horse racing

Three to follow from the weekend: 2nd, 3rd & 4th December…

❌ HONEYSUCKLE… defeated!!

❌ SHISHKIN… defeated!!

The SHISHKIN defeat possibly isn’t as much of a ‘surprise’, he wasn’t defending an unbeaten record and he was coming in off a PU effort in last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Nicky Henderson states they’ll now whack him up in trip and I like that thinking… he’s probably not on the downgrade just yet and there has long been a suspicion that he needs/wants further. I’m excited to see how he gets on over a longer trip…

HONEYSUCKLE was, however, coming in with an unbeaten record to defend and her defeat would probably sit more in the ‘surprise’ category, for all she was beaten by two quality horses and not beaten all that far.

I’ve long been of the thinking that a top-class mare will almost always beat the boys when she is at the top of her game, the weight concession just proves too much of an advantage. I’m also of the opinion that when a top class mare falls from the top of the tree they rarely manage to get back to the top. Obvious one race, and seasonal debut at that, is not enough evidence to say that Honeysuckle is now done with the game, she only gave way at the last and it was 30L+ back to the others, but her speed figures (Proform Speed figures) have begun to drop off from her peak and this could now be her on the ’downgrade’. I’d hang fire until her next start to say for sure, but the signs are there… the next run will tell plenty more about what Honeysuckle has left in the tank…

Away from the top boys and girls here is the latest ‘Three To Follow From The Weekend‘, Cherry-picked from my own in-depth Weekend Notes that went to full members yesterday… 


Three to follow from the weekend: 2nd, 3rd & 4th December…


Horse Profile - Jockey Colours DON HERBAGER (V Williams)

5th in a Class 3 Handicap Chase – 310 Exeter (Friday 2nd) 

The 8yo is likely to have needed this run and he also looks to prefer deeper ground than the Good to Soft he met with here…

Ground splits

0/6, 0p on Good to Soft

4/11, 3p on Soft or Heavy

DSLR splits

0/6, 1p off breaks of 90+ days

4/11, 2p off breaks of 75 days or less

He’s worth looking out for with this run now under his belt and his Prime Conditions would look to be somewhere around…

2m5f+ | DSLR 75 or less | Soft or Heavy = 1151313 (4/7, 2p – all 4 career wins)


Horse Profile - Jockey Colours SECRET REPRIEVE (E Williams)

2nd in a Class 2 Handicap Chase – 137 Chepstow (Saturday 3rd) 

No match for the impressive winner (FARINET) but I doubt he would have been bang ready for this anyway as a return to the Welsh National at end of the month must be the absolute main aim for him, he also will have wanted deeper ground than the Good to Soft he met with here. He has finished 1st and 5th in the last two Welsh Nationals and has course form of 21115 and he clearly needs to be considered as a betting proposition for the race again this year, even more so when you consider that he will be running off the same mark as the one he won the race off in January 2021 (OR 134).

Prime Conditions for him looks to be…

DSLR 45 or less | Soft-Heavy | Dec-Jan = 111 (3/3 – all 3 career wins)

…and he will almost certainly get that ground in the Welsh National (last time it WASN’T Soft or Heavy was 2005, which was only the second time in at least the last 25 renewals it wasn’t Soft or Heavy).


Horse Profile - Jockey Colours NED TANNER (N Alexander)

1st in a Class 3 Novices’ Handicap Chase – 135 Kelso (Sunday 4th) 

This win improved his record off breaks of 31 days or less to… 13131 (3/5, 1p – all 3 career wins)… and I thought there was a lot to like about this effort.

The 6yo should have plenty more to come over fences as he has started life over the larger obstacles on a very workable mark and he never wins by far either, so good chance he stays ahead of the handicapper for a bit.


Cheers – Ben (NTF)

p.s All free NTF guides for the 2022/23 National Hunt season are still available when you hook up to the FREE NTF List… those FREE guides being…

>>>Sires That Fire!
>>>Weekend Notes (28/29/30 Oct)
>>>16 Winter Warmers
>>>Do you remember the first time?
To gain instant access to them all simply slide your name and best email into the box below

11 responses to “Three to follow from the weekend: 2nd, 3rd & 4th December…”

  1. I must admit, I wasn’t surprised by Shishkin being beaten. After all, it took Sprinter Sacre nearly 2 years and 4 races to get to within 15lb of his brilliant best when winning the 2015 Shloer Chase (after pulling-up in the Dec2013 Desert Orchid Chase).
    Honeysuckle? As you say, she’s had the benefit of the mares’ allowance – but she’s also had the benefit of running when the 2-mile hurdle division has been indifferent. Had Espoir D’Allen not tragically died as a 5yo, I doubt Honeysuckle would have run in a Champion Hurdle as she’d have won the Mares’ Hurdle for the past 3 seasons.
    Now that would be something to savour: Espoir D’Allen vs Constitution Hill (reminiscent of Kauto Star vs Denman, or Arkle vs Mill House).

    • Hi Ian

      Yeah Shishkin wasn’t a huge surprise… I’ll be interested to see if stepping up in trip sparks something in him, he would add plenty spice to whatever division (2m4f/5f or 3m+) they end up in…

      Honeysuckle definitely not had the strongest of opposition but can’t knock what she’s done in banging in all those Grade 1’s, she’s been some mare…

      Espoir D’Allen… just what could he have achieved? Could have been anything after he pulverised his Champion Hurdle field… a big shame his life was cut short…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  2. I don’t mind Secret R but I wasn’t blown away by his run on Saturday. The trial has been a good guide for winners and those finishing close up in their next race, including the Welsh National, though the winner has no entry. SR will be off 4lb’s higher than last year and off this mark he’d have been 3rd in last year’s race. 14/1 looks no more than ok, really, but only for 5 or 6 places for insurance.

    I have backed the Galloping Bear at 10’s since he gets to run off his last mark due to the disqualification in the Haydock trial. I’d have him about a stone well in.

    • Ground wouldn’t have been to his liking on Saturday (Secret R) and doubt anything was beating the winner the way it pinged away from fence to fence… reckon connections will be more than happy with his effort…

      Last year in race he was having his first run of the season and he always needs that (he’s 0/6, 0p off breaks of more than 60 days) so he probably overperformed in 5th given he needs a run to get up to speed…

      Ran in race off 140 last year and runs in it off 134 this time round, so running from a 6lb lower mark and going in fit this time round… he’s a player this time round, more so than last year…

      Galloping Bear absolutely a player as well, completely agree, OR 140 clearly a mark he can win from and will relish the testing ground… he’s very high on my shortlist as well…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

      • Have we both got Secret R’s weight wrong Ben? I had him as worse off this year but clearly that is not quite right. Currently he’d be off 134 with a pound overweight if top weight stands. Last year I believe he got in off 130 which was his rating in the trial which he won, but the main race was an early closer so he got in there off same 130, plus 4lb penalty. Which does look right as the RP have him on 134 (ew4). So it’s about the same as last year, give or take.

        • Was 2020 he won the Trial and then went on to run and win 2020 Welsh National off a mark of OR 134 (ew4), 2020 Welsh National was run in January 2021.

          Last year’s Welsh National (2021 National… run in December 2021) he ran off a mark of 140 (not running out of handicap) and it was his first run of the season.

          This year he is set to run off a mark of OR 134… if top weight stands it’s ground then it will be 135 (ew1) not sure Royal P will stand his ground though, nothing from connections to suggest it’s the current plan (although obviously that could change 👍

          Cheers – Ben (NTF)

          • Ah of course. They re-scheduled the race to the Jan which is why I see it as last year’s. Technically 2 Welsh Nationals in 2021 :/ Cheers Ben.

  3. On timeform Honeysuckle has run to 151+ 145 154 and now 151 in Hatton’s Grace. Indeed 161 the front 2 suggests her best in the race might just have won.

    Nonetheless do feel she’s been increasingly workmanlike. However One horse aside within 3 or 4 of her best Champion mark might still do it.

  4. Hi Jon

    Yeah, definitely not writing off Honeysuckle and Sunday may have just been as simple as she was a tiny bit short on fitness and she’ll come back much stronger for the outing (we all need a bit more work to get fit as we get older 🤨🤨🤨).

    Would agree with you in that she has started to become a little ‘workmanlike’ and I’m always wary of those mares when they fall from the top of the tree… we’ll know more where she’s at when she hits the track next… hopefully it was just a minor blip and we get to see her have a crack at Con Hill in the Champion Hurdle coming in off another G1 win 🤞

    Cheers – Ben (NTF)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have JavaScript disabled!

This site requires JavaScript to be enabled. Some functions of the site may not be usable or the site may not look correct until you enable JavaScript. You can enable JavaScript by following this tutorial. Once JavaScript is enabled, this message will be removed.