Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Robert Alner passed away on Monday evening. He was one of the leading trainers of his generation, but a car accident had left him paralysed from the neck down in 2007. His Gold Cup success was gained courtesy of Cool Dawn back in 1998 but I will always remember Kingscliff and the wonderful grey The Listener who were two of my favourite horses in my formative years of covering the sport.
The Evan Williams’ trained Mack The Man needs six to come out of the Betfair Hurdle, but he has been the big mover over the last 24 hours and is 7/1 (from 9s) with BetVictor for one of the biggest handicap hurdles of the year.
They go at Ludlow this afternoon and I expect to see Paint The Dream (2.15) go one better in the Beginners’ Chase than in his last couple of starts for Fergal O’Brien. The selection belied his 20/1 odds when finishing second in the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day although that should have been third given the odds on favourite – Champ – fell at the last. Note the latter will not reappear at Newbury this weekend but will have his prep race for the RSA Chase at Kelso next week.
Bonza Girl won the mares’ handicap hurdle on this card 12 months ago, but she meets the runner up – Dinos Benefit – on 3lbs worse terms for just a nose that she was ahead in front of that rival at the line. There should be little between the pair again this afternoon, but preference is for Getaway Totherock (2.45) who would surely have gone very close at Newbury last time had she not missed out the last couple of hurdles. The selection had previously caused a bit of a shock when scoring over today’s C&D at odds of 20/1 but her run last time showed that was no fluke.
Town Parks has been penalised 6lbs for scoring over C&D here last month but that doesn’t tell the whole story as Almazhar Garde (3.15) came down at the first in the home straight – a fence that has more than its fair share of casualties. I am prepared to give Charlie Longsdon’s five-year-old another chance as he jumped the fence well enough on to fail to find a leg on the landing side.
Monbeg Gold has gone well fresh in the past and is suited by the conditions of the race in the Hunter Chase but I just favour The Dellercheckout (4.15) who was a chase winner for Paul Nicholls and has won his last couple between the flags for his present connections. The selection is only a seven-year-old and is half the age of teenager Sam Cavallaro who will again be aimed at Cheltenham’s Hunter Chase meeting in the spring.
Polish (4.45) is entitled to come on for his hurdles debut when runner up at Taunton and he is taken to go one better for Fergal O’Brien with Paddy Brennan keeping the ride on this ex-flat horse who was rated in the late 70s on the level.
There is a decent 6f Maiden at Wolverhampton and, despite the fact that he has 3l to find with the likely market leader Never Dark on Kempton running, I think Mount Mogan (5.40) can go one better than when runner up at Lingfield last time The selection was not knocked about on debut and had certainly benefitted from the experience at Lingfield although he again showed signs of inexperience.
Seventeen O Four (7.40) travelled strongly but faded into third inside the final furlong over a mile at Lingfield last month and this evening’s drop back to 7f can see him in a better light. Michael Bell’s three-year-old has been raised 1lb for that effort and Hayley Turner, who did us a big favour with Via Serendipity here on Monday, is again in the plate.
For all your racing odds go to BetVictor.com