It may be just weeks to go until the Jumps Season Finale at Sandown but we still have plenty to look forward to over the next few days and hopefully we can bag a winner or two before the 2021/22 campaign comes to an end.
We were busy at Aintree last week with runners representing Potter Group and James and Jean Potter Ltd but unfortunately a visit to the coveted winners’ enclosure was not forthcoming.
Before Midnight, who was forced to miss Cheltenham due to the soft ground, took his chance in the G3 Red Rum Chase on Thursday and while he failed to really land a blow and race from his usual prominent position, Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount still put up a fine performance to finish sixth in what was a massively competitive race. He really has been a marvellous servant throughout his whole career and has failed to pick up prize money on just two of his 22 starts – that is a fantastic achievement and great credit should be given to Sam Thomas, and his previous trainer Nicky Henderson, for finding the right races for the chestnut son of Midnight Legend.
Day two saw Mister Fisher fly the flag for James and Jean Potter Ltd in the G1 Marsh Chase and hopes were high that the handsome son of Jeremy could bag his first Grade One along with his owners, but things didn’t go to plan and after a terrible mistake at the 11th fence our fate was sealed and James Bowen, quite rightly, pulled him up. It was not the result we’d anticipated and of course we were all disappointed, but James said he was never travelling with his usual zest and fluency and the reason he made such a bad mistake was because he wasn’t carrying him into the race and taking a nice hold on the bridle like he usually does. It was clearly an off day and the most important thing is that he returned home safe and sound and lives to fight another day. Depending on his well-being over the next week or so, there is still the option of the Oaksey Chase at Sandown which he was narrowly beaten in by Frodon last year, so if conditions suit and Nicky Henderson is happy, a trip to Esher could be on the cards.
Saturday and all eyes were on the 41 runners taking their chance in the Grand National which was won in emphatic style by Sam Waley-Cohen on the 50/1 shot Noble Yeats. It was a fantastic performance from both horse and rider and, as is the case with the Grand National, it always produces a fairytale story and this year’s race probably topped the lot. Waley-Cohen, who had already said beforehand that this would be his final ride, has enjoyed a remarkable ‘career’ in the saddle which has included a Gold Cup and a King George not to mention two wins in the Foxhunters, two Topham Chases and a victory in the Becher Chase, so it was only the National which was missing off the list and the roof was blown off the grandstand when he finally achieved the ultimate on Saturday. They say dreams never come true, but there is absolutely no doubt, sometimes they do and it was a great privilege and experience to witness such an historic occasion.
Back to the most important race of the day, however, and after a winter break, Exelerator Express was back in action in the H’cap Chase at 4:15 on his first start since Chepstow in October and he put up a fine effort to finish fifth behind impressive winner Sam Brown.
Neil Mulholland, his trainer, told us beforehand that he expected the son of Poliglote to improve for the outing and indeed his words proved spot on – as if we doubted him anyway. A trip back to Liverpool on 13th May looks on the cards where there is a valuable 0-145 Hcap Chase which looks right up his street. His shrewd handler even suggested a jaunt over to Ireland to tackle the Kerry National at Listowel in September could be a potential long term target so watch this space!
Despite most of the attention being focused on the Scottish Grand National meeting up at Ayr the week before, Potter Group enjoyed success with Mot A Mot in the Novices’ Hcap Hurdle at Newbury on his first start for Sam Thomas and we don’t mind admitting, we were suitably impressed!
He travelled and jumped well throughout the 2m4f contest and when Charlie Deutsch really pushed the button, the dashing grey picked up nicely to score by a cheeky ¾ of a length. The Handicapper was clearly impressed too and put him up to a mark of 120. He’d obviously benefited from a wind op and the fitting of a tongue tie but we are all very excited about his future and look forward to many great days ahead with him.
The day before Patroclus took his chance in the Novices’ H’cap Chase in a race that looked tailor made for the son of Shirocco. Coming down to the penultimate fence we thought our luck was in, and it looked a similar story heading to the last but unfortunately he ‘cut out’ very quickly and came home in fourth place. It was ultimately disappointing but he’s come out of the race in good shape and has been given an entry at Haydock on Saturday over 2m4f. He’s a high class horse and we still feel there is unfinished business with him so we’re not giving up just yet – his day will come!
Cheltenham stage their popular two day April spring meeting this week and Stolen Silver has been declared in the G2 Silver Trophy Handicap Chase on Wednesday which has attracted a field of eight runners chasing the £39,000 first prize. As reported in previous editions of Racing Ramblings, Sam Thomas and his team have done a tremendous job in getting the best out of Silver and it was a tremendous achievement when he finished fourth at the Cheltenham Festival. He re-opposes his Cheltenham conqueror Coole Cody but we are significantly favoured at the weights this time so are certainly entitled to reverse that form, if not finish much closer at the very least. Sam Twiston-Davies gets the leg up and you can watch the race live on ITV Racing at 2:05.
Vienna Court, who has been a revelation for James and Jean Potter Ltd this season and Nigel Twiston-Davies has entered her in the 2m4f Mares’ Chase Final at Haydock on Saturday.
The plan still remains for Potterman to take his chance in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on 23rd April and he’ll arrive there off the back of a gutsy win at Kelso last month – which we must admit wasn’t expected because Alan King had said he’d left plenty to work on with Sandown being the main target.
We all saw what happened last year and while it’s always nice to pick up the winners trophy, it’s not quite so nice being handed it in on behalf of the Stewards’ so hopefully this time round we can bag the prize on merit!
On the subject of horses trained by Alan King, you may have seen Egbert make his racecourse debut in the Bumper at Hereford a couple of weeks ago and despite running very green, the son of Yorton Farm Stud Sire Pethers Moon, finally got the hang of things in the closing stages and stayed on well to finish third behind two horses who were both having the fourth runs of their career. Kingy is likely to give him one more run for experience before a summer at grass awaits for this most handsome bay who has chaser written all over him.