By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)
Listen to the latest Rein It In Racing Podcast where we discuss who the best jockeys are and also have Davy Boland, aka Racing’s Inside Track, on the show to discuss the topic as well as racing in Ireland. We covered three races for this Saturday too so give it a listen! >> https://anchor.fm/rein-it-in-racing/episodes/Who-are-our-favourite-jockeys-eb3f96
The Cheltenham Festival is less than two weeks away but in the meantime we’ve got some good racing on offer from Newbury, Kelso and Doncaster. In this article, I’m going to focus on the Greatwood Gold Cup from Newbury at 15:15.
The Greatwood Charity use former racehorses to help educate disadvantaged young people and children with learning difficulties. They do an excellent job and this raceday highlights this.
Paul Nicholls has three horses going for the £28,475 prize – Mont Des Avaloirs, San Benedeto and Secret Investor. Bryony Frost rides Mont Des Avaloirs, who is still a novice. He came fourth to Champ on debut over larger obstacles. Next time, he had no chance in behind Angels Breath in a grade two when just the two of them ran. He ran into a possibly well-handicapped sort in Sussex Ranger last time over further than this. He’s dropping in trip to two miles four but hasn’t won since April 2018 and that was over two miles.
Nicholls also gives young jockeys Brian Carver and Lorcan Williams good opportunities on San Benedeto and Secret Investor. The former won this race last year under Nick Scholfield. Since then, this horse was seventh in the Topsham and third in the Oaksey Chase. On seasonal reappearance, in October, he came sixth and then was fourth, with Gala Ball in twelfth, in a decent handicap over course and distance. Secret Investor helps good company last season as a novice. He came second in a grade two on chase debut behind Bags Groove. He finally got off the mark at Wincanton and then won a grade two at Ayr. On seasonal reappearance, he came second in a grade two in Ireland. I’m not sure what happened in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup but he improved in the Denman Chase less than three lengths behind Native River. He carries top weight.
Bags Groove runs in this race as well and, despite beating Secret Investor on two occasions, an absence of 331 days could undo his chances. He began last term with wins at Ffos Las, Wincanton and Huntingdon. He came fifth in the Kauto Star Novices Chase and then won at Kempton in the Pendil Novices Chase. Last time, he came fourth in the Grade One Novice Chase at Aintree. He’s a leading player on bare form but I’d be more inclined to fancy him if he’d already had a run. He is trained by Harry Fry who is also represented by Drumcliff. This gelding has ran ten times and won four of them. The last of these wins was in May 2018. Since, he’s fell and then move trainers. He was with A A Howard in Ireland for three outings but returns to Fry for his first run since October.
Gala Ball and Clondaw Castle raced against each other at Warwick last time when the latter prevailed. Tom George’s son of Oscar won twice in early 2019 and then ran fourth in the Arkle (but lead for a lot of the way) and once again in the Aintree equivalent. He was second on seasonal debut and then ninth in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, a place ahead of Secret Investor. He won last time by four and a quarter lengths and Gala Ball was fourth, with 2lbs splitting them in this contest. Richard Johnson came back from injury with a double on Thursday and partnered this horse when he won at Wincanton in January. He’s a bit hit-and-miss but is a course and distance winner.
I’m a fan of Domaine De L’Isle and he won three starts between December and January. On the latter occasion, he beat Bennys King by a neck at Ascot. Last time, he was keen, never that fluent with his jumping and the ground wasn’t ideal. This gives him questions to answer but he’s only seven. Bennys King ran a blinder after leading for a lot of the way under Bridget Andrews. Her husband Harry Skelton gets the leg up in this race. He partnered him to victory over two miles six here at Newbury in November, beating Tiquer, and is 15lbs higher. He’ll be one of the ones at the top of the market. Tiquer is twelve but won like a young horse on Welsh National Day at Chepstow when last seen. Before that, he pulled up behind the aforementioned horse when not warming to the task. He ran in the Grand Sefton at Aintree, coming fourth. He shouldn’t mind the ground.
Enrichissant put in an absolute romp at Huntingdon eight days ago. He’s got 10st, bottom weight. He’s won twice at Huntingdon and they’re the two victories from his starts. He’s only six and has a big future ahead. On the opposite end of the spectrum is thirteen year old Valdez. He’s a grand old servant, winning at Hereford in November, and then fourth behind Gala Ball at Wincanton. He was beaten thirteen and a quarter lengths to be fifth in the Denman Chase behind Secret Investor. Its hard to know if he’s up to these standards lately. Not Another Muddle is coming here off a 323 day absence. He was fifth in the Grand Annual. He’s ran eleven times and is a good horse but the absence is a worry.
So, for this race, my selection is going to be SECRET INVESTOR, in what looks, to me, as an open contest. It’s a tough choice to split him and Benny’s King, who was a good runner up last time and earlier course winner. I was really impressed with the way my selection ran last time behind an incredible rival in Native River but I’m conscious of the ground conditions as he much prefers good-ish ground. However, I’m clinging on hope after he came second on Soft, Heavy In Places on one occasion.
There’s good racing elsewhere with ITV kicking off with the 13:50 from Doncaster – the 888Sport Handicap Hurdle. It’s the first race on the card from Donnie and I’m going with CODED MESSAGE. This mare won a mares Hurdle easily at Kempton on the day after Boxing Day and has since come fourth to Magic Of Light and third in a listed race at Warwick. She was held up and made decent headway but couldn’t get to a long-margin winner. She’s a great price at roughly 9/1.
The next race is the first of two from Newbury – the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase at 14:05. In the podcast, I gave an honorable mention to HORATIO HORNBLOWER in the Grimthorpe, which is later on at Doncaster, but he runs here, probably in favor of the better ground. He won the first two this season before unseating last time in the Veterans Final that Dark Flame and Theatre Guide also ran in. Horatio Hornblower is no mug and should get the trip. Le Rocher is his biggest threat father some solid recent runs and, if Joe Farrell returns to his best, he’s a player.
Back to Doncaster for the 14:25 888Sport Bet £10 Get £30 Handicap Chase. Nuts Well is eye-catching because he won easily at Wetherby four weeks ago. He won his two before that well, especially the first one. Danny McMenamin has struck up a good partnership with this horse, being three from five on the gelding. Since the first win in the trio, he’s gone from 130 to 152, a career high mark. Its incredibly interesting that Gino Trail is now with Fergal O’Brien and that may rejuvenate him. Dalia Du Seuil pulled hard to be fifth behind Lady Buttons and was then beaten eleven lengths by the smart Maire Banrigh at Huntingdon but didn’t jump too well. DESTRIER hasn’t ran since December and his two runs before that were in grade one and two company; in both cases he was third. He didn’t run too well at Cheltenham last time but he’s tongue-tied for the first time and the class is there.
One race from Kelso is shown and that’s the William Hill Premier Novices Hurdle, a grade two, at 14:45. Calva D’Auge is very interesting from the Paul Nicholls establishment after winning two of his starts this term. He’s been second over this trip in France and is top-rated out of all the runners. However, I like CLONDAW CAITLIN. I think she’s a lovely little mare with a fabulous attitude. Ruth Jefferson hasn’t had much luck with her stable star Waiting Patiently of late but hopefully this mare can be the tonic for that bad luck and score in this grade two. Her win last time was emphatic against other mares but she gets the allowances here. Cheddleton looks a good horse for Jennie Candlish after winning his last two by a combined twenty three lengths.
The next race is a Listed from Doncaster, the 888Sport Take Em On Mares Novice Hurdle at 15:00. There’s a 4/7 favourite, which I won’t be taking on, in the form of CILL ANNA for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. She’s nicely bred but it took until her fourth start to get off the mark under rules at Warwick. She followed that up again in a race that has worked out well as Miss Honey Ryder and Whitehotchillifilli have won well since. Her main rivals in this appear to be Eleanor Bob, Early Morning Rain and Easter Gold.
Next is Newbury’s feature which I previewed at the beginning of the article and Doncaster’s feature goes off at 15:35. It is the 888Sport Grimthorpe Handicap Chase. This race has lost it’s sparkle to a certain extent as both Definitely Red and Saint Xavier, Grand National hopefuls, divert to Kelso. In this race, there’s a lot to like about WORTHY FARM. He’s won his last two over three miles and a furlong which puts him spot on for this. The ground will be awful and Venetia Williams’ horses stereotypically like the ground soft so Yalltari may get back to decent form. Captain Chaos ran a blinder at Warwick last time but is hard to catch right.
THIS WEEK’S NEWS
🌟 The Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff awards took place on Monday and it celebrated the great work the stable staff do because without them there would be no sport. Well done to the winners!
🌟 Richard Johnson returned to the saddle on Thursday after some time on the sidelines – a lot less than any other sane human being after a broken arm but I guess we are talking about a jockey. This means that the jockey championships is hotting up again. It seemed that Brian Hughes had it sewn up but, despite two days back riding, Johnson is already clawing back the deficit.
🌟Bad news for one jockey though as Sean Bowen has been ruled out for a few weeks after breaking his collarbone, meaning he’ll miss Cheltenham. Wishing him a speedy recovery!
🌟On Friday, the news arose of two horses retiring – Un De Sceaux and Caroles Destrier. Un De Sceaux was a favourite of many due to his bold, gutsy attitude and many of us will miss him on the track. Caroles Destrier never scaled the heights of Un De Sceaux but was a really incredible horse for connections. Wishing both a happy retirement!