Sport Horse Racing

Monday 18 December 2017

Midnight to bounce back at Wetherby

Keith Hamer

Neil Mulholland hopes the rain stays away from Wetherby to aid top-weight Midnight Chase's prospects in the Betfair, Don't Settle For Less Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase today.

The nine-year-old will be on a retrieval mission when he makes the long journey from Devon to West Yorkshire, as he fell at the second-last on his latest start in the Champion Chase at Down Royal seven weeks ago.

However, the Antrim native's Midnight Chase is undoubtedly the class act in the field, having won three handicap chases at Cheltenham before finishing fifth in the Gold Cup in March.

"Fingers crossed he'll like the track and they don't get much more rain up there," said Mulholland. "He's got a lot of weight for a reason. He's carried big weights round Cheltenham before in handicaps, so it will work out well.

"Obviously, he took the fall in Down Royal, but he's come out of it well.

"He was tired for a week or two, but he's in great form now and we're very happy with him."

Sarando bids to bounce back after falling at the 16th fence in the Hennessy when in a good position.

The six-year-old was a bit battered and bruised after the experience, but has been none the worse, according to trainer Paul Webber. Webber said: "He got a bit of a kicking at Newbury. It was a heavy fall, he never saw the fence.

"He was right up behind Carruthers at the time, we don't know what would have happened, but he seems to have bounced out of it remarkably well.

"He schooled very well with Denis (O'Regan) at the beginning of the week, so we'll see how we go. The going should be fine for him as he goes on any ground."

Ferdy Murphy is another trainer who does not want a lot of rain for his runner, The Hollinwell. The eight-year-old has performed with credit in staying handicap chases at Newcastle and Doncaster on his last two starts, and Murphy is hopeful of another good run.

In-form Lucy Alexander takes the ride from fellow 7lb claiming conditional Tony Kelly. "He's got in with a nice weight and she (Lucy) can claim the 7lb off him which is a help," said Murphy.

"He wouldn't want the ground to go too soft, that would be the only downside on it. His last two runs have been good, we've been very pleased.

"It was a particularly good run in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and then the last day he just ran a bit keen with the choke out for Tony.

"He jumped a couple fresh at Rose Hill and got to the front with him."

Owner-trainer John Wade reports Always Right to be in fine shape following his victory at Kelso earlier this month.

His two-and-a-half-length verdict over Skippers Brig was his first outing since he finished a close third to Beshabar in the Scottish National in April.

"He's been doing well and is in good nick," said the Sedgefield-based handler.

"We're looking forward to him running a very good race. He's in really good fettle and we hope he goes well."

Knockara Beau finished strongly to be second behind Shakalakaboomboom at Cheltenham last time and his trainer George Charlton is optimistic of another decent display.

"He performed well at Cheltenham the last time and ran on well at the finish," said the Northumberland handler. "He just missed one out a bit, the third last, and lost his position, but he was flying at the finish.

"He's got a nice weight and we're looking forward to going there, but it's a good race.

"He's not had 10st 8lb for a long time, he'll think he's loose, but we're in a very high-class race and the horse is very well.

"The torn muscle on his hind-quarter doesn't appear to be showing up anymore so hopefully he can put in a similar performance jumping-wise. We're looking forward to it."

Irish Independent

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