Tag Archive for: Premier Handicap Chase

The Shunter seeking Premier renaissance on Kelso return

The Shunter takes on four rivals in the bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday with trainer Emmet Mullins hoping he can return to something like his best.

Two years ago, the JP McManus-owned gelding took the Morebattle Hurdle on his way to landing a £100,000 bonus for following up with a win in the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Subsequently runner-up in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree, his form has been patchy since, winning just once in 11 starts.

Mullins feels the 10-year-old, who has been given a break since finishing fourth of 20 in a two-mile Naas Flat handicap in November, is nicely handicapped on his return to the Scottish track.

“These races are all hard to win, but it looks a good spot for him,” said Mullins.

“Fingers crossed he can run his race. Let’s hope he can repeat the magic.”

Newbury’s Coral Gold Cup winner Le Milos is favourite to land the Listed contest and complete a hat-trick for the Dan Skelton yard.

He has not run since taking the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup and runs off a 6lb higher mark, albeit in a slightly weaker contest.

Le Milos and jockey Harry Skelton (centre) bid to follow up their Coral Gold Cup victory
Le Milos and jockey Harry Skelton (centre) bid to follow up their Coral Gold Cup victory (John Walton/PA)

Skelton said: “We could not have been more delighted with his run at Newbury.

“We understandably gave him a bit of time off to get over that, and this looked an obvious spot for him.

“He is fresh and well and we are hopeful that he will run well.”

Sandy Thomson has the Scottish National in mind for Empire Steel should he bounce back to his best on a track he likes.

The nine-year-old has won two and finished runner-up on his three starts at Kelso, although the Berwickshire handler is happy to draw a line under his two runs this season, as his horses were not firing.

He said: “Obviously the horses didn’t look like they were right just after Christmas, which was frustrating.

“Hopefully, we have got them sorted out and he will bounce back and run his race.

“He likes Kelso, it will suit him. It is a very funny race, because if you look historically, some of the winners have never won another race.

“It is a funny kind of race, because you get some horses who are looking at it as a prep for the National or something and that is more important than winning the Premier Chase.

“But if he bounces back and runs a nice race, we’ll be delighted and the Scottish National would be in the offing if he did.”

Shropshire trainer Mel Rowley feels she has nothing to lose by running Wishing And Hoping following his 50-1 shock win in the Veterans’ Chase Series Final at Sandown.

Wishing And Hoping caused a 50-1 shock at Sandown last time
Wishing And Hoping caused a 50-1 shock at Sandown last time (Steven Paston/PA)

The consistent 13-year-old has won five and finished runner-up on as many occasions in his 18 chase starts, and showed plenty of zest when accounting for Ramses De Teillee last time.

Rowley said: “He is very, very well and we thought ‘why not’, as we are slightly restricted where we can go with him.

“This seemed a good a place as any, as there are only five in it. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“I suppose we might have the advantage, as if our horse never won a race again, because of his age, it wouldn’t matter.

“His last run is what dreams are made of. That’s why we do it, isn’t it?”

Zanza brought up Philip Hobbs’ 3,000th winner when beating Hitman by seven lengths in the Grade Two Denman Chase at Newbury three weeks ago.

Should he not take up his first preference, which is in the BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap at Newbury, he will complete the line-up.

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