PUNTERS have been quick to latch on to ‘Saturday trainers’ Paul Nicholls, David Pipe and Nicky Henderson to boost their bank balance. The cream of jump racing rose to the top last weekend, with Kauto Star lowering the colours of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Long Run, and Nicholls can bag another feature prize with AITEEN THIRTYTHREE (3.10) in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
Still only a seven-year-old, Aiteen Thirtythree has been brought along very steadily by the master trainer and his excellent record at Newbury (1122 from four starts) suggests Aiteen Thirtythree has a preference for a flat, galloping circuit. His sole disappointment came in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, won by Bostons Angel, when he failed to get into usual fluent jumping rhythm. There was plenty to like about his comeback run at Kempton when serving it up to Somersby and he may well have improved past last year’s cracking novices Wymott and RSA Chase third Wayward Prince. Wymott beat Wayward Prince in a Grade 2 hurdle at Haydock on testing ground and is actually 8lb better off. Donald McCain’s runner could be the one to beat if rain gets into the ground. The Pipe yard completed the Paddy Power Gold Cup/Hennessy double in 2004 with Celestial Gold and Great Endeavour bids to follow up in the same David Johnson colours. Anyone who backed Great Endeavour at Cheltenham, when always cantering over his rivals, will be loathe to desert him, even over this longer trip. I’m sure less aggressive tactics will be employed by Timmy Murphy in an attempt to nurse him home.
McCain’s stable jockey Jason Maguire has a busy afternoon ahead, flying to Newcastle from Bangor (where he rides potential star novice chaser Peddlers Cross) to partner Overturn in the Stan James-sponsored Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. The jury is out whether Overturn would have beaten last-flight faller Oscar Whisky at Ascot, but there is no disputing his tenacity. However, he may meet his match in former Champion Hurdle winner BINOCULAR (2.20). Nicky Henderson’s class act has found this a bogey race, twice being turned over at odds-on, but on his day he is one of the slickest jumpers in training. His high cruising speed should see him on the heels of Overturn and free-running Celestial Halo running down to the last flight.
Scottish Borders trainer James Ewart is quickly making his mark and stout stayer AIKMAN (12.00) can win a High Noon shootout with Nicholls’ southern raider Double Expresso in this demanding three miler.
Marello was a marvellous mare for Mary Reveley and her son, Keith, continues the family connection, training a daughter of Marello in CUE TO CUE (1.10). She was very impressive in despatching her rivals here over a shorter trip and, despite a rise in class, the extra two furlongs should suit even better.
Wolverhampton’s evening meeting has been a happy hunting ground for this column and Keith Dalgleish’s improving three-year-old SO WISE (7.50) has been given a month off since his latest course and distance success. The handicapper has raised So Wise another 10lb but he is worth sticking with, possibly at an each-way price.