Smart cash lies with McCain's double act
Don McCain and Jason Maguire could be the partnership to keep on side at what is a low-key card at Carlisle tomorrow.
In the first division of the two-mile novice hurdle at the Cumbrian track, their representative is the Trevor Hemmings-owned Smart Act. The Oscar five-year-old doesn't inspire as an especially prodigious talent, but this is a bad race.
When fifth on his bumper debut at Bangor recently, Smart Act travelled well to lead inside the final mile, until the lack of a previous run told from two furlongs out. If he improves for that and takes to hurdles, which he is bred for, he ought to go close.
With stablemate Nowurhurlin instead likely to run at Haydock today, Diamond D'Amour is the only obvious danger to the selection. Placed three times over flights, that one certainly has experience, but is nought from five already.
In the two-and-a-half-mile novice, McCain relies on the more promising Avenging Ace. Dreamers Of Dreams may be Avenging Ace's main danger, having finished third in the race that Avenging Ace was sixth in over course and distance last month.
However, he had the benefit of a previous run that day. Now that Avenging Ace -- a decent point-to-point winner here in April -- has the run under his belt, he is preferred.
Outsider to note
First In Command
Daniel Loughnane sends two horses to Kempton tomorrow from his Co Meath base, and First In Command has each-way appeal in the concluding six-furlong handicap.
While it's over a year since he was even placed, this one has a real squeak. Sixth on its latest start at Wolverhampton in September, the form of that race is encouraging, with each of the four horses that finished in front of him that have run again all winning, as well as one that finished directly behind.
Despite that, First In Command's handicap mark has dropped five pounds to a career-low 57. It will be a surprise if he doesn't make a bold bid for a first win since 2009.
Carlisle 12.50 -- Avenging Ace
Carlisle 1.25 -- Smart Act
Navan 1.05 -- Mount Benbulben
Kempton 5.15 -- First In Command
165,468 Christy Roche's tax settlement to the revenue dept. He appeared on the list of defaulters this week after failing to declare more than €70,000 in income tax.
66 The cumulative years of bans given to 11 individuals, including four jockeys, for corruption by the British Horse Racing Authority on Wednesday.
18 The Tatling's tally of wins after the 14-year-old sprinter signed off with a triumph on Monday.
Quote of the week
"Howard couldn't come as he's warned off. The committee decided that they could not give an award this year. It was a bit of an embarrassment." -- A red-faced Graham Orange, of Go Racing in Yorkshire, after a decision to award Howard Johnson with a trainers' gong was quickly rescinded on Wednesday. Johnson was banned for four years in August after being found guilty of administering steroids to horses.
Three things we
learned this week
1 The big Christmas chases are shaping up nicely. Denman's scratching from the Lexus Chase is a blow to Leopardstown, but the emergence of Rubi Light as a serious contender is a real fillip for what should still be a cracking contest. Kauto Star, meanwhile, has been confirmed as an intended runner in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. Sportingly, the four-time winner's owner Clive Smith is also allowing former dual champion chaser Master Minded to run, and then there is Long Run, whose rider Sam Waley-Cohen is lucky to be able to take part in the race. Banned for 12 days for taking the wrong course on Monday, he can ride on St Stephen's Day because there is no amateur jockey's race that day. Talk about charmed.
2 Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton's arm is not for the faint-hearted. The Twitter tag is @Choc_Thornton, and the pictures of the repaired right wing that he broke on Sunday are there for the world to see. Words can do no justice to the scar, yet the 33-year-old plans to defy doctors' orders and return within "6-7 weeks" not three months.
3 Hurricane Fly might finally meet his match at Leopardstown on Thursday week. Istabraq is due to parade before the Grade One that will be run in his honour for a first time, which may be about as close as he gets to a worthy opponent.
Monday: Navan, Bangor, Plumpton, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Kempton (AW), Musselburgh, Taunton
Wednesday: Downpatrick, Ffos Las, Kempton* (AW), Ludlow, Wolverhampton (AW)
Thursday: Thurles, Hereford, Sedgefield, Southwell (AW)
Friday: Dundalk* (AW)
Saturday: No racing
Sunday: No racing