Whiskey can give Bowe's track record shot in the arm
Colin Bowe's decision to send Whiskey And Red to Ffos Las tomorrow is significant.
Bowe continues to specialise in point-to-pointers, but he has done brilliantly with the few that he has had for the track over the past few years.
However, he has only ever sent one runner to Britain, when Our Victoria went a long way to justifying the journey by finishing fourth in the four-miler at Cheltenham last March.
Tomorrow's Welsh excursion is Bowe's first since and he may have found Whiskey And Red a winnable opportunity in the three-mile novices' handicap chase.
Orange Nassau, representing Charlie Longsdon and Noel Fehily, is the most obvious threat.
A 14-length runner-up to Camden on its British bow, the French import might be well handicapped off 110. Still, he is a seven-year-old that had plenty of racing in France.
Whiskey And Red, although a year older, is less exposed over fences. In three starts over the bigger obstacles this term, he has won twice at Thurles, latterly over tomorrow's trip in gruelling conditions two days before Christmas.
When he made a quick return on St Stephen's Day at Down Royal, he was a pale shadow of his usual self. Thus, he reappears now after a break, with conditions to suit.
Off 110, the British handicapper has upped him seven pounds for crossing the water, but that is negated by the booking of the excellent seven-pound claimer Pat Corbett.
Longsdon and Fehily's only other runner on the card is Sergeant Mattie in the bumper.
One of four Irish 'pointing' winners on duty, the Naheez five-year-old impressed many when scoring at Lisronagh in December and may be the one to beat.
Outsider to note
Milton Bradley has few runners over jumps these days, but he has certainly been in form on the all-weather of late and Sertao might outrun long odds at Ffos Las tomorrow.
The seven-year-old is having his first outing since November, when he failed to figure on his fifth successive hurdle start over two and a half miles.
As a result, he has been dropped seven pounds for his second handicap start now, with conditional rider Charlie Wallis taking another five pounds off his back.
More importantly, Sertao reverts to two miles for a first time over flights in tomorrow's novices' handicap, having won and been second in two bumpers over course and distance in 2011. It would be no great surprise to see him make the frame here for Bradley.
Ffos Las 2.50 – Whiskey And Red
Ffos Las 4.20 – Tricky Trickster
Ffos Las 4.50 – Sertao
Ffos Las 5.20 – Sergeant Mattie
23 – What Black Caviar's unbeaten run should have stretched to by the time you read this. The sensational Australian sprinter is due to have a first start since her dramatic Royal Ascot coup in the Group One Lightning Stakes at Flemington this morning.
8 – The maximum number of rivals that Sprinter Sacre will face in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The two-mile Cheltenham showpiece could well host its smallest field since four challengers tried in vain to deny Badsworth Boy a hat-trick back in 1985.
Quote of the week
"First-time applicants for licences to train are required to demonstrate or confirm they meet the established criteria, which include, but are not limited to, that they have the competence and capability to train and that they are otherwise, in all circumstances, suitable to hold a licence – ie that they are 'fit and proper.' Any application received from Graham Bradley for a licence to train would be treated in this manner"
– Robin Mounsey, spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority, appears to pour cold water on the prospect of controversial former jump jockey gaining a trainer's licence.
Three things we
learned this week
1 Flemenstar won't be going to Cheltenham. Ever since his initial defeat of Sir Des Champs at Punchestown in December, when Peter Casey nominated the two-mile Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas as a potential alternative to the Lexus, only for the idea to be shot down by the horse's owner Stephen Curran, the seemingly polarised views within the horse's own camp epitomised the debate about which route to go with him.
Ever since, Curran has given the distinct impression that the Gold Cup is the only Cheltenham race he was interested in for the horse, yet, even in the run-up to last Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup, Casey was talking up a tilt at Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother.
In the Hennessy, Sir Des Champs put the final nail in the coffin of Flemenstar's Gold Cup bid.
To the naked eye, Flemenstar seemed to run his race, but Cheltenham, still a month away, was hastily ruled out following the emergence of a lung infection.
The upshot is that this flamboyant chaser will, at best, be nine years old by the time he finally jumps a fence at the Festival, which is a pity.
On the flip side, a clash with Sprinter Sacre over an intermediate two and a half miles in the Melling Chase is now very much on the cards. As consolations go, that will do!
2 Wednesday was a fine day for Denis Hogan's Cloughjordan stable, with Luke's Benefit and Missie Ella securing his first training double.
However, it also threw up a dubious state of affairs from an integrity perspective.
Hogan rode Missie Ella himself, but was on another trainer's runner when Brian Cawley steered Luke's Benefit home.
There was absolutely no question of wrongdoing, but a conflict of interest is blatantly inherent in such circumstances. It's a grey area that the Turf Club should review.
3 On His Own's Grand National prospects are very much alive. Since tipping up at Becher's Brook while travelling easily last year, Willie Mullins' nine-year-old has had only one objective.
He hasn't run since, but the unveiling of the weights confirm that he gets in off the very same mark, and he will carry 10st 12lb, just a pound more than last year, if Albertas Run turns up.
Navan, Clonmel and Fairyhouse are all potential destinations for him next week, but he won't peak until April 6 at Aintree.
Monday: Carlisle, Southwell, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Navan, Southwell (AW), Taunton, Wetherby
Wednesday: Punchestown, Doncaster, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield (AW), Ludlow
Thursday: Clonmel, Ayr, Huntingdon, Kempton* (AW), Sedgefield
Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Lingfield (AW), Sandown, Warwick, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Saturday: Fairyhouse, Chepstow, Kempton, Lingfield (AW), Newcastle
Sunday: Naas, Fontwell, Towcester