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92-year-old racehorse owner Noel Hetherton chasing 100th winner
York owner Noel Hetherton, who has owned horses longer than most of us care to remember, stands on the threshold of a milestone victory at Nottingham this afternoon.
The Green Hammerton-based 92-year-old, one of the true gentlemen of the turf, will see his colours carried by Keep It Dark in the second division of the £32 Bonus At 32Red.com Handicap.
Victory for the gelding will provide this popular stalwart with his 100th success as an owner, his first winner having been achieved in a selling race in 1954 at Bogside, which no longer exists.
Trained at Norton by Tony Coyle, whose horses have been in terrific form lately, Keep It Dark took the Hetherton tally to 99 when winning at Newcastle earlier this month.
He appears to face a tougher task, but the gelding is in good heart and acts well on soft ground. He has plenty going for him in his bid to make Hetherton’s day.
Amulet turns out quickly in the 32Red Handicap following a bloodless victory at Sandown last week when the three-year-old won by nine lengths.
At home on testing ground, Eve Johnson Houghton’s charge should not be inconvenienced by a 6lb penalty and is fancied to be a tough nut to crack.
Time Medicean (2.30), who ran well in defeat at Sandown last time and Zinnobar (4.10), overdue a winning turn after finishing runner-up on her last two starts, are two others to bear in mind.
With Haydock’s jumps tracks not yet fit for purpose, the scheduled meeting for this afternoon has been transferred to Carlisle, where David Pipe’s French recruit Azza looks an interesting runner in the opening juvenile hurdle.
The three-year-old was a five-length winner in Auteuil last month and that valuable experience should stand him in good stead here. Tom Scudamore rides.
Pipe and Scudamore can also score with The Liquidator, a dual-winner last season when he also finished in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. He lines up in the novices’ hurdle.
All eyes are on Tony McCoy as he counts down to his 4,000th career success.
McCoy has been riding winners galore recently and his appearance at Carlisle could be rewarded with a success on Full Of Joy, provided he can put behind him a subdued effort at Chepstow four weeks ago.
If he can return to the sort of form he showed when winning by five lengths at Bangor on his penultimate start, he should go well.
Norton’s Brian Ellison has a couple of winning chances at the Cumbrian course.
Nap selection Forgotten Symphony, who unseated his rider at Southwell recently, needs to get his jumping together in the novices’ handicap chase and if so, this triple point-to-point winner could run a big race.
Ellison also runs Gone Forever in the closing National Hunt Flat Race. He won a similar contest on this track last week and although Gone Forever lacks a previous outing, he has a nice pedigree and he comes from a stable in excellent form.
1.00 Rural Affair, 1.30 Bishop Of Ruscombe, 2.00 Amulet, 2.30 Time Medicean, 3.05 Keep It Dark, 3.40 Sherman McCoy, 4.10 Zinnobar.
1.10 Azza, 1.40 Forgotten Symphony (NAP), 2.10 The Liquidator, 2.40 Full Of Joy, 3.15 Big Casino, 3.50 Firth Of The Clyde, 4.20 Gone Forever.
Today’s other meetings: Kempton. Ayr was abandoned due to waterlogging.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Kempton, Lingfield, Sedgefield and Stratford.
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