Tom George Stable Tour 2019/20

Positive signals as Black Op and Summerville Boy start on road to chase stardom

With the jumps season swinging into top winter action, four winners already this month are an early sign Tom George will again be a major player for some of the big prizes over the next six months.

While there was not an 11th Grade 1 success for the stable last term, after three the previous season, the fact that George had 12 runners at the Cheltenham Festival and nine at Aintree’s big meeting confirms the depth of quality in the yard, which helped him to a clear tenth in the trainers’ standings.

Last week’s first successes over fences for his Grade 1 hurdlers Black Op and Summerville Boy have led the early charge this season and George has more horses rated above 140 than ever before.

Further optimism stems from the arrival of more than 30 new faces, ranging from a strong influx of Irish point-to-point winners, some French imports, young store horses and a few off the Flat.

Many of those will start off in bumpers and will be worth noting as George’s best strike-rate in the last five years has been in that sphere with 21 winners from 109 runners.

Stable profile

Yard Down Farm
Where Slad, Stroud, Gloucestershire
Started training 1993
Horses in yard 80
Number of staff 24
Assistant trainers John Cullinan, Noel George
Travelling head groom Sarah Peacock
Second travelling groom and HGV Danny Burton
Head yardman/feeder Muhammed Zahid
Jockeys Jonathan Burke, Ciaran Gethings
Amateur Noel George
Racing secretary Lauren Thompson
Twitter @TomGeorgeRacing
Instagram tomgeorgeracing

Winners in Britain
2018-19 52
2017-18 47
2016-17 71
2015-16 38

Profit/loss to £1 stake
2018-19 -£123.58
2017-18 -£135.81
2016-17 +£49.84
2015-16 -£30.06

Total prize-money 2018-19

A work party heads up the Fibresand gallop at Tom George’s Down Farm

Nine-year-old gelding
Lord Du Sud (sire) – Kissmirial (dam)
Owner: Roger Brookhouse
Form figures: 12660-3
Racing Post Rating 156 (chase) Official rating 148 (chase)
He’s won two chases, so is eligible to run in the valuable graduation chase at Haydock he won last season. That race on Betfair Chase day on November 23 is his aim again and then he will be contesting middle-distance Graded handicap chases later this season.

Air Navigator
8g Yeats – Lox Lane
Lady Cobham
RPR 134c OR 126c
Needs a galloping track as he’s a big horse who should be getting better with age now he’s grown into his enormous frame. 

Another Stowaway
7g Stowaway – Another Pet
H Stephen Smith & Family Gabbertas
RPR 141c OR 133c
He might be at the top end of his mark in handicaps and doesn’t want the ground too soft. He has had his palate cauterised and a flat track really suits him.

4f Ballingarry – Summer
Lord and Lady Harrington
RPR 106b OR –
Showed plenty of grit and determination in her two bumpers and has schooled well for hurdling. She’ll enjoy soft ground and will start at 2m but I’m sure she’ll stay further in time.

Black Op
8g Sandmason – Afar Story
Roger Brookhouse
RPR 156c OR 152c
Things didn’t go his way at the start of last season as the dry autumn delayed his start over fences but his placed form in two chases doesn’t look bad now. He had done plenty of schooling over this summer and I was delighted with his Stratford win last week. He’ll stay over 2m4f for the time being and will stick to novices to the end of the season but there are no firm plans.

7g Beneficial – Greenhall Rambler
The MerseyClyde Partnership
RPR 130c OR 127c
Strengthened up for his summer break but the longer trip at Ayr on Saturday probably caught him out on the soft ground. I might drop him back in trip on that ground but he should continue on an upward curve in handicap chases.

8g Oscar – Glen Dubh
H Stephen Smith & The Gabbertas Family
RPR 135c OR 141c
He showed again at Exeter on Tuesday that he wants an extreme test of stamina and he’ll be aimed at long-distance handicaps with the regional Nationals the sort of races for him. 

Buck’s Bin’s 
5g Khalkevi – Buck’s Bravo
Roger Brookhouse
RPR 117h OR 122h
Frustrating he hasn’t won yet and he was unlucky not to win over hurdles last season. He shows so much pace at home and he’ll start over fences, which hopefully will help him relax more and settle in his races. He can come into his own over fences with a high cruising speed and good jumping.

Bun Doran
8g Shantou – Village Queen
Crossed Fingers Partnership
RPR 155c OR 150c
Had a good season over 2m including a close second in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. Not easy to place as he’s not quite up to Graded standard. A graduation chase over 2m1f at Carlisle on Monday could be a good starting point but he doesn’t want heavy or gluey ground and the Grand Sefton at Aintree in December is another possible race as he’ll get the longer trip round there.

Bun Doran: possible destinations are Carlisle on Monday and the Grand Sefton at Aintree – Grossick Photography

Casa Tall
5g No Risk At All – Gribouille Parcs
Judith, Tony, Sharon, Dermot & David
RPR 132h OR 124h
Ran well in top handicap hurdles, just struggling to find the extra gear after travelling well in his races. He had a little setback and won’t be out until after Christmas. 

Champagne City
6g Tobougg – City Of Angels
Roger Brookhouse
RPR 141h OR 137h
Consistent in competitive handicap hurdles last season with good ground over the minimum trip suiting him best. He’s not quite ready to go yet with novice chasing on the agenda. 

Clondaw Castle
7g Oscar – Lohort Castle
J French, D McDermott, S Nelson, T Syder
RPR 147c OR 144c
Went from strength to strength last season, finishing with two good runs in Grade 1s. The ground at Ascot on Saturday was probably a bit softer than he wants – he doesn’t use his good jumping out of that ground. He might step up in distance now.

Copper West
8g Westerner – Printing Copper
The MerseyClyde Partnership
RPR 131c OR 131c
Has had two good paydays, winning a £50,000 race at Market Rasen last month, and is entered in another middle-distance handicap chase at Aintree on Saturday. He’ll continue to run well in that type of race.  

4g Rajsaman – Chance Bleue
Terry Warner & Tim Syder
RPR 108h OR – 
A tall, imposing grey who joined us from France in the spring and is growing all the time. He’s a laid-back character who does everything we ask him to do and I think he’ll enjoy soft ground and 2m on a stiffish track.

3g Creachadoir – Lady La Lionne
S Nelson, J Fielding, T Hendren, T Keelan
RPR 110 OR –
Won a juvenile hurdle in France and his work had been good before he disappointingly didn’t get home at Wetherby last week. He put on 60kg after coming over and it might be a case of needing time to settle in.

Darling Du Large
6m Kapgarde – Dissidente
Simon Clarke
RPR 118h OR 108h
She has always been promising but wasn’t getting home in her races last season and had her wind done. She showed the benefit of that when winning at Hereford this week and can keep on improving now. 

Doctor Dex
6g Oscar – Larnalee
Crossed Fingers Partnership
RPR 139c OR 134c
Has been with us since he was four and was always going to be a chaser, winning on his debut over fences at Ascot last week. He could go for the novice handicap chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, a race I like and have won before.

Doctor Dex (Jonathan Burke) puts in a flying leap on his way to winning the novice limited handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday – Mark Cranham

Double Shuffle
9g Milan – Fiddlers Bar
Crossed Fingers Partnership
RPR 166c OR 154c
Getting to the veteran stage but the fire is still there. There are not many options for him with his rating but the handicapper dropped him 2lb for that run. He loves Kempton on good ground – his fifth in last year’s King George is the only time he has been out of the first two there – and he could have a third try at what was the Racing Post Chase in February, having finished second in it twice. 

Dark horse

Enemy Coast Ahead
5g Malinas – Penang Princess
McNeill Family
RPR 125b OR –
Impressive in his Stratford bumper, which earned him one of the highest bumper RPRs last season. He has schooled well and is not far off making his hurdling debut over 2m.

Fanfan Du Seuil
4g Racinger – Nina Du Seuil
Crossed Fingers Partnership
RPR 135h OR 133h
Good juvenile hurdler last season who probably needed the run at Ayr last Saturday a bit more than I thought, making a mistake and having a blow at the same time. He’ll jump fences but there’s a nice hurdle in him before he goes chasing and the aim is the Gerry Feilden.

4g Teofilo – Morning Bell
DW Fox
31/5453- (Flat)
RPR 83 (Flat) OR –
A Godolphin winner for Andre Fabre who was gelded after joining us and given plenty of time. He’s ready to go and loves jumping and soft ground.

God’s Own
11g Oscar – Dantes Term
Crossed Fingers Partnership
RPR 170c OR 158c
He looked a bit rusty and never got into a rhythm in the Haldon Gold Cup on Tuesday. His work leading up to the race was as good as it’s ever been. I don’t know if age is catching up with him but he seems fine now. We’ll give him a couple of weeks before making any decisions and will do what’s right for him.

Now Look At Me
5g Shantou – Similan
McNeill  Family
RPR 126h OR 126h
Unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped horse at Wincanton last month and was put up 8lb for finishing second, which doesn’t help, but we’ve always thought a lot of him.

Petit Palais
4g Champs Elysees – Galicuix
DW Fox
RPR 121h OR 123h
Half-brother to 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold and loves his jumping. It was a good comeback run at Chepstow and he’ll jump a fence, and will get the four-year-olds’ weight allowance.

6g Stowaway – Andreas Benefit
McNeill Family
RPR 137h OR 137h
Very good runs last season, including when he was very free in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival, and he’s going chasing now but probably won’t be out until around Christmas. The most important thing is to get him to settle and relax in his races and fences could help so we could ride him more patiently.

9g Milan – Crevamoy
NT Griffith & HM Haddock
RPR 152c OR 142c
He ran well in the Grand National and stayed the trip well and might go back there for the Becher Chase next month. He loves Cheltenham, so we’ll head back there as much as possible on his favoured good ground.

Singlefarmpayment: stable stalwart has Aintree and Cheltenham on target list – Edward Whitaker

Stop The World
6g Oscar – Coolsilver
McNeill Family
RPR 115c OR 120c
Has the profile to make a chaser and could just have needed the run on his chasing debut at Southwell on softer ground than ideal for him.

8g King’s Theatre – Shannon Rose
DW Fox
RPR 142c OR 135c
Was second in the Badger Beers Trophy at Wincanton last season and could run in this year’s race on Saturday after his run there last month. He prefers flat tracks and good ground.  

Summerville Boy
7g Sandmason – Suny House
Roger Brookhouse
RPR 153c 156h OR 153c 153h
Finished on a good note behind Buveur D’Air in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle after an interrupted campaign. I was delighted with his comeback at Uttoxeter, where he jumped well on the whole and was just awkward when in tight at one or two, as he was jumping his hurdles. As in his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle win he looked in trouble going to two out but he stayed on strongly and the best part was Johnny [Burke] said he couldn’t pull him up. He’ll probably get further and he doesn’t mind soft ground. 

The Big Bite
6g Scorpion – Thanks Noel
NT Griffith & HM Haddock
RPR 140h OR 140h
Struggled to get home after travelling strongly in Grade 1 races at Cheltenham and Aintree, so he’s had a wind operation over the summer ahead of a novice chase campaign and he’s nearly ready to go over 2m4f.

Star quality

The Worlds End
8g Stowaway – Bright Sprite
McNeill Family
RPR 156c 155h OR 149c 153h
It was great to get him back on track last weekend and his work had been very good. He started last season well over fences but petered out, having niggling issues that were sorted out over the summer. He has a Ladbrokes Trophy entry at Newbury and is schooling over fences but he enjoyed it back over hurdles and nothing has been decided about his next race.

Wild West Wind
10g Westerner – Mhuire Na Gale
Simon Clarke
RPR 146c OR 135c
Had a frustrating season as he didn’t get the soft and heavy ground he likes. He has had a wind operation, which could help him bounce back this winter, and he’s working well with long-distance chases in mind but he also gets into veteran chases now.

4f Enrique – Belle Yepa
Simon Clarke
RPR 105h OR –
This half-sister to Whisper has been given time and matured over the summer but didn’t quite get home on her first run over hurdles and will go for a 2m maiden hurdle.

Race in focus
The 888Sport Handicap Chase at Kempton with course lover Double Shuffle, who has already finished second in the race twice.

Expert analysis

It was great to see The Worlds End return to his best on Saturday with a commanding victory in Wetherby’s Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle, better known as the West Yorkshire Hurdle.

Even though Grade 1 winner Unowhatimeanharry and Ballyandy both threw down challenges halfway up the home straight, there was never any moment when it looked like The Worlds End would be reeled in.

That was much more like it from the talented eight-year-old, who gave the impression on his reappearance last season that he would develop into a leading light over fences with a smart win at Chepstow.

He looked the real deal that day but his season fizzled out tamely with heavy defeats in Grade 1 company at Kempton, Cheltenham and Aintree.

If a summer MOT has sorted out any issues – and the evidence from Wetherby is overwhelmingly positive – The Worlds End can become a high achiever this term over hurdles or fences. 

The Worlds End (Adrian Heskin) wins the Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday – Martin Lynch

The two others from George’s stable who are on my radar from a punting perspective are Buck’s Bin’s and Enemy Coast Ahead.

Buck’s Bin’s is just the sort of horse who takes my eye with his high cruising speed and good jumping technique.

Winner of a maiden point-to-point in October 2018, he won’t fulfil his potential until he goes over regulation fences, so the four placed efforts he has achieved in a bumper and three novice/maiden hurdles can be viewed as a bonus.

He should really come into his own when sent novice chasing over 2m4f and is one to keep an eye on.

I remember being immensely taken with Enemy Coast Ahead when he made a winning debut in a Stratford bumper in March.

The way he travelled through the race and then settled matters with a sharp turn of foot in the short straight left the impression of a horse potentially going places.

Hurricane Harvey, who finished a well-beaten third that day, went close at Huntingdon on Sunday and I would expect the really likeable Enemy Coast Ahead to make up into a useful novice hurdler this campaign.

Tom George Stable Tour 2019/20
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