Kashmir Peak, trained by John Quinn, and an impressive winner on his hurdles debut at Market Rasen last month, heads to Doncaster today with strong claims on securing a Grade 2 prize.
Norton-based Quinn won the £25,000 BetVictor.com Juvenile Hurdle 12 months ago with Royal Bonsai and he has every chance of following up with Kashmir Peak, previously trained by Ger Lyons in Ireland where he was a decent handicapper on the Flat.
Quinn has made no secret of his admiration for Kashmir Peak and feels he possesses all the attributes to develop into a useful hurdler.
In opposition is Paul Nicholls’ highly-regarded Sametegal, the Nicky Henderson-trained Vasco Du Ronceray and Mashaari, a newcomer from the Brian Ellison yard, who changed hands for no less than 160,000 guineas at Tattersalls Sales in October after a narrow York success over Cape Tribulation.
It promises to be a fascinating race and Kashmir Peak is taken to come out on top in the hands of Dougie Costello and is awarded the nap vote.
Vintage Star can get punters off to a good start in the ‘In Loving Memory of Scott Dobson’ Beginners’ Chase.
A progressive hurdler last season for Bingley trainer Sue Smith, Vintage Star made an encouraging start to his chasing career at Carlisle last month when finishing second to his stablemate Cloudy Too. He has heaps of scope for improvement over the major obstacles and is expected to go well here.
Paul Nicholls looks to hold the key to the Healthwatch Novices’ Chase with Rocky Creek, the mount of Daryl Jacob.
The six-year-old shaped well, despite being a beaten favourite, when second to Harry Topper on his fencing bow at Exeter. That form has since been made to look considerably better with the winner going on to land a high-class event at Newbury a couple of weeks ago.
The day’s major action takes place at Cheltenham where Rock On Ruby, the reigning Champion Hurdler, makes his eagerly-awaited reappearance.
Harry Fry’s classy gelding was taken out of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle a couple of weeks ago on account of the heavy ground, but everything looks set fair for him to take his place this time in the stanjames.com International Hurdle.
He faces a searching test against Zarkandar, from the Nicholls yard, and Nicky Henderson’s Grandouet, winner of this Grade 2 race last year, Walkon will be a popular choice with punters in the £100,000 Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup Chase.
The Alan King-trained gelding ran a mighty race to chase home Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Gold Cup here four weeks ago. A similar effort will put him bang in the firing line again today.
Far West will be hard to beat in the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial.
Paul Nicholls’ three-year-old has won both his races this season, most notably a similar Grade 2 race to this one over this course and distance last month.
Nicholls can also win the Jenny Mould Memorial Handicap Chase with Shooters Wood, a good winner on this course four weeks ago, and capable of going in again off an 8lb higher mark.
Our Father (12.45), so impressive on his chasing debut, and the exciting Coneygree (1.55), two from two this season and a Grade 2 winner here last time out, are also worthy of respect.
12.10 Far West, 12.45 Our Father, 1.20 Shooters Wood, 1.55 Coneygree, 2.30 Walkon, 3.05 Rock On Ruby, 3.40 Oscar Whisky.
11.55 Vintage Star, 12.25 Midnight Oscar, 1.00 Rocky Creek, 1.35 Ulys Du Charmil, 2.10 Midnight Sail, 2.45 Kashmir Peak (NAP), 3.20 Court By Surprise.
Today’s other meetings: Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Carlisle, Hereford, Musselburgh.