Another quiet Monday, which is hardly surprising with the Cheltenham Festival now just 8 days away, so Paul Ferguson looks back and see what we learned over the weekend.
Annie Power takes on the World
It was announced on Sunday (finally) that the high-class unbeaten mare Annie Power would step up to 3m and contest the World Hurdle, as opposed to taking on stable-mate Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle. For what it is worth, I think it is the right move as, despite not having run over the trip yet, she has more chance of winning that contest than the Champion (in my opinion), and therefore I would have done exactly the same. The way I see it is, if she stays (and I think she will), she will win.
Nicky Henderson is hitting form at the right time
Since last Sunday, Henderson has saddled 11 winners from 20 runners and this included a treble on Friday and a double (from just two runners) on Saturday.
The four novice hurdle winners across these two days were particularly impressive, with Sign Of A Victory and Big Hands Harry barely coming out of second gear on Friday – the latter is an embryonic chaser, while the former looks an ideal type for Aintree, given he wants a tight track and decent ground.
Henderson also sent Mayfair Music and Tistory to Doncaster on Saturday and both won well. The former is clearly a useful mare in the making and is another who will jump a fence next term, while the latter could be another to form part of his Grand National meeting squad.
Kelso saw a brace of smart novice hurdlers
The impressive novice hurdlers on show up north on Saturday continued at Kelso, where Desoto County won a shade cosily in the opener for Donald McCain, before the improving Clever Cookie completed the hat-trick in the feature Premier Kelso Hurdle, for Peter Niven.
I had the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Aintree in mind for him before the weekend, but that will now depend on how the handicapper reacts to his latest success and connections might well now think of pitching him in to one of the novice events at the meeting. He does hold an entry in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, but would probably need the ground to dry out if he’s to be considered for the long trip south.
Desoto County is a smooth traveller who should appreciate a decent surface and looks worth a chance in better company before he heads over fences next term. He is yet another who could be considered for Aintree, where his stable-mate Diamond King will next be sighted, having been ruled out of the Festival by his trainer.
Newbury’s card rounded off in style
Yes, the junior bumper was won in fine style by Gary Moore’s imposing Puisque Tu Pars and is certainly one for the notebook, as is the runner-up McCabe Creek, who travelled really well, but I am actually referring to the Greatwood Charity Race that came half an hour after the last.
I featured this contest here during January, when interviewing a couple of friends of mine, who happened to be riding in the race, Hannah Bishop and Sasha Thorbek-Hooper.
Well, Hannah won the race and Sasha came home in third, so I couldn’t let my weekend round-up pass without congratulating the pair on behalf of Betrescue.
Along with the other jockeys, the pair raised an awful lot of money for a very worthwhile cause.
Incidentally, Sasha’s syndicate horse No Pushover won the bumper on Friday’s card, so she clearly had a weekend to remember, while Hannah will need to come down to earth during the next seven days, as she has Annacotty and Coyaba to look forward to at Cheltenham next Wednesday.
Well done to all involved.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
Pre order now, published early September in good time for the new season:
Just £9:95 inc p&p
* order online www.cc-publishing.co.uk
* or, send a cheque payable to ‘The Racing Insider’ to PO Box 98, Liverpool L9 1WY (with address details)
Fellow Betrescue columnist and Bet Victor’s Charlie McCann says: “it really is a privilege to write the foreword for such an informative and well-researched publication, which continues to go from strength to strength.”
New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14