Richard Forristal: Sunday service
Outsider to note
Timmy Murphy is in Hexham tomorrow for two rides for his father-in-law Raymond Anderson Green. While Dizzy River is ostensibly the pick of the two in the second division of the two-mile novice hurdle, Fiftyfive Degrees could belie long odds in the three-mile handicap chase.
A winner over course and distance on his only previous start at Hexham in a hunters' chase three years ago, the son of Presenting has been dropped from a career-high of 112 to 99 on the back of three abysmal runs.
That represents 8lb of relief on his most recent start, and also eight pounds less than his most recent winning mark. While it requires a considerable leap of faith to put any trust in Fiftyfive Degrees, it is of note that he came into form at this time last year, and that he sports first-time blinkers now.
Wincanton 2.25 -- Waldvogel
Leopardstown 3.0 -- Dunboyne Express
Hexham 4.10 -- Drum Bustible
Hexham 4.40 -- Fiftyfive Degrees
389.7 Long Run's Gold Cup-winning time in seconds, which broke Looks Like Trouble's track record by 0.6 seconds.
15 The number of theoretical pounds that the Alex Ferguson-owned What A Friend has in hand in the Grand National following his fourth in the Gold Cup.
6 Years since Aidan O'Brien last ran horses in Dubai prior to today.
Quote of the week
"Rodi is on the flat of his back with his head in a cage. He's on a drip, he can't eat or drink, and I've been moisturising and rubbing his legs because everything's gone numb as he has been in a bed for 24 hours now. He's in fairly good spirits, but keeps drifting in and out of consciousness because the painkillers they are giving him are incredibly strong." -- Alison Greene, wife of 41-year-old Tipperary native Rodi, after his fall at Lingfield on Monday.
Three things we
learned this week
1 Davy Russell's roller-coaster campaign has taken the cruellest turn. Already broken up three times earlier in the season, the Youghal native defied the odds to put himself in a position to challenge for the jump jockeys' title.
However, following two winners at Cheltenham, his prospects took a knock when Willie Mullins declared his support for Russell's fellow Corkman Paul Townend, despite Ruby Walsh's return to fitness. The final nail in the coffin came when Russell suffered a fracture to his left hand at Thurles on Thursday, and fate may now decree that, having been second to Walsh on four occasions already, he could have to contend with the same spot behind Townend.
2 Sizing Europe is the highest rated horse in the land. The new champion chaser leapt to 176 from 160 this week, which places him 5lb ahead of the dethroned Big Zeb. The funny thing about Sizing Europe's new-found status is that if you had predicted as much a year ago, you might have been shot down for stating the obvious; if you had done so 10 days ago, you would have been laughed out of town.
3 The betting ring will be a less colourful place following the death of Paul Farrell. Farrell, a member of one of Dublin's oldest bookmaking families, was known for sporting white gloves in his role as a tic-tac, and was hugely popular with regular race-goers.
Monday: Plumpton, Towcester, Wolverhampton (AW)
Tuesday: Lingfield (AW), Southwell (AW), Taunton
Wednesday: Catterick, Hereford, Lingfield (AW), W'hampton* (AW)
Thursday: Cork, Leicester, Ludlow, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Musselburgh, Newcastle, Stratford, Wolverhampton* (AW)
Saturday: Gowran Park, Chepstow, Doncaster, Kempton (AW), Uttoxeter
Sunday: Curragh, Limerick, Doncaster, Market Rasen