Gold For Galileo!
We are now well into the crux of the National Hunt Season and couldn’t have asked for a better start to it with all of the horses representing Potter Group continuing to run to a high standard. Obviously the flag bearer (so far) has been Before Midnight who put up a fantastic display to score in the £80,000 Handicap Chase at Ascot last month. He really has been a revelation and while his most recent victory wasn’t quite as easy as Cheltenham, it was just as sweet and let’s hope he stays in one piece so we can look forward to the big spring festivals later in the season. It’s strange to think he ran at Sandown this very weekend last year when finishing second, beaten 6 ½ lengths, (albeit over 2m4f) off a mark of 129 yet here we are twelve months down the line and the son of Midnight Legend has improved to a rating of 148 and hopefully the improvement isn’t finished with!
Galileo Silver had no excuses at Wincanton on Thursday and we have to thank Sam Thomas for finding a very suitable race for the son of Galileo to get his head back in front, and in the meantime help him break his duck over fences. The drop back in trip to two and a half clearly worked the oracle, as did the application of blinkers. Add to the fact the services of ace amateur Will Biddick and if ever there was a certainty in racing, Galileo Silver was it! We’re only joking, of course we know there are no such things as ‘certainties’ but bearing in mind he was also competing of a career low mark, we’d have been pretty disappointed if he wasn’t capable of troubling the judge. Quite what happens now time will tell, let’s just hope the handicaper doesn’t overreact and gives our gallant grey a chance at winning again with his confidence now clearly at a high.
A Grey Weekend.
Moving on to the weekend and Mot A Mot returns to Exeter (12:55), the place he made his racecourse debut last January when fourth in a Bumper. Don’t worry if you missed it, because we did too, it was so foggy that day and even the commentator could be forgiven for getting the horses mixed up, but rest assured, the son of Martaline finished fourth before bolting up at Chepstow on his next start! Things went slight awry at Aintree after but the Seven Barrows inmate bounced back with an easy victory at Worcester on his hurdles debut and this seemed the obvious next step. Obviously it’s much more competitive, and is a qualifier for the EBF Final at Sandown on March 12th, so you’ve got to finish in the first six to be guaranteed a birth therefore you can be pretty certain it will be a rough race and sure to prove a tough contest. But Nicky Henderson has always held him in high esteem and says he’s confident of a very bold show. His work and schooling has been great and we’re keeping everything crossed for a good run under James Bowen who has struck up a great association with the improving grey.
Stolen Silver takes a big jump up in class on Saturday in the G1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (1:50) at Sandown, which is live on ITV Racing and RacingTV, after an excellent effort in defeat at Cheltenham a few weeks ago. The six-year-old has now earned a rating of 145 which could make things pretty tricky if sticking down the handicap route, primarily because he’d end up shouldering top weight all the time, so often a Grade One, with a smaller field where they all carry level weights, is a slightly ‘easier’ option. However, we’re under no illusions as to the task he faces and Third Time Lucki, who is ahead on ratings, should be very hard to beat, but it’s a £75,000 purse with prize money down to sixth place so we might as well give it a shot and the stiff track and good ground will be in his favour.
Mario De Pail, who ran so well on his Chase debut at Ffos Las last time, has been declared for the Novices’ Limited Handicap at Chepstow on Saturday (1:57) which is live on Sky Sports Racing. His trainer Sam Thomas is keen to stress that the ground is a major issue with the son of Blue Bresil who is much happier when there’s soft in the going description, so we’ve no doubt the Thomas team will be doing a rain dance in Cardiff tonight! But at the end of the day, while the only priority is always the welfare of the horse, you don’t win races standing in your stable so it makes sense to give it a crack. The step up to three miles, or two miles seven furlongs and 131 yards to be precise, is a plus and as long as the ground isn’t too quick, it should be a very suitable opportunity for the six-year-old to get his head back in front.
Looking further ahead, Jack Sharp, who bolted up at Uttoxeter last time, has been given an entry at the same track on Tuesday while Wheesht, who carries the silks of James and Jean Potter Ltd is entered in the Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase at Fontwell on the same day.
Goff UK Yorton Farm Point to Point Sale
16 lots were sold at the annual Goffs UK Point to Point Sale at Yorton Stud on Thursday and hopefully there will be some future stars among them. Top lot on the day was the Monbeg Stables consigned Saint Davy, a smashing four year old son of Balko who was a wide margin winner of his sole start in an Irish Point to Point on the 14th November and has a beautiful page to match his looks. After a tense bidding war the hammer eventually come down to Stroud Coleman Bloodstock and Jonjo O’Neill for £270,000. Highflyer Bloodstock went to £200,000 for Invictus Smart, a three-year-old son of Yorton sire Masterstroke, who is another very exciting prospect.