Tag Archive for: Future Champion Novices’ Chase

McCain hoping Minella Drama is going in the right direction

A brilliant season for Donald McCain could continue when Minella Drama lines up in the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr.

The seven-year-old landed a Grade Two at Haydock on his penultimate start and then was well held by Pic D’orhy at Kempton in February.

However, McCain knows the former top-class hurdler can be an in-and-out performer, and is taking a chance going left-handed.

McCain said: “He has had a good year and he is a bit tricky. He has his own mind and that sort of stuff. Brian (Hughes) has done a great job with him.

“We just felt that you could argue that he is a slightly better horse going right-handed, but we felt we might get away with it more at Ayr than we would at Aintree.”

Jamie Snowdon trains Kiltealy Briggs, who was pulled up in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham a few weeks ago.

Adrian Heskin’s mount had previously won at Musselburgh over an extended two and a half miles and is back down in trip, which Snowdon views as a positive move.

Kiltealy Briggs in action at the Cheltenham Festival
Kiltealy Briggs in action at the Cheltenham Festival (Steven Paston/PA)

He said: “He has had a very good season to date. We stepped him up to three miles for the Ultima and the (owners) McNeill family sponsor that race.

“We thought the step up in trip would help him, being out of a sister to Ballabriggs who won the Grand National, but obviously he didn’t stay. He travelled well, but didn’t see out the trip.

“So we are back down to the trip he has been successful at and it is a competitive little race and there is good prize money on offer. He has come out of Cheltenham well, so is in good order.

“I don’t think we will go to the Topham. The reason we are having a pop at this race at Ayr is that it has cut up and there is good prize money.

“He is only a novice for this season, so we have to take a chance. The ground should be perfect for him.”

Do Your Job has yet to finish out of the first two in four completed starts for Michael Scudamore, with his only blot being a fall in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December.

Having landed a handicap at Newcastle when stepped up in trip, Scudamore feels the eight-year-old has every chance of sealing a third win in six over fences.

“He has done nothing wrong this year. He meets them them all right on the weights and the ratings, with Minella Drama having to give him a penalty,” said Scudamore.

“He has won around there before. The step up to two and a half miles last time seemed to work well and he will handle the ground.

“He is in great form at home and has been targeted for this race. We are looking forward to Saturday.”

Jacamar and Danny Mullins after winning at Kempton on Boxing Day
Jacamar and Danny Mullins after winning at Kempton on Boxing Day (Steven Paston/PA)

The Paul Nicholls-trained Il Ridoto is another intriguing runner after finishing well held in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, while Jacamar completes the line-up.

Trainer Milton Harris feels his charge is no back number, having scored at Leicester last month, even though he has plenty to find with the principals on ratings.

“We have taken a chance. He is wrong at the weights with some of these horses, but we are at that time of the season where I am not sure the ratings are as reliable as they should be,” said Harris.

“My horse is improving and it is uncompetitive in terms of numbers.

“There are one or two in there that I’m not convinced their rating is what they deserve. He will probably be the outsider of five, but I think he will run a big race.”