Tag Archive for: Vintage Clouds

Vintage Clouds ready to shine again in Ultima assignment

Vintage Clouds will again fly the flag for northern jump racing at the Cheltenham Festival, hoping to repeat his success in the Ultima Handicap Chase for Sue and Harvey Smith.

This will be the sixth time the gallant grey has contested the three-mile-one-furlong contest, where 24 runners are scheduled to line up.

Having been placed in 2018 and 2019, he was written off last year following his eighth in 2020.

Yet Ryan Mania’s mount caused a 28-1 surprise, giving the north its first Cheltenham winner since Hawk High took the Fred Winter in the same Trevor Hemmings colours in 2014 for Tim Easterby.

The first-time cheekpieces helped sharpen Vintage Clouds as he went on to record a five-and-a-half-length success in the Grade Three contest, giving the yard its first success at the meeting since Mister McGoldrick won the 2008 Plate.

Sean Quinlan will ride the 12-year-old in Tuesday’s renewal, having partnered him to a three-quarter-length defeat in a veterans’ handicap chase at Doncaster last month.

Given he won off a rating of 143 last season and is set to defend his crown off 144, bookmakers are not as generous this time, with Coral offering odds of 16-1.

Showjumping legend Harvey Smith hopes he can reproduce his recent fine effort and carve his name into Cheltenham history as a dual winner of the race alongside Sentina (1957, 1958), Scot Lane (1982, 1983) and Un Temps Pour Tout (2016 and 2017).

Harvey said: “He goes to the Ultima and it was nice to see him bounce back last time.

“He went to Doncaster and was just short-headed.

“He is in really good form and he still has the will to do it, that’s the main thing.

“He has 10st 6lb, a bit less than last year when he carried 10st 11lb, so we have fingers, toes, everything crossed and are looking forward to it.

“He has been so consistent and is a good jumper. He loves it round there.”

Does He Know tops the market for the Ultima Handicap Chase
Does He Know tops the market for the Ultima Handicap Chase (Simon Marper/PA)

The Kim Bailey-trained Does He Know, who seeks a fourth win in five over fences, having landed the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot by 14 lengths last time, tops the market.

Bailey said: “He ran well at Ascot and he is in great form. We couldn’t be happier with him.

“No one is really going to know how much the race at Ascot took out of him, but he seems in a good place at home. It is a tough race, but we can expect nothing less.”

Corach Rambler was favourite for the Reynoldstown, but unseated Derek Fox when going well five fences from home.

His last success came at Cheltenham in December and his trainer, Lucinda Russell, is confident Ascot has not left its mark.

Corach Rambler unseated at Ascot last time but has winning course form
Corach Rambler unseated at Ascot last time but has winning course form (David Davies/PA)

She said: “It’s a warm race and he’s just an improving novice. He looked like he was going to run a big race at Ascot last time and he’s got winning form at the track.

“He’s been a fantastic horse and we didn’t waste any time over hurdles with him. He won his two races and off we went over fences and he’s improved since then.

“He’s a novice but he’s eight and he’s got plenty of experience from pointing, so we’re just hoping that he hasn’t reached the top of his handicap mark.

“He’s an amazing horse. He’s a little bit reserved at home but at the track he’s just so savvy.

“I was a bit nervous after Ascot that we may be pushing it quite close, but he didn’t have a hard race and he’s been great.”

The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle has a attracted a field of 12, with last year’s mares’ novices’ hurdle winner Telmesomethinggirl the ante-post favourite for Henry de Bromhead.

“She seems in really good form and we’re happy with her. She worked really well the other day and all is good,” said the trainer.

“I haven’t really spoken to Kenny (Alexander, owner) recently but I’m sure he’s getting excited for it all, it’s a big day for all of us and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The opposition includes Stormy Ireland, who won the Grade One Irish Mares’ Champion Hurdle last season and showed her ability to handle Cheltenham when landing the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day.

Stormy Ireland’s trainer Willie Mullins, who also saddles Burning Victory and Echoes In Rain, said: “Stormy Ireland is in good form and likes the track. She’s in great order and we think she goes there with a big chance. She should run a big race.”

The strength of the Irish challenge is also evident in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The raiding party is headed by the highly-touted Gaelic Warrior, who makes his debut for Mullins, having arrived from France in January. He has not run since June.

Gordon Elliott saddles five in the extended two-mile event. They include The Tide Turns, who ran well behind Teahupoo in the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park last month, and Britzka who scored with ease on his hurdles debut at Fairyhouse.

The Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ concludes a cracking first day at the Festival.

Rebecca Curtis flies the flag for Britain, running both dual Chepstow winner Pats Fancy and rank outsider Beatthebullet, while Mullins’ hat-trick-seeing Stattler and the Elliott-trained Run Wild Fred vie for favouritism in the three-and-three-quarter mile contest.

Festival winner Vintage Clouds back at favourite hunting ground

Sue Smith reports Vintage Clouds to be in tip-top shape ahead of his return to Haydock for the Virgin Bet Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase on Saturday.

The 11-year-old grey won the Ultima Handicap Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival – a race he had been placed in twice previously.

Vintage Clouds could finish only fifth of six runners on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso and was again down the field at Warwick last month, but Smith has been pleased with her stable stalwart since.

“He goes to Haydock. He seems in very good form with himself. He schooled on Wednesday morning and he jumped very well. We’re looking forward to it,” said the Bingley-based trainer.

“I hope the ground doesn’t get any heavier, which I don’t think it will.”

Vintage Clouds has an excellent record at Haydock, with his three course victories including a dominant display in last year’s Peter Marsh Chase.

In 12 previous visits to the Merseyside venue, the veteran has won or been placed on 10 occasions. He was third, albeit beaten a long way, in the Tommy Whittle in 2019.

Smith added: “With a bit if luck all will be well. He’s got a lot of weight, but he likes Haydock.”

The likely favourite is David Pipe’s Remastered, who was bang in contention when suffering a heavy fall four fences from home in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury three weeks ago.

“It was a horrible fall and he had a lot of treatment afterwards, but thankfully he came out of it in good order and this is the right race to go for,” said Pipe.

Remastered in action at Ascot
Remastered in action at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He can take a lead or make the running, he’s versatile like that, so hopefully he can run well.

“The encouraging thing at Newbury was how he handled the better ground, but we know he handles soft.”

A summer wind operation appeared to have the desired effect for Olly Murphy’s Calipso Collonges judged on his successful return to action at Kelso.

The nine-year-old also has a Haydock victory on his CV and was runner-up to Lord Du Mesnil in the Tommy Whittle two years ago.

“I’m very happy with him. He’s been very well since his last win. Hopefully that will have done his confidence a world of good,” said Murphy.

“He stays well, handles soft ground and fingers crossed, he’ll run well.”

Anthony Honeyball is hoping the high-class Acey Milan puts his best foot forward.

Acey Milan (right) in winning action at Plumpton
Acey Milan (right) in winning action at Plumpton (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He said: “He seems in good health and he obviously has some very good form – finishing fourth in a Champion Bumper and second in a £100,000 hurdle at Haydock.

“He had his excuses and needed it a bit at Ffos Las first time out this season.

“You can’t discount him. He’s been a bit below his best of late, but I think we’ve got him about right and it’s worth a go at a pot like this as he is a quality horse.”

Dr Richard Newland saddles Enqarde, and said: “He was running a nice race in the race last year when he unseated, so we thought we would have a go with him again.

“If all goes to plan, he should run a nice race and you’d expect him to have come on a bit for Exeter, as that was his first run for a while.”

When the mud is flying Venetia Williams is usually worth following and she runs bottom weight Fuji Flight.

“He is off a light weight and it is a big step up in class for him,” she said.

“The form of his lower grade third at Lingfield has worked out quite well, which is what encouraged me to have a go at a better race off a light weight. The soft ground would be helpful to slow the pace for him.”

Mixed bag of results sees punting battle about even

A topsy-turvy opening day of the Cheltenham Festival saw bookmakers endure mixed fortunes, though it could have been worse.

The situation looked bleak for the layers after favourites took three of the first four races to give backers a dream start.

Appreciate It (8-11) got punters off the mark in style with a facile victory in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Willie Mullins.

It was a similar story with the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin (4-9), who had no trouble landing the odds in the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy.

Appreciate It was dominant in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Appreciate It was dominant in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Bookmakers pulled one back when Vintage Clouds (28-1) beat the 100-30 favourite Happygolucky in the Ultima Handicap Chase – but Honeysuckle (11-10) had punters on top again after the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

The layers were saved further punishment when 11-1 shot Black Tears got up in the shadow of the post to deny 10-11 market leader Concertista in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

That proved a turning point, with Jeff Kidder’s success at 80-1 at the expense of 9-2 favourite Saint Sam in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle giving bookmakers another huge result.

Even though Galvin was only a 7-2 winner of the concluding Sam Vestey National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase, he was the least supported of the three market leaders.

Black Tears (left) foiled the well-backed Concertista
Black Tears (left) foiled the well-backed Concertista (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The last gasp win of Black Tears ensured bookmakers avoided one of the most costly Cheltenham Festival opening days in recent years, although earlier victories for well-backed favourites Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle meant punters still had plenty to cheer about,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

“We saw very early on Tuesday morning which horses were proving most popular on the opening day of this very different Festival, with the five best-backed runners being Appreciate It, Shishkin, Happygolucky, Honeysuckle and Concertista, so it was looking ominous after the first two had obliged with the minimum of fuss.

“Overall we’ve ended day one with a sense of relief, as it could have been a whole lot more costly, although plenty of punters will start day two playing with our money.

It was a poor start to the four-day meeting for William Hill.

“The bookies had one of their worst first days of the Cheltenham Festival after three short-priced winners delivered for punters,” said their spokesman Rupert Adams.

“It could have been a lot worse if Concertista had won the Mares’ Hurdle.

Shishkin oozed class in the Arkle
Shishkin oozed class in the Arkle (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“Our day started badly with Appreciate it, got worse with Shishkin and became disastrous when Honeysuckle delivered.”

Ladbrokes feared the worst halfway through the card until the big-priced winners came to their rescue.

Their spokesman Jon Lees said: “Given their short odds we were already bracing ourselves for a scenario in which the three best-backed horses of the day, Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle, could hurt us if they obliged.

“The punishment could have been even worse if Happygolucky and Concertista scored as well, but thankfully Vintage Clouds brought some relief and we were shedding tears of joy when Black Tears got up in the final strides to grab the Mares’ Hurdle off Concertista.”

Betway had the better of the exchanges despite early results going punters’ way.

Their PR manager Chad Yeomans said: “Bookmakers one, punters nil after day one of the Cheltenham Festival!

“I have to say, I wasn’t so confident after the first two races with both Appreciate It and Shishkin bolting up, and had Happygolucky and Concertista both won, we would have been in a totally different state. Thankfully, with both of them being foiled, we’ve come out on top.

Jeff Kidder (right) was an 80-1 stunner
Jeff Kidder (right) was an 80-1 stunner (Michael Steele/PA)

“The Paul Nicholls pair of Houx Gris and Next Destination – who were both the best-backed in the last two races – were our biggest losers, so with those also being beaten, the trading room floor is full of cheer.”

Paddy Power also reported a narrow lead for bookmakers.

“Having seen hotpots Appreciate It, Shishkin and Honeysuckle all justify favouritism, let me assure you there weren’t any black tears inside our trading room when the leading lady of the same name collared odds-on favourite Concertista in the Mares’ Hurdle,” said spokesman Paul Binfield.

“That was an important head, saving the industry a multi-million pay-out and despite Galvin not being a brilliant result in the lucky last, a couple of big-priced winners, including an incredible 80-1 poke, have helped us into a slight lead going into the second day.”

Vintage Clouds rolls back the years for Ultima glory

Vintage Clouds finally won the Ultima Handicap Chase at the fifth attempt with a game display at Cheltenham.

The Sue Smith-trained grey, owned by Trevor Hemmings, made a lot of the running before his stamina and determination kicked in as he improved on two placed efforts from his four previous efforts in this staying contest.

Jockey Ryan Mania had the 11-year-old Vintage Clouds (28-1) at the front from the start with Pym and Alnadam also close up.

There was little change in the order until the tempo increased with five fences left to jump.

Pym soon weakened, but Vintage Clouds stuck to his guns and kept finding extra to win by five and a half lengths from Happygolucky with Aye Right a further two and a quarter lengths back in third and Cepage fourth.

Mania said: “It’s unbelievable. It’s a shame my first Festival winner comes under these circumstances, but it truly doesn’t matter. It’s a very memorable day.

“I rode him in this race last year and he made a noise coming down the hill. I said then he needed a wind op and he had a couple more runs this season and it became clear that he needed a wind op.

“We sent him away for that and the application of cheek pieces has sharpened up his jumping. He used to spend quite a lot of time in the air, whereas today he was really slick over his fences and with the wind operation helping as well, he’s got his day today.

“Realistically we thought he had a good each-way chance – that’s all you can really hope for coming to Cheltenham. We were confident he would run his race as he always does – he’s a real determined warrior.”

Mania quit the saddle for a spell before returning in 2019.

He added: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d come and ride a Cheltenham winner, especially so soon after coming out of retirement. I couldn’t be happier.”

Jeff Kidder produced an 80-1 shock for Noel Meade in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The lightly-raced four-year-old made the most of his light weight on his first run in a handicap to foil the 9-2 favourite Saint Sam.

Sean Flanagan delivered Jeff Kidder with a strong challenge to lead on the run-in and beat Saint Sam, the 9-2 favourite, by two lengths.

Elham Valley (66-1) was half a length back in third with Houx Gris (11-2) fourth, a further one and a quarter lengths away.

Flanagan, who was riding his first Festival winner, said: “He’s come here in a good vein of form. His form at home hadn’t been the most solid and his last run at Leopardstown was his first run after a bit of a lay-off and we kind of used it for experience more than anything else.

“When we got levelled out into the straight I knew he was going to stay well and he’s jumped well on the whole.

“I’m delighted for Noel and all the team at home. If it wasn’t for Noel, I wouldn’t be here – you need the horses and the staff and everything.

“To be fair to Noel said after a bit of work last week that this horse had a right chance and when he says something like that you stand up and take note. To be fair, he was right.

“I genuinely said when I passed the line, ‘I can’t believe it’. I was talking to a few of the lads who have ridden here and they said it’s a feeling you can’t explain.

“Even though there’s no crowds here, it was brilliant – I can only imagine what it would have been like if there was (a crowd).”

Meade said: “I thought he had a chance. He worked the other day and I was very happy with what I saw. I said to Sean you’ve got two good rides at Cheltenham for me this week and I think you will be thereabouts on this one.

“He is a stayer on the Flat and that’s what you need around Cheltenham. That is what he ended up doing, just outstaying them. I think the better ground helped as well.

“He won at Fairyhouse then we put in him a Grade Two at Leopardstown over Christmas which was a very good race.

“He had been running on the Flat and he was a winner on the Flat so he was used to the hustle and bustle.

“Colin Keane has been riding him on the Flat and he said he will win you a Cesarewitch one day and hopefully he is right.

“He will run on the Flat again, but we will look at another race over hurdles and we might go to Punchestown with him.”

He added: “It was nice to get another winner at Cheltenham as it has not been the happiest hunting ground for me. It gets tougher and tougher to get winners at Cheltenham, but it is the place we all want to have winners at and we think about it from one end of the year to the next.”

Galvin (7-2) overcame a five-month absence to land the Sam Vestey National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Chase and complete a double for jockey Jack Kennedy after the victory of Black Tears.

The seven-year-old was held up for most of the race as Remastered and Next Destination led the way, before creeping into contention coming down the hill.

There were several in with a chance at the final fence, but it was Galvin who had the most left at the business end of the three-and-three-quarter-mile trip to beat Next Destination by a length and a half.

Galvin had been saved for the race after winning over an extended three miles at this track in October.

He had been trained by Elliott, but is being looked after by County Antrim-based Ian Ferguson, who has had a long association with Galvin’s owner Ronnie Bartlett. He bought Galvin for 34,000 euros at the sales in 2017.

Kennedy said: “He travelled very well for most of the race. This race was the plan for a long time, so it’s great that it’s paid off.

“It’s nice for Ian Ferguson, because he pre-trained the horse before he went to Gordon’s.

“He could be a National horse or something along those lines. He has a bit of class and stays very well, so the National could be right up his street.

“When you’re walking out of here in one piece it’s great, but you’re delighted to get a winner, so to get two on the first day is brilliant.”

Peter Marsh Chase Trends

The Peter Marsh Chase is a Grade Two race run over 3m that is staged at Haydock Park racecourse.

First run in 1981 the contest is sometimes billed as another Grand National trial, but we’ve yet to see a winner of this race land the Aintree marathon in the same season, although the 1995 winner, Earth Summit, did go onto win the Grand National 3 years later.

The 2020 Peter Marsh Chase was won by the Sue Smith-trained Vintage Clouds - the Sue Smith yard have won 5 of the last 17 runnings.

Here at GEEGEEZ we take a look back at recent winners and gives you the main stats to look out for ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year run on Saturday January 23rd.




Recent Peter Marsh Chase Winners

2020 – VINTAGE CLOUDS (7/1)
2019 - WAKANDA (6/1)
2018 – THE DUTCHMAN (13/2)
2017 – BRISTOL DE MAI (4/1 jfav)
2016 – CLOUDY TOO (6/1)
2015 – SAMSTOWN (16/1)
2014 – WYCHWOODS BROOK (16/1)
2013 – No race
2012 – ACCORDING TO PETE (9/1)
2011 – No race
2010 – OUR VIC (20/1)
2009 – CLOUDY LANE (6/1)
2008 – No race
2007 – THE OUTLIER (8/1)
2006 – EBONY LIGHT (33/1)
2005 – LORD TRANSCEND (9/4 fav)
2004 – ARTIC JACK (6/1)
2003 – TRUCKERS TAVERN (9/2)
2002 – RED STRIKER (8/1)
2001 – No race
2000 – THE LAST FLING (11/2)

Key Peter Marsh Chase Betting Trends

17/17 – Won on ground described as soft or worse previously
16/17 – Aged 8 or older
16/17 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
16/17 – Carried 11-3 or less in weight
15/17 – Had run within the last 36 days
12/17 – Won at least 3 times over fences previously
12/17 – Officially Rated 139 or higher
12/17 – Won at Haydock previously
12/17 – Carried 10-12 or less in weight
11/17 – Favourites unplaced
10/17 – Irish bred
10/17 – Won before (fences) over at least 3m
9/17 – Won between 3-5 times over fences before
9/17 – Aged either 8 or 9 years-old
9/17 – From outside the top 3 in the betting
9/17 – Finished in the top 3 in their last race
9/17 – Won over fences at Haydock before
7/17 – Went onto finish unplaced in that season’s Grand National
7/17 – Ran at Wetherby last time out
6/17 – Raced in the Rowland Meyrick (Wetherby) last time out
6/17 – Went onto run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival (no winners)
5/17 – Trained by Sue Smith
4/17 – Ridden by Danny Cook
2/17 – Trained by the McCain stable
2/17 – Won their last race
2/17 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 17 runnings is 10/1