Friday 19 January 2018

Sunday Service: Celtus can keep hot streak on the go for Henderson

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Nicky Henderson's horses have been in irresistible form lately, and Celtus, his sole runner at Ffos Las tomorrow, is fancied to maintain his winning streak.

The five-year-old tackles what is a pretty open-looking two-and-a-half-mile beginners' chase, but he could be the one to beat under AP McCoy if he turns up here at the very top of his game.

Placed in a Grade Two novice hurdle at Kempton on his first start for Henderson after being bought from France in early 2011, the Keltos gelding couldn't build on that in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham that March.

On his return from a break a year ago, Celtus made his fencing debut in handicap company at Newbury, where he failed to justify odds-on favouritism when second to the useful Lidar.

Switched back to hurdles for his only other two starts last spring, he continued to struggle off a lofty rating, but tomorrow's heat is a more modest target.

While he will need to recapture the promise of his early showing, it's fair to assume that he has had his problems, as he won three over hurdles in France prior to his move. Crucially, though, Henderson wouldn't persist if he didn't think it worthwhile.

In the three-mile handicap chase, Richard Johnson gets the nod on Qualviro.

A Punchestown hurdle winner for Jim Culloty in 2009, the Lavirco gelding returned from 18 months off to be second on its debut for Tim Vaughan at Exeter last month.

The third and fourth home that day have since run well to be placed, so the form has a solid look to it.

If Qualviro is none the worse for the experience, he remains potentially well handicapped, having been out of form prior to his lay-off.

Outsider to note

On its first start for Rebecca Curtis, Stow can outrun forecast double-figure odds in the three-mile handicap hurdle at Ffos Las tomorrow.

A four-time winner over flights for Venetia Williams, Stow's form tailed off a little last term, but he did show that he was capable of running well off his current mark of 120 when second in first-time blinkers at Haydock in January.

An out-and-out stayer that will love the prevailing soft ground, he comes here now having been freshened up, and Curtis' booking of the impressive 10lb-claimer Pat Corbett could prove significant.

With the blinkers off again, he could run sweetly.

Sunday Yankee

Limerick, 1.35 -- Senior Again

Ffos Las, 2.30 -- Celtus

Ffos Las, 3.05 -- Stow

Ffos Las, 3.40 -- Qualviro

Numbers game

100m -- Frankel's projected sterling valuation, a figure over and above what any equine insurance firm can underwrite. Juddmonte Farms are believed to be seeking to insure him for both fertility and mortality, but need other insurance brokers, such as those specialising in shipping, to take a slice of the policy.

30-- What two tickets for a day at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival will cost if you book on before midnight tonight. The offer represents a 40pc discount.

Quote of the week

"Dad always said that there are people who talk, and people who are talked about. People who are talked about, he would say, are talked about for what they do, not what they say. Strive to be one of the latter."

In a moving tribute at a memorial service for his father Fergie Sutherland -- one of Irish racing's great characters, who trained Imperial Call to a famous Cheltenham Gold Cup victory in 1996 and passed away last week at the age of 81 -- Henry Sutherland reveals the essence of a great man who lived life to the full despite losing a leg to a land mine in Korea in 1952.

Three things we learned this week

1 The Breeders' Cup is disintegrating into a pale imitation of what it was meant to be. Since its inception in 1984, this was a meeting with big ambitions, frequently billed as Flat racing's world championships.

A bit like baseball's World Series, whether or not you bought into such a grand title wasn't really here nor there, because those hosting the event did, and you couldn't but get caught up in the razzmatazz and bright lights of a 'Stars and Stripes'- styled Saturday night spectacular, frequently adorned as it was by an array of fine thoroughbreds.

Since 2007, however, it morphed into a two-day fixture, as more Turf and all-weather differentiations left the impression that this once distinctly all-American product is now pandering to a European bent.

As last weekend's subdued fare in Santa Anita confirmed, the consequent dilution of quality is slowly killing the magic.

Here's hoping our Cotswolds neighbours take note.

2 Even on a dreary Thursday in November, the most humdrum Thurles fixture has the power to uplift.

In July 2010, Philip Goulding, an up-and-coming Tallow-based trainer, lost what had been a long and brave battle with leukaemia at just 31 years of age.

With eight winners in only five years in the job, he had shown genuine potential before his sad passing.

On Thursday, his 27-year-old brother Arthur saddled his first winner since taking on the licence, The Boys Dont Know obliging handsomely for Bryan Cooper. There will be few more poignant firsts this season.

3 Ireland's unlikely rapport with the Melbourne Cup continues. Galileo's Choice couldn't do his bit for Dermot Weld's legend on the quick ground, but Green Moon, fondly remembered in this parish for his 2010 London Gold Cup win at 11/1, led home a clean sweep of the first seven places for Irish-bred horses.

Ballydoyle stalwart Colm O'Donoghue also had a ride to remember by taking third on Jakkalberry.

Racing Diary

Monday: Carlisle, Limerick, Southwell.

Tuesday: Huntingdon, Lingfield, Sedgefield.

Wednesday: Downpatrick, Bangor, Exeter, Kempton* (AW), Southwell (AW).

Thursday: Clonmel, Kempton* (AW), Ludlow, Southwell (AW), Taunton.

Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Cheltenham, Lingfield (AW), Newcastle, Wolverhampton* (AW).

Saturday: Punchestown, Cheltenham, Lingfield (AW), Uttoxeter, Wetherby, Wolverhampton* (AW).

Sunday: Cork, Punchestown, Cheltenham, Fontwell.

Irish Independent

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