Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a tendon injury.
Successful at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and 2012, Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old finished runner-up to Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup in March. He fell on his reappearance last month before finishing fourth to Bobs Worth in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last Saturday, leaving him a 6-1 chance for the Gold Cup. Mullins said: “The injury is going to take time to heal so we have decided to pull the plug on the remainder of this season.”
The season, and possibly his career, looked over for Sprinter Sacre when he lost his unbeaten record over fences at Kempton eight days ago. The champion two-mile chaser was pulled up abruptly and an irregular heartbeat was subsequently detected.
But Celia Marr, an equine cardiology specialist who initially examined Sprinter Sacre last weekend, reported his heart rate “perfectly normal” following an ECG-monitored canter on trainer Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn gallops.
Sprinter Sacre was dominant in his division last season, but nobody can be entirely confident he will be as good as he was until he actually proves it on the racecourse. But, as his owner Caroline Mould summed up the situation: “So far, so good.”
Wincanton inspect before dawn and officials are confident of giving the green light. But it will be something of a guessing game for trainers and punters alike, for although some horses might have shown decent form on ground officially described as soft or even heavy, that does not mean they are guaranteed to cope with underfoot conditions this afternoon.
Consigliere (2.05 Wincanton) has shown precious little on four starts this season, but he does like to get his toe right in and he might well be ready to come good again in the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase. He won this race by 20 lengths in 2012 and last year finished clear of the rest when a gallant runner-up to Big Fella Thanks under today’s promising 7lb claimer, Kieron Edgar.
Jumps Road appeared to show considerable improvement when a 100-1 third behind The New One and Zarkandar at Cheltenham last month, but it might be unwise to take that form too literally in the handicap hurdle, even though he does have winning form in the mud.
Preference is for Silsol (2.40 Wincanton), who, though not one of the stable stars, has shown enough on two outings for Paul Nicholls to suggest he can pay his way now that he is encountering the sort of surface he demonstrated he could handle in France.
With Sandown waterlogged, Channel 4 highlights Lingfield’s all-weather Flat fixture, which has the coral.co.uk handicap over a mile and a half as its centrepiece.
Good cases can be made for most of the 14, but it might be worth taking a chance each way with Presberg (2.35 Lingfield), even though he is 5lb out of the handicap. Joseph Tuite’s gelding showed that he stays this trip well when beating Grendisar at Kempton in November and has not had the rub of the green on two runs since.
Perfect Pasture (3.10 Lingfield) has gone from a rating of 57 to 93 while winning five races off the reel since being fitted with a visor and he may not be finished yet.
Martin Dwyer was taken to hospital with a neck injury after being knocked unconscious for several minutes when Columbian Roulette, with the race seemingly at his mercy, jinked and unshipped him in the opener at Southwell yesterday.
Bryan Cooper has been named by Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary as Davy Russell’s successor as first jockey to Gigginstown House Stud.
Richard Hannon, who took over the licence from his father on New Year’s day, scored with his first runner, Unscripted, a 10-length winner at Wolverhampton.