SIR Alex Ferguson, having stepped down from a managerial role, might not be enjoying watching the fluctuating fortunes of his beloved Manchester United this season, but the avid racehorse owner could be on the receiving end of a major success at Doncaster this afternoon.
Ferguson is part-owner of Harry The Viking, who is set to contest the £50,000 William Hill Grimthorpe Chase and is fancied to go well on a course where he has won twice in the past.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, Harry The Viking has fallen from grace in the last couple of seasons, but he gave notice of a resurgence on this course three weeks ago when finishing third to Golden Call.
That was only his second outing of the campaign and was a marked improvement on his comeback effort. Once rated in the mid-140s, he is now able to race off 129 and is set to carry bottom weight in this staying test, which also hosts appearances from Godsmejudge and Monbeg Dude, two Grand National hopefuls.
Nicky Henderson has good prospects of getting on the Town Moor scoresheet with Tistory in the Register Now For WearAHatDay Novices’ Hurdle.
A Towcester winner on his hurdling debut, Tistory went on to finish a good second to Brother Brian in a well-contested race at Newbury. This looks a good opportunity for him to resume winning ways.
Prolific winners Toubeera and Layla Joan cross swords in the William Hill Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, a Listed contest.
The pair are hard to split and both have been winning on testing ground.
Whichever copes best with this sounder surface will be well served and marginal preference is for Layla Joan, whose six lengths win over Fine Rightly at Ayr was franked when the runner-up won next time out. Layla Joan represents Irish trainer Gordon Elliott and is the mount of Paul Carberry.
Also worth looking out for at Doncaster are Turn Over Sivola (2.55), back from a break but proven on the course, and Drop Out Joe (4.05), who has also shown a liking for this track this season.
Kelso stages a valuable card and Ryedale trainer Peter Niven has an excellent chance of emerging as the biggest benefactor, courtesy of Clever Cookie, who bids for a hat-trick of wins in the Scoop6 Premier Kelso Hurdle, a Grade 2 affair.
A good winner at Musselburgh on his last two outings, Clever Cookie is very much a horse on the upgrade. This race represents a step up in class, but he looks ready for it and is selected to come through with flying colours.
Niven also has chances with Desgrey in the Cyril Alexander Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Four times a runner-up over hurdles, Desgrey performed with promise on his chasing debut at Catterick to finish fourth. He is probably capable of stepping up on that performance.
Bingley trainer Sue Smith, who won last season's Grand National with Aurore’s Encore, has the same showcase event in mind this term for Mr Moonshine, who aims to enhance his chances of Aintree glory in April in the totepool.com Premier Chase.
Winner of his last two starts at Musselburgh and Warwick, this smart performer is napped to take plenty of catching under Ryan Mania.
1.45 Victor Hewgo, 2.20 Layla Joan, 2.55 Turn Over Sivola, 3.30 Harry The Viking, 4.05 Drop Out Joe, 4.40 Tistory, 5.15 Chicoria.
1.55 Desoto County, 2.30 Desgrey, 3.05 Clever Cookie, 3.40 Lady Of Verona, 4.15 Mr Moonshine (NAP), 4.50 Redpender, 5.25 Tartan Snow.
Today’s other meetings: Newbury and Lingfield.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Sedgefield and Huntingdon.