Pearl Castle, one of seven possible runners at next month’s Cheltenham Festival for Norton trainer John Quinn, turns out at Doncaster today in a bid to bolster his claims at jumping’s most prestigious meeting.
The four-year-old, a former useful Flat handicapper with Andrew Balding with a rating in the mid-80s, goes for the Betdaq Free Premier League Game Saturday Juvenile Hurdle.
Town Moor is nothing new to Pearl Castle, who won here last month by an impressive 16 lengths, which was a marked step forward on his opening outing over hurdles when he finished third at Wetherby, comfortably beaten.
Quinn has the Triumph Hurdle and the Fred Winter Novices’ as options for Pearl Castle at Cheltenham.
This outing should go a long way to telling him at which race he should be aiming at the Festival. A bold bid is anticipated.
Malcolm Jefferson, Quinn’s neighbour, also has a winning chance at Doncaster with McMurrough in the Betdaq Doncaster Veterans’ Handicap Chase.
Having run two creditable races over hurdles earlier this season, McMurrough switched to fences last time out but unseated his rider at the third-last when racing prominently.
The ten-year-old is a four-time chase winner and this three-mile contest offers him the opportunity to add to that tally.
Brian Ellison is yet another Norton-based trainer with a fancied runner on today’s card in the shape of Racing Europe in the SIS Live Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
A winning pointer, Racing Europe shaped well on his debut for Ellison in a Musselburgh bumper when finishing second under Tony McCoy.
Richard Johnson has the mount this time.
Keith Reveley placed Victor Hewgo to win handsomely on this course last month and this progressive-looking gelding seeks to add to that victory in the Betdaq No Premium Charge Novices’ Chase.
Victor Hewgo prevailed by eight lengths on his latest start, a performance which went a long way to fulfilling the promise of his debut run over fences, also on this course, when he was narrowly beaten by the smart Western Warhorse.
This looks a fairly tough contest, but nap selection Victor Hewgo is a horse with plenty of potential.
Also worth noting are the hat-trick seeking Mr Utah (3.55) and smart hunter chaser Palypso De Creek (4.25).
On the Flat at Kempton, North Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston bids to send out Swivel to complete a four-timer from just five career starts.
The colt has improved from race to race and has rattled up two victories at Lingfield and another at Southwell.
He now has to prove himself on this course, but he looks a useful type. Joe Fanning rides.
York-based jockey Robert Winston has double prospects for Newmarket trainer Willie Musson aboard Magicalmysterytour (6.25), a good second here a couple of weeks ago, and Novellen Lad (7.25), who shaped with encouragement on his seasonal debut at Lingfield last month.
He should strip fitter this time.
1.45 Rhapando, 2.20 Victor Hewgo (NAP), 2.50 Pearl Castle, 3.25 McMurrough, 3.55 Mr Utah, 4.25 Palypso De Creek, 4.55 Racing Europe.
5.25 Iffranesia, 5.55 Commissar, 6.25 Magicalmysterytour, 6.55 Opus, 7.25 Novellen Lad, 7.55 Swivel, 8.25 Speechday, 8.55 Bladewood Girl.
Today’s other meetings: Ludlow and Lingfield.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Ayr, Huntingdon, Sedgefield and Wolverhampton.