We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Monday, February 20, 2017.
Colin Tizzard has a stacked deck for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after Cue Card (above) came through his Ascot Chase prep on Saturday with ease. Cue Card will join stablemates Thistlecrack and Native River in the March 17 showpiece following a foot-perfect display. Tizzard said: “I thought his performance on Saturday was as perfect as you can get. On all known form he deserved to win, but that doesn’t mean they will. He travelled and jumped and came away in his own time, so we were delighted. Every day will be a nervous day for the next few weeks, hoping something doesn’t go wrong.”
Identity Thief missed yesterday’s Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan and is likely to miss the Cheltenham Festival. Henry de Bromhead’s Grade 1-winning hurdler fluffed his lines in the Irish Arkle and it was hoped he would restore his reputation, but Michael O’Leary of owners Gigginstown House Stud explained: “He pulled out lame after pulling a shoe off himself in the box. The frustrating thing is that it probably rules out Cheltenham. We can’t get a prep race in before Cheltenham and we can’t go to the Arkle after pulling up and falling.”
With Identity Thief missing from the line-up, the Grade 3 Flyingbolt Novices’ Chase at Navan was won by Ball D’Arc, who scored by 19 lengths after 4/5 favourite Ballyoisin fell three out. Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: “We might look at the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse for him. Over two miles he definitely needs that ground, but I’d say he might be all right on a bit better ground over two and a half.”
Gigginstown House Stud owner Michael O’Leary has again hit out at handicapper Phil Smith for framing the Grand National weights higher than his horses’ Irish handicap marks, while outlining his team for Cheltenham. He said: “Don Poli has run three times in Grade 1s (this season) and been beaten in all of them, and yet Phil Smith has him up at 165, 5lb less than Thistlecrack. I think if he runs against Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup he’ll be beaten two furlongs.” Of his Cheltenham team the Ryanair owner added: “If they all arrive fit and well it’s likely we’ll run Outlander and Don Poli in the Gold Cup and probably Sub Lieutenant and Empire Of Dirt in the Ryanair Chase. I think the Ryanair is the logical race for Empire Of Dirt to go in. I would love to win it, I’ve spent 10 years trying to without any great success.” Source: http://www.sportinglife.com/racing/news/article/465/10774616/michael-oleary-plans-to-run-don-poli-and-outlander-in-the-cheltenham-gold-cup
The Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois may have booked his ticket for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham with an impressive all-the-way win in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan yesterday. “He’s in the RSA Chase and you’d have to say after today we would be travelling, but we’ll see what the ground is like. If it came up very good, which you never know at Cheltenham, he might give it a miss. At the moment if it was nice, soft ground we’d have to take our chance.” Acapella Bourgeois is still available at 16/1 with MyClubBetting.
Vieux Lion Rouge is the new 14/1 favourite for the Randox Health Grand National with MyClubBetting after getting the better of Blaklion in the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Trainer David Pipe said: “He’s changed a lot, as he never used to find much at the end of his races. He’s going back to Aintree with experience over the fences and he proved today he doesn’t need soft ground. We can look forward to April now.”
SIS agrees to acquire Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia from William Hill. Picture and data from the tracks will be added to SIS’ existing portfolio of rights from Monmore, Crayford, Hove, and Romford. Hills’ retail MD Nicola Frampton says: “Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia are among the best run in the industry and we would like to thank the teams at both tracks for all their hard work and success during William Hill’s period of ownership.” The tracks will be acquired by SIS subject to final agreement and the appropriate regulatory authority approvals.
Cheltenham Racecourse will unveil a statue of Sir AP McCoy on March 14, the opening day of the Festival meeting. The life-size bronze has been crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferriter. The 20-times jumps champion said: “His dedication to getting it right was really outstanding, from measuring me to videoing me and when I was standing for him. I thought most people got a statue when they were dead! I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit.”
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-39009453 http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-02-17/mccoy-statue-to-be-unveiled-at-cheltenham/
The winner of the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival will be in line for a £500,000 bonus in Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, May 13. The Challenge, an effort to re-establish the historical transatlantic racing rivalry, will be sponsored by private equity firm TVV Capital of Nashville, Tennessee. TVV Capital founder Andrew Byrd said: “That historical connection is strong, as is our longstanding relationship with the Iroquois. We wish to thank Mike Hankin and Brown Advisory, who first introduced us to the Cheltenham Festival and without whom the Challenge would have been impossible.”
Prolific juvenile Cliffs Of Dover has been ruled out of the Triumph Hurdle and for the rest of the season after “knocking his leg in a schooling session” according to trainer Paul Nicholls. He told his blog: “Cliffs Of Dover will have a nice long break now before he comes back into training in the autumn and we will aim to have him right for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.”
Major sporting events such as the Grand National, Wimbledon, Olympics, FA Cup and World Cup will continue to be shown on free TV channels under government plans to safeguard the UK’s sporting heritage. Ministers will be given the ability to “future-proof” free-to-air broadcast for certain “at risk” events through a planned amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. “Sport loses much of its ability to deliver positive outcomes for the public when people do not have the ability to watch or experience it,” noted the bill’s author.
Dual American Classic winner and 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic has died, aged 21. Trained by D Wayne Lucas, he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but suffered multiple fractures in his left front leg just a few strides before the wire in the Belmont. The 21-year-old stallion had only returned to the US from Japan where he had been at stud since 2002, in December. The cause of death is unknown.
The Irish Derby will remain at the Curragh during construction work with a much-reduced capacity of 6.000. “The shortage of sprint tracks, and that the Curragh can cater for up to 30 runners over distances up to a mile, meant that relocating the major Curragh races elsewhere would not be feasible,” explained HRI chief Brian Kavanagh.
Flintham, who was short-headed by Bigbadjohn in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday, will be targeted in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival unless ground is too lively. Sara Bradstock, who trains the eight-year-old with husband Mark, said: “He was really just mugged on the line. The National Hunt Chase would be very much under consideration but the ground would have to be on the soft side of good. We jarred him up running him in the Pertemps Hurdle last year which is why he was off for the rest of the year.”
The Irish Department of Agriculture has been called upon to suspend the sale of Harolds Cross Greyhound Stadium in Dublin until a review has been held into the finances of the IGB. Tipperary TD Alan Kelly was highly critical of the board’s accounts procedure and decisions being made on the basis of financial reports dating back to 2014.
Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Wednesday, February 15, 2017
CARLISLE: 2.00 Front At The Last, 2.30 Strait Of Magellan, 3.00 Take The Cash, 3.35 Thyne For Gold, 4.10 Beg To Differ, 4.45 Midnight Request, 5.15 Flemenskill
LINGFIELD PARK: 1.50 Take To Heart, 2.20 Lac Scare, 2.50 Capilla, 3.25 Hitherjacques Lady (nb), 4.00 Finish The Story, 4.35 Groundunderrepair, 5.05 Big Fella Thanks
WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.10 Sweeping Rock, 2.40 War At Sea, 3.10 Leonard Thomas, 3.45 Judicial, 4.20 Head Space, 4.55 Indian Affair, 5.25 RUTHERFORD (NAP), 5.55 Hochfeld
Today’s Lucky 15 Selections: Rutherford (Wolverhampton 5.25), Hitherjaques Lady (Lingfield Park 3.25), Thyne For Gold (Carlisle 3.35), Lac Sacre (Lingfield Park 2.20)
NAP and Next Best won on Friday.
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