Friday November 11

Mention last year’s ‘Open’ meeting at Cheltenham to Alan and it still brings a smile to his face as he reflects a wonderful victory from Annacotty, and, while BetVictor have replaced Paddy Power as sponsors of tomorrow’s big handicap chase, he goes there hopeful of another big run as the eight-year-old attempts to become only the third horse to win back-to-back renewals, following Half Free and Bradbury Star.

Alan said:”Annacotty loves to be fresh, so it was always the plan to go for this race first time out. He is 9lb higher than last year but he was Hobdayed in the summer and that could bring about a little bit of improvement.

“The midweek rain was very welcome as he is better with ease in the ground as he can sometimes get done for toe when the going is faster, but Ian Popham has been down to ride him and he seems happy, so fingers crossed he’ll again be competitive.”

We are involved in five of the seven races there tomorrow, and Alan added:”Midnight Prayer will also appreciate the rain we’ve had and he takes his chance in the three and a half mile handicap chase. He was runner-up in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January and, though he is now 11, he does not have that many miles on the clock and he is working as well as I’ve seen him this autumn. He’s more forward than usual and if he runs well here we might have a look at the Becher Chase at Aintree next month.

“We run two in the two mile and five handicap hurdle. Who Dares Wins has been crying out for this step up in trip and he will have come on for what was an excellent fourth in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow last month, I know he has topweight, but you couldn’t rule him out. We also run Board of Trade, who should be better suited by this galloping track than he was Fontwell, where he finished second on his recent comeback.

“We start off Dino Velvet in the Juvenile Hurdle. He’s ex-French and we had him cut when he joined us and then turned him away before giving him a run on the Flat at Chester in September, He’s schooled well and he stays the trip and enjoys a bit of cut, so it will be good to get him rolling.

“Finally at Cheltenham we run two in the Listed bumper for mares. My Khaleej had good bumper form last season and the yard wasn’t firing when she disapppointed at Aintree. She’ll go hurdling after this, but we also run a nice filly in Pique Rock, who was pulled out of Warwick last week because the ground was too quick.”

We also run a couple at Uttoxeter tomorrow, and Alan said:”Beneagles goes for the maiden hurdle. He’s an ex-Irish pointer who did a little bit of work in the spring before being put away. He starts at two and a half but he’ll stay further in time, while in the bumper there we run Fortified Bay, who is owned by Paul and Clare Rooney. He was a winner at Perth in the summer before he joined us, so it will be good to get him back on the track.”