Tag Archive for: On The Blind Side

Murphy looking to Brewin’Upastorm to realise Relkeel plan

Brewin’Upastorm will take on six rivals in the Grade Two Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Olly Murphy’s representative impressed on his seasonal reappearance at Aintree and the trainer is keen to see if he can replicate that form on his return to a track where he unseated Richard Johnson in the 2020 Arkle Chase.

Murphy said: “He is in good form and this has been the plan for a long time, so trip, ground, track should all be A1 and I’m really looking forward to running him.

“If he turns up in the same form as he did at Aintree, hopefully he will be bang there.

“He is the form horse coming into the race and Guard Your Dreams is going up in trip, so I’m really looking forward to running him and it will be really interesting to see if he can back his Aintree run up.

“He should definitely like the ground as he has won on heavy ground before.”

Heading the opposition is McFabulous, who locks horns again after being beaten five and a half lengths by Murphy’s horse in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February.

McFabulous is making a belated seasonal bow and trainer Paul Nicholls is hopeful he can turn the tables with a pull at the weights.

He said: “Brewin’Upastorm beat him at Fontwell in the spring, but we are 6lb better off for being beaten just over five lengths that day.

“He had a little setback earlier in the season and that is why he is later coming out.

“We got a feeling all last season he was struggling with his breathing, but he has had a breathing operation and that should help him a little bit.

“Two and a half miles first time out should suit him well. He has had an away day and done everything nicely and he has jumped well.

“He has never been a flashy work horse, but he has done loads of work and he is fit. He is always good fresh and we are hopeful of a good run.”

In contrast, Guard Your Dreams will lack nothing for fitness, having had three runs this season, latterly landing the Grade Two International Hurdle over two miles and one furlong.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies feels that going back up in trip “will hold no fears”, having started his campaign with victory over two and a half miles on the Old Course at Cheltenham.

Guard Your Dreams has trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in bullish form
Guard Your Dreams has trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in bullish form (David Davies/PA)

“He won there last time and enjoys the track,” said Twiston-Davies. “Hopefully he’ll win.

“It’s obviously a lot trickier race, but we will do our best.”

Willie Mullins fields an intriguing contender in Stormy Ireland, who was beaten 36 lengths by Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on her seasonal debut.

On The Blind Side, runner-up to Thomas Darby in the Long Distance Hurdle before finishing sixth to stablemate Champ in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, represents Nicky Henderson.

The Evan Williams-trained Dans Le Vent completes the field, with his trainer keen to see if he can back up his victory over an extended three miles in a Haydock Grade Three.

Dans Le Vent (left) represents the Williams team
Dans Le Vent (left) represents the Williams team (Simon Marper/PA)

“He’s got a small penalty, I don’t want him to carry a big weight in a handicap so we’ll chance our arm in that,” said Williams.

“He produced a great performance at Haydock. We’re stepping back in trip, but it’s a stiff track and up in class. He’s obviously wrong at the weights in so many ways and Isabel (Williams, daughter) can’t claim. But we’re going to enjoy the day.

“It’ll be a smashing bit of fun. We’re going to enjoy him in a few of those races and see if we can pick up a bit of prize-money.

“It will be great experience for Isabel. Mr Gambarini (owner) is insistent she keeps the ride so we’re going to enjoy the experience.”

Paul Webber’s Indefatigable was declared a non-runner on Friday on account of the soft ground.

Coole Cody was a Cheltenham winner last time out
Coole Cody was a Cheltenham winner last time out (David Davies/PA)

The Grade Three Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase sees 16 runners going to post with the Williams-trained Coole Cody bidding to replicate his win in the Racing Post Gold Cup over course and distance.

Williams added: “He did a bit of work on Wednesday morning. Everything is good. It was tremendous the last day. The horse has done nothing wrong and I can’t believe we’re going back there for another handicap on the same track.

“Obviously, it will be incredibly difficult but he loves it there.”

The Dan Skelton-trained Alnadam is among his chief rivals. He signed off with a fair seventh to Vintage Clouds in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival meeting in March and made a belated seasonal debut when last of four to Bravemansgame at Haydock.

Skelton said: “Alnadam will love the ground and he is in good form. We have been keeping him for one of these races – we just had to find the softest ground.”

Edwardstone tees up Betfair Hurdle bid

Alan King has his sights set on Newbury with Edwardstone following his winning return to hurdling action at Market Rasen.

The seven-year-old was fifth in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November before switching to fences, where he unseated his rider in a novice event at Doncaster in December.

Back to the smaller obstacles at the Lincolnshire track, Gavin Sheehan’s mount ran out a comfortable five-length winner of the MansionBet Handicap Hurdle.

King was at Warwick, where he outlined plans for his even-money winner.

He said: “He will go to the Betfair (Hurdle) and he was always going to go there. He gets a penalty for that, but I needed to get a run into him as he has had no match practice this season.

“We were going to go chasing with him, but he only got to the fourth fence at Doncaster and I just felt I’d rather have a full season with him over fences so went back to training him for Newbury.

“I wanted to get a run into him and this race fitted in well before the Betfair. I do think he will be a very good chaser, but you would have ended up getting one run into him then going to Cheltenham and you can’t do that.

“I might run him over a fence in May when the freshness is out of him. He has always been potentially very good and he is settling better now.”

On The Blind Side has been a model of consistency
On The Blind Side has been a model of consistency (Tim Goode/PA)

On The Blind Side’s fine season continued when he justified his position as short-priced favourite with a game victory in the MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 10 Hurdle.

The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was last seen finishing second to the highly-regarded McFabulous in the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton, his third run of a campaign that has seen him finish in the first two every time.

Jumping fluently throughout and travelling in the slipstream of the ever-popular Lil Rockerfeller, the nine-year-old was engaged in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle with the chestnut and eventually shook him off after the last to prevail by a neck under Nico de Boinville.

“He dug deep there, he was brilliant,” De Boinville said of the evens scorer.

“Fair play to the owners and the guv’nor for spinning him round so fast after last time.

“It’s great to see him showing a bit of consistency this season, well, a lot of consistency. The ground didn’t bother him at all.”

The race sadly saw the loss of 2018 County Hurdle winner Mohaayed, who had unseated Bridget Andrews at the fifth flight.

Harrison Beswick riding Eclair Mag
Harrison Beswick riding Eclair Mag (Tim Goode/PA)

Eclair Mag struck gold on his first start for trainer Richard Bandey when claiming the MansionBet’s Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Chase at the massive starting price of 80-1.

The French import had one hurdles win and one chase win to his name for Vaumas-based Emmanuel Clayeux before joining the yard of Bandey earlier this month.

Taking up the lead over the penultimate fence having been towards the rear for much of the race, the seven-year-old was spring-heeled at the final fence to pull away from 5-2 favourite Mac Tottie and prevail by four and three-quarter lengths under 5lb claimer Harrison Beswick.

“Harrison said we should have him, he was at Emmanuel Clayeux’s, who Harrison was working for last summer,” Bandey said.

“We had no expectations coming over, we thought it might be too heavy, but he’s travelled well and he’s jumped like a stag. I can’t believe he’s done it that well, to be honest.

“We have thought we might look at the cross-country race at Cheltenham, but he might be too far up the handicap for that, we’ll see. For now we’ll just enjoy today.”

Connor Brace and Art Approval on their way to victory
Connor Brace and Art Approval on their way to victory (Tim Goode/PA)

Art Approval made light work of the MansionBet Watch and Bet Novices’ Hurdle for Fergal O’Brien and Connor Brace, looking worthy of his 4-11 favourite status when triumphing by seven lengths.

The victory was a first for the five-year-old, who joined O’Brien in July last year and has since been runner-up in two hurdle contests before finishing seventh at Cheltenham in November after making a late mistake.

“He’s done it very well,” Brace said of the performance.

“Once he hit the front he had a bit of a look as he’s never been in front before, but he had a nice trip and he jumped well, too.

“He’s a horse that seems to always run a little behind the bridle and because of the heavy ground he hit a flat spot there, but that aside he went very well.”

Fawsley Spirit (9-4 favourite) shed his 13-race maiden tag when grinding out a hard-fought triumph in the MansionBet Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle for trainer Ben Pauling and jockey Luca Morgan.

The eight-year-old ran prominently throughout, seeing off a late challenge from Akarita Lights over the penultimate flight to pull away approaching the last and cross the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival.