Oran Flyer to justify Fenton's travel plan
Philip Fenton's decision to send Oran Flyer to Ffos Las tomorrow is of note.
The Carrick-on-Suir-based handler isn't someone who tends to frequent the day-to-day meetings in Britain, so it may be worth paying attention when he elects to send an 11-year-old that hasn't won in six years and 25 starts since landing a Gowran Park bumper. Sure enough, the handicap chase that he is targeting is a desperate race.
Oran Flyer's six rivals are an uninspirational bunch, though Normally did manage to win a race over course and distance last time, the first time that he got his head in front in 10 career starts over a three-year period. However, that was an equally weak contest, and a 7lb penalty could contain the top-weight.
Of course, Oran Flyer collects a 10lb penalty just for crossing the water. That is to be expected, though, and the British handicapper might justifiably point out that Brian O'Connell's mount would struggle to ever find such a winnable race at home.
In seven starts throughout 2011, Oran Flyer never tackled less than a 10-runner field, and he has been beaten of late in races that have been won by multiple winners such as The Bishop Looney, Cloughmile and Hidden Present. When last seen at Down Royal on St Stephen's Day, he ran his best race for a long time to be fifth, form that has been held up by Yeoman, third then and second at Naas last week.
With the blinkers that he wore then back on tomorrow, Oran Flyer might finally be able to get off the mark over jumps.
Alan Kennedy's Rule Of Thumb is the only other Irish runner on the card in the bumper. It will be interesting to see how the debutant fares, but God Of The Kop is preferred to be an appropriately named winner in the weekend that's in it.
Second at Newbury first time up, Rebecca Curtis' Old Vic gelding sets the standard.
Outsider to note
The Brian Ellison-trained mare can run well at decent price in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Sedgefield tomorrow.
A three-time winner on the Flat, she has yet to get off the mark in nine tries over flights. However, the step up to this trip should suit, as she recorded her best effort over the distance when fourth at Ludlow last month.
Dane Cottage confirmed the impression that she needed further when making much of the running before finishing third over two miles next time, but then failed to make an impression at Huntingdon a fortnight ago.
Combined with a 2lb drop in the ratings, the extra half-mile could bring out the best in Denis O'Regan's mount.
Leopardstown 12.55 - Thomas Edison
Sedgefield 2.45 - Dane Cottage
Ffos Las 4.00 - Oran Flyer
Ffos Las 4.30 - God Of The Kop
28,000 What Ascot's decision to brand race-goers whose attire failed to meet their dress code requirements with orange badges last Saturday will cost them in pounds sterling. On Sunday it was announced that they would refund all race-goers in the enclosure in question.
17 The unbeaten sequence of the Australian sprinting sensation Black Caviar. A seven-time Group One-winning mare, she was on the mark in a Group Two at Moonee Valley yesterday.
4 Irish runners in England tomorrow, two each at Ffos Las and Sedgefield.
Quote of the week
"I'd have gone for it, but I'm just a barmy owner and I'm sure David has made the right decision. A decision hasn't been made about Cheltenham (in March), but I'd like to think that if David thought him mature enough he would go for the Gold Cup."
-- Roger Stanley, owner of Grands Crus, on the decision to skip today's Argento Chase. David Pipe echoed that the grey could still run in the Gold Cup, but Al Ferof's Ascot defeat last week was a reminder of how big an ask that would be for a novice.
Three things we
learned this week
1 AP McCoy is as obstinate as ever. The perennial champion jockey is famously iron-willed, but you could have been forgiven for thinking that he was mellowing somewhat in the aftermath of that latest spill that left him with broken ribs.
McCoy made for Barbados for a break, and gave the distinct impression that he wouldn't ride again until he felt fully up to it.
However, having initially stated that he might wait until after this weekend to return, he took exception to one newspaper's loose paraphrasing of his being unable to "bear the thought of another fall" last Saturday.
Lest anyone thought he was going soft, McCoy's return to action was brought forward to Thursday. By the by, turns out he also suffered a punctured lung in that fall.
2 Paul Carberry is as carefree as ever. Be it out hunting, on an aeroplane or simply the morning after the night before, Carberry's catalogue of non-racing indiscretions is long.
His latest calamity resulted in a fractured collarbone, that most-common of jockeys' injuries, which he incurred on a skiing holiday in Austria last week. He expects to be out for three weeks and today misses out on the ride on the Boylesports.com Hurdle favourite Scottish Bookie as a result.
3 The British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) is as clueless as ever. Despite enjoying massive respect within the industry, Paul Struthers, the BHA's former communications head, was inexplicably made a scapegoat for the PR disaster that arose out of the whip saga.
Struthers paid with his job, but the Jockeys' Association acted swiftly, appointing him as their new chief executive this week. No prizes for guessing his priority in his new role.
Monday: Ayr, Plumpton, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Folkestone, Southwell (AW), Taunton
Wednesday: Down Royal, Kempton* (AW), Leicester, Ludlow, Newcastle
Thursday: Clonmel, Southwell (AW), Towcester, Wincanton, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Catterick, Chepstow, Lingfield (AW), Wolverhampton* (AW)
Saturday: Fairyhouse, Ffos Las, Lingfield (AW), Sandown, Wetherby
Sunday: Punchestown, Fontwell, Musselburgh.