With previews of the Hennessy Gold Cup on this site by top jocks Ruby Walsh and Mick Fitzgerald, you’re obviously in very safe hands, so let us look at some of the other races on Saturday. Actually, let’s try and find a winner at each of the five National Hunt meetings in Britain and Ireland on a packed day of racing.
We’ll start with Truckers Highway in the very first race of the day, a handicap chase at Bangor (12.00pm). Form figures of ‘RP’ on his last two starts might not instil much confidence, but Truckers Highway had been very progressive for his small yard prior to refusing three out at Ludlow last March (without his usual hood) and he went well for a long way over hurdles at this track on his return.
He’ll strip fitter for that and can beat Supreme Asset, who finished second in a weak race last time, hasn’t won since February 2014 and comes from the Donald McCain yard that is on the Timeform cold trainers’ list at present.
When we wrote the entry on Out Sam in our Fifty To Follow book for this jumps season we had some banter about Sam Allardyce hopefully having a long and successful career as England manager. By the time the book was printed, he’d quit in disgrace. Rumours suggest that Big Sam could be set for quick return to football management and we’re also predicting Warren Greatrex’s Out Sam to bounce back fin the handicap chase over two and three-quarter miles at Newbury (1.30pm).
He was fancied to win in a similar race at the Cheltenham Festival last March, but he didn’t get the rub of the green and then ran in a Grade 1 at Aintree. Presumably just having a tune-up over hurdles on his return and should be primed to run a big race here.
Our Thomas finished well beaten in a handicap hurdle at Wetherby two Saturdays ago, but he probably needed the run after seven months off and can get back to form in the two-mile handicap hurdle at Doncaster (2.30pm).
A repeat of his best efforts will make him hard to beat, and the same is true of Zabana at Gowran Park (2.45pm). After unseating Davy Russell at the start at the Cheltenham Festival last March, Zabana repaid the jockey with a Grade 1 win at Punchestown, but like Our Thomas, Zabana was rusty on his recent reappearance. That run should have blown away the cobwebs and Zabana can put his match fitness to good use against his four rivals here.
His name is definitely not spelled correctly, but Definitly Red will definitely give his best in the Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle (3.30pm). He did well in his first season over fences last term, winning at Catterick and Ayr and finishing second in a Grade 2 at Wetherby (Grade 2), and he again showed his trademark battling qualities when making a winning return in a handicap hurdle at Carlisle a month ago.
This race was mentioned as his target straight after so hopefully he completes our five-timer.