Ireland takes limelight as Newbury loses its Josh day

Inside Track

Melancholy days on the Turf, these, above all now that one of its warmest sunbeams fades upon the frozen ground.

For the abandonment of the big meeting at Newbury today deprives the jump-racing community of a perfect venue to share cherished memories of Josh Gifford, the trainer of Aldaniti, who died on Thursday.

Riding for Ryan Price, Gifford won four of the first five editions of the race scheduled to be run for the first time as the Betfair Hurdle. But the fearless jockey, champion over mud and birch four times, will in the memory of many friends endure longest as the epitome of summer – impresario, in his cricket whites, of long afternoons and longer evenings at Findon that even then seemed to bear a nostalgic patina.

Gifford had the ready emotions of one whose toughness was proven beyond question. But any tempted to say that they don't make them like Josh any more, should be reproved by the certainty that he would have been deeply impressed – and moved – by two other gentlemen who were due to be honoured today.

Karl Hinett and Jaco van Gass were at Paul Nicholls' yard on Monday, helping to promote a card that was also set to feature the "Betfair Supports Walking With The Wounded" Hurdle. Hinett suffered 37 per cent burns when his tank was petrol-bombed in Iraq in 2005; he ran 52 marathons in 2011. Van Gass lost his left arm to a grenade in Afghanistan in 2009; last year, he was part of the first group of wounded servicemen to reach the North Pole, unsupported. In a few weeks, the pair will join a Walking With The Wounded expedition to climb Mount Everest.

The loss of this showcase for these humbling young men places in due perspective any selfish frustrations over the current freeze. Happily, their race will be salvaged, along with almost the entire card, at the same track on Friday. Despite forfeiting its weekend profile, Betfair has underwritten the value of the big hurdle race so that it remains the richest in Europe.

In the meantime, moreover, the Irish are set to end the famine with a real banquet, comprising four Grade One races at Leopardstown tomorrow. True, the card's richest race has been depleted by the withdrawal of Synchronised, Quito De La Roque and Jessies Dream. As such, the Hennessy Gold Cup is a congenial opportunity for Quel Esprit to make the breakthrough that beckons after two wins in lesser grade, calculated to restore his confidence after failing to complete in three of four starts as a novice last term, including the RSA Chase at Cheltenham where he was still in front when crashing three out.

Some fairly generous assumptions are implied by the odds, however, and strictly on form he still has something to find with China Rock, who was perhaps committed too soon when fourth here last year. The very fact that a trainer as seasoned as Mouse Morris was then prepared to run him in the Gold Cup commands respect for China Rock and, while he finished lame at Cheltenham, Morris says he has "come on a ton" for a spin over hurdles last month.

Bostons Angel, who went on to win the RSA Chase after Quel Esprit's departure, is tried in cheekpieces in the hope of stemming a tide of disappointment for last season's novices. He had set up his Festival success by winning the Moriarty Novice Chase on this card, and this time round that race appears to find Last Instalment with the world at his feet. He has been immaculate in three chases to date. Bog Warrior, yet another exciting prospect in the Gigginstown Stud colours, has also been declared but is an intended runner at Naas today.

One or two British trainers have finally been lured over the Irish Sea by some decent prize-money. Nicky Henderson saddles Captain Conan in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, where the French import avoids a penalty for his instant success at Sandown last month. He was indebted to the antics of the runner-up, however, and meets another Grade One winner in Cash And Go.

It seems significant, however, that Willie Mullins perseveres with Sous Les Cieux, only third at odds-on behind Cash And Go at the Christmas meeting here. Having failed to settle in front that day, he is easily pardoned that reverse.

Mullins, on an unbelievable roll this winter, saw four out of five hot favourites turned over at Thurles on Thursday but could resume business as usual in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle tomorrow. Ut De Sivola has looked the best four-year-old in Ireland so far, though it is fascinating to see John Ferguson – making a remarkable start as a part-time jumps trainer – venturing over with his smooth Huntingdon winner, Asaid.

Much of the Irish racing community will only just be getting over their hangovers after the midweek wedding of Nina Carberry and Ted Walsh Jnr – an occasion to grieve every bachelor in Ireland, but one that would have brought an approving tear from Josh.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Lightening Rod (3.10 Musselburgh)

Improved to score readily on his return at Hexham in November, and shaped nicely behind a top-class one at Doncaster next time. Unseated early at Catterick latest but remains feasibly treated.

Next Best

Palace Moon (2.45 Lingfield)

Has been rated a good bit higher in his time, and looked to turn over a new leaf when tried on this surface at Kempton last time, challenging on the bridle.

One To Watch

Perfect Gentleman (Willie Mullins) won a bumper on his debut and was left plenty to do after taking a while to switch off in his first start over hurdles at Thurles on Thursday, doing well to run the winner so close.

Where the money's going

Magnanimity is 13-2 from 15-2 with Paddy Power for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown tomorrow.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines