Over to the Mares at Cheltenham on Thursday
Cheltenham hosts an excellent seven-race card on the second and final day of The April Meeting at Cheltenham today, Thursday, April 16, headlined by three Listed contests for mares and racegoers have the chance of seeing A P McCoy in action for the final time at the Gloucestershire course.
Local handler Fergal O’Brien and jockey Conor Shoemark won the £40,000 Listed EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Finale Handicap (2.40pm) last year with Me And Ben and the combination team up again in this year’s race with Our Cat (10st 8lb).
The seven-year-old unseated Shoemark on her latest start in a mares’ novices’ limited handicap chase at Uttoxeter on January 24 but had been an impressive winner of a similar race at Exeter in December, when readily beating Midnight Belle by 12 lengths.
O’Brien reported today: “Our Cat came back fine from Uttoxeter. She was beaten at the time and I was cross with myself for running her on heavy ground. It was testing going when she won her point-to-point but she got very tired at Uttoxeter.
“Her win at Exeter was very pleasing and the form looks OK as the runner-up Midnight Belle has since won a couple of races.
“I think the better ground at Cheltenham will help her – she is very free-going – and we will see how we get on. She might be a bit better going right-handed but it is good prize-money and a Listed race.”
A field of eight for the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Finale, which is run over two miles and five furlongs, also includes Top Totti (11st 10lb, Henry Daly/Jake Greenall), who was third in the Grade Two BetBright Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Lily Waugh (11st 8lb, Anthony Honeyball/Ryan Mahon) captured a mares’ novices’ limited handicap chase at Warwick on March 8, while Mrs Peachey (10st 6lb, Kim Bailey/David Bass) scored in a mares’ novices’ chase at Bangor on February 6.
O’Brien is also set to be represented in the £22,000 Listed OLBG.com Supports Mares’ Jump Racing Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (3.15pm) by The Govaness (10st 9lb), who will be ridden by Paddy Brennan.
Cedric Brookes’ home-bred steps up to an extended two miles and five furlongs following an easy success over two furlongs shorter in a Towcester mares’ maiden hurdle on January 29.
The trained added: “We were thinking about running The Govaness in the mares’ novices hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow but Cedric Brookes has always felt that she wanted a trip and there were a couple of mares in the novices’ race that might have a bit more speed than her.
“She won a Listed bumper around Cheltenham last season and loves the course. It would be great to see her get some more black type over hurdles.”
The Govaness faces 12 rivals including last year’s runner-up L’Unique (11st 10lb, Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) plus the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Mayfair Music (11st 1lb, David Bass) and Broxbourne (10st 7lb, Nico de Boinville).
Further Listed action on day two of The April Meeting is provided by the opening £20,000 TBA Mares’ Novices Hurdle (2.05pm) over two miles and a furlong, which has eight runners including Abigail Lynch (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies) and Stephanie Frances (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton).
Sire Collonges (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) makes a remarkable 13th consecutive appearance at Cheltenham in the £20,000 Llewellyn Humphreys Handicap Chase (3.50pm, eight runners), over three and a quarter miles.
A P McCoy is set to have his final ride at Cheltenham on Milan Bound (Jonjo O’Neill) in the three-mile £16,000 Barbury International Supporting The IJF Handicap Hurdle (4.25pm, 12 runners). The soon-to-retire jockey will be presented with the saddle rack in the jockeys’ changing room he has used for many years at the Home of Jump Racing.
The racing action is completed by the £10,000 Endsleigh Nicholson Holman Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (5pm, 10 runners) and the £7,500 Spreadex Sports And Financial Betting Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (5.30pm, 17 runners).
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