Oct 03, 2016
£100,000 prize fund at Newton Abbot Racecourse this Friday 7 October
There are just two meetings to go before the end of the season and our 150th anniversary year so we’re looking to finish with a bang, starting with Friday’s seven-race card offering nearly £100,000 in prize money.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls signalled his intent with 13 entries across the card as he looks to step up a gear and close the gap on David Pipe at the top of the table. Going into yesterday’s meeting at Hereford, Nicholls had saddled 29 winners at a strike rate of 29% and, following the decision of Gigginstown House Stud to remove their large string of horses from Willie Mullins, his nearest challenger last season, he is odds-on favourite to land his 11th championship next April.
Nicholls has chosen Black Corton from his three entries in the opening British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices´ Hurdle (Qualifier). A winner at Exeter before finishing third to West Approach over the course in May, Black Corton has to concede 7lb and upwards in weight to his seven rivals, including the once-raced Djarkalin, trained by his former assistant Dan Skelton, who runs in this race instead of the concluding bumper.
Old Guard is the Nicholls selection in the following Eggy Birthday Novices´ Chase and this looks a good opportunity to get off the mark over fences at the first time of asking. Old Guard rattled up a hat-trick of hurdle wins before finishing fourth to the top-class Faugheen on Boxing Day and, although not seen out since, he won first time up in October last year and Nicholls will have done plenty of work with him up the climbing Ditcheat gallop.
Racing administrators Weatherbys sponsor the two most valuable races, with prize money down to sixth place, starting with the Class 2 Weatherbys & Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Handicap Hurdle over an extended three and a quarter miles, in which a number of leading trainers had multiple entries including Jonjo O’Neill, who runs Milan Bound and Listen And Learn, both for owner J P McManus. Retained rider Barry Geraghty comes over from Ireland to partner Milan Bound, only his fifth ride in a season curtailed by injury. Milan Bound won a novice chase on his last run at Uttoxeter and reverts to hurdles on a handicap mark of 131, just a pound higher than when taking this race last year.
Listen And Learn was winning over jumps for the fourth time at Plumpton, putting up a career-best performance, but he will need to improve again and Young Dillon, who bounced back to form at Fontwell Park, could give Milan Bound most to do. Although just four line up for the day’s feature race, the Weatherbys Racing Diaries Intermediate Chase over two miles and five furlongs and worth over £21,000 to the winner, it promises to be a cracker.
Virgilio, four times a winner over hurdles, made a successful chase debut at Warwick in May and sets the standard. Nicholls has chosen dual chase winner San Benedeto but, whilst his experience should stand him in good stead, Brother Tedd was a higher-rated hurdler, running off a rating of 155 against Rock On Ruby eleven months ago, and may be a star in the making for the Philip Hobbs stable.
After winning at Aintree in May, Popping Along ran disappointingly back at the course a month later, but she has every chance of getting back on the winning trail in the Happy 70th Birthday Pat Love From Del Mares´ Handicap Hurdle. Magic Money has changed stables since her last run at Uttoxeter in July and it would be no surprise if she made a winning debut for new owner Michael Fennessy and Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex.
Dual course winner Louis Phillipe runs in the Attheraces In App Betting Handicap Chase in preference to a race at Exeter yesterday and could score again at the expense of Mrsrobin, who has to overcome a 13lb rise in the weights for her easy win when last seen at the track in August.
Thirteen runners line up for the concluding Bettrends National Hunt Super Saver Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race and, in what looks an open affair, Irish point-to-point winner Ballymountain Boy and the unraced Sgroppino could be in the shake-up.
So plenty of excitement and great racing on the cards for this Friday – why not join us?
Tickets are available direct from the racecourse office, by phone 01626 353235 or on the gates on the day. We look forward to seeing you there!