Tag Archive for: coopers cross

Bridge seeking Famous Doncaster success

Nicky Richards’ Famous Bridge seeks a hat-trick in the SBK Great Yorkshire Handicap Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

The eight-year-old has all the makings of a traditional type owned by the late Trevor Hemmings and has barely put a foot wrong across his bumper, hurdling and chasing career so far.

He won a valuable Haydock contest in late November and returned to Merseyside to win the Tommy Whittle last time out.

Famous Bridge en route to Haydock success
Famous Bridge en route to Haydock success (David Davies/PA)

“We’re very happy with him and we’re looking forward to running him on Saturday,” said Richards.

“All of his life he’s been very consistent, which is half the battle, but I think consistency has a lot to do with ability as well and he’s got lots of that.

“You can take him anywhere, he’s a lovely horse and there’s hopefully still lots of improvement in him.

“He’s already won two good staying chases this year and he hasn’t finished yet, he’s a typical Mr Hemmings horse.

“The team always used to buy some lovely horses and they’ve definitely bought a lovely one with him.”

Also coming into the race off the back of two successes is Surrey Quest, owned by Surrey Racing and trained by Toby Lawes.

Surrey Quest during his hurdling career
Surrey Quest during his hurdling career (Simon Marper/PA)

Clive Hadingham, co-founder of Surrey Racing with Steve Grubb, said: “I think conditions will be absolutely perfect for us. He goes on all grounds but I just think it will be better for us if it’s not too testing.

“We looked at the options after the Mandarin and immediately thought of this race. We kind of went back on it a little bit and thought it may be too much of a jump up, but there was no other race at all really in the next four to six weeks and he did win at Newbury quite well – both Surrey Quest and Atlanta Brave (second) pulled away from the rest of them and maybe there is more to come from both.

“We thought why not take our chance in a decent race with good prize-money? It may be a couple of furlongs too short for him, being honest, and it’s obviously super competitive, but I think we will run well and have a good chance – if he jumps well he will definitely be competitive.”

Cooper’s Cross winning the contest last year
Cooper’s Cross winning the contest last year (Richard Sellers/PA)

Cooper’s Cross, who won the contest last year, will line up again as he looks to return to form for trainer Stuart Coltherd.

This year he has struggled to hit his stride on testing ground, but Coltherd is hopeful a change in conditions can see him back to his best after last year’s victory.

“He’s well, he’s probably been a wee bit disappointing this season but we’re putting it down to the soft ground,” the trainer said.

“Most of his form last year was on good ground, we’re hoping on Saturday that the forecast looks good and it’s drying up.

Cap Du Nord chasing home Cooper's Cross in the race last year
Cap Du Nord chasing home Cooper’s Cross in the race last year (Richard Sellers/PA)

“We’ve got our fingers crossed for a big run, he’s just not enjoyed the soft ground or travelled on it in his races.”

Cooper’s Cross will cross paths with Cap Du Nord again as Christian Williams has entered his 11-year-old, last year’s second, alongside his stablemate Strictlyadancer.

The trainer said: “I won the race as a jockey and it would be great to do it as a trainer.

“It will be good to run two horses in it this year with a chance, it is a very tough race to win. The two horses, if everything goes right for them, will be there or thereabouts.

“They are not highly-rated Saturday horses but they are horses capable of winning staying chases on a Saturday if they can get a little bit of luck and can sneak in at the bottom of the weights, which has seemed to happen here.”

Kandoo Kid and Harry Cobden
Kandoo Kid and Harry Cobden (David Davies/PA)

Paul Nicholls runs Kandoo Kid, an eight-year-old who has not been out of the top two this season so far.

A winner at Newbury in December and second when stepping up to Grade Two level in the Noel Novices’ Chase later the same month, Nicholls now expects the gelding to appreciate an extended trip on Town Moor.

“He has been making up for lost time this season after a couple of setbacks and has been very consistent,” he told Betfair.

“He won well at Newbury, and ran another solid race when second to Djelo at Ascot.

“Kandoo Kid is crying out for three miles, is better left-handed, remains in top shape and has a lovely chance in a really competitive handicap. He has a lot in his favour.”

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Gesskille back for more in Grand Sefton

Gesskille will bid to go one better than last year when he lines up in the BoyleSports Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

There were areas of water on the Grand National track, but the team in Liverpool worked hard to make the course raceable and the race survived a Friday morning inspection.

Gesskille, trained by Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, was second by just a nose last season and has run twice more around the Grand National fences since – including when second in the Becher next time out.

He is therefore fairly well established around the track and is also proven in the testing conditions likely at Aintree, with his seasonal debut taking place on similar ground when he won a Listed race at Auteuil in September.

“He’s in flying form, he looks fantastic,” said Greenall.

“We’ve kept him fresh since Auteuil, he’s probably never had such testing ground but hopefully he’ll cope with it.

“I wouldn’t say he’d particularly want or need ground this heavy, but he should be able to get through it all right.”

Stuart Coltherd’s Cooper’s Cross took a good handicap prize last season when landing the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster and was then an unfortunate faller when making his debut over the fences in the Topham in April.

He bounced back to finish second behind Kitty’s Light in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, proving his stamina over four miles in a fine performance.

The Grand National is the ultimate aim for the term and although the Sefton is a stepping stone en-route, it is also a target in itself for co-owner Jimmy Fyffe – who won the race with Endless Power in 2008.

Cooper’s Cross going on to win the Sky Bet Chase
Cooper’s Cross going on to win the Sky Bet Chase (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Cooper’s Cross will be aimed at the Grand National if we can get him up to a rating to get into the race, but the Grand Sefton has been his early-season target from day one. I think he has got a great chance at the weekend,” he said.

“I like the Grand Sefton and I won it in 2008 with Endless Power. I try to aim horses at the race every year.

“He was going great in the Topham. Ryan (Mania), who was riding him, said he basically got brought down. He felt like he had loads of horse underneath him and we were gutted with that.

“We went for the Scottish National over four miles after the Topham and he ran a great race in that up at Ayr. We actually thought he was going to win it jumping the second last coming on the wide outside.

“He is a good jumper, and we know he gets those long distances, so he is an ideal horse to go for the Grand National. If we get him up to the ideal rating, then he will definitely go there.

“He has been schooling well and he will like the ground at Aintree, so we are quite hopeful for this weekend. He is a nice horse and we are quite excited about him this season.”

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Cooper’s Cross chasing Grimthorpe gold

Stuart Coltherd’s Cooper’s Cross will bid for back-to-back Doncaster successes when he lines up for the Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase on Saturday.

The eight-year-old landed the Sky Bet Chase at Town Moor at the end of January, defeating Christian Williams’ Cap Du Nord by a length at 16-1.

Cap Du Nord went on to land the Swinley Chase at Ascot on his next start, meanwhile Cooper’s Cross was given an increased rating of 133 for his victory – a rise of 5lb.

Even with that rise the gelding is still well-handicapped and will carry only 10st 4lb when he takes on seven rivals.

“I couldn’t be happier with him, really,” the trainer said.

Cooper’s Cross winning the Sky Bet Chase
Cooper’s Cross winning the Sky Bet Chase (Richard Sellers/PA)

“He seems in really good heart and we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”

The Grimthorpe is run over three miles and two furlongs, an extension on the three-mile trip Cooper’s Cross prevailed over last time.

Coltherd felt his horse was staying on in the Sky Bet, however, and is not expecting the added distance to cause any problems on ground that is largely unchanged since his last run.

“I don’t think two extra furlongs will bother him, he was staying on well the last day, so I think he should handle it fine,” he said.

“The ground can’t be that much different from the last day, so it should be OK. It’s going to be the same ground.

“He’s under 10st 4lb and we couldn’t be happier with that, we’re looking forward to it – hopefully it’ll be a big run.”

Charlie Longsdon saddles Castle Robin, winner of the Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase at Sandown on his latest start in early February.

The chestnut produced a good round of jumping to land the race and was raised 4lb as a result, meaning he carries 10t 9lb this time.

“This has been the plan since he won at Sandown, he seemed to come out of the race really well so we’re hoping he’ll run a really good race,” Longsdon said.

“I was very pleased at Sandown, I couldn’t have been happier. Everything went according to plan that day and, touching wood, he’s had a nice preparation and will go there with a very nice chance.

Castle Robin winning at Sandown
Castle Robin winning at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

“He’s on a really nice weight and we’re looking forward to it.”

Kim Bailey’s Does He Know carries top-weight of 12st, with the gelding a Grade Two winner over both hurdles and fences.

The eight-year-old was a Cheltenham Grade Three winner in November, after which he headed to Newbury in February and placed third in the Grade Two Denman Chase when beaten eight and half lengths by Zanza.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Undersupervision, the reigning Grimthorpe champion, returns to defend his title, while Brian Ellison’s Windsor Avenue also has Doncaster form as he won the 2022 Sky Bet Chase and was fourth in the same event when last seen.

Sporting John will represent Philip Hobbs having last been seen finishing 11th of 14 in the Swinley Chase in mid-February, with Tom Lacey’s Neville’s Cross and Seamus Mullins’ Moroder completing the field of eight.

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Cooper’s Cross chasing Doncaster double in Grimthorpe

Stuart Coltherd is eyeing a Doncaster double as Cooper’s Cross prepares for the Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase on Saturday.

The eight-year-old has been in good form all season, starting out with a win in a Carlisle handicap chase before placing in successive contests at Aintree and Musselburgh.

The Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in late January brought about a step up in trip to three miles, a staying distance the gelding seemed to relish when prevailing by a length from Cap Du Nord under Coltherd’s son Sam.

That form was then boosted when the latter horse was a seven-length winner of the Swinley Chase at Ascot next time out.

Cooper’s Cross will return to a familiar track for his next outing, however, and is aimed at the Grimthorpe at Doncaster on Saturday.

Cooper’s Cross ridden by Sam Coltherd after winning the Sky Bet Handicap Chase
Cooper’s Cross ridden by Sam Coltherd after winning the Sky Bet Handicap Chase (Richard Sellers/PA)

The three-mile-two-furlong contest is another step up in trip for the gelding, something his trainer is hoping he will take in his stride at the weekend.

“He’s very well, he’s in at Doncaster and that would be the plan,” he said.

“He seemed to get the three miles at Doncaster last time, so I can’t imagine two furlongs would make a big difference to him.

“The form looks pretty solid, so we’ve got our fingers crossed.

“It’s good to have a horse that can compete in these races and he seems at the right end of the handicap anyway. We’ll just keep going with him and see how we go.”

Cooper’s Cross is one of 12 entries for the handicap highlight, with last year’s winner Undersupervision in contention for Nigel Twiston-Davies, while Kim Bailey’s Does He Know and the Charlie Longsdon-trained Castle Robin are among the leading lights.

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