The most sought-after square yard of leather in racing was finally filled yesterday when Mark Dwyer was booked to ride One Man, the hot favourite, in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury tomorrow. Dwyer became available when Jodami, the 1993 Gold Cup winner, was unexpectedly scratched from the race, and with so many other leading jockeys either injured, suspended or spoken for, his switch to One Man was almost a formality.
Gordon Richards, One Man's trainer, deserves some complimentary shares from British Telecom after fielding calls in recent days from every member of the weighing room, up to, and probably including, the clerk of the scales. Dwyer, though, is one of the few with the experience and talent to slip smoothly into the boots of Tony Dobbin, sidelined by a fall on Monday. The grey is now as short as 11-8 to follow up his success in last year's Hennessy at Newbury tomorrow.
Peter Beaumont's reasoning in deciding to bypass the Hennessy with Jodami will give considerable encouragement to One Man's backers. Jodami was beaten seven lengths by One Man when both made their seasonal debuts at Ayr two weeks ago but, despite being 4lb better at the weights tomorrow, will head for the Hinchliffe Champion Chase at Kelso on Monday.
Beaumont said: "We always had the option of Kelso and we don't want to give him too hard a race at this stage of the season. Realistically, we couldn't beat One Man at the weights, though it might be different at level weights, and we have decided to go for something a little bit quieter."
His opinion is shared by Dwyer, a Hennessy winner on Galway Blaze in 1985 and second on Jodami three years ago. "Spare rides don't come much better," he said yesterday. "I thought One Man would win the Hennessy when I finished second to him up at Ayr. I sat on him for the first time today and had a canter on him this morning. I've seen a few videos of his wins and it is just a case of trying to familiarise oneself with him as best one can."
One Man is 11-8 favourite (from 6-4) with William Hill for tomorrow's race. They then bet: 9-2 Rough Quest, 5-1 Earth Summit, 7-1 Couldnt Be Better, 10-1 Black Humour, 12-1 Young Hustler, 14-1 bar.
As if the hints about One Man's chance were not enough, Richards provided further evidence of his stable's well-being at Carlisle yesterday when another grey chaser from Penrith, The Grey Monk, won his second race over fences every bit as impressively as his first, at Ayr a fortnight ago.
He already seems certain to be a serious contender at the Festival next March, but the same may not be true of Callisoe Bay, one of last year's best novice hurdlers. Oliver Sherwood's highly-regarded young chaser atoned somewhat for a fall on his fencing debut at Cheltenham when winning at Uttoxeter yesterday, but was far from fluent.
The Grey Monk's victory helped to keep Richards' strike-rate this season at more than 40 per cent, but rude health is not so conspicuous at Charles Egerton's stable. Egerton announced yesterday that Mysilv, the 1994 Triumph Hurdle winner and a 12-1 chance for next year's Champion Hurdle, will miss the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle tomorrow.
"I was not happy with her blood this morning and her coat does not look as well as normal," the trainer said. "One or two of mine are getting a little cough but it is nothing serious. I suppose she will go straight to Cheltenham for the Bula Hurdle, where she will be Large Action's pacemaker." Egerton's sense of humour, at least, is fighting fit.Reuse content