Past Winners » Court By Surprise


The world appears to have gone Mr Moonshine mad, and I can see the angle. He raced handily and travelled really well to the third last flight in the Fixed Brush Hurdle race at Haydock last time before fading. However, Holywell also raced handily, and he was able to keep on much better than Mr Moonshine.

Also, Mr Moonshine is 4lb higher over fences than he is over hurdles, and his record suggests that he is at his best when he is fresh. He was interesting at 10/1, I had him down as a horse to look out for next time after his Haydock run, thinking that he might have been a little under the radar. But his cover is blown now, and I am not interested in him at 6/1.

I am backing Court By Surprise against him. Emma Lavelle’s horse ran a cracker on what turned out to be his final run last season to finish second to Reblis in a decent race at Sandown in February. Ridden well back in the field that day, he made significant progress from the second last fence, and only just failed to catch the winner.

He had a wind operation during the summer, and returned in fine form at Fakenham, ridden aggressively, probably setting too fast a pace, but still keeping on well when passed by the useful Romanesco to finish third. Both the winner and the second, Alpine Breeze, were held up off the fast pace, and Court By Surprise did well to keep on as well as he did.

I wasn’t certain that he wasn’t at his best going right-handed before then, but that run blew that theory out of the water, which augurs well for today. Also, the official ground was good at Fakenham, but the times suggest that it was soft which, again, augurs well for today.

The handicapper has raised him 2lb for that run, but that is fine, he should come on for it, as a lot of Emma Lavelle’s horses do. It was the first time that Dougie Costello had ridden him as well, he should know the horse better today, and hopefully he won’t be as aggressive on him as he was at Fakenham.

He is only seven, he has raced just five times over fences in his life, and he has plenty of scope for progression. His trainer’s horses are in fine form, and it is easy to see him running a big race.