After a profitable time of things last weekend, our Catching Pigeons column returns with the word from the training centres.
Noel Fehily forsakes the delights of Newbury and Donny on Saturday for a flight North to Kelso and an interesting tilt at the featured totescoop6 Premier Novices’ Hurdle with the highly-rated Chalonnial.
A winner on his hurdling debut at Bangor, he was asked a very stiff task by Harry Fry in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on his only subsequent start. Although no match for the impressive winner, he ran a sound race to finish a respectable third, and is expected to be even more effective after enjoying a Winter break.
This is a long haul from his trainer’s base in the dark depths of Dorset, but he looks the sort to improve, and can take revenge on the Sandown runner-up Capitaine, who was well beaten a week ago and is now 3lb worse off.
Tom Symonds can land the most important race of his young career with Hollywoodien in the William Hill High Five Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.
The former Nicky Henderson assistant has not enjoyed the best of luck since he first took out a licence, but this lightly raced seven-year-old has always looked capable of winning a valuable event, and there has been plenty to like about the last two of his three outings this term.
Having come home a decisive five lengths clear of the useful Astracad at Wetherby on Boxing Day, he finished a very sound third behind Garde La Victoire in a good class event at Sandown. The two miles looked a tad on the sharp side that day and he should appreciate a return to this longer trip.
Hello George has not been the easiest horse to train over the past couple of seasons, but he still retains ability and should go well for Philip Hobbs in the Seniors Handicap Hurdle. He shaped well on his comeback at Exeter, and has been given a chance by the handicapper in an interesting race.
Bloody Mary has yet to see action this term, but the fact she is a fresh horse should play to her advantage in the William Hill “High 5” Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.
A smart mare in her native France, she did well in a light campaign for Nicky Henderson last season, ending with an excellent third to the very high class Limini in the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Festival. She will come on for this run, but has been working nicely and will give her mail counterparts plenty to think about.
Kim Bailey’s Harry Topper is a class performer of old and he can notch his first win since a lengthy lay-off Betway Supporting Greatwood Veterans Handicap Chase.
A former winner of both the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the Denman on this course, his training problems have meant he has barely completed the course let alone win since that 25-length thrashing of Al Ferof here just over three years ago.
However, he showed distinct signs that a return to something like his old form was possible with an eye-catching effort at Exeter last time, and he looks to have found a good opportunity to land what would be a popular success.
Sgroppino is well regarded by the Hobbs’ camp and should step up on his promising third at Newton Abbot in the Moore Of Devizes Ltd Supporting Greatwood Open National Hunt Flat Race. The form of that debut effort in Devon looks solid.
The Last Samuri, another top class Bailey-trained fencer won the BetBright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase 12 months ago on his way to a brilliant second in the Grand National, and he should go close again to landing the perfect warm up success for Aintree, despite his inevitable lumpy rise in his ratings.
However, he may just find the concession of 23lb to old rival Sego Success just beyond him. Although disappointing at Warwick last time, Sego loves this course and is on great terms with himself at the moment. He is also fitted with a visor for the first time and has a 20lb pull with The Last Samuri from last year.
The Organist has proved very disappointing since her switch to fences at the start of the season and it is no surprise to see her revert to the smaller obstacles in the BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle.
She won three of her five starts for the Million In Mind syndicate before being sold to JP McManus, and won the Listed event for mares on this corresponding day 12 months ago. If she can repeat that form, another big run looks assured.
Miss Mirabeau can strike for Sir Mark Prescott – who celebrated a birthday this week – in the Betway Maiden Stakes at Lingfield.
By Oasis Dream out of the Listed winner Miss Corniche, she did not exactly tackle the best sprint maiden the country can offer on her debut over the minimum trip here two weeks ago, but ran a race full of promise nonetheless and gave every indication she will both learn from the outing and appreciate the step up in trip.
Earlier on the same card Red Flute looks worth an each-way interest in the opening Betway Sprint Handicap.
He’s one of two runners in the race for Denis Quinn and although not exactly firing on all cylinders so far in 2017, the chestnut has been eased in the weights and has some useful course form at this kind of level last summer.
My Target looks worth following until no longer able to contest handicaps and he can bring up the four-timer in the Sunbets.co.uk Handicap.
It’s a warm enough race and Michael Wigham also sends out the returning Mansfield on his first run for 458 days under Josephine Gordon, while Third Time Lucky and Lunar Deity shouldn’t be too far away, but My Target holds most of these on recent form and a mark of 102 shouldn’t be beyond the classy son of Cape Cross.
The best bet at Newcastle comes in the opening race as Marzouq bids to regain the winning thread in the 32Red.com Handicap.
Jeremy Noseda was full of emotion after Atalante won at Chelmsford on Thursday evening in the name of Walter Swinburn as a bit of a farewell to the great man and Marzouq has been going nicely alongside that one in his recent homework.
Noseda sends Marzouq north on a solo raid and it’s encouraging to see John Egan back in the saddle after he rode him to win his maiden at Chelmsford back in September. Last month’s third at Kempton was needed and it’s hoped the step up to a mile can bring about further improvement in the son of Spring At Last.
Veena is a thriving filly right now and is well worth keeping on side in the £10 Free Bet At 32Red.com Fillies’ Handicap.
He is David Simcock’s only runner on the Saturday card but he’s sent a few up to Newcastle in what has been a busy week for the track and the yard’s runners have not been performing badly.
The one to look out for early next week is Perfect Moment, who is going to take plenty of beating if taking up her engagement in Lingfield’s Free Horse Racing Tips At Tipsterreviews.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
She was heavily punted first time out but just ran out of gas at Wetherby after racing up with the pace. She’s pleased Don Cantillon in her work since and the yard are hopeful the Milan filly can swiftly recoup those losses.
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