Newbury on Saturday hosts its hugely popular Greatwood Charity Day that does so much excellent work for ex-racehorses.
The chief race on the card is the Stanjames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, which features a quality field of 11 horses.
Sound Investment is another exciting young recruit from the Paul Nicholls’ stable and landed a couple of novice chases last term. He returned to action with an encouraging run when third to Uncle Jimmy in a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot in October and then beat Dolatulo by 4 lengths in a competitive handicap chase at Sandown Park in early November. Later that month he ran a cracking race when 8 lengths second to the very useful No Buts at Newbury but he returns here after a break, having tried 3 miles for the first time at Ascot just before Christmas and finishing 12 ½ lengths fifth of 9 to The Young Master.
Royal Regatta has developed into an exciting novice chaser this season and still looks to be on the upgrade. The Philip Hobbs trained 7 year old disappointed last spring and after running third to Brother Brian at Kempton Park over hurdles in early November, got off the mark on his chasing debut when defeating the useful Keltos by 2 lengths at Newbury’s Hennessy Meeting in late November. A month later he was a little disappointing when beaten 7 ½ lengths into third place (of 4 runners) behind Far West at the same Berkshire track. However, Royal Regatta got back to winning ways at Doncaster in January, beating Runswick Royal by ½ a length.
Trainer Charlie Mann bids to win this contest for the second time after the victory of Fine Parchment back in 2011. This time around he relies on his busy novice Seventh Sky, who has had 12 races over fences since May and has been successful on four occasions. The 8 year old defeated the useful Killala Quay by 7 lengths at Huntingdon in early January and then jumped best of all to slam Yorkist by 19 lengths in a valuable contest at Musselburgh at the start of this month. Last time out Seventh Sky ran another good race when 6 lengths second of 4 to Traffic Fluide at Plumpton.
Easter Meteor has plenty of talent but was a faller in the 2013 Paddy Power Gold Cup when trained by Emma Lavelle. The 9 year old then ran well at Newbury when 1 ¾ lengths second to Cantlow and raced prominently before tiring to finish 19 lengths sixth to Double Ross in the big handicap chase at Cheltenham’s December meeting.. Easter Meteor was brought down in the Grand Annual Chase last March and had a considerable break after that, during which time he changed stables, moving to David Pipe. However, he was pulled up on his return in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and then ran 31 lengths sixth of 12 to Niceonefrankie in December. Last time out Easter Meteor again travelled to Cheltenham at the end of January and was 22 lengths seventh of 10 to Annacotty. Connections will be hoping that the return to Newbury will see an upswing in his form.
Venetia Williams calls on the 9 year old Bennys Mist, an interesting contender having slipped down the weights to an interesting mark. Bennys Mist was twice a winner at Wincanton in January last year, before running 12 lengths third to Persian Snow at Warwick the following month. After running down the field in the Byrne Group Plate at Cheltenham in March, he was an excellent 8 lengths second to Ma Filleule over the Grand National fences in the Topham Trophy in April. He reappeared at Cheltenham in October, when a well beaten ninth to Johns Spirit and then pulled up in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton, but ran a blinder over the Grand National fences in the Grand Sefton Chase, to finish 5 lengths third of 16 to The Poole Master in early December. Last time out Bennys Mist finished 17 lengths fourth of 10 to Le Reve in competitive handicap at Sandown Park in late January and he now drops back down in trip.
Ballygarvey was a hugely promising novice chaser two seasons ago but has been very lightly raced since April 2013. The Philip Hobbs trained 9 year old made a pleasing return when 5 ½ lengths fourth of 17 to Anay Turge in a competitive handicap chase at Cheltenham’s Open Meeting in November and the following month beat Ulck Du Lin by 4 lengths at Ascot. Last time out Ballygarvey finished a weary 16 ½ lengths fourth of 8 to Brick Red in tiring ground at Sandown Park in late January.
After several promising novice chase efforts last winter, Headly’s Bridge really clicked in the spring as he landed a 19 length victory at this meeting a year ago and then followed-up with success at Towcester later in March. Simon Earle’s 9 year old was victorious on his seasonal return at Exeter in November, beating Lord Protector by 2 ¼ lengths. Last time out he was however pulled up at Chepstow in late December.
Since falling on her chasing debut back in October, Midnight Belle has gone from strength to strength during her novice season. Tom Symonds’ 8 year old mare has produced symmetrical form since then, finishing third twice in November, then running second twice in December. Naturally she has since won her last two races, beating Lily Waugh by 3 ¼ lengths at Ludlow in early January and following up with a head success from Granville Island at the end of that month at Wetherby.
After struggling in the spring of last season, things did not augur too well for Simply Wings when he pulled up on his seasonal return at Stratford in October. However, Richard Lee’s grand 11 year old put that run behind him in December to beat Umberto D’Olivate by 4 lengths at Lingfield Park. Last time out he was beaten a long way by Saint Raph but still finished third of 11 at Wincanton at the end of January.
Westward Point was a fair bumper and novice hurdle horse who makes just his third start over fences here after a considerable lay-off. The Warren Greatrex trained 8 year old was a well beaten last of 4 to the smart Taquin Du Seuil on his chasing debut at Ffos Las in October 2013 but improved for that run to beat Dreams Of Milan by 8 lengths at Wetherby in December of that year. He has not raced since.
The French import Saint Raph completes the line-up here and looks to be progressive. Robert Walford’s 7 year old ran fourth over fences on his UK debut at Wincanton in November and a month later was third in a minor handicap hurdle at Lingfield Park. He returned to that venue just over a week later and was 3 ¾ lengths second of 7 to Mr Fitzroy in another handicap hurdle. Last time out Saint Raph returned to chasing and was an emphatic 34 length winner over Tolkeins Tango in a Wincanton handicap chase in late January.
This card also features a terrific race for the Betway Supporting Greatwood, Veterans’ Handicap Chase over 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 110 yards.
Poole Master heads a competitive field here and shoulders top weight after his Aintree heroics in December, which saw him win the Grand Sefton Chase over the Grand National fences by 1 ¾ lengths from Cedre Bleu. Since then David Pipe’s 10 year old has been less successful, finishing a well beaten sixth of 8 to Lie Forrit at Kelso in early January and then pulling up in another veterans’ chase at Exeter earlier this month.
Tranquil Sea has been a magnificent performer over the years and had his biggest success when landing the 2009 Paddy Power Gold Cup in really soft ground. The 13 year old with the easily distinguishable huge white face, joined Warren Greatrex from Edward O’Grady’s Irish stable ahead of last season and he was victorious in a veteran’s chase at Doncaster just over a year ago, beating Time For Rupert by 2 lengths. Tranquil Sea then pulled up in the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham before finishing down the field in a competitive handicap chase at Aintree on Grand National Day. This is his first run since then.
Roalco De Farges looks to be limbering up for another crack at a big spring target and has proved a hugely successful horse over the years. Philip Hobbs’ grey 10 year old was second to Tidal Bay in the 2012 bet365 Gold Cup but missed nearly two years, returning to action in January of 2014. In March of last year he beat No Secrets by 2 ¾ lengths at Newbury before pulling up in the Scottish National and finishing seventh in the latest renewal of the bet365 Gold Cup Roalco De Farges returned to action at Cheltenham in October, beating Standing Ovation by 4 ½ lengths. The following month he was very disappointing at Ascot behind What A Warrior and similarly he ran poorly behind Rebeccas Choice at Chepstow on his latest start in early December. He should be fresh now and looks interesting.
After winning at Sandown Park in early 2013, the imposing Soll sneaked into the Grand National field and ran a blinder before tiring late on to finish seventh to Auroras Encore. The 10 year old’s form was disappointing last term and he has now switched to the David Pipe stable, for whom he made a winning debut at Exeter earlier this month when beating Rebel Rebellion and a good quality field by 4 lengths in a veterans’ chase.
West End Rocker is another very classy runner here who in his pomp won a Betfred Classic Chase and a Becher Chase. The 13 year old remains in the care of Alan King and won on his seasonal debut at Lingfield Park in December, defeating Summery Justice by 3 ¾ lengths in a veterans’ chase. He then pulled up in the latest renewal of the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick in January.
Victors Serenade proved a very useful chaser way back in 2011/12 but after pulling up in October 2012, was off the track for 13 months before running second in a handicap hurdle at Ffos Llas last November. After pulling up in January, Anthony Honeyball’s 10 year old was off again until October, when he beat Monbeg Dude by 2 lengths at Chepstow. He pulled up in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle towards the end of November and also pulled up in the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas on his most recent start.
Relax enjoyed a fine time of things last season winning twice, including a valuable Sandown Park prize in early February 2014. Since then things have been tougher for Venetia Williams’ 10 year old. He pulled up in last season’s Eider Chase almost a year ago and was off the track until December, when he ran a promising 15 lengths fourth of 9 to Rebeccas Choice at Chepstow. Relax has failed to really build on that effort and finished mid-division and 18 lengths behind Unioniste at Sandown Park in January and was then beaten 18 lengths when seventh of 14 to Soll at Exeter earlier this month.
There’s No Panic is a horse possessed of great stamina, who won the London National in 2013. This term Paul Nicholls’ 10 year old ran reasonably well when third at Fontwell Park on his return, before finishing 1 ¾ lengths second of 6 to Tales Of Milan in the latest renewal of the London National at Sandown Park in early December. Last time out he returned to Esher in late January but was beaten out of sight when fifth of 10 to Le Reve.
After running third to Reblis in the 2014 Sussex National last January, Monkerty Tunkerty pulled up in the Somerset National a few days later and was off the track until Christmas. Jess Westwood’s 12 year old was a very promising 7 lengths third to Loch Ba at Wincaton on Boxing Day and a month later returned to that track to win the latest renewal of the Somerset National, beating Silvergrove by 10 lengths.
Ballyoliver hit form last spring when landing a Carlisle handicap chase in March and then running third to Savant Bleu at Chepstow the following month. The Venetia Williams trained 11 year old returned to action with another Carlisle win back in early November, beating Global Power by 7 lengths, but was pulled up in an amateur riders’ handicap chase at Cheltenham later that month. He ran well before fading late on when 32 lengths sixth of 14 to Hawkes Point in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick in January and last time out finished 10 ½ lengths third of 6 to Carole’s Destrier at Ascot a couple of weeks ago.
Golden Chieftain showed significant form in the early months of 2013 but has gone off the boil since. Colin Tizzard’s10 year old ran out an impressive 10 length winner of the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival but since then has failed to place in any of his starts and was well behind Duke Of Lucca at Aintree in the spring. However, he did signal a hint of a return to form when 16 ½ lengths sixth to Roalco De Farges at Cheltenham in October, although he was then an early faller in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton in early November. A week later he pulled up in a Cheltenham handicap chase and Golden Chieftain’s latest run saw him finish 44 lengths behind Soll in that veterans’ chase at Exeter earlier this month.
After a summer campaign in 2013, Triangular ran well at Doncaster in January of 2014 when finishing 1 ¼ lengths second of 12 to Ifyousayso. Harry Fry’s 10 year old then landed a Kempton Park handicap chase by ¾ of a length from Midnight Appeal in early February of that year but has not raced since.
Fourovakind completes the line-up and in reality takes a big step up in class here. Harry Whittington’s 10 year old is still technically a novice chaser and ran encouragingly on his first couple of races this term, finishing third in both races at Chepstow in November and Lingfield Park in January. Last time out he got off the mark over fences, defeating Gunna Be A Devil by 23 lengths at Chepstow at the end of January. This is a lot tougher.
Over at Kelso, the big race of the day is the Listed Totepool Premier Chase over 2 miles, 7 furlongs and 110 yards, which has attracted a small but select field of six runners.
Heading the field is the very talented Cloudy Too, who makes a belated seasonal reappearance here. Sue Smith’s 9 year old showed plenty of ability last season, winning at Carlisle in November 2013 and then landing the prestigious Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day of that year. He later ran 19 lengths second to Captain Chris in the Ascot Chase before having a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he was well beaten when unseating at the final fence. A month later Cloudy Too ran in a Haydock Park handicap chase and finished 14 ½ lengths sixth of 11 to No Planning at the end of a busy campaign.
Upsilon Bleu holds some pretty decent pieces of form, including when beaten just 1 ½ lengths by Simply Ned at Doncaster just over a year ago. Pauline Robson’s 7 year old has predominately run in handicaps and has proved most consistent; he was a winner at Auteuil back in December and followed up with a ¾ of a length victory over French Opera in the Castleford Chase at Wetherby over Christmas. He then took on some of the best 2 mile chasers around in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury last month, making the most of his rivals’ errors to finish 13 lengths second to Mr Mole.
Since returning to chasing last March, Baileys Concerto has gone on a remarkable winning spree, landing 7 victories over fences and back over hurdles. The Dianne Sayer trained 9 year old landed the latest of those triumphs at Musselburgh in November, when beating Robbie by ½ a length. The following month he ran well to finish 1 ¼ lengths third of 10 to Bincombe at Aintree and stepping up in class, was far from disgraced when 15 lengths sixth of 13 to Splash Of Ginge in a good quality handicap chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Last time out he ran a cracking race when 3 ½ lengths second of 14 to the exciting novice If In Doubt in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster in late January.
Carlito Brigante looks to be Aintree-bound and was a smart hurdler in his youth. The 9 year old was with Gordon Elliott but is now in the care of Karen McLintock and ran well when second to The Romford Pele and then His Excellency during the summer. Carlito Brigante’s last run came in October – and was a winning one, as he defeated Gleann Na Ndochais by 17 lengths at Kelso.
Just over a year ago Runswick Royal beat Upsilon Bleu by ½ a length in the Morebattle Hurdle here, and just over 12 months later the pair clash again at Kelso in a quality chase. The Ann Hamilton trained 6 year old has remained in good heart since then, finishing second in two novice chases in May before getting off the mark over fences when defeating the very useful Yorkist by 2 lengths at Newcastle in January, after a 6 month break. Runswick Royal was then ½ a length second to the improving Royal Regatta at Doncaster in late January, before finishing 2 ¾ lengths fourth of 7 to Oscar Fortune at Haydock Park a couple of weeks ago.
Saphir River completes the field and looks to have a little bit to find on the book. Lucinda Russell’s 9 year old French import landed a Uttoxeter novice chase in November 2012 but has not won over fences since and in fact, since January 2013, has been campaigned exclusively over hurdles. Saphir River ran an encouraging 4 ½ lengths fourth of 10 to Spirit Of Shankly at Aintree in a handicap hurdle in October but failed to build on that when a disappointing twelfth of 20 to Unique De Cotte at Cheltenham a month later. Last time out in early January, he was 17 lengths fifth of 9 to Cultram Abbey in an Ayr handicap hurdle.