Thursday 14 December 2017

McGuinness hopes can be taken at Face Value

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Of the 14 Irish-trained runners across the two jump meetings in England tomorrow, Ado McGuinness' Face Value is one of the more appealing at Hexham.

Based in Lusk, north Co Dublin, McGuinness has hit form of late, sending out five winners in June. Face Value is a horse that has been switched to his care from Gordon Elliott in recent months and he has shown enough in his first few starts for his new handler to suggest that tomorrow's nine-runner novice hurdle ought to be a winnable opportunity.

Successful over flights at Punchestown in October before losing the race after testing positive for a banned substance, the Tobougg gelding finished third on his first hurdling start since then in a maiden back at the Kildare venue in May.

He followed that with a perfectly respectable third behind the smart pair Discoteca and Darroun at Ballinrobe, so what looks an ordinary Hexham contest should be within his remit.

Later on in a far more competitive handicap chase, Cilliseal is expected to draw for Derry handler Noel Kelly.

Finbin, which beat the selection over course and distance two weeks ago, reopposes now, but does so off three-pound worse terms for a one-and-a-half-length victory that may have been exaggerated on really heavy going.

Tellingly, though, the pair drew miles clear of the remainder that time, so it doesn't require a massive stretch of the imagination to see Cilliseal turning the tables at a course he loves.

In four successive starts at the Durham venue, he has won once and been second twice, and remains open to far more improvement on what will be just his third run over fences.

Outsider to note

Sendinpost wouldn't be without a chance of defying what will likely be double-figure odds in the mares' handicap hurdle at Hereford tomorrow.

With the top-weights clocking in at 110 and a bundle of previous winners in attendance, this isn't the worst mares' hurdle that will be run in Britain all summer.

Given that she is 0-11 over flights so far, Sendinpost may not be an obvious contender, but that doesn't quite tell the full story of Venetia Williams' charge.

Indeed, she was placed in each of her first four starts over timber this year, before then turning over at the third-last when travelling like a winner at Wincanton in May.

On her only subsequent outing at Towcester earlier in the month, that incident appeared to have left its mark, as Sendinpost never raised a gallop.

Now, with a clear round under her belt and first-time blinkers applied, the nine-year-old might once again be there or thereabouts under Cork-born rider Aidan Coleman.

Sunday Yankee

Hexham 2.0 -- Face Value

Hexham 4.0 -- Cilliseal

Hereford 3.50 --Sendinpost

Gowran Park 3.45 -- Echo Bob

Numbers game

10 Years since Irresistible Jewel, dame of Thursday's Ribblesdale heroine Princess Highway, won the same Group One.

5 Individual Irish trainers that have had winners so far at Ascot this week.

1Seamie Heffernan's Royal Ascot tally after the 39-year-old finally broke his duck on Ishvana on Wednesday.

Quote of the week

"I don't use a mobile phone. If I'm worried about something, I will ring you, but otherwise you won't get me.

"I can't train horses and talk to people at the same time. Times mean nothing to me. I don't know whether a horse does a mile in one-minute-something or three quarters of an hour. I don't understand it and don't want to. We work our horses in threes. If all three were in a dead heat at the end, I would still know which one was going the best. It's not because I'm clever or a genius or something, it's because I've been doing it for 40 years." -- The peerless Henry Cecil.

Three things we

learned this week

1 Horses don't come any better than Frankel. Having produced his very own royal procession on Tuesday, Henry Cecil's colt left analysts pondering whether or not he is the best we have seen.

The proximity of the modest pair Side Glance and Indomito to Ballydoyle's runner-up Excelebration compelled the handicapper to leave Frankel a pound shy of the top-rated Dancing Brave on 140.

That's a justifiable rationale for the assessor to tread carefully, but the reason those two got close to Excelebration was because he paid the price for taking the race to Frankel.

Sick of trying to achieve the impossible, Aidan O'Brien subsequently hinted that Camelot would not be asked to do the same, and you could hardly blame him. For a third year in a row, Frankel is swatting away everything that dares come his way. He is patently unbeatable.

2 It has been a good couple of weeks for Willie Mullins. When the champion jumps trainer was asked at the beginning of the month if he had scaled back his Flat team, he responded that he had done nothing of the sort.

Moreover, he declared that he was expecting winners very shortly. In the meantime, having saddled just one runner-up until then, he's had a first-time-out two-year-old victor in Blue Bullet and Simenon provided him with a debut Royal Ascot triumph on Tuesday.

On top of Thousand Stars' French Champion Hurdle coup, it hasn't been a bad month for him.

3 Frankie Dettori is still the daddy of them all. On the big days, the Italian has long been the professionals' professional, and Mickael Barzalona, his new-found competition at Godolphin, was reminded of as much in the Gold Cup on Thursday. Sheikh Mohammed gave Dettori the choice of Colour Vision or Opinion Poll, and he chose right -- just.

Racing Diary

Monday: Kilbeggan*, Chepstow, Thirsk*, Windsor*, Wolverhampton (AW)

Tuesday: Ballinrobe*, Beverley, Brighton, Newton Abbot*, Newbury*

Wednesday: Naas*, Bath*, Carlisle, Kempton* (AW), Salisbury, Worcester

Thursday: Tipperary*, Hamilton*, Leicester*, Newcastle, Warwick, Yarmouth

Friday: Curragh*, Chester*, Doncaster, Folkestone, Musselburgh, Newcastle*, Newmarket*

Saturday: Curragh, Chester, Doncaster*, Lingfield*, Newcastle, Newmarket, Windsor

Sunday: Curragh, Salisbury, Uttoxeter, Windsor

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