Catching Pigeons: Oscar winner
Our Catching Pigeons column returns with news from the stables and it's Colin Tizzard who is fancied to strike again at Sandown on Saturday.
Colin Tizzard: Trainer of Finian's Oscar.
Finian's Oscar is fancied to give team Tizzard yet another high-profile Saturday success in the Grade One 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park.
The all-conquering farming family from the depths of Dorset have carried all before them in the chasing division in the first half of the season, but there are some smart young hurdlers among their ever-growing team ready to show their class as well and this very good ex-Irish pointer is one of their best.
Strongly fancied on his only start so far over hurdles at Hereford, he travelled smoothly throughout and quickened well clear from the last to beat a notably well-regarded rival. He has improved plenty from the run and should prove too sharp for likely favourite Capitaine and the promising maiden Global Stage, who should run a big race at very long odds.
Dynaste is the selection to re-live from of his glory days with a big run in the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase. David Pipe's popular grey has not been the force of old over the past season or two, but he has still run some respectable races against some of the very best, and is still capable of packing a punch.
The David Pipe team have had this valuable race in mind for some time for their ageing star, and they are more than capable of getting him back on song for a lucrative reward. The word from Nicholashayne confirms that he has been showing some of his old spark with blinkers re-fitted.
Gary Moore loves landing these nice handicaps at the London metropolitan tracksand Krugermac can take advantage of the 12lb he receives from Nicky Henderson's promising French import Discours d'Un Roi in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle.
Moore appeared to have a very smart novice prospect when this talented ex-Irish gelding won nicely at Ascot on his debut in the autumn of 2015, but he proved very disappointing on his only subsequent start in wholly unsuitable desperate ground at Lingfield and has not run since. Although sure to come on for this comeback effort after his long lay-off. he is at the right end of the handicap and is expected to run a big race – that Ascot form reads notably well.
Venetia Williams is back in the pink as far as her team's form is concerned and she should strike with Marchilhac in the 32Red Handicap Chase. The ex-French-trained gelding ran to a fairly high level over fences in his native country and has shown enough since his arrival on the domestic scene to suggest he should do well over the larger obstacles this term. He will be sharper for his comeback effort behind subsequent winner Poker School at Ascot and he will be suited by the prevailing soft ground.
Bright New Dawn should also go close for the stable on his debut for the trainer in the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase. A consistent performer in the top two-mile handicaps for Gordon Elliott in Ireland, he looks the type to be re-invigorated by a change of scenery and he looks worth taking a chance on in a race which should also feature the upwardly-mobile six-year-old Hollywoodien.
Clondaw Banker, a winning ex-point-to-pointer, can make a successful debut over fences in the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Limited Novices' Handicap Chase at Wincanton. Although a shade disappointing in a light campaign over hurdles after his first win at Sandown last season, he was among a number of Nicky Henderson-trained horses who were simply not themselves for much of the campaign.
The word from Seven Barrows is that he may be better judged on his form from the previous campaign when he featured two good placed efforts behind the smart Jolly's Cracked It among his accomplishments. With a clear round under Jerry McGrath here, he should want plenty of beating off his lowly 123 rating.
Bradford Bridge is better than his two performances so far this season suggests and he should go well for Philip Hobbs in an ultra-competitive Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Novices' Hurdle. His recent work suggests he may be ready to start improving and a move north in the handicap could be forthcoming.
Little Miss Poet, a stablemate of Bradford Bridge, should go close on her debut over timber in the Gem Mares Maiden Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday. She produced two very good and one solid effort in three bumpers last season, and her trainer is more than hopeful she will pay her way in this type of event during the course of the season.
Walt can take advantage of a step back in trip in the Garside Handicap Hurdle. Neil Mulholland had hopes of landing a decent event over three miles at Ascot 22 days ago, but the former Nicky Henderson-trained gelding could only finish a respectable third. However, this less exhausting test of stamina should suit, and he has pleased at home since.
In Newmarket, those trainers not enjoying a skiing holiday are busy supporting the all-weather action, with a number of ordinary contests scheduled for the days ahead having their interest levels considerably boosted by the presence of representatives from some of the bigger stables.
The other problem afflicting the racing community in Newmarket at present is staff shortages, even at a relatively quiet time of the year. Along with the issue of increased rates bills, it's not a situation that bodes well for the future of some of the smaller stables that give so much colour to the landscape in Headqurters.
One of the newest arrivals in the town has been Amy Murphy, who along with partner Lemos de Souza, is now based next to Hamilton Hill and doing well with her small dual-purpose team.
The unexposed Mercian Prince should go well at Sandown on Saturday, while Jade's Legend has the services of Lizzie Kelly when she runs at Fontwell 24 hours later. Another decent ex-French performer, he shaped better at Fakenham last time and drops to a level at which he could take some beating.
Stuart Williams enjoyed a lucrative spell with his all-weather performers at this time of the year 12 months ago and old favourite Realize can confirm his effectiveness over a mile in the sunbets.co.uk Conditions Stakes at Lingfield on Saturday. His tactical speed may give him the edge over You're Fired, while stablemate Dollar Reward is worth watching on his first start for Williams in the same race for future clues.
Looking to the evening card at Wolverhampton, Cambodia might be worth another chance for Chris Wall if the price allows in the Betway Handicap.
He was coming back from a break when far too free for his own good at this track before Christmas and is worth another chance to show his true colours upped in trip by two furlongs.
The card closes with a maiden that should be worth a viewing too, with a number of interesting runners from decent stables declared.
David Simcock's pair in that contest are both entitled to respect, but neither pack quite the same punch on pedigree as Future Energy, a daughter of Frankel out of a Listed-winning mare who has already bred a Grade Two winner and two further Listed scorers. Jamie Spencer is set to head to Lingfield on Monday as she makes her debut and it will be disappointing if it's not a winning one.
And to think they say there's nothing interesting happening on the all-weather at this time of the year.
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