TUMBLING DICE ROLLING TOWARD PADDY POWER GOLD CUP & McMANUS TEAM HOPING FOR OPEN SUCCESS
Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Tom Taffe could bid for more big race success at the course, this time with promising chaser Tumbling Dice, who is being pointed at the Grade Three £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday, November 11.
The Irish handler revealed today: “Tumbling Dice is on target for the Paddy Power Gold Cup subject to me being happy with the weights.”
The seven-year-old has been allotted 9st 6lb in the prestigious two mile, four and a half-furlong contest, which takes place on day two of the three-day Open meeting, and the participation of Taaffe’s charge may depend on whether the top two in the handicap, Kauto Star (11st 12lb) and Our Vic (11st 10lb), take their chances in the race.
Tumbling Dice made a pleasing seasonal debut over a distance short of his best at Limerick on October 8, when finishing a staying-on seven lengths second to Grade One Powers Gold Cup winner Justified.
Taaffe reported: “I was delighted with his effort at Limerick. He was second to Justified and I’d be hoping he would come on for that. It was his first run of the year and it was over two miles.
“He prefers nice ground. He’s been third in the Coral Cup (2005) and third in the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase last year - both at The Festival - so he’s acted around the track on a couple of occasions and on good ground, so that doesn’t hinder him.”
Taaffe, who enjoyed his biggest success as a trainer when Kicking King landed the 2005 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, is bidding to become the first Irish-based handler to collect the Paddy Power Gold Cup since Michael O’Brien saddled Bright Highway to victory in 1980.
The Irish challenge for the Order Of Merit contest could also include the Noel Meade-trained quartert of Watson Lake, Wild Passion, Sir Oj and Zum See, the Michael O’Brien-trained In Compliance, Robert Tyner’s Slim Pickings, Paul Nolan’s Dix Villez, and the Charlie Swan-trained Ground Ball and Oodachee.
Ground Ball is one of two possible runners for Irish owner J P McManus, who also has last season’s smart novice Reveillez - trained by James Fanshawe - among the leading contenders.
The former finished runner-up to Impek in the William Hill Gold Cup at Exeter on October 31, while the latter secured the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase over two miles, five furlongs at The Festival in March.
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, reported today: “We were hoping to go to the Paddy Power Gold Cup with Reveillez. James (Fanshawe) was talking about getting a run into him, which hasn’t materialised, but he’s still a possibility. You’d think he’d definitely need the top two to come out.
“Ground Ball was beaten a long away at Exeter but he didn’t run badly and he’s still a possibility. Garde Champetre is likely to go somewhere easier as it might be a bit competitive for him at the minute.”
McManus saw his colours carried to victory by Lingo in the Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle at The Open in 2005, and the owner is hoping for a repeat success, with Hasty Prince (10st 11lb) and Tarlac (9st 4lb) both being aimed at the £65,000 extended two-mile contest on Sunday, November 12.
Hasty Prince posted a fantastic effort on his final start last term when defying top-weight to win the Betfred Million Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. The eight-year-old was not disgraced on his seasonal bow when fifth to the progressive Taranis in the Listed Blue Square Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow on October 21.
Berry revealed: “Hasty Prince has a mark he deserves, I suppose, and he just struggles a bit off it at times, but Jonjo is very happy with him at present and he is on course for the Greatwood Hurdle.”
The Nicky Henderson-trained Tarlac, a Group Three winner on the Flat in Germany, proved himself a smart novice last term, and the five-year-old was beaten only three lengths when fifth against seasoned handicappers in the highly-competitive Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown in March.
Berry revealed: “Tarlac is also on course for the Greatwood Hurdle. Nicky (Henderson) is very happy with the horse. He summered well and is pleasing in his work at home.”
The Greatwood Hurdle, also included in the Order Of Merit, was won in 2002 by subsequent Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle victor Rooster Booster. This year’s renewal could see the Paul Nicholls-trained Desert Quest, successful in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on October 28, attempt to emulate Rooster Booster’s feat of carrying top-weight of 11st 12lb to victory.
Other possible contenders include Grade Two Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Noble Request and Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle hero Detroit City for trainer Philip Hobbs, the Paul Nicholls-trained Grade One Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Noland, alongside high-class performers Arcalis, Mephisto, Kawagino, Cuan Na Grai and Sweet Wake.
JONNY PRIMED FOR NOVEMBER HANDICAP REPEAT BID
Come On Jonny has been reported in excellent shape by his trainer Ralph Beckett as he bids to land the £50,000 totesport.com November Handicap (3:40pm), run this year at Windsor over an extended 11 furlongs on Saturday, November 4, for the second year running.
The four-year-old Desert King gelding, who has been restricted to just one outing so far this season following an injury, finishing 12th behind Peppertree Lane over 12 furlongs at Ascot last month, relished the heavy ground when landing the prize impressively at regular home Doncaster a year ago, coming home seven lengths clear of Akarem.
Beckett said this morning: "Come On Jonny had a serious internal problem in the early part of the year, but he is over that now.
"I was delighted with his comeback run at Ascot - he led them to the two-furlong pole and then gradually faded, but he had been off for 11 months.
"He seems to be in really good nick and he is there to run his race. The track is different this year, and it remains to be seen whether it will suit him as well as Doncaster, although he won over an extended mile at Windsor as a two-year-old."
Come On Jonny, who carried only 8st when successful last year under apprentice Nelson De Souza, will have to defy 9st 7lb this time for Seb Sanders, yet his handler is hoping that the likely testing ground will aid his chances of a repeat victory.
Beckett continued: "If the ground stays on the soft side of good he'll run well. He's high enough in the handicap, that's for sure, but he is in great shape. We're going to Windsor in hope rather than confidence, although I wasn't that confident last year either!
"Adrian Frost, his owner, already has four or five jumpers in training, and the idea is that Come On Jonny will go hurdling over the winter. He's already schooled nicely, and I'm really looking forward to trying to win a few races with him."
Come On Jonny's 19 opponents in Saturday's race include improving three-year-old Peppertree Lane, who has landed five races this term for the Mark Johnston stable.
Godolphin runs both Scriptwriter, who scored readily on his return over 10 furlongs at York on October 6, and Red Admiral, while the well-fancied Book Of Music, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, got his head in front for the first time since his debut when taking a 10-furlong handicap at Ascot last month by a neck from Great Plains.
Windsor's action-packed eight-race card on Saturday, November 4, kicks off at 12:20pm with Division One of the EBF Maiden Stakes, run over six furlongs for two-year-olds.
Other highlights on an excellent afternoon's racing include the Listed £28,000 EBF totesport Gillies Fillies' Stakes (1:55pm) over 10 furlongs, which has attracted 14 runners, among them the Godolphin trio Taranto, Abhisheka and Lake Toya.
The Listed £28,000 Celebrated Artist Piran Strange Paints Stakes (2:30pm), run over an extended 11 furlongs, has attracted a strong field of nine, and sees the long-awaited return of Godolphin's unbeaten Bull Run, who has been off the track since winning at Epsom by 15 lengths in April, 2004.
Listed action continues at 3:05pm with the £28,000 totescoop6 Wentworth Stakes, run over six furlongs, which features old favourite Quito, runner-up to Reverence in the Group One Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in September, and Richard Hannon's 2005 totesport Ayr Gold Cup winner Presto Shinko.
A total of 20 runners will go to post for the totesport.com November Handicap after the maximum field number for Saturday's meeting was increased by four.
David Mackinnon, Managing Director of Windsor Racecourse, explained the decision by stating that the safety factor at the course has been 20 for a number of years, yet due to Windsor purchasing a 16-bay starting stall unit last month, the maximum field had therefore been reduced to 16.
However, for Saturday's meeting, Windsor will have the use of two sets of stalls, rented from Race Tech, allowing for the larger fields.