Outsider to note
Name: Ordre De Bataille
Henry Daly's horses have a great record around Towcester's extreme undulations, with his runners there showing a near 50-point profit to a one unit-level stake over five years. The Shropshire handler has a sole runner on tomorrow's card at the track, and it may well defy double-figure odds to get in the shake up.
Ordre De Bataille reverts from chasing to hurdling in the PP Business Improvement Handicap. A four-time winner, each of his successes came on good ground. With the going unavoidably testing this winter, Ordre De Bataille has struggled to make much of an impact in recent months and his cause hasn't been helped by an inflated chasing mark and jumping errors.
Tomorrow, having reached 126 over fences, the eight-year-old competes off a hurdle rating of just 117. He drops back in trip but, with the ground drying up, it would be no surprise to see him return to form.
Limerick 2.55 -- For Bill
Limerick 3.25 -- Shuil Aris
Limerick 3.55 -- Caola Mann
Towcester 3.20 -- Ordre De Bataille
€255,000 What Michael O'Leary's First Lieutenant cost at the sales two years ago. The five-year-old demolished the opposition in a Gowran Park bumper on Saturday, having also sailed home in his point-to-point in January.
19 Years since Smurfit Kappa took over sponsorship of the Champion Hurdle. The company announced this week that Tuesday's race will be the last under its banner.
Quote of the Week
"The argument goes that the taxpayer is subsidising rich people like me and JP McManus -- sorry, but you're not. Racing supports a lot of people but not me -- I lose a couple of million a year. You get into jump racing knowing that once the cheque is signed, you have lost your money." -- Michael O'Leary dispels a myth.
Three things we
learned this week
1 The Nolan brothers are every bit as colourful as we thought. Paul Nolan and his younger sibling and right-hand man James are well known for their frank and refreshing honesty. This week, BBC viewers got an even more candid insight into the Wexford lads' forthright and hard-working style in a feature-length documentary that aired on Thursday.
An unadulterated, unglorified and brilliantly entertaining behind-the-scenes portrait of the blood and toil that goes into preparing horses for the racecourse -- featuring Joncol, Cuan Na Grai and Ardalan in starring roles -- 'Race Horses' is scheduled for RTE 1 on Tuesday evening at 10.15pm. Don't miss it.
2 Sam Thomas just can't catch a break. Having been the centre of many a robust debate in recent weeks after Tony McCoy was parachuted in to replace him on Denman, Thomas suffered a cracked vertebra in a fall while schooling upsides the champion jockey at Paul Nicholls' yard on Thursday.
He will now miss next week's Cheltenham festival, having already lost out on a high-profile double at the same venue in December due to a suspension. Given the almost obscene amount of commentary generated by the decision to jock Thomas off the horse he won the Gold Cup on two years ago, there is a cruel irony to all that censure now being rendered obsolete by such an innocuous incident.
3 Another week, another bunch of complications in the countdown to Cheltenham. The list of absentees now includes Sublimity, Uimhiraceathair and Capellanus, while Solwhit could be the next to fall by the wayside.
An announcement is expected today on whether or not he will make the trip, with the conspiracy theorists sharpening their knives in advance of Charles Byrnes declaring him well enough to travel.
Monday: Plumpton, Stratford, Taunton
Tuesday: Cheltenham, Sedgefield, Southwell (AW)
Wednesday: Down Royal, Wexford, Cheltenham, Huntingdon, Kempton* (AW), Southwell (AW)
Thursday: Cheltenham, Hexham, Southwell (AW), Wolverhampton* (AW)
Friday: Cheltenham, Fakenham, Lingfield (AW), Wolverhampton* (AW)
Saturday: Gowran Park, Ffos Las, Lingfield (AW), Newcastle, Uttoxeter
Sunday: Cork, Curragh, Carlisle, Fontwell, Newton Abbot