Dougie Costello has gambled on a Hennessy Gold Cup win over a Fighting Fifth victory this afternoon as the day’s two feature races are set to be fought out at opposite ends of the country – weather permitting.
Costello will be at Newbury to ride Saint Are, trained by Tim Vaughan, in the £150,000 Hennessy Gold Cup, which is perhaps a tip in itself.
He has chosen to go to the Berkshire course instead of travelling to Newcastle, which is subject to a dawn inspection, to continue his notable association with John Quinn’s Countrywide Flame in the £100,00 StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Quinn has snapped up the services of Denis O’Regan for Countrywide Flame, who won the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Costello on board at the Cheltenham Festival in March and who most recently was a game runner-up on the Flat in the historic Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket.
Quinn has always intended starting Countrywide Flame back over hurdles in the Fighting Fifth. Although he seemed to have concerns earlier in the week about pitching him in on heavy ground on his first jumps outing of the season, he is allowing him to take his chance in a race which has cut up to only four runners.
Countrywide Flame will have a race fitness advantage over last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Cinder And Ashes, who will be making his reappearance, and although Bothy, trained by Brian Ellison, has a recent good effort at Cheltenham under his belt, he has something to find on ratings to beat his fellow Norton challenger.
The field is made up by Irish raider Trifolium, who could offer Countrywide Flame the biggest threat. Third to Cinders And Ashes in the Supreme Novices’, this Graded winner has had a recent outing to tee him up for this prestigious prize.
Costello will be keeping a close eye on the Fighting Fifth, but the fact that he has rowed in with Saint Are may be a tip worth heeding. He has been aimed at the Hennessy by Vaughan ever since he won at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April. Saint Are was a Grade 1-winning hurdler a couple of seasons back and is a useful horse.
The top-notch Bobs Worth, stablemate Roberto Goldback and recent winner The Package are among plenty others in the field with solid chances, but Saint Are is napped to come out on top for Costello.
The sensational Big Buck’s makes his seasonal debut in the Sportingbet Long Distance Hurdle. It is four years since he’s been beaten and Paul Nicholls’ staying superstar looks to have an easy task in this four-runner Grade 2 event.
Princely Player finished a good second at Kempton six weeks ago on his first run since scoring at Exeter in May. He is the winner of two of his four runs over timber and a bold bid is anticipated from him in the Sportingbet Handicap Hurdle.
Also at Newbury, keep an eye out for Rey Nacarado (12.15), who shaped well on his reappearance, and Eleven Fifty Nine (12.50), who is fancied to turn the tables on Call Me A Star following their clash last month.
Back at Newcastle, Twice Lucky (12.35), who came to grief when a red-hot favourite at Wetherby last time, is fancied to gain compensation, while the useful Rendl Beach (1.10) has been found a good opportunity to resume winning ways.
The £27,000 At The Races Rehearsal Chase has attracted a mere four runners. The pick of them may well be Benny Be Good, trained by Keith Reveley and a winner over this course and distance five weeks ago.
• Tomorrow’s nap is Likearollingstone (3.35, Kempton).
12.15 Rey Nacarado, 12.50 Eleven Fifty Nine, 1.25 Godsmejudge, 2.00 Big Buck’s, 2.35 Princely Player, 3.10 Saint Are (NAP), 3.40 Tatispout.
12.05 Red Rocco, 12.35 Twice Lucky, 1.10 Rendl Beach, 1.45 Bertie Milan, 2.20 Countrywide Flame, 2.50 Lord Wishes, 3.25 Benny Be Good.
Today’s other meetings: Towcester and Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Leicester, Kempton and Carlisle.