Friday 19 January 2018

Winners pay heavy price for success

THE weekend successes of Native Upmanship at Punchestown and Go Roger Go in the Triple Print Gold Cup at Cheltenham have seen them upped significantly by the senior Irish handicapper Noel O'Brien.

O'Brien was sufficiently impressed by Native Upmanship's defeat of Florida Pearl in the John Durkan Memorial Chase to raise Arthur Moore's stable star by 8lbs to a new mark of 161, just 5lbs adrift of Sunday's Punchestown victim.

"Native Upmanship's best form has been at Sunday's distance of two and a half miles, and my reaction is to put him up by 8lbs, although his weakest run came in the Royal and Sun Alliance Novice Chase at Cheltenham last March," O'Brien pointed out.


Florida Pearl has been dropped 2lbs to a mark of 166, the rating which the Willie Mullins trained gelding held before the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown last February.

"Florida Pearl's best form has been achieved at three miles plus, as in the Hennessy at Leopardstown and when runner-up in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. His disappointing run at Down Royal probably saw him run to a mark of only 150, but I reckon he was 10lbs better on Sunday at Punchestown," the handicapper added.

Go Roger Go's narrow victory in the Cheltenham feature for Tipperary trainer Edward O'Grady and leading owner JP McManus results in him incurring a 7lbs penalty for the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown later this month.

The Al O'Connell trained Montana Glen, which finished strongly to defeat River Cora the same afternoon at Navan, is up 3lbs for the Paddy Power promotion.

The best news from Navan, of course, was the successful comeback of Nick Dundee in the Racing To Please You Chase, and jumping fans who habitually warm to injured horses making it back to the track will be pleased to learn that the 1996 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Call has not been retired.

The gelding is slowly regaining fitness under the supervision of Clonakilty, Co. Cork trainer Raymond Hurley who, however, is loath to make any plans just yet for this fine money-spinner.

"Imperial Call is back cantering again and so far so good with him. With a horse of that talent you like to give them every chance to get back racing again, but we will wait and see how he takes his work before we even think of entering him again," said Hurley.

Meanwhile, prospects for racing in Britain this week are anything but good. Yesterday's fixtures at Plumpton and Wetherby were washed out while Hereford this afternoon and Bangor tomorrow are already called off, writes John Martin.

Towcester on Thursday, where there will be an inspection at noon tomorrow, looks a non-starter.

Exeter's meeting on Thursday is also in doubt and the stewards will inspect the track this afternoon.

There are no reported problems at Catterick, where racing is due to take place tomorrow and Thursday.

Officials at Ascot will be keeping a close eye on the weather in the build-up to Saturday's card, which features the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle.

Bangor is the 28th meeting to be lost to the weather already this season and all bar Plumpton's fixture at the end of October, which was called off due to storm damage, have been abandoned due to waterlogging.


An additional fixture is to be held at Fakenham on Monday. The six-race card, which is due to get under way at 12.40, will consist of four hurdle races and two chases.

Deano's Beeno has been installed the 13/8 favourite to improve on his second 12 months ago in the Long Walk Hurdle.

Martin Pipe's tough front-runner finished second to Anzum in the Ascot contest and has returned as good as ever this season having scored in easily at Newbury last month.

Anzum will not be bidding for a repeat success but is set to make his reappearance before too long, according to trainer Richard Phillips.

Noel Meade's Sallie's Girl is the only entry from Ireland.

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