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Norton runner McMurrough tipped to bounce back to top form at Haydock
Norton trainer Malcolm Jefferson, thrilled with Cape Tribulation’s fifth-placed effort in last week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, heads to Haydock today in a bid to steer McMurrough back to winning form.
A horse who has always been held in some regard by Jefferson, McMurrough failed to stay three miles-plus last time at Carlisle and was previously pulled up in a hot race at Cheltenham.
But he had racked up successive wins at Newcastle and Wetherby in mid-winter and the return to two-and-a-half miles today in the Impact Cleaning Handicap Chase should suit him.
The opposition is pretty strong, with Mr Moonshine heading the weights, but McMurrough is no mug and, racing off the foot of the handicap, he is fancied to bounce back to top form.
Brian Hughes, rider of McMurrough, will be hoping Zaru is a little less careless in the opening Eagle Vauxhall Road Club Novices’ Handicap Chase.
James Ewart’s gelding had a clear lead and a race at his mercy at Newcastle a fortnight ago when he misjudged the final fence, leaving himself and Hughes in a crumpled heap on the deck.
He had previously won at Newcastle by a wide margin and is plainly a horse of some ability. As long as his jumping holds up, Zaru should take plenty of beating.
Tony McCoy renews his association with Thunderstorm in the Molson Coors Winning Team Handicap Hurdle.
Trained by Philip Hobbs for JP McManus, the eight-year-old has been a revelation this season, winning all his five races. He won the first of those events in December at Plumpton off a mark of 93 and is now set to race off a rating of 131, a hike which gives some impression of the progress he has made this winter.
Thunderstorm might well oblige at least once more, but in order to do that today, he will need to thwart Seymour Eric, who is four from four this season and who has a similar progressive profile. It promises to be an interesting clash, not that it is a two-horse race, with the useful Crowning Jewel also in the line-up.
At Kempton’s twilight meeting tomorrow, the nap vote is awarded to Al Khan in the BetVictor Handicap over seven furlongs.
Previously trained by Mick Easterby and now with Violet Jordan, Al Khan was a winner here two starts ago and has since run creditably in defeat.
North Yorkshire trainer James Bethell sends Mister Bob to Kempton for the BetVictor Casino Handicap.
The slow-maturing four-year-old got off the mark at his third attempt at Southwell five weeks ago. He is still very much in the learning process, but there’s a lot to like about his potential, and he is selected to make his presence felt in his first handicap.
Graham Lee, who won on Mister Bob at Southwell takes the mount again and looks set to enjoy a useful evening.
Lee also rides Flying Tempo for Ed Dunlop, the same partnership having triumphed at Wolverhampton last weekend. A 6lb penalty may not prevent a quick double.
Also worth noting are the in-form Hurricane Spirit (6.00) and Rapid Water (9.00).
2.10 Zaru, 2.40 Thunderstorm, 3.10 On Broadway, 3.45 Robbie, 4.20 McMurrough, 4.55 Our Joey, 5.25 Goohar.
Today’s other meetings: Kempton and Warwick. Newcastle was abandoned.
6.00 Hurricane Spirit, 6.30 Storm, 7.00 Al Khan (NAP), 7.30 Mister Bob, 8.00 Flying Tempo, 8.30 Camachoice, 9.00 Rapid Water.
Tomorrow’s other meetings:
Chepstow, Huntingdon and Wolverhampton.