On a truly fantastic weekend for armchair racing fans, there will be no less than three cross-channel race meetings to choose from this Saturday. There’s action from both Ascot and Huntingdon, but it’s Haydock that will occupy centre stage.
This is so as Kauto Star will be attempting to return to the winning groove in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at the popular Lancashire course.
Brilliant winner of last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup when dismissing Exotic Dancer to the tune of some two and a half lengths, Kauto Star was beaten a length and a half into second place by Monet’s Garden on his seasonal re-appearance in the Bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 28th. However, the Paul Nicholls-trained French-bred was attempting to concede all of a stone to Aintree course specialist Monet’s Garden on that occasion and in the circumstances, he put up a more than satisfactory showing.
Kauto Star is likely to have derived immense benefit from that outing and he’s taken to beat his old adversary Exotic Dancer under Sam Thomas, filling in for the injured Ruby Walsh.
Nicky Henderson’s French Opera can avenge two recent second-placed efforts by eclipsing The Shy Man in the Reg Griffin 50 Years At Timeform Hurdle whilst Burntoakboy can utilize his comparatively lenient mark over timber by getting the better of Sonnyanjoe in the Betfair “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle.
At Ascot, Wichita Lineman is likely to be the star turn in the Grade 2 Coral Ascot Hurdle. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Wichita Lineman brought himself to the attentions of a much wider audience last term by winning the Grade 2 Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle with Tony McCoy at the Cheltenham festival. That race was over three miles and the drop down in trip to an extended two miles three furlongs is unlikely to inconvenience Wichita Lineman and he’s taken to excel from former dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace.
Royal Shakespeare is without one of the most consistent jumpers in training in Britain and Steve Gollings’ stable star looks likely to shrug off the attentions of top-weight Lennon in the Amlin 1965 Chase whilst Hasty Prince is the one that they will all have to beat in the Carey Group Handicap Chase.
Meanwhile, it will be a case of the best wine being reserved until last at Huntingdon as the featured event is the closing Grade 2 totesport.com Peterborough Chase. Monet’s Garden of course eclipsed Kauto Star at Aintree last month and Nicky Henderson’s spring-heeled grey is recommended to possess too many aces for Racing Demon here.
Art Professor can make it two wins from as many starts over flights, crediting trainer Venetia Williams with a welcome change of fortune in the process, by providing the solution to the totescoop Introductory Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle. Esprit de Corps and Give Me A Dime look set to dominate the totesport 0800 221 221 Handicap Hurdle with narrow preference for the former.
There are just two domestic meetings over the weekend with a meeting at Gowran Park on Saturday whilst Navan has the stage all to itself on Sunday.
At Gowran Park, Son Of Mary should continue on his merry way in the featured Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Novice Chase.
This Noel Meade-trained gelding hinted that he has a bright future over the larger obstacles by effortlessly landing a two miles seven furlongs beginners chase at Downpatrick on November 14th by four and a half lengths from Clarkey. Whilst Son Of Mary will unquestionably have much more on his plate here, he’s still recommended to see off Adrian Maguire’s recent Thurles winner Optimus Prime.
The Boxer Coffey will definitely have his supporters in the Porters Saddlery Maiden Hurdle. This five-year-old valiantly tried to make all when he was beaten a little over five lengths into third spot by Jered in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Punchestown in late October. Whilst he admittedly did run with blinkers there, The Boxer Coffey seems to be improving and Willie Mullins’ charge is expected to dispose of Desert Abbey here.
In all probability, it will take a smart one to lower the colours of Bar Na Habhann in the Duninga Gallops (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race. Trained in Co Limerick by Carl Dore, Bar Na Habhann looked a cut above average when recording a virtual pillar-to-post success with Kevin Power in a most competitive Templemore maiden point-to-point on November 4th. In short, Bar Na Habahnn seems to possess plenty of speed and it will come as a major surprise if he fails to account for Indifference Curve.
The Arthur Moore-trained Grand Lahou, another former winning point-to-pointer, is likely to upstage dual bumper winner Rosy Cyborg in the Christmas Party Race Evening Maiden Hurdle. Fakima can continue trainer Tony Martin’s excellent run by shrugging aside the attentions of Lotionsandpotions in the Gowran Park Racing Club Handicap Hurdle.
At Navan, Mattock Ranger looks likely to excel in the featured williamhill.ie Troytown Handicap Chase. A reasonably smart novice chaser last term, Noel Meade’s Mattock Ranger posted a definite career best performance by bravely defeating Aka Jake, to whom he was conceding all of 18 lbs, with Paul Carberry in the coveted paddypower.com Cork Grand National Chase at Cork on November 4th. Raised 10 lbs to a new mark of 136 for that success, Mattock Ranger seems to be on an upward curve and the Oscar-sired gelding is taken to dispose of top-weight Mister Top Notch.
Trafford Lad can maintain his unbeaten track record in the coveted Grade 3 Bank Of Ireland “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle. This British-bred five-year-old was all out to win a Cork bumper on his park debut in mid-October. Just nine days later, Trafford Lad led from the fifth flight to defeat Oscar Lyons in a quite good-class two and a half mile maiden hurdle with Tom Doyle at Punchestown on October 30th. A classy middle distance novice hurdler, Trafford Lad can continue on his merry way here by dispensing with the smart four-year-old filly Liskennett.
Viking Splash could provide the solution to the Navan Town Centre (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race. This ‘Shark’ Hanlon-trained gelding provided his sire Stowaway with a first success on Irish soil by showing a clean pair of heels to his rivals in a four-year-old maiden point-to-point at Lisronagh in south Co Tipperary last Sunday, November 18th. Viking Splash in all probability should have most to fear here from Our Matti. Flamenco Prince appeals as the most likely winner of the opening Cusack Hotel Group 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle whilst Jet Propelled and Barker stand out in the williamhillpoker.com European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase.