Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 18 February 2018

Recession right up Costello's street to claim Newbury spoils

Chris McGrath

the term 'journeyman' could have been invented for Dougie Costello, as competent and likeable a fellow as there is in the weighing room, and who just gets on with his job.

The Galway man's places of work are not usually the most glamorous; Costello's trail this week could be traced from Hereford to Catterick, Folkestone, Musselburgh and Kelso. That's the bread and butter -- the jam comes elsewhere.

"You can ride a winner at those midweek meetings," he said, "and no one notices. It's the Saturday horses that matter to someone like me. That's where you get the exposure, when the trainers and owners take notice."

Yesterday, the Yorkshire-based rider advertised his skills in no uncertain style in the Totesport Trophy at Newbury to get Recession Proof (12/1), the least experienced jumper in the field, home by a short-head from Bothy.

Had the Totesport Trophy been run on its due date, it would have been 27-year-old Costello's most valuable victory. But its transfer to a lower-profile day meant its purse was halved in value to £60,000.


Costello now has a third covetable mount at Cheltenham next month, along with novice chaser Wayward Prince and Gold Cup hope Midnight Chase. Recession Proof was cut from 40/1 to as short as 10/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and his experience in yesterday's crucible will serve him well.

There were other Cheltenham pointers yesterday. Aiteen Thirtythree laid out his credentials for the RSA Chase with a foot-perfect, wide-margin victory; this afternoon at Ascot his Paul Nicholls stablemate The Minack will be aiming to do the same.

Their five-times champion trainer notched a one-two in Newbury's Aon Chase, though not as the market saw it; Noland, at 13/2, beat What A Friend, the 4/5 favourite, by a head. The runner-up's joint-owner, Alex Ferguson, will not be wanting a similar upset against Crawley Town today.

Despite his defeat, What A Friend will run in the Gold Cup. Another of the Nicholls yard's Gold Cup candidates, Pride of Dulcote, will have his pretensions to the highest class tested in the Grade One Ascot Chase this afternoon by, among others, the King George VI Chase runner-up Riverside Theatre.

A keen observer will be Ruby Walsh, who tomorrow is due to ride out for the first time since breaking a leg in November.

Bothy's effort in the Totesport Trophy paid a compliment to one of the Champion Hurdle market leaders, Menorah, which gave him weight and a beating at Cheltenham in November.

The focus will be on the Festival hurdling crown again today, when the Alan King-trained Mille Chief faces four rivals in his final prep at Wincanton. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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