Friday January 27
Sadly, today’s Huntingdon meeting fell victim to the frost – minus 6 was recorded up there – but, hopefully, the promised warm weather will break through in time for both Cheltenham and Doncaster to get the green light for their important fixtures tomorrow. It seems a long time coming!
We are well represented on Cheltenham’s marathon nine-race card, with two of our old favourites, Uxizandre and Smad Place, leading the team.
Alan said:”Uxizandre makes his long-awaited comeback in the Clarence House Chase, and had the Grade 1 race been run as originally scheduled at Ascot last week he would not be running as he has to go left-handed.
“So, it was a bonus when the race was re-opened and switched to Cheltenham, where we last saw Uxizandre in action in that never-to-be-forgotten Ryanair Chase at the 2015 Festival.
“Giving AP (McCoy) his last winner at the Festival was something very special and Uxizandre was brilliant that day, but he’s been off the best part of two years and even if he comes back as good as ever he’ll need this race to blow away the cobwebs. It’s just terrific to have him back on the track.
“It would be great to think that Smad Place could repeat last year’s victory in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase, but he is going to find it hard as it looks a classy renewal with Thistlecrack setting the bar very high. However, Smad is in great form at home, and, hopefully, he’ll again do himself justice.
“We had five winners on this day last year, including not only Smad but also Yanworth, who produced a stunning performance in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. Keep In Line flies the flag in that race for Barbury this time, and he has been running well over two miles without quite delivering what we were hoping, so we are stepping him up in trip in the hope that might out a bit more improvement.
“Rainbow Dreamer jumps up two grades for the Triumph Hurdle Trial. He won twice at Fontwell in December, battling back after fluffing his lines at the last after Christmas, but he’ll need a career-best in what looks a hot race.
“Annacotty returns from a break for the Hugo’s Restaurant Barbados Trophy. He’s been disappointing this season, but we hope his little holiday will have freshened him up and they are also talking about rain in the morning which would help him as he has not really had the soft ground he needs this winter.
“We have William H Bonney in the finale, the Steel Plate and Sections Handicap Hurdle. He ran well for a long way on his seasonal reappearance at Kempton over Christmas, only tiring from the second last, and he’ll come on for that so we are expecting better this time.
“Good ground at Doncaster is just what we want for Ziga Boy, who tries to repeat last year’s success in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase. He is only 4lb higher so we have no complaints about his handicap mark, but he went there 12 months ago on a roll, whereas this winter he has been running ok without setting too many rivers alight.
“Dingo Dollar is on trial in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. This Grade 2 is a big step up in class for him, but he won well at Bangor and we need to find out whether Cheltenham is a realistic aim.”
“We have Mia’s Storm in the opening handicap hurdle up there. She was on a break as you don’t expect to find decent ground at the end of January, but the weather has prompted us to bring her back and she is fresh and well.”