McCAIN IN FULL CRY FOR LADBROKE
Donald McCain is looking forward to giving Desert Cry his chance in a race as challenging as the Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday
The five-year-old goes for this valuable handicap hurdle on the back of a win at Haydock four weeks ago – his first outing since April.
“I’m pleased with him. It’s a very competitive race, obviously, and it’s a step up in grade, but he’s in good form,” said the Cholmondeley trainer.
“He’s ready to go, so we’ll see where we stand.”
Prospect Wells, the Paul Nicholls-trained novice, has headed the ante-post market on the strength of two wins and a second from three starts over timber.
The former Howard Johnson-trained six-year-old, owned by Graham Wylie, had smart form on the Flat in France and is very much an unknown quantity over jumps.
He is one of three runners from the powerful Nicholls stable and is the mount of Ruby Walsh, with 7lb claimers aboard the champion trainer’s other two representatives, Brampour and Tonic Mellysse.
“You’d love to have more runs under your belt over hurdles but more runs means a higher handicap (mark) and you have to try and exploit the mark you are on,” said Walsh.
“I was very impressed with him at Newbury, I think he had improved a good bit there from Cheltenham and he’s going in the right direction.
“Ascot should suit, and novices have a good record in handicaps. He was plenty straightforward (at Newbury), he travelled super and jumped well.
“He got a bit idle on the run-in, but Newbury is a long straight and Ascot will be grand for him,” the jockey told Racing UK.
Brian Ellison is expecting bold shows from both of his contenders, Abergavenny and Marsh Warbler.
Abergavenny, a useful performer on the Flat, won three novice events in the spring and put up a top effort in finishing third to Brampour in the Greatwood at Cheltenham five weeks ago.
“Abergavenny ran a blinder in the Greatwood for one so inexperienced – it was only his fourth run over hurdles,” said the North Yorkshire.
“Before that he’d won three small novice races so it was a big change for him in a competitive handicap, but he ran great and you’d hope he’d have learnt from it.”
Marsh Warbler‘s second behind Grandouet at Haydock on his latest outing was given a boost when the winner followed up with a sparkling performance in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last Saturday.
“Marsh Warbler ran well at Haydock and I think he should improve quite a bit as he definitely needed the run that day,” added Ellison.
“The one thing we do know with him is the softer the ground the better. If it was heavy, that would be ideal.
“We’re taking 7lb off him as well, which will help.”
A race of this sort is usually run at a break-neck gallop, and trainer Alan King believes that will stand Raya Star in good stead.
“I was very happy with his third to Rock On Ruby in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury last month, and feel that a strong-run two-mile race, as this usually is, will suit him ideally,” the Barbury Castle trainer told http://www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“It is fiercely competitive, but we have got in at the bottom of the handicap and go there with an each-way shot.”
Gary Moore feels the handicapper may have got the measure of Via Galilei, who has run consistently well in races of this type.
Second to Brampour over this course and distance last month, the six-year-old was just touched off by Ubi Ace at Sandown two weeks ago.
“He’s very well in himself and in good order, but I just feel he could be in the grip of the handicapper now,” said the West Sussex trainer.
“Josh (Moore) has claimed the 5lb off him the last twice anyway, but it’s a track he runs well on.
“Fingers crossed he runs his usual good race.”