Opportunities for getting final outings into Cheltenham Festival runners before the eagerly-awaited meeting kicks off in just under three weeks, are becoming thin on the ground, but Tim Vaughan has chosen Doncaster today as a dress rehearsal for Swynmor, one of the leading lights in next month’s Triumph Hurdle.
Bought for 70,000 guineas out of the William Haggas stable after developing into an 87-rated performer on the Flat, Swynmor has looked a good buy. He was an 11-lengths winner on his hurdling debut at Newbury and at Chepstow last time he had a Grade 1 contest in his grasp when he came to grief at the final flight, leaving the race at the mercy of Ruacana.
Vaughan does not obviously want to take Swynmor to Cheltenham on the back of a fall, hence why he is saddling him in the 32Red.com Juvenile Hurdle.
Swynmor will surely start at cramped odds to get his career back on track before the Festival. He can not afford another blip. All eyes will be on the Welsh raider on Town Moor.
In the 32Red Casino Veterans’ Handicap Chase, Marufo promises to be hard to beat.
Philip Hobbs’ 11-year-old has been a wonderful servant and his latest outing at Aintree in October, was a winning one in a similar race to this. Marufo goes well fresh and should be able to produce a bold show.
Hobbs saddles two of the four runners in the opening 32Red Novices’ Chase, with the other pair both inmates of the Nicky Henderson yard.
It is not the easiest of races to call, but Hobbs may provide the solution with Talkonthestreet, the chosen mount of stable jockey Richard Johnson, who has shaped well in similar races at Exeter and Folkestone.
Henderson can win the SIG Insulation Novices’ Hurdle with Minella Forfitness.
The six-year-old, winner of a point-to-point, a bumper and a hurdle here last month, looks a horse with a bright future. He will, though, be severely tested this afternoon in a deep race, also set to be contested by Valdez, Cheltenian and New Year’s Eve, all useful horses.
Keith Reveley returns Harvey’s Hope to Doncaster for the SIS Live Handicap Hurdle.
The seven-year-old won on this course early in January and is now set to race off a 5lb higher mark. This longer distance should suit him even better.
At Kempton tomorrow, the nap vote is awarded to Tappanappa in the BetVictor Conditions Stakes.
Trained at Norton by Brian Ellison, the six-year-old is the highest-rated runner in this non-handicap, and although he lacks an outing since last November, fitness is seldom an issue with Ellison horses after a break. Winner of two of his six all-weather outings, Tappanappa can make it three under Dale Swift.
Ellison’s Red Gift should go well in the BetVictor London Mile Qualifier Handicap, but David Elsworth’s Great Demeanour has done precious little wrong and is fancied to resume winning ways.
Also worth noting are the promising Emperor Julius (6.00) and recent winner The Guru Of Gloom (8.30), who is no stranger to this course.
1.45 Talkonthestreet, 2.20 Swynmor, 2.50 Marufo, 3.25 Minella Forfitness, 3.55 Harvey’s Hope, 4.30 Rumbury Grey, 5.05 Purple Bay.
Today’s other meetings: Kempton, Lingfield and Ludlow.
5.30 Kaylee, 6.00 Emperor Julius, 6.30 Littlecote Lady, 7.00 Slatey Hen, 7.30 Byrd In Hand, 8.00 Great Demeanour, 8.30 Tappanappa (NAP), 9.00 The Guru Of Gloom.
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Ayr, Huntington and Sedgefield.