In his point-to-pointing youth Fanshawe came a quite horrible cropper at Cottenham, breaking his neck and almost his connection with life itself. He does not bear a grudge though.
Indeed, the Newmarket man has enjoyed conspicuous success with National Hunt horses. Fanshawe did much to smooth over Kribensis's switch from summer to winter games, especially during the campaign in which he won the Triumph Hurdle, even though Michael Stoute was officially the grey's trainer. Then, in 1992, Fanshawe's own name was up in lights when Royal Gait won the Champion Hurdle.
The Toiseach, who runs at Doncaster today, may not be as talented as that pair but he does carry the distinction of being Fanshawe's first winner over fences. "When you've got a nice horse to train like this one, be it Flat or jumps, it's bloody good fun," the trainer said yesterday.
There are doubts today about the seven-year-old, even though he won a prestige event quite tidily at Ascot last time. "The Reynoldstown wasn't an epic race this year, even though we won it really well, and the ground will be different tomorrow," Fanshawe said. "He acts so well on the faster ground that it has got to be a a slight worry that the rain has come."
There is also the small matter of five rivals to overcome. No Saturday long-distance chase seems to go by without the participation of a horse from Paul Nicholls's yard and this afternoon is no exception as Galatasori Jane represents Manor Farm stables. She will go well.
Scotton Banks, the top weight, won a Peter Marsh Chase and a Martell Cup two seasons ago, which is a record which has not been lost on the handicapper. Despite running some stinkers since those glory days, Scotton Banks is coming down in the weights with the speed of a glacier. He hasn't moved far enough yet. The Toiseach (4.10), who is moving up through the weights, looks the best alternative.
In the card's other pounds 20,000 race Anabranch attempts to continue her winning sequence for perhaps Britain's most quietly effective trainer, Malcolm Jefferson. She won a Stratford handicap off 103 in October and now finds herself on a mark of 125 and appears vulnerable. The same could be said of Native Mission, who looked as though he wanted to take up a different sport when beaten last time. A value consideration here is REAL TONIC (nap 3.35), who has some solid form in the book.
An interesting runner in the first televised contest is Ardrina, who won at Newcastle last month after being pulled up on her previous two outings. Asked to explain this discrepancy, trainer Ferdy Murphy said the mare appreciated the better ground, drop in class and shorter trip and had also been receiving treatment for crushed vertebrae. The stewards probably threw him out before he could get on to signs of the zodiac and extra-terrestrial influence as further evidence. Iif she can avoid the death ray this afternoon, Ardrina (next best 3.05) should win again.
NAP: Real Tonic