NORTH Yorkshire trainer John Quinn, who went out The Wow Signal to scoop Group 1 honours at Deauville in August, can hit the heights under National Hunt Rules at Newcastle today.
Quinn saddles Aurore d’Estruval in the £100,000 Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle and is fancied to capture this famous contest, which he won two years ago with Countrywide Flame before having to settle for runner-up honours 12 months ago with Cockney Sparrow, who was no match for My Tent Or Yours.
There is nothing of the calibre of My Tent Or Yours in this afternoon’s six-strong field and Aurore d’Estruval boasts strong claims. The French recruit won as she liked with Tony McCoy on board in Listed company at Wetherby four weeks ago and is a mare of unlimited potential.
Quinn has never disguised his high opinion of Aurore d’Estruval. This is her chance to shine and, despite opposition from Paul Nicholls’ high-class Irving and Irish raider Arctic Fire, trained by Willie Mullins, the Norton raider is fancied to come out on top under James Reveley.
The Newcastle card is further highlighted by the £50,000 At The Races Rehearsal Chase which could also have Reveley’s name written on it. The jockey teams up with Vintage Star for Sue Smith and this likeable gelding is selected to take his revenge on Hey Big Spender, who beat him a neck in this Listed race last season.
Vintage Star made an encouraging re-appearance to finish second to Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor at Carlisle earlier this month. He comes into this race with strong claims.
The Weatherbys Printing ‘The French Furze’ Novices’ Hurdle has been targeted by Nicky Richards for his highly-rated Chidswell.
Winner of his bumper on this course, Chidswell made short work of his rivals on his hurdling debut at Ayr last month. He is an exciting prospect.
Lucinda Russell can get the meeting off to a good start with Ballyben in the Weatherbys Stallion Book Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
Winner of his last two starts, and a horse going places fast over fences, Ballyben, with 3lb claimer Craig Nichol on board, is fancied to take full advantage of the 17lb he receives from Stopped Out, a good winner at Carlisle last time.
Also worth noting at Gosforth Park are Rebecca Menzies’ Samson Collonges (12.35), who shaped well on his reappearance after a summer break at Hexham, and Aye Well (1.35), who showed plenty of promise on his chasing debut at Kelso three weeks ago.
At Newbury, the £175,000 Hennessy Gold Cup takes pride of place as the richest race of the day. This annual showpiece event has attracted a typically competitive field, but Rocky Creek makes particular appeal to continue Paul Nicholls’ excellent Saturday record in feature events.
A week ago, Nicholls won the Betfair Chase at Haydock with Silviniaco Conti, while two Saturday’s ago, he captured the Paddy Power Gold Cup with Caid Du Berlais.
Rocky Creek finished second to Trio d’Alene in last year’s Hennessy. He finished a good second in Grade 1 company at Down Royal on his re-appearance four weeks ago. That outing should have put him spot-on for this not-to-be-missed affair, in which he faces stiff opposition from the likes of hot favourite Djakadam, Fingal Bay and Many Clouds, to mention only three.
The £40,000 bet365 Long Distance Hurdle features the re-appearance of More Of That, who is unbeaten in five races and who took all before him last season.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge ended-up winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, beating the mighty Annie Power. Tony McCoy takes the mount on More Of That, who looks poised to enjoy another lucrative campaign.
Newbury’s excellent card hosts a mix of quality and quantity, and Royal Regatta (12.50), sure to be all the better for his third-placed effort on his comeback at Kempton, and lightly-weighted Exeter winner Tolkeins Tango (1.20) are a couple to treat with respect.
12.05 Ballyben, 12.35 Samson Collonges, 1.05 Chidswell, 1.35 Aye Well, 2.05 Aurore d’Estruval (NAP), 2.40 Vintage Star, 3.15 Kingfisher Creek.
12.20 Carrigmoorna Rock, 12.50 Royal Regatta, 1.20 Tolkeins Tango, 1.50 Hammersly Lake, 2.25 More Of That, 3.00 Rocky Creek, 3.35 Rio de Sivola.
Today’s other meetings
Bangor, Towcester and Wolverhampton.
Carlisle and Leicester.