and a quarter lengths third of 15 to Roll The Dice at Warwick January 14 (fourth won next start) and now 110.
“In hindsight he might not have gone fast enough last time, he just stays and doesn’t quicken over two miles. Needs further so goes over two and a half at Ludlow on March 1 and he’ll be helped by faster ground. Very capable of winning a handicap hurdle. Not so free these days.”
5 b g First Trump – Vanina II.
First of two bumper starts best when 11 lengths third of 15 to Viking Ridge at Huntingdon in December. Tailed off fourth to New Year’s Eve next run at Ludlow early January.
“Very weak and backward and has been sent home but is coming back and will be in bumpers in late March and April.”
8 b g Second Empire – Winchester Queen.
Chaser effective from two to two and a half miles. Has been 124 and off 122 latest start when 12 lengths fourth of ten to Renard in extended two mile handicap at Taunton January 31. Now 121.
“Nice run at Taunton last time and I’m sure that if he settles he’ll get two and a half miles really well. It’s just that he’s been too free and was last time and likes fast ground.”
WIND AND WAVES
6 b g Alflora – Sail By The Stars.
Flashes of ability in three hurdle starts since November and last of them on December 26. Debut mark of 104.
“Pleased me first time at Towcester first time but slightly disappointing the next two outings. He’s done well for a little break and is working quite nicely. There’s a three mile novice handicap hurdle somewhere for him.”
CASTLE CONFLICT ATR Tracker will have come on considerably for his last run and is EBF Hurdle-bound.
GROVE PRIDE ATR Tracker is another for the EBF Final and is one to look out for over fences.
LORD GRANTHAM ATR Tracker is moving well at home and is one to keep on the right side.
QUENTIN COLLONGES ATR Tracker is going to be interesting when he gets onto faster ground.
THE FALKLANDER ATR Tracker is agile for a big horse and has latitude in his mark.
UPBEAT COBBLER ATR Tracker has potential and could be handy in a mares’ bumper.