Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Saturday Review

12-May-2024 10:09
in General
by Admin

Olly Murphy won the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock Park for a second time on Saturday with Pickanumber providing a shock in the two miles event. The six year old failed to win in nine starts when trained in Ireland before being bought for £30,000 in September last year. However, the Shantou gelding hasn't stopped improving since joining Gordon Elliott's former assistant winning four of his five races since arriving in the UK. Making all the running, he spreadeagled the field from the third last registering a fifteen lengths win off a mark of 121. Ironically, I spoke to Olly afterwards and he said it was his owner who was keen to run and 'have a day out.' Indeed, he said he was surprised when Pickanumber won a maiden hurdle at Catterick in February because he felt the track would be too sharp. He has come a long way in a short space of time. The favourite and Cheltenham Festival winner Lark In The Mornin held every chance turning for home before his effort petered out. Joseph O'Brien's runner jumped big down the backstraight but was still very much in contention on the run to the third last. Perhaps he found the drying ground against him. Rated 130, he is better than he showed here and remains an interesting contender for the top two mile handicap hurdles in the future. 

There have been signs in recent days that Ralph Beckett's string is set to engage top gear shortly with the Hampshire trainer registering a double at Lingfield on Saturday. Ralph spoke favourably about the twice raced You Got To Me in AOTF and the daughter of Nathaniel put herself firmly in the Classic picture when making all in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial. Hector Crouch's mount built up a substantial lead early on before fending off her opponents late on to record a half lengths success from the fast finishing Rubies Are Red. Her trainer has won the Epsom Oaks twice and following the victories of Forest Fairy at Chester on Wednesday and this filly here, he has two challengers at the end of the month. Stablemate Treasure was beaten less than two lengths and is another useful middle distance filly in the making. Owned by HM The King, she showed signs of inexperience and can only improve as the year goes on. John Gosden felt the third placed Danielle would have preferred easier ground and the underfoot conditons are likely to dictate her programme.

The well bred Storm Star (100/30), who features in the Unraced Three Year Olds section in AOTF, made a winning start to his career when landing the six furlongs maiden at Newcastle on Sunday. Trained by Andrew Balding, the homebred son of Night of Thunder is out of the Group 3 and Stewards Cup winner Dancing Star and he knew his job racing prominently throughout before outstaying Jungle Land inside the final furlong. Held in high regard at Kingsclere, he comes from a family who improve with age and will have no trouble staying seven furlongs later in the year.


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