Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers and the February Update highlighted Patroclus (Evens) as a horse to follow and Nicky Henderson's gelding recorded his second win over hurdles at Doncaster on Wednesday. The Shirocco gelding had won over two miles one at Exeter last month and appreciated the step up to two miles three at Town Moor. Overcoming a mistake at the second last, he ran on well to hold the late challenge of Riggs by three parts of a length. The EBF Final at Sandown (13th March) would appear to be an obvious target and, having only scored narrowly here, he should be overburdened at the Esher track. He was officially rated 124 before his latest success. In all likelihood, the progressive five year old will cross swords with recent Fakenham winner Shang Tang, who has been raised six pounds to a mark of 135. The pair ought to be very competitive next month.
I was working at Wetherby on Tuesday and was pleased to see Milans Edge (11/10) decisively win the concluding mares' bumper. It was an ordinary affair but Donald McCain's new recruit couldn't have won much easier. Formerly trained by Colin Bowe, the winning pointer made all the running and stretched clear in the home straight to win hard held by nine lengths. Donald gave the six year old a favourable mention in his interview in the February Update - it has been a rich source of winners. It was the yard's 56th winner of the campaign and the string continue in fine form.
The Top 40 Prospects endured a sticky spell over the weekend the barren run continued at Taunton with Pic D'Orhy edged out by stablemate Rockadenn. Reverting back to hurdles, Paul Nicholls' gelding travelled beautifully for much of the two miles handicap and looked a certain winner jumping the penultimate flight. Unfortunately, Harry Cobden's mount blundered at the last and was worn down late on by the Bryony Frost ridden winner. It was frustrating to say the least, especially given his healthy odds of 9/1. Despite this reversal, the former champion trainer was reportedly delighted with his run and is eyeing a tilt at the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr in April. He will be even better on a sounder surface and the flat track will play to his strengths.
The entries for the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival were published on Wednesday morning and I was glad to see those horses featured on pages 31 and 32 in One Jump Ahead are amongst them. It will be interesting to see what ratings the pair are given by the UK handicapper. I think both could be leading players, if going down the handicap route next month.
I am delighted to announce that Ahead On The Flat will include an interview with rising star George Boughey. The Newmarket based handler made a big impression last year with 26 winners from 132 runners (20%) in only his second season with a licence. With half a dozen winners already on the board in 2021, the former assistant to Hugo Palmer has make a flying start to the new season. I spoke to George for the first time on Wednesday and was very impressed - he is very switched on and has already mapped out races for the majority of his string. William Haggas told me last week that Boughey was sharp and he wasn't lying.
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