Station Master To Return To Form At Huntingdon7 min read
The ground was described as good to soft at Newbury yesterday for today’s card, the feature of which is the Greatwood Gold Cup, over an extended two-and-a-half miles. I am a big fan of War Sound who made such an impressive seasonal debut at Aintree back in the autumn. His two subsequent poor runs have both been at Cheltenham and the weight of money for Philip Hobbs’ runner earlier in the week would suggest more is expected back on a flat track.
War Sound is a worthy 9/2 favourite – and BetVictor are paying each way 1/5th odds five places – but is reluctantly overlooked in favour of the mare Happy Diva (2.40) who is the each way recommendation. Trainer Kerry Lee has not had the best of campaigns, but this mare has been the model of consistency all season and thoroughly deserved her listed success at Huntingdon last time.
The handicapper has left her on the same mark today, regular pilot Richard Patrick takes off a valuable 3lbs and I will be disappointed if this bold jumper (6/1) was out of the first five.
In the opener I am going to take a chance on the fitness and well-being of Tapaculo (1.30) even though the horse has not seen the track for over 1100 days. It goes without saying that connections have had to be patient with their 8-year-old, but he was a horse I felt could make up into a decent staying chaser when last seen over hurdles.
Yes, it will be some training performance by Philip Hobbs if he can get him ready after such an absence, but he has won after a break in the past and a check of the market is advised. Whatever he does today I suggest we keep him on side.
Three Grand National hopefuls line up in the Greatwood Veterans’ Gold Cup including the Aintree runner up of 2016 The Last Samuri who showed he was no back number when runner up at Taunton last time.
Abolitionist is the 4/1 market leader and Dr Richard Newland – who saddled the winner of the National with Pineau De Re back in 2014 – has not seen the track since demolishing a field of hurdlers at Aintree back in November. Newland has not run the horse since so as to preserve his handicap mark and the Irish import is currently a 33/1 shot for the National. He is currently 55th in the weights and, historically, that should see him get a run.
I give the each way vote, however, to last season’s Scottish National winner Joe Farrell (2.05) who is 9/1 – BetVictor are betting 1/5th odds four places – and is making his belated seasonal reappearance for Rebecca Curtis.
The selection has gone well fresh in the past, has finished 1st and 2nd in his last two runs at the track and goes on all ground. The selection is 50/1 for the National although he is number 71 in the weights and it is unlikely he will get into the race – maximum of 40 runners.
The weights for the BetVictor Novices’ Chase do not favour Molineaux (4.15) but I know he is considered better than his current mark by trainer Colin Tizzard and he can go one better than when finishing runner up at Exeter last time over 3m. Note the selection currently holds two handicap entries at Cheltenham although he is unlikely to get a run even if he picks up a 4lbs penalty for winning today.
Happy Diva (2.40)
Joe Farrell (2.05)
At Kelso, Black Corton (2.45) can return to winning ways under Bryony Frost and the hope is that the 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur has a clear round and comes back safe and sound having unseated his rider on his two starts since returning from injury.
Getaway Trump is Evens with BetVictor for Paul Nicholls’ in the Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle, but I am going to overlook him in favour of Windsor Avenue (3.15) despite the fact that the selection would be receiving 9lbs from the favourite if this were a handicap. Trained by Brian Ellison the 7-y-old gave Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Al Dancer a fright at Carlisle earlier in the season and is held in some regard by the yard. He is 3/1 with BetVictor and that looks the value.
Aye Right (5.05) was just touched off over C&D from a 3lbs lower mark last time but I am convinced he is better than that run would suggest and is given the opportunity to return to winning ways.
Black Corton (2.45)
Windsor Avenue (3.15)
Aye Right (5.05)
I like the booking of Cieren Fallon for Atomic Jack (5.00) in the Lingfield finale – a hands and heels race for apprentices. The selection can be keen but if his talented young jockey can get him to settle I feel he can come home best of all.
Atomic Jack (5.00)
On Sunday I hope to see Station Master (3.00) win the Novice Chase at Huntingdon for Kim bailey. The selection has been off the track since a first fence blunder at Doncaster over Christmas dented his confidence and he was eventually pulled up. He is better than that.
Station Master (3.00)