The curtain came down on the 2016-17 National Hunt Season at Sandown but it’s a shame that there isn’t a break between seasons as the 2017-18 season got underway on Monday.
Henderson Celebrates Title Win With Sandown Three Timer
Nicky Henderson became Champion Trainer and had a great Sandown winning three races and almost made it a fabulous four timer with Vyta Du Roc just failing, by a head, to win the last big handicap of the season the Bet365 Gold Cup. The race was won by the unconsidered Henillan Harri who was sent off at odds of 40/1. The 9 year old made all and just held off the fast finishing runner up on the run in. he was given a fine ride by Sean Bowen and you couldn’t fail to see the delight on the jockey’s face as his mount was announced the winner.
Well it’s the start of a new month and what a busy one it is. Next weekend we have the first British Classics of the flat racing season with the 1,000 & 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The colts Classic takes place on Saturday and in recent years the Irish have dominated the race. On Sunday it’s the fillies taking centre stage with the last running of the 1.000 Guineas. It’s hard to believe but in just 5 weeks time we will have seen four of the five English Classics.
The top quality flat racing action continues after Guineas weekend throughout the new month with the Chester’s May meeting and York’s Dante meeting. We can now safely say the flat season is back with us.
A good end to a tough month, with two from two on Sunday courtesy of The Tartan Spartan at Salisbury and Hyperdrive at Limerick. Hopefully a good indication of a profitable summer to come!
This Weeks Eyecatchers
This week I have six horses that are worth putting in your trackers, including a couple of winners with future big race targets:
Wednesday 26th April
Majestic Hero – Ron Harris – The six year old had looked a bit unlucky on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket but he made amends here with a cosy win by ¾ lengths. Was given a very confident ride by jockey Jamie Spencer and came to win his race inside the final furlong. The gelding had been given a wind operation over the winter and could well improve a bit more this season. A 5f sprinter pure and simple, the ‘Dash’ back over C&D on Derby Day looks a good target for the horse who showed the track holds no terrors for the horse and nor does a strongly run race. Whatever his fate in the Dash there should another win in the horse this season.
Friday 28th April
Laughton – Kevin Ryan – The four year old won twice last year and start this new season racing off a 3lb higher mark that for his last win at Goodwood last July. The son of Acclamation was having his second start of the season, showing the benefit of his recent seasonal reappearance at Redcar, by staying on nicely to take 4th at the finish in this 5f handicap. He well suited by quick ground being 3 wins from 6 runs 4 places on good to firm. Has yet to win beyond the minimum trip but I wouldn’t rule him out over 6f. Big fields also hold no terrors for the horse as he 2 wins from 2 runs in field sizes 16+.
Hyperfocus – Hugo Palmer – A winner twice as a juvenile at Leicester on his racecourse debut and on the tapeta at Newcastle last June. He wasn’t seen on the track after finishing last in a Group 2 at Newmarket in July but was well backed on his seasonal reappearance to make a winning return on his handicap debut at Kempton but was far to keen and disappointed his backers when finishing only 6th of 7. This was a much better run from the three year old who was only beaten a length in to 3rd despite not getting the best of passages inside the final furlong. A mark of 85 looks workable now that his trainer’s horses have started to hit top gear.
Symbol – James Fanshawe – The filly was making her racecourse debut here but despite being sent off at an unfancied 25/1 ran a race full of promise when finish 4th in this 1m 2f maiden. The three year old made steady headway from the rear and was beaten less than 2 lengths at the finish. As befits her pedigree, being a daughter of Nathanial out of 1m 2f winning Dam, she should improve for this introduction. A small maiden could be won but she does look more of a handicap project.
Saturday 29th April
Afjaan – William Haggas – The five year old has been kept in training with William Haggas which suggests connections think they can win a few more races with the gelding. Lightly raced for his age this was only his 11th career start. He had run well in two valuable handicaps at Ascot on his final starts of last season and was a fairly decisive winner over 7f here, coming from the back of the field and not being given an unduly hard race. Can progress a bit further over 7f & 1m this season and he could well go back to Ascot for the 7f Victoria Cup later this month. One to keep on the right side of, especially when he gets his favoured quick ground!
Out Do – David O’Meara – The 8 year old isn’t as good as he was when winning the Great St Wilfrid Handicap or when winning a valuable 5f Class 2 handicap at York in May 2015 but he dropping down the handicap and is now 5lb his last winning mark. This was an encouraging return to form from the horse. Twice a winner at York a sprint handicap at the Dante meeting looks an ideal target for the horse especially if the ground is good or quicker there and he can win a handicap this summer.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks punting